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The Improbable Story of the 184 MPH Jet Train

samzenpus posted about 3 months ago | from the have-jet-will-travel dept.

Technology 195

MatthewVD writes Almost half a century ago, New York Central Railroad engineer Don Wetzel and his team bolted two J47-19 jet engines, throttled up the engines and tore down a length of track from Butler, Indiana to Stryker, Ohio at almost 184 mph. Today, the M-497 still holds the record for America's fastest train. This is the story of how it happened.

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Nice site (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472595)

gereports.com
Could you be any more ... whatever the fuck you are?

Re:Nice site (4, Informative)

waddgodd (34934) | about 3 months ago | (#47472679)

You realize the J47 is a GE jet? Of course they're going to have a "look what cool stuff has been done with our crap" story or five. It's prolly the only place you can find that story told in a semi-reliable fashion anymore.

Re:Nice loose pussy! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472705)

i gave yo mama this DICK yo

atheist listen (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472621)

jesus is god and infant

A Century Ago (1, Troll)

djupedal (584558) | about 3 months ago | (#47472623)

....there were electric trams in New York. Then, a major US corporation named GMC lobbied to have them shut down and replaced with fossil-fueled rubber tired buses.

The result is the situation we enjoy today. Not a random act of destiny, but more an act of corporate greed, irresponsibility and old fashioned govt. graft. Welcome to America.

Re:A Century Ago (5, Insightful)

Charliemopps (1157495) | about 3 months ago | (#47472645)

Keep in mind, the majority of the negatives you're attributing to malice weren't even a concern to the majority of scientists at the time.

Re:A Century Ago (3, Insightful)

Irate Engineer (2814313) | about 3 months ago | (#47472657)

This. Fast trains are not rocket science...unless you live in the US of A. Here it is a Jetson's fantasy future world to have trains that can get you from point A to B faster than a car.

In the rest of the world, meh, not so much. Been there, done that.

Hate to break it you America, but our shit does stink. We're headed toward 3rd world status, all for the want of motivation.

I'll get modded to negative infinity pretty soon by the folks who can't face the truth, but America needs to get off its ass and get moving on a really basic level.

Re:A Century Ago (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472707)

It turns out that the US have a much better freight rail system than Europe. This is main reason that rail travel is slow in the US.

Re:A Century Ago (2)

stomv (80392) | about 3 months ago | (#47473733)

That, and the insistence of running freight, commuter rail, and long distance passenger rail on the same set of tracks.

Re:A Century Ago (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473245)

Europeans laugh when Americans think 100 years is a long time.

Americans laugh when Europeans think 100 miles is a long distance.

Any trip in America much longer than one tank of gas you're most likely better off flying, because if you're going that far you're probably going a LONG ways, and jets are faster than any train will ever be. America, unlike Europe, simple lacks a sufficient number of destinations beyond casual driving distance but close enough for trains to still beat planes because they don't have multi-hour turnarounds at every destination (i.e. ~100 - 400mi range, ballpark). And unless you take the train into a city center, congratulations, you have no way to cover the last few miles once you get off the train, whereas if you drive, the car's wonderful "goes exactly where you want" property comes into effect.

Re:A Century Ago (5, Insightful)

Sique (173459) | about 3 months ago | (#47473279)

Jets might be faster for the actual distance, but considering the whole time of travel, they aren't really faster. Boarding a train takes 5 mins. boarding a plane with all the security checks takes 1 hour. In this 55 mins, a bullet train of 150 mph goes 100 miles (and that's including acceleration). And then you have to go to the airport, while the train station is downtown, this takes another 1 hrs to get there, and 1 hrs to go from the airport downtown at your destination. In this time, the train has covered another 200 miles. Yes, the plane may take for the 400 mls flight only 1 hour, but the whole trip takes you 4 hrs, and in this time, the train makes it also to the destination.

Re:A Century Ago (0, Redundant)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473593)

..I think, in fairness, the AC above was rather making the point that America (@ ca. 3000 miles across..) is rather lacking in the 100-400 mile destinations that would make the train a more viable option - thus, your choice of a 400 mile journey as reference point negates the point somewhat.

Don't know about America, however, I live in central Europe, and, for me, time length of train journey would be of less important than the price - it should be cheaper than flying, it usually isn't, E.g., Berlin to Vienna, ca. 400 mile driving, train would be about 200 EUR+, flights leaving in an hour start at around 200 and drop to around 50 EUR for 14 days or so advance booking. The OP was correct, this (400 mls) around the normal average maximum inner-European point-to-point journey range - where the theory of the benfits of rail travel fails over the hassle of airports, is on price - flying remains, quite simply, too cheap an alternative.

Re:A Century Ago (1)

Bearhouse (1034238) | about 3 months ago | (#47473563)

You're right.

OK France is much smaller than the USA, but it's still pretty big, and the TGV trains have been a huge success, attracting travellers away from air and road. With zero fatalities since its inception.
And of course, runs on cheap, low-carbon electricty generated by France's nuclear power stations...
So fast, safe and green. What more do you want?

http://www.thetransportpolitic... [thetransportpolitic.com]

Re:A Century Ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473869)

Let's take Texas for comparison. It's 280k square miles vs France's 235k square miles. It has 28 million people, compared to 58 million in France. In 1965, it had 10 million people. In 1965, France had about 50 million people. France last had a population of 28 million in 1800.
This is relevant because tripling the population in 50 years means you are fighting just to maintain status quo. It also means that people are moving from other places in the country to Texas and are bringing their status quo expectations with them. Also, it means that construction in France happened long ago even before cars so their streets aren't well designed for cars so they need to minimize traffic.

