Tahawus: The Upper Works and Into The Backwoods

Sponsored by Adirondack.net and Tahawus: The Upper Works and Into The Backwoods – AARCH

When: Thursday, Sep 28, 2017 – 10:00 AM to 3:00 PM
Where: Tahawus , Tahawus Road Newcomb, NY 12852
Cost: $35 for members, $45 for non-members
The tour begins at 10:00 am and ends around 3:00 pm, and includes hiking on uneven ground and standing for long periods of time. On this tour, you will look at more than a century and a half of mining and settlement at this site and its progression through two mining era’s, time as a sportsman’s club, decades as ghost town, and now as a well-interpreted historic site. The fee is $35 for members and $45 for non-members.

 

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Tahawus: Railroad to a Mine

CSX Woes Hurting Shippers…Wake Up Hunter Harrison

Dozens of U.S. trade groups have asked federal rail regulators to investigate CSX Corp’s “chronic service failures,” saying problems at No. 3 U.S. railroad have rippled across the North American rail network, according to a letter seen by Reuters.

The letter, from the Rail Customer Coalition sent on Monday, is the latest challenge to CSX Chief Executive Hunter Harrison’s effort to ramp up productivity at the Jacksonville, Florida-based railroad and fulfill investor expectations for substantially better financial performance.

The 44 trade groups, representing chemical and agricultural companies, steel and auto makers, and beer producers and importers, among other companies, told U.S. lawmakers on House and Senate Transportation committees “chronic service failures” could degrade the nation’s broader rail network.

“This has put rail dependent business operations throughout the U.S. at risk of shutting down, caused severe bottlenecks in the delivery of key goods and services, and has put the health of our nation’s economy in jeopardy,” they said.

The shipper groups want Congress to make it easier for them to file complaints and allow other operators to use CSX track during service disruptions, according to their letter.

CSX spokesman Rob Doolittle said the company has acknowledged that some customers are experiencing service issues as Harrison implements his vision for driving efficiency, known as Precision Scheduled Railroading.

The letter comes about two weeks after the Surface Transportation Board notified Harrison of complaints about CSX’s service. And an analyst survey last month found shippers have moved freight to rival Norfolk Southern Corp and truckers.

CSX’s service problems were exacerbated by an Aug 2 derailment in rural western Pennsylvania that forced the company to re-route trains. Federal safety officials are investigating the cause of the accident.

Shippers and employee sources said Harrison’s changes and cuts are causing rail cars and trains to sit idle or be re-routed across multiple states, delaying product shipments, and leading to inadequate customer service.

Crowley Maritime Corporation hauled 150 container loads by truck from Charlotte, North Carolina, to Jacksonville, Florida, and then loaded them onto Florida East Coast Railway trains to avoid CSX’s system issues.

Current and former CSX employees say the railroad is suffering from poor communication from leadership, job cuts, and rapid changes to operations – like doubling train sizes, shutting hump yards where train cars are sorted, increasing the frequency of crew changes on a service line, and blocking overtime pay.

In Montgomery, Alabama, dwell times jumped to 60.9 hours from 35.8 hours a year earlier, and doubled in Nashville, Tennessee, to 71.9 hours. However, some of CSX’s cost-cutting moves do not appear to be dramatically affecting operating performance in other locations, based on data CSX provides to the AAR.

At CSX’s Barr Yard in Chicago, roughly seven managers now run the company’s service line, down from more than 35 managers a month ago, an employee told Reuters. The overall work force has been halved by furloughs, he said.

A Mystery

They are al the same!

Lori Greer in Portland

Maybe you can explain this to me.

I rise early to take my dog Ginny for walks before the temperatures rise.

I have a floor fan that she sleeps in front of most of the day and evening.

So, why when we are outside does she lie in the sun rather than the shade?

After all, she’s the one with the fur coat!

20170811_115706 Lunch on the patio.  Lots of shade!

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Elon Musk’s Hyperloop is getting closer – but it’s not the gamechanger he imagined

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop, the vacuum tube-based train he once claimed would complete the 350-mile trip from Los Angeles to San Francisco in half an hour, has taken its first baby steps towards reality after reaching 192mph in a test.

In concept, Hyperloop is not only faster than a regular train, it’s faster than any planes carrying the public around. If they work, he’ll even export them to Mars. It sounds outlandish, but Paypal, Tesla and SpaceX have gone well so far, so he has some credibility in the bank.

In this case, he’s an ideas man rather than an engineer, and the Nevada test was undertaken by Hyperloop One, one of several unaffiliated companies started up to make his dream a reality.

But if you haven’t been paying close attention, you might be surprised to find that things aren’t going exactly as planned.

