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posted by Fnord666 on Wednesday December 06, @06:24AM   Printer-friendly
from the quite-the-charge(r) dept.

Siemens SC-44 Charger seen rolled out across country to replace some older locomotives for corridor work.

https://seattle.curbed.com/2017/11/20/16683002/amtrak-cascades-new-train-model

The new Siemens Charger locomotives, with 16-cylinder, 4,400-horsepower engines, are both lighter and quieter, and meet EPA emission standards. The trains will travel the same speed as before—79 miles per hour—but they'll reach the top speed faster.

http://urbanmilwaukee.com/2017/11/16/plenty-of-horne-amtrak-rolls-out-new-locomotives/

The new locomotives can also take you to from Chicago to Detroit, or Chicago to St. Louis, for example, and they can do it using one-third the fuel, emitting one-tenth the pollution, and at speeds up to 125 miles per hour. (The Chicago-St. Louis route has been cut from 5-1/2 hours to 4-1/2 hours thanks to the new engines and track improvements.

http://thesouthern.com/news/local/communities/carbondale/amtrak-showcases-features-of-new-locomotives/article_6c9b8d54-62a6-51f6-a818-ca2fed76c033.html

"A lot of our customers care about the earth and about pollution, and these are so much cleaner to operate, and they're better for our partners at IDOT and the customers because they're going to cost less to operate in that they get better mileage," said Marc Magliari, Amtrak spokesman.

Just saw one while I was out for a cigar and thought it was pretty cool, I figure others might find it interesting as well. I have been taking my kids to go watch them do trackwork on the north-south line in Oregon and was wondering why they were so extensive in replacing all of the old ties. Although the speed limit is 79 I wonder if this will be increased with updated track and new locomotives. Here is hoping someone models it soon so I can waste money.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Siemens_Charger
4400 horsepower, top speed of 125, and meets EPA Tier VI emission standards.


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  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by c0lo on Wednesday December 06, @06:55AM (19 children)

    by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @06:55AM (#606016)

    When new jobs in USA need the engineering of a country with socialised tertiary education [theconversation.com]... (feel in the blanks)

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @07:11AM (3 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @07:11AM (#606019)

      What happened to "buy American"?

      Fuck the form key.

      • (Score: 3, Informative) by c0lo on Wednesday December 06, @07:14AM (2 children)

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @07:14AM (#606021)

        The locomotive is made in America. Just designed in Germany.

        • (Score: 1) by Revek on Wednesday December 06, @06:59PM (1 child)

          by Revek (5022) on Wednesday December 06, @06:59PM (#606279)

          To bad it wasn't built in Germany then we could count on it to be put together correctly. When you let the bean counters rule production you always end up with substandard assembly.

          • (Score: 1) by Sulla on Thursday December 07, @06:34PM

            by Sulla (5173) on Thursday December 07, @06:34PM (#606927) Journal

            Being a diesel designed in Germany we might want to check and make sure its emission claims are real and not fabricated.

    • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @07:13AM

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @07:13AM (#606020)

      >Socialized tertiary education
      >look at American liberal arts students
      Nope.

    • (Score: 2, Interesting) by khallow on Wednesday December 06, @07:20AM

      by khallow (3766) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @07:20AM (#606025) Journal
      I have always suggested that if the European public were to subsidize US passenger rail as much as they do the European counterparts, then it would be just as popular in the US as it is in Europe. It's surprising just how few takers there are for my brilliant idea. But I guess Germany has finally stepped up to the plate and delivered. Way to go!
    • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @07:45AM (12 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @07:45AM (#606027)

      Students get tracked from before they even reach secondary education. Lots of them are diverted off to non-college tracks. They get trained to do stuff like plumbing.

      Is that what you want? A young c0lo would have been happy with "sorry you didn't make the test scores -- how about training to be a roofer instead", right? There will always be a need for resource allocation; leftist government just makes it non-monetary, at least not counting bribes.

      It's funny you should admire the German policy. Perhaps you were unaware of the tracking? The left got all upset when Trump family members dared to suggest that college might not be for everybody. That's how it is in Germany.

      • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday December 06, @08:07AM (8 children)

        by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @08:07AM (#606035)

        It's funny you should admire the German policy. Perhaps you were unaware of the tracking?

        Citation needed.
        The way I read, Germany offers tertiary education [soylentnews.org] free of charge [soylentnews.org] even to international students [timeshighereducation.com].
        It makes no sense to block access to their own citizens.

        • (Score: 0, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @08:34AM (2 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @08:34AM (#606041)

          Citation given, even though you were rude to not visit duckduckgo.com yourself:

          https://www.marketplace.org/2015/04/08/education/learning-curve/stopping-german-students-their-tracks [marketplace.org]

          So 4 years of school with everybody, and then the kids are split 3 ways. Only a third of the kids go on to college. That saves money! Some of the German states ignore parents who object to a child's track. Those in the lower tracks are more likely to be poor and/or immigrants. Socialism is not utopia.

          Going to college is mostly only available if you are in the upper track. That is the only track that leads to taking the expected test, and the only track that would cover all the material for that test. There are some alternate tests that can sometimes be used; international students could take them.

          More:
          https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Education_in_Germany [wikipedia.org]

          • (Score: 3, Funny) by c0lo on Wednesday December 06, @09:20AM

            by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @09:20AM (#606049)

            even though you were rude to not visit duckduckgo.com yourself:

            Rude? I deny that. Lazy at best.

            Citation given,

            Thanks for it.

            --

            Let me tell you my life experience in regards with the education, in my native country, under a communist regime:
            - faculties were having a limited number of openings for students every year;
            - neither the results one obtained during high-school nor the mark one obtained at the baccalaureate exam mattered for the admission as a student
            - what mattered was the total mark obtained by sitting the admission exams (3 of them in 3 consecutive days). Each faculty would craft the exam subjects of their own, in fact deciding their own "ideal profile of a student".
            - the faculty I chose (and then graduated) had 400 places and 12 candidates for each of them. The reality was for each admitted student, 11 other candidates were rejected. For other faculties (e.g. medicine) the competition went as far as 30 candidates for one spot.
            In the case you failed the exam, tough, do what you want for the year and try again. Or use your high school diploma and get a low to medium qualified job (would I have not been admitted into university, I could have started as a low level electrician).

            Ah, yes, for high school it was the same - the only difference was that the exams were crafted at national level, on bands/tracks. Coulnd't get a place in high school? If lucky, you'd be directed to another, less prestigious, high school. If none found, a vocational/trade school then. In any case, no matter which track, 12 years of schooling was mandatory.

          • (Score: 2, Informative) by c0lo on Wednesday December 06, @10:16AM

            by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @10:16AM (#606064)

            From the linked:

            Turner's daughter is 9-years-old and will be placed on a track soon. If she isn’t recommended for Gymnasium, the university track, Turner and her husband could decide to ignore the suggestion and send her there anyway. In the German state of North Rhine-Westphalia, the government recently granted parents the right to make that choice.

            Limited choice, I know, but not all is that bleak.

        • (Score: 0, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @09:25AM (4 children)

          by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @09:25AM (#606051)

          Always, everywhere there is "rationing" in the sense that universities have a certain capacity. There's only so many professors to go around, you cannot increase student numbers forever. The US selects through tuition fees and entrance exams. Germany selects through final grades of secondary education, seldomly through additional entrance exams, and for a very few subjects there is a nationwide waiting list (based on secondary education grades and waiting time).

          Yes, in Germany there are some "selection points" earlier during the school system. Most German states have (up to three) parallel tracks in secondary education, with different focus. The basic idea is that a future university student needs a different kind of schooling (content, methods) than a future master carpenter (which is an official degree here), and again different from a future factory worker. And let's be honest: not everybody is the brightest candle on the cake and can take the same schooling ... so why not acknowledge that and prepare everybody as best we can for their future lives?

