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Sir Rols

High Speed Trains

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Brio is sold in Sydney, at least it used to be when I lived there :) Brio is wooden (and Swedish) and can be used for small kids, unlike Marklin etc.

You're right. I have sen them (I think my young nieces and nephews even have sets). I was just thinking more of the bigger electric sets than wodden kiddie sets.

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Actually alot of people don't know this but there are several studies underway to offer more high speed rail in the United States.......some already mentioned earlier such as the California plan. There are also plans in the midwest, southeast, Florida, and Texas. In fact, I was reading where Texas was actually very close to creating a high speed rail triangle to connect Houston, Dallas, San Antonio, and Austin but it ultimately died after Southwest bitched and moaned.

Here are a few links and a map showing proposed high speed railways here in the USA (notice that a few go into Canada as well....in particular Montreal and Vancouver).

Answers.com high speed rail in the USA

Southeast High Speed Rail Corridor. this is a proposed rail corridor that would run from Wasington, DC to Charlotte, NC initially and further expand into Atlanta, parts of South Carolina, Alabama, and Florida.

California high speed rail authority

Picture from the USDOT about proposed high speed rail corridors in the USA:

High-Speed_Rail_Corridor_Designations.png

That is not bad a plan here. However, it is a little odd how some connections in the map between some possible high-speed train lines could be made, but it is not being made here.

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and the Amtrak Cascades (Vancouver-Portland-Eugene),produced for the spanish company Talgo...

Well, it is coincidential that you have put Vancouver here. In my previous post, I have quoted what Olympic USA posted and saw that Vancouver and Montreal could be connected in some way to the possible American high-speed train lines. Ironically, not Toronto, for whatever reasons I cannot fathom here.

Right now, in terms of where I live, Calgary is the "most isolated" city in the main Canadian rail networks for passengers. It is ridiculous that my city, with officially ONE MILLION people inside, can only be accessed by plane, commuter bus or private cars while the Alberta capital city of Edmonton is connected as such AND by passenger trains, too. Most of all, Edmonton's population is about the same as Calgary.

Sure, Calgary is connected to Vancouver by the Rocky Mountaineer, but that service is more catering to international tourists rather than ordinary Calgarians and Canadians. In fact, there has been no train service for the ordinary Canadian passenger to and from Calgary since around 1986. And, to top of that, Calgary is kept on considered as the "center of the Canadian economic dream" for the last few years by various Canadian economic circles. With the amount of money the Alberta government was getting recently, what is going on? Even the Canadian national banks have said that, if Canada would to have high-speed train services of any kind, the Golden Horseshoe corridor and the western Canadian "triangle" (Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary) should have them to make their respective economies more entrenched and grow by now.

Unfortunately, these "ambitious plans" will not come to fruition any time soon. Never mind that Alberta has a new Conservative government that is making rookie mistakes and Calgary seems to be paying for them so far in various ways, added to the previous Klein government that "preyed" on the city for other questionable gains. Also, Calgary is "running out of room" to make any commuter train service possible by concentrating on building more roads for the private car and running into political and social maliase with NIMBYs, First Nations, and others that see the city as a "land-grubber" in the process. Land-grubber, you say? Well, when you have a city AREA that is the largest in Canada with only 1 million people actually living in it, it is called URBAN SPRAWL. In fact, imagine the size of New York City and its transport infrastructure that supports it. If you were to compare both cities, then NYC is much more efficient than Calgary will ever be, if my city does not do something to correct this. Plus, they are about the SAME AREA SIZE!! No wonder my city is criticized by anti-urban sprawl groups and others like it around the world as being so inefficient that a five-year-old kid could tell something is wrong here lately. They are right. Planning in the city of this nature is just being made "on a fly" without finding out what the consequences of their actions will result. Commuter high-speed trains can help alleviate such problems to a degree and help other depressed areas of Alberta gain some economic activity from it. What are we waiting for? You try asking me that question and I will have no answer to it.

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Those plans have been around for years. I think with the advent of terrorism (whether muslim extremists, local loonies like Tim McVay; or the eco-terrorists), the idea just doesn't seem too feasible these days.

