Wednesday, February 22, 2012

What's more important for passenger rail, speed or price? We don't need High-Speed Rail

Here is something so good and so to the point that I need to post it.  While the author is addressing the intended HS2 high-speed train in the UK, it certainly applies to us as well.

Here's the point. The California HSR train, if ever operating by 2033 or later, will surely cost over $200. per one way ticket. How many people do you suppose will take this trip on a frequent basis at those prices. Round trip from SF to LA, $400 dollars, maybe more. Will 29 million people do this annually? I really doubt it. 

And, the rail authority has already let us know that they will not be able to meet the Prop. 1A requirement of 2:40 time for the SF to LA trip. It may take as long as 4 hours.  Then, we have to ask, what's the point?

Wouldn't we be better off spending far less money and upgrading our current Amtrak passenger rail system so that those trains can go, say, 150 mph, out in the open and not through towns? And cost far less, and therefore create transit opportunities for far more Americans?

That's why this article says all this so succinctly.

The best way to help understand what's wrong with this HSR project is: 
Don't let the Perfect get in the way of the Good. 

Building a utopian train requires utopian funds.  We can travel much faster than now and it will cost far less if we improve and upgrade our current passenger rail system.  That would not be a boondoggle.  

High speed rail – it’s the price that matters, not speed
Tuesday 21st February 2012, 10:04AM GMT.

I went to London yesterday for a meeting, writes Charlie Cashdan.
I had two options train-wise; one which would get me there in 90 minutes but cost £79, or another train which would take 150 minutes but cost £9.50.  It was a no-brainer really.  I took the cheaper option.

The current service to London from Birmingham is excellent anyway.  There is a train every 15 minutes and 90 minutes or so is perfectly fast enough for most people.

Let’s face it – why do people travel from Birmingham to London?  To visit friends/relatives, shopping, business meetings – none of these things require speed to be of the essence.

Speed only really matters if you are commuting to London regularly for work.  Then yes, high speed rail would make a difference if it opened up the possibility of someone living in Birmingham and commuting every day to work in the capital.

This would allow Midland people to go for the higher paid opportunities London offers without the higher living costs.  But this could only work if high speed travel was really cheap.  And it won’t be.  Therefore, it’s pointless.

Cost matters to people far more than speed.  Can’t the money sidelined for this extravagant project be invested into our existing service and bring down current prices?  This, more than anything, would encourage people to travel to London.

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