Category Archives: high speed rail

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MORPC and Partners Kickoff Regional Corridor Analysis Study

A group of Central Ohio community leaders joined the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) in kicking off a new study aimed at assessing the potential for compact development in our regional transit corridors and how high-capacity transit could better serve residents in the region.

MORPC projects that Central Ohio is expected to grow by up to 1 million people by the year 2050. Insight2050 shows that compact development patterns, characterized by infill and redevelopment, are more responsive to the changing demographics that come with that growth and the increased market demand for smaller residences in walkable, mixed-use environments.

The Regional Corridor Analysis will study a variety of metrics to assess the impact(s) of compact development along five regional corridors, and study the relationship between these corridors and the various types of high-capacity transit technologies, which are defined as transit beyond local or express bus service. Examples could include Bus Rapid Transit (BRT), Light-Rail Transit (LRT), Commuter Rail or intercity rail.

“With this focused approach to growth, Central Ohio communities have the potential to capture some of the new market demand, support smart mobility options like those being developed in Smart Columbus, and provide benefits associated with compact development,” said MORPC Executive Director William Murdock. “It also presents the opportunity for high-capacity transportation options that support infill development goals and provide accessible options for residents and employees.”

MORPC is partnering with the City of Columbus, the Central Ohio Transit Authority (COTA), the Columbus District Council of the Urban Land Institute (ULI Columbus), the Columbus Partnership, Groveport, Dublin, Whitehall, Reynoldsburg, Westerville, and Bexley on the Regional Corridor Analysis study.

For more information on the Regional Corridor Analysis study please visit http://www.morpc.org/our-region/insight2050/index or contact Jennifer Noll at jnoll@morpc.orgor 614.233.4179

Elon Musk to compete for high-speed rail loop in Chicago

CNET.COM

The billionaire tech entrepreneur joins the competition to build a high-speed loop connecting O’Hare Airport to downtown Chicago.

Elon Musk wants to take his train to Chicago.

The billionaire tech entrepreneur tweeted Wednesday that his Boring Company will compete to design, fund, build and operate a high-speed loop connecting O’Hare Airport with downtown Chicago.

Musk’s statement came after Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel asked for proposals to build and operate a high-speed rail line that will whisk passengers from the airport to downtown in 20 minutes or less, cutting travel times in half. Contractors will also have to figure out how to finance it without taxpayer dollars, Emanuel said.

Musk, the brains behind SpaceX and Tesla, created Boring Company to build transport tunnels that provide an alternative means of transportation and alleviate traffic congestion. But Musk’s plan for Chicago is a little different than his Hyperloop, a futuristic form of transportation that, if it ever moves past the drawing board, would use electromagnetic pulses to shotgun passengers through low-pressure tubes at near-supersonic speeds.

“A Loop is like a Hyperloop, but without drawing a vacuum inside the tube,” Musk tweeted. “Don’t need to get rid of air friction for short routes.”

So how will passengers travel, you might ask?

“Electric pods for sure. Rails maybe, maybe not,” Musk said in a reply in the thread.

China’s space-age rail network may be in pipeline

The Nation

BEIJING – Designers are investigating a revolutionary system that would employ magnetic levitation and hyperloops.

A poll recently conducted by Beijing Foreign Studies University showed that the speed and convenience offered by high-speed rail, online shopping, shared bikes and mobile phone-based payment apps are the four things young expats in China view most favourably.

And of those four items, it seems likely that high-speed rail will remain on the list for a long time as the country works to retain its place as the home of the world’s fastest trains. Now, Chinese designers are developing a bullet train capable of achieving a top speed of 400 kilometres per hour on conventional tracks, along with a magnetic levitation, or maglev, train that is expected to run at 600 km/h.

The country is even considering the possibility of building a system based on a transnational tube that would allow specially designed trains to travel at 4,000 km/h.

Last month, designers at China Aerospace Science and Industry Corp, one of the country’s biggest space contractors, announced that they had started research and development work on a futuristic ultrafast transportation system popularly known as a hyperloop.

The CASIC hyperloop will see maglev lines running in partially elevated tubes or tunnels along which streamlined, engineless trains will travel at speeds of 1,000, 2,000 and 4,000 km/h, according to Mao Kai, chief designer of the system at CASIC. So far, there is no indication of how much such a system would cost.

By comparison, China’s fastest wheeled train in commercial operation travels at about 350 km/h, while large commercial jetliners usually fly at 900 to 1,000 km/h.

