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Obama Calling For $53B For High Speed Rail

samzenpus posted more than 3 years ago | from the lyle-lanley-approved dept.

Transportation 1026

Antisyzygy writes "President Obama is calling for $53B to be appropriated for the construction of high-speed rail in the United States over the next 6 years. Assuming Congress approves this plan, the funding would be spent on developing and/or improving trains that travel at approximately 250 miles/hour, as well as spent on connecting existing rail lines to new developed high speed lines."

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Its not the speed that is the problem. (5, Interesting)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156084)

It doesn't matter if it goes 250mph if it sits on the track for an hour waiting for right of way. Granted, this is just one experience, but from reading up after it happened, it seems to be the norm. Back in 1999 I decided to take a leisure trip out to Arizona from Indianapolis and I decided to take a train for fun. Instead of a speedy ride up to Chicago, we ended up waiting for an hour on a side track to get right of way. On the way from Chicago to Flagstaff, AZ, at one point we sat on the tracks during the day for 3 or 4 hours waiting again for right of way. On the return trip the train was 5 hours late getting back to Chicago and I missed my connection train back to Indianapolis.

Sure, you can build a high speed train, but if its run by Amtrak and exists in this countries rail system mentality, it will quickly become worthless. Fix the real issues.

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (1)

OutLawSuit (1107987) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156136)

High speed rail would need its own right-of-way. The current tracks would not support 250 mph. Like Amtrek had to reinforce the tracks in the Northeast for the Acela line which only goes a bit over 100 mph.

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (5, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156250)

High speed rail would need its own right-of-way.

Well of course, but we're not just talking about upgrading the northeast passage are we? We're talking about upgrading the entire infrastructure. One that's been built over 150+ years and includes many tunnels, bridges and cuts over large areas of land. Most likely they are not going to build a second set of tracks. Someone down the line will say "Hey, we can cut the costs in half if we just upgrade the existing tracks" Perhaps they will build new tracks, but that's probably going to cost a lot more than 53 billion. Its likely that they will build such a set of tracks so that they are dual use for both passenger service and freight, so we're right back in the same boat. And because they are politicians and don't have to deal with the details of their plans, they will just make token changes that seem to solve the problem, but really don't.

To really have something like they do in France or Japan, we have to really want it and there has to be a generation of people who want to really make it great and support it, and I don't think we have that anymore. In Japan, a 3 hour rail ride across country doesn't sound so bad when compared with a 45 minute plane ride plus 45-60 minutes waiting in an airport + 30 minutes parking, etc (about 2 hours). But in the US it would be a 12 hour rail ride cross country (even at 250 mph) vs. a 4-5 hour plane ride.

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (4, Insightful)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156294)

What we really need to do to improve transportation in the US is to get our head out of ass with this stupid security bullshit at the airports. If we don't do it in the airports, then they are just going to imply the same silly restrictions on new trains as well, and then we won't be any better off.

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (1)

ksr (207427) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156336)

I got a GPS reading of 152 mph on my last Acela trip, although that speed was only sustained for about ten minutes. It's not 250, but it does feel quick -- until you recall the disappointing fact that the current plain old Northeast Regional trains manage 125. And the old-school Metroliner was supposedly tested at speeds in excess of 160 mph. In the 1960s.

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35156150)

I almost never advocate privatization, I consider myself to a socialist on many issues. But I would totally support dismantling Amtrak and turning the rails over to private companies. Amtrak and its staggeringly poor managment is the reason interstate rail is so terrible in the US. 3rd world countries have better long distance rail systems than the US.

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (0)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156258)

You are aware that Amtrak is already a private corp?

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156290)

I guess you're not aware that Amtrak is a public corporation. Bottom line is that the US government picked the Amtrak leadership and covers any budget shortfalls. That makes it not private.

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (2)

Nadaka (224565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156308)

damn my poor fact checking. It is mostly government owned.

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (1)

suso (153703) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156396)

You are aware that Amtrak is already a private corp?

Just like Conrail, eh? Apparently you don't know as much as you think you do about the US rail system. Go read some history of it.

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (4, Interesting)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156298)

I almost never advocate privatization, I consider myself to a socialist on many issues. But I would totally support dismantling Amtrak and turning the rails over to private companies. Amtrak and its staggeringly poor managment is the reason interstate rail is so terrible in the US. 3rd world countries have better long distance rail systems than the US.

I'm with you but kinda in the opposite way. The rails should be run by a non-profit which is accountable to government and subsidised by it, rolling stock can be privatised. Stations can be maintained by local authorities. Kinda like the system they have in the UK. British railways are not perfect, but that's got more to do with the legacy of the war (not enough destruction to be able to rebuild the system from scratch like they could in Germany, hence stuck with all the bottlenecks and medieval landmarks in the way) than it has to do with the ownership model. The 100% state-owned thing was tried and didn't work very well, nostalgia notwithstanding. The people who say "bring back British Rail" must have short memories, the system was a freaking disaster.

