Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Real Reason Amtrak 188 Wrecked

The real reason Amtrak 188 wrecked was that an 1864 railroad right of way alignment had never been eased. IF the curve at Frankford Junction had been eased to 1%, then Train 188 would have been above the speed limit of 90 mph but the train would have NOT derailed.

The Northeast Corridor is an amazing demonstration of what can be accomplished over alignments designed in the 1850's and 1860's.

Here is the New York Times article discussing the NTSB report:

What is engineer Bostian's status? Is he operating freight locomotives? Ironically, being a freight engineer means you work with a conductor in the locomotive cab.

Thursday, March 3, 2016

Making America Great Again

Making America great again. What does that mean?

Governments gain revenue by taxation, debt, and or currency debasement. Revenue comes from one source or another or a combination of the three.

Making America great again requires a commitment to govern. A philosophy of less government, small government is questionable. It may be romantic belief on the part of the believer.
But how does a country with over three hundred million people  have less government, a smaller government?

Austerity is one approach. That lessens taxation. It does nothing for debt. It does not make America great.

The issue inherent to income distribution inequality is that the type of income for the highest incomes is not wage income. It is investment, ownership income. Investment and ownership income is taxed at a lesser rate than wage income.

As the assumption is that high speed rail HSR 200 mph + will be government investment, similar taxation of investment and ownership income is a way to generate the government investment resource for HSR as well as other needs.

The frequent phrase, "the top 1%" really is addressing the enormously disproportionate income earned from investment and ownership income. That's where the money is. That is how with equality of taxation of investment and ownership income in comparison with wage income is of such concern. It is why trickle down economics became trickle away economics.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Idea for HIGH SPEED RAIL Pennsylvania Keystone

High Speed Rail (HSR) refers to a railroad capable of speeds over 110 miles per hour. Systems exist where sustained speeds over 200 mile per hour are regularly operated.

HSR requires curvature of less than 1% for 200 mile per hour operation.

The grade of a railroad should be as modest as possible. The goal should be to have not grade over 1%.

Any HSR system for the United States means construction to New York and Washington, D.C. The route to those major destinations will cross the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.

The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is crossed by railroad lines built in the 1840's and 1850's.
The grades of the Pennsylvania Railroad (Northfolk Southern today) and the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad (CSX) exceed the gradient and curvature required for HSR. Both are essentially freight railroads encumbered by Amtrak passenger trains. Both routes over the Alleghenies are functionally obsolete and not subject for consideration of HSR. Their logic for future freight service are subject to review and consideration for future freight volumes.

Remarkably, a railroad was surveyed and  proposed in 1906 called the New York, Pittsburgh and Chicago Railroad. ( See the trade journal, "Railway Age" for 08/24/1906.) Crossing Pennsylvania no grade would have exceeded three tenths of one percent. This would have been accomplished by tunneling. The route went west from New York across the center of Pennsylvania. It was to have been an electrified freight railroad with curves not exceeding three percent. Being electrified it would have had substantially less expensive operating costs than being reliant upon steam locomotives not withstanding the favorable grades. Had it been built it would have been a major competitor to the steam railroads. It would have changed the course of American transportation history. The bank crisis of 1907, the panic of 1907, ended the effort to build it.

The story of the New York, Pittsburgh and Chicago Railroad is related to make the point that the Allegheny Mountains can be crossed with a favorable gradient. That was going to be accomplished with steam powered, mechanical shovels using ropes to move the boom and operate the scoop. Dynamite would have been part of the effort. Substantial physical labor would still have been part of the effort. But, it would not have been as limiting as manpower, horsepower, mulepower and black powder had been in building the Pennsylvania, Baltimore and Ohio, and Erie Railroads in the 1850's.

Today an HSR will be built with diesel powered trucks, hydraulic backhoes, bulldozers and dynamite.

So, what is the potential market for HSR from New York to Chicago?

NTSB Amtrak 188 Document Release

The NTSB document release can be found here:

There would have been no loss of life if the NEC had had the modernization and improvements to have prevented the derailment.

Where is the demand to ease the curvature?

Where is the demand to upgrade the NEC and alongside the upgrade build a 200 mph HSR?

Sunday, January 31, 2016

What"s The Market For HSR Chicago to New York / Washington?

What is the market for HSR assuming 200 mph average speed? That average speed would mean a five hour trip from New York to Chicago.

Looking at the quarterly city pair air fare analysis by the US. Department of Transportation a picture can be assumed. in the second quarter of 2015, the average daily number of passengers for Chicago to New York was 11,251. Unlike air travel, HSR passes through and exploits other intervening markets.
Chicago to Indianapolis the count is 186, Chicago to Detroit is 1,303, Chicago to Cleveland is 1,368, Chicago to Pittsburgh is 1,065, Chicago to Harrisburg is 234,  Chicago to Philadelphia is 2840. The total is 18,247. Add another 5,838 for Chicago to Washington for potential 24,085 daily market.

Begin by looking at Chicago to New York. In and by itself that load factor represents 11,251 daily passengers. Along the route 186 air passengers travel between Chicago and Indianapolis. Chicago Detroit is 1303.  Chicago to Cleveland is 1368.  Chicago to Pittsburgh is 1065. Chicago to Harrisburg is 234, Chicago Philadelphia is 2840. Chicago to Washington is 5838. That's a daily air fare gross of $5,512,655.00

Looking for other city pairs along Chicago to New York to Washington D.C. travel market reveals additional potential revenue. Indianapolis to Philadelphia has a number of 434 passengers. Indianapolis to New York adds 1006. Indianapolis is another 1125. That represents a total gross air fare of $684,425.00. So on and so as the chart below is followed intervening market areas exist for a High Speed Rail passenger train for Detroit, Cleveland and Pittsburgh.

