to the North American Super Fast Efforts Page. We hope to
the word "effort" away from the previous sentence as soon as
possible and report the progress in U.S. building the super
and technology instead just plans! So far we have seen mostly
impressive plans for the state of
California super fast lines plus the national high speed visions plans.
This vision if divided to several regional plans, some of which will be
highly successfull once they get proper funding while others will fade
away due to lack of money and iniative.
regional high speed initiatives comes after decades of uncertainty on
the development of the
passenger railroads and railroading in general. While much of the rest
of the world has been developing passenger rail service gradually to
better and better, the U.S. has been mostly neglecting this area. Where
fast trains of 200 Mph and over today run in the territories of much of
the Europe and China, and almost as fast in countries like Japan,
Taiwan and South Korea, the once mighty U.S. has been left in the
company of the developing countries in this issue. But since the Russia
and China have picked up the super fast issue seriously on it's
railroads, the U.S. has also been more active.
Picture: Amtrak California provides the regional
service for cities like Sacramento, where this F59PH number 2002 led
trains was leaving. Picture by John McKey.
state of California has plans for an extensive super fast network on
"conventional" (as opposed to the maglev technology) rail connecting
it's 2 highly populated areas in the Bay Area and the Southern
together. The plan calls for 200 Mph speed range, which would be quite
an achievement practically starting from almost nothing existing
California corridor calls for connecting the larger cities and
areas Los Angeles and San Diego connecting with Bay area (San
Francisco, San Jose, Oakland, etc.) in the north. The corridor also
includes connections to Sacramento and Las Vegas.
start the building
strikes out in the plans of California, is that the idea is to build
everything in place at once, something that will be incredibly costly.
With conventional rail the European countries have developed their
services one part at the time, adding next part once the first part is
finished. The rest of the way has all the time been quite the usual
network, although electrified and well maintained.
the super fast trains always use electric power, this can not be easily
achieved in California. Or can you remember seeing catenary wires in
the Tehachapis or the California Valley? Another issue is that the
super fast corridors always need an alternative to be used in case of
an technical error or an accident. This might be achieved by adding the
electricification to the existing lines of BNSF, UP and a few others.
Actually Matt Rose, the CEO of the BNSF has discussed earlier the
electrification of the system, but no decisions one way or another
have been published. We are relatively sure the plans exist. How
could the trend in the rest of the world go unnoticed from the second
largest railroad company in the U.S? BNSF has always been wise in
it's movements, while the fuel prices will continue climbing in 2011
again, there is a strong need for the alternative power sources.
The hybrid locomotives and trains are not here today because the
battery technology is not
quite up to the needs for mountain railroading, and the hydrogen (fuel
cell) powered locomotives are only at the prototype phase, so the
would be the most promising technology. For some reason no railroads
seem to use natural gas a in larger scale (unlike buses in some places
use natural gas instead of
diesel. The engine is one and the same).
Corridors for the U.S.
To be added soon.
New England Corridor:
is the Key to Successfull Operations
To be continued soon.
important lessons learned
from Europe on the super high speed and electrification on
railroads could be:
Try before you buy. Start with little, it easy to expand later if you
are satisfied with the performance. "Fly on the ground" (on super high
speed trains) in France, Spain, Germany, U.K., Russia, China, South
Korea, ... and gather the experiences! With hardly any high speed
trains available it is doubtful the U.S. citizens understand how much
more comforatable flying on the ground can be compared to the nuisance
of the real flying.
No one builds super fast network overnight! Building one phase at
the time and using that while building the new has worked and still
works extremely well! The result: only moderate investment level is
needed. The U.S. can't afford the super high speed programs available
for the richer China, so sticking with the "European" technique of
gradual improvement might be the best approach.
and super fast always go together: the super high speed has been tested
for decades without electricity, with always the same end results,
higher speeds are incredibly costly to operate without electricity! The
famous TGV's first version had turbines, a fact noone hardly
remember, since the electric super high speed corridors work so
Since the electricity is commonly accepted the traditional lines are
often electrified too. This will provide valuable secondary lines in
case there is a technical error on the main super high speed line.
electric locomotives feed back electricity to the networks while on
regenerative mode. Normally this will reduce the need for energy on the
flat land with as much as about 50%! And imagine how much energy is
blown to the air currently coming down the mountain slope on the
dynamics with diesels; most of this could be fed back to the networks.
power provided by modern typically 25 kV lines is quite sufficient for
major operations. And where necessary, the current trains in Europe
without problem to for example 3000V/1500V around old electrified
routes around larger cities. While the lower voltage does not provide
enough power for super high speed or super tonnage movements at high
speed, who would need such high speed around bigger cities anyway?
electric power means higher traction power at higher speeds + less
units needed in one train. After 50 years of use of the Swiss invented
AC technology the reliability is almost 100%!