Well.....you have a point but terrorist have attacked transatlantic airliners in mid flight, such as Pan Am 103 and Air India 182. Both of those incidents happened in the 1980s yet you didn't see a flock of people returning to crossing the ocean via ships.

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Well.....you have a point but terrorist have attacked transatlantic airliners in mid flight, such as Pan Am 103 and Air India 182. Both of those incidents happened in the 1980s yet you didn't see a flock of people returning to crossing the ocean via ships.

The point is (1) airplanes fly 30,000 ft. above -- only a US, a Russia or a China can have missiles that hit accurartely at that distance; (2) planes are NOT held down to a known AND definite path as TRAINS ARE. A plane can change course, speed, etc., in a split-second -- and THERE Are the anti-missiles defenses now in place. A TRAIN travels (is locked into) a KNOWN, VISIBLE, extremely reachable path. I mean, the comparisons aren't even in the same league!! :blink:

Edited by baron-pierreIV

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The point is (1) airplanes fly 30,000 ft. above -- only a US, a Russia or a China can have missiles that hit accurartely at that distance; (2) planes are NOT held down to a known AND definite path as TRAINS ARE. A plane can change course, speed, etc., in a split-second -- and THERE Are the anti-missiles defenses now in place. A TRAIN travels (is locked into) a KNOWN, VISIBLE, extremely reachable path. I mean, the comparisons aren't even in the same league!! :blink:

That is true but if trains were such high targets for terrorist then how come the ACELA train hasn't been attacked? Heck it runs through the most populated area of the USA.

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That is true but if trains were such high targets for terrorist then how come the ACELA train hasn't been attacked? Heck it runs through the most populated area of the USA.

So, should it be on a schedule to be attacked? :rolleyes: Those fools just haven't shifted their thinking yet.

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I always thought it was dumb to propose a high speed train from, say, LA to Vegas (which California lawmakers have been talking about for a number of years now), since most people who travel between those two places either drive or fly.

I have an internet friend who lives in India, and he and I once got into a discussion because he brought up how the US' train system sucks, that even in India, people travel across country by train. I told him that most Americans fly across the US, and many others take road trips in cars, something he totally doesn't identify with, and I pissed him off when I said that he can't identify with it because "India's highway infrastructure is nowhere near the US'." Hehe!

But anyway, here's an opinion article from the Los Angeles Times:

Bullet trains won't get us anywhere: California should abandon its expensive pipe dream of high-speed rail transport.

by James E. Moore, department chair of industrial and systems engineering at USC

THE MAIN problem with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's 2007-08 budget proposal to cut funding for the California High-Speed Rail Authority is that it does not go far enough. Instead of eliminating 90% of the agency's funding, he should shut the thing down permanently.

The bond measure to pay for the first leg of the rail system, first set for the 2004 ballot but delayed twice by the Legislature, should be removed from the 2008 ballot and canceled. Public resources would be better spent on just about anything else, including delta levies, roads, prisons and schools.

The rail authority wants to link Sacramento and the San Francisco Bay Area to Los Angeles and San Diego by building a rail system for trains traveling at more than 200 mph. Established in 1996 and made a permanent agency in 2002, it has worked to convince politicians and voters that a bullet train is a viable alternative to building more roads and airports.

Unfortunately, the system's financial plan is weak. A Federal Transit Administration review of urban rail projects in such cities as Miami, Baltimore, Atlanta and Washington, released in the early 1990s, shows that cost and ridership estimates issued by public agencies are invariably too optimistic. Given the exceptional scope of its plan, the high-speed rail authority's figures appear to be no exception.

Even if the cost of precision, high-technology railways running hundreds of miles — routed through tunnels under mountain ranges and grade separated at more than 1,000 intersections — did not exceed the $40 billion the authority projects, the system would never recoup its capital costs through fares and fees. To do that, the fare for a ride on the mythical bullet train would have to be about twice as high as that for an average-priced ticket on a commercial aircraft. Transportation that is slower — and more expensive — than aircraft cannot compete with aircraft.

