Talk:High speed rail

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This Transport related article has been awarded BRONZE status for quality. It's getting there, but could be better with improvement. See RationalWiki:Article rating for more information.

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Total incoherent "argument" against HSR by Glenn Beck[edit]

Apparently this is not allowed on the main page, well it has to be seen to be believed. If somebody can distill any actual point apart from Beck apparently liking the words "choo-choo" out of this rant, we can add it to the wingnut criticisms of HSR, as Glenn Beck clearly qualifies as one of the nuttier wingnuts... (talk) 22:32, 13 July 2015 (UTC)

HSR costs a lot[edit]

I fail to see why this is a wingnut argument. AMassiveGay (talk) 19:15, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

We call it that because it fails to acknowledge that it's an alternative to other infrastructure spending. There's a real argument to be had(about proportional allocation), but it's not the one we're having(which tends to orient towards "NO SPENDING MONEY ON X" on the right side). ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 19:18, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
(EC) I think it's because it's selectively applied only to public transport investments and not to the massive sums spent on roads and highways. ScepticWombat (talk) 19:22, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
a better explanation is probably needed in the article then, better than 'high cost = socialist'. Anyhow because they would rather spend the cash on something else still doesn't make it wingnut. What a government spends its money on is always at some level going to come down to ideology. On side note, there plenty legitimate objections to HSR, eg. The environmental impact, or the effect on local communities that are on the route. On another side, the (and I realise most folk here are USers) us-centricness is a little strong. It could benefit from looking at HSR london to Birmingham for some legitimate arguments against. AMassiveGay (talk) 19:48, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
when you say massive amounts are being spent on roads or highways, are these massive amounts being spent on new roads and highways or is this on maintenance? If it is the latter, then massive amounts will be spent on them whether you have HSR or not AMassiveGay (talk) 20:05, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
Road expansions, particularly where bridges are involved, are a large expense. It's not that simple. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 20:10, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
road expansions are still going to be needed if they are needed now. HSR isn't going to change that. You may disagree with that assessment but you need more than that to consider it 'wingnut', IMO. AMassiveGay (talk) 20:15, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
In an ideal scenario, increased rail provision would decrease road use proportionately, but that's wishful thinking. Like it or not, the USA has a heavily car-based culture, for various complicated historical & cultural reasons, & I can't foresee that changing in a hurry. When travelling city-to-city, anyone who can afford to is expected to drive &/or fly, with rail & bus generally seen as a poor man's option. This being the case, writing off US scepticism about HSR as "wingnut arguments" seems pretty simplistic. WëäŝëïöïďWeaselly.jpgMethinks it is a Weasel 20:26, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
Rational disagreement is really drowned out by wingnuts, just like rational arguments against Obamacare. There are asome good arguments against HSR, and I disagree with instances, but I understand a majority of the people screaming it are nuttier than squirrel poop. It has a massive wingnut component in opposition and not addressing that is a big disservice to both those who disagree with it for rational ideas and those trying to put forward a workable option. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 20:39, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
in this article - 'arguments for HSR' next section 'wingnut arguments against HSR'. If there is a disservice being done we are are doing it. AMassiveGay (talk) 20:45, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
Just for not doing it as well as it should be done. -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 20:50, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
even the arguments for are pretty weak AMassiveGay (talk) 20:57, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
If only people looking to improve the articles could edit them... -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 20:59, 20 July 2015 (UTC)
I would not know where to begin. My skills are more tutting and disapproving looks AMassiveGay (talk) 21:43, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────One thing that seems to not be addressed at all: HSR earns a profit. Roads and airports don't. Therefore all that is needed to build new HSR lines is a secured government backed loan and a private operator willing to invest for a two to three decade period and earn themselves a shitload of money. That is pretty much the business model of the Taiwanese network or Xpresswest (The planned Victorville to Vegas line). Unfortunately wingnut Ryan was head of the budget committee when Xpresswest's request for a loan came up... (talk) 21:18, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

What would be in a "legitimate criticisms" section?[edit]