The highest speed ever achieved by a railway vehicle was 603 km/h. That record was set during a test run of the Japanese L0 Series superconducting maglev in April 2015. However, the fastest operating speed of a commercial rail vehicle is 430 km/h, and was attained by the Transrapid maglev, developed in Germany, on a 30.5 km stretch of line that runs to the Pudong International Airport in Shanghai.

CASIC is the first Chinese enterprise to begin developing a hyperloop system capable of allowing trains to travel at 1,000 km/h or faster.

Depth of experience

The project will benefit from the company’s experience in systems engineering and supersonic vehicles, CASIC said in a statement. The company is the third in the world to embark on such a venture, following Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and Hyperloop One in the United States.

Mao said CASIC is working with more than 20 institutes at home and abroad on the project and its technicians are striving to develop key technologies, such as those required to construct elevated hyperloop tube systems.

He added that once the project has been developed sufficiently, CASIC plans to construct a short line for trial runs for the 1,000 km/h version.

The 1,000 km/h and 2,000 km/h versions of the system would be used for intercity travel, while the 4,000 km/h version would form part of a transnational ultrafast transportation network, according to Mao.

“The reason we are eager to develop a 4,000 km/h version is that we believe such a line is technologically feasible, and that it will have business potential in terms of long-distance transportation in the future,” he said. “Of course, safety and comfort will be at the top on our agenda when we develop hyperloop lines.”

The maglev train’s acceleration and deceleration within the tube would have to be relatively gradual and smooth to ensure passenger comfort, he said. Moreover, landforms and engineering considerations would determine what proportion of the line would be aboveground and how much would run underground.

Research competition

Zhai Wanming, an academician at the Chinese Academy of Sciences and a professor of traction power at Southwest Jiaotong University in Chengdu, Sichuan province, previously told Xinhua News Agency that when trains travel at 400 km/h or faster more than 80 per cent of its traction power is used to counter air resistance. Therefore, a train can only maintain ultrafast speeds by running within a partially elevated tube, he said.

The idea of using magnetic levitation within a partial vacuum to carry people or cargo was floated by scientists many years ago. However, it gained new traction in 2012 when tech tycoon Elon Musk, CEO of SpaceX and Tesla, announced his ambition to build a hyperloop between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

Hyperloop Transportation Technologies and Hyperloop One have designed and produced prototypes and have signed agreements with several countries to conduct feasibility studies, according to media reports.

In May 2014, Southwest Jiaotong University announced that it had built the world’s first experimental elevated loop tube for technological demonstrations of a high-temperature superconducting maglev vehicle it has developed.

A senior Chinese maglev scientist, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said vehicles reached constant speeds of 40 to 50 km/h during trial runs in the university’s loop tube that were conducted to assess the system’s overall design and resistance to vibration.

The scientist, who is close to the university’s research program, said the college plans to develop vehicles capable of running at 400 km/h in a partially elevated loop tube. He added that the institute is also in talks with provincial authorities regarding research and development of a next-generation maglev/tube system with an estimated speed of about 1,200 km/h.

With regard to the feasibility of CASIC’s hyperloop plans, the scientist said the company’s researchers will need to address a number of technical issues, including communications and equipment-cooling techniques in an elevated environment.

“Moreover, CASIC will have to pay great attention to its project’s profitability. My estimation is that the 1,000 km/h version will be economically and technically feasible,” he said.

“Of course, from a technical perspective, the 4,000 km/h model could also become a reality if the engineers are able to work out solutions to issues related to propulsion, levitation and control.”

Those points were echoed by Zhao Lin, an associate researcher at the National Laboratory for Superconductivity at the Chinese Academy of Sciences. Zhao said any enterprise that is seriously considering investing in a hyperloop system will have to take a wealth of factors into consideration.

“For example, the ultrafast speed would generate a lot of demands on the track and the material from which the maglev system is made. In addition, the cost of constructing and maintaining a long-distance, elevated tube would be extremely high,” he said.

‘Traditional’ approach

Even before CASIC announced its hyperloop program, engineers at the State-owned railcar manufacturer CRRC Corp, the world’s largest train maker, had started developing a new-generation bullet train with an operating speed of 400 km/h, which will probably become the fastest train in service on the planet.

It will be deployed on a series of new lines the government is planning to connect nations participating in the Belt and Road Initiative, a multinational economic venture proposed by President Xi Jinping in 2013.

