Category Archives: high speed rail

Here’s why the future of the Caltrain Corridor is so important

Information from Curbed SF Mar 2, 2017 and Streetsblog Los Angeles (blog)-Feb 27, 2017

The electrification of commuter rail service between San Jose and San Francisco was all but ready to begin construction when Donald Trump’s transportation secretary, Elaine Chao, pulled the rug out from under the project earlier this month..

When California Republicans convinced the Department of Transportation to hold off on a $647 million federal grant for the transit corridor’s electrification plan, they did more than stall transportation progress for the region. The delay would put thousands of new jobs and much-needed housing projects on hold indefinitely. It’s not hyperbolic to say that the future economic growth of California stands in peril.

This is worrisome, to say the least. So much so that Caltrain created a petition on the White House site, urging the current administration to reverse course. But it’s about more than simply moving forward with electrification. Caltrain’s success is inextricably tied to multiple transportation and housing issues throughout the state.

President Trump is “barking up the wrong tree” about High Speed Rail

Just read a great story by MARK WHITTINGTON about Donald Trump’s interest in high speed rail may be made obsolete by the Hyperloop. Passengers and cargo could be moved at supersonic speeds at a fraction of the cost.

President Donald Trump is interested in building high-speed rail lines across the United States. The idea is that 200 miles per hour trains would whisk passengers and cargo between destinations, substantially cutting down travel times. However, an emerging technology called the #hyperloop may already be about to make the high-speed train obsolete.

The Hyperloop would propel people and cargo in pods down a sealed tube using magnetic accelerators at speeds more than 700 miles an hour. The technology was invented by SpaceX’s Elon Musk and is now being refined by a number of private companies. Musk claims that a Hyperloop line between Los Angeles and San Francisco would cost about $6 billion to build as opposed to the nearly $70 billion (and growing) that the proposed high-speed rail line is estimated to cost. The line would be solar powered and, since it is built on elevated pylons, would have less of a “footprint” than a rail line. Hyperloop lines could be built along Interstate highways.

The Trump administration should approach the siren call of building railroads with caution. To be sure existing rail lines and tunnels, some of them approaching a century old, need upgrading. But if a way can be found to move people and cargo between cities at greater speeds, as less cost, powered by renewable energy, using less land, then that way should be seriously considered. Great care, at any rate, should be taken when spending hundreds of billions of dollars. Perhaps a prototype project, connecting two cities somewhere in the United States, should be undertaken to test the usefulness of the Hyperloop before committing to high-speed rail.

Perhaps President Trump should start with a “smallish” project: connect Louisville and Chicago. AMTRAK has fallen on it’s face over the years on this one. Well, they have an airport and an Interstate Highway.

Our company has already proposed this project to HYPERLOOP ONE, the leading company in the Hyperloop field. We have already published details of this project.

We have tried to make it as simple as possible and bring costs down. We follow Interstate Highway 65 from Louisville to Gary, Indiana. Then, knowing the extreme difficulty of entering Chicago from the East, we took a novel change. Passengers and freight stop at the Gary International Airport and change to the South Shore Railroad (already rebuilt with government funds). Passengers get off at Millennium Station in downtown Chicago.

First finished Brightline train, now steaming to South Florida

Siemens workers gather as the first completed Brightline train gets set to roll from the manufacturing facility in Sacramento, Calif., bound for South Florida.

The train, consisting of two diesel-electric locomotives and four coaches, all decked out in Brightline Blue, arrived in West Palm Beach on Wednesday after a 3,000-mile journey from the Siemens manufacturing hub in Sacramento to South Florida. By rail, of course.

The train will now begin undergoing testing along the Florida East Coast Railway line between West Palm Beach and Miami, the company said.

Brightline’s parent company, Florida East Coast Industries subsidiary All Aboard Florida, is scheduled to start regular express passenger service between West Palm and Miami, with a stop in Fort Lauderdale, next summer. The company intends to add service to Orlando in 2018.