Europe has a high-speed rail system that out-competes cars and planes for trips ranging from 120 miles to 230 miles, but there are good reasons for that. Gasoline prices in Europe are, at a minimum, twice those in California. Airline deregulation came late to Europe, making it more expensive to fly in those countries. More Americans than Europeans use their cars to make trips longer than 300 miles, and more Americans than Europeans board low-cost jets to travel to destinations less than 500 miles away. Even with environments better suited to high-speed rail service, the Japanese and Europeans still have to subsidize their systems.

The 2004 train bombings in Madrid demonstrate a lethal point: Trains are a security nightmare. The safe operation of a high-speed train system requires securing the entire right of way. The 2005 Metrolink crash near Glendale was caused by a Jeep Cherokee deliberately parked on the tracks at an intersection. We do not have the means to secure rail rights of way adequately in the Los Angeles area, much less for a new statewide network. Airplanes are secured at airports. Once they are in the air, security problems are virtually eliminated.

California's population growth and strong economy may eventually overtax the capacity of its airports, but airports are much cheaper to build or expand than a high-speed rail network. A new, top-of-the-line airport might run about $10 billion. A substantial increase in capacity at LAX would cost about the same, but $5 billion would buy a lot of airport in Palmdale because land there is cheaper.

If airport congestion became acute, airfares would rise, which would effectively curb air-travel demand in the short term. Eventually, though, the day will come when regional and national interests will require greater airport capacity, and cities and counties may have to use eminent domain to expand their metropolitan airports. If we feel civic guilt about this, displaced residents should receive a premium above market value for their property. Such generosity would still cost only a small fraction of a statewide high-speed rail system.

Bullet Trains Won't Get Us Anywhere

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Well, that's all fine and dandy, but LA's mentality regarding such things is completely bass ackwards. Plus in LA, you need a car to even get around, so a train from SF to LA will have a disconnect in LA, because what do you do in LA without a car? Arrive in SF, and you're in the heart of downtown at the new Transbay Center. You connect to BART, CalTrain, Muni, and dozens of bus lines. Or just walk to your destination.

SF Bay Area's 9 counties population of 11M+ plus Los Angeles and San Diego's millions more, you simply cannot keep building multiple airports. What happens to ground traffic? SF Bay's BART system is pretty taxed as it is. THey can't squeeze anymore trains through the Tube.

Build an airport in Palmdale, how long will it take to get to Downtown LA? How about from John Wayne? Ontario? High speed bullet train is a smart choice for California. The population growth and density requires alternatives to cars and planes.

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Well, that's all fine and dandy, but LA's mentality regarding such things is completely bass ackwards. Plus in LA, you need a car to even get around, so a train from SF to LA will have a disconnect in LA, because what do you do in LA without a car? Arrive in SF, and you're in the heart of downtown at the new Transbay Center. You connect to BART, CalTrain, Muni, and dozens of bus lines. Or just walk to your destination.

SF Bay Area's 9 counties population of 11M+ plus Los Angeles and San Diego's millions more, you simply cannot keep building multiple airports. What happens to ground traffic? SF Bay's BART system is pretty taxed as it is. THey can't squeeze anymore trains through the Tube.

Build an airport in Palmdale, how long will it take to get to Downtown LA? How about from John Wayne? Ontario? High speed bullet train is a smart choice for California. The population growth and density requires alternatives to cars and planes.

You missed the whole point of the opinion article. The guy is NOT anti-rail, but anti-HIGH-SPEED rail. It's more cost-effective to fly from LA to SF than it is to build a high-speed train from LA to SF, which would cost a lot of money and ultimately would not even be as fast as taking a plane.

And you're wrong about LA not wanting better public transportation. Our Metro Rail is growing as we speak, with more light rail lines already under construction and more planned, not to mention the Rapid Bus lines. Also, there's now talk of extending the Wilshire subway westward all the way to the beach. There's even talk of extending the Metro Gold Line all the way east to Ontario Airport. And LA's Union Station is also very busy now, with the Metro Red Line/Purple Line subways, the Gold Line light rail, Metrolink and even Amtrak (which doesn't even go into SF), plus many transit buslines including other cities' buslines, and now even the LAX Express Flyaway buses, all radiating from Union Station.