          That being said: there's *always* a possibility to reach higher, you are not forever-doomed to your track. Everybody, at any time, can switch to a different school type and continue from there. But you have to learn the same stuff as the others there, and prove it in the same tests, and they had a head start. The tuition (always for kids, otherwise mostly) and the testing (always) is free of charge. Obviously it's still difficult, but it *is* possible and it is being done, in both directions. Universities require you to have completed the "university track" with acceptable grades ... *OR MASTER AN TEST* after which it's the same as if you had been in the "university track" secondary school all along.

          So yes, there's *is* early selection, and there undeniably are some drawbacks to that. But so far our it's been working out quite well .... :-P
          And it's DEFINITELY NOT the kind of Stalinist "the-state-determines-your-life" rationing that the grandparent's propaganda would lead you to believe.

          I am German, so you may take the factual parts above as a citation.

          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @09:42AM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @09:42AM (#606055)

            Is it good for anything? Could you get something like a PhD (the German equivalent) in something utterly worthless?

            Is the state willing to fund a decade of studying one of: feminist line dances, American football, communication with spirits, lesbian guitar songs, or the proper installation of toilet paper rolls?

            If not, how do they say "NO" to that?

            • (Score: 2, Insightful) by c0lo on Wednesday December 06, @10:34AM (1 child)

              by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @10:34AM (#606072)

              If not, how do they say "NO" to that?

              I reckon it's very simple: the universities, being non-for-profit institutions, trade in prestige - the better prepared graduates, the higher number of students will ask for them. I know, this centuries old traditionalism looks a bit out of fashion for the modern American.

              Anyway, back on track: one doesn't get much academic prestige if one engages in American football or communication with spirits.

              Ah, for the sports - there are academic institutions dedicated to these kind of studies. I reckon it wouldn't be uncommon for athletes that didn't reach a point allowing them to earn their living from sport to seek a tertiary education in this area. But, apart from this case, I guarantee you, the choice of a student of which university/institute to attend is in no way determined by the results of their "football" team.
              So most universities don't maintain a "professional level" sport team. True, they'll have facilities for anyone willing to play a sport as an amateur, but... "sports scholarships"? A waste of money

              • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @09:08PM

                by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @09:08PM (#606404)

                We have people who waste money on useless degrees. Some of them are very seriously stupid. No normal business finds value in an African Poetry graduate. That doesn't help design a truck, remove a cancer, or formulate gasoline. It doesn't do shit.

                If the USA taxed people to pay for college, we'd have even more people getting useless degrees. There would be zero fear of being unable to pay back loans. There would be very little pressure from parents to chose a useful subject to study.

          • (Score: 2) by c0lo on Wednesday December 06, @10:19AM

            by c0lo (156) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @10:19AM (#606065)

            Grateful for it, always good to have a first hand insight.

      • (Score: 1, Offtopic) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 06, @04:12PM (2 children)

        by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @04:12PM (#606176)

        What are you whining about? It's not that different in the US: haven't you heard of SAT and ACT tests? You have to get good enough scores on those to be admitted to a university, plus they have additional admissions requirements. The German system just starts the process earlier, and pushes kids to go into the trades earlier if they're better suited for that, instead of stupidly assuming that everyone can do college, or should. As a result, we have a serious lack of people in the skilled trades here, a problem they don't have in Germany, and we also have a ton of 20-somethings with utterly useless college degrees and gigantic student loans.

        As for "the left" being upset, the left is a very large field, and most of them (the voting ones at least) don't buy into the extremist bullshit that some college students are into these days. As for the Trump family members, most of them don't seem to be smart enough for college, and really should be doing other jobs, like cleaning toilets.

        • (Score: 2) by t-3 on Wednesday December 06, @09:38PM (1 child)

          by t-3 (4907) on Wednesday December 06, @09:38PM (#606425) Journal

          The US also does a lot of the track type stuff, at least when I was in school. I wasn't allowed to take the vocational classes because my test scores were too high and "you have to go to college!".

          • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 06, @10:29PM

            by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @10:29PM (#606451)

            Yep. The deal in the US is that things aren't very standardized at all, since schools are locally-run, with some direction from their state, but very little from the federal government. So as you found out, some school systems had systems that resembled Germany's in some ways, though other people will have different experiences. The high school I went to had several different tracks too, one for AP classes (only for some subjects), one for college-bound kids, one for kids bound for trade school, and one for special-ed kids. It wasn't impossible to take vo-tech classes if you were college-bound, but it was very difficult because of the requirements you had to meet to graduate, and the availability and scheduling of various classes, made it difficult to actually fit them in.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @07:52AM (1 child)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @07:52AM (#606030)

    I recall learning that train engines were:

    a. V2 engines, kind of like motorcycle engines
    b. low RPM, around 300
    c. 2-stroke diesel
    d. obviously huge

    The low RPM gives time to blow exhaust out so that the 2-stroke engine can operate properly without a tuned exhaust pipe. The pistons are huge to compensate.

    Was that ever common?

    • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday December 06, @08:04AM

      by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @08:04AM (#606034) Journal

      Never common, but Google the Deltic engines, a loud smokey British engine that was quite fast and true to form whacky British engineering.

      --
      No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
  • (Score: 5, Informative) by frojack on Wednesday December 06, @08:01AM (5 children)

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @08:01AM (#606032) Journal

    Top speed is 125, and Amtrak is not limited to 79 mph as the story suggests.. Track condition may require lower speeds, but it is common in some areas to see 90mph, and 85 routine on transcontinental routes with good track.

    Amtrak prefers to run two engines, because stuff happens. The second engine has to supply head end power (electricity) to the passenger cars for heat and light, which siphons off 1300 horsepower. There are mountain ranges to be traversed on most routes. If they want to do that at speed you need a lot of power.

    Passenger rail cars (other than the Intercity bus-like commuter coaches) are some of the heaviest cars commonly used.

    Amtrak doesn't like to refuel engines while passengers sit on board waiting. They would rather switch engines at some key places along the route with a fully fueled set. The better milage may enable fewer of these switches.

    As for the tie switch out mentioned in TFS, that is routine preventative maintenance. Seldom do they replace all ties in the roadbed. It often ends up being every other one, but it's always age based and amazingly mechanized. It is usually done with ballast cleaning at the same time (to flush out the fines which accumulate below the ballast and turn to squish mud), and track leveling and straightening.

    --
    No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 06, @04:32PM (4 children)

      by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @04:32PM (#606187)

      A few years ago I was riding on the Northeast Corridor line, and saw what appeared to be some track replacement. It looked like they were replacing the old wooden ties and rails with premade units which had concrete ties and rails pre-attached, all in one giant, long pre-fab section that could just be stuck in place and then welded to adjacent sections. Can you comment on these? The sections of rail that were made that way certainly looked at lot more modern and uniform than the wooden tie parts.

      • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @05:36PM (1 child)

        by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @05:36PM (#606226)

        They have been replacing wooden ties with concrete ties for decades now. Especially in places where wood is more expensive/less available. The cost/benefit of concrete makes a lot of sense. Then there is the creosote issue older ties have, which concrete does not have. In most ways, concrete ties are better than wood.

        • (Score: 2) by bob_super on Wednesday December 06, @07:37PM

          by bob_super (1357) on Wednesday December 06, @07:37PM (#606324)

          High-speed lines (over 200mph) have been built with concrete from the beginning, in France, Germany and China...

      • (Score: 5, Informative) by frojack on Wednesday December 06, @07:21PM (1 child)

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @07:21PM (#606303) Journal

        Yes prefab sections of rail are quite common, especially on existing rail lines where disruption of service is expensive. It takes a lot of cranes and backhoes to pick them up and put them down. But you can build these in any open space, all measured and trimmed to perfection, put them on bogies and roll them down the track to where you need them, and drop them in place usually with a much smaller crew and much less time than the best track laying machines.

        The concrete ties are NOT more cost effective, contrary to popular guessing. They aren't even cheaper in most cases.

        In places like much of central europe they are preferred. but it is principally because they have cut down all the big timber in Europe and have very few suitable trees of size (and proper wood, such as oak) to make ties out of. Its a raw material decision. Further, you don't have to treat concrete with creosote, which is garnering more attention these days as it leaches into streams over decades.

