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Restarting Passenger Rail In Ohio's 3C Corridor

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Freight is always time sensitive. Our economy needs freight to arrive on time, no less so than passengers.

 

But it's my understanding that the original acquisition of these rights of way by the railroad companies, long ago, was legally and politically ugly. Fair prices weren't always paid and there was complicity at many government levels. Some might say NS and CSX have already received a great deal of charity from the rest of us. Some might say this was the scandal of the century, 1800s edition. Actually historians do say something like that. You can actually read letters from long-ago congressmen asking rail barons for their little piece of the action.

 

Today we still have the expression "I'm getting railroaded." Think about what that could possibly mean, in its original context. The legal burden of proof in tort cases was permanently changed from defendants to plaintiffs in order to protect RR operators. So as far as the freight RRs playing ball... they better play ball. That solves that.

 

Theats won't help. The last thing we need is to try to run passenger trains over the tracks of a hostile railroad. Better to make partners of them. Everyone wins.

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The Jim Seney quote-- which is what he was told by a railroad executive:  "You want to build a swimming pool in my back yard, then invite all of your friends". 

 

The RR executive's point wasn't that he was opposing the 3-C/Ohio Hub plan, but that there had to be some give and take.  Namely, that Ohio can run passenger trains on their tracks, provided the infrastructure is improved enough so that freight operations are helped also and not harmed.  I agree with that sentiment.  It's private property.  What happened with the railroad barons a century or more ago doesn't matter now. 

 

CSX and NS are both supportive of the 3-C/Ohio Hub.  They are supportive because they have been approached by the state as partners to work with in a manner that will benefit both parties rather than the state saying this is what we're going to do, period.  Such an approach would fly like a lead balloon. 

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Theats won't help. The last thing we need is to try to run passenger trains over the tracks of a hostile railroad. Better to make partners of them. Everyone wins.

 

Partners is good.  They have work to do and so do we.  Everybody needs to get their work done. 

 

But I strongly disagree that what happened with the RR barons doesn't matter now.  Without "what happened," we wouldn't now be talking about all this being private property.  They built THEIR pool in OUR yard, not the other way around.  If banks can collect on old debts, then so can everyone else.

 

And I still agree with johio, the existing plan matches up with a nonexistent budget figure.  Change requires change.  The other problem is that opposition to the project seems to be basing its argument on lack of speed.  If we open with slow service, we legitimize their contention.  Even if we can't go 150+ right off the bat, it sounds like 79 may not meet sufficient acceptance to justify ANY future upgrades.  I don't know if giving Dayton and Sharonville a 5-hour trip to Cleveland as soon as humanly possible is worth that risk.   

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Quote:

 

Now hold on a minute here. Who owns these tracks? The freight railroads do and they are a for-profit enterprise. You can't expect them to take positions which would negatively impact their operations. There has to be some give and take here.

 

 

You just made my point with your last sentence though.  Right now the situation is entirely in the favor of the hosting railroads, to the detriment of Amtrak.  It's very one-sided, and I hope that the lease terms Amtrak pays to use those rails is very cheap, because it's a ripoff otherwise.  They basically say, "ok, you can use our rails, but you get whatever table scraps are left in the schedule."

 

I think some smart planning could be done to give passenger trains priority without causing delays for the freight trains.  For example, a lot of the freight trains waiting to get into Queensgate are held up in the Sharon yard (at least the ones coming from that direction).  So even though the yards may be tangled up with freight cars, the approach down the Mill Creek Valley is still clear.  Since passenger trains aren't destined for the yards, they should be able to go through anyway.

 

Again, I did say that any schedule should be worked out with CSX and/or NS.  I bet it could be done, it just needs a bit of a different mindset.  I am not a railroad operations expert, but it seems to me this is an avenue that should be pursued in the face of the funding shortfall.  We need some creative solutions.  I don't know if this would work, but it should still be looked into!  If it doesn't pan out as expected, then all the more reason to push for funding for the 4th main.  They can go to the State, or even back to the Feds and say, "look, we tried everything we could to wring out the last bit of capacity from this corridor, and we're out of options." 

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The other problem is that opposition to the project seems to be basing its argument on lack of speed.

 

Their argument is baseless.  The Downeaster averages 42 mph, according to KJP.  The Carolinian and Piedmont trains in North Carolina started out somewhere in the low to mid 40mph range, now they are around 51 mph.  The Heartland Flyer in Oklahoma averages 47 mph.  These are all successful trains.  This point has to be hammered over and over again to the media.

 

 

Right now the situation is entirely in the favor of the hosting railroads, to the detriment of Amtrak.  It's very one-sided, and I hope that the lease terms Amtrak pays to use those rails is very cheap, because it's a ripoff otherwise.  They basically say, "ok, you can use our rails, but you get whatever table scraps are left in the schedule."