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Ejaycat,

The LA Times opinion article states that high speed train is not economic competive compared with airtraffic and cars. However, both air traffic and road traffic has many "hidden" costs in the US.

*Roads are most places covered by the tax bill rather directly on the use of car. Imagine how much California could earn on real estate sales if the reduced the width of some of those freeways.

*Accident-costs costs are huge for the society (In fact, costs related to auto crashes is roughly 2.3 % of the GDP in the US, only a fraction are expenses typically paid via car insurance)

*Costs for pollution, especially green house gases from air-planes, will be huge. As you may have hear, a report from the leading UK economists Nicholas Stern predicts that global warming could decrease global output by as much as 20 %. If everybody drove as much as the Americans, the devastation for the world would of course be much worse.

My conclusion? Both air traffic and car traffic in the US is more subsidized than a high speed train will ever be, because their cost of use are very far off the cost for the society and world at large.

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You missed the whole point of the opinion article. The guy is NOT anti-rail, but anti-HIGH-SPEED rail. It's more cost-effective to fly from LA to SF than it is to build a high-speed train from LA to SF, which would cost a lot of money and ultimately would not even be as fast as taking a plane.

And you're wrong about LA not wanting better public transportation. Our Metro Rail is growing as we speak, with more light rail lines already under construction and more planned, not to mention the Rapid Bus lines. Also, there's now talk of extending the Wilshire subway westward all the way to the beach. There's even talk of extending the Metro Gold Line all the way east to Ontario Airport. And LA's Union Station is also very busy now, with the Metro Red Line/Purple Line subways, the Gold Line light rail, Metrolink and even Amtrak (which doesn't even go into SF), plus many transit buslines including other cities' buslines, and now even the LAX Express Flyaway buses, all radiating from Union Station.

BUt air travel and car travel have a number of hidden costs. Gas, tires, not to mention the time expense.

So what if a "Palmdale" airport is built to alleviate traffic? How do you get to downtown LA? Taxi? rental car? What's teh addiitonal time to downtown LA? 1-2 hrs?

SF to LA on high-speed rail would be 3-4 hrs. Let's see... u need to arrive 2 hrs before your flight + 1 hour in air... already 3 hours. Then road time. Oops. Well, what's faster?

Plus the author complains about the cost, yet the expansion of LAX costs $8-12B!!??? For what? So it can handle the A380? Plus does nothing for road traffic at all!

Furthermore, LA doesn't have the "mass transit mentality" that SF has. LA is the definition of sprawl. SF is the definition of density. If you want to get somewhere in LA... you drive. Period. No ifs ands or buts. There's no "downtown core" like SF or NYC, where there is hustle and bustle. Mass transit will get you anywhere you want to go in SF, whereas in LA, even with the added lines, you're still not going to get anywhere because everything is too far spread out.

LA doesn't promote foot traffic. It promotes driving.

High speed rail will work best in CA, but the mentality of driving vs mass transit in CA needs to change.

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YOu ABSOLUTELY need a car in Southern CALIF. Now that my father can no longer drive, it's much cheaper and a lot more expedient for me to rent a car in the 3-4 days that I am down there. If I took a cab from John Wayne Airport to their house (or even those SuperShuttle things), it would be US$40-50 each way, PLUS I would be the first or LAST one picked up. Renting a car for 4 days, I can get that for around $80.00 + I have wheels all the time.

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Ejaycat,

The LA Times opinion article states that high speed train is not economic competive compared with airtraffic and cars. However, both air traffic and road traffic has many "hidden" costs in the US.

*Roads are most places covered by the tax bill rather directly on the use of car. Imagine how much California could earn on real estate sales if the reduced the width of some of those freeways.

*Accident-costs costs are huge for the society (In fact, costs related to auto crashes is roughly 2.3 % of the GDP in the US, only a fraction are expenses typically paid via car insurance)

*Costs for pollution, especially green house gases from air-planes, will be huge. As you may have hear, a report from the leading UK economists Nicholas Stern predicts that global warming could decrease global output by as much as 20 %. If everybody drove as much as the Americans, the devastation for the world would of course be much worse.