Back to the point, railways should be treated more like roads. In the US we have state agencies that are responsible for roads, and private companies like taxi firms and Greyhound bus get to make a profit by using that infrastructure. Why treat rails any different?

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (5, Insightful)

icebike (68054) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156152)

Amtrak runs on commercial rails. They've always been a second class citizen.
But I agree you can't run passenger rail on freight tracks and expect either high speed or prompt routing.

But you needn't worry about it, because this is never going to happen.
Someone should point out to Mr. Obama that he already spent all the money. We couldn't possibly afford this now.

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (0, Flamebait)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156368)

Obama spent all the money? Nope. Bush spent all the money. Bush started two wars and increased spending while slashing taxes. The bailout was Bush's baby. You might be able to legitimately claim that Obama hasn't done enough to fix the budget problems, but most people would like the government to create jobs during a recession rather than cut them, don't you think?

Wrong (-1, Flamebait)

unassimilatible (225662) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156540)

"Obama spent all the money? Nope. Bush spent all the money. "

Two years into record deficits this is just a childish statement. Obama's deficits are much higher than Bush's.

"but most people would like the government to create jobs during a recession rather than cut them, don't you think?"

No, not based on the most recent election. They want smaller government and less public employees. The government can only "create" public sector jobs, which steal from the private sector, i.e., tax dollars, and hurt growth, or through taxing for "stimulus," i.e., sedative. The idea that government central planning can allocate private resources and create jobs better than the private sector is ludicrous. It's like trying give yourself a transfusion from the left arm to the right arm, whilst spilling half the blood on the floor in the process.

If government got the hell out of the way, the economy would grow just fine. Smart people, i.e., those who aren't Keynesians, would not like the government to "create" jobs.

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (-1, Troll)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156184)

Mass transport is a highly inefficient means of travel - I don't mean energy use. I mean time wasted at either end waiting for the damn bus or metro. As example:

My former boss took 1.5 hours to get to work on the VA train. It took me half an hour by car. The reason it took him longer was because of the half-hour walk to the station, and another half hour to the job.

I always prefer the faster route over the slower route (in terms of my personal travel time).

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156310)

Mass transport is a highly inefficient means of travel - I don't mean energy use. I mean time wasted at either end waiting for the damn bus or metro. As example:

My former boss took 1.5 hours to get to work on the VA train. It took me half an hour by car. The reason it took him longer was because of the half-hour walk to the station, and another half hour to the job.

I always prefer the faster route over the slower route (in terms of my personal travel time).

Depends on what kind of a settlement you live in. In a denser urban environment you're less likely to have that half-hour walk to the final destination.

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (1)

jstoner (85407) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156348)

Your car is more inefficient, in terms of the value you can make of time spent. On mass transit you can read, listen to books on tape, generally make the time useful. Walking, you are getting exercise. In your car, you better be focusing your attention on not killing yourself or anyone else.

I'm for professionalization of driving. It's far too easy to get a driver's license in America, and far too easy to keep one.

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156428)

>>>Your car is more inefficient, in terms of the value you can make of time spent.

Yeah but because I arrive an hour earlier than my boss each day, I also collect ~$250 more each week (after taxes).

>>>Walking, you are getting exercise.

What do I need that for? I already come from a long-lived family that comes just a few years shy of 100. And they never did any exercise.

>>>In your car, you better be focusing your attention

I usually listen to books-on-tape (or ipod), so it's not time wasted. And I've gone almost 600,000 miles and never hit anything, mainly because I stay in my lane and don't move from it (changing lanes is when most accidents occur).

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (5, Insightful)

somersault (912633) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156392)

For what it's worth, I used to enjoy walking to work. I still ponder ditching the car from time to time, it would save me money overall. I used to be all about "faster" too, but when I was forced into walking (lost my license for three months a few years ago) I found I enjoyed it, relaxed, and actually ended up feeling I had more time because I had more time to think, and I stopped wasting so much time watching TV etc, because I actually started going for walks in the evening as well. The exercise of course helped me to feel better too, so I've made sure to keep up with it. So many people say they have no time, when it's just a matter of stress and tech addiction making them feel that way. It's so easy to piss away the hours checking for messages on Slashdot, Facebook, gamng, whatever..