 

Amtrak gets to use the freights' rights-of-way for "avoidable cost" which more or less means dispatching and whatever inspections/maintenance over and above what the freights would have to otherwise do anwyay if there were no passenger trains on the tracks.  Any other operator would have to pay more.

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Their argument is baseless.  The Downeaster averages 42 mph, according to KJP.  The Carolinian and Piedmont trains in North Carolina started out somewhere in the low to mid 40mph range, now they are around 51 mph.  The Heartland Flyer in Oklahoma averages 47 mph.  These are all successful trains.  This point has to be hammered over and over again to the media.

 

That's a lot of hammering for something that, if true, should be self-evident.  If existing rail service was having that much "success" one would expect this to be an easier sell.  Sure, statistics can show growth, and that's good.  But those speed numbers still aren't competitive with cars.  If we're defining that as success, if we're promoting that as success... I think we're gonna hit a wall.  And the majority of Americans (especially Ohioans) are on the other side of that wall.  It's already been noted that comparing fares to the total cost of car ownership will give us unrealistically favorable ratios.  All that does is make us look out of touch.  Let's not miss the forest for the trees. 

 

Amtrak gets to use the freights' rights-of-way for "avoidable cost" which more or less means dispatching and whatever inspections/maintenance over and above what the freights would have to otherwise do anwyay if there were no passenger trains on the tracks.  Any other operator would have to pay more.

 

Says who?  Says them?  That's not how they were treated when they wanted to pay zippo for the land.  Let met get this straight... they have rights that are unquestionably binding across countless generations, but their responsibilities all terminated 150 years ago.  That is some deal.

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That's a lot of hammering for something that, if true, should be self-evident.

 

What do you mean "if true"?  All you have to do is look up Amtrak's schedules of these trains and calculate the average speeds.  You can read a transcript of Patrick Simmons' testimony in a hearing on the 3-C back in April of '09.  You can contact people like Patricia Quinn about the Downeaster.

 

But those speed numbers still aren't competitive with cars.

 

Because they don't have to be to have a successful start.  That's what NCDOT and the other states have found out.  Now they are improving the speeds and ridership is growing even more.  Ohio is pursuing a PROVEN model here.  Do you think people in these other states didn't have the exact same conversation we're having now?  Of course they did.  But once the trains started rolling, it didn't matter anymore, because the trains worked. 

 

Quote from: gildone on Today at 09:27:01 AM

Any other operator would have to pay more.

quote from Johio:  Says who?  Says them?

 

Says Amtrak's enabling legislation.  It's federal law the avoidable cost figure is a deal that only Amtrak gets.    The freight railroads agreed to this back when the Amtrak was created.    The infrastructure-owning railroads are not required to offer that deal to any other operator.

 

That's not how they were treated when they wanted to pay zippo for the land.  Let met get this straight... they have rights that are unquestionably binding across countless generations, but their responsibilities all terminated 150 years ago.  That is some deal.

 

I'm not sure what you're getting at here.  Both NS and CSX support the 3-C/Ohio Hub.  They aren't obstructing anything.  Perhaps I missed one of the points you made somewhere along the line. Apologies if I did. 

 

by the way, those "free" land grants (which benefited primarily western railroads, not the eastern ones) weren't free.  In return for them, the railroads had to give the federal government discounted shipping rates.  Stephen Goddard discusses this in his book: Getting There: The Epic Struggle Between Road and Rail in the American Century.  For many decades those rates applied.  There were congressional hearings on this in the 30s, if I recall the book correctly.  It was determined that the railroads re-payed the cost of those land grants many times over via the discounted shipping rates. 

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  I-74 was constructed with a bridge over the former CH&D in Northside. The railroad had been abandoned for many years when I-74 was rehabilitated in the 1990's. At that time, the bridge was removed instead of replaced. However, the new fill settled, leading to a very bumpy ride for an interstate, and that portion of the pavement had to be rebuilt.

 

Thanks for the clarification. Portions of I-74 were being cleared in 1969 when the CH&D was still active on the west side of Mill Creek, and the connection wasn't completed until 1970? I think the line continued to be used for some years after that because of some customers in Northside, as far as I can tell from the various aerials that I've seen.

 

You can't even tell today that there was a bridge at one point there. The fill has vegetation all over it, as if it's original.

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One stretch north of Columbus and one stretch south of Columbus needed trains traveling over 100mph. People hear "100mph" and they get excited.  They know that's faster than they can legally drive (it doesn't matter if the overall trip length is longer -- that's not how you sell things to people).  You propose something huge to the public (or a client) that gets them worked up, then bring them down to Earth and show them what's possible now. 

 

If there are stretches out there where the trains are reaching 100mph, the public knows they can do this elsewhere, and will be much more willing to support future capital expenditures to improve the service. 

