The renderings of the proposed new electrified trains seems to be a major improvement: http://www.caltrain.com/projectsplans/CaltrainModernization....
I have to say the trains are ubiquitous and frequent. They seem very safe.
It's a hugely better experience.
Yes, that is a test:
Are cars and buses tested against that standard? (Certainly bikes, ferries, streetcars, and pedestrians are not required to pass this test.)
I'm reminded of a Usenet post I read in the '90s from an Army helicopter technician who expressed his frustration at ranchers shooting at the "black helicopters"; the technician spent too much of his time (i.e. > 0) patching the holes.
Yet we don't require car windows to be able to withstand a .22.
If so, does this happen as often for highways? If not, why not?
You need to come up with a system for reliably detecting hits on any part of any train (or they will aim for areas hard to detect), anywhere on a journey and immediately notifying nearby law enforcers to converge on the location before the miscreants can get away from the area. Oh, and the system has to be simple (a criterion you set for yourself), and has to be able to distinguish hits from gravel kicked up by other passing trans or the train itself.
I’m sure you worked all that out before posting and you think it’s obvious, but please enlighten those of us not as bright.
Does everyone else feel like the quoted statement is a perfectly normal thing to say? I am asking because I sure do not. The world is full of complex problems with no simple answers, but this one, in my opinion, is not one of them.
They are designed to survive collision with freight trains. In Europe we also have freight trains on our passenger tracks. They're just designed to survive them in a different way - by deforming to absorb impact rather than being rigid to resist it.
Downside is that that's probably where the train driver is. Preventing collisions is definitely the better approach.
This is not unique to Europe. The vast majority of America's passenger rail infrastructure is on active fright rail trackage.
Yeah. In a few spots, it's OK, but the majority of it is pretty bad. I take a lot of long-distance Amtrak trips, and sleeping can be hard if you haven't done it in a while and you're not used to it.
I was surprised to find that the Shinkansen in Japan is a pretty rough and unstable run, too.
Americans on the internet like to imagine Japan and its technology as perfect in every way, but the HSR between Tokyo and Kyoto can be almost sea-sickness worthy.
I don't think this is because of bad rails so much it is that the infrastructure is so heavily used, and aging, since Japan was a pioneer in this arena.
Your experience on the Shinkansen is very different from mine. The only explanation I can imagine is that your train was travelling slowly, which can happen - rarely - in typhoon season.
Otherwise, which high speed lines have you used that did not induce seasickness in you?
I’ve taken a few high speed routes around the world. KTX between Seoul and Busan. The entire Eurostar route. Others I can’t remember off the top of my head.
The best experience so far has been Trenitalia between Rome and Naples.
Well anyway it seems to have been just a one-time experience, from which you've managed to deduce both generality and cause.
Again, from experience that's not common, so perhaps a more charitable explanation than system degradation might have been warranted. Certainly the rolling-stock is much newer than the system. The Nozomi you used would have been, at a guess 15 years or younger.
Do you have a source?
In Europe, freight rail is less than a quarter that of the US, while passenger rail is much higher than in the US. Where tracks are shared, passenger rail generally takes priority in EU, and vice versa in the US. When reading about European railcar crash standards, I found no evidence that modern design standards include any requirements on crashing into freight trains. Just generic crumple zone requirements.
It's ridiculous how few places in the US have even considered subway anymore. Seattle's light rail, for example, is pretty much a subway except for one at-grade segment.
If you took all the money people spent to buy, maintain, and insure, their vehicles, then topped it off with the money the highway fund put into the roads to support it the cost per mile is one third what mass transit it costing.
light rail isn't flexible to the needs of a changing city. it however appeals to a romantic version of transit that does not exist nor did it ever outside of two or three cities in the world of which only one is in the US though if you push it Chicago can almost count. Instead it benefits politicians who love ribbon cutting and paying off contributors.
The reality of the situation is that if you want a city to have more than Oklahoma City levels of density, while not having congestion completely strangle the economy, you need to build rail, or at least invest in usable mass transit. A two-track subway in Manhattan can carry something upwards of 80k people very reliably within twenty feet of right of way; a highway lane only carries about 2.7K per hour.