First of all, User:AMassiveGay appears to have problems with High Speed 2 due to its cost. I partially share that sentiment as it is (on a per km basis) the most expensive long distance rail project in the history of HSR. Even the Californian system will be cheaper on a per km basis and that despite the fact that it involves huge amounts of tunneling and infrastructure in the US is always more expensive than in Europe (for whatever reasons). But - as has been noted above - this argument falls flat, when we compare HSR costs to the costs of something that can be summed up with "more of the same", i.e. more roads and airports. As we all know, more roads don't really solve congestion in the long term and there is only so much space for airports to expand into. Furthermore I would pretty much doubt the statement that trains are "a poor man's travel option". The Acela Express (one of the most expensive regular service trains in the world per km) is mostly used by the dreaded "East Coast Elites". True, Amtrak isn't usually and buses will never be seen as particularly "glamorous" or even "upper class", but the Acela is a premium product in all respects (including the $300 price-tag for a ticket). So back to the immediate issue: I don't take NIMBY-concerns like "it might disrupt nature" particularly seriously, because everything that we build might disrupt nature and the alternative to HSR is not "build nothing" but "build more highways and airports", which in turn disrupts nature even more. The price-tag is a much smaller argument as all HSR routes operate profitably (show me the HSR route that makes an "above the rails loss" if you doubt me) and are thus (in the long run) able to pay back their construction costs. Highways and Airports are not and will never be profitable. There might be some airports that make a small profit, but they do not pay back their construction costs and aviation is taxed laughably low (not even a token fuel tax). So; I am looking forward to seeing a "legitimate criticisms" section put into this article, but I doubt there is all that much substance to put into such a section... (talk) 22:57, 20 July 2015 (UTC)

Would a section on definitions be useful?[edit]

I'm specifically thinking about what seems to me to be attempts to "(re)define HSR into existence" (by just looking at top speeds, rather than operating speeds) and the introduction of the term higher-speed railWikipedia's W.svg which has a weasel word'ish quality to it (it sounds like HSR, but only seems to mean that the trains can potentially top 200 km/h or so at the fastest sections of a line). Contrast the speed on these lines where maximum speed typically only just manages to top 200 km/h with the dedicated (I'd say actual) HSR lines where operating speeds are 225 km/h or more. I may be getting old and cynical, but I suspect that "higher-speed rail" is a concept developed by politicians who'd like to be able to brag about rail investment but don't like the fact that actual HSR comes with a hefty price tag. ScepticWombat (talk) 06:47, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

First of all there is no definition of HSR. While most countries in Europe have 200 km/h and 250 km/h as the lower limits for upgraded and purpose built lines respectively, especially the US plays fast and lose with definitions. Higher speed rail is indeed a fuzzy concept that means next to nothing. If we can define it at all it just means "trains with a top speed higher than the pre-existing national speed limit". Said speed limit is often dictated by the maximum speed legacy signalling can handle. In Germany that would be 160 km/h (~100 mph) in the US that would be 79 mph and in Britain this may well be 125 mph on some lines. Therefore some line upgrades to enable 110 mph have been marketed as high(er) speed rail in the US. While nobody would argue that 110 mph five times a day is a huge improvement over 79 mph once a day, it is not HSR by any sane definition. Also travel times are important (in some sense, they are the only thing that matters). Several studies in the EU have shown that the share of the combined air/rail market is mostly a function of travel time, with rail becoming dominant if it takes less than 3 h 30 min for city center to city center. (talk) 14:49, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
I agree that definitions seem pretty fluffy, especially with regards to "higher speed rail". However, there seems to be a cut-off point somewhere around 200-220 km/h (as top speed) with regards to the ability of non-purpose built to be upgraded to greater speeds. Making the definition of HSR relative to pre-existing speeds is just daft because it would lump together even crappy rail systems upgraded to slightly less crappy standards with dedicated HSR as the Shinkansen, TGV etc. which have truly challenged regional flights and allowed for extremely long distance commuting. If there are no good pre-existing definitions, I suggest that this is pointed out and a tentative definition be used here on RW (because it's okay to do original research), preferably one that emphasises operating speeds in excess of 225-250 km/h and disregard dubious top speed claims because the latter are rather arbitrary and misleading: It really doesn't matter whether a train briefly reaches, say, 200-220 km/h if most of the journey takes place at 100-150 km/h or less (I've seen examples of such upgrades being peddled as really innovative, but when one remembers that highway/interstate traffic roars along at similar or faster speeds, it's a rather hollow boast). ScepticWombat (talk) 16:01, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
Please have a look at my - rather short - attempt at a definition and see where it could and should be improved upon (talk) 16:24, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
I generally liked your approach and my tinkering has mainly been about a bit more detail and reinstating your addition removed by AgingHippie in a corrected form (I suspect you meant "rail overtaking regional flights", not "rail overtaking rail"). ScepticWombat (talk) 16:50, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
Yes, that was what I meant. Thanks. (talk) 17:25, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

HSR in the EU/Europe[edit]

Cut from preceding section as it has expanded to merit one of its own. ScepticWombat (talk) 16:09, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

As an aside related to HSR in Europe, I think it's telling that despite all the Eurosceptic brouhaha of the EU as a steamroller of national interests, the obvious benefits of EU-level planning of an EU-wide network of HSR have only resulted in coordination between pre-existing and essentially national systems which basically means south western Europe + Germany, and even EU-level coordination of ordinary national rail systems has been feeble. ScepticWombat (talk) 06:47, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

