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Why So Many Diesel Trains In The Uk?

Discussion in 'Off Topic' started by hasse#8149, Apr 23, 2021.

  1. hasse#8149

    hasse#8149 Member

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    Compared to other parts of europe where all passenger trains and most cargo trains seem to be electric...?
     
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  2. fabdiva

    fabdiva Well-Known Member

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    Short term UK political thinking. UK Governments (Both Con and Lab) rarely think beyond the next election, and when they do they worry about the other side taking the credit for it. The short term thinking often means that short term savings are prioritised, even when it results in higher longer term costs because those will be another governments problem.

    The new Oxford to Cambridge link won't be electrified because up front cost (and Gov thinks new power sources not yet developed will be more efficient - yes they really said that) and even things like more expensive fastenings are being banned from the project because it saves a few quid, even though they last twice as long!

    GWML Electrification and MML electrification were scaled back because Bi-Modes mean they can avoid paying for wires, but was spun by the Minster as giving benefits of new trains, but without disruption while the wires are erected.
     
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  3. Tank621

    Tank621 Well-Known Member

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    There's also the consideration that many old bridges and tunnels are from the victorian age and there are multiple places where there just isn't room to build the infrastructure to electrify. That being said there have been large-scale electrification developments in the North in recent years and the TransPennine route is being electrified this Summer (in theory).
     
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  4. solicitr

    solicitr Well-Known Member

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    It goes way, way back. When BR was set up, its view was solidly backwards- ordering new steam engines right as the rest of the world was rapidly dieselizing, then ordering a passel of diesels in the late 50s-early 60s to catch up when they should have been electrifying at least the main lines. (Also building and expanding marshaling yards just as the intermodal and unit-train revolutions were coming on, and replacing 1000 steam shunters one for one with 1000 diesel shunters.)

    Of course, Victorian trackage and related infrastructure was also a factor - it would have cost a lot to upgrade - and UK loading gauge is really restrictive, although it's certainly too late to change that now; and the UK wasn't starting with a largely blank slate the way Germany was after the war. Still, that doesn't really excuse things like leaving 15 mph points on main lines, or being so very slow to adopt automatic block signaling and centralized traffic control (there's a video on YouTube, a BR training video on how to operate a manual signaling station- from 1989!!!).
     
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  5. GuitarMan

    GuitarMan Well-Known Member

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    There are still Manual signal boxes in use on the national rail network here in Britain -
    In fact in Shrewsbury you have Severn Bridge Junction - the worlds largest mechanical signal box still in use - Severn Bridge Junction - Wikipedia
     
  6. Crosstie

    Crosstie Well-Known Member

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    Being American, I don't have a dog in this hunt, but it's a mystery to me why the British are building the obscenely expensive HS2 and Crossrail, while counting pennies on the rest of the rail system.
     
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  7. GuitarMan

    GuitarMan Well-Known Member

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    HS2 - whether for it or against it - (I'm not starting on that one) is all about line capacity.

    Currently the freight, locals and highspeed (up to 125mph) all share a line, meaning the line cannot be used as effeciently as it could be if you had a seperate high speed line (as then the locals and freight can run closer together). This then increases overall capacity on the line.

    The penny pinching is because everything has been privatised (although with heavy government subsidy) so there is a large shareholder bleed off of funds making people wealthy. Investment wont do this (particularly with short term franchise models) so they make hay while the sun shines by penny pinching. (and subsidise most other nations national rail operators...)
     
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  8. fabdiva

    fabdiva Well-Known Member

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    The penny pinching goes back well beyond privatisation. For example BR was encouraged to apply for EU TENT funding - but then when successful the treasury would deduct an equivalent amount from the BR budget, so the overall BR budget stayed the same but the UK Gov had pushed the costs onto the EU.

