November 13, 2010

"High-speed rail may be among the casualties of last week's midterm elections."

Says NPR and I rejoice.
The moves to oppose the Obama administration's efforts to get high-speed trains whisking through some parts of the country appear to be the first of many fights between Democrats and newly elected Republicans who campaigned on promises to rein in spending....
High-speed trains whisking...
... dreams of fast trains full of passengers zooming through the Midwest....
Whisking, zooming choo-choos are not our dream. Now leave us alone. We drive cars. Face reality.

100 comments:

Big Mike said...

@Professor, now don't get FLS started, please.

Maguro said...

But, but, they have choo choos whisking people around in Europe and Europe is really cool.

shoutingthomas said...

High-speed trains whisking...

Whisking like in making an omelette?

You've got to break some eggs to make an omelet.

traditionalguy said...

We're not losing much. With Obama/Castro/Chavez leadership all trains would become The Siberian Express experience that Dr. Zhivago took his family on. The scale of this sheer fraud of trillions of dollars bleeding out to line the pockets of planning firms, R/O/W acquisitions and European manufacturers, along with Bond Attorneys and Union Bosses, all for an unsustainable empty train line or two, boggles the mind.

edutcher said...

Ann Althouse said...

Whisking, zooming choo-choos are not our dream. Now leave us alone. We drive cars. Face reality.

I thought people in Madison were all eco-friendly and wanted to embrace Mother Earth and stop global whatever-it-is-this-week.

You mean they're just like all us air polluting slobs that vote Tea Party?

Misty said...

I've been on the trains in Germany and yes, they're really, really cool. But it won't work in this country because we are much bigger. Just like light rail can work in a small, compressed city, it doesn't work in a large spread out city such as Phoenix where we spent God only know how much to create a system that few can use.

Can anyone say "Amtrak"?

garage mahal said...

"The bottom line is, right now, I've seen no scenario where the taxpayers of the state of Wisconsin aren't gonna be on the hook for millions of dollars," Walker says

Correct. The taxpayers of Wisconsin will be on the hook for $100 million if he halts the project. It will cost more to taxpayers halting the project than it would if he went ahead with it. Heckuva job Scotty. You're off to a great start. Have any other wonderful job killing plans?

Randy said...

The taxpayers of Wisconsin will be on the hook for $100 million if he halts the project. It will cost more to taxpayers halting the project than it would if he went ahead with it.

And how much more would it cost the taxpayers of Wisconsin when the project went massively over-budget? Better yet, what is the estimated cost to the taxpayers of Wisconsin to maintain and operate the system if it is ever built? I doubt that figure is zero, and a $100 million charge now probably looks damn cheap to the taxpayers of Wisconsin in comparison to realistic estimates of future continuing expenses.

Kev said...

(the other kev)

But this town needs a monorail!

bwebster said...

The idea of various forms of mass transit -- subway, local trains, high-speed rail -- seems to spring from an "if you built it, they will ride" mentality that transforms the current messy America into a quiltwork of edgy urban enclaves and picturesque small-townish locavore/locashop communities, with nary a chain store or restaurant to be found (and only ZipCars for the transit-imparied).

It is a pipe dream, figuratively and, I suspect, in some cases literally.

The idea that a couple of high-speed rails lines in the Midwest and the Far West (the LA-Las Vegas boondoggle) are going to somehow magically kindle a transportation revolution just is not credible. In my opinion. ..bruce..

shoutingthomas said...

Correct. The taxpayers of Wisconsin will be on the hook for $100 million if he halts the project. It will cost more to taxpayers halting the project than it would if he went ahead with it. Heckuva job Scotty. You're off to a great start. Have any other wonderful job killing plans?

You'll have to enlighten me on your wisdom in this, because I don't get it, garage.

Is any make work job created by the government better than no job at all?

The $100 mill is blown, no doubt. But, isn't that the fault of the morons who ponied up the cash for an unwanted make work project in the first place?

The $100 mill is blown, but is that a good reason to blow even more money on an unwanted make work project?

Ever heard the phrase: "Don't throw good money after bad?"

traditionalguy said...

Garage...The scale of fraud in useless Train line construction is too much for a sane person to support over the spending of that same money to fix our useful interstate Highway infrastructure. Therefore you must have been driven insane by liberal myths. And what is that Global Warming Religion doing for your sanity lately?

vet66 said...

I retired from a western class 1 railroad after 42 years. The cost of construction will inevitably result in cost overruns, new bonds, new technology and the cost of diesel to power the trains whether catenary arrays or diesel electric.

Then the ultimate horror, a unionized work force demanding high wages, collective bargaining, retirement benefits and the list goes on ad nauseum.

The bottom line is that this is a sop for the unions who are desperate for more members paying higher dues so the union can funnel money back to the politicians who sold this snake oil in the first place.

Don't take the bait.

Jason (the commenter) said...

The solution to our high-speed rail problems is to fund the projects with federal and state employee pension funds. In exchange for the government refusing to guarantee returns, they can keep all the profits.

Denver said...

Ann grandmother wrote in 1906 "Now leave us alone. We drive horse and buggies. Face reality."

Alex said...