Connecticut’s WALK BRIDGE: Save It, Replace It or Reuse Parts?

A lot of more than just local interest in the “WALK BRIDGE” in Norwalk, Connecticut. The Metro-North Railroad Walk Bridge in Norwalk, Conn. Some Norwalk officials are calling for the Connecticut Department of Transportation to replace the Walk Bridge with an ‘iconic’ structure and some residents will likely miss the existing 120-year-old bridge. The Norwalk Preservation Trust states that the bridge is on the National Register of Historic Places and if the state must replace the bridge it should fully fund a Norwalk Historical Society Museum exhibit on the bridge and railroad.

This bridge carries not only dozens of Metro-North commuter trains, but also vital to AMTRAKs NorthEast Corridor between Boston and Washington, DC.

As the state gears up to replace the Walk Bridge, sentimentality is growing among local people over the iconic structure that has marked Norwalk’s skyline for 120 years.
“The loss of the existing bridge, its catenaries and high towers, as well as its brownstone structural elements would forever change the character of the area,” wrote the Norwalk Preservation Trust in its response to the Connecticut Department of Transportation’s report on the project. “We respectfully request that the repair and retention of the existing bridge be given further study in the hopes that demolition can be avoided.”

If the railroad bridge and its “associated elements must be demolished,” the NPT wants the DOT take a number of mitigation measures such as leaving the historic granite or brownstone abutments in place, or reusing them as part of the new bridge.

When built in 1896, the bridge was both state-of-the-art and also the last of its breed.
“In its wide proportions and heavy steel construction, the Norwalk bridge exemplifies the railroad swing bridge at its height of development: after the mid- 1890s, nearly all movable bridges were bascules of one type or another,” reads a portion of the nomination report that landed the bridge on the register.

Dick Carpenter of East Norwalk, author of “A Railroad Atlas of the United States in 1946,” said the Walk Bridge is the only four-track swing bridge that he knows of on a major rail line in the nation. That and its age are its distinguishing characteristics, he said

DOT, after considering more than 70 design concepts, ruled out repairing the existing bridge or replacing it with a fixed-bridge. The state’s preferred replacement is a 240-foot vertical lift bridge that would cost $425 million to $460 million to build. Work is slated to start in mid-2018.

“We are aware of numerous other century old bridges across the country that have been repaired and maintained and are expected to last for another century and beyond, such as the Williamsburg Bridge in New York,”

High Speed Rail Addressed By International Forum

News from the International High Speed Rail Association Forum, which brought together 286 participants from more than 20 countries in Kyoto on November 17.

Describing high speed rail as ‘a game changer’, IHRA Chairman Masafumi Shukuri said that it had the potential to transform society. He pointed to the Tokaido Shinkansen, now in operation for 52 years, suggesting that there was still a need to leverage the transformational impacts. Chairman Emeritus of JR Central Yoshiyuki Kasai noted that the line had created a single belt of cities that was the foundation of economic success for Japan.

In a video message Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said construction of the Chuo Shinkansen with superconducting maglev technology would revolutionise high speed rail in the 21st century and create ‘a corridor of regional revitalisation’. Minister of Land, Infrastructure, Transport & Tourism Keiichi Ishii believed the maglev project would change the national economic and social landscape, creating a ‘super mega-region’ and connecting 70 million people.

IHRA Vice-Chairman Torkel Patterson reported that high speed rail had advanced considerably in the last two years with commitments to develop lines in India and between Kuala Lumpur and Singapore. ‘We are not sure how they will be done, but they will be built’, he said.

There is a need for co-operation, but this was no longer a certainty in a world coming to terms with drastic and unexpected changes exemplified by the Brexit vote and the arrival on the scene of President-Elect Donald Trump.

