Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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dalek ling
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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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Ypsi wrote:
Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:30 am
PatAzo wrote:
Wed Jan 26, 2022 9:39 am

1) What are the benefits to society?

2) How would you pay for it?
If you look at the issue more broadly, there is merit to trains vs road travel. That being said, I PERSONALLY see this as something that could be a seasonal venture, but what they "want" is not realistic necessarily. In the United States we tend to look at passenger rail as a waste, and not profitable, when we actually should look at how it could improve our lives beyond that. For every dollar lost in Amtrak/ Passenger rail there is SOME sort of benefit beyond profit/ loss. You have 1 less car tearing up the road and putting CO2 into the atmosphere. There is 1 more parking space open in downtown Traverse City for those who do not have the option of taking the train. There is less of a chance of a road accident both due to less cars being on the road.

1. Trains are MUCH better for the environment for transporting goods and people than trucks or cars. Getting more people in trains and wanting to ride trains would have clear environmental impacts if implemented on a large scale. It would also make using highways and roads those who need to use them much easier. It would help keep roads in better shape, which would help keep cars from sustaining road damage. This would prevent people from having to replace their cars as often due to damage or normal wear and tear saving consumers money. Per passenger mile rail is also much safer than road, so you would have safer transportation, and by taking cars off the road less accidents per passenger mile.

2. By having a service that people want to use, it will make money (I AM NOT SAYING THIS IS THAT, but rather that is how rail makes money). If Michigan services to Chicago was actually reliable, and TRUE high speed rail (or at least lets get to 125mph where we can), it would make the service MUCH more attractive than it currently is. If Amtrak could make an overall average (average speed of the entire trip, not moving average) speed of 79mph between Detroit and Chicago the trip would be 3.5 hours (281 rail miles/ 79mph). To meet this you would obviously need to have fast and efficient station times, and your areas where speed drops below 79 need to be offset by 110mph (or in an ideal world 125mph) running. As an additional reminder Amtrak was inches from profitability before covid-19.

Moving people does not always make money, but it can generate revenue for communities, connect our country, create jobs, and increase production and GDP. In America too often we look at "How does this benefit me" or "NOT MY TAX DOLLARS" which causes people to put down projects like this. As stated above I do not believe what this project is looking for is realistic, but I do see the overall benefit to a better rail system.

Below are some sources of information regarding my above reply. While the environmental and infrastructure impact has less debate to it, I do understand that for every article on Amtrak's profitably there is one that says trains will NEVER make money.

Sources:
Environmental concerns:
https://sciencenorway.no/climate-change ... ds/1856967
https://ourworldindata.org/travel-carbon-footprint
https://www.aar.org/wp-content/uploads/ ... -Sheet.pdf
https://www.treehugger.com/plane-train- ... nt-4868815

Damage to roads/ cars
https://urbanmilwaukee.com/2017/06/22/m ... our-roads/
https://www.lesschwab.com/article/does- ... tires.html

Trains making money?
https://www.investopedia.com/articles/i ... -money.asp
https://skift.com/2020/11/23/how-the-pa ... e-profits/
Now this is amazing.
The 13 year old railfan from Michigan :P And the only one who believes in A2TC
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Steve B
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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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Ypsi wrote:
Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:30 am
.....
2. By having a service that people want to use, it will make money (I AM NOT SAYING THIS IS THAT, but rather that is how rail makes money). If Michigan services to Chicago was actually reliable, and TRUE high speed rail (or at least lets get to 125mph where we can), it would make the service MUCH more attractive than it currently is. If Amtrak could make an overall average (average speed of the entire trip, not moving average) speed of 79mph between Detroit and Chicago the trip would be 3.5 hours (281 rail miles/ 79mph). To meet this you would obviously need to have fast and efficient station times, and your areas where speed drops below 79 need to be offset by 110mph (or in an ideal world 125mph) running. As an additional reminder Amtrak was inches from profitability before covid-19.
.....
Setting aside the question of whether it would make money, truly higher sustained average running times (and RELIABILITY) will indeed be much more attractive. It reminds me of something I stumbled across recently. On Sep. 9, 1974 Amtrak proposed to US-DOT and Congress a bold plan to increase speeds on many routes and get it done within five years. Number one on the priority list was to increase the AVERAGE speed of Detroit-Chicago trains to 110 MPH. Let that sink in for a minute! Sadly, Washington realities quickly squelched that dream. The Det-Chicago work was projected to cost $85 million, or almost $469 million in today's dollars. Excerpt of article: [img]https://www.flickr.com/photos/9843201@N ... ed-public/