        They are heavier, and tend to keep the rail line in place (especially in curves), but this is disputed by some railroads which claim it is simply inferior ballasting standards. (Gravel too fine, rock too soft, etc).

        They don't last significantly longer either.

        Wood ties last 35 years in wet hot condition, 50 to 100 years in dry desert conditions. Wood ties can be burned for energy recovery [rta.org] and are mostly carbon neutral when burned. They bend rather than break when loaded excessively. They handle freeze thaw cycles better than concrete.

        Concrete ties tend to fail by breakage rather than rot slowly, and when they do, they often have to be replaced immediately, because one broken tie tends to zipper up the track and break the next. When they do need replacement, you have the problem of busting them up to recover the re-rod, and dispose of the crushed concrete (which is almost never used in new buildings due to uncertain provenance).

        The economics have been studied [rta.org] in quite good detail. Curve radius, megatons carried per year, cost differences per tie, etc.

        There is no cut and dried universal case for concrete ties or Wood ties. Its a raw material decision, and the cost benefit analysis is very location specific.

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 06, @09:59PM

          by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @09:59PM (#606432)

          That all sounds like a good analysis, but one thing I'll point out is that concrete technology isn't static (unlike wood, where trees aren't exactly evolving to make better wood for railroad uses), and is constantly improving. Surely some research has been done into making better concrete formulations for this application. So theoretically, the case for concrete should be getting better over time versus wood as the technology improves.

          As for reusing old concrete, I thought there were already ways that old concrete was recycled to be used in new concrete, not for higher-performance things like buildings, but usually for applications where quality isn't quite so important, like maybe road beds, or other "filler" applications. There should be no shortage of places where old concrete can be used as a low-cost filler.

          The paper you cited is from 1993. That's almost a quarter-century old now. I wonder if the equation has changed much since then.

          Note that I'm in no way an expert on concrete or railroads, and it's completely out of my field, I'm just raising a few questions, as I'm curious about the subject.

  • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @09:10AM (4 children)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @09:10AM (#606047)

    Please, do not post .m.wikipedia links. Mobile users are automatically redirected from the normal to the mobile site (according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] — I don't currently have a mobile device to test it), but desktop users are not redirected to the desktop site.

    • (Score: 1, Informative) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @09:30AM (2 children)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @09:30AM (#606052)

      It used to be that I could just browse the web on my Android phone.

      Then Chrome started being sent to feature-limited versions of web sites. For example, Google maps has a limited interface. I switched to Firefox.

      Now even Firefox gets sent to the feature-limited versions of web sites.

      • (Score: 2) by Aiwendil on Wednesday December 06, @10:13AM (1 child)

        by Aiwendil (531) on Wednesday December 06, @10:13AM (#606063) Journal

        Chrome - settings/three-dots - request desktop version (or whatever it is called, it is a checkbox, the annoying chrome refuses me to set it to any other language than the system language of my android phone). Well-designed pages will not redirect to mobile version when this is set - be aware of data usage if that matters.

        • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday December 06, @07:25PM

          by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @07:25PM (#606311) Journal

          Well-designed pages will not redirect to mobile version

          But there's the problem right there.

          What page you get is solely under the control of the server. And after spending all that money to make a mobile page, the vast majority of sites simply foist it on you with no regard to your choice. You want to get around that you often need to take control of your user agent string, and most mobile browsers do not allow this.

          --
          No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 2) by martyb on Wednesday December 06, @07:50PM

      by martyb (76) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @07:50PM (#606336) Journal

      Please, do not post .m.wikipedia links. Mobile users are automatically redirected from the normal to the mobile site (according to Wikipedia [wikipedia.org] [wikipedia.org] — I don't currently have a mobile device to test it), but desktop users are not redirected to the desktop site.

      Fixed. (Many thanks for letting us know... and so politely, too! Much appreciated!)