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (1)

spun (1352) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156438)

Roads are an even bigger waste of time. How many hours per year do you waste sitting in traffic? For me, its a lot, and my commute isn't even that long. Remember, there are two ways to ration a scarce commodity like transportation: wait in line, or make people pay. We could add roads until the whole country was covered in them, and it wouldn't help, it would just raise demand. More roads, more people driving. Another option is to make all roads toll roads. You won't find a lot of support for that. The final, and IMHO only workable option is mass transit. It moves more people over the same infrastructure with less overall waiting. Which do you prefer, traffic jams, expensive toll roads, or mass transit?

And of course the other question is, would you rather spend an hour driving in stressful traffic, or an hour and a half sitting on a comfortable train, doing some work or playing on your laptop?

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35156478)

Your boss will probably outlive you. Most health experts recommend 1h of walking or some other more active exercise a day.

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (5, Insightful)

VirginMary (123020) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156196)

Yes, I had a similar experience to you: The rail connection between San Diego and Los Angeles is also just a single track for part (most?) of the way. Two major cities not far apart and they can't even put in two tracks. As a European living in the US, I find this mindboggling. I bet that most emerging countries don't have this problem! Truly pathetic! I often tell my friends in Europe that the US is a weird mix between a 1st and a 3rd world country. And don't even get me started on health insurance here!

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (0, Troll)

Overunderrated (1518503) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156300)

I bet that most emerging countries don't have this problem! Truly pathetic! I often tell my friends in Europe that the US is a weird mix between a 1st and a 3rd world country.

This isn't modded troll yet?

You're praising "emerging countries" for building superior rail lines by appropriating real estate and otherwise building where there is no existing infrastructure while the starvation and famine of their population takes a back seat?

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (2)

MoonBuggy (611105) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156460)

I often tell my friends in Europe that the US is a weird mix between a 1st and a 3rd world country. And don't even get me started on health insurance here!

Perhaps not 3rd world, but I very much know what you mean. My working theory on the matter is that it arises from the very stratified (and inconsistent) views on government interference - health care, for example, starts with a laissez-faire libertarian free-market approach, but then evolves with government interference through Medicare and Medicaid; the end result is an odd public/private hybrid in which tax money serves the public via the private sector. It's not quite one thing or the other, and I get the impression that a lot of America's economy works in a similar way. It certainly has its advantages, but I think it's also what leads to the odd dichotomy you mention. Not, by any means, to say that the US is the only country where this happens, but it seems most pronounced here. For better or worse, other countries seem more inclined to fully nationalise or fully privatise.

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (2)

thestudio_bob (894258) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156548)

I think for the most part, most Americans (at least for me) consider rail travel to be a 3rd world way of traveling. This is America, everyone owns a car or takes an airplane were they want to go. Rail is just now being thought of again because everyone is having such a crappy experience with the airlines. (both cost and TSA hassle)

The reason we don't have any great alternative to mass transit is primarily the airline, auto and oil industry. They've bought off enough politicians to ensure that other options never take off. A good example of this is the auto/oil industry in the 50's - 60's. A lot of cities used to have great/eco friendly electric light rail systems, but they were replaced by gas guzzling/smelly buses.

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (2)

petermgreen (876956) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156200)

Afiact the real issue is that the freight companies own the lines and consider amtrak low priority. There are two ways to fix this, either move passenger traffic to it's own high speed lines or force a radical shakeup of the frieght companies operating priorities (I very much doubt they would do it voluntarily)

So it depends, will these be new lines (possibly parallel to existing lines) or will they be speed limit increases on existing lines?

Re:Its not the speed that is the problem. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35156386)

That pretty much sums it. Unless the proposed HSR has dedicated lines, and the trains 'run on time', it is a broken venture.

Next thing you do if the HSR goes through is couple local rail systems against the 'master HSR system' infrastructure. That way, though I live 90 miles out from a HSR hub, I can take a local train to a hub point, and hop on the master system. Do THAT nationally, and you now have implemented an effective railway system.

Possible obstacles with such an endeavor: eminent domain, political corruption, no-bid contracts, state corruption of appropriations/mismanagement, local business corruption, lack of employable workforce to implement at national/state/local levels, and the necessary government oversight to see a vision this grand to completion.

Pipe dreams are just that. Dreams. There's also the fact that probably a dozen or so business sectors DO NOT want to see a HSR system ever. Profits and all that...

Look into Europe (1)

korgitser (1809018) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156414)

Make die Bahn running the railway. One of the things I like about Germany is their trainwork.
And on a side note, the Dutch should build the damn dam around New Orleans.

This problem is addressed (1)

DragonWriter (970822) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156476)

It doesn't matter if it goes 250mph if it sits on the track for an hour waiting for right of way.It doesn't matter if it goes 250mph if it sits on the track for an hour waiting for right of way.