Now, a high speed train between Dallas/Austin/San Antonio (all in a line) and between those places and Houston could have benefit. El Paso is also big enough to consider, but it's FAR away to connect to just a city of 700k. But because we are so mobile with cars, where would you put the stops? If it's just in downtown (as another poster suggested), that's actually WORSE than the airport where most people around Austin can get to the airport in less than 30 minutes of driving. It can take an hour or more during rush hour to get to downtown.

Additionally, France's population is scattered pretty evenly throughout the country (17k metro areas with 500k or more people), and they have many cool vacation spots in the country, from beaches to rolling mountains to high mountains and lakes with hills, etc. Texas is mostly focused on the center of the state + Houston on the coast and only has 6 metro areas with 500k or more people and for vacation spots... ummm, Austin? San Antonio (Riverwalk/Alamo)? For just taking a trip to Dallas/Houston/San Antonio, a train could make sense if there were enough stops in the city but as soon as it becomes popular enough, will the TSA want to be at each stop, too? We'd also need a much better in-city bus/train network to be able to travel without a car once at the destination.

Not only that, but people currently flying out of Texas are not usually flying to another Texas destination so it doesn't change our need for air travel much.

It's just not really comparable. The state closest to France is actually extremely different. Population is located in a central area, it's not touristy, and cities' population has exploded around cars. People want to travel long distances and they still need a car at the destination. So there will be a lot of duplication of infrastructure to create trains and if it's just one stop per town, it doesn't really save much time anyway.

Re:A Century Ago (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473597)

Hate to break it you America, but our shit does stink. We're headed toward 3rd world status, all for the want of motivation.

You need to leave the US. Seriously.

I get so sick of assholes like you who shrilly rant about the US; you're worse than the emotive little fuckers on all of the left-leaning web sites like Slate and Jezebel. For an engineer (which I doubt you really are; you're just some prick with an MS who is in the 'those who can do, those who can't, teach' camp) you sure are bitchy.

So, back to my original point: leave my country. I'm an engineer and I've carried a rifle for it in times of war. I doubly you've earned your way as I have; you were simply born into it. We really need to get to the Starship Troopers model where you earn the right to vote via citizenship.

Re: A Century Ago (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473619)

Shut the fuck up, and fuck you very much your service.

Re:A Century Ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473723)

when did the country become yours and you get to make rules? Ever heard of "democracy"?

Re:A Century Ago (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473851)

Those who served their country should be the only group allowed to vote, the rest of you fucking assholes can get deported for all I care. I'd rather have the Illegals here. At least they dont get all teary eyed talking about how gays and brown people are ruining their country.

Re:A Century Ago (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473863)

when did the country become yours and you get to make rules? Ever heard of "democracy"?

Since when was the USA a democracy to begin with? Go back to Civics class.

Re:A Century Ago (1)

chispito (1870390) | about 3 months ago | (#47472663)

Look at LA's transit history. Or watch Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Of course, in reality the Judge Dooms of this world won.

Re:A Century Ago (2)

captbob2002 (411323) | about 3 months ago | (#47473893)

That's a nice story you have there. The reality is a little more complex than an attractive conspiracy theory. http://www.citylab.com/commute... [citylab.com]

Railroads killed by the government... (4, Interesting)

mi (197448) | about 3 months ago | (#47472641)

Yes, I know, I know. The crazy Libertarian talk. But that is, what happened [wikipedia.org] — a combination of government regulating the cost of tickets, while imposing heavy taxes and building highways, where automobiles — both passenger and goods-carrying — could travel for less and less.

And then Amtrak took over all passenger rail-travel, and has never shown a profit since — losing money on the most idiotic things [bloomberg.com] — while, demanding the passengers "carry identification at all times" [amtrak.com] ...

Re:Railroads killed by the government... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473115)

Wait what? Where in the world do you buy a can of soda for $3.40? Somebody must be pocketing the inflated price. It would have been cheaper if they paid someone run to Costco and buy a trunk load of soda. Heck I can sell to Amtrack my soda and we both make a profit.

It also begs the question who's the genius selling them at $2.00

With fast food profiting majority from soda, how is it possible they can lose money on them. Oh wait I know it's not their money that spent on buying the product and it's government run so it's probably going to lobbyist and constituent firms.

Re:Railroads killed by the government... (5, Informative)

serviscope_minor (664417) | about 3 months ago | (#47473119)

And then Amtrak took over all passenger rail-travel, and has never shown a profit since

Neither has the interstate system. And AMTRACK has to compete with that *massively* subsized road system.

Re:Railroads killed by the government... (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473401)

Unless you count gas-taxes re-appripiated for mass-transit as a 'profit'.

Most of the Interstate is supported by fuel taxes. Fuel taxes are paid for by drivers. Who use the Interstate. So, I'd say that it's a pretty good case of 'user pays'.

Re:Railroads killed by the government... (1)

pupsocket (2853647) | about 3 months ago | (#47473767)

a pretty good case of 'user pays'.

More than 99% of road wear is caused by heavy trucks. Once again, humans subsidize businesses.

Re:Railroads killed by the government... (2, Informative)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 3 months ago | (#47473475)

I think pretty much everyone accepts the government killed passenger rail. It's not just what you mention, but also state support for suburbanization and the running down of Urban areas, including effective bans on Urban redevelopment (well meant but poorly thought out "parking mandates" effectively made it prohibitively expensive to redevelop land in cities), leading to the flight out of cities to areas where car ownership was mandatory.

As far as Amtrak losing money on food service, despite it becoming a right-wing meme that this true, it's dubious at best. Amtrak doesn't charge enough for food to cover the costs of providing it, but that's normal, both commercial services - even pre-1950s when most passenger services were profitable - and government provided services generally don't expect to make their money from charges for food.