      --
      Wit is intellect, dancing.
  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by bzipitidoo on Wednesday December 06, @12:50PM (9 children)

    by bzipitidoo (4388) on Wednesday December 06, @12:50PM (#606112) Journal

    The new engines are nice. Does this mean Amtrak can improve its routing? That's important too. The world's most efficient diesel electric engines are wasted if their routing and scheduling has customers going on wildly roundabout routes. Every time I've checked on taking a passenger train from Texas to California, Amtrak comes up with this completely insane route through Chicago that is at least 1000 miles and several days longer than a direct route, and which costs more than flying! Even for their core route between Washington D.C. and Boston, last time I checked (admittedly over a decade ago) Amtrak asks so much money you may as well fly or rent a car and drive.

    For most endpoints, buses are better than the train. The train only beats the bus for endpoints that happen to lie along its route. However, for long distances buses still can't match flying. The US has basically 2 good, practical ways of traveling: car or plane. The longer the trip, the more attractive the plane becomes. Buses and trains are really useful only for people who can't (or won't) drive, perhaps have some disability that makes them unable to drive a car safely, and maybe also can't or won't fly. Self-driving cars could disrupt all this. Should be fun.

    • (Score: 1) by Sulla on Wednesday December 06, @03:34PM (1 child)

      by Sulla (5173) on Wednesday December 06, @03:34PM (#606160) Journal

      Last year I took an Amtrak bus from Vegas to LA to catch the northbound Stargazer. One of the worst experiences I have had in my entire life.

      What you want is the Sunset Limited that goes from New Orleans to LA but only operates three days a week. Personally I don't mind the extra time it takes because I love trains and hate TSA, but to each his own.

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday December 06, @07:40PM

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @07:40PM (#606327) Journal

        Yup, one does not go cross country by train in the US if time spent doing so is any concern.
        This is not Germany or the UK where you get there in one day. The trip is a multi-day affair.

        I found it quite enjoyable (went west to east coast and back again) in 2015. Free wine tasting every night (bottles handed out in the trivia contest). You'll want a room for a trip of that duration, but meals come with that room).

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
    • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 06, @04:41PM (6 children)

      by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @04:41PM (#606196)

      Trains would be better in many places if they had better tracks (and better track access, instead of yielding right-of-way to cargo trains on the same tracks), and faster speeds, and of course much lower prices. It's ridiculous that it's cheaper to fly.

      One big problem is speed and density: out west there just isn't any way trains are going to compete well with planes on travel time because the distances are huge. Hyperloop would fix this, but for regular trains, you really need high-speed rail for it to make much sense, unless you can get the ticket price way, way down so it's a cheaper but slower alternative to flying. As it is, Amtrak takes days to cross the country and costs a fortune to do so.

      But in the northeast, this just isn't the case, and they don't have a really good excuse here (except shitty politics). If the trains were running 125 the whole way (instead of one little section just north of Philly), taking a train from DC to NYC wouldn't be much slower than flying, especially after factoring in all the time you waste getting molested by TSA, and traveling from the far-away airports (at least in NYC, in DC you can use Reagan which is convenient) using the shitty JFK AirTrain or a cab or Lyft because stupid NYC won't build the subway to the airports.

      Also, the trains have *better* endpoints than just about everything else in the northeast, because the trains actually go where you want to go. In DC, Amtrak stops at Union Square, which is walking distance to the Capitol and the Mall. In NYC, Amtrak stops in Penn Station, which is right in the heart of Manhattan, and is walking distance to Times Square, Central Park, etc. (That one's a bit of a walk, you might want to hop on the subway, but the subway station is right there at the station.) The airports in NYC as I said are a disaster as far as location, and buses have to contend with traffic, backups in the Lincoln Tunnel, etc.

      • (Score: 2) by urza9814 on Wednesday December 06, @07:52PM

        by urza9814 (3954) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @07:52PM (#606341) Journal

        I currently live in Providence, RI and grew up about an hour outside of Pittsburgh, PA, which is where my parents still live.