The opportunity is a daily $8,549,885.00 or an estimated $3,120,708, 025.00 annual gross. Admittedly this is a ham fisted 365 day multiplier to reach the three billion dollar gross. Yes, a High Speed Railroad from Chicago to the east coast may capture a portion of the air travel. Air travel city pairs is hard data. The potential market to attract motorists is a guess. The number of persons making long distance trips from Chicago to New York is nearly impossible to establish. Average vehicle daily count numbers at points along an Interstate give only vehicle density. The number of tractor trailers and the number of automobiles can be published. Where the origin and the destination for the vehicles on the Interstate might be located cannot be identified. As the volume of motorists far exceeds the number of air travelers the potential market is vast.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

New York Times Update Wreck 188, Frankford Junction, Philadelphia, PA

Today's update article misses the point that severe curvature on the Northeast Corridor and the curve at Frankford Junction, Curve 298, should not exist. Curvature must be eased. Had a 1% or less curve confronted Engineer Bostian there would not have been a derailment.

Here's the link to "The Wreck of Amtrak 188," :


Sunday, January 24, 2016

First Quarter GDP - Need for All Weather High Speed Rail

The first quarter gross domestic product will likely be negligible or negative. Why? The air system is unreliable and has ground to a halt. There is no alternative.

If we had a high speed rail - industrial complex we would not have the impact upon the economy that a a large snowstorm causes.

If the banking system is like air; then the transportation system is like blood.

What follows is an article by Julius Parod that discusses cold weather train design and operation in Europe, Japan and China.

Cold Weather Passenger Trains
January 07, 2014
Julius Parod,  Midwest High Speed Rail Association,  www.midwesthsr.org

People across the world depend on trains every day of the year. Even during blizzards or when the thermometer drops below -40 degrees Celsius, good transportation is needed to bring people together and connect economies. In fact, under extreme circumstances, when roads and runways are impassable, passenger trains can be the only viable form of transportation. Having a modern, winter-ready railroad network can make all the difference when harsh winters leave thousand of travelers stranded. Today, countries across the world are employing innovative technologies to keep their railway networks running smoothly in all weather conditions.
When it comes to cold-weather innovations in passenger trains, China leads the way. The recently constructed high-speed line, capable of running at 217 mph, traverses some of the most uninhabitable climes on the planet. The corridor, running between Harbin and Dalian in northeastern China, sees temperatures ranging from 40 to -40 degrees Celsius. To meet this challenge China commissioned 22 reports and thousands of tests to guarantee the safety of the “ice-train” – the only-high-speed train of its kind. Some of the distinct features of this line are special snow and ice removing facilities to keep the power supply and signaling systems safe. Furthermore, China has introduced specially designed train sets for this corridor capable of withstanding the extreme temperatures. The CRH5A trains are based on Alstom’s Italian Pendolino trains, which can handle temperatures below -40 degrees Celsius.
In Europe, the Pendolino trains are key to making extreme cold weather travel possible. From the Alps to the edge of the Arctic Circle, these trains have revolutionized winter travel. Today Finland runs numerous high-speed lines, capable of reaching 140 mph using these trains. Routes stretch from Helsinki to Oulu in the far north and St. Petersburg in Russia. In Sweden, other high-speed trainsets can withstand temperatures of -35 degrees Celsius on the Stockholm-Ostersund route. Conventional Swedish trains operate in even more extreme temperatures deep in the Arctic Circle, on routes such as between Narvik, Norway and Kiruna, Sweden. Throughout Scandinavia, specially designed rolling stock connect communities that would otherwise be stranded for much of the year.
To connect Moscow with St. Petersburg, Siemens modified its Velaro train design to prepare for the harsh Russian winter. The new “Sapsan” trains include extra safety functions and were built with special-grade, cold-resistant steel and plastic. They also employ new technology that keeps passengers comfortable even in the worst winter conditions. By updating their existing technology to meet cold weather demands, Siemen successfully brought high-speed trains to Russia.
To function in the winter, trains must overcome numerous difficulties. Snow often collects under the train, freezes, and then turns into blocks of ice that can weigh over one ton per carriage. Ice can destroy rail-car components and endanger the safety of riders. This is especially acute in Scandinavia where humidity and high-snowfalls exacerbate this problem.
To combat icing, railway operators have come up with numerous solutions. In Sweden, for example, moving parts are coated in rubber and plexiglass, which prevents ice-formation. In Japan, the high-speed Shinkansen trains spray water onto snowy tracks to prevent the snow from blowing up into the undercarriage and re-freezing. In all areas with extreme winter conditions, de-icing, like in the airline industry, is essential. Today, in Norway and Sweden operators are experimenting with a new method that will reduce time of the currently long de-icing process, which impairs railroad operations.
Cold weather countries also employ other methods to make their trains functional year-round. After a heavy snowfall in Finland and Norway, conventional diesel locomotives clear the tracks before EMU’s can run. In Japan, there is an elaborate system of fences and snow sheds to keep the high-speed Shinkansen trains safe from avalanches and snow drifts. Sweden uses helicopters to monitor snow conditions to prevent deadly avalanches.
Despite temperatures of nearly -40 degrees Celsius, huge snowfalls, and high winds, passenger trains manage to carry people to their destination throughout the world. From East Asia to Russia to Scandinavia, winter-specific rail technology enables conventional and high-speed trains alike to provide a necessary service.