The initiative consists of the Silk Road Economic Belt, which will link China with Europe via Central and Western Asia, and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road, which will stretch from southern China across Southeast Asia, and even to Africa. The government estimates that the initiative could benefit approximately 4.4 billion people in 65 nations.

The axles and wheels of CRRC’s new bullet train will be designed so they can be adjusted to fit a range of track gauges used outside China.

At present, goods can only continue their journeys after they have been transferred to rolling stock with the appropriate gauges when they cross national borders, according to professor Jia Limin of Beijing Jiaotong University, who heads China’s high-speed railway innovation program, in an earlier interview with China Daily.

Experts have also been testing an ultrafast bullet train capable of travelling at about 600 km/h, but its designers have stressed that it has been built to test next-generation railway technologies rather than for commercial use.

Moreover, CRRC is designing two types of maglev-a 600 km/h high-speed version and a 200 km/h mid-speed version. The company expects to put them into service sometime around 2021, according to the designers.

At present, China operates 124,000 km of rail lines. That figure includes more than 22,000 km of high-speed track, about 60 per cent of the global total.

Every day, at least 4 million people use the nation’s high-speed trains, accounting for 50 per cent of daily user numbers on the country’s entire rail network

Bullet train in India has multiple benefits; it’s economically viable

India’s first bullet train between Mumbai and Ahmedabad will benefit the country and its industries, besides giving a boost to skill development, says Achal Khare the man who is leading the project’s minute-to-minute implementation.

Why does India need a bullet train? What is its economic viability?

Japan has done a very detailed feasibility study. As per their assessment, the economic rate of return is around 11.8%. So, economically the project shows a good sign. Savings on account of time, reduction in accidents and fuel – all add up. A lot of traffic from the roads is expected to shift to high-speed trains. As of now the project is economically viable.

Wherever Japan has built bullet train (network) in its country, earnings have increased drastically. If the normal growth was 60-70%, the growth in areas where high-speed rail runs is 150%. The overall area gets developed. That opportunity is there in India too. I am hopeful that in addition to the bullet train per se, transit oriented development will happen along the route. A number of hubs will come up. I hope that Virar will get developed into a major hub, because it will have connectivity with Mumbai with hardly 27-28 minutes distance. Boisar is another area that can come up as another major commercial hub. The project also has an element of Make in India. The industry will benefit because of that. We hope that a number of joint ventures will take place.

What are the engineering challenges? Can India absorb 100% of the technology?

There are challenges other than the under-sea tunnel. We are working in Indian Railways territory in Vadodara, Ahmedabad and Sabarmati. We have to work in a very limited area, with train operations on the existing track. Above that we have to build the high-speed network. For example, at Sabarmati, we have to build high-speed train over the rail overbridge and the metro network. There are technical challenges which we are confident we will find solution to with the help of our Japanese colleagues.

What about HYPERLOOP? Will existing Indian railway system benefit from the learning of this safety technology?

You cannot put the technology from one place (project) to the other. But the overall work culture can be translated on Indian Railways. So, yes it will definitely benefit the existing India railway system also.

Hyperloop will be tested in Amravati. What is the longevity of a bullet train project? Will it get outdated in the next few years?

There is no commercial service available for Hyperloop as of now. Once it is put to commercial service, then only we can talk about it. But the bullet train technology has been serving Japan for the last 52 years. It is a proven technology. With Hyperloop, I can’t comment.

FINANCIAL EXPRESS of INDIA

European Champion In The Rail Industry

The engineering giants Alstom and Siemens are to tie up their rail operations. Alstom of France and Germany’s Siemens say that the merger will create a new “European champion in the rail industry”. The new group,which will be led by Alstom’s chief executive Henri Poupart-Lafarge will be called Siemens Alstom and is expected to compete against China’s state-backed operator CRRC. Alstom makes TGV trains in France while Siemens makes the equivalent ICE inter-city trains that run on German long-distance routes. The French government,which owns around 20 percent of Alstom will shed its stake as part of the deal.

FRA Clears Hurdle for High-Speed Rail: DC to Richmond

The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) has announced the completion of the Tier II Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) under the National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) for the 123-mile section of the Southeast High-Speed Rail Corridor from Washington, D.C., to south of Richmond, VA.

This action moves the project one step closer to the construction phase of the Southeast Corridor, which will improve freight and rail traffic south of the nation’s capital.