Better to spend $100 billion to complete the project then lost $100 million. That's leftie math.

Denver said...

Ann is really saying federal Government "leave us alone and build us more roads!"

garage mahal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
master cylinder said...

other states are gonna get the money, cool with me.

garage mahal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
shoutingthomas said...

Congratulations to garage for mining the ever popular Bigot-O-Mania lode of politics:

... and many more don't like the idea of minorities riding through their precious suburbs.

You did it, garage!

Wasn't easy. I was wondering what the Bigot-O-Mania angle was. But, I knew that some muttonhead would find it.

Rule #1 of liberal politics: Justify what you already wanted to do by calling your opponents bigots.

Well done, garage.

garage mahal said...

Better yet, what is the estimated cost to the taxpayers of Wisconsin to maintain and operate the system if it is ever built?

$750,000 per year. It will cost 21 cents per year to taxpayers between the ages of 18-65 in this state. That's it.

We're spending $20 million per mile widening a 45 mile stretch of highway, costing 1 billion.

On top of the $100 million we will have to pony up to pay the feds back, factor in an additional $117 million save by not having to pay unemployment benefits by adding 4700 people to the job rolls.

For all the people that are against this project, money has nothing to do with it. Liberals liking the idea is enough to be against it for some, selfish "I don't plan on riding it" is enough for some, [see Althouse] and many more don't like the idea of minorities riding through their precious suburbs. The primary reason Scott Walker doesn't want the rail project is he wants to repay his campaign donors in the road building industry instead

Denver said...

Have you all noticed that with Ann it is always about "me!", "me!", "me!" Yes, Ann, we get it that you zip about in your fancy car and that will probably work for you for the next twenty years of your driving life. But maybe, just maybe, we should be focusing now on building a transportation system for the future. You know, like Eisenhower?

SteveR said...

Ann grandmother wrote in 1906 "Now leave us alone. We drive horse and buggies. Face reality."

Denver, we had trains when we used horses and buggies. Making a point Fail.

shoutingthomas said...

Congratulations to garage for mining the ever popular Bigot-O-Mania lode of politics:

... and many more don't like the idea of minorities riding through their precious suburbs.

You did it, garage!

Wasn't easy. I was wondering what the Bigot-O-Mania angle was. But, I knew that some muttonhead would find it.

Rule #1 of liberal politics: Justify what you already wanted to do by calling your opponents bigots.

Well done, garage.

Randy said...

$750,000 per year. It will cost 21 cents per year to taxpayers between the ages of 18-65 in this state.

Source please. Thank you!

garage mahal said...

Source please. Thank you!

Sure!

So you can see it's not about the money. What can possibly explain why Althouse is rejoicing over something that will cost her 21 cents per year? That's a sliver of one $8.00 chocolate bar she loves so much.

Fred4Pres said...

Good. We need more buses and highways. Buses are cheaper than trains, more green (especially hybrids), and more effective (both for cost and flexibility).

Bruce Hayden said...

Just like light rail can work in a small, compressed city, it doesn't work in a large spread out city such as Phoenix where we spent God only know how much to create a system that few can use.

Hey, you just have to live somewhere where it goes. When I am in Phoenix, with SO, I have a short drive to one of the northernmost stations, then just down Central to our main office, which is where the light rail curves to go east to close to the airport (humorously, you need to take a short bus ride to/from the airport itself).

Indeed, if it actually ran to the airport, when I flew in late August, I could have ridden it to the office, then up to the client I was to see, then back. Except it didn't actually go to the airport, and I really wasn't going to walk the three or four blocks to the client, since it was, of course, Phoenix in the summer, and so spent $40 on taxis instead.

Fernandinande said...

High-speed trains

Excessive speed wastes fuel and produces excess CO2, so I vote for a nuclear-powered interplanetary flying train to The Terminal Lounge.

Whisking like in making an omelette?

No, a "quick, light sweeping motion", just like the way railroad trains move.

Fred4Pres said...

Developers and city planners love light rail because it creats all sort of speculating opportunities.

Randy said...

Governor-elect Scott Walker's position is to stop the high-speed rail project because he doesn't want the people of Wisconsin to pay the $7.5 million in annual expenses (though it is possible Wisconsin's cut of expenses could be as low as $750,000 if the feds pay 90%; now Walker is looking at another $100 million to pay back the feds).

Thank you!

roesch-voltaire said...

What I find interesting is that some of the engineers whom I know voted for Walker and then were shocked to find themselves taken off the project so quickly-- a loss of 2.8 million to them And now it seems the company, Talgo, that moved to Milwaukee to build the trains will move to Illinois. It will be interesting to see how this shakes out.

shoutingthomas said...

So you can see it's not about the money. What can possibly explain why Althouse is rejoicing over something that will cost her 21 cents per year? That's a sliver of one $8.00 chocolate bar she loves so much.

And, that 21 cents per year of her salary doesn't actually belong to Althouse, does it, garage? It actually belongs to the government.

And, she doesn't do the right thing with her money, does she? She spends it on 8 buck chocolate bars instead of high speed rail that will transport minorities through the back yards of bigot suburbanites.

Predictable. What else you got?

shoutingthomas said...