High-speed rail, almost without exception, relies on dedicated lines, not shared lines with freight like existing, less-than-high-speed, passenger rail in the US. Consequently, this wouldn't be an issue.

Paid for? (1, Troll)

Hatta (162192) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156102)

This is a great idea, but how is he going to pay for it?

Easy. (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156164)

High Speed Rail contractors help you get from point A to point B in style. But they don't take American Express.

Visa. It's everywhere you want to be.

The Simpsons know how to sell it... (3, Insightful)

bhlowe (1803290) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156274)

They don't have to pay for it.. They just have to ram it through..

Obligatory link to the Simpsons Monorail song! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jF_yLodI1CQ [youtube.com]

Re:Paid for? (1, Insightful)

Mashiki (184564) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156366)

Easy. He'll raise taxes. Of course I'm sure this will make businesses love him, and the people too. Especially when your economic situation is very close to a depression style event.

Re:Paid for? (1, Insightful)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156420)

This is a great idea, but how is he going to pay for it?

He is not going to pay for it . . . the taxpayers are going to pay for it.

Re:Paid for? (1)

hexghost (444585) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156468)

With money?

Re:Paid for? (1)

HornWumpus (783565) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156544)

From his stash?

Like a mule with a spinning wheel... (2)

sdguero (1112795) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156110)

Re:Like a mule with a spinning wheel... (1)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156326)

This is fantastic and I salute you sir.

Re:Like a mule with a spinning wheel... (1)

sdguero (1112795) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156486)

Hehe thanks. :) I can't take the credit though. My buddy mentioned the episode when California passed our own high speed rail thing in the last election. Total boondoggle...

Re:Like a mule with a spinning wheel... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35156352)

He said a town with money.

Show me da money... (-1, Troll)

cayenne8 (626475) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156142)

Ok...and exactly WHAT orifice is Obama going to pull this spare $63B out of?

Unless you start cutting some spending...quit fucking trying to spend more!!!! We are OUT of money.....geez, how long does it take these idiots to figure out they need to go on a serious budget before they completely fuck up the countries whole economy?

At this point I"m starting to think the only two reasons they don't see it is

A They're idiots

B. They are doing it on purpose for some nefarious reason.

Re:Show me da money... (3, Funny)

Warhawke (1312723) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156232)

Hanlon's Razor: "Never attribute to malice that which is adequately explained by stupidity."

Re:Show me da money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35156314)

Taking into consideration the nature of politicians a better statement would be: "Never attribute to stupidity that which is adequately explained by malice."

Re:Show me da money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35156282)

1) You just added $10 billion to the cost.

2) Is your economics degree from Harvard? Yale? Cereal box?

Re:Show me da money... (0)

Brett Buck (811747) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156292)

Nefarious reason = Union Jobs and more federal employees to administer the program

Re:Show me da money... (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156330)

>>>B. They are doing it on purpose for some nefarious reason.

Hello Glenn Beck. There are some people who simply don't understand the concept of "cutting spending". I have a niece like that who buys a new color printer or computer every year, a new car every 3 years, and spends almost $300/month on CATV/cell service.

She went bankrupt, and STILL spends money like mad. Last I heard her new credit card carries $5000 in unpaid bills. Obama, Bush, the Demopublicans, and my niece have a lot in common.

In contrast I've been using the same P4/windows XP computer since 2002, my printer is the old dot matrix Commodore, my CATV doesn't exist, my internet is $15/month, and my cellphone costs $0.00. She calls me "rich" but I don't make any more money than my niece --- I just don't spend it.

Re:Show me da money... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35156490)

And while she's at it, she should probably get off your lawn too...

Re:Show me da money... (4, Insightful)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156360)

Ok...and exactly WHAT orifice is Obama going to pull this spare $63B out of?

Unless you start cutting some spending...quit fucking trying to spend more!!!!

Bring the troops home then. Deal?

Re:Show me da money... (4, Insightful)

bunratty (545641) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156394)

$53 billion over six years is chump change. We need to cut spending by $500 billion per year and raise taxes by $500 billion per year to maybe dig ourselves out of this hole in two decades. We can't simply stop spending altogether until we pay off the debt, so you can't go faulting every program that costs $9 billion per year for the debt problem.

Pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan. (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35156422)

How about pulling out of two very costly wars that were lost years ago? $53,000,000,000 is almost nothing compared to what has been wasted in Iraq and Afghanistan. Hell, and at least it'd be an expenditure that directly helps the American taxpayer.

Re:Show me da money... (0)

modecx (130548) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156446)

And that's completely ignoring the extreme probability that it'll be at least 4-10x more expensive than $53 BILLION DOLLARS! (muhaha)

Re:Show me da money... (4, Insightful)

snl2587 (1177409) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156472)

Why the knee-jerk reaction? Government spending money on infrastructure is hardly the same thing as you or I shelling out $63B for a super-cool backyard train set.