 

I rode some truly horrible Amtrak equipment last year in Oregon. I hadn't smelled early 1970's vinyl upholstery since the presidency of H.W..  The Ohio trains need to be new in order for the public to recognize that the service is car and jet-competitive. If we end up with old trains, this is doomed, like the Music City Star. The stations need to be respectable places to wait for a train, not a small-town Greyhound station next to a used tire lot. 

 

Washington, DC built the red line metro line first so that the metro would not be stigmatized as a system poor people rode.  What I'm hearing described is not something that is going to attract people who don't already take Greyhound. 

 

 

 

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Re: "if true" I didn't mean the stats, I meant the assertion that existing lines are successful, at least in the way we need them to be.  The mark we should be shooting for is a plausible substitute for car travel for the majority of the market.  That's why the overall program is being presented as "high speed rail" and why the offerings need to distinguish themselves from existing services.  This is an attempt to shake up the market and reposition rail as an alternative worth using-- for everyone, not just for enthusiasts and those who are "car free" in the non-lifestyle sense.

 

Re: avoidable cost, I'm saying it shouldn't be any more than that for these operations, Amtrak or not.  If current federal legislation is obsolete then we need to change it. 

 

Re: congress, of course it was determined in congress that congress did good.  But they don't get to write their own report card, not even historically.  For one thing, I'm sure that congressional study didn't factor in any future costs from the situation we're facing now.  I don't think the freight lines should be able to tack a profit onto this, or frustrate its purpose by giving it a prohibitive dispatch priority.  We'll just have to balance the needs of freight and passengers, and the RRs deserve to recover their marginal costs.  Once we finally get additional track laid, everyone will be happy.

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Re: "if true" I didn't mean the stats, I meant the assertion that existing lines are successful, at least in the way we need them to be.  The mark we should be shooting for is a plausible substitute for car travel for the majority of the market.

 

Ok.  I understand what you're saying.  I would suggest you contact Patrick Simmons at NCDOT and Patricia Quinn with the New England Passenger Rail Authority and ask them how they are defining success.  Frank Busalacchi with Wisconsin DOT (Hiawatha Corridor) would be another suggestion. 

 

Re: avoidable cost, I'm saying it shouldn't be any more than that for these operations, Amtrak or not.  If current federal legislation is obsolete then we need to change it.

 

Amtrak got the deal because Amtrak took away the private railroads' obligation to run passenger trains.  They wanted out and for good reason.  The federal government was doing everything it could to pour money into highways and aviation while the private railroads were expected to absorb all of the costs for passenger trains that were being subsidized for those other modes.  Then, in 1967 ('68?), the US Postal Service, under a Postmaster General who had been hired from the airline industry, took all of the remaining US mail off of the passenger trains and put it on the airlines.  This led to a spike in passenger train losses that the private railroads could no longer absorb anymore. 

 

Amtrak's "avoidable cost" deal is a special case that was a result of negotiation with the freights when Amtrak took over passenger operations.  By law, they are also supposed to give Amtrak priority, but Amtrak has rarely pushed this through legal means.  The last I know of is with the Southern Pacific back in the 70s or 80s over their dispatching of the Sunset Limited. 

 

The freights will never agree to allowing other operators the same avoidable cost deal, and that is only fair.  If you're going to use private property, you have to expect to pay a fair market rate for it.  The other side of the coin is that if the freights earned a fair profit for hosting passenger trains, the operator would be treated equally with any other customer.  Via Rail in Canada pays a market rate, not avoidable costs, and CN dispatches their trains very well. 

 

 

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I rode some truly horrible Amtrak equipment last year in Oregon. I hadn't smelled early 1970's vinyl upholstery since the presidency of H.W..  The Ohio trains need to be new in order for the public to recognize that the service is car and jet-competitive. If we end up with old trains, this is doomed, like the Music City Star. The stations need to be respectable places to wait for a train, not a small-town Greyhound station next to a used tire lot.

 

ORDC/ODOT understand fully that the equipment has to be in very good condition.  That's why they are considering leaving Amtrak out of equipment acquisition and maintenance altogether.  This is what California has done.  All Amtrak does there is crew the trains and provide reservations and booking. 

 

Amtrak gave the state of Ohio a baloney figure for equipment:  $175 million.  Wisconsin is buying 4 or 5 Talgo trainsets for $25 million per set.  Ohio could lease rebuilt equipment for the 3-C for a lot less than $175 million too. This was discussed  in these threads some months back, I believe. 

 

ORDC is, as I understand it, even evaluating the possibility of contracting with Norfolk Southern and other entities operate the trains. 

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Re: "if true" I didn't mean the stats, I meant the assertion that existing lines are successful, at least in the way we need them to be.  The mark we should be shooting for is a plausible substitute for car travel for the majority of the market.