    HS2 is not immune either - already Euston is being scaled back so there is more space for commercial development
     
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2021
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  9. solicitr

    solicitr Well-Known Member

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    The traffic issue on the ECML could be addressed at much, much less extravagant expense by building a parallel, normal track for through passenger services, without all the vast additional cost of a bullet train system. Do all that many people really need to get to Birmingham 20 minutes faster, at least enough to justify the tens of billions of pounds being spent on it? HS2 strikes me as more keeping up with the Euro-Joneses than an actual need.
     
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  10. solicitr

    solicitr Well-Known Member

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    In that connection, it's worth observing that Britain's trackage and other fixed rail infrastructure has been upgraded more in the twenty years since privatisation than during the half-century of BR.
     
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  11. fabdiva

    fabdiva Well-Known Member

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    As we found with the WCML upgrade - online stuff tends to come in under spec and way over budget. Widening the line through towns would be just as expensive.

    If you are building a double track line on a new alignment - with some major station rebuilds (which is where a lot of the budget is going), its not much more to build it as HSL.
     
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  12. JJTimothy

    JJTimothy Well-Known Member

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    That did make sense at the time. Britain was dead broke after the war, coal was plentiful and kettles were easy and cheap to build with the infrastructure to support them already in place. Robert Riddles, CME of the new British Railways, does appear to have had a soft spot for steam but he certainly saw his Standards as the last generation of steam locomotives which would carry BR until the network could be electrified.

    Unfortunately steam is hideously labour intensive and the people working on them started to expect a living wage. An individual Diesel locomotive cost something like ten times as much to build as its steam equivalent but you don't need a team of people buzzing around it for eight hours to get it into working condition hence the hurried Modernization Plan which wasn't a modernization plan at all rather a plan to carry on as before but with new equipment.

    Exactly.

    The Great Central Railway was something of an exception to the norm having been built not just for contemporary expedience but with an overall plan of how it might develop in the future. It was as straight and level as possible for speed with room for extra tracks and built to the Continental loading gauge. It was basically HS2 Mark 1. Of course it was one of the first lines to close.

    Naturally the successive Governments would expect to have some say in how the railways were run but they do seem to have been used as a counter in some game of oneupmanship that only politicians understand (or pretend to understand). Having a crook as a transport minister just when they railways were most vulnerable didn't do any good either.
     
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  13. fabdiva

    fabdiva Well-Known Member

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    Myth I'm afraid - it was slightly more generous then other lines, but not continental levels - and Berne Gauge (UIC) wasn't standardised until about 10 years after the GC opened.
     
  14. hasse#8149

    hasse#8149 Member

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    I get that it can be hard to add overhead cables but what about a 3rd rail electrification? that seems esier to fit.
     
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  15. fabdiva

    fabdiva Well-Known Member

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    Unguarded third rail is no longer permitted beyond infill schemes. Plus with the low voltage you need a lot of substations and feeders, so in reality it doesn't work out any cheaper.
     
  16. hasse#8149

    hasse#8149 Member

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    Ah OK.
     
  17. Tank621

    Tank621 Well-Known Member

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    The other thing is that outside of the Southern and South-Eastern regions of the UK 3rd Rail is only really used by Merseyrail and in London, we'd need a whole bunch of new trains to deal with new 3rd rail lines. I imagine that problem will be solved with battery or hydrogen trains eventually.

    However, whilst some areas of the UK have been slow on the adoption of electric trains others were much quicker. The Great Eastern Mainline for example was planned for electrification in the 1930s (then a war got in the way) with electrification reaching up to Shenfield in 1949 and then Chelmsford in 1956, with electrification being extended further in the Anglian region throughout the decades since.
     
  18. neilhar#8925

    neilhar#8925 New Member

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    As other people on this thread have mentioned, we have short-sighted politicians to thank for the limits of electrification in the UK, and poor project management and cost control for the limiting of previously authorised projects, such as GWML and MML. I have no doubt that HS2 will not get past Birmingham due to spiralling costs, and the realisation that post Covid, Zoom or similar methods for meetings are preferable to physical travel.
     