        We use the train all the time. It's 8-10 hours, but honestly that's as good as flying when you factor in all the additional delays -- an hour or two to get to the airport vs 20 minutes to get to the train station; have to get to the airport two hours in advance and deal with security vs arrive and walk right on with the train; then when you get there you're still an hour drive away from the airport vs a short bus ride or long walk from the train station. So yeah, the flight may only be an hour or two, but when it takes five hours longer just dealing with airport delays and additional transit, it's pretty much the same total time. Plus the train almost never stops -- if you book a train trip in December, you can be very confident that you're going to make it. If you book a flight, there's a good chance it's going to get delayed or cancelled due to weather, and you might end up having to drive home and try again another day -- or just get stuck in the airport. Plus the train is usually significantly cheaper (even moreso once you factor in additional transit that air travel usually requires). And the train is actually comfortable -- a coach class train seat is as nice as most first class airline seats, and business class on the train (which you can often get for just a few dollars extra) is like a goddamn living room couch! Even in coach got tons of leg room, multiple electrical outlets, wifi, a dining car, and you can move around pretty freely. The cheapest Amtrak seat is downright luxurious compared to any kind of airline travel. And it costs less, and it usually gets you closer to you ultimate destination.

        I'm not sure I'd want to take a train across the country, but for anything less than 12 hours it's an obviously better choice. And I don't really want to fly long distances either -- I've turned down free trips to Hawaii just because I've done it once and that flight was absolutely not worth it. Maybe if you're gonna stay for a month or two, but for a one week trip you spend the whole damn week recovering from the fucking flight, and by the time your joints stop aching it's time to get back in the plane and do it again!

      • (Score: 2) by frojack on Wednesday December 06, @07:53PM (4 children)

        by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @07:53PM (#606343) Journal

        It's ridiculous that it's cheaper to fly.

        No its not ridiculous. Its simple cost.

        Compare apples to oranges:

        Going by air (546 – 575 mph) means 3 to 5 hours in the air, treated like sardines, fed very little, but the punishment only lasts a few hours.

        Going by train (60 - 90 mph) means 4 to 5 days (depending on route), you will want a bed, restaurant meals, showers, and a bar.

        Explain how any of that should cost out the same?

        Compare like to like:
        Seattle to Portland: $129 by Air
        Seattle - Portland: 27 bucks by Amtrak

        --
        No, you are mistaken. I've always had this sig.
        • (Score: 2) by Dr Spin on Wednesday December 06, @08:24PM (3 children)

          by Dr Spin (5239) on Wednesday December 06, @08:24PM (#606363)

          Or, going by train should be 250MPH, like the rest of the world, so that the journey would be same day, and, not having the security theatre, about the same over all time as a plane.

          --
          Putting your data in the cloud is like sending your teenage daughter backpacking in a 3rd world country with a pimp
          • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @09:17PM (2 children)

            by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday December 06, @09:17PM (#606412)

            Nowhere in the world are they going even within a factor of 2 of 250 MPH.

            • (Score: 2) by Grishnakh on Wednesday December 06, @10:05PM

              by Grishnakh (2831) Subscriber Badge on Wednesday December 06, @10:05PM (#606435)

              The 250mph thing is a bit of a stretch, but the Shinkansen [wikipedia.org] regularly goes 150-200mph, has been tested up to 275, and hit a world record of 375mph with a maglev train.

              Even in the US, the regular Amtrak hits a peak speed of 125mph, and 150mph on the Acela Express, so your claim is outright wrong.

            • (Score: 2) by Aiwendil on Wednesday December 06, @10:55PM

              by Aiwendil (531) on Wednesday December 06, @10:55PM (#606462) Journal

              In the french TGV-network 300kph (186mph) is the common max speed (has been at least 260kph/161mph since the early 80s) and TGV often hits is max speed while in service.

              The Amsterdam-Brussels is a 300kph(186mph) stretch, and so is the Paris-Brussels (this once since the 90s it seems).

              Those are electrical trains of the highspeed variety that is most common in western europe - so I'd say they manage within a factor of 1.5.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @05:47AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday December 07, @05:47AM (#606662)

    "A lot of our customers care about the earth and about pollution, and these are so much cleaner to operate, and they're better for our partners at IDOT and the customers because they're going to cost less to operate in that they get better mileage," said Marc Magliari, Amtrak spokesman.

    Do they care about living through rail accidents at 125MPH?

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