So, garage, be more specific.

Is Althouse a bigot because she wants to spend her 21 cents toward the purchase of a designer chocolate bar, instead of toward the building of high speed rail to transport minorities through the backyards of suburban bigots?

The definition of bigot is ultimately elastic, isn't it?

Maguro said...

What I find interesting is that some of the engineers whom I know voted for Walker and then were shocked to find themselves taken off the project so quickly.

So why were they shocked, r-v? Didn't Walker campaign on the idea of stopping the rail project?

Fernandinande said...

According to spokeswoman Nora Friend, Talgo will have 40 employees by the end of November, and it plans to hire up to 125 positions.

Somehow I think a train factory would need a lot more than 125 people. I bet the situation is actually like it was in WA, namely the trains are built in Spain:
http://www.wsdot.wa.gov/rail/amtrakcascades/trainequipment.htm

Where were the Amtrak Cascades trains built?
The train car bodies were built at a Talgo plant in Spain. The car bodies were then shipped to Seattle where Pacifica Marine, a local company, completed final assembly.

Paul Zrimsek said...

Connoisseurs of economic quackery owe it to themselves to follow Garbage's link, if only to see how many times over the author can count the same money.

Alex said...

Governor-elect Scott Walker's position is to stop the high-speed rail project because he doesn't want the people of Wisconsin to pay the $7.5 million in annual expenses (though it is possible Wisconsin's cut of expenses could be as low as $750,000 if the feds pay 90%; now Walker is looking at another $100 million to pay back the feds).

So this is really about Porkulus somehow saving Wisconsin money. Scott Walker is simply against Porkulus, a principled stand.

Michael said...

Garage: A "source" is not an editorial in support of a project using doubtful reasoning. Plus, you conveniently use the 750K number instead of the actual cost of 7.5M which is the (low) estimate of annual operation. The estimate is, of course, stupidly low.

Should the 750K number pertain then the rest of the project is "free" to the extent that the good citizens of Wisconsin will pick up their fair share via federal income taxes for, alas, the feds will supply the difference. In other words the rest of us who could give a shit how you get from Milwaukee to Madison.

c3 said...

The taxpayers of Wisconsin will be on the hook for $100 million if he halts the project

Sounds like blackmail

It will cost 21 cents per year to taxpayers between the ages of 18-65 in this state. That's it.

Reminds me of this line:

One tiny, wafer-thin mint

Michael Haz said...

@Jason - Your 11:00 comment above is brilliant and should be on a billboard along I-94 coming in to Madison.

I thought people in Madison were all eco-friendly and wanted to embrace Mother Earth and stop global whatever-it-is-this-week.

The Madison east-siders, usually the most liberal of Madison liberals, are now against the cow-speed train because it will chuff through their precious neighborhood. LOL!

jeff said...

Garage, your link it to an opinion piece which also does not contain a source for that dollar amount. It does say "(though it is possible Wisconsin's cut of expenses could be as low as $750,000 if the feds pay 90%" however, so if correct then you're looking at that 90% as just free money?

shoutingthomas said...

The Madison east-siders, usually the most liberal of Madison liberals, are now against the cow-speed train because it will chuff through their precious neighborhood. LOL!

Then, re garage's reasoning, they are BIGOTS!

They don't want minorities riding the train through their back yards.

Randy said...

The Madison east-siders, usually the most liberal of Madison liberals, are now against the cow-speed train because it will chuff through their precious neighborhood. LOL!

Amazing how that always seems to be the case, isn't it Michael? I wonder how many NIMBY lawsuits are pending against this project. Are all the environmental impact statement issues resolved or is litigation ongoing WRT to them as well?

MadisonMan said...

I think axing the train through Wisconsin is not thinking long-term, but voters voted.

Michael Haz said...

Randy - Believe it or don't, there never was an IES preformed for the half-fast rail system. One possible way of killing it is for an IES to be demanded, something Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner is going to do.

chr1 said...

It's good to hear that NPR puts sound economics/city budgets above global warming idealism...

Wait...it's good to hear that NPR allows vigorous free speech and doesn't kow-tow to every interest group with deep pockets in its pursuit of absolute fairness and the faulty logic of diversity...

Wait...it's good to hear that NPR isn't kind of a repository for middlebrow public sentiment that chases all men away above 14....overlooks the danger and corrupion of unions, big-city politics and good intentions...

Wait...aw, fuck it. Cue this week's Maya Angelou gay jazz historian hipster emo rock gaia loving sepia-toned walk-through tour up Obama's ass.

Randy said...

Believe it or don't, there never was an IES preformed for the half-fast rail system.

Michael, I'm shocked! [see Captain Renault on current main page] Well, OK, my eyebrows are elevated. I thought they'd at least go through the motions. Having not done so guarantees litigation, delays, and massive cost-over-runs, none of which are provided for in those estimates, I assume. If they are, then count me as genuinely shocked.

Randy said...

I think axing the train through Wisconsin is not thinking long-term, but voters voted.

MM, if you have the time, and feel like a chuckle, wander over to reason.com and search for their coverage of California's high speed rail boondoggle. IIRC, they've already wasted a few hundred million and still haven't developed a viable route, unless one genuinely believes that downtown Lancaster is actually downtown Los Angeles in disguise.