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  19. fabdiva

    fabdiva Well-Known Member

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    I don't think so - certainly not for Leisure travel. Holidays and VFR make up the majority of long distance rail travel. So maybe instead of a focus on premium traffic, maybe bulk lower cost travel - I mean 18 400m trains per hour are going to need discount tickets to be filled
     
  20. solicitr

    solicitr Well-Known Member

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    Yes- and how many people go to Birmingham on holiday?
     
  21. fabdiva

    fabdiva Well-Known Member

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    Phase 1 is going to Crewe with a branch to Birmingham - Idea is Services from Liverpool, Manchester and Glasgow will use the WCML to Crewe, then join HS2 for a high speed run to London.

    Phase 2 is the Eastern leg to Leeds & York (for ECML North), and extending the Western leg to Manchester and Preston (for WCML north)
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2021
  22. Mr heff

    Mr heff Well-Known Member

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    We broke af
     
  23. tallboy7648

    tallboy7648 Well-Known Member

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    I personally think hs2 is being used so the u.k government can flex at the rest of the world and say "Hey guys, we have a second High Speed line. We can make high speed lines too" I'm surprised it got a final approval even though is pretty expensive. Hopefully, it will be profitable but I wonder what trains will actually be used on that line
     
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  24. Cameron's Gaming

    Cameron's Gaming Well-Known Member

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    There are a lot of people here claiming HS2 is just a vanity project with no end goal, not helped by the fact everyone wants to focus on the time saving (apparently none of the journeys on the full HS2 will save over an hour, bar Leeds to Birmingham oddly) and not on the fact the WCML is at capacity. The government hasn't helped itself because apparently they're trying to kick start the domestic flight market, even though Europe seems to be doing the opposite (France is planning to ban, or already has banned, domestic flights on routes where you can do it in under 2.5 hours on the TGV).
    As for cost, it was first estimated at £30-36 billion in 2010.
    In 2015, that was adjusted for inflation, and raised to include the rolling stock - £56bn - £20bn more. Cue the press having an absolute field day.
    In 2019, that was revised again to £80-88bn - another £20bn over the £56bn after being adjusted for inflation according to the BofE's inflation calculator.
    So yes costs are rising, perhaps more than what they'd like.
    upload_2021-4-26_16-19-27.png
    Not wishing to get too political but just to show how backwards some things about HS2 are - the green party, extinction rebellion and the national trust oppose it for some reason. I can only assume they're concerned that 56 hectares of trees will have to be cut down (we are going to ignore the fact the builders have pledged to plant 900hectares of trees to compensate because that doesn't fit our narrative - a squirrel is going to die why don't you care?!) and at the emissions of construction (again going to ignore the fact high speed rail is generally considered very good for the environment as it discourages domestic flight and cars).

    It appears phase one is going to join at Lichfield/Rugely, and phase 2a is going to Crewe.
    upload_2021-4-26_16-21-39.png
     
  25. FD1003

    FD1003 Well-Known Member

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    What?! Green party opposing rail transport?!?*

    Also IIRC one of the main goals of HS2 was to move long distance passenger transport away from the WCML to increase freight and commuter capacity on that line, is that correct?

    It looks like HS2 is on its way to become as controversial as the """new""" Turin-Lyon project...


    *BTW I just found out recently the italian and french green parties agreed against the Turin-Lyon project that has reducing the truck traffic as its main focus... sorry for the OT.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2021
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  26. tallboy7648

    tallboy7648 Well-Known Member

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    A green party opposing rail transportation. You would think if they were a "Green Party" they would support this.

    If hs2 is used to increase freight compacity, does that mean they will no longer use class 66s on the wcml because those are diesel trains that aren't good for the environment. If not then I can see that adding to the controversy
     
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  27. Cameron's Gaming

    Cameron's Gaming Well-Known Member

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    Yep. It's strange but the Green Party of England & Wales (not sure on the Scottish Greens' position) officially posses HS2 (although for the sake of balance, there is a branch that supports it, called GreensForHS2).

    https://web.archive.org/web/2019111.../11/greens-time-to-put-hs2-out-of-its-misery/
    The Greens want the money instead to be spent in local transport infrastructure and apparently aren't against high speed rail in principle, they just seemingly don't want it in our country.
     