We can’t really win the battle with roads. For one thing, we are running out of places to put new roads in big cities, so bandwidth is already pretty constrained. For another, single occupancy vehicles aren’t very energy efficient, nor can they be.
The energy efficiency issue isn't so clear. Single-occupancy vehicles don't run empty, at least until self-driving makes it possible. In typical systems, trains are pretty empty.
Maybe you consider Boston to be a small city? They have some pretty empty trains, particularly the commuter rail. (yes it leaves the city, but that is the whole point of something that we aren't calling a subway)
I haven’t sat on an empty train in a big city in a long time
This change will benefit regional systems that are already established but I don't see it making much of a difference beyond that.
Because of the cost of (and in some cases impossibility of) buying multiple-units, passenger railroads here are operated using a locomotive and some railcars; this is very inefficient, especially for commuter or regional rail which stops and starts fairly regularly. DMUs would almost certainly be cheaper and more performant to run.
Silicon Valley's VTA Light Rail has the worst rate of return of any transit agency in the country, if not the world.
Plenty of money and land for pipelines though https://i.imgur.com/IdwIHQB.gif
how do you figure that?
I wasn't figuring. I was summarizing and contexting.
Tokyo's railway was built up over more than a century, infrastructure takes time.
Would be very interesting to hear how much this would affect the Acela time (I know there are a lot of other issues affecting train speeds in that case, such as zoning).
Similarly would be cool if the upshot of this is that in 10 years, Metro North and LIRR are significantly faster.
But you're right. For the most part the bottleneck on Acela speed is the tracks, grade crossings, overhead wires and lower speed passenger traffic, not the trains.
Unlikely to change things, because that is a regulatory matter. Conductors are more than happy to go above the mandated speed with the existing trains (even though bad things happen), the speed limits are imposed to prevent heavy trains from taking curves too fast and to ensure they can stop in xx meters (or nn seconds).
A lighter train can do both better, but the regulations would need to take that into account.
From what I understand, the new Acelas that Amtrak just ordered will be faster, and have higher tilt, though it remains to be seen how much they can actually take advantage of those features on the current Northeast Corridor. https://slate.com/business/2016/09/amtraks-avelia-liberty-is...
Making the whole train lighter should be similar, but I don't have any numbers.
Many local trains in Europe have a similar design, and a similar top speed.
The long distance trains in the UK do go faster and have an angled front.
It's presumable a trade off between aerodynamics and walk-through ability when connecting trains.
As I said, the UK isn't really high speed compared to Europe. Other than the Eurostar line/HS1, all other lines throughout the UK are limited to 140mph (225km/h) or less.
Pointy aerodynamic noses increase train length without increasing passenger capacity. Generally you want to maximise capacity while staying within the maximum allowed train length.
An intervention to restore correct incentives would impose lower speed limits for heavy personal vehicles, electronically enforced.
The US would be better off sunsetting CAFE and harmonizing vehicle regulations with European nations. Just like the train cars mentioned in the linked story, that would allow US consumers to buy fuel efficient cars without the market distortions caused by CAFE.
Better handling and braking due to a lower center of mass and less mass actually improves safety by getting into fewer accidents.
That is clever and I like it. Kinetic energy limits!
Just like "allow electrics to use the carpool lane" encourages electrics, this would incentivize making smaller cars.
But "preference" is also influenced by the price of gas. A few years ago when gas prices shot up, SUV sales were down, cross-over vehicles became "the thing." But now that gas is cheap again, and getting cheaper, SUV sales a rocketing up again.
Those have fallen out of favor for full-sized SUVs.
If we are discussing Subarus, and you call the Impreza a crossover, then you are left without a distinction between the Impreza and the Crosstrek. The Crosstrek only has a few cosmetic differences and a higher suspension, but that is what would make it a crossover to most people.
Body on frame SUVs with a selectable low range transfer case are a very small portion of the market even in the US these days. So the criticisms applicable to such vehicles aren't relevant to mass market SUVs in my mind.