 

Ok.  I understand what you're saying.  I would suggest you contact Patrick Simmons at NCDOT and Patricia Quinn with the New England Passenger Rail Authority and ask them how they are defining success.  Frank Busalacchi with Wisconsin DOT (Hiawatha Corridor) would be another suggestion. 

 

I wouldn't ask those people for a definition of success, because they have a personal interest in whether those projects are viewed as successes.  Those people are essentially IN SALES for those services.  Hey Merrill Lynch-- is Merrill Lynch any good?  "Super, thanks for asking!"  As far as the general public is concerned, the bar is several notches higher.  If Ohio shoots for the current status quo of passenger rail, the one that's been stagnant for decades, achieving that goal may not impress the locals or anyone else... no matter how much better than nothing it may be.       

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I think that this "a plausible substitute for car travel for the majority of the market" is way too high a standard to set for at least the first decade or so. I'd be happy with a plausible substitute for 1/4 of all travelers along the corridor - don't forget point to point as opposed to fully length trips. College students, business travelers who are focused on DT's (which mostly means the legal profession), and sports event travelers and assorted others would strike me as the initial market.

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This is the 3C line. It needs to serve the 3 Cs, Cleveland, Columbus, and Cincinnati. That will cost all of the $400 mil from the Feds plus some. Where do you (those who want 100+ MPH service right away) suggest getting an additional $800 million to make it that fast?? We have an opportunity to create start-up service at 79mph (45mph avg.). Like KJP said, we CANNOT jump from 0 to 100+ mph in 0 seconds. There isn't the money to do. We are following a model employed throughout the US that has proven successful. What's the proof?? The ridership number increases the KJP has posted previous. He has even explained where you can get the same data if you don't trust his math or whatever.

 

While there are small things we can do to improve the chances of this being more successful (nice cars, on-time service, etc), the system being proposed is proven and the best we can do with the money on hand.

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I understand the realities we're all dealing with and the necessity of the quick start line.  However, am I wrong to assume that true HSR will require brand new track regardless of when it happens?

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yes.

 

However, that will require a state-wide bond issue. At this point, it wouldn't pass. HOWEVER, if this is successful, and incremental improvements are made to continue to grow support, that type of bond issue would pass.

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The announcement by the Obama Admin is awesome news... finally, with this development (pushed by Gov Ted and other local officials ... and AAO, of course) along with the casino vote, which should stimulate the 3-Cs downtowns, this State is finally shaking off its conservative (see: Do Nothing) complacency... Congratulations to us!

Now, I think it's important, given the tightness of a buck and the somewhat underfunding of the initial grant, we carefully plan and not throw up something half-ass that will probably fail...

 

For one thing, since RTA is currently rebuilding the W.150-Puritas Red Line Rapid station with an overhead walkway at the spot where 3-C's plans to have a station with an overhead walkway (over the tracks), wouldn't it make sense to use this walkway to connect both stations, especially since, w/ RTA's recent POP fare collection system, the station will be barrier free?

 

Also, once again, since it appears MMPI is finally coming to a sensible agreement on Cleveland's downtown convention center, shouldn't the iron be hot to develop a new joint Lakefront Amtrak-RTA (Waterfront Line) station, ... like, er, RIGHT NOW! 

 

We've had great news in getting projects like 3-Cs of late.  Let's not futz it up with our usual vision-less, separate-islands, one-thing-at-a-time (non) planning.  Unfortunately, we’re seeing such negativity in full bloom, once again, in Cincy where there's currently a circus as to where to build the 3-C's terminal and where, a few years ago, a cadre of troglodyte Republicans scuttled the LRT which should have it’s first line up ‘n running now… Let’s hope, maybe, the Cleveland example of transit connectivity can serve as a model to jumpstart the Cincy LRT project.

 

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I understand the realities we're all dealing with and the necessity of the quick start line. However, am I wrong to assume that true HSR will require brand new track regardless of when it happens?

 

Yes. You have to have a totally separate right of way apart from frieght rail ROW. It has to be engineered for much higher speed, fenced and grade separated, much like an interstate highway. This is what pushes costs up.

 

Success of early rounds or rail service improvements will build the base of support critical to success of any effort to raise funding for true HSR. It can come, but the best way is thru a series of steps.

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I want Cincinnati included into this plan as much as anyone but politically speaking, the only way the majority of Ohio's citizens will buy this is if it is seen as a drastic improvement over current travel times.

 

Unless Ohioans are genetically different from people in other parts of the country which got new state-supported intercity passenger rail routes in the last 20 years, I just don't see the gloom and doom that you see. I think Ohioans will turn out in big numbers for 3C trains, just as they are doing elsewhere despite a modest introductory service.