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  28. Cameron's Gaming

    Cameron's Gaming Well-Known Member

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    66s will undoubtedly still be used - they're one of (if not the) most powerful freight locos in the UK however the FOCs are starting to only use them if necessary (eg if part of the route is diesel), or for heavy freight (coal, cement, oil, etc). It should be remembered that even though 66s aren't the best environmentally, they're leagues better than each of those containers going onto an individual lorry. The closest we have gotten so far is 10 Class 88s (basically a Class 68 with a pantograph stuck on the roof) which are electro-diesels and used by DRS on some intermodals. I think it's still going to be a while before we see lots more electro-diesels, given the 66s are relatively new the FOCs will really want to get their money's worth from them.
     
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  29. solicitr

    solicitr Well-Known Member

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    Exactly the sort of government manipulation of the economy that never ends well (setting aside broader considerations such as individual liberty). In the early years of BR the government nationalized trucking as well, and manipulated rates so as to divert freight to BR (the only years in its history in which BR turned a profit). But those rates were so crippling for industry that the gov't relented and re-privatized trucking... and everyone flocked to it.

    France telling its citizens you have to take the train whether you want to or not is the same sort of thing... save it inconveniences a lot more people.

    ------------------
    PS the National Trust isn't just upset over trees, but over the number of listed buildings that are being demolished because they're in the way.
     
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  30. fabdiva

    fabdiva Well-Known Member

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    Phase 1 and 2a are now being built and will open simultaneously - hence why I lumped them as phase one


    Scottish Greens support it and want it bought further north.

    There are a few in the E&W Greens who support it, including one of the leaders, but they get shouted down rather a lot. The Green movement has attracted a lot who would rather preserve the local environment then make changes for the greater good (GreenNIMBYS)
     
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  31. fabdiva

    fabdiva Well-Known Member

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    If more routes were wired I'm sure the FOCs would be more interested, as it is they can use the 66 to shunt in the loading area, then haul the train though out.
     
  32. Lightspeed

    Lightspeed Active Member

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    It’s strange that Britain invented the railway back in the Victorian era, whilst the states were experimenting with traction motors and Diesel engines. Guess back then that, as soon as word got out to the rest of the world, everything became a competition. Now China and Europe have won the technological train race, with upgraded infrastructure and cross continental trains, while America, Britain and Australia are stuck in the past with Victorian tracks and diesel trains.

    Don’t get me wrong! I love a good sounding diesel loco/train that has a good amount of clag!
     
  33. solicitr

    solicitr Well-Known Member

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    There is a lot to be said for diesels. Electrification only really makes sense if you are moving a lot of passengers.
     
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  34. Blacknred81

    Blacknred81 Well-Known Member

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    Unless of course your a coal hauling railroad to a powerplant, such as the former Black Mesa and Lake Powell Railroad
    485009873ydhuu580931975133515.jpg
     
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  35. JJTimothy

    JJTimothy Well-Known Member

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    Georgian! The first proper railway, the Stockton and Darlington (in spite of what a few people in Manchester might like you to think), opened in 1825 and locomotives had been developing for some years before that.

    A problem for high speed rail in the US and Australia is the distances involved. Even if passenger trains crossed the US on a new line at 250mph it would still take the thick end of a day to get from coast to coast. Australia is about the same size (as the 48 anyway) so same deal but with a tenth of the population so who'd ride those trains? Domestic air travel makes sense over such distances especially when you're moving a relatively small number of people.
     