It is not that fast

While 192mph is a fairly fast speed for an average train and proof that Hyperloop One’s engineers can get some kind of vehicle through a tube, it’s also a somewhat disappointing introduction to the world.

Bullet trains in Japan go 2oomph all the time. The Eurostar, between Paris and London, goes up to 186mph on its current route, without utilising bleeding-edge technology.

The Hyperloop will undoubtedly speed up as engineers get to grips with their project, but it’s a matter of degree. To go fast enough to get from LA to SF in half an hour, as The Verge points out in an interesting explainer, the Hyperloop would have to go more than 700mph on average.

The test is nowhere close, and the way the technology looks, it’s going to be difficult to make gains beyond what conventional trains can already do.

It’s not what he said it was

Musk’s original top-of-the-head plan for Hyperloop – he excels at top-of-the-head plans – was for tiny three-person pods which shoot down one-way tubes. They would initially be propelled, and then would slide quickly and effortlessly through the vacuum.

What happened in the test does not closely resemble that plan. The test pod was 28 feet long and 11 feet in diameter – it looks a bit like a bus with a beak, or a conventional bullet train – and it was launched by an electric system before switching to magnetic levitation, or maglev.

This is not the same as levitating through a vacuum – though the engineers did pump most of the air out of their concrete tube to speed the craft’s travel.

Fast trains already exist

The thing about using maglev for Hyperloop is that maglev already exists. It works. In Japan, it has reached speeds of up to 375mph – manned – in tests, and the Shanghai version goes 270mph in the wild.

Trains long and short, fast and slow, are being levitated by magnets across the world. If the question posed on California’s west coast is “how do we ferry people quickly from Los Angeles to San Francisco”, then the obvious answer is “maglev”.

The Japanese version, due open this year, will make the 250-mile trip from Tokyo to Osaka in just over an hour. It’s not quite the 30 minute LA-SF trip, but it also doesn’t require inventing questionably practical new technology to make a pod go 700mph in a vacuum tube.

The current train from LA to SF takes about 12 hours direct, although it’s a sightseeing route, and the half-train half-bus route through inland Bakersfield takes 10. If train travel was a priority, would they not have improved on this already?

They’re trying. The California High Speed Rail Authority has planned a high-speed link by 2029 that will run the course in 2 hours 30 minutes – unless the Hyperloop hype gets in the way of its funding and planning.

Its technical requirements will be nearly impossible to fulfill

Let’s say Hyperloop works as promised. Let’s say it can theoretically travel 700mph through a vacuum tube and get passengers – perhaps even a beaked bus full of passengers rather than a three-person pod – across a distance of 350 miles.

It still has to be built, and this is where much of the backlash so far falls. Musk promised it would cost just £6bn – a sixth of the budget for Crossrail 2, which is set to cover the slightly less traversed Broxbourne to Surrey route.

That would drastically undercut the California High Speed Rail Authority’s plan, if it was remotely realistic.

It assumes the tubes can fit in all manner of strange places, including the middle parts of motorways – less likely now they look like they’ll be bigger – and that the sheen of Silicon Valley disruption will make it somehow vastly cheaper to build things like viaducts across valleys – which would revolutionise civil engineering in general and is also very unlikely.

Why viaducts? Because a pod shooting along a vacuum in a tube needs to be going very straight. If it’s going 700mph, with all the G-force implications with the slightest turn, then the tube needs to be very, very straight.

And it’s hard, to say the least, to secure the rights to an exactly straight line worth of land between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

but we might still get something out of it

Of course, there is no obligation for anyone to make the exact vacuum tube envisioned by Elon Musk. And there are places in need of fast, relatively environmentally friendly travel outside California.

Hyperloop One is just one among a variety of companies which have proposed hyperloops everywhere from India to Australia to the Czech Republic to Britain’s East Coast Main Line.

The sometimes blind faith in Musk’s abilities as a visionary is driving investment – and even if California turns out to be a disaster, it might teach us lessons we can apply elsewhere. London to Manchester in 26 minutes anyone?

inews

So Why Is The Upper East Side So Popular?

A leafy haven known for its venerable museums, high-end boutiques, and close proximity to Central Park, the Upper East Side has a reputation for being one of Manhattan’s most charming—and, admittedly, staid—neighborhoods. Recently, however, the entire city seems to be heading uptown. With the opening of the first phase of the long-awaited Second Avenue subway line earlier this year, an influx of new establishments with a downtown sensibility is turning this sleepy enclave into the city’s hottest place to be.

Port in a storm for new Port Authority chief Rick Cotton

At 8 a.m. Monday, the watch changes and Rick Cotton is piped aboard as the new executive director of the Port Authority. Let’s hope he’s wearing a life jacket.