The Preferred Alternative in the DEIS prepared by the FRA with the Virginia Department of Rail and Public Transportation (Virginia DRPT) will:

Reduce passenger and freight congestion and improve on-time performance
Accommodate planned and funded Virginia Rail Express (VRE) growth of four new round-trip trains
Accommodate forecasted CSX freight growth through 2045 (doubling from approximately 21 trains in 2015 to 42 in 2045)
Increase maximum train speeds from 69 mph to 79 mph between D.C. and Fredericksburg and to 90 mph between Fredericksburg and Richmond
Add nine new round-trip trains from D.C. to Richmond, with four continuing east to Hampton Roads and four south to Raleigh.

“Moving people and goods as quickly and as safely as possible is an important cornerstone of the Federal Rail Administration’s mission,” said FRA Deputy Administrator Heath Hall.

“As this project moves forward, it’s critical that we receive feedback from potential passengers and the public at large.”

FRA and Virginia DRPT will accept public comments on the DEIS for 60 days beginning on September 8, 2017.

Based on public comments on the DEIS and the Preferred Alternative, DRPT and FRA will prepare a Final EIS (FEIS), which will list environmental commitments to mitigate unavoidable impacts.

The total cost of the project is approximately $5 billion, which is estimated in 2025 dollars to reflect the first year of service; however, no funding commitments have been made for construction.

AMERICAN SECURITY TODAY

The New York City transit projects that never were

From pneumatic trains to a floating airport

Featured image: Norman Bel Geddes’s Rotary Airport design.

From NY Curbed

As commuters grow ever more impatient with an overcrowded and underfunded MTA, languish in summer traffic, and navigate the city’s far-flung, congested airports, it’s worth remembering: It didn’t have to be this way.

The trains, planes, and highways that shuttle New Yorkers from place to place are the systems we ended up with, but had things gone a little differently, we could be looking at a very different city. One where pneumatic trains send riders across the city on elevated tracks, Manhattan’s grid is crisscrossed by diagonal streets, or an airport floats in the harbor just off the Battery.

All of these are real projects that were planned for the city at one time or another in history, though none of them came to be—though they’re now brought to life in “Never Built New York,” a new exhibit at the Queens Museum. Running through February 18, the show includes original drawings and models, as well as installations and animations, that depict alternate New Yorkscapes.

Curators Sam Lubell and Greg Goldin, who also wrote a book of the same name, took us on a whistle-stop tour through some of their favorite unbuilt transit projects featured in the exhibit.
1870: Beach Pneumatic Transit

More than 30 years before the New York City subway debuted in 1904, inventor Alfred Ely Beach was hard at work on a very different plan for subterranean travel in the city: a pneumatic, tube-shaped train propelled by air from enormous fans. Though the New York State Legislature approved the plan, the local Tammany Hall government put the kibosh on the scheme.

But that didn’t stop Beach from building a working section of system, about a quarter-mile of it which he constructed illegally right across from City Hall at the corner of Broadway and Warren Street. Though it only had one station and one car, it was open to the public and ran for three years before being shut down.

1872: Rufus Henry Gilbert’s elevated railway

Elon Musk’s concept for the Hyperloop might sound futuristic, but it’s actually pretty retro. He was beat to the punch a century and a half before by another polymath, Dr. Rufus Henry Gilbert. Famed as a Civil War surgeon who performed amputations under fire, Gilbert later turned his attention to public transit. He put forth an idea for an elevated pneumatic train that would travel above the Manhattan streets through twin tubes supported by elaborately designed steel arches.

His steampunkish plan also included air-powered elevators to bring commuters up to the tracks and a telegraph system to send arrival information along the line—an innovation that even the modern MTA has yet to perfect. Though Gilbert got the go-ahead to build his system, the financial panic of 1873 stopped the project in its tracks.


A sketch of Rufus Henry Gilbert’s elevated railway. Courtesy Library of Congress

1908: Charles R. Lamb’s diagonal streets

As urban congestion began to skyrocket in the early 20th century, architect Charles R. Lamb conceived a design for Manhattan streets that would have radically altered the grid we know today. Drawing inspiration from European cities like Paris, he conceptualized a street plan that would have cut through Manhattan’s right angles with wide boulevards. “It was not only to improve movement through the city, but also to try to change the way in which the grid had made New York so powerfully a mercantile place,” Goldin explains. “So you would have these sort of serendipitous moments that become parks or places for monuments.”

1919: Daniel L. Turner’s expanded subway

To anyone who regularly rides the MTA, it’s painfully obvious what’s missing from the map: more crosstown trains in Manhattan, and more lines connecting the outer boroughs. A prescient 1919 plan by the Transit Construction Commission’s chief engineer, Daniel Turner, smartly addressed both issues. His design would have quadrupled the amount of crosstown lines and added trains that traveled directly between Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island, anticipating the congestion and overcrowding that would come to plague public transit in the city.