Regardless, the point is, the price of gas drives - no pun intended - comsumer preference. Only on HN can pointless minutia / noise be used to bury a topic / thought / fact.
It wasn't that long ago that I used to read comments on the internet about Americans being foolish and backwards for preferring vehicles with a trunk, instead of hatchbacks and wagons like Europeans did. Now Americans have essentially switched to hatchbacks (at least for new vehicle purchases) and yet people come up with a lot of pettifogging arguments why this is foolish and inferior because the hatchbacks are called SUVs.
One of the most popular mid-size crossovers in the US is the Nissan Rogue. Compared to the VW Golf (which I assume is one of the most popular hatchbacks in the place you consider normative), the Nissan is: 1.6 inches wider, 16.9 inches longer, and has 16.3 cu ft more cargo space.
The Rogue Sport is the smaller cousin of the Rogue, and compared to a Golf, is 1.5 inches wider, 4.8 inches longer, and has 7.4 cu ft more cargo space with seats down.
There is also a Golf wagon, which I think is in between the Rogue and the Rogue Sport in length.
The only substantive characteristic that defines a crossover these days that I know of is a few inches in ride height. Subaru has gone so far as to sell a crossover that is virtually a twin to a hatchback, with nothing more than a suspension lift (CrossTrek vs Impreza).
We went "build them like tanks". Europe went "what if we just spent all that money on not crashing in the first place?"
But choosing a pre-seatbelt GM X-frame sedan to compare to is a less than honest way to prove that point to put it charitably.
The biggest improvement in road safety since 1940 has been seatbelts. Everything since has just been chasing edge cases.
Now we get flimsy aluminum cans just like Europe has, so we can die in crashes just like Europeans do. This is thought to make trains more appealing.
The impact hazards are different. Europe mostly doesn't have freight rail, at least nothing like the USA does. Here in the USA, our rail is almost exclusively freight. We even have a train service just for orange juice. Freight is everywhere.
Europeans take the risk, and it isn't too crazy because there is no freight. That's nice for them. We have freight.
I think that is a pretty good example of a risk worth accepting. The US seems to have ~6 billion rail passenger miles (~10b km) per year based on https://www.bts.gov/archive/tet/2016/tables/ch1/fig1_16/text
https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/statistics-explained/index.php... claims that "Based on the latest data available (generally for 2016), there were 401 billion passenger-kilometres travelled on national railway networks in the EU (including 2015 data for Denmark and 2014 data for Hungary; excluding Belgium and the Netherlands). This figure was considerably higher than the 22 billion passenger-kilometres travelled on international journeys (based on the same data availability)"
If a full freight train crashes into a full passenger train at speed, I doubt armoring the cars is going to help much.
What will help is systems that make collisions less likely, and a system that makes passenger rail feasible in the first place (not sure if that's possible in the US, because the typical distances are just so much bigger).
There are some worse recent accidents involving head-on collisions at significant speed , , but to see whether the resulting investigation concluded that differently-designed trains would have reduced injuries, the report (for me) needs to be in English.
For that, since the UK has the safest railway in Europe (the world?) we need to go back to 2001 , with a closing speed collision at 142mph / 229km/h and 10 deaths. The investigation report  concludes (12.10) "The crashworthiness displayed by the passenger coach body shells, when subjected to end impact, was adequate. The first five coaches had some of their survival space reduced by roof, floor and side impacts, or penetration by large missiles or other vehicles. Impact with the underside of the road bridge was responsible for roof damage. The ability of the vehicles to protect their occupants was compromised by the loss of some roof sections and window glass."
>Rather than just bulk up, European and Asian trains instead are designed to absorb impacts and avoid collisions in the first place. And they have better safety records.
The "better safety records" bit, if true, is a great argument that American trains need to be more able to withstand crashes. We might need to make them more impact-resistant, not less impact-resistant.
No, we don't. Industrial design has only recently begun to take that approach. The old way is "bigger is better," and is the approach taken by, for example, school buses in the USA which have an insane safety record. I believe this year was the first time in over a decade that there was even a single on-board casualty in a US school bus.