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« Saturday Morning Coffee Break | Main | Saturday Gardening Thread, May 18 [KT] »
May 18, 2019

Old trains and more old trains? [KT]

F_high_speed_rail_.jpeg

The end of a dream?

This has been a big month for train news so far.

California's High-speed Rail

You may recall that Gavin Newsom killed Jerry Brown's dream for high-speed rail from Los Angeles (much less San Diego) to San Francisco earlier this year. But the truncated train line from Bakersfield to Merced was still supposed to showcase the energy efficiency of the New California. Still wasn't easy. On May 1, the San Francisco Chronicle informed us that California's high-speed rail might start with old-school diesel trains.

The cost of getting high-speed trains up and running in the Central Valley is expected to jump $1.8 billion, California rail officials said Wednesday, but they have a plan to weather that increase -- and it may include starting service with slower diesel trains.

A new report by the California High-Speed Rail Authority details how the state will build and pay for high-speed service between Bakersfield and Merced, now estimated to cost $20.4 billion. It's the rail authority's first plan for moving forward with the controversial train project since Gov. Gavin Newsom called for focusing the effort on a 165-mile Central Valley stretch.

Then on May 10, the LA Times ran a piece suggesting that this high-speed rail project and the feds were no longer on speaking terms.

Don't know why the feds wouldn't want to pay for the glorious plans described above.

Then, from a couple of days ago, Trump pulled a billion dollars in federal funding. Trump stated that he could have gotten the project done if he had been involved in the planning.

Sad. But, WINNING. As Stephen Green noted. Maybe it's back to updating the Amtrak route. That would be pretty hard on Jerry Brown.

For the technically-minded, here's a video noting some of the practical limits on the speed of trains, and asking what happened to hover trains?

The Transcontinental Railroad

Or as Barak Obama called it, the intercontinental railroad:

Back on May 9, David Foster wrote about the transcontinental railroad:

This month marks the 150th anniversary of the US Transcontinental Railroad... surely one of the most important 'infrastructure' projects of all time. Railway Age reprints the contemporary coverage from their predecessor publication, Railway Times.

Union Pacific has completed the restoration of their 'Big Boy' steam locomotive, #4014, and will be running it, together with Living Legend #844, from Ogden, Utah to Cheyenne, Wyoming, as part of the transcontinental commemoration.



It seems likely that, absent the transcontinental railroad, the United States would not have been able to stay together as a nation on a continental basis-certainly, long-distance transportation technology acts as a centripetal force to counterbalance the many centrifugal forces that tend to separate geographies politically. I've previously cited the thoughts of Edward Porter Alexander, a Confederate general turned railroad president, on this topic, while raising the question as to how far this effect can and should extend.

There are songs connected to the transcontinental railroad, including the one in Canada. And some interesting information and views in the comments.

The Federalist also ran a piece emphasizing the brute force necessary in building the transcontinental railroad.

A couple of train songs

Hope you have a great weekend.

This is the Thread before the Gardening Thread:

Serving your mid-day open thread needs

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posted by Open Blogger at 11:15 AM

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