TGV is winning

Tuna Sep 21, 2012

  1. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Moving the passenger trains was written into NRPC. Buying into it, those railroads, their successors or assigns, agreed to do so. While some RRs do better than others, too often they don't and nobody back at DC has the you-know-whats to step up.

    When ATK was formed, they made a huge mistake and did not specify what equipment was to be committed by those who took the buy in. Thus what was handed over was mostly stuff which the companies felt was not useful on freight, (cast offs), equipment in reduced maintenance anticipating the turnover, or complete junk. Even the Milwaukee Road walked away, keeping their less than three year old FP45 engines. As I have noted many times previously, this immediately hamstrung the new operator with instant huge expenses, money much needed elsewhere. Even a private sector operator would be staggered, if notv quickly failing by this hit. If the process were reversed, would the trade back be any better? Doubtful... I know the P42 power they use in my area gives constant failure troubles. So the RRs would be faced with coughing up big dollars to get rolling again. No way they'd want that burden, unless someone else paid the bill.
     
  2. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Well, the railroads paid the bill in 1971 in order to escape the unreasonable expectations of the ICC. So, a complete reversal of the process would actually get the roads some cash. But given our budget troubles, I think not. I think the government would have to cheap out on that part.

    The railroads would be foolish not to have mixed thoughts on the matter. At the same time, given the economy, the push toward 'green' everything, the success of cruise lines, and the fact that such a historic occasion as the end of Anthrax would be a major publicity event, I think there's some chance they would take it on. After all, look at the trouble the UP goes to running excursions. Much less of a burden, I agree. But hardly indicative of a complete lack of interest on their part.

    But, like I say, I guess we'll never know. Seems private enterprise has gone out of style. How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?
     
  3. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    One crucial and final nail in the coffin of railroad owned and operated passenger service that has not been addressed by this thread was the cancellation of railroad mail contracts by the Post Office in 1967. Railroad mail contracts paid between 30 and 50% of passenger service operation, depending on service provided. The remaining costs not covered by fares was subsidized by freight traffic revenues. In fact freight subsidies were pretty low if one were allowed to see the real figures, not the "cooked" figures used to persuade Congress to create AMTRAK.

    I will agree that the demise of passenger rail service was due in part to airplanes, automobiles, and highways. However, grossly unfair anti-railroad legislation enacted by Congress between the 1880's and the 1920's to get even with the "nasty" Rail Barons, aided and abetted by the enthusiastic lobbying of Harvey Firestone, Henry Ford, and John Rockefeller, nearly caused the collapse of all railroads in the US. When any company is trying to survive, it starts by shedding its losing or lowest profit sections, which in the case of railroads was passenger service. It was not until passage of the Staggers Act in 1980 when railroads were deregulated, that they started to become profitable again for the first time in nearly 100 years. Now all we, the voting public, need to do is convince our leaders in Congress that passenger rail is a Public Service, not some privately run company making high-demand profitable products.

    BTW, when the USPS no longer shipped mail long distances by rail, the mail contracts were immediately awarded to trucking and airline companies...at higher costs.
     
  4. RhB_HJ

    RhB_HJ TrainBoard Member

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    Hmmmm, according to friends and acquaintances in OZ (all of them railfans) the privatization of the Aussie railways isn't really the cat's meow. They term it one of those typical outgrowths of globalization and whatever was/is linked up with it. From what I hear/read their Po .. err ... Brit cousins are more or less of the same opinion with what went down in the UK.
    Somewhat along the same lines; what used to be the Swiss Federal Railways was sort of broken up into different "production units" - a term that makes me laugh regardless where and on what it is foisted! - supposedly to rationalize and have closer accounting. How does one spell bean counters?? And things have been quite "interesting" since.
    But that's nothing new, the same here in Canada. Talk to engine crews, MoW or signalling personnel and the rail traffic controllers, it is the same story across the line: those in charge haven't got a clue! Listen to the scanner and you soon enough find out that something is a-miss.
    Which doesn't really surprise me, a few weeks back I had a conversation with one of those "in charge people" and it was interesting. He was out on an inspection tour and just so happened to spot me while I was filming, he was surprised that railfanning was a hobby and asked me if I was aware that there was a danger zone along railway lines. I gave him the exact setbacks that are prescribed for the public along with one of my calling cards.
    His jaw really dropped when my scanner - fastened to the driver's door - broadcast whatever was transmitted on the Stand-By line. "You mean you have a radio, too?"
    Now this is a guy who should really be clued in, but he wasn't. I call it the "can't see the woods for the trees" syndrome. ;)
     
  5. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Oh, my Lord that's epidemic in this corporatist world today! It is in no way limited to railroads. It's across the board.

    Do you get our latest hit television reality show on the north side of the border? It's called Undercover Boss and it's about CEOs buying a clue about what goes on inside their own companies, how their employees are treated, what is required to do what their companies do, what life is like in the trenches, and etc. There's a reason that show is such a success--these seem to be about the only bosses who do know these things.

    No wonder the economy is where it is. Between their cluelessness and the value of the dollar shrinking like wool in a not dryer, a rock and a hard place would look pretty good.
     