What makes food service profitable is that passengers ride the train that otherwise wouldn't. Tell Amtrak to discontinue food service, and it would destroy ridership on their already poorly performing long distance services. The subsidy needed to continue operating them would skyrocket, and would be immensely high per-passenger.

This wouldn't even be an argument but for some stupid politics in the 1980s, where Congress started to micromanage the service and decided, despite the fact no commercial railroad would dream of doing such a thing, to demand Amtrak make food service "pay" for itself out of food service charges, rather than be paid for in part through ticket revenue.

So why is Amtrak unprofitable?

Amtrak's actually pretty profitable in one area, the NEC, which is where they control their tracks and were able to build a redundant (that is, a train covering stops already covered by other trains) service that people actually wanted to use, and charge commercial rates for it.

The big problem is outside of that area, it has much less flexibility. It runs very slow (average 40mph) trains that are slow because they stop every 20-30 minutes. Why do they stop every 20-30 minutes?

Want to know? Specifically, why does the SIlver Star stop in both Orlando and Winter Park which are both part of the same metro area?

Answer: because Orlando gives them Corrine Brown's vote when funding comes up in Congress, and Winter Park gets them a (semi-reluctant, he's having to avoid attacks of being a RINO from a strong Tea Party movement) John Mica's vote. And likewise there's a train in, I don't know, the North West that stops every twenty minutes to get votes there too. And each vote crosses over. The votes in the North West are for both the Empire Builder and the Silver Star, you can't vote for one without the other. Brown and Mica's votes are, again, for the Silver Star and the Empire Builder.

Ludicrous? Yes. But we don't have a Congress based upon people deciding the "right" thing to do for the country, we have one based upon people deciding the popular thing for their constituents.

Given enough capital funding, Amtrak could probably do to the rest of the country what it's done to the North East, but it'll never get that funding, because what it needs to do is something that'd involve dropping stops, and thus dropping supporters. The good news is that private railroads are finally taking an interest, and there are projects in both Florida and Texas right now - active, in the process of getting regulatory approval, by companies who own or will own the tracks - to start building what people want to use, not what Congress makes possible.

I'm not blaming Amtrak for this state of affairs. I'm blaming Congress, and by extension, us voters.

Re:Railroads killed by the government... (2)

pupsocket (2853647) | about 3 months ago | (#47473613)

The long-distance railroads in the U.S. were built by giving away land stolen from other peoples. Not just land to build the lines on, but a checkerboard of land for miles on both sides of the track, land that the railroads could sell to recoup their capital.

Many of these railroads were later bought out by John D. Rockefeller so that he could kill his competitors in the oil business by making it unprofitable for anyone else to transport petroleum.

Subsidy and monopoly are the parents of American railroads. Only businesses benefit. Humans can take the highway.

Roads? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472643)

Where we're going, we don't need roads.

184mph (0)

DeathToBill (601486) | about 3 months ago | (#47472655)

Such fast. Very speed. Wow.

Re:184mph (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472673)

Such fast. Very speed. Wow.

That meme is so early 2014...

And? (4, Insightful)

ledow (319597) | about 3 months ago | (#47472661)

So in 1966 it took two jet engines to reach 184mph.

Whereas in 1938 it took only a quite ordinary, in-service steam train to get to 125mph.

Does anyone think that, by comparison, the jet-engine thing isn't really that impressive?

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472689)

The energy required is proportional to the square of the velocity. So 184 mph vs 125 mph is about twice as much energy. That's not counting the air resistance, either.

Re:And? (2)

Antique Geekmeister (740220) | about 3 months ago | (#47472715)

Oh, dear. _Energy_ is half the mass times the velocity squared. I'm afraid that's directly tied to the amount of fuel needed, not counting losses, to achieve that speed without friction. It's not really tied to the capabilities of the engines involved.

The difficulty is the necessary _thrust_, or force, needed to overcome resistance and _accumulate_ that much energy, and that much momentum, in the train itself. Even a well designed train will have considerable friction losses, at those speeds, in its own wheels and bearings. And the air resistance of a not-well-streamlined object can go up as the cube or more of the velocity, as turbulence forms and makes the resistive losses even worse.

Re:And? (-1, Flamebait)

Irate Engineer (2814313) | about 3 months ago | (#47472721)

Hey Jimmy*, drag is proportional to the square of velocity *because* of air resistance. Thought you might like to know, but knowledge doesn't seem to be your happy place.

You don't know what you're talking about AC, so please shut the hell up and let the more knowledgeable adults talk, m'kay?

And before you start getting all snarky, I teach engineering, and I am quite capable of telling you that you don't know your ass from your elbow.

You don't know your ass from your elbow.

So shut up. Now.

*Jimmy is my favorite pet name for dumbshits that don't know basic physics but like to spout off like they do on Slashdot.

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472767)

Hey Jimmy*, I'm somewhat skeptical that you teach engineering, because, well, you know, a teacher teaches. Maybe you stand in front of a classroom, but I'm quite certain that if you carry that attitude with you, you're doing little to transfer whatever knowledge you have to the poor saps that are paying to be in your class.
 
You could have had +5 informative for just banging out the relevant equations and saying, "this is what you have wrong, see how this works?" Shit, at least he correctly identified that going from 125 to184 requires more than just multiplying by 150%.

Re:And? (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 3 months ago | (#47473277)

a teacher teaches

... but good teachers also listen. And recognize when a student gets it right, even if the student expresses it "strangely". Irate Engineer doesn't seem to be able to notice when somebody speaks about energy rather than drag... and even if both may be proportional to the square of velocity, they are not the same thing!

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473649)

He teaches "social engineering". Or anti-social engineering, as it were.