Consider the following:

Building a rail line like this creates jobs, especially in the demographic that is currently stuck in the welfare loop. When these people get their paychecks, they pay taxes. Plus, they have money to spend on retail, who pay both taxes and their employees...see where I'm going with this? Granted, taxes only amount for so much, but this is a case of the government putting money into an essentially closed loop.

After construction, the rail would then be held by the government, right? I would imagine riding the rails would not be free-of-charge, so if they can get commuters to ride it, they should be able to make a considerable amount in revenue.

Beyond the direct jobs created by the construction, consider how much material would be needed. If the material could be collected and precessed in the U.S., then refer back to the benefits of the government directly creating jobs.

I am not an economist, and I'm also pragmatic about this, so I really can't say whether or not this rail system would be worth it. But I do know enough about economics to know that government spending is not necessarily a bad thing. The only time you really get into trouble is when you establish excessive free programs with little or no revenue to cover them, not when you're building lasting infrastructure.

In related news... (0)

JerBear0 (456762) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156144)

President Obama has decreed that money will now fall from the sky, which is how he will pay for most of his initiatives.

Ketchup? (0)

Barrinmw (1791848) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156148)

Why is the US constantly playing catch up with the rest of the world? Fastest computer? China. Fastest Train? China. Fastest Internet? Not here.

Re:Ketchup? (4, Funny)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156194)

Most people in jail? USA. Most expensive military? USA. Most obese? USA.

Re:Ketchup? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35156332)

Most trolling? ./ Most Jackassery? ./ Most uninformed shitty retorts? ./

Re:Ketchup? (2)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156450)

Looks like you just demonstrated all three in a single post. Congrats!

Re:Ketchup? (0)

SilverHatHacker (1381259) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156214)

Not only that, but don't we owe China trillions of dollars? I'm not an economist, and I don't really want an answer to this right now, but if capitalism is so great and communism doesn't work, what in the heck happened here? Again, I'm not calling for a revolution and a Communist takeover of America, but apparently someone has royally screwed up.

Re:Ketchup? (1)

fiannaFailMan (702447) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156382)

Not only that, but don't we owe China trillions of dollars? I'm not an economist, and I don't really want an answer to this right now, but if capitalism is so great and communism doesn't work, what in the heck happened here? Again, I'm not calling for a revolution and a Communist takeover of America, but apparently someone has royally screwed up.

China has ditched most of the tenets of Communism except for the dictatorship part.

Re:Ketchup? (1)

Third Position (1725934) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156536)

Well, that's a false comparison. Government services are not market commodities, even in a capitalist society. You don't get to decide whether or not you want to buy defense, Social Security, public schools, etc.

Nasty as it may sound, getting into this situation probably had more to do with democracy than capitalism. In a democracy, a politician has to whore for votes from his constituency. And you don't get votes by promising to take away people's bennies. So, of course, people vote for whoever promises the most goodies. Those goodies have to be paid for somehow.

In a dictatorship, such as China, the politicians don't have to face voters. When they need to cut the budget, they do.

Actually, the private economies of both countries are capitalist. China is communist in name only. You don't think your iPhone is made by the Chinese Communist Party, do you?

Re:Ketchup? (1)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156240)

Maybe because we don't need a Fast train? In fact, the only reason to build more trains is if we plan to be too poor for average Americans to drive their own cars in 50 years.

Re:Ketchup? (0)

commodore64_love (1445365) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156256)

The American Dream is about being free from tyranny, and free to be you and me, not shiny gadgets. I'd sooner be middle class and free, then rich and have an internet firewall (censorship). Oh, and China ranks poorly on the internet scale. Looking just at continent-sized nations or federations:

Mbit/s
12.3 Russian Federation
10.3 US
10.0 EU
9.3 Canada
8.0 Australia
5.7 Saudi Arabia
4.8 Brazil
3.8 China ---- way down here
3.4 Mexico
speedtest.net

Yes! (1)

MrEricSir (398214) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156322)

Right -- because personal liberties and high speed trains are mutually exclusive!

Re:Ketchup? (1)

Overunderrated (1518503) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156264)

Invented computer? USA. First transcontinental railroad? USA. Invented internet? USA.

Yeah, sounds like "catching up" to me.

Re:Ketchup? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35156448)

It is now.

The trains will have a special "data" car (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156442)

which will be loaded with 1TB HDDs, enabling the USA in one brilliant 2-bird throw, to catch up in the broadband infrastructure race.