As to the alleged high speed rail system for the Midwest, aren't they using existing track? IIRC, that's a recipe for not-so-very high speed at best.

MadisonMan said...

As to the alleged high speed rail system for the Midwest, aren't they using existing track? IIRC, that's a recipe for not-so-very high speed at best.

You would have to do maintenance and upgrades on the track beds, which was part of the expense being covered by the Feds.

Randy said...

MM: Are you sure that's all? (Not trying to be a smart alec, here.) IIRC, the high speed rail on the east coast runs well below international averages as the existing routes and rails it has to use aren't capable of handling those speeds, despite extensive upgrades.

Lincolntf said...

This is a rail route that has already failed three times, right? Yeah, it'll be a real winner this time.
Only the Left would try to force the kind of technological devolution that moving from cars to trains represents. And that they do it in the name of Al Gore's fantasies just makes me laugh at their sorry asses.

Maguro said...

To achieve the speeds that would make high-speed rail competitive with air travel, you'd need to do more than upgrade the existing tracks. You'd need to build new special-purpose tracks that are welded together rather than placed end-to-end. Enormously expensive and still slower than flying.

vet66 said...

I don't know where garage mahal gets his numbers but from experience a signaled, hi-speed turnout these days costs about $800,000.

Cost per mile would easily be in the vicinity of $5 million a mile if they own the property. The coaches, as stated above will probably be european, the locomotives would be made probably in Hermosillo, Mexico, for G.E., the rail would be Japanese or Korean, the ties would be concrete and inserted with a German tie insertion machine.

This is a boondoggle of epic proportions. The locomotives will probably hold several thousand gallons of diesel apiece, the railroads would balk at sidelining UPS and other hot traffic for a passenger train running late, snow removal would drop the speed by half and routine maintenance would put slow orders in place dropping the speed way below 79 mph.

Ridership would be a crap shoot, parking at the station would be expensive and the terminals would be inconveniently located outside the business area. No matter where it is built, an endangered species of some sort would be discovered at the site of a necessary bridge and fines would be in order everytime a locomotive consist emitted exhaust that can be observed. Crossing accidents would stop the train until released by authorities and suicides would stop all traffic until the coroner showed up.

All this assuming the bid that was accepted wasn't lowballed requiring cost overruns. I recommend against it. I'd rather be groped by a TSA perv than subject myself to a level of transportation service which was barely an improvement over a Greyhound bus.

k*thy said...

but voters voted.

Don't assume that the train was what we were all voting for when voting for Governor.

Chef Mojo said...

This is why I like guys like Vet66; they operate in the real world. GM operates in fantasyland, where only good intentions, unicorns and Skittles matter. Vet66, OTOH, knows what the hell he's talking about. High speed rail in flyover country is an insane proposition. There is no way for it to pay for itself, without massive Federal subsidies.

Here's a question for Garage: What would you use it for? You personally? How would this improve your life on a daily basis?

Daniel said...

Whisking, zooming choo-choos are not our dream. Now leave us alone. We drive cars. Face reality.

Well which is it? Dreams or reality?

HT said...

Gross.

Roger Sweeny said...

Randy,

There really isn't any high-speed rail on the east coast. From Boston to Washington, we now have the Acela. In stretches, it can go really fast, but most of the track won't support such speeds and there is no available land to build a dedicated line (not to mention that it would be mucho expensivo).

Trains also have an inherent problem. The Acela makes 14 stops between Boston and DC. This brings down the average speed considerably. But if it only stopped once (say in NYC) or a few times, anyone wanting to ride it would have to make a significant trip to one of those few stations--which might well include driving and parking. Trains are not an environmental plus in many, many cases.

garage mahal said...

Garage: A "source" is not an editorial in support of a project using doubtful reasoning.

Ah, those are the numbers. Explain to me how that's "doubtful reasoning". There is not one valid reason why killing this project is good for Wisconsin.

Lincolntf said...

"There is not one valid reason why killing this project is good for Wisconsin."

Well, maybe they can shake their reputation as being a bunch of suckers who fall for every weepy Liberal huckster who comes down the track.
That would be good for Wisconsin.

Fr Martin Fox said...

Dreams?

Well, I dream of all the beer I can drink and all the tasty food I can eat without getting fat or drunk...

I dream of being rich...

And advocates of "high-speed rail" have dreams too; just as fanciful.

Fr Martin Fox said...

I love the argument that it's such an obviously good "investment"...

Really? I need some good investments! Lots of Americans do; I bet the Chinese would love to put some money in something that'll pay better than treasury notes.

So why seek federal money? There's tons of money out there longing for better returns. Why can't advocates of this obviously good investment get greedy capitalists to invest and get rich from it?

Because greedy capitalists are so mean that they deliberately refuse to make money on socially admirable projects? They'd rather make less money?

I mean, there couldn't be any other reason, could there?

garage mahal said...

And advocates of "high-speed rail" have dreams too; just as fanciful.