My conclusion? Both air traffic and car traffic in the US is more subsidized than a high speed train will ever be, because their cost of use are very far off the cost for the society and world at large.

Regarding your pollution comment, this is assuming that people will still be driving cars that run on gasoline. If everyone drove electric cars or non-polluting cars, then would "driving" everywhere still be considered bad for the environment? The US is held captive by the oil industry, keeping us addicted to oil. Brazil has declared itself energy independent, their cars running on sugar-cane ethanol. If Brazil can do it, I think the US can too.

Roads are paid for by taxes, true (except of course toll roads). But that's the thing, people here expect their roads to be maintained by taxes, so much has been invested into our road infrastructure, which as you may know is highly extensive. In fact, most of our freight is actually transported cross country by big rig trucks, NOT by freight train.

I don't buy your argument about California earning more real estate sales if roads were narrowed; that wouldn't be feasible, plus, I'd rather that more land be preserved for open space like parks and natural habitats than for profit-making real estate deals.

I also don't understand how car accidents are expensive to society at large... people who don't drive, don't pay for car insurance. And as far as I know, if you are insured, your insurance will pay for whatever accidents, including if you damaged a light pole or guardrail... that comes out of your insurance. Your premiums might go up if it's your fault, sure, but I don't see how accidents affect the whole society's expenses.

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YOu ABSOLUTELY need a car in Southern CALIF. Now that my father can no longer drive, it's much cheaper and a lot more expedient for me to rent a car in the 3-4 days that I am down there. If I took a cab from John Wayne Airport to their house (or even those SuperShuttle things), it would be US$40-50 each way, PLUS I would be the first or LAST one picked up. Renting a car for 4 days, I can get that for around $80.00 + I have wheels all the time.

Depends on where in Southern California. Most suburbs in most parts of the US are very car-oriented, some residential neighborhoods don't even have sidewalks. In the more urban, centrally located parts of SoCal, you can get around without a car. I've done it. I don't even have to drive to work (I live literally 3 miles from my job), but it's faster to drive the three miles than to take public transportation. And there are many of the working poor who have no choice but to take public transportation.

Edited by ejaycat

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Depends on where in Southern California. Most suburbs in most parts of the US are very car-oriented, some neighborhoods don't even have sidewalks. In the more urban, centrally located parts of SoCal, you can get around without a car. I've done it. I don't even have to drive to work (I live literally 3 miles from my job), but it's faster to drive the three miles than to take public transportation. And there many of the working poor who have no choice but to take public transportation.

I know there are situations in southern CA where one could do WITHOUT a car. But for the norm, those are far and few between. And it's a balance of time & convenience vs. civic good-or-whatever-else to take public transit, if it means taking you way out of your way and double the time driving there. And since time is money, then there really isn't much choice.

And about making more if they narrowed the roads/freeways. That's baloney. I wouldn't buy a home right next to the freeways. Even in the BART situation here, ideally, you want a place that's 5 mins' drive or a few blocks walking distance from a BART situation. Living right by the tracks would drive me crazy, as it does by the freeway, or even in downtown SF where I could hear those friggin' FOG horns at night. I was tempted more than once to actually charter a boat at night and shoot the damn things!!

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BUt air travel and car travel have a number of hidden costs. Gas, tires, not to mention the time expense.

So what if a "Palmdale" airport is built to alleviate traffic? How do you get to downtown LA? Taxi? rental car? What's teh addiitonal time to downtown LA? 1-2 hrs?

SF to LA on high-speed rail would be 3-4 hrs. Let's see... u need to arrive 2 hrs before your flight + 1 hour in air... already 3 hours. Then road time. Oops. Well, what's faster?

Plus the author complains about the cost, yet the expansion of LAX costs $8-12B!!??? For what? So it can handle the A380? Plus does nothing for road traffic at all!

Furthermore, LA doesn't have the "mass transit mentality" that SF has. LA is the definition of sprawl. SF is the definition of density. If you want to get somewhere in LA... you drive. Period. No ifs ands or buts. There's no "downtown core" like SF or NYC, where there is hustle and bustle. Mass transit will get you anywhere you want to go in SF, whereas in LA, even with the added lines, you're still not going to get anywhere because everything is too far spread out.