Gotthard Base Tunnel In The Alps Begins Passenger Service

Regular passenger train services through the Gotthard Base Tunnel begin. The longest rail tunnel in the world, it is the centrepiece of the planned AlpTransit rail network that will speed people and cargo through Switzerland and under the Alps. It was inaugurated on Jun 1.

The 57km (35-mile) tunnel is expected to service 65 passenger trains per day reaching speeds of 250 kmh (155 mph), along with up to 260 freight trains. It cuts the 3.5-hour travel time from Zürich to Milan by an hour and reduces the journey from Zürich to Lugano to one hour 40 minutes.

A parallel service, running hourly, begins in the same month on the original Alpine railway link, which involves countless bridges and loop tunnels and passes through the old 15 km (9.3 mile) Gotthard tunnel, which was built in 1882.

Engineers broke through the final barrier in the new Gotthard in Oct 2010. With rock cover up to 2,300 metres (7546 feet) in depth, it is also the deepest rail tunnel in the world. It has overtaken Japan’s 53.9 km (33.5 mile) Seikan rail tunnel as the longest in the world and pushed the 50.5 km (31.3 mile) Channel Tunnel linking the United Kingdom and France into third place.

Ridership and revenue grow on Hoosier State Train

The Hoosier State welcomed 2,428 riders in September, a 46 percent increase from September 2015 and the fifth straight month that ridership exceeded the same period in 2015. Ticket revenue totaled $82,324 in September – a 64 percent increase from September 2015 – marking a full year of revenue exceeding the same months the prior year.

On-time arrivals between Indianapolis and Chicago averaged 86 percent in August and 82 percent in September. Yesterday CSX Transportation replaced the manual switch near the Crawfordsville station with a new switch that is expected to cut 8 to 15 minutes from a one-way trip.

INDOT and the on-line communities contract with Iowa Pacific Holdings to provide the train equipment, train maintenance and new on-board amenities. Under a separate contract, Amtrak serves as the train operator, works with host railroads, provides train and engine crews, and manages ticketing and reservations.

U.S. transportation chief Foxx sees high-speed rail construction in California

Anthony Foxx, accompanied by California state Transportation Secretary Brian Kelly and Jeff Morales, CEO of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, toured several of the sites in Fresno and Madera counties where major construction is underway on the first stages of the statewide bullet-train project.

Those included a 1,600-foot-long viaduct to carry the high-speed tracks above the Fresno River, Highway 145 and Raymond Road east of Madera; a new bridge and elevated tracks across the San Joaquin River and the Union Pacific Railroad tracks at the Fresno-Madera county line near Highway 99; and the new Tuolumne Street bridge over the future high-speed tracks in downtown Fresno.

More than $3 billion from the Obama administration – much of it from the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act – is being used for work in the Valley.

Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/high-speed-rail/article108802387.html#storylink=cpy

High speed railway delivery service covers 505 Chinese cities

Chinese state-run express rail delivery service China Railway Express says its now able to serve all the cities across China which are directly connected to the high-speed rail system.

China Railway Express director Huang Jian says they are now able to provide three-tiered delivery services to 505 cities across China.

“For economical services we are able to deliver goods within 72 hours, charging 10 yuan for the first kilogram. Prices for delivery within two days start at 17 yuan for the first kilogram. For the same-day delivery, the price starts at 130 yuan.” (One Dollar is 6.8 Yuan)

China Railway Express began in 2014, and serviced around 100 cities at that time.

The company is a subsidiary of the China Railway Corporation, which is the former Ministry of Railways.

China is home to the world’s longest high-speed train system, with tracks covering over 20-thousand kilometers.

Railroad tracks back in service after Hurricane Matthew

Railroad tracks in St. Augustine that were underwater during Hurricane Matthew were back in service Tuesday, according to a spokesperson with Florida East Coast Railway.

Crews went out Saturday and put more rock around the tracks and made repairs.

Some railroad signals in Flagler and Brevard counties are out because of the power outages there, and generators have been put in those locations to power the signals until power is restored.