Contrary to what the lying drones that infest the various discussion boards around the state say, this project would be an EXTENSION to Madison of an existing, popular, and growing train service - the Hiawatha Service - between Chicago and Milwaukee. Ridership on the Hiawatha has doubled since 2002.

Dust Bunny Queen said...

The bottom line is that this is a sop for the unions who are desperate for more members paying higher dues so the union can funnel money back to the politicians who sold this snake oil in the first place.

^ ^

This. It is all about the Unions. The reality is that a rail line like they are proposing is not going to be a helpful 'mass transit' people moving project.

It will cost more than ever anticipated and fewer people than projected will actually use it.

These projects that take tax money from many people then tend to only benefit a very few. The rest of us poor saps are subsidising your stupid pipe dreams.

I'm with Althouse. Leave us alone.

MadisonMan said...

Don't assume that the train was what we were all voting for when voting for Governor.

I think that's how the Gov-elect is interpreting it.

Maguro said...

Contrary to what the lying drones that infest the various discussion boards around the state say, this project would be an EXTENSION to Madison of an existing, popular, and growing train service - the Hiawatha Service - between Chicago and Milwaukee. Ridership on the Hiawatha has doubled since 2002.

Yeah...daily ridership on the Chicago - Milwaukee route is 2,000 per day so Madison - Milwaukee will likely move a quarter of that or less. A billion dollars or so to move 500 people a day 90 miles...what a bargain! But it's all the Feds' money so who cares, right?

vw - comies. Seriously.

Michael said...

Garage: You say that "Ridership on the Hiawatha has doubled since 2002."

It must have been a very low number in 2002 since the growth this year over last year was 6.1 %. The number of riders 783,000 and they collectively generated $14 million in revenue up 6% from the previous year. Operating costs, of course, are not available but $14M is squat for revenue for the "popular" route.

Amtrak as you know does not make a profit. In FY 2009, Amtrak earned approximately $2.35 billion in revenue and incurred approximately $3.51 billion in expense.

There is no reason to think that a local route of disputable necessity will come anywhere close to only losing 50% of its gross revenues.

garage mahal said...

Yeah...daily ridership on the Chicago - Milwaukee route is 2,000 per day so Madison - Milwaukee will likely move a quarter of that or less. A billion dollars or so to move 500 people a day 90 miles...what a bargain! But it's all the Feds' money so who cares, right?

It doesn't cost a billion dollars per year to run first of all. The projected ridership level on the Mad-Mlke corridor is 735,400, just under the Hiawatha. And why is everyone stuck on this idea that people would use the train to just go from Mad-Mlwke? It's an extension OF the Hiawath line that will serve Milwaukee, Brookfield, Oconomowoc, Watertown and Madison - connecting it to the entire Amtrak system.

I also don't get this idea that "the people" voted NO on this. Bullshit. The people voted for it, the offer was given, and accepted.

Michael said...

Garage: I posted numbers. Above your last post. Any comments?

Conserve Liberty said...

So a High Speed rail line from Wisconsin to Chicago to St. Louis. Who EVER stops in St. Louis for ANYTHING?

Light Rail history in St. Louis, 1993 - 2006.
Total Cost: $1,313,000,000
Total cost overuns: $463,000,000
Total Miles: 41 1/2 (more than $31,600,000 +/- per mile)
Equipment: Siemens (German)
Average daily riders: 61,573
Operating loss per rider: $2
Average PAID riders: Unknown - there are no ticket agents nor conductors. Ticket purchases are "on your honor," except students at Washington University, who are granted a free pass by law.
Their most common destination: Laclede's Landing bar-and-casino district.
Voter support: 1/4 cent sales tax. Operator threatened to remove all bus service if we didn't pay the tithe to retire the rail bonds.
Lawsuits: 1, by operator, claiming cost overruns were fault of General Contractor.
Ruling: Cost overruns fault of operator for numerous change orders. Additional cost of suit and interest on unpaid work: $81,000,000.

Throw the $100,000,000 away, don't send the balance to any other states and count the unspent funds as deficit reuction.

PatCA said...

Too bad. Things are going swimmingly with our high speed train!

garage mahal said...

Amtrak as you know does not make a profit. In FY 2009, Amtrak earned approximately $2.35 billion in revenue and incurred approximately $3.51 billion in expense.

You didn't include any revenues generated along that entire Amtrak system nationwide. 1 billion to run that entire Amtrak system nationwide doesn't seem like a bad deal. Rip that entire system up and see what it does for the economy. Mad-Mlke is a natural corridor that should and will be built someday. If Walker wants to be the forever known for being the one that gave IL the money to build their own rail system instead, he will regret it.

Big Mike said...

1 billion to run that entire Amtrak system nationwide doesn't seem like a bad deal.

Yup. A billion here, a billion there, pretty soon it adds up to real money.

Rip that entire system up and see what it does for the economy.

Improves it. The economy I mean. Amtrak is a luxury item we cannot afford anymore. It's time we pulled the plug.

I mean, for gosh sakes, if you want to play with trains go buy some HO stuff and keep your stinking hand out of my wallet. If you are nostalgic for choo-choos, go here.

vet66 said...

Garage; I was a Trainmaster on a western class 1 railroad conveniently located on the Sunset Route. Morale was never good because congress always funded it last on a budget that wasn't ratified until months after it was mandated to be passed.