As to the lack of EU coordination... Well there are the Trans European corridors, among them the Paris-Budapest "Magistrale for Europe" that is currently being developed with Stuttgart 21 one of the last remaining bottlenecks west of the former Iron curtain. Historically however, different countries purposefully electrified their lines with different voltage and introduced different signalling standards to make competition impossible. The EU only got itself enough power to intervene when most of the domestic networks were already built. However, ETCS was specifically designed as a European solution to that problem and the Velaro can run pretty much unobstructed from Spain all the way to Austria and from Italy all the way to London. (talk) 14:49, 21 July 2015 (UTC)
I know that the EU is doing something, but damn it's slow and softly, softly and dependent on national initiatives that can then be coordinated. I realise that the EU doesn't really have the funds, but it is rather disheartening to see how slowly this stuff is progressing and how nationally myopic it is. I'm no flag-waving EUnion federalist, but considering how old the HSR technology is by now, how well-known the benefits are at national levels, and how long this coordination approach has ambled on, it hasn't exactly yielded very impressive results. The problem is, I think, that if national governments aren't focussing on HSR projects that connect to border regions in these corridors, then the EU level has very little to coordinate and has to sit with its hands in its lap. Sure there are plenty of impressive sounding goals, but there are little in the way of actual timetables or milestone plans for achieving them and there seems to be even less of a plan for an integrated pan-European HSR system that could be rolled out to states and areas that are yet without HSR systems (most of the UK, Scandinavia, and Central/Eastern/South Eastern Europe). I actually think that the competition mania is counter-productive when it comes to HSR, since it's even more problematic to run competing HSR providers on the same infrastructure than it is on more traditional rail and since concerns over which national HSR company benefits more are more likely to provide disincentives for transnational rail projects or, alternatively, the HSR companies will probably agree to some form of (EU sanctioned) collusion/partnership, making competition largely illusory. The relevant "competition" for HSR, as I see it, is whether HSR compares favourably with road, air and traditional rail transport. ScepticWombat (talk) 16:01, 21 July 2015 (UTC)

I agree with most of your points. And the tragedy goes even further: Trans European night trains have shut down more and more. In 2012 you could board a train in Spain in the evening get a good night's sleep and awake in Switzerland. This has now been shut down, as the national myopia and some bean counter don't see it as "profitable" enough. Rather people are now expected to buy three different national tickets piecemeal and hope that the (non-guaranteed) connections align. In this sense even Amtrak beats Europe hands down, as they at least have a train that goes from Chicago to LA (albeit slowly and often delayed) whereas Europe is not doing anything to enable that. What should imho be mentioned in any case is the empirically observable three and a half hour rule. HSR that takes more will not eat into airline profits much HSR that takes less will devastate the airlines. This has proven true even in the US with the Acela, which arguably isn't even HSR as it travels far below 200 km/h for most of its route. The problem is that the EU does not have the magical interstate commerce clause. If this were the US and there were a truly HSR enthusiast government, they could just declare HSR part of "interstate commerce" and pretty much dictate the routes top down from a national standpoint (pretty much what happened with the Interstate Highway system). However, the EU only has small carrots here and there to influence national policy. A state governor in Germany who wants the Berlin-Munich HSR line to deviate via Erfurt (even though that costs a critical thirty minutes of travel time) has way more power than a federal government or even the EU trying to ensure a sensible network. Thus less than optimal alignments are sometimes chosen. However, HSR that runs via Erfurt is still better than no HSR at all. Still I think we should get to putting the "definitions" paragraph in there. Directly after the lede would imho be a good place to put it... What do you think? (talk) 16:15, 21 July 2015 (UTC)


This article could use some pictures. Are there any good quality pictures of HSR trains (e.g. the Velaro or the TGV) within reach of RW? (talk) 17:53, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

Look on Wikimedia Commons. Anything there can be inline-linked here. Or take out an account and upload your own, you lazy bastard. Peace. AgingHippie (talk) 18:13, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
Sometimes your sig really contradicts the tone of your posts. ikanreed You probably didn't deserve that 18:28, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
Let thy grace show, Oh aging hippy with one of the uninitiated who knows not if Wikimedia Commons can be linked. Dost thou not remember when you were but a bunch of numbers searching for a guiding hand and a kind word? (talk) 19:59, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
I took out an account before making my first edit. I was never a BoN. Peace. AgingHippie (talk) 20:04, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────────And you also never made errors or had a lack of information? (talk) 20:28, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