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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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I found this about the train that apparently already goes from Ann Arbor to Traverse City. At least according to this website. Not real speedy, either. :P

https://www.wanderu.com/en-us/train/us- ... erse-city/
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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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Jim_c wrote:
Wed Jan 26, 2022 9:10 pm
I found this about the train that apparently already goes from Ann Arbor to Traverse City. At least according to this website. Not real speedy, either. :P

https://www.wanderu.com/en-us/train/us- ... erse-city/
In what could be an awesome random chance, the train schedule shows an ad for rental cars right under it when I viewed this page. It is not wrong, and $30 is a decent price for a trip to TC :lol:
Screen Shot 2022-01-26 at 11.18.17 PM.png
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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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Ypsi wrote:
Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:30 am


1. Trains are MUCH better for the environment for transporting goods and people than trucks or cars. Getting more people in trains and wanting to ride trains would have clear environmental impacts if implemented on a large scale. It would also make using highways and roads those who need to use them much easier. It would help keep roads in better shape, which would help keep cars from sustaining road damage. This would prevent people from having to replace their cars as often due to damage or normal wear and tear saving consumers money. Per passenger mile rail is also much safer than road, so you would have safer transportation, and by taking cars off the road less accidents per passenger mile.
In order to create enough rail lines to replace a significant amount of road traffic to see those environmental impacts, the cost and damage to the environment (new railroad grades) would be astronomical.

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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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J T wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 8:00 am

In order to create enough rail lines to replace a significant amount of road traffic to see those environmental impacts, the cost and damage to the environment (new railroad grades) would be astronomical.
This simply is not true. Most corridors that have heavy traffic between them already have established rail corridors between them as well. Chciago-Detroit, Chicago-St. Louis, LA and almost any city out there. The idea isn’t to add tracks from bad axe Michigan to Clare Michigan, but rather expand where it is practical (which again for the sake of this thread I’m not saying A2TC is). Most people looking for more passenger or freight aren’t looking for new lines, but greater use of current lines. The Michigan line for example host about 8 trains a day, it has excess capacity for what it is. You can find article after article on how adding both freight and passenger is good for the environment but I have never once seen this opinion anywhere on the internet.

One such article: https://www.carbonbrief.org/eight-chart ... -emissions
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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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Social needs always have and always will outweigh environmental impacts until something catastrophic happens. River fire, oil spill, forest fire, respiratory problems, etc.

Every sustainable initiative requires some environmental and economic cost. Mining cadmium to manufacture solar panels, mining and forging iron to make rails, disposing of spent wind turbine blades (until someone can figure out how to recycle them in a cost effective and practical way), recycling takes another truck to separately collect materials, the tractors at the processing facilities burn plenty of diesel to move materials around (that will either flow through a pipeline or be transported by rail or truck that will burn even more fossil fuels for transport); all such things that are "better for the environment" have their environmental impacts.

Whether a net reduction in impact or not is to be determined from reality. Figure out how to make it uplifting to society, while reducing as much environmental impact as practical, and either cheaper than the traditional way or not cost prohibitive and you will be respected by people who live in reality and you just may be able to sell it.

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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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J T wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 8:00 am
Ypsi wrote:
Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:30 am
In order to create enough rail lines to replace a significant amount of road traffic to see those environmental impacts, the cost and damage to the environment (new railroad grades) would be astronomical.
I checked an MDOT right of way map which is easily found online. CN's ROW under I-69 just southwest of Lansing is 100 feet wide. It's admittedly a pipe dream, but there is plenty of room to add more tracks to that ROW to allow dozens of passenger trains, and advanced signaling would allow closer headways.

I-69's ROW through there is 318 feet wide, the vast majority of which is heavily graded, sloped & vegetation minimized. Freeways inherently have more of a negative impact on the environment.

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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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Steve B wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 9:31 am
J T wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 8:00 am
Ypsi wrote:
Wed Jan 26, 2022 11:30 am
In order to create enough rail lines to replace a significant amount of road traffic to see those environmental impacts, the cost and damage to the environment (new railroad grades) would be astronomical.
I checked an MDOT right of way map which is easily found online. CN's ROW under I-69 just southwest of Lansing is 100 feet wide. It's admittedly a pipe dream, but there is plenty of room to add more tracks to that ROW to allow dozens of passenger trains, and advanced signaling would allow closer headways.