LA doesn't promote foot traffic. It promotes driving.

High speed rail will work best in CA, but the mentality of driving vs mass transit in CA needs to change.

I thought the whole point of a regional airport was to alleviate traffic at the more "main" airport, and plus, to make it more convenient for the person using the "regional" airport by landing closer to where it is they want to go. Example, people going into the Inland Empire or Orange County are better served landing at Ontario Airport and John Wayne Airport, respectively; I'd imagine that people landing at those airports are not gonna be going into Los Angeles.

LA does have the mass transit mentality, officials have just jumped on the bandwagon later. Trust me, if the mass transit were more extensive, more people would take it. When the Orange Line busway opened in 2005, its use far exceeded expectations, and already there are plans to extend it further into the San Fernando Valley. There are mixed-use developments planned and being built along rail lines and stations.

And it's also obvious, LA is very huge. The length of Manhattan is what, 13 miles? San Francisco is what, 6 miles by 7 miles? SF's buses work so well because they go everywhere, and, well, it doesn't take long to go 6 miles, which literally would be across town in SF. LA's local bus network goes to most places, but they're slow because LA is so huge. But there are also a number of Rapid Bus lines, with many more of those being planned.

I have taken public transportation from my home in South Pasadena to Santa Monica, a distance of about 25 miles... not including waiting at the train stations and waiting to transfer to the Wilshire Rapid Bus, total travel time was probably close to an hour. And of course if I were to have driven, without traffic, it would've taken me a total of 22-25 minutes or so. But it can still be done by public transportation, and it definitely would be an alternative if it were during heavy traffic.

Your comments of LA being the definition of sprawl and that you MUST drive everywhere is outdated. LA is becoming very dense, there's no more room outward, it's gotten built up right to the mountains. In fact, if it weren't for the mountain range that divides Los Angeles, its population density would be a lot higher.

Edited by ejaycat

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I know there are situations in southern CA where one could do WITHOUT a car. But for the norm, those are far and few between. And it's a balance of time & convenience vs. civic good-or-whatever-else to take public transit, if it means taking you way out of your way and double the time driving there. And since time is money, then there really isn't much choice.

And about making more if they narrowed the roads/freeways. That's baloney. I wouldn't buy a home right next to the freeways. Even in the BART situation here, ideally, you want a place that's 5 mins' drive or a few blocks walking distance from a BART situation. Living right by the tracks would drive me crazy, as it does by the freeway, or even in downtown SF where I could hear those friggin' FOG horns at night. I was tempted more than once to actually charter a boat at night and shoot the damn things!!

I wouldn't want to live right next to train tracks or a freeway either. But I wouldn't mind living in a building that was on top of a subway station, so long as you couldn't hear the subway. Ideally, I'd live several floors up in a building that's over a subway station.

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I wouldn't want to live right next to train tracks or a freeway either. But I wouldn't mind living in a building that was on top of a subway station, so long as you couldn't hear the subway. Ideally, I'd live several floors up in a building that's over a subway station.

Are not some Tokyo buildings (residential, too) over some subway stations there already? With land prices really "out of control" over there and the city itself cannot really expand any further, I would have thought that this is their only way to get more efficient. But, man, I cannot see myself living in a metropolitan area that can almost fit the entire population of Canada within it.

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Regarding your pollution comment, this is assuming that people will still be driving cars that run on gasoline. If everyone drove electric cars or non-polluting cars, then would "driving" everywhere still be considered bad for the environment? The US is held captive by the oil industry, keeping us addicted to oil. Brazil has declared itself energy independent, their cars running on sugar-cane ethanol. If Brazil can do it, I think the US can too.