Serving as Gov. Cuomo’s special counsel for interagency initiatives for the last two-and-a-half years after a long private career, Cotton is a guy who’s gotten some big things done.

He helped Cuomo get the Second Ave. subway and new Tappan Zee Bridge done.

He helped Cuomo get the transformation of the Farley General Post Office into the Moynihan Station and a new Penn Station started after 25 years of dithering.

He helped Cuomo get the overhauls of LaGuardia and JFK airports, and the expansion of the Javits Center, underway.

But all those jobs look easy compared next to the task of piloting the $5-billion-a-year agency founded in 1921 as the Port of New York Authority. The problem is that the decidedly junior partner in terms of population and economic strength, New Jersey, has half the board votes and each governor has a veto over all board actions.

 

 

 

That made it tough for the outgoing executive director, Pat Foye, who had to deal with three actual criminals, including Chairman David Samson, installed by Chris Christie. Even after Samson and Bridgegate felons Bill Baroni and David Wildstein were hauled away thanks to Foye’s whistleblowing, the replacement as chairman was the imperious John Degnan, who tried to blackmail New York to accept an overly expensive and elaborate bus terminal on the West Side.

Didn’t they learn anything from the overly expensive and elaborate $4.4 billion boondoggle that was the white marble PATH station at the World Trade Center, another Jersey special foisted on New York?

Besides watching the Port’s end of the Queens airport rehabs, Cotton must engage with our cross-Hudson friends on NJ Transit and Amtrak’s overly expensive and elaborate Gateway project to dig new passenger rail tubes into Penn.

New tunnels are imperative to help trains move through what are now choked arteries between Jersey and Manhattan. But as currently planned, Gateway is a mess.

Once priced at $20 billion, with $10 billion pledged from the feds and $5 billion per state, estimates have ballooned to $30 billion even as D.C. has seemingly reneged on its $10 billion share.

The answer is to push ahead on digging the tubes but otherwise cut Gateway way back. Scrap a plan to tear down a huge swath of Midtown for a new Penn South terminal costing $6 billion. And raise one instead of two new bridges over the Hackensack River, which will save another $2 billion. Maybe a smaller, smarter, cheaper and quicker Gateway can attract the feds.

Perhaps an even harder lift for Cotton will be to advance a rail freight tunnel from Jersey to Brooklyn. That was the raison d’être for the Port’s birth in 1921. To his great credit, Cuomo wants the tunnel to relieve the roads from punishing truck traffic and bring freight to New York with the same efficiency it gets most everywhere else in America.

New York should be as pushy when it comes to trimming back Gateway and boring the freight tunnel as Jersey has been over the years.

It’s long past time for the senior Port partner to start getting its way.

The Delaware and Hudson in Recent Memory

We have just updated our Delaware & Hudson Railway WebSite

https://penneyandkc.wordpress.com/delaware-hudson-railway/

We have added lots of new material called “The Delaware and Hudson in Recent Memory”

See some great advertising, maps, time tables and posters of the D&H

We hope you enjoy it like we do.

Alan Chartock’s The Capitol Connection: How Cuomo can turn it around

I was recently considering what Andrew Cuomo could do to turn his low polling numbers around. As I have explained in the past, he doesn’t get great numbers upstate. He’s a Democrat, albeit a middle of the roader, and that doesn’t play that well above the burbs. Now he needs to worry about how he’s doing in the Big Apple and its environs.

The Cuomo name has always been gold in the city. His papa Mario has been worshiped as a semi-deity there for years. Since most people know little or nothing about New York State politics, the Cuomo mantel was all that was necessary for Andrew to get approval. But that was before the “Summer of Hell” on the New York subways and the commuter trains in and out of the city. As the appointing authority of the MTA, Andrew took credit for building the Second Avenue Subway so he couldn’t then deny his role in the collapse of the subway system even though he tried to do exactly that. Clearly, he and his cohorts had the mistaken impression that Donald Trump might help out by financing some of the work necessary to repair the mess in the sweltering, accident prone underground system.

So Andrew made sure that Joe Lhota, a real expert on things subway, now heads the beleaguered MTA. That was a good idea and Cuomo and his colleagues deserve credit for the appointment. The problem for Andrew is that Lhota, who already has experience heading the MTA and ran for mayor against — guess who — Bill De Blasio, is a Republican and a Giuliani protégé. It’s no secret that Cuomo has personal problems with De Blasio so he grabbed an opportunity to take a shot at his mayoral nemesis by elevating Lhota to the chairmanship of the MTA. Cuomo never seems to learn that people are fed up with his war on De Blasio. But he gets points for the Lhota appointment because the guy is good. If people perceive that Cuomo is moving aggressively in a bi-partisan manner they may return to the pro-Cuomo fold.

