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This "faster conventional passenger rail" is progress. Though, to grade this progress we must define what high-speed rail is according to world standards! Speeds sustained of 186-mph or more is real high-speed rail. The progress in passenger rail between Chicago and St. Louis, with an additional project between Chicago and Detroit will only allow speeds of up to 110-mph only on portions of the routes, not on all of the distance! These speeds were actually achieved in the late 1930's with very fast new diesel and steam locomotive designs at that time. In 1938 the "Hiawatha" Milwaukee Road passenger train between the Twin Cities and Chicago would hit 124-mph on portions. Union Pacific and Santa Fe diesel motive power based on the new EMD, E-series in 1938 traveled at 100-mph over distances. Historically the present day projected passenger service, Amtrak, on mentioned cities is only a match for the past! I believe that this increment will be the only passenger rail progress in the next 20 or 30 years. If genuine 200+mph trains ever appear, at massive cost, they will be in California. So rail passengers, settle in to your commute at just about 10 to 20 miles per hour faster. And that is if the new Amtrak equipment ever materializes!
I have to disagree a bit. 200-odd mph service is coming, incrementally, back to the Bos-Wash, for pretty much the same reasons it isn't much elsewhere -politics. Most spending on eliminating grade crossings, on straightening track, and on faster equipment all along the run from Boston to DC has visible local benefit, so it's easier to Justify local money, and the fact that the end point is the nation's capital doesn't hurt for the fed's money.
"goldenspike" and "anmccaff" are both wise men who understand the HSR issue. I would remind them and others that the Metroliner of the 1960s was designed for top speeds of 160 mph, and in operation by Penn Central managed to provide a couple of round-trips daily in two hours, 30 minutes, a speed not yet achieved by Acela. The Northeast Corridor Improvement Project undertaken by FRA around that time, costed the elimination of all grade crossings, straightening of curves, fencing of right-of-way, replacing the electric cystem, etc., at about $750 million in 1971 dollars. Needless to say, Congress never concurred, certainly didn't commit the required funds, and today, the same project is estimated to cost around $3 billion, give or take a billion or so.
Gentleman and ladies of this "Progressive Railroading" public forum, listen-up! In real life, "goldenspike", that is myself, is a very well-known and prolific writer nationally of railroad articles examining the future of hs-rail in America! Please use this example of many, to receive insight and inspiration...Google, "to chicago and back in about an hour". I believe you'll find this futuristic style of technofiction quite fascinating. As a result of my retirement from engineering, I have put forward not only the science and design of REAL high-speed rail, but added fictional characters who have life changing experiences riding extreme-speed trains to romantic or otherwise destinations! The type of hyper-fast trains I write about are not for "economy-class riders"! Business people and planned day travelers are the demographic of passengers that would pay the ticket to support such a magnificent surface transportation system! Amfleet riders, just stay with Amtrak on the so-called incremental plan of achieving somewhat quicker transit! But if one wants to get on in a smaller community, even rural, and travel to a fabulous city like Chicago, "in about an hour", then get onboard a technology rich and advanced passenger train such as the image I write about! Happy reading!!! Goldenspike
Uhh, Bill, that's the part that gets you in trouble here.
There are lots of ideas that can be made to work to make life easier, travel cheaper, and a buck or two for investors, but even the good ideas have some bugs to work out, and the amount of snake oil associated with them is high.
Anyone can make an "optimum" solution if money isn't a factor, but in real life, money (or some other way of allocating resources and storing value) *is* a factor, and for much of rail's last 50 years or so, it's been *the* factor.
Transportation specialist Dr. Detroitenstein has proposed a 165 mph HSB (High Speed Bus) system to run along side the new mega-truck intrastate highway that will be fully funded by the exalted Shah of Oilastan.
School buses will be retrofitted with NASCAR/HUMMER suspensions and powered by supercharged V-32 U-Boat diesels.