The Anonymous Widower

Is The United States Catching Railway Mania?

This article on Global Rail News is entitled Brightline Looks To Replicate Model In Other US Regions.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Brightline, the United States’ only privately-owned, operated and maintained intercity passenger railway, has revealed it is looking to replicate its model in other areas of the country.

The announcement comes less than six months after Brightline’s first service was launched between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach, Florida, and weeks after the service was extended to Miami.

Brightline must be doing alright!

Especially, as they are going to start construction of their extension from West Palm Beach to Orlando.

Talking to an American friend today, she said that Orlando to Miami is a long drive. I wouldn’t know, as I’ve only been to Florida twice and that was to Key West with C and a conference near a couple of theme parks. On the latter trip, I got to see the Space Shuttle take off!

Brightline’s concept seems sensible.

  • Higher-speed diesel-electric train.
  • Trains consist of two SCB-40 locomotives and four coaches initially.
  • Speeds up to 125 mph.
  • Level disabled access
  • Wi-fi
  • Orlando to Miami is planned in three hours.
  • 7-12 services per day.

The concept has echoes of an InterCity 125, built to modern standards.

If we can find several routes to run InterCity 125 trains, surely Brightline’s plan to duplicate the Florida service can find many places in the wide expanses of the United States.

But this is not the only rail project, that I’ve covered on this blog lately.

The Texas Bullet Train

I covered the Texas Bullet Train in August 2017.

  • This will run between Dallas and Houston.
  • A speed of 205 mph
  • A journey time of 90 minutes.
  • Based on Japanese Shinkansen technology.
  • Could start in 2020.

See Texas Central Railway on Wikipedia for more details.

Vivarail D-Train To Be Tested In US Cities

On the face of it to use a Vivarsil Class 230 train in the United States seems a crazy idea.

Wikipedia says this about the concept.

During March 2018, it was announced that plans were being developed to take a Class 230 to the United States, in order to demonstrate how they could provide a low-cost rolling stock option for new passenger services.

The idea would be to run them on freight lines with temporal separation from freight trains.

The Rise Of Metro, Light Rail And Trams In The United States

I haven’t been to the United States this century and in those days, Metro, light rail and tram systems were fairly thin on the ground.

In those days, I drove and I think I’ve only ridden on systems in Boston and New York.

What surprised me, was that Wikipedia now lists about over a hundred rail transit systems around the United States, several of which are expanding.

Even cities built for the car, like Dallas, Houston and Los Angeles have systems.

Temporal Separation In Salt Lake City

The TRAX light rail system in Salt Lake City, is a system with three lines, forty-five miles of track and fifty stations.

This is a paragraph from Wikipedia.

TRAX uses former Denver and Rio Grande tracks as well as street trackage to service Salt Lake City. Between the hours of midnight and six in the morning, Union Pacific freight trains use much of the trackage, up to just past 2500 S to service a number of industries along the line.

How many other areas in the United States can use techniques like this?

Conclusion

Perhaps the United States is going through a Modern equivalent of Railway Mania.

This time though, it is not driven by a frenzy of get rich quick investors, but more by the following.

  • Serious investors like Pension Funds looking for places to put money to get a return for thirty to forty years.
  • Brightline talks of city-pairs, where it is too-far to drive and too close to fly, like Orlando-Miami and Dallas-Houston.
  • Dallas-Houston will link two cities with light rail networks. Others will follow this model, if it’s successful.
  • Increasing highway and airport congestion must help rail.

But the biggest driver could be the new technology coming on stream from the rail industry, which makes setting up systems easier, less disruptive and more affordable.

 

June 14, 2018 - Posted by | Travel | , , ,

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