 

Consider:

 

Bay Area to Sacramento, CA – Capitol Corridor

 

1991 – Service began operations

 

Service frequency – 3 daily round trips

Stations – 9

Route length – 147 miles

Travel time – 3 hours, 50 minutes

Average train speed – 38 mph

First-year ridership – 400,000

 

TODAY

 

Service frequency – 16 weekday, 11 weekend round trips

Stations – 17

Route length – 168 miles (most trains run OAK-SAC=90 miles)

Travel time – 4 hours (OAK-SAC trains take 2 hours)

Average train speed – 42 mph

2009 ridership – 1.7 million

 

 

Charlotte to Raleigh, NC – Piedmont Corridor

 

1990 – Service began operations

 

Service frequency – 1 daily round trip

Stations – 8

Route length – 174 miles

Travel time – 4 hours

Average train speed – 43 mph

First-year ridership – 122,100

 

TODAY

 

Service frequency – 3 daily round trips (early-2010)

Stations – 9

Route length – 174 miles

Travel time – 3 hours, 15 minutes

Average train speed – 53 mph

2008 ridership – 361,368

 

 

Eugene, OR to Vancouver, BC – Cascades Corridor

 

1993 – Service began operations

 

Service frequency – 3 daily round trips

Stations – 10

Route length – 310 miles (most trains run SEA-POR=187 miles)

Travel time – 7 hours, 36 mins (SEA-POR trains take 4 hours)

Average train speed – 41 mph

First-year ridership – 185,000

 

TODAY

 

Service frequency – 6 daily round trips

Stations – 17

Route length – 466 miles (most trains run SEA-POR=187 miles)

Travel time – 11 hours (SEA-POR trains take 3.5 hours)

Average train speed – 42 mph

2009 ridership – 775,000

 

 

Santa Fe to Belen, NM – RailRunner Express

 

2006 – Service began operations

 

Service frequency – 6 weekday round trips

Stations – 4

Route length – 15 miles (Albuquerque to Bernalillo)

Travel time – 30 minutes

Average train speed – 30 mph

First-year ridership – 500,000

 

TODAY

 

Service frequency – 13 weekday, 7 Saturday, 2 Sunday round trips

Stations – 11

Route length – 93 miles

Travel time – 2 hours, 20 minutes

Average train speed – 39 mph

2009 ridership – 1.7 million

 

 

Portland, ME to Boston, MA – The Downeaster

 

2002 – Service began operations

 

Service frequency – 4 daily round trips

Stations – 7

Route length – 116 miles

Travel time – 2 hours, 45 minutes

Average train speed – 42 mph

First-year ridership – 291,794

 

TODAY

 

Service frequency – 5 daily round trips

Stations – 10

Route length – 116 miles

Travel time – 2 hours, 25 minutes

Average train speed – 48 mph

2009 ridership – 458,116

 


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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>There isn't the money to do.

 

Yes there is. If you really want Ohio's rail project to stand out and get attention from the rest of the country, start cutting ODOT's highway and road capital budget and move that over to the Ohio Department of High Speed Rail.  This would get the attention of quote-unquote progressives nationwide and provide funds for a car-competitive rail system.

 

Ohio's road program is loaded with foolish pork projects like the afore-mentioned I-75 rebuilding in Cincinnati, the grandiose 161 project in Columbus a few years back, and the ongoing US 33 "improvements" in the state's rural southeast.  Combined, Ohio's financial commitment to these projects neared $1 billion, and none of them will attract significant people or businesses to the state.  If anything they merely shift people around the state.   

 

 

 

 

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So who's going to take the train?

Even fans doubt slow travel times will attract riders

Saturday,  January 30, 2010 8:47 AM

By James Nash and Marla Matzer Rose

The Columbus Dispatch

 

A business traveler hoping to take a train from Columbus to Cleveland would have to leave the capital city at 6:32 a.m. and wrap things up in Cleveland to catch the last train at 3:30 p.m.

 

That hypothetical passenger would end up spending 6 hours on the train, compared with less than six hours in Cleveland.

 

People wishing to catch the train from Columbus to Cleveland or Cincinnati for sports or other evening events are out of luck, unless they're willing to stay overnight.

 

Full story at:

http://www.dispatchpolitics.com/live/content/local_news/stories/2010/01/30/copy/RIDERS.ART_ART_01-30-10_A1_5RGF08Gx.html?adsec=politics&sid=101

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    I came across two ideas that are being tossed around on the railroad forum regarding the terminal situation in Cincinnati.

 

  1. What if the 3C line bypassed, CUT, stopped at the Transit Center under Second Street, and continued out the Oasis line to Sharonville. This would simplify operations at the expense of more track, because the route would make a big loop and there would be no need to turn the train around.

 

  2. What if the 3C line terminated in Covington, Kentucky instead of Cincinnati. The practical advantage of this idea is that there is a place to turn the train around in DeCoursey.