Air conditioning failed in the summer and heat failed in the winter. Whenever we were called to deadhead on Amtrak we rode in the vestibule sitting on our equipment bags when possible. The only corridor that Amtrak wants to keep is the D.C./New York corridor. Politics keeps them from dumping the rest.

Too many times we have come across an elderly person sitting on his/her suitcase waiting for Amtrak which was two hours late. We would take that person to the nearest burger joint where they could wait. We would call the train dispatcher and get a line-up so we knew exactly when the passenger train would arrive.

The worst scenario was a failed air conditioner on a passenger train in the middle of summer in the Sonoran Desert. No water-no ice and an 800 number to call. We took it upon ourselves to remove the passengers from the train into the depot where water and ice was provided courtesy of the freight railroad.

"Who authorized that?" was the first question we received when the person in charge was finally tracked down. When the full scope of the situation became apparent to this bureaucrat arrangements were made.

These people want to handle our health care? Ever try to keep insulin and medications from cooking off in the heat while clueless bureaucrats get called away from a party on friday night to handle the problems of the unwashed masses riding the 3:10 to Yuma on a hot afternoon?

Garage; I respectfully submit you are clueless when it comes to life in the flyover states. Hopeandchange out here comes down to staying hydrated in %12 humidity on a train that originated in Chicago.

vet66 said...

Garage; I was a Trainmaster on a western class 1 railroad conveniently located on the Sunset Route. Morale was never good because congress always funded it last on a budget that wasn't ratified until months after it was mandated to be passed.

Air conditioning failed in the summer and heat failed in the winter. Whenever we were called to deadhead on Amtrak we rode in the vestibule sitting on our equipment bags when possible. The only corridor that Amtrak wants to keep is the D.C./New York corridor. Politics keeps them from dumping the rest.

Too many times we have come across an elderly person sitting on his/her suitcase waiting for Amtrak which was two hours late. We would take that person to the nearest burger joint where they could wait. We would call the train dispatcher and get a line-up so we knew exactly when the passenger train would arrive.

The worst scenario was a failed air conditioner on a passenger train in the middle of summer in the Sonoran Desert. No water-no ice and an 800 number to call. We took it upon ourselves to remove the passengers from the train into the depot where water and ice was provided courtesy of the freight railroad.

"Who authorized that?" was the first question we received when the person in charge was finally tracked down. When the full scope of the situation became apparent to this bureaucrat arrangements were made.

These people want to handle our health care? Ever try to keep insulin and medications from cooking off in the heat while clueless bureaucrats get called away from a party on friday night to handle the problems of the unwashed masses riding the 3:10 to Yuma on a hot afternoon?

Garage; I respectfully submit you are clueless when it comes to life in the flyover states. Hopeandchange out here comes down to staying hydrated in %12 humidity on a train that originated in Chicago.

vet66 said...

Garage; I was a Trainmaster on a western class 1 railroad conveniently located on the Sunset Route. Morale was never good because congress always funded it last on a budget that wasn't ratified until months after it was mandated to be passed.

Air conditioning failed in the summer and heat failed in the winter. Whenever we were called to deadhead on Amtrak we rode in the vestibule sitting on our equipment bags when possible. The only corridor that Amtrak wants to keep is the D.C./New York corridor. Politics keeps them from dumping the rest.

Too many times we have come across an elderly person sitting on his/her suitcase waiting for Amtrak which was two hours late. We would take that person to the nearest burger joint where they could wait. We would call the train dispatcher and get a line-up so we knew exactly when the passenger train would arrive.

The worst scenario was a failed air conditioner on a passenger train in the middle of summer in the Sonoran Desert. No water-no ice and an 800 number to call. We took it upon ourselves to remove the passengers from the train into the depot where water and ice was provided courtesy of the freight railroad.

"Who authorized that?" was the first question we received when the person in charge was finally tracked down. When the full scope of the situation became apparent to this bureaucrat arrangements were made.

These people want to handle our health care? Ever try to keep insulin and medications from cooking off in the heat while clueless bureaucrats get called away from a party on friday night to handle the problems of the unwashed masses riding the 3:10 to Yuma on a hot afternoon?

Garage; I respectfully submit you are clueless when it comes to life in the flyover states. Hopeandchange out here comes down to staying hydrated in %12 humidity on a train that originated in Chicago.

vet66 said...

Garage; I was a Trainmaster on a western class 1 railroad conveniently located on the Sunset Route. Morale was never good because congress always funded it last on a budget that wasn't ratified until months after it was mandated to be passed.

Air conditioning failed in the summer and heat failed in the winter. Whenever we were called to deadhead on Amtrak we rode in the vestibule sitting on our equipment bags when possible. The only corridor that Amtrak wants to keep is the D.C./New York corridor. Politics keeps them from dumping the rest.

Too many times we have come across an elderly person sitting on his/her suitcase waiting for Amtrak which was two hours late. We would take that person to the nearest burger joint where they could wait. We would call the train dispatcher and get a line-up so we knew exactly when the passenger train would arrive.

