- Category: Transit Blog
- Published: February 6, 2010
- Written by Grant
We have the Amtrak Acela that's capable of 150 mph but it hasn't exactly caught the rail world on fire because the states it passes through limit it's speed to just above what a normal Amtrak train could do. In addition to that the Federal Railroad Administration dictated ridiculous changes to the design in order that it never be competitive to other forms of travel. It was a failure from the design stage on. Of course they'll say that doubling the weight of the train artificially makes it safer for the passengers but we know that doesn't make sense because the builders of it are the same companies (bombardier and Alstrom) that have been building the famous TGV trains for 30 years. If anyone knows about safety it's these guys.
In their defense the Amtrak team just bought what was basically a proven TGV design and had planned on running it on upgraded rails. The FRA changed all of that and made them modify the design in case it came in contact with a Freight train. I don't know about you but I don't think that adding weight to a passenger train traveling at 150 mph is going to make the situation that much better if it ends in a head-on collision with a freight train – I really don't. The best practice is to just give the passenger train right-of-way which never happened. In addition to that the extra weight has shortened predicted equipment times between failures from 400,000 miles to 20,000. The Acela can not succeed no matter how hard Amtrak tries.
With President Obama's 10.5 Billion dollar shot in the arm high speed rail looks more promising even if it will be state owned and local. It's not a perfect situation but at least we're taking one step forward. I was sure that California would be the first to have a high speed train but $2.5B just went to Florida which has already purchased the right-of-way from Orlando to Tampa. Eventually they want to have high speed rail from Pensacola to Miami and most other major cities down both coasts. Two and a half billion dollars doesn't build much but it will get them started.
Florida's first train will only do 120 mph but also will only cost $3.5B so they only need to raise 1 Billion dollars.The trip between Orlando and Tampa will take less than an hour which will make it faster than driving. See Florida's high speed rail site.
If you're curious about how the nearly bankrupt California is faring check out their High Speed Rail site. Their proposal is a lot more agressive and will cost a great deal more but with the amount of people living there will be in greater need.
Washington, the greenest state in the Union has Rapid transit as well in the form of buses that get to their destination in exactly the same amount of time as the old ones, are uncomfortable to ride on (irritating regenerative breaking), stop half as often, have very little room because of a horribly inefficient design where bikes are lined up not unlike a bike rack, the drivers are rude, the stations are extravagant when a platform and shelter would have sufficed, are NOT in the same places as normal bus stops making transfers difficult and it only cost us $34,000,000. We love you WA but why do you have to be so stupid?