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The Covington station is in-tact but has tenants that would need to be relocated. There would need to be a parking structure constructed to serve the station, and bus routes that would need to serve the local bus hubs. It has more promise than CUT at this moment, but it would require much more thought.

 

I see you follow cincyrails too?

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Ya know, I have to say, Ohioans need to stop complaining about this.  This is AWESOME that theres funding for the 3C.  Its a stepping stone to getting high speed rail.

 

I took the San Joaquin from SF to Bakersfield (and then a bus to LA, boo!)  and that train is packed!  and its about a 5 hour train trip.  People use it and let me just say, aside from San Francisco, Californians love using their cars so all the stations definitely were car oriented "park'n'ride style".  Even in SF (Emeryville station). 

 

And why is California getting a few billion dollars to put in high speed rail??  Because they already have conventional speed rail in the state.  And hell, that timeline is a decade or two out for us to even get it.

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I think the dialogue that has erupted in this thread since the funding announcement is showing that now that we have all stopped holding our breath for the money, this state doesn't actually have a cohesive vision for rail. We are a middle-class rustbelt state with too many medium-sized metro areas that are awkwardly close together and the two largest economies are in opposite corners of the state, with one oriented towards the great lakes region and the other towards the upland south.

 

Practically everyone in here is going to hate me for saying this, but I really don't understand the urge to build an Ohio-based rail system. I would have rather seen all of the funds go toward a few hub systems with high-speed from the ground up, with ours based in Chicago. And I say this as a professional planner who's done plenty of work and advocacy for transit systems.

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I wouldn't ask those people for a definition of success, because they have a personal interest in whether those projects are viewed as successes.

 

You're making an assumption-- and a faulty one at that.  It's very tough to "sell" passenger rail anywhere.  Legislatures have to be convinced to appropriate the money.  They are inevitably and heavily skeptical, and in their minds the bar is higher for passenger rail than other modes.  There are a lot of myths about passenger trains that have to be overcome, and then there are the opponents who who like to twist facts and perpetuate those myths.  And because in American society it's easier to tear something apart than build support, you really have to make sure you're on solid ground when you take up an issue like passenger rail. 

 

I know the steps ORDC took in order to build support for the 3-C/Ohio Hub.  There was a lot of care taken with ridership studies, the economic impact analysis, and all the other information they have gathered in order to build support.  It has been no different in any of the other states. 

 

So, long story short, those people would be very good contacts because they've already dealt with everything we are dealing with in Ohio.  They've dealt with the exact same skepticism you have and more-- and their projects have succeeded.  It's pretty easy to sit at your computer and armchair quarterback this stuff, but it's the people who played the game who know best what success is and how it was achieved. 

 

 

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this state doesn't actually have a cohesive vision for rail.

 

The Ohio Hub is not a cohesive plan?  The 3-C is just the first step, and we're not doing anything any differently than any of the other states that have done this haven't already done (how many times to I have to say this??). 

 

The only way to get this stuff done is incrementally, one corridor at a time.  Ohio is starting with the spine of the Ohio Hub system and expanding from there.  There are plans to connect Cleveland-Toledo-Chicago,  Pittsburgh-Columbus-Lima-Ft. Wayne-Chicago, and Cincinnati-Chicago, as well as Buffalo-Toronto.  The Ohio Hub is designed to dovetail with the Midwest Regional Rail System (Chicago Hub) an the Empire Corridor (New York) and Keystone Corridor (Pennsylvania).  While the 3-C gets going, the required PEIS studies will be completed for some of the other key parts of the proposed system. 

 

Part of the reason we are starting with the 3-C is because it's intra-state, therefore Ohio has the most control over it-- there are no hurdles that would come with working with other states.  It will also ultimately be one of the most heavily used corridors in the Ohio Hub system.  Getting trains into Chicago requires working with two other states--including Indiana which, until the stimulus came along, really didn't give a damn about passenger rail.  Plus there has been the problem of train congestion between Porter, Indiana and Chicago.  No more trains can realistically be added until that problem is dealt with.  It's a serious problem that requires a lot of money to fix.  Fortunately, stimulus money was given to that project, but there were no guarantees for that project or any of the ones that states sought money for, for that matter.   

 

Anyway, I suppose it's ok for us to agree to disagree that Ohio doesn't have a cohesive plan.

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Gildone...thank you. If we can't learn from the experience (and the success) of others, then what evidence would there be to demonstrate that passenge rail isn't some kind of alien concept?

 

And while we're at it...

 

Ya know, I have to say, Ohioans need to stop complaining about this. This is AWESOME that theres funding for the 3C. Its a stepping stone to getting high speed rail.