“He wanted to get ahead of the development rather than trying to respond to the development,” says Lubell. Alas, the plans were put on hold due to bureaucratic and financial constraints. But Turner’s legacy lives in on, to some degree, in the long-awaited Second Avenue Subway, a beefed-up version of which was also included in his scheme.

1932: Norman Bel Geddes’s Rotary Airport

Designer and visionary Norman Bel Geddes had plenty of futuristic dreams for New York City over the years. Among them was a proposal for an airport floating in New York Harbor less than a quarter mile from the Battery.

Resembling a massive aircraft carrier, the airport would rotate on massive ship’s propellers to allow the airstrips to align themselves with the prevailing winds, allowing for optimal takeoff and landing conditions. After they landed, passengers could quickly arrive in Manhattan via a moving sidewalk in an underwater shaft, arriving at the foot of Broadway. Not a bad commute. Though Bel Geddes took out a patent for his ambitious project, it never made it past the concept stages.
1945: William Zeckendorf’s Dream Airport

Few developers were better at getting press attention for their projects than William Zeckendorf, who employed architects like I.M. Pei and Le Corbusier and left an indelible stamp on the city. His wildest proposal was for an airport in the Hudson River built on a titanic, 200-foot-high platform stretching from 24th to 71st Streets. “It looks like the largest sheet of plywood you ever saw in your life,” says Goldin. The airport would have gobbled up much of the West Side, though it allowed for boats to land in piers underneath. After Zeckendorf got his scheme featured in a 1946 issue of Life, his publicity grab made a powerful enemy: all-powerful city planner Robert Moses, who shot down Zeckendorf’s plan with little fanfare.

China wants to develop the trains of the future

The state-owned China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) has claimed it plans to develop the next generation of trains, which can travel at speeds of up to 2,500mph.

Liu Shiquan, a deputy general manager at CASC, said their scientists would be looking to develop the super-fast trains of the future that could “fly on the ground”.

“The corporation has built rich experience and accumulated technological know-how through major projects, and it has the capabilities in simulation, modelling and experimentation for large-scale projects, as well as the world-class design capability for supersonic aircraft, all of which lay the important ground for the super-fast train project,” state-owned website The Paper wrote of CASC’s plans.

With connections to China’s defence ministry, CASC has already been involved in developing satellites, rockets and missiles; now plans are afoot to turn its futuristic tech closer to home.

China already has the largest network of high speed trains in the world, and is obviously keen to continue outstripping the competition. CASC officials have said they will work with more than 20 other research institutes, both domestic and international, in the quest to create the proposed 2,500mph trains.

Although the ‘flying train’ may be a way off becoming a reality, Chinese scientists also announced plans for an intercity train that can travel at more than 600mph – clearly designed to compete with American Canadian inventor Elon Musk’s hyperloop concept, which uses air instead of wheels and could result in speeds of more than 700mph. No date has been announced for when the hyperloop will be fully up and running, but earlier this week Musk shared footage of a test pod accelerating to 200mph in a few seconds as part of a competition to design pods for the high-speed system.

The Independent

China’s latest bullet trains will reach a blazing 400 km/h, faster than the Hyperloop One

China has officially reclaimed the title for world’s fastest train.

Come September 21, new bullet trains will be blazing their way across China at speeds of up to 400 km/h (248 mph).

Consider this China’s comeback, after a two-train collision in 2011 that killed 40 people. The top speed at the time was 350 km/h, but authorities throttled them to 300 km/h after the fatal accident.

The new trains will be returning to the 350 km/h speed, but according to state news outlet Xinhua, they’re capable of going even faster, at a maximum speed of 400 km/h.

To put that into context, here are some things that are slower than China’s new bullet trains:

(1) The Hyperloop One (so far)
The Hyperloop One, which is still in development, reached a speed record of 308 km/h (191 mph) earlier this year.
But stay tuned, it hopes to eventually hit its planned mark of 1,200 km/h in the future.

(2)A McLaren F1 car
The McLaren F1 XP5 set a world record for the world’s fastest production car in 1998, reaching 386m/h (240 mph). It went on to hold the title for more than a decade.

(3) A Peregrine falcon
Also known as the fastest bird in the world, the Peregrine falcon can go up to a staggering 389km/h (242 mph) when it is diving down to catch prey.

Mashable Tech