The worst scenario was a failed air conditioner on a passenger train in the middle of summer in the Sonoran Desert. No water-no ice and an 800 number to call. We took it upon ourselves to remove the passengers from the train into the depot where water and ice was provided courtesy of the freight railroad.

"Who authorized that?" was the first question we received when the person in charge was finally tracked down. When the full scope of the situation became apparent to this bureaucrat arrangements were made.

These people want to handle our health care? Ever try to keep insulin and medications from cooking off in the heat while clueless bureaucrats get called away from a party on friday night to handle the problems of the unwashed masses riding the 3:10 to Yuma on a hot afternoon?

Garage; I respectfully submit you are clueless when it comes to life in the flyover states. Hopeandchange out here comes down to staying hydrated in %12 humidity on a train that originated in Chicago.

garage mahal said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
garage mahal said...

Improves it. The economy I mean.

You're crazy if you think that's true.

Educate yourself on this biztimes article.

In the fall of 2009, the State of Virginia embarked on its first state-supported intercity passenger train by doing something very similar to what Wisconsin had been planning: Virginia extended an existing New York-Washington, D.C., train 173 miles on to Lynchburg, a city about half the size of Madison. There was much gnashing of teeth that no one would ride the train, etc., but that's not what happened. The extended train is running at near capacity and is now making a profit for the State of Virginia

snip

Again, reality shows a different picture. Here are just a few communities where improved rail passenger service has ushered in economic growth around the station and elsewhere: Glenview, Illinois; Oakland/Jack London Square, California; Tinley Park, Illinois; Seattle, Washington; Stamford, Connecticut; Washington, D.C. (Washington Union Station is now the Number One tourist destination in the U.S. capital); Normal, Illinois; Denver, Colorado; Albuquerque, New Mexico; Dallas, Texas; Portland, Oregon; Anaheim, California; and so on.

Craig said...

It will cost more to taxpayers halting the project than it would if he went ahead with it.

I don't even live in Wisconsin and I know that's false. The choo-choo will cost Wisconsonians(?) roughly $10 million to $28 million each year in perpetuity -- above and beyond fares -- just to keep the thing running.

Are you new to this site? Such obvious ignorance made me ask that.

Mark said...

Ah, those are the numbers. Explain to me how that's "doubtful reasoning".

Garage, having read the linked piece, I see no reference to where that Professor got his numbers. My guess is they were generated by a committee while said committee were exercising their lowermost sphincters.

For instance, assuming that every assumed job will come from the ranks of the unemployed is ludicrous. How many unemployed Insurance Adjusters want to swing a sledge, or know how to drive a bulldozer, or have degrees in civil/mechanical/electrical (pick any one) engineering?

Seriously, citing a 250 word opinion piece that doesn't even cite sources itself is lame. I thought your side was supposed to be the smart on.

Narrow door said...

It would be remarkably short-sighted to dismiss the value of high speed rail.
First, it is far more efficient and less costly than airflight for routes less than 500 miles.
Secondly, to not include rail travel among our public transportation options is to remain hostage to the vicissitudes of Middle Eastern oil.
Third, with the exception of the flat-earth soceity and their oil company backers, the remainder of the thoughtful world is quite aware of global warming. Among the many steps which can reduce carbon dioxide emissions is rail travel.
Fourthly, among the possible financial sources for funding construction of rail systems should be deep cuts in nuclear weapons spending. To continue relying on outdated weapons systems which a majority of citizens reject and which only give aid and comfort to terrorists...it's time to follow the vision of George Schultz, Henry Kissinger, Sam Nunn and William Perry (WSJ, April 2007) and move towards the abolition of nuclear weapons

Mark said...

One last point, and I'm hopping off this train:

Garage's slander that the suburbanite conservatives oppose the train because darkies will be riding past their property is not only ridiculous on its face, it's also ass-backwards in terms of likely ridership.

Consider: Madison is a government and college town. While I grant you government is the only growth industry going today, the jobs are overwhelmingly white-collar and high-tech. I'm not saying that there isn't a candidate pool for those types of positions living in Milwaukee; the problem is the low-paying jobs in college towns are usually taken by students, and the high-paying jobs are taken by people who are at least comfortably middle class.

On the Milwaukee end, the blue-collar and pink-collar jobs aren't going to appeal to Madison citizens (unemployment is already low) which means those commuting to Milwaukee are those who are already in the professional classes.

In other words, what this train will be is another public subsidy for, let's face it, Rich White Folks who want to live in lilly-white Madison and commute to revitalizing Milwaukee, or Rich White Folks who want to live in edgy Milwaukee but work in the State House, or one of the high-tech companies in Madison.

Michael said...

Garage: Out of curiosity, have you ever taken a long train ride? Overnight? You appear to stubbornly think that a system that loses 1.3 BILLION dollars a year is a bargain. I just wonder if you have ever been on a real choochoo and I wonder why you like them so much. They are not better for the environment. They are not faster. They are egregiously expensive. Why would you be so supportive? Are you afraid to fly on airplanes? Just wondering.

Michael said...

Narrow Door: What fuel do you think makes the choochoos go chugging down the choo choo track?

Big Mike said...