Re:And? (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 3 months ago | (#47473271)

Hey Jimmy*, drag is proportional to the square of velocity *because* of air resistance. Thought you might like to know, but knowledge doesn't seem to be your happy place.

Please re-read "Jimmy"'s post. He was speaking about energy being proportional to the square of velocity, not drag. Reading comprehension...

Re:And? (2)

Crashmarik (635988) | about 3 months ago | (#47473485)

Hey Jimmy*, drag is proportional to the square of velocity *because* of air resistance. Thought you might like to know, but knowledge doesn't seem to be your happy place.

You don't know what you're talking about AC, so please shut the hell up and let the more knowledgeable adults talk, m'kay?

And before you start getting all snarky, I teach engineering, and I am quite capable of telling you that you don't know your ass from your elbow.

You don't know your ass from your elbow.

So shut up. Now.

*Jimmy is my favorite pet name for dumbshits that don't know basic physics but like to spout off like they do on Slashdot.

Not to beat a dead horse but drag is a force not a unit of power or energy and the amount of power needed to overcome drag is proportional to the cube of velocity not its square. While the force from drag is important in terms of the design of the train and the materials used in it's construction, it's the power requirement that is the determining factor for the engine spec.

Re:And? (0, Troll)

Irate Engineer (2814313) | about 3 months ago | (#47472691)

The engineering is easy. It's been done to death in other countries. Fast trains are a piece of cake...except for the U.S. Here it is a socialist plot to..to...to get people from point A to B quickly!

Here, in 'Murica, you must drive your car, citizen! Taking a train anywhere is blasphemy. You will be punished by courteous service, relaxed (but not the most expedient) travel, and sensible security precautions. Those missing their anal probing will have to submit to the airlines and the TSA, unfortunately.

The death of trains (4, Interesting)

mcrbids (148650) | about 3 months ago | (#47472769)

In Europe, they discovered that train wrecks were really, really bad. So they set about building a system of trains that didn't wreck, with numerous controls and systems to prevent collisions, resulting in an excellent safety record and low cost.

In the United States, they discovered that train wrecks were really, really bad. So they set about building a system of trains that survived wrecks with minimal injuries, with heavy crash cages and crumple zones in order to gracefully survive collisions, resulting in an excellent safety record and ridiculous costs.

Making a US train go as fast as an EU train is very difficult to do feasibly, since it weighs at least 4x as much per passenger.

Re:The death of trains (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472939)

In Europe, they discovered that train wrecks were really, really bad. So they set about building a system of trains that didn't wreck, with numerous controls and systems to prevent collisions, resulting in an excellent safety record and low cost.

In the United States, they discovered that train wrecks were really, really bad. So they set about building a system of trains that survived wrecks with minimal injuries, with heavy crash cages and crumple zones in order to gracefully survive collisions, resulting in an excellent safety record and ridiculous costs.

Making a US train go as fast as an EU train is very difficult to do feasibly, since it weighs at least 4x as much per passenger.

... since it weighs at least 4x as much per passenger. Are we talking American or European passengers? I think the conversion rate is about 2:1.

Re:The death of trains (2)

phantomfive (622387) | about 3 months ago | (#47473013)

FWIW since the US train system is designed for freight, not passengers, speed isn't really a priority.

Re:The death of trains (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473041)

Sorry, false. European trains have crumple zones, too. They're the areas near the doors, above the axles. You'll generally sit between those areas, not above the axles. This is especially true in high-speed trains where those areas are reserved for luggage etc.

As for "numerous controls", the EU rail safety system (ERTMS) is not exactly a resounding success. Over time, over budget, and as a result many countries still use their national, outdated 60's-era train control systems. Passing red signs happens in about 1E-6 of red signs, which is definitely an issue with todays crowded rail systems. High-speed rail is less susceptible though because it's newly built without level crossings.

Re:The death of trains (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 3 months ago | (#47473291)

High-speed rail is less susceptible though because it's newly built without level crossings.

Not throughout... or else incidents such as this [www.dna.fr] wouldn't happen...

Re:The death of trains (1)

defnoz (1128875) | about 3 months ago | (#47473657)

High speed rail != high speed train

In the French (and even more so German) models, the high speed network continues on normal track beyond the dedicated high speed routes, allowing service to places which wouldn't merit their own line. This is where such accidents occur - the train involved is incidental.

In Japan and Spain the HSR network is self-contained since the track gauge is different to the conventional network - If the US did ever decide to build a line I would expect it to be the same. Not because of the gauge, but to allow HSR to use existing technology which would not pass US rail safety requirements.

Re:The death of trains (1)

Drethon (1445051) | about 3 months ago | (#47473575)

Meh, mostly in the US if something is dangerous we prefer to regulate it out of existence rather than make it safer anyway.

I do find it interesting we can design a stock car that allows the driver to walk away from a 200+ MPH collision with a brick wall and still go like a bat out of hell but not so much with trains. I suppose fuel efficiency was never a major concern with the stock car though.

Re: And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472873)

"The engineering is easy"? Do you know what maintenance is like for the bullet train system? If not, look it up; it's a fun read.

Maintenance for all trains is high (2)

justthinkit (954982) | about 3 months ago | (#47473471)

Railways have the highest fixed costs of any transportation system. 25%, I was told 30 years ago when I worked on one.

High fixed, low variable cost. So adding one freight car = dirt cheap. Going one mph faster on a curve = very expensive, due to increased wear on rails, road bed, etc.

There is also the not small problem of grade. Trains dislike hills, with a grade over 1% being excessive to them. Cars routinely handle ten times this.

Grades dictate routes. The only way around this is tunnels & bridges. Either way, cost per mile for a track is much higher than for a road. With costs born by one company, rather than all of us.