 

I took the San Joaquin from SF to Bakersfield (and then a bus to LA, boo!) and that train is packed! and its about a 5 hour train trip. People use it and let me just say, aside from San Francisco, Californians love using their cars so all the stations definitely were car oriented "park'n'ride style". Even in SF (Emeryville station).  

 

And why is California getting a few billion dollars to put in high speed rail?? Because they already have conventional speed rail in the state. And hell, that timeline is a decade or two out for us to even get it.

 

Zaceman...you are spot on.  Californians would have never passed a statewide bond issue to support high-speed passenger rail if they had not (twice before) passed bond issues to fund the great system of conventional-speed, intercity trains they have today. 

 

 

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We are a middle-class rustbelt state with too many medium-sized metro areas that are awkwardly close together and the two largest economies are in opposite corners of the state...

 

Actually, those are all great reasons FOR passenger rail. 

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this state doesn't actually have a cohesive vision for rail.

 

The Ohio Hub is not a cohesive plan? The 3-C is just the first step, and we're not doing anything any differently than any of the other states that have done this haven't already done (how many times to I have to say this??).

 

The "first step" was nothing more than a political ploy for Obama to hand out money to a swing state. The monies distributed in his rail proposal were mostly swing states, and you know as well as anyone, that Strickland will be hurting for votes on this coming election. What better way than to appease the Democratic leaders with the promise of high-speed rail in the future, than by giving them money for a slow-speed rail now. It gives the appearance that they are doing something, but in reality, are selling us a half-baked product.

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    I came across two ideas that are being tossed around on the railroad forum regarding the terminal situation in Cincinnati.

 

   1. What if the 3C line bypassed, CUT, stopped at the Transit Center under Second Street, and continued out the Oasis line to Sharonville. This would simplify operations at the expense of more track, because the route would make a big loop and there would be no need to turn the train around.

 

   2. What if the 3C line terminated in Covington, Kentucky instead of Cincinnati. The practical advantage of this idea is that there is a place to turn the train around in DeCoursey.

 

The problem isn't CUT, per se. It's getting to CUT in a reliable, on-time manner that doesn't negatively impact the freight operations of the landlord freight railroads. And when I mean CUT, I really mean ANY center city-area station, be it CUT, Crosset/Longworth Hall, Boathouse or even Covington. And since the trains will likely be self-propelled Diesel-Multiple Unit (or at worst rebuilt push-pull trains), they do not need to be turned on a wye track (for the non-railroaders, a wye track looks like a big Y from the air).

 

Before the 1970s, there were three mainline-quality railroad corridors into central Cincinnati from the north (ie: Dayton/Xenia area):

 

> Baltimore & Ohio RR on west side of Mill Creek

> New York Central RR on east side of Mill Creek

> Pennsylvania RR via the Ohio and Little Miami river valleys

 

In the 1970s, when railroad freight traffic was at its lowest, the B&O and PRR corridors were downgraded or abandoned while traffic from those three corridors was consolidated into one corridor, the former New York Central. Today, that's still the only mainline-quality rail corridor into central Cincinnati, despite that rail freight traffic has since grown dramatically to more than 100 trains per day on the former NYC.

 

Cincinnati isn't the only city in Ohio (or the U.S.) which has suffered from the wave of consolidations and abandonments that swept over us in the 1960s-1980s. But this is the area where it may be most negatively affecting the restoration of passenger rail on the 3C Corridor. It can be dealt with; the question is how.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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The "first step" was nothing more than a political ploy for Obama to hand out money to a swing state. The monies distributed in his rail proposal were mostly swing states, and you know as well as anyone, that Strickland will be hurting for votes on this coming election. What better way than to appease the Democratic leaders with the promise of high-speed rail in the future, than by giving them money for a slow-speed rail now. It gives the appearance that they are doing something, but in reality, are selling us a half-baked product.

 

Let's try this one more time...

 

1.  It has been the state of Ohio's preference for the 3-C to be the first step toward the Ohio Hub plan.  Whatever the political reasons may have been that Ohio was given the money are IRRELEVANT because this is how the state of Ohio wanted to start building the Ohio Hub-- with the 3-C first. 

 

2.  The 79mph top speed is for the FIRST step of the 3-C corridor.  Speeds will be increased going forward from this step.  Why?  See #3

 

3.  The best way to get to true high speed rail is INCREMENTALLY.  You start with conventional speeds.  As the dozen or so other states that are doing this already know, THIS IS WHAT WORKS. IT'S A PROVEN APPROACH.  (Aside:  how many times does this have to be said for it to sink in with some of you people?).  The incremental approach is the most cost effective, and it's how high speed rail has been done everywhere else in the world. 