If I were giving Andrew some other advice, I think I would suggest that he do more of what Papa Mario did. Cuomo, like Donald Trump, seems to have his own private war with the press. Papa Cuomo had regular press conferences which he seemed to relish. His son does not. Papa Cuomo was eloquent. Junior is anything but. If you are to win popularity in New York, you need the press on your side. My unsolicited advice to Andrew would be to work on his communication skills. He should make friends by just being honest, accessible, transparent, and open with the people who write and talk about him. That way he would be the beneficiary of a certain kind of respect and camaraderie that often exists on both sides of that relationship. Maybe Cuomo feels that because the press as an institution polls so low, he can afford to ignore them. What’s more, Cuomo should avoid trying to buy loyalty from some members of the press by giving them unfettered access. He tried that in the beginning of his governorship with disastrous results.

As long as I am giving him advice, let me add that he has to be very careful about the amount of power he gives his subordinates. One of the reasons why his numbers are so low is that several of his former close associates face trials that could land them in jail for a good part of their lives. Not only that, his treatment of his fellow political actors like Tom DiNapoli, the state Comptroller, and Eric Schneiderman, the Attorney General, has been disgraceful. People don’t like that. He needs to learn how to play nice. Maybe then his numbers will rise from the low point where they now reside.

Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at alan@wamc.org.

He publishes in the Troy Record

Elon Musk’s Hyperloop Is Doomed for the Worst Reason

Regulations are killing America’s boldest dreams.

When Elon Musk tweeted that he had “verbal govt approval” to build a Hyperloop to carry passengers from New York to Washington in half an hour, everyone with a lick of sense about transportation rolled their eyes. It was obviously delusion, fantasy, and hype — science-fiction nonsense.

In a different era, skeptics would have focused on the technology: a magnetic levitation system shooting passenger pods along through a tunnel that maintains a near-vacuum for hundreds of miles. Gee whiz! That’s impossible!

But nowadays we’re blasé about technological challenges. If geeks can put a supercomputer in everyone’s pocket, we imagine they can build a mag-lev pod transit system. Musk does, after all, have his own space program.

No, what makes Musk’s Hyperloop plan seem like fantasy isn’t the high-tech part. Shooting passengers along at more than 700 miles per hour seems simple — engineers pushed 200 miles-per-hour in a test this week — compared to building a tunnel from New York to Washington. And even digging that enormously long tunnel — twice as long as the longest currently in existence — seems straightforward compared to navigating the necessary regulatory approvals.

We live in a world where atoms are much harder to do anything with than bits — and where atoms that require regulatory permission are the hardest of all. The eye-rolling comes less from the technical challenges than from the bureaucratic ones.

With his premature declaration, Musk is doing public debate a favor. He’s reminding us of what the barriers to ambitious projects really are: not technology, not even money, but getting permission to try. “Permits harder than technology,” Musk tweeted after talking with Los Angeles mayor Eric Garcetti about building a tunnel network. That’s true for the public sector as well as the private.

“For some urban context: a recently opened stretch of subway in New York cost $4.5 billion for less than 2 miles of rails. It was first proposed in 1919 and opened to the public in January 2017,” wrote Bloomberg’s Tom Randall, concluding drily. “These things take time.”

The Second Avenue subway is an extreme example of a general phenomenon. As I’ve previously written, a large infrastructure project may take three or four years of actual construction. But the work can’t even get started until there’s been a decade or more of planning and design. The bottleneck isn’t the actual construction, in other words. It’s the ever-more-detailed analyses, reviews and redesigns required — and often litigated — beforehand. (For New Deal nostalgics, this also explains why the stimulus bill passed in 2009 couldn’t easily include a full-blown Work Progress Administration-style jobs plan.)

“It took two years just to complete the geotechnical and environmental studies for the Chesapeake Bay tunnel project that’s about to begin” in Virginia, wrote Randall. And that’s just one of the states Musk’s Hyperloop tunnel would have to pass through.

The obstacles facing a run-of-the-mill highway, tunnel, or bridge are great enough. Throw in untried and unfamiliar technology and you’re asking for endless delays. Those delays aren’t, however, facts of the natural world. They’re human artifacts. They don’t have to be there. SpaceX and its commercial-spaceflight competitors can experiment because Congress and President Barack Obama agreed to protect them from Federal Aviation Administration standards.

Musk is betting that his salesmanship will have a similar effect on the ground. He’s trying to get the public so excited that the political pressures to allow the Hyperloop to go forward become irresistible. He seems to believe that he can will the permission into being.

If he succeeds, he’ll upend not merely intercity transit but the bureaucratic process by which things get built. That would be a true science-fiction scenario.

From Bloomberg View

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