It is a fundamental problem, that leads to the division of bulk (slow) hauling = railways, people & fast hauling = trucks/cars.

Re:Maintenance for all trains is high (1)

defnoz (1128875) | about 3 months ago | (#47473699)

There is also the not small problem of grade. Trains dislike hills, with a grade over 1% being excessive to them. Cars routinely handle ten times this. Grades dictate routes. The only way around this is tunnels & bridges. Either way, cost per mile for a track is much higher than for a road. With costs born by one company, rather than all of us.

1% is too steep for a 10000 tonne freight train, it's nothing for an electrified passenger line. High speed lines commonly have gradients of 3 or 4%. For comparison, in the UK the maximum gradient guidance for a motorway is 3% (the steepest is 5.6%). Curvature is the main constraint with HSR requiring curve radii of ~3 miles compared to 0.5 miles for motorways.

Tunnelling is actually not a massive cost these days - to the point where nearly half of the planned HS2 line here in the UK will be tunnelled, not due to geology but to avoid land grab and spoiling the countryside (in some rich areas, obviously). Alternatively you can do as the Chinese and build elevated lines which both avoids geography to an extent and reduces the land grab - in China it was cheaper to build viaduct than on the ground for land purchase reasons alone.

Re:And? (1)

stephanruby (542433) | about 3 months ago | (#47472881)

Here, in 'Murica, you must drive your car, citizen! Taking a train anywhere is blasphemy. You will be punished by courteous service, relaxed (but not the most expedient) travel, and sensible security precautions.

To be fair, taking a train to New York, or to San Francisco, is fine. It's only blasphemy when you take a train to a city like LA, where public transportation is a joke, and you end up waiting for a scheduled city bus that never comes.

You might as well just fly and rent a car when you get there, it's actually faster, more flexible (despite the TSA), and much cheaper than the train (assuming you don't mind planning your trips in advance and losing your checked-in luggage as a normal cost of flying in the USA).

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472923)

a socialist plot to..to...to get people from point A to B quickly

We use 600+ mph aircraft.......

Re:And? (2)

Belial6 (794905) | about 3 months ago | (#47472703)

That's how I feel about my 2012 Prius getting 42 MPG while my 1992 Geo Metro got 52 MPG.

Re:And? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472757)

You mean that 1992 Geo Metro that couldn't move out of its own way, would fucking kill you if you sideswiped a goddamn goat, shat out diesel fumes, and ran on three fucking cylinders? How was the aircon in it? The satnav? Oh, wait, it didn't have that shit. It also didn't have crumple zones, properly engineered seatbelts, or even PAINT THAT WOULD FUCKING STAY ON IT.

Knock a cylinder off the Prius and get more mileage. You also lose the ability to go more than about 80 MPH.

Seriously, retard, if you're that fucking stupid just stop talking and kill yourself. You won't be missed by anyone.

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473261)

Seeing as the Prius has power steering, AC, is more likely to save you than kill you in a crash, and can reach 75 without a 6% downhill grade (even if it's not a sportster), let's forgive it 10mpg. Yeah, there are old cars that got high mileage... by lacking what we now consider basic features.

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472753)

Well, there's the non-linear air resistance. Nevermind that though. I was more impressed by them having a decent track to do this one until I watched the video. It was indeed just a stunt run, by no means practical. There were grade crossings and the roads were closed for this one run. They had to do that because the gates wouldn't come down in time for a train running that fast.

Actually turning this into a practical train would have, as others have pointed out, required much more investment.

Re:And? (1)

wiredlogic (135348) | about 3 months ago | (#47472787)

Wind resistance follows a square law. It is impressive to get 47% more speed.

Re:And? (1)

Andy_R (114137) | about 3 months ago | (#47473329)

The frontal area to mass ratio of a train is tiny compared to almost every other form of transport, so that's less of a problem.

The limiting factor with trains is usually the track, for really high speeds you need to almost completely smooth out the bends and flatten the hills, the impressive part of the jet train is that it went so fast on a track designed for much, much lower speeds.

Re:And? (4, Informative)

jonbryce (703250) | about 3 months ago | (#47472795)

The Eurostar between London and Paris / Brussels does 300km/h (186 mph), and that is a normal scheduled service. It isn't even the fastest scheduled service in France.

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473103)

The record would be 574.8 km/h (357.2 mph). On some lines they regularly have passenger trains do 320 km/h (200 mph).

Re:And? (1)

ArsenneLupin (766289) | about 3 months ago | (#47473297)

That's not even fast... some cyclists are that fast!

Not the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473559)

One needs overhead wires, the other doesn't. Electrifying a track only makes sense on relatively short easily reachable sections. Reason? If a wire breaks, it would suck if trains for hundreds of miles can't ride while waiting for a repeair truck to travel for days to reach the site. So okay, this has little effect in say England where even Wales can be reached by a determined expecdition in under a week with barely any casualties, but in the desolation the is the USA, it creates an issue.

It also requires constant power to be supplied to the entire network, this is fine on a denseley traveled network but there is a reason they turn of the power at night on some railroads.

So, comparing trains that get their power from an external source to those who don't is rarely going to make sense. There still is a place for trains the generate their own power.

Also jet engines have come a LONG way since then, in fact there are jet engine powered trains in use. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gas_turbine-electric_locomotive

Not the same thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473901)

One needs overhead wires, the other doesn't. Electrifying a track only makes sense on relatively short easily reachable sections. Reason? If a wire breaks, it would suck if trains for hundreds of miles can't ride while waiting for a repeair truck to travel for days to reach the site.

Why people talk without knowledge of what they talk about?