The super fast corridor will effectively kill all air traffic with less
than 3 hours of ground travel time. Currently with the next generation
super fast fleets the distance is calculated to be around 700 miles.
It's important to
have competition to keep the ticket prices reasonable. In
the infrastructure is owned by public sector and in general anyone may
operate this, given needed skills and ECTS compatible rolling
stock. Starting 2010 this will drive the ticket prices lower
the already congested super fast corridors of raillines will be even
As super fast service in Europe is for everyone (not just the
wealthiest), the networks are quite congested. Only 25 units of 1000
passenger TGVs or similar trains fit one corridor both ways in
one hour. In the U.S.A. this kind of frequency and volume can be
as well, given decades
of practicing. The TGV's started with couple of dozen units and one
short super fast track. Currently, the networks is huge and TGV's alone
number literally hundreds of units, out of which most are today double
decked to accommodate more passengers.
TGV is safe concept. With thousands fo grade crossings in the U.S. (on
the possible alternative routes) it pays to have a heavy locomotive at
ends to provide protections for the passengers. TGV has had a few
accidents with billions of passenger miles/kilometers travelled, but no
one has died (a board the train,) and there are not many injured.
Latest grade crossing accident was in the Christmas of 2007 in
Switzerland with a huge conrete mixer truck stuck on the crossing. With
a mass of a leading TGV locomotive hitting first the truck, nobody on
the train was killes, and only a few
injured. Furthermore the structure of the articulated train seems to
stop the normal fatal zigzagging of the train in case of the accident
(like the one mentioned before). A severe accident happened with the
German ICE1 train 10 years ago with 90 people killed and hundreds
injured when the train zigzagged after hitting a bridge. With ICE and
similar design it's just a matter of time when the disaster will happen
started with Superhigh Speed Networks in the U.S.A.
Obama adminsitration has started its revival of the U.S. economy and
infrastructure after years of neglect. The doubling of the Amtrak
budget is one sign, there will also be and investment of 8 billion USD
to (super) high speed networks, proposed is not the California
corridort between the LA and SF but LA and Las Vegas Nevada (270
miles)! Milwaykee - Madison (just 70 miles). We hope to see the
rational extension of the super high speed corridor between the LA and
the Bay Area in California added to the investement.
Maybe the easiest way to start with the super high speed for California
would be to build the network in phases, starting with the existing
networks electricity added, and the improving the infrastructure each
year. This would enable a fast start and continuos improvement cycle
adapting to new technologies. With this the trains could roll the
slopes of Tehachapi in 3 years compared with 10 or more. There is also
some 1st, 2nd and 3rd generation super fast technology (TGV type:
TGV-PSE, Eurostar, Thalys, TGV-Atlantique) trains available from
Europe, which could be leased to California to get things started fast.
Some of these trains are currently used to other than their original
4rail.net by John McKey. Pictures by Pekka Siiskonen, Ilkka
Siissalo, Sanna Siissalo and
Also on super high speed
High Speed News provides you the newest happenings and trends
in the super fast railroading.
and AGV Theme Page provides information on these most
succesfull super high speed trains.
and Velaro Page
for these German prides
new TGV-POS's pose in Paris Gare du Nord for the camera. Almost
brand new...the locomotives are new, while the coaches are from the
TGV-Resťau sets. Single story trains of 320 km/h serve well
numbers of passengers between France and Germany. once the volumes pick
up, it's guaranteed that the double decked coaches will be swapped to
these units. Picture
by Sanna Siissalo 2008.
Thalys PBKA number 4243 boarding in Paris-GNO. As 40% more passengers
are expected to travel the Thalyses within next 3
years, seventh daily
return trip between Paris and Amsterdam will be added beginning March
2008. Picture by Sanna Siissalo 2008.