Tone-deaf President (0)

HiMorons (1951132) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156180)

Good way to combat the deficit! Government spending fixes everything!!

It's good to read that the executive branch is listening to the people..

Re:Tone-deaf President (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35156248)

discontinuing all government investment in the country doesn't fix anything either.

Re:Tone-deaf President (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35156252)

Rail Union/Teamsters, Obama, inside deals. Typical Union mentality. It doesn't matter if the person giving you your money can afford to be around for another year, as long as you get your check.

Re:Tone-deaf President (4, Insightful)

CosmeticLobotamy (155360) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156452)

If spent properly, $16 billion will come back as tax income directly (by spent properly, I mean "if you have a bank account in Ireland, there's no need to apply for the funds, contractor). After contractor profits and material cost, probably $10-ish billion of that will go to guys actually doing work. Those people will no longer be unemployed, making a significant dent in the unemployment rate.

On top of than that, since this money goes largely to people without money, that money will get spent quickly, meaning products will be bought, businesses will be kept afloat by those sales, and those businesses will lay fewer people off by the truckload. Hopefully someone can convince them to spend it on things with a Made In America stamp.

The investment will likely mostly pay for itself when the lines are leased to private companies to run the lines after they're built.

The American people benefit by the additional infrastructure.

This is exactly how government should spend money. But obviously that's a huge amount of money and its application should be careful, thoughtful, and efficient. That's usually where these things go awry; they let private business tell them "what they need" instead of hiring an insanely over-qualified team to actually manage the job with Uncle Sam's interests in mind.

DO WANT! (3, Insightful)

MoldySpore (1280634) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156210)

High speed trains vs Airplane? With all the crap going on with airlines and privacy and charges every increasing for baggage and less and less room on the planes and higher and higher prices...yea a train sounds nice right now. Plus the jobs in can create and the decrease in commuter traffic and pollution (if it works well and people start using it) will be well worth the $ spent. Perhaps we can take a little money out of that huge defense budget and put it towards something that might be useful for the country for once?

Re:DO WANT! (4, Insightful)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156296)

Just remember, you're going to wind up going through the same security bullshit getting on a high speed train as you would with an airplane.

And I seriously doubt anyone is going to be riding this to work anywhere that they don't already ride a train, monorail, or subway.

Re:DO WANT! (1)

djbckr (673156) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156304)

Only one problem: if/when the trains become ubiquitous, we'll get the same treatment at the train station as we do in the airport. You lose.

Re:DO WANT! (1)

uncanny (954868) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156328)

Yeah, because they are going to be lax on security on a million ton object going 250mph near towns

Fix BOS-NYC-DC first (2)

boxless (35756) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156212)

Unless they can even prove it works in the Northeast corridor, where it most likely has the most benefit, why bother with anything else?

It's not exactly high speed rail. It's better than regular speed. But not dramatically. I think there are all sorts of right-of-way issues. Unless the country says: "I don't care what these issues are, just make them go away, and make this work", I don't think we should spend another penny.

Re:Fix BOS-NYC-DC first (2)

nschubach (922175) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156462)

My only question is... why can't the States involved fund this? What benefit do the people in Kansas get from this high speed rail? Why are they paying for part of it?

Somebody needs an injection (1)

presidenteloco (659168) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156502)

of can-do attitude.

It's about time (1)

dkegel (904729) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156260)

If California's Metrolink trains took 45 minutes instead of 90 minutes to get from LA to Irvine, I could actually use them. So about friggin' time. Let's get this show on the road before gasoline hits $6/gallon.

Why do we need high speed trains? (0, Troll)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156266)

This isn't a troll, I would really like someone to explain the situations where a high speed train is better than an airplane or a car.

The security will be just as bad as at an airport if the government runs it, especially considering that just as many trains get bombed by terrorists as airplanes. So the speed gain would only show up in a few very specific cases, like maybe LA to Vegas.

Wouldn't we be better served either putting that 53 Billion into our roads and infrastructure? Or not spending it at all?

Re:Why do we need high speed trains? (1)

ADRA (37398) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156498)

Considering that anyone can walk into a train without even a ticket check means that the barrier for bombing a train is substantially lower currently. Secondly, the worst disaster that can happen from a train bombing is the loss of the occupants (Still horrible of course) but you don't get the massive impact of major symbolic landmarks like certain disasters of the past.

For short haul trips, trains could be a lot faster from door to door. As for medium haul, you will get there slower on a train, but I imagine that the fuel expenditure per occupant is significantly higher. If you don't really need a car, or you can support car sharing/rental services, the net gain for fuel efficiency should improve.

Roads and infrastructure improvements will do nothing to prevent the eventual sky-rocketing cost of oil supply that will rock the US sooner or later. Really, whomever thought that Oil sands could ever become an economically viable oil production source... how times change.