I am from Europe, worked for the French and Spanish rail systems. You wont believe it, but we have batteries of all sorts, and other eventualities stuff.

If a wire breaks, mainly after lighting storms, repairing it takes hours, not days. Most of the time you could send energy from other place in 5 minutes, so the service is not interrupted.

The biggest problem we had was mechanics, like fracture on wheels and axis, detecting and controlling the size of fracture lines and so on. Electric motors and electric cables are orders of magnitude more reliable and simple than heat engines, let alone jet engines. Very few moving parts and very very simple.

Re:And? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 3 months ago | (#47472895)

A Bugatti Veyron has a 8L W6 quad-turbo 1000HP engine and goes 400kph.
My old subaru wagon had a 2L twin turbo 280HP engine with a top speed of 270kph.

That's only about 47% faster too.
Not really that impressive!

retard.

Re:And? (1)

ledow (319597) | about 3 months ago | (#47473073)

Further to my post:

The Mallard was steam-powered. It had 157.7kN of tractive effort. That's force (thrust) before rolling resistance.

Each one of those jets has 23kN of thrust before resistance. So two of them is still less than half of the Mallard EVEN IF you assume that half it's total energy is wasted trying to push the wheels at that speed.

And this had been 30 years earlier. Within only months of being built, and then going on to retirement as a normal train in 1963. This train had done it, casually, in testing, within weeks of being made, not on a test-track, and then served for 30 years before the jet-train had even existed.

And the drivers were in no doubt that it could have gone faster but they were on ordinary in-service train tracks with a 15mph speed limit at one point in their run! They weren't even really trying, and certainly couldn't have dared to try it as if it were a full-on effort to max out the speed as it was on a normal rail line through the British countryside.

Does this not just scream that, actually, strapping a couple of jets to something doesn't make it the "fastest" anything compared to decent engineering?

Sorry, I'm not a train nut, but I'm infinitely more impressed by the Mallard than I am some jet-train.

Re:And? (1)

Alioth (221270) | about 3 months ago | (#47473199)

The thing is the jet train - now I appreciate the effort and it is pretty cool - wasn't a train at all, it was just a light locomotive. The Mallard record was done with a train. It wasn't just a light loco, there were other vehicles coupled to the Mallard when it did the 125mph run.

Re:And? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473087)

Yes, impressive for what it was. More impressive is seeing a 100+ car consist hauling across wyoming at 70 mph ir so. Ok not so much, as at least the mainline by I80 has so many trains on it when I drive thru there... waiting for signals. Granted they're several miles apart...

Re:And? (2)

squiggleslash (241428) | about 3 months ago | (#47473545)

Nah. There's a lot of crap spoken about the NYC Jet train thing. One presumption, which has more to do with smarty-pants hindsight, is that it was a prototype for a serious train, that NYC actually planned to run high speed trains like that. But that's not the case.

NYC added jets to some unused rolling stock because it was a _quick_ _cheap_ way to get a train to go fast. They wanted a train to go fast because they were studying how high speed trains would interact with the track. Would it be possible to run them without huge infrastructure upgrade costs?

And lest you think "But track's track right? Surely all they have to do is make it strong enough", there are known problems with running trains at high speed on conventional track without significant engineering. The major one is something called "Hunting", which is an oscillation of the wheel sets between one extreme and the other that generates a kind of feedback loop. With slower trains, it's not a problem, there's not enough energy involved, but as the train reaches higher speeds, the wheelsets oscillate left and right with greater, and greater, violence. Anything over 100mph generally is thought to require a certain amount of attention.

"OK", you say, "But why jets? Why not just regear a normal locomotive and have it carry a couple of cars so it can get to that speed?" The answer to that is that a normal locomotive is heavy. Virtually every vision of high speed rail from sane people (that is, people who don't work for the Federal Railroad Administration) involves trains that are as light weight as practically possible, because heavy = more energy needed to start the train, heavy = more problems stopping the train in an emergency, and heavy = greater damage to tracks. Sticking a Jet, designed for an aircraft, a device known for needing designs where every pound of weight is justified, on a railroad carriage doesn't sound so insane now does it?

Had NYC continued to exist rather than being merged into PR in the horrific Penn Central project, and decided to make a serious go of this, you would have expected the research to lead to a conventional EMU style train, or maybe something like the APT with light weight cars and as light weight as possible electric motive units. No trains with jets. It's an interesting question what the railroad map of the US would have looked like had governments not imposed impractical restrictions on urban redevelopment, had they not overregulated the railroads, and had the Penn Central never happened.

Europeans bring lattes on their 180mph trains (1, Troll)

Ukab the Great (87152) | about 3 months ago | (#47472709)

Americans bring jet engines on their 180mph trains. Conclusion: Americans are so much more bad ass than Europeans. Now get off the track that runs through my lawn, you socialist hippie.

Oh, FFS (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472725)

This was mostly a publicity stunt by the New York Central, done on a very straight, well-maintained piece of track. The fact that they pulled it off does not mean that they could have run regular high-speed service at high speed over curves, grades, switches, etc. without prohibitive maintenance costs and serious risks of derailment.

Trolleys were ripe for the plucking when GM came around: farmers and other shippers had gotten state and local governments to pay for paving roads, while the trolley companies had to pay to maintain poles, wires, rails, etc. and were often charged with a portion of the costs when their public right-of-way was repaved. In some cases, the trolleys were subsidiaries of the electric utilities that furnished their power, which could then cross-subsidize them, but when the Insull utilities collapsed in the Great Depression, Congress passed the Wheeler-Rayburn Act and killed off that dodge. What GM got spanked for was trying to monopolize the "bustitution" market, but it was bound to happen anyway once massive public spending on paved roads began.