  6. jagged ben

    jagged ben TrainBoard Member

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    Without commenting on all the historical things that have been brought up in this thread, I will just say this...

    The French TGV, which runs on nuclear power, is going to be around quite a bit longer than most of the airlines in the world, and will probably still be around after most Americans can no longer afford a car or the gas to drive it.
     
  7. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    Perhaps. Assuming a rather badly financially ailing nation, in the midst of a region in all kinds of financial troubles can continue survive. Without the tax base to keep TGV propped up, it could easily become a curiousity similar to the Roman road system.
     
  8. RhB_HJ

    RhB_HJ TrainBoard Member

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    I guess we don't want to get into politics but that profile fits a few other places that I know of. ;) ;) :)
     
  9. Ghetto Fab.

    Ghetto Fab. TrainBoard Member

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    I thought this thread was interesting. I can't remember what forum it was on, but the general consensus there was that highspeed rail only realy works well if the destinations are 3hrs or less apart. Anything longer and airlines become significantly faster means of transportation. The wifes family is in maryland and we live in california, so we have to fly at least once a year back there. I'd love to take a train, but its 8-10hrs of dealing with airline stuff, or 4-5days by train. We usually spend a week, so the train option wouldn't even get us there. Governor Brown has been trying to push highspeed rail in california between LA and San Francisco and that might work, but I'd imagine a plane would be faster still.

    As for the railroads taking back the passenger service, never gonna happen! Railroads are in the business of making money and what makes money is unit trains of coal or other commodities. I'm guessing that big ole' UP would rather let 20 low volume customers go (1-2carloads a week), if they could acquire 1 or 2 more unit trains. It makes more money and requires less work to do. Thats been the gradual shift ever since the 50s, possibly even earlier. What we really need to do in this country is figure out an efficient way (containers) to combine the short haul door to door capabilities of trucks, with the long haul capabilities of rail. People will stop driving when there are no supplies left to eat.

    Kevo
     
  10. jagged ben

    jagged ben TrainBoard Member

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    SCNF doesn't need a tax base to continue, as it is one of the few national railways that actually turns a profit. And the profit comes essentially from the TGV. So I think it will stick around as long as the nuclear plants do.
     
  11. acptulsa

    acptulsa TrainBoard Member

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    Agreed, for the most part. However, I can think of two exceptions. One is leisure travel--a small market and one that competes with other modes like ships. The other is destinations right at eight-nine hours apart. No need for a redeye, business travelers--check into our motel and we'll have you there for breakfast. The Pullman is an exceptionally civilized way to travel--if the government isn't running it.
     
  12. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    If an economy sags, transit ridership also generally falls off. Any freight does drop. Then the ability to continue paying their way comes into question.
     
  13. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    It does. Too many places right now- And a lot of people are simply blind to the fact. But as the example given was for one specific nation, that was where I cited.
     
  14. Ike the BN Freak

    Ike the BN Freak TrainBoard Member

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    I think the biggest issue with high speed rail in the US, is the size of the US.

    A flight from NYC to LA takes about 6 hours, and that plane is traveling at around 500-550mph.

    A train, say like TGV, which will probably average about 150mph, as no one is going to pay to tunnel the rockies...will take over 18 hours.

    And that is going non stop...which won't happen. So with stops, the trip will probably take closer to 25 hours. And if I'm traveling cross country and want to go "high speed" 6 hours is much faster than 25 hours...I'll take the plane.
     
  15. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Long distance rail travel also suffers from one other social demand that has grown exponentially over the past 50 years, instant gratification. The younger the traveler, the more instant the travel must be.
     
  16. Ike the BN Freak

    Ike the BN Freak TrainBoard Member

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    I'm sort of proof of that, as you can see in my previous post, but the other thing about that for me is time. I get 30 days of paid leave a year thanks to Uncle Sam. Family is near Pittsburgh PA, so for me to travel from Spokane WA to Pittsburgh PA by train, will take me almost 4 days. That's 4 days of my leave, vs travel by air in a few hours, so half a day to a day. Its not so much instant gratification for me, but saving time and days of vacation. I could drive home, also take me about 4 days...but when I get home, I'll be tired from the travel for probably a day or 2. Currently air travel works better for me, only because of trying to save vacation days. If I wasn't, I'd take the train.
     
  17. Hytec

    Hytec TrainBoard Member

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    Your travel need is definitely not "instant gratification", and I thank you for your service in USAF Blue.

    Is Space-A still a viable option? I remember one miserably cold ride in the tail gunner's seat of a B-25 from Biloxi, MS to Baltimore, MD one February day 55 years ago, and the skipper didn't even have a beverage cart. I would have gladly taken the train if I had had the money....LOL
     
  18. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    I keep hearing mentions of private sector initiatives. Maybe some day...
     
  19. BoxcabE50

    BoxcabE50 HOn30 & N Scales Staff Member TrainBoard Supporter

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    All are points I have broached repeatedly, in past topics. All are correct.
     
  20. Ike the BN Freak

    Ike the BN Freak TrainBoard Member

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    It is, however being a crew chief on KC-135s here at Fairchild, we never have any flights to Pittsburgh. And with the chance of not getting return flights, I just fork over the money to Delta and fly with them
     

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