Re:Why do we need high speed trains? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35156508)

It is a collection of compounding problems.

First we can only build so many runways, runway capacity is very stretched in the united states.
Second Planes really are not all that efficient when compared to trains as far as fuel costs are concerned.
Thirdly Like much of the rest of our old and decaying infrastructure our rail lines need repairs and updating just to continue being used for their current uses into the future.
Forth HSR isn't just for passenger travel China uses freight trains that move at 153 MPH in their country getting high capacity freight around the country is important to the economy.
Fifth The FAA is having trouble keeping up with the increased amount of air traffic we badly need to level off the growth here trains would be a good way todo this.
Sixth The rail plan isn't designed to replace long flights, its designed to supplement regional traffic, which means Obama did his research and has proposed a good plan.
Seventh You can only fit so many cars into our cities no matter how many freeway lanes you build.
Eighth Trains can be built to use electricity, localised pollution from a plant to easier to deal with then hundreds of planes or tens of thousands of cars and if you are smart and use nuclear all the better.

As to the $53 billion dollar price tag, I suggest taxation or cutting the defence budget by 1% for 6-7 years.

Stupid Idea (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35156268)

High speed rail for the US is a dumb idea. We have an EXTREMELY functional interstate system for local travel, and for all other domestic travel we have airplanes (very efficient and low cost if tickets are bought in advance. Don't like fees? Fly southwest).

High Speed Rail would have the EXACT same security measures as airplanes, except they would be even less safe as blowing up track is easy, especially when you have hundreds of miles to choose from. I would be shocked if there weren't more deaths due to high speed rail than plane travel.

It also isn't necessary for the distribution of freight. The current rail system will continue to serve that purpose for years, as well as the large trucks that are used to transport goods and services.

High speed rail is useful in china because they don't have the built up infrastructure the US does for airplanes (or trains for that matter). If you were just starting a rail system in the US, of course you would build high speed rail. But we already have a rail system, and it works just fine.

An additional question: Where would it be efficient? Very few cities have the public transportation infrastructure to support such a train station. Remember, you're competing with driving and airplanes. To replace driving you need a public transporation system. To replace planes you need it to be cheaper, safer, and actually faster. For driving locations you ou get: Boston, New York City, Chicago, and (so I'm told) Washington DC, Portland, and San Fransisco. Is there anywhere else? Where would it replace airports?

location location .... (1)

smoothnorman (1670542) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156316)

ohboy and it'll be between Seattle and SF?? no...? aww-nutz, left out of the political machinations again.

Re:location location .... (1)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156454)

I agree completely. 75% of our population lives within 50 miles of the coast. There should be high speed rail from Seattle to San Diego (I-5 right of way) and from New York City to Miami. Spending money on rail in the Midwest is asinine.

Monorail (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35156354)

I'll sell him a monorail for just $50 billion

Funding (0)

delirium of disorder (701392) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156364)

Posters are asking where the money will come from. I doubt this is what congress and Obama have in mind, but here are some ideas.

Tax oil and cut subsidies to highways and airports. Fossil fuels have negative externalities and should not be supported by the state. Right now driving and flying are artificially cheap due to public funding of roads, street signs/lights, airports, security and traffic cops, etc. Not only should subsidies end, but a tax should be placed on carbon intensive travel to reflect the true social cost of driving and flying (loss of liberty/privacy due to the TSA and traffic cops, deaths from accidents, health costs from pollution, climate change, other environmental effects, etc).

The US government could also reduce it's dangerous empire. The USA has hundreds of military basses and spends more than the rest of the world combined on the military. It's time to put the interests of domestic social spending ahead of suppressing self-determination in the developing world. Military spending was a proxy for high tech development throughout the cold war. If we could invest in science and engineering to blow people up, we can certainly invest in science and engineering for green transportation and energy.

The USA also has the largest prison system in the world. Releasing those who committed minor crimes, especially consensual crimes related to drug use or sexuality would go a long way to reducing state costs. Better to spend $15,000 to put someone* on welfare or $20,000 to put them through community college than to spend $40,000 a year to incarcerate them.

*usually someone young and "of color".

Re:Funding (1)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156444)

I hate the assumption that the US having bases overseas is bad for US security. Its great for security, and its money well spent.

I really hope I don't live to see it, but there will be another big war someday, and we better fucking hope we still have massive projectable military might, or we might wind up in a situation that modern 1st world citizens simply cant comprehend.

This would be a juicy target for terrorists (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35156374)

If you thought making air travel "secure" was fun, wait
until you try to make hundreds of miles of train tracks secure.