184 mph is the fastest train in America? (2)

Rosco P. Coltrane (209368) | about 3 months ago | (#47472729)

That says something about the state of train travel in the US. That ain't nothing to be proud of: there are trains in Europe and Japan that have been running regular services at higher speeds for a long time.

Re:184 mph is the fastest train in America? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472823)

You mean, in Europe (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, UK, Belgium, Netherland), Japan, China and Taiwan.
And 184 mph is about twice as slow as the world record (354 mph)

Re:184 mph is the fastest train in America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473065)

Nope, the Dutch record is ~150 mph. Can't go any faster due to vibrations; the one high-speed track in the Netherlands isn't on bedrock. You'd have similar issues if you tried high-speed rail in Florida or Louisiana. BTW, of those countries named, only three have domestic high-speed train designs (Japan, France and Germany); the others have bought derivatives of those.

Re:184 mph is the fastest train in America? (1)

itamihn (1213328) | about 3 months ago | (#47473189)

I think you are forgetting about Spain's AVE (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/AVE)

Re:184 mph is the fastest train in America? (1)

Chep (25806) | about 3 months ago | (#47473651)

AVE is a blend of TGV and ICE depending on the stock vintage

Re:184 mph is the fastest train in America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473289)

China make and design their own trains now.

Re:184 mph is the fastest train in America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473359)

And Italy too!
http://www.ansaldobreda.it/prodottieservice/high-speed-trains/etr-1000-nuovofrecciarossa

Re:184 mph is the fastest train in America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472845)

your comment says a lot about the level of reading comprehension you have managed to attain.

check out the first five words of the summary:
"almost half a century ago..."

Re:184 mph is the fastest train in America? (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 3 months ago | (#47472875)

Almost half a century ago ... still holds the record for America's fastest train.

It's still the fastest train to ever move in USA.

Re:184 mph is the fastest train in America? (1)

Alioth (221270) | about 3 months ago | (#47473205)

I'd say it's debatable that it was a train - it looks like just a light loco (nothing was coupled to it). You need at least two coupled vehicles to go from light loco to train.

Re:184 mph is the fastest train in America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472885)

You need to do some of that reading comprehension yourself. The summary is three sentences. This is the one you need:
"Today, the M-497 still holds the record for America's fastest train."
And look at that, it's the title of the post you were replying to:
"184 mph is the fastest train in America?"

Re:184 mph is the fastest train in America? (0)

DNS-and-BIND (461968) | about 3 months ago | (#47472971)

See, as soon as I saw this topic I knew someone would be along to shit all over America. Good job!

Highspeed trains need special tracks. Creating these tracks involves confiscating a lot of land from people along the way. Doing this creates many lovely opportunities for corruption in government as the route can go a lot of ways depending on who influences it.

"It says something about the state of train travel in America" yeah it sure does. It says that people would rather drive than be subject to that TSA garbage.

Re:184 mph is the fastest train in America? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473293)

Highspeed trains need special tracks.

It's lucky your cars don't need anything like that isn't it?
I just love driving my tank through peoples backyards/fields and the occasional building on my way between cities.

Re:184 mph is the fastest train in America? (1)

vidarlo (134906) | about 3 months ago | (#47473407)

Highspeed trains need special tracks. Creating these tracks involves confiscating a lot of land from people along the way.

Roads also need a lot of space. So I don't entirely see your point. Maybe roads need 20% less space or something, but it's not like they need no space.

Doing this creates many lovely opportunities for corruption in government as the route can go a lot of ways depending on who influences it.

We have solved huge parts of that in Europe. We do it with open goverment, post journals showing mail that has arrived to a government agency, political hearings were everybody can send in their opinion, and the agency has to comment and publish all hearing comments. This mostly works. In the cases where it doesn't work, a sufficiently pissed of party can take the case to court to have the process reviewed.

"It says something about the state of train travel in America" yeah it sure does. It says that people would rather drive than be subject to that TSA garbage.

Straw man. We don't have TSA garbage on european high speed railways. And while I can take the train for long distances in the Europe, I believe I'd be taking a plane in the USA, exposing me to that very TSA garbage.

Roads need more space, not less (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473675)

The track bed for a UK standard railway is about 11ft (4'8 1/2" for the track, 6ft between tracks, plus change for the rails themselves). You won't find many highway lanes that narrow.

Question for Amerifats (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472731)

Why can't you get your act together with high-speed rail?

No one is saying to build cross-country HSR. Start off with regional hubs. Then expand from there. Or do you Amerifats prefer being groped by the TSA to getting on a train?

Re:Question for Amerifats (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472789)

California's already doing a swell job.

Not only is the cost ballooning, but the route keeps getting shorter and the train keeps getting slower.

Re:Question for Amerifats (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472797)

Or do you Amerifats prefer being groped by the TSA to getting on a train?

False dichotomy. Everyone knows that as soon as rail were to become popular the TSA would slither its way in and demand the authority to grope people boarding trains, too. And all the courts would back them up.

TSA VIPR teams are already at some train stations. They are the vanguard. You know, like the Einstazgruppen were the vanguard.

Re:Question for Amerifats (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473101)

With the exception of the Northeast corridor, nobody wants it. I rode on Acella's predecessor, the Metroliner, and although it wasn't HSR the service was was fantastic so we can do it where there's demand.

California's HSR is a boondoggle before they even turn over a single shovel-full of earth. They should take whatever money they have and just get rid of grade-crossings in populated areas first. I'm from Virginia, a state not considered progressive, and we got rid of grade-crossings in populated areas ages ago. When I lived there, I considered grade-crossings a sure sign that I was in the sticks.