I agree that if the cars run on "clean" energy, the US car dependence would be far less problematic. However, in order to make the switch, your government probably either have to tax fossile fuels to a far larger extent than today or ban fossile fuels, both which I assume would be quite unpopular in your political clomate, or subsidize the clean energy source. In either case, the cost comparison of the LA times article would be invalid. I by the way don't think bio-fuels could ever be a sustainable vehicle fuel for the world, as these fuels have to be grown somewhere. Thus, wide spread use of bio-fuels would have to push away food production, which with the rising demand of for instance wheat from Asia already is getting closer to full capacity. The other alternative is to use forests, but I doubt there are enough trees in the world, and the environmental impact would anyway be dramatic. Ironically, the push for planatations has, according to a BBC broadcast I heard tonight, already made Indonesia effectively the third largest CO2 pollutant in the world, due to large-scale drainage of wet-lands. Bio-fuels also tend to burn less clean than fossile fuels with current technology, meaning that their effect on the local environment actually will be worse than gasoline. If all cars run by batteries charged by clean electric energy like sun energy, or even atomic energy, that would be great, but how realistic is this in the near future, and what will the cost be compared with mass transport?

Roads are paid for by taxes, true (except of course toll roads). But that's the thing, people here expect their roads to be maintained by taxes, so much has been invested into our road infrastructure, which as you may know is highly extensive. In fact, most of our freight is actually transported cross country by big rig trucks, NOT by freight train.

Status quo is never right...

I also don't understand how car accidents are expensive to society at large... people who don't drive, don't pay for car insurance. And as far as I know, if you are insured, your insurance will pay for whatever accidents, including if you damaged a light pole or guardrail... that comes out of your insurance. Your premiums might go up if it's your fault, sure, but I don't see how accidents affect the whole society's expenses.

Well, 2.3 % of US GDP is roughly 300 billion (2004 numbers), divided by 243 million cars, is USD 1 251. Although it's been a while since I lived and owned a car in US, I doubt most people pay that much in insurance. Maybe the added costs come from people that becomes unable to work, and hence are not productive for society etc? I also guess that you still only are required to insure for damage you may do to other's health and property, and not yourself. And the psychological trauma of missing a person you love is probably not even included in the 2.3 % figure.

I don't buy your argument about California earning more real estate sales if roads were narrowed; that wouldn't be feasible, plus, I'd rather that more land be preserved for open space like parks and natural habitats than for profit-making real estate deals.
And about making more if they narrowed the roads/freeways. That's baloney. I wouldn't buy a home right next to the freeways. Even in the BART situation here, ideally, you want a place that's 5 mins' drive or a few blocks walking distance from a BART situation. Living right by the tracks would drive me crazy, as it does by the freeway, or even in downtown SF where I could hear those friggin' FOG horns at night. I was tempted more than once to actually charter a boat at night and shoot the damn things!!

Well, the areas around freeways are not exactly empty now either, are they? Although they seemed to love this solution in Sydney, I agree that it would be bad planning to place appartments or other housing along main roads, and I would not exactly choose to feed birds next to a Ca freeways either. However, other commercial developments, like office buildings, are well suited for such locations. In any case, this is not a main argument. At least in Norway, most urban main roads are put underground now, and roofs with office buildings have been put on some existing roads. However I maintain that the cost of building a road and occupying large chunks of land for it has to be included when comparing the economic viability of private auto traffic vs mass transport.

Public transport does not have to be much slower than private cars even in LA. Build a decent arterial train network where the trains run fast and frequent, and let the suburbian train stations have adequate parking spaces, and speed of the trains may in many case make this a faster alternative than the congested rush hour freeways. Personally, I however prefer the bike, and in an ideal world with the kindergarten next door I might have used it every day...

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France to have another high-speed train link. They could have trains in service using this line that could go at 320 km/h (200 mph) from Paris to Strasbourg.

Link: BBC: France To Launch Superfast Trains

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And now the French have smashed the speed record for the TGV:

French Set Rail Speed Record

Here's the BBC take on the feat.

Link: BBC: French Set New Rail Speed Record

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However, I am concerned about the safety of the whole exercise. I mean, the track needs to be in top form all the time. One small misstep along the way and there could be potential for a bad accident to occur. Never mind the other hazards that could come into play along the route.

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20,001 posts. You must be proud.

Uh, why would this kind of post be here? I mean, okay, thanks, but sometimes I wonder if I hang around here too much.

Anyway, getting back into topic here, was there rumors that the French wanted to do this for pride and looking for world markets that would want to buy these kind of trains? From what I heard, China could be the first foreign nation to want to have them.

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