In the fall of 2009, the State of Virginia embarked on its first state-supported intercity passenger train by doing something very similar to what Wisconsin had been planning: Virginia extended an existing New York-Washington, D.C., train 173 miles on to Lynchburg, a city about half the size of Madison.

Interesting comparison. Lynchburg is mostly noted for being the home of Liberty University. Comparing Liberty U. to the University of Wisconsin provides some mild degree of cognitive dissonance for me.

Okay, I'm having a little fun with you -- the train also has a stop in Charlottesville, home of the University of Virginia. Still, there is are two major difference between the extension of the old Pennsylvania Railroad "Clocker" to Lynchburg and the proposed Madison-Milwaukee route. The first is that the extension from the old Pennsylvania Potomac Yards ("Pot Yard") in Alexandria uses pre-existing rails and the second is that it is not a high-speed line. All high speed lines are electrified -- diesel-electrics can't cut it. So an immense infrastructure needs to be created for high speed rail which does not need to be created when one runs diesel-electrics.

Also a high speed line needs careful easements of its curves. Ever see a Lionel or HO toy train tip when it transitions from straight tracks to curves. Same thing happens to real trains unless the curve starts miles ahead and slowly tightens the radius. Also the curves need to be superelevated -- the outside rails need to be higher than the inside, and both need to be canted inward. Do the superelevation to support very high speeds and the slow freights will tip over. Cut down on the superelevation and forget about taking the curves at speed.

It's just applied Newtonian physics.

Bottom line -- without seeing the BoE for your alleged future ridership, and without seeing the BoE for the costs of building and maintaining the line, there is not particular reason to believe that it will be anything other than an annoying boondoggle.

Big Mike said...

BTW, using Interstate 66 and Route 29 I can drive to the University of Virginia faster than Amtrak's schedule for the train. Don't know about Lynchburg -- I don't go there.

Lincolntf said...

These "Global Warming" holdovers are like the abandoned Japanese soldiers still fighting WW II into the Sixties.
Even Al Gore himself has had to shut his yap in the face of all the irrefutable proof that he's been perpetrating a fraud.

Noah Bawdy™ said...

Unfortunately, Hawaii went blue so we'll waste millions on the stupid rail project.

Big Government Trickling Down on You said...

These "Global Warming" holdovers are like the abandoned Japanese soldiers still fighting WW II into the Sixties.

So much less obscure an example than Confederate War re-enactors. Or the Tea Party candidate who liked to dress up as a Nazi and admired their morale in 2009. Such resilient examples, those.

Big Government Trickling Down on You said...

Roads, Big Government. Stop spending on roads. The Red States beg you to stop messing with their infrastructure, Mr Eisenhower.

Fr Martin Fox said...

I still want to know:

If it's such an obviously good investment, why aren't people with money happily lining up to fund this?

What? Capitalists don't want to make money? When did this happen?

AllenS said...

Still waiting for the bridge to be built over the St. Croix river at Stillwater, MN. All that empty land where houses used to be, and the people paying their property taxes. Gone. Empty land. Nothing is getting built. One lawsuit after another. The same thing would probably happen with the train project.

Meade said...

Michael Haz said...
"...the half-fast rail system."

Heh.

MarkW said...

But, but, they have choo choos whisking people around in Europe and Europe is really cool.

But high-speed rail in Europe isn't what it's cracked up to be. Yes, the trains are fast and shiny, but most Europeans don't ride them very much. Know what they actually do most of the time? They drive. On expressways. Just like us. Know why? Because they're mostly not traveling city-center to city-center and because they'll still need a car when they get where they're going. Just like us.

Even in Europe, with denser cities and shorter distances, the fraction of traffic carried by rail has declined and the fraction carried by auto has increased in recent decades -- just like here. And it has happened for the same reasons (people are wealthier and can afford more cars, and cars are more convenient).

Next time you go to Europe, rent a car and drive on their autoroutes near a big city on a weekday. You will be instantly, permanently cured of the mistaken notion that most Europeans take the train and it's only the crazy Americans behind the wheel.

Ann Althouse said...

"Ann grandmother wrote in 1906 "Now leave us alone. We drive horse and buggies. Face reality.""

Yeah? Here's a picture of my beautiful grandmother, Geraldine Beatty, taking the wheel of a car. The truth is, people took up driving because they liked it. They chose. The America you see today is the result of millions of choices to go by car. The government didn't spend taxpayer money to pressure us to give up something else that we liked better.

Original Mike said...

"now don't get FLS started, please."

but, but, but, ... 90 MPH!!!!

Sofa King said...

The projected ridership level on the Mad-Mlke corridor is 735,400, just under the Hiawatha.

Frankly, that is just so implausible, that that figure alone taints the whole project. They are obviously lying about this; what else are they lying about.

There is absolutely no way that ridership will be anything like the Hiawatha ridership. Chicago is uniquely terrible to drive to, and has a concentration of business uniquely close to the train station. There is no compelling reason to take a train from Milwaukee to Madison unless you can't or don't want to drive, in which case there is a perfectly serviceable bus route already in existence - one I'll note is not usually operating at the limit of its capacity.

Those numbers are pure fantasy. Anyone who says otherwise is a fool, or a liar.