Imagine my shock when I got out to California and saw grade-crossings in places like Mountain View and Redwood City. These are not improvrished dumps in the middle of nowhere. That's Silicon Valley for cryin' out loud. With grade crossings, like it was Gainsville, VA... oh wait, I think Gainsville got rid of it's grade crossings when I was a teenager... ummm.... shit, I don't even remember where I saw grade crossings now in VA... I think around the Shenandoah Valley they had some. So yeah, Silicon Valley manages rail infrastructure like Appalachia. How fucked up is that?

Not so impressive... (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47472821)

Meanwhile, the Japanese Shinkansen (Bullet Train) started regular commercial service a full two years earlier in 1964. Shinkansen now routinely exceed 200mph, although the first ones (Series 0) ran at 137mph.

For those that have never used the Shinkansen, they are truly awesome. They leave and arrive to the scheduled minute. There is no TSA bullshit, so you can arrive at the station a few minutes before departure. There's loads of leg room. For any journey less than around 3-4 hours there is no point thinking about air travel.

Amusingly, the Shinkansen actually makes Japanese domestic airports more efficient as well. After all, the more crap a traveller has to deal with at the airport, the more likely they are to take the train. Thus, there is no TSA bullshit at Japanese domestic airports and you can arrive 10 minutes before your flight and easily make boarding.

Congrats America (1)

viperidaenz (2515578) | about 3 months ago | (#47472861)

Your fastest train of all time doesn't even make the top 10 current passenger trains normal running speed.

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Track-train dynamics (5, Informative)

Animats (122034) | about 3 months ago | (#47473093)

That jet-powered locomotive was neverintended as a useful means of propulsion. It was just to test track-train dynamics at higher speed. Not much was done with the info, since Amtrak wasn't into high speed rail.

The next big advances in high speed rail were Japan's Tokaido line and San Francisco's BART, both around 1970. The original Tokaido trains had conventional wheel arrangements, and required a very good and very high maintenance roadbed. The SF BART system had the first trains with an active suspension, with each car body supported on a triangle of three air bags controlled by electronic controls. This allowed a higher body height at higher speed, allowing more wheel travel and a softer suspension. Also, all wheels were powered, as is normal in transit operations.

The French TGV brought both of those ideas together - high speed plus active suspension with more suspension travel, with all wheels powered. This allowed high speed trains without excessive track wear. (That's a big problem with high speed rail. A French test in 1955 reached 331 km/h, but damaged the track seriously in only one run. There were serious doubts for years whether steel wheel on steel rail could ever go that fast in routine operation.)

As with cars, there's been more than enough power to go fast for decades. Wheel and suspension issues are what limit speed.

Re:Track-train dynamics (2)

Alioth (221270) | about 3 months ago | (#47473215)

You miss out one innovation - Talgo rolling stock. The company by that name in the Basque country (Spain) developed a lightweight, low CofG articulated train that could efficiently run at high speeds (Talgo is an anacronym - Tren Articulado Ligero Goicoechea Oriol - Lightweight Articulated Train by Golcechea Oriol). The current Talgo designed high speed units run up to 320km/h (just over 190 mph) and have an entirely passive tilting mechanism. The wheelsets are connected via the roof of each vehicle so the car will naturally lean into a corner without requiring the complex electronic controls that dogged the British APT experiment (incidentally the APT technology ended up being sold to the Italians who now use it in the Pendolino trains)

Almost (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473589)

What limits speed the most is corners, length of track and stopping distance.

Few things corner well at speed and you can only bank corners so far (as far as it would take for the train to fall of the tracks because fo the bank if it had to stop).

Trains also take time to get to speed and time to stop, there is no having a super fast train that can't get to speed before it has to stop again.

That is why it takes longer from the outskirts of Amsterdam to the central station then from any of the inter city stations around it the outskirts of Amsterdam. Straight rail with no crossings vs twisty track with lots of tracks merging, all at the same level.

TGV and Shinkansen (bullet trains) both got around this by simply building large straight sections between stations. Plenty a bullet train station said FUCK YOU to the existing train stations and just build a station on top of it, to give it the straight track needed for high speed.

The Brists and the Japanese Narrow Gauge networks had to try to make trains that lean into corners because these networks are all corners.

Power is indeed easy but making that power usable without launching the entire train or going 10 in 10.000hp train is the hardest trick of all, urban planning.

Bolted? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 3 months ago | (#47473457)

They bolted the engines? What does that mean? They threw bolts at the engines while they were running?

Wouldn't it have been safer to bolt the engines TO something?

English, people.

Self propelled (carries it's own jet fuel) that is (1)

gelfling (6534) | about 3 months ago | (#47473511)

The French or Japanese trains are electric which means they don't carry their own fuel. A jet powered train has to carry a huge amount of jet fuel just like a diesel engine or a coaler. Which is practical only where fuel is very cheap and you have a large capacity storage tank AND there's no electrified option.

Re:Self propelled (carries it's own jet fuel) that (1)

defnoz (1128875) | about 3 months ago | (#47473777)

The prototype TGV was powered by dinosaur juice - I believe they swapped to electric mainly because of an increase in oil prices. Maintenance was probably also an issue (the prototype was gas turbine-electric which has a terrible record in the rail industry).

But yeah, electrification is the only sensible option - you're fixed to the route of the track anyway (or if not you've got bigger worries than where your power's coming from) so why not stick some OHLE alongside.

Fastest? Depends how you define "train" (1)

defnoz (1128875) | about 3 months ago | (#47473751)

This "train" (debatable if it's a train if it's only one vehicle) would only hold the record for the fastest conventional wheeled train in the US anyway.

The record for the fastest railed vehicle in the US - hey, even the world - is more than an order of magnitude faster [militaryinfo.com] . I'll pass on having a ride though.
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