Sometimes yes, but often the answers are really easy to find. Also, you take things really seriously. Do they not have "jokes" where you come from? Peace. AgingHippie (talk) 20:56, 22 July 2015 (UTC)
Well your attitude towards humor appears to be rather harsh as well... Judging from your reverts... Maybe what you call my lack of humor is just another approach to the topic... (talk) 21:09, 22 July 2015 (UTC)

Look at these images[edit]

Say what you want about the Kaiser's soldiers, but they sure had a sense of style...

the first train to beat 200 km/h
I have to link to the other image as it is hosted locally at WP and not at commons Avengerofthe BoN (talk) 17:53, 8 October 2015 (UTC)

Why do liberal cucks like trains?[edit]

Because they make them foregt they are not alpha males? — Unsigned, by: / talk / contribs

Awww, how cute. Alphas wouldn't need to do this weak chickenshit anonymous aggressive posturing to validate their self worth even if they had the time from their exciting lives.  :-) -EmeraldCityWanderer (talk) 17:05, 21 February 2016 (UTC)
Goodpost.gif Reverend Black Percy (talk) 12:06, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

Interstate Rail System[edit]

I have an idea. A nationwide HSR network connecting core-based statistical areas (but especially major cities) could be built to help deal with the issues of air travel. -Bigljbigl (talk/stalk) 12:05, 20 July 2017 (UTC)

And who would pay for that?
The Interstate Highway System took 35 years. Tax increases over that time period could pay for it. -Bigljbigl (talk/stalk) 21:30, 20 July 2017 (UTC)
@Bigs First of all, a national high-speed rail network for the U.S. is impractical. High-speed rail can only compete with air travel for distances of 400 miles (640 km) or less. Only hard-core train enthusiasts would take a high-speed train from Los Angeles to New York City, if it even gets built, which is highly unlikely. It makes more sense to build regional networks, for example, in the Midwest with Chicago as a hub. Nerd (talk) 04:49, 15 February 2019 (UTC)
Completely forgot about this. TBH I hate the majority of my internet presence before 2018. 𝔊𝔬𝔞𝔱-𝔈𝔪𝔭𝔢𝔯𝔬𝔯 𝔅𝔦𝔤𝔰 (𝔴𝔬𝔯𝔡𝔰 𝔬𝔣 𝔴𝔦𝔰𝔡𝔬𝔪/𝔞𝔠𝔥𝔦𝔢𝔳𝔢𝔪𝔢𝔫𝔱𝔰) 04:55, 15 February 2019 (UTC)
@Bigs No worries. We all make mistakes. If you are still interested in this topic, please check out the article, new and improved! Nerd (talk) 04:58, 15 February 2019 (UTC)

this page is still wank[edit]

aside from the very american centric and pretty weak arguments for HSR (which is odd because im sure hsr would be a boon to the US - this section botches it), the insistence than any all arguments against it is by nature 'wingnut' is just bullshit. i dont believe any tried to list legitimate arguments against. i might try to have a stab at making the arguments section less wank, but it would involve deleting the lot and starting from scratch and i'm not sure its worth the drama. AMassiveGay (talk) 18:35, 19 March 2018 (UTC)

Does this site have a deletion request without prejudice (i.e. deleting an article without ruling out to write a new one with the same name)?--Klaksozavr (talk) 21:48, 19 March 2018 (UTC)
Yes, or you could just rewrite it section by section without having to go through the AfD business. WilderBicycle 22:08, 19 March 2018 (UTC)
Hi, @AMassiveGay, @Klaksozavr, and @Readymade! I do have plans to improve this article and that for Amtrak. Unfortunately, I'm a little short on time right now so I have not done much. I am the one who put up the "outdated" sign. If you guys have time, I suggest moving the US-centric bits to Amtrak, where they belong.
@AMassiveGay High-speed rails would indeed provide an economic boon to the U.S. and various projects have already been proposed (e.g. Chicago Hub), gone ahead (California High-speed Rail and Texas Central Railway) or even completed (Florida Brightline). The Northeastern Corridor will get a new and faster high-speed train, the Avelia Liberty. Nerd (talk) 00:58, 20 March 2018 (UTC)

High-speed trains vs. airlines[edit]

Earlier editors keep claiming that high-speed rail has been decongesting airports. However, if you take a look at the passenger traffic of some of the worlds busiest airportsWikipedia's W.svg in recent years, this does not seem to be case. Nerd (talk) 00:11, 2 October 2018 (UTC)

In a recent update, I pointed out that high-speed rail in France is not competitive with other modes of transport due to its price. Would not be surprised if this was in the case in other countries as well. (I recently talked to someone who just came back from a vacation in Europe. That person flew everywhere because trains were more expensive. This is, however, anecdotal and so will not be used as a source.) Nerd (talk) 16:39, 4 October 2018 (UTC)