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  36. tallboy7648

    tallboy7648 Well-Known Member

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    How can a green party be opposed to high speed in their own country? That sounds stupid in my opinion. Do they want people to drive gas cars and take planes to their destinations instead
     
  37. tallboy7648

    tallboy7648 Well-Known Member

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    You gotta remember that the United States is the third largest country in the world. Even if there was a high speed line that went from Boston South Station to Los Angeles Union Station at 230MPH it would still probably take more time to reach your final destination compared to flying. Taking a plane would be the quicker option. Also, I don't think there would be demand for cross country high speed rail in the U.S hence why none exists. We would waste money on something that not many people would use
     
  38. solicitr

    solicitr Well-Known Member

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    They don't want people to travel at all, except on foot.
     
  39. tallboy7648

    tallboy7648 Well-Known Member

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    Traveling from London to Scotland on foot would not be a good thing on foot. Maybe they support electric cars
     
  40. Cameron's Gaming

    Cameron's Gaming Well-Known Member

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    Because Barry the squirrel's going to lose his home.

    On a more serious note, I assume they think the existing intercity lines between London & Scotland (ECML and WCML) are good enough - which they largely are from a passenger perspective, and they'd rather the money being spent on HS2 be increased local buses (preferably electric I presume) or local trains. They seem to have freight very much as an afterthought from what I've seen.
     
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  41. Lightspeed

    Lightspeed Active Member

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    Texas is pretty much eyeing up high speed rail to cut down travel times in the state.
     
  42. solicitr

    solicitr Well-Known Member

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    In the specific corridor DFW-Houston. There are not many places in the US where the math works out- cities are just too far apart to make rail, even at 300 km/h, a viable alternative to air. Texas is about the same size as France, but has just 40% of its population.
     
  43. Lightspeed

    Lightspeed Active Member

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    Is there rail links to the airports then? Surely there must be a rail link to the local airports.
     
  44. Blacknred81

    Blacknred81 Well-Known Member

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    I also assume alot of the land owners in Texas would not give up their land very easily, at least not without a hefty cost to the ones building the HSR line.
     
  45. Hiro Protagonist

    Hiro Protagonist Active Member

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    Just wait till you see Australia, which has 85% of the population of Texas but is the size of the continental United States. The Indian Pacific is a 75-hour trip and that's technically not even across the widest part of the country
     
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  46. Lightspeed

    Lightspeed Active Member

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    75 hours! How slow is the train?! Does it travel at speeds like 30mph? Which is something like 50kmh, since the Aussies switched to metric some time ago. Also had a look on google earth and compared Australia and continental United States in terms of size and Australia is a little bit smaller than America but, man it’s mostly wilderness out there so now I understand the monumental challenge of constructing more rail infrastructure. Seems to be a common thing in New World countries...
     
  47. Hiro Protagonist

    Hiro Protagonist Active Member

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    Seems more like 65 hours these days (some of the trips go longer due to stop-over excursions etc), but the route is still ~4350km long so non-stop would be an average of about 65km/h (and it obviously stops along the way, in-operation average is more like 85km/h). Not meant to be a direct competitor to air travel but at the same time it isn't a lumbering tourist train.
     
  48. tallboy7648

    tallboy7648 Well-Known Member

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    Yeh I heard about that. But I said demand for cross country high speed rail in the u.s isn´t there meaning like from Maine or Boston to Los Angeles. Sure some people may want to use it and some states are talking about making their own state high speed railroads but I think people would rather fly from Boston to L.A then take a high speed train. Flying would be quicker. Not to mention building something like that would be bloody expensive
     
    Last edited: Apr 28, 2021
  49. tallboy7648

    tallboy7648 Well-Known Member

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    Yes. In nyc we have the AirTrain which goes from Jamaica Station which is next to the LIRR Jamaica Station in Queens to John F. Kennedy International Airport. I assume other cities have rail links to airports
     
  50. formulabee#1362

    formulabee#1362 Well-Known Member

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    Once upon a time Chris grayling was made transport minister and thought that electrification was last century, and instead battery, bi modes and hydrogen trains should be used instead
    Consequently lots of electrification schemes were rolled back or scrapped. Network rail is yet to publish its quick win electrification schemes
     

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