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cteno4

maybe rebirth of texas high speed rail with jr central?

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Sacto1985

I think the Texas Central Railway plan will work because of the following factors:

 

1. The air route between the Dallas-Fort Worth area and Houston is already running straining to keep up with demand, and travel on Interstate 45 between Dallas and Houston is already approaching its limits anyway. As such, there is now demand for a third alternative.

 

2. The project--since it is heavily supported by JR Central--uses the N700-I trainset, essentially a slightly modified version of the N700A trainset now entering service on the Tokaidō Shinkansen route. As such, that means no need for expensive research and development of a new trainset.

 

3. The topography of the land between Dallas-Fort Worth and Houston is relatively flat and not in an earthquake zone, so there is no need for expensive long tunnels or earthquake mitigation measures.

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kvp

What is the planned route, number of stations, types of service for the new line? From the info it looks like a 100% elevated 2 track shinkansen line, but i couldn't find much else. What are the expected costs for a line like this?

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Mudkip Orange

What is the planned route, number of stations, types of service for the new line? From the info it looks like a 100% elevated 2 track shinkansen line, but i couldn't find much else. What are the expected costs for a line like this?

 

It's sort of under wraps right now. TxDOT did an engineering study using fed funds (unrelated to the JR Tokai proposal) which leaned heavily towards roughly following the BNSF through Tomball and Teague to Corsicana, and Ed Emmett has endorsed a similar route. I have read articles elsewhere which said they were looking at building a terminal facility in Hutchins, which also suggests a Corsicana "Air Line" route.

 

Land in Central Texas is quite cheap, a couple thousand an acre, so you can do a surface route pretty easily. Most of it's also pretty flat. Looks like so: http://goo.gl/maps/Q4Bko

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cteno4

yeah this is why this seems like the best place to do a hsr like this.

 

jeff

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disturbman

Funnily enough, I do not believe this will ever be built. Well, anyway, I think that, the day a HSR system is built in the States, I will do a little dance.

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Mudkip Orange

Update on this project:

 

The federally-mandated environmental study is in full swing and full plate of alternative routes has been whittled down to two. I'll be attending the Houston meeting tonight, so we'll see what gets presented then.

 

Here's the current corridor options. Red follows BNSF, yellow follows mostly power line and pipeline rights-of-way, then follows the UP the last dozen or so miles into Houston.

 

TUaPnNg.jpg

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bikkuri bahn

Looking forward to your impressions of the meeting, Mudkip.  Hopefully there will be more discussion than just "we wanna downtown station!"

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miyakoji

I like that utility alignment, full power on the straight section :grin

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katoftw

I like that utility alignment, full power on the straight section :grin

Yup I agree.  Smooth out some of the corners and you are done.

 

And about half way between Houston and Texas intersects the BNSF line, so a station could be optioned at that location also.

 

Wouldn't that be a crazy drunkard train after a Houston vs Dallas game.  After a afternoon of watch J.J. Watt knock down Romo all game.  Jump back on the HSR home.

Edited by katoftw
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bikkuri bahn

I like that utility alignment, full power on the straight section :grin

Yes, that stretch through Grimes and Madison counties would allow a N700i to really stretch its legs. 

 

And about half way between Houston and Texas intersects the BNSF line, so a station could be optioned at that location also.

 

Indeed, that would serve Bryan/College Station, with Texas A&M there.

Edited by bikkuri bahn

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Mudkip Orange

Update from the meeting:

 

---A station near where the two alternatives cross is planned, to serve College Station and Huntsville.

 

---Texas Central hasn't ruled out the idea of multiple urban stations ("you can't serve eight million people with a single station"), but they're only going to build one in Houston and Dallas until the ridership base has been shown to clearly be established.

 

---Dallas station sites under consideration include Downtown, Loop 12, and IH-20. These are independent of alignment.

 

---Houston station sites are alignment-dependent. Utility/UP sites include Hempstead @ Beltway 8, Hempstead @ 610, and Downtown. BNSF sites include the racetrack area (Beltway 8 @ 249) or Downtown.

 

---As a private company, Texas Central (TXC) is not subject to federal requirements for contracting, environmental, etc. However, they can't run trains without FRA approval, and the FRA has to follow the environmental/etc rules. So FRA and Texas DOT are leading the study on TXC's behalf.

 

Comments from the meeting:

 

---"We wanna downtown station" was outnumbered at least 3:1 by NIMBYs from both Rice Military and the First Ward.

 

---Some farmers showed up to talk about the sacredness of the land which has been in their family for generations, etc.

 

---A member of the Citizens Transportation Coalition called for a trenched combined HSR/Commuter Rail/Freight Rail cut through Rice Military and the First Ward, with parkland on top.

 

---Generalized comments of support ("I've been to Japan and we need this here") were heard.

 

---Generalized comments of opposition were heard, many claiming a "lack of public notification about this process"... which was sort of belied by how many of them there were.

 

---A certain Japanese railway aficionado and JNS Forum poster related the story of the San Diego Sprinter's brake failure, and urged public officials not to tamper or meddle with a proven design and systems approach which has seen 50 years of safe operation.

 

My Take:

 

It really seems like if/once the FRA approves the project, TXC will be able to proceed quickly with construction and land acquisition. Texas State Law grants private railroad companies the right of eminent domain, as it has since the 1800s.