If Obama was half as good as he thinks he is, he would give a mandate
for national energy independence instead of this questionable idea.

Energy independence will allow the US to leave places like Afghanistan and Iraq,
and return to sanity.

I voted for Obama, but I won't be voting for him again, because he is not competent to
lead the US out of the trouble it is mired in courtesy of the previous administrations.

the us rail system is setup for freight rail and l (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156424)

the us rail system is setup for freight rail and local passenger systems.

Build it and They Will Come (1)

StickyWidget (741415) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156426)

Look, the government really needs to get behind this effort. If a train track system was built that connects major cities with one another, AND if it's designed to be fast, accommodate lots of trains at nearly the same time, and is safe, companies will line up with products to use it.

I'm talking:
1. Siemens and GE producing trains and traincars designed for the tracks
2. Caterpillar and Mack produce the engines
3. ABF, DHL, Fedex, etc will all buy the trains and engines and use them to deliver goods
4. We'll use that for our internet orders, and to transport goods and services anywhere cheaply

It's not just about passenger trains, there's an entire market segment out there ripe to be innovated by trains. I'm talking about trucking companies, we could get them out of cities. We could reduce fuel costs, and insurance.

~Sticky

Re:Build it and They Will Come (2)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156510)

We already have trains that connect all of our cities. They're plenty fast at delivering freight, and they are far cheaper to operate than this is going to be considering the massive upfront investment.

I ordered a part I couldn't find locally online yesterday, I checked just now and its out for delivery with the UPS guy. I just got a package from 2 states over in a fucking day for about 8 bucks extra. Yea, our system works pretty well as it is. Lets maintain it so it continues to and try to climb out of this economic situation with something actually useful, or at least actually inspiring(like a Mars mission we can just fake if we don't make it).

Attn: Fox News (2)

Lord_of_the_nerf (895604) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156466)

I'm claiming "Obamarail (TM)".

I love trains, but... (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35156474)

But this would be a boondoggle. Everyone gets to pay for something that benefits mostly East and West coast corridors. Let's just say it's valid. It does no good to push alternative modes of transportation if you continue to make it easy for cars. You want light rail somewhere? Take a couple traffic lanes for the roadbed, don't build it next to the highway. You have to make it a real downer to be in a car if you hope to break the psychological pathology of 'I am my car'.

Let's hope they do a better job of picking locatio (2)

joeflies (529536) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156512)

In December 2010, California approved the first locations [latimes.com] for a high speed train.

1) It connects a grand total of 65 miles
2) It's being built between the towns of Borden and Corcoran. Yes, if you didn't know where that is, that's ok, most people don't.
3) No trains can run on it until some other town agrees to link up to it.

Hey Obama (4, Interesting)

mewsenews (251487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156526)

I have an idea! Maybe if the TSA stopped molesting people, air travel would be more pleasant, and you wouldn't have to spend BILLIONS OF DOLLARS on passenger trains. Just an idea, I don't live in the States so I'm not sure how much you like being groped by goons with a badge just so that you can visit your parents.

An alternate solution (2)

khallow (566160) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156550)

How about the US fix current infrastructure instead of creating a whole new infrastructure for which nobody has demonstrated the need? For example, air flight is already the US's "high speed rail" yet it is ridiculous burdened by two problems, a grossly inefficient security apparatus and airports with poor scheduling.

To be blunt, there's no reason that a passenger should have to wait more than a few minutes for a flight unless security screening throws up a warning sign. In fact, the only reason they do is due to insufficient screening infrastructure. You should be able to show up at the airport a half hour before the flight.

All the top airports overbook flights (in a similar fashion as the airlines overbook the actual planes), that is, they pack in more flights per unit time than can reasonable be handled. When any minor delay creeps in, then flight queues can quickly back up hours, propagating those delays throughout the air transportation system. I think a simple solution would be tiered flight service. Planes that wish to leave promptly would pay a fee for the privilege.

My view is that eliminating most of the two hour security delay and prioritizing departure traffic would go a long way towards improving existing air flight infrastructure and in the long run would be a better used of federal funds than building a high speed rail system.

Lets go to Mars instead. (1, Insightful)

orphiuchus (1146483) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156554)

You want to actually inspire people? Challenge us to make it to Mars before the end of the decade. It would be a true show of superiority, unlike building something China has had for years, and we might just get some useful technology out of it.

Plus, if it doesn't work we can just fake it like last time!

The secret to creating jobs... (4, Interesting)

Maltheus (248271) | more than 3 years ago | (#35156558)

...is a stable regulatory environment. It's the constant changing of the rules that keeps employers from hiring, not a lack of green technology. I'm sick and tired of Democrats and Republicans using the Treasury as a credit card for their buddies.

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