 

4.  In addition, the incremental approach allows you to build a ridership base and a constituency for the considerably LARGER investment required for true HSR.  Why is this important?    Since the 1970s Ohio has had FOUR HSR proposals go down in flames because everyone always got spooked by the higher up-front cost it requires.  Trying to go from zero to true HSR in one step has FAILED in Ohio FOUR times.  This is the FAILED approach.  Get it?

 

Your assertion that this is a half-baked plan has no basis in reality.  You have a proven failed approach and you have a proven successful approach.  The successful approach is the incremental approach.  Call me crazy, but I'll take the proven successful way over the failed way every time. 

 

 

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jjakucyk:  The "first step" was nothing more than a political ploy for Obama to hand out money to a swing state. The monies distributed in his rail proposal were mostly swing states, and you know as well as anyone, that Strickland will be hurting for votes on this coming election. What better way than to appease the Democratic leaders with the promise of high-speed rail in the future, than by giving them money for a slow-speed rail now. It gives the appearance that they are doing something, but in reality, are selling us a half-baked product.

 

Wait, how did my name get in there?

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Just lucky, I guess!  :wink:


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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Columbus Dispatch reverses course

 

Handout is off track

Editorial: Money for rail deepens federal debt, won't help with Ohio's urgent needs

Sunday,  January 31, 2010 3:11 AM

 

The Obama administration and Congress are sending a trainload of $8 billion to Ohio and various other states to spur rail development, but this is a problematic gift. This is money the federal government doesn't have, and spending it adds to the annual budget deficit and the national debt.

 

http://www.dispatch.com/live/content/editorials/stories/2010/01/31/TRAINed.ART_ART_01-31-10_G4_65GE42T.html?sid=101

 

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The "first step" was nothing more than a political ploy for Obama to hand out money to a swing state. The monies distributed in his rail proposal were mostly swing states, and you know as well as anyone, that Strickland will be hurting for votes on this coming election. What better way than to appease the Democratic leaders with the promise of high-speed rail in the future, than by giving them money for a slow-speed rail now. It gives the appearance that they are doing something, but in reality, are selling us a half-baked product.

 

Let's try this one more time...

 

1.  It has been the state of Ohio's preference for the 3-C to be the first step toward the Ohio Hub plan.  Whatever the political reasons may have been that Ohio was given the money are IRRELEVANT because this is how the state of Ohio wanted to start building the Ohio Hub-- with the 3-C first. 

 

2.  The 79mph top speed is for the FIRST step of the 3-C corridor.  Speeds will be increased going forward from this step.  Why?  See #3

 

3.  The best way to get to true high speed rail is INCREMENTALLY.  You start with conventional speeds.  As the dozen or so other states that are doing this already know, THIS IS WHAT WORKS. IT'S A PROVEN APPROACH.  (Aside:  how many times does this have to be said for it to sink in with some of you people?).   The incremental approach is the most cost effective, and it's how high speed rail has been done everywhere else in the world. 

 

4.  In addition, the incremental approach allows you to build a ridership base and a constituency for the considerably LARGER investment required for true HSR.  Why is this important?    Since the 1970s Ohio has had FOUR HSR proposals go down in flames because everyone always got spooked by the higher up-front cost it requires.   Trying to go from zero to true HSR in one step has FAILED in Ohio FOUR times.   This is the FAILED approach.  Get it?

 

Your assertion that this is a half-baked plan has no basis in reality.  You have a proven failed approach and you have a proven successful approach.  The successful approach is the incremental approach.  Call me crazy, but I'll take the proven successful way over the failed way every time.

 

Do you want me to start listing off the failed rail proposals of the 1990s and 2000s? No need to be assertive gildone; you can tone down the rhetoric because I get your viewpoints and that of others, but if you want to tell me and the voters that 49 MPH average rail and a near 7 hour ride to Cleveland (versus 3.5 hours driving), then you've got to do more than say that it works elsewhere. Because it hasn't. You can cherry pick out specific lines where it has been successful, but I can point out many more where it has not been.

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I wouldn't say the Dispatch editorial means they are reversing course.  They are understandably concerned about our nation's debt-load.  The thing is, this is the kind of spending that will have an economic payback.  It's the kind of thing that is ok to finance with debt.  Where was the Dispatch when we financed the Iraq war with debt??? 

 

 

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Do you want me to start listing off the failed rail proposals of the 1990s and 2000s?

 

 

Yes, please. And please list which criteria these intercity passenger rail projects failed to achieve.

 

The ignorance and laziness of the Columbus Dispatch has reared its ugly head. When I was interviewed, I told reporter James Nash to ask the rail division chiefs in other states "who is riding their trains", because the answer will be the same kind of people who will be riding ours. Gee, I guess that would have forced them to actually do more work and to redefine their terms, stereotypes and simplifications.

 

So much for journalism serving as a the pursuit of truth.


"Life is 10% what happens to you and 90% how you respond." -- Coach Lou Holtz

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