 

I think a Downtown Houston station is cost prohibitive. Most of the Union Pacific right-of-way from Cypress into Houston is lined with crud; tiltwall warehouses, 1970s apartment complexes, trailer parks, no-tell motels, more than one strip club. Then about a mile inside of the loop the scenery changes to $500,000 townhomes and immaculate bungalows which have been restored by only the most discerning white folks.

 

There are many large parcels at Loop 610 which could make a decent station site, including the Northwest Mall, Tex-Tube, and any number of the aforementioned tiltwall industrial parks. This area also has excellent transit connectivity as the "reimagined" bus network will route several 15-minute bus lines through this area as early as next summer (see slide 21 of this presentation).

 

Dallas seems more likely to get a downtown-ish station, albeit not Dallas Union. One intriguing possibility is this parking lot, which is currently being used as construction staging for the Dallas Horseshoe freeway project and would be available for redevelopment about the same time as TXC would be looking to build their station.

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kvp

 

---A certain Japanese railway aficionado and JNS Forum poster related the story of the San Diego Sprinter's brake failure, and urged public officials not to tamper or meddle with a proven design and systems approach which has seen 50 years of safe operation.

The brake problem is nothing new. The same problem happened with certain Bombardier emu units in Hungary. The Bombardier supplied brake pads are not meant to be used with the brake discs, so the discs wear out faster. The use of standard Siemens supplied pads and using Siemens certified maintenance shops will solve it. Replacing the discs twice as often is also an alternative solution, but doing so requires the wheels to be taken apart and it may not be possible to reassemble them correctly, so replacing the whole wheelset is the usual way.

 

So i would add, that they should not allow maintenance crews from other companies than the manufacturer near the trains and always use official replacement parts.

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miyakoji

 

---A certain Japanese railway aficionado and JNS Forum poster related the story of the San Diego Sprinter's brake failure, and urged public officials not to tamper or meddle with a proven design and systems approach which has seen 50 years of safe operation.

What's the likelihood of a shinkansen-based (or other system, for that matter) being run properly?  That is, using the system as it's designed, without modification, as you said.

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bikkuri bahn

I think as long the plan sticks to its market-driven (rather than politically-driven) principles, it has a good chance of being successful.  One thing you DO NOT WANT is shared right of way with other rail, or heaven forbid, shared track.  Might as well pack up and leave if it comes to that.

 

*to see how a shinkansen-based system works abroad, looking at Taiwan HSR is a good case.  The operational part that is, not the financial part (which has nothing to do with the merits of the shinkansen system).

Edited by bikkuri bahn

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Mudkip Orange

What's the likelihood of a shinkansen-based (or other system, for that matter) being run properly?  That is, using the system as it's designed, without modification, as you said.

 

Well, I got a chance to talk with one of the TXC officials for awhile after the meeting. He mentioned that they didn't want to give up too much control to public entities because the government is notoriously bad at maintaining transportation infrastructure, and cited the specific example of hike/bike trails around suburban Houston (some of which are in very sorry shape indeed). If that attitude is representative of the company as a whole, then I'd reckon there's a reasonable chance they'll follow JR Tokai's recommendations for preventative maintenance, etc.

 

There are still opportunities for this to crash and burn; the FRA could nix the proposal outright, they could require interoperability with the NEC, or they could pass their approvals and then lose in the financing stage, as XpressWest did.

 

On the other hand, if they can get through the regulatory and finance issues, I think these guys stand a real chance of building it faster and cheaper than the other sunny, sprawling, freeway-dominated state that's building HSR. Would be real fun to be riding 205mph bullets to the Big D while the bear flaggers are still running diesels with a forced bus transfer.

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bikkuri bahn

while the bear flaggers are still running diesels with a forced bus transfer.

 

LOL.  Even when they will have the initial HSR segment running in the valley, you'll still have to transfer to (likely) a bus.  First world trains with third world infrastructure.

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miyakoji

bear flaggers

dare I ask, what does this mean?

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bikkuri bahn

It's a reference to the California state flag, which has a bear on it.

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Sacto1985

If they can build the line using mostly viaducts like what they did with the Kyushu Shinkansen line, then the yellow-colored alignment on that maps works the best. That would allow trains to reach the full 330 km/h (205 mph) top speed. Following the BNSF alignment would mean having to develop a train with more tilting ability, and that may slow the maximum speed down to 250 km/h (155 mph) even the tilting trainsets.

Edited by Sacto1985

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Mudkip Orange

If they follow the BNSF, the HSR alignment will diverge at corners to maintain design speed. I don't know what specs URS used but looking at the schematic and extrapolating from the fact that it's 240 miles from end to end, those are clearly greater than 4km radius curves.

 

 

As far as the Bear Flag goes, well, that was the Cali heads imitating us. Texas seceded from Mexico in 1836 (we have a giant sandstone dick to commemorate it) and gained admittance to the United States in 1845. Northern Californians, upon seeing the success of these efforts, promptly declared independence themselves the next year - and were admitted to the Union three weeks later. The current California flag pays homage to these original separatists.

 

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Mudkip Orange

One intriguing possibility is this parking lot, which is currently being used as construction staging for the Dallas Horseshoe freeway project and would be available for redevelopment about the same time as TXC would be looking to build their station.

 

Texas Central has narrowed down their Downtown Dallas sites to one of two locations. Option 2 is the parking lot, Option 1 is the grass across the freeway from the parking lot.

 

http://www.bizjournals.com/dallas/news/2015/02/06/texas-central-railway-picks-2-sites-for-dallas.html

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bikkuri bahn

Well, at least nobody will mourn the loss of a parking lot or consider it an assault on their "livelihood that has been cultivated for generations"...

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