I-69's ROW through there is 318 feet wide, the vast majority of which is heavily graded, sloped & vegetation minimized. Freeways inherently have more of a negative impact on the environment.
If we're talking about replacing a significant number of automobiles with commuter trains, there would need to be rail lines going in every direction to reduce enough of that traffic to the point that it would be impactful to the environment.

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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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J T wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 9:49 am
Steve B wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 9:31 am
J T wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 8:00 am
If we're talking about replacing a significant number of automobiles with commuter trains, there would need to be rail lines going in every direction to reduce enough of that traffic to the point that it would be impactful to the environment.
I was thinking about how many intercity, not commuter passengers (I know the distinction sometimes is nebulous) could be accommodated on existing RR right of ways that parallel the busiest freeways. More of a theoretical exercise, but still interesting to calculate how many trains and people per train could be carried by each additional track you build, especially with the most advanced PTC that allows closer train spacing.

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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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J T wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 9:49 am

If we're talking about replacing a significant number of automobiles with commuter trains, there would need to be rail lines going in every direction to reduce enough of that traffic to the point that it would be impactful to the environment.
Where is a study that says this is the case? You have said this twice but have yet to back it up with facts or articles. This is also a pretty narrow approach, to say the only way trains are efficient is if they are EVERYWHERE. The purpose of rail travel is not to have trains go everywhere, but to lower the use of cars on existing corridors (As I have stated a few times I don't think A2TC is one of these outside of seasonal use). The other note I have is the places people commute are generally similar. Yes people live in rural areas and work in equally rural areas, however a larger majority of people live outside of a city and commute into a city of some size, or commute within the city.

Heres a graph (sourced from the US department of energy):
Screen Shot 2022-01-27 at 1.14.24 PM.png
https://afdc.energy.gov/data/10311
*GGE is gallons of gasoline equivalent, which based on my research is a way of making all fuel types "equal" using maths and BTU's

Intercity rail comes in at about 58 passenger miles per GGE, while cars are at 42 passenger miles per GGE. This is roughly 30% better per passenger. If you were to take 1000 individuals using cars off a busy corridor, every day you would improve by (58-42)*1000= 16,000 Passenger miles per gallon everyday. This would result in (52*5)*16,000= 4,160,000 Passenger Miles per gallon (PMPG) improvement over the course of a working year. This uses 4.16 millions LESS gallons of fuel, thus reducing greenhouse gases via less fuel consumption per passenger mile.

The point is you don't need expansion of rail lines to achieve this. 24,000 people work at the U of M hospital which COULD have great access to commuter rail. Taking 1000 people out of their cars and into a train or even transit rail (light rail/ subway) would make a huge dent would represent 4% of their entire work force, and a small fraction of those who live outside of and commute into Ann Arbor. You could make the same cases for locations in Dearborn like Ford, where the majority of the complex is within reason close to heavy rail.


Sources:
https://www.nat-g.com/why-cng/cng-units-explained/
https://afdc.energy.gov/data/10311

(Long EPA link)
https://nepis.epa.gov/Exe/ZyNET.exe/P10 ... e=x&ZyPURL
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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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Ypsi wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 1:43 pm

Where is a study that says this is the case?
Don't need a study. Go outside and look at the world around you.

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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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Ypsi wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 1:43 pm

Intercity rail comes in at about 58 passenger miles per GGE, while cars are at 42 passenger miles per GGE. This is roughly 30% better per passenger. If you were to take 1000 individuals using cars off a busy corridor, every day you would improve by (58-42)*1000= 16,000 Passenger miles per gallon everyday. This would result in (52*5)*16,000= 4,160,000 Passenger Miles per gallon (PMPG) improvement over the course of a working year. This uses 4.16 millions LESS gallons of fuel, thus reducing greenhouse gases via less fuel consumption per passenger mile.

A big red flag from your chart is in the fine print. "all forms of rail achieve relatively high values because of high ridership, proportionally low drag, and high electrification rates."

Since none of the corridors in Michigan are electrified, your numbers won't work.

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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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J T wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 4:24 pm
Ypsi wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 1:43 pm

Where is a study that says this is the case?
Don't need a study. Go outside and look at the world around you.
This is an opinion not backed by fact. “Look at the world around you” doesn’t justify your claims that we would need thousands of mile of new rail to make an environmental difference.
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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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Typhoon wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:08 pm
Since none of the corridors in Michigan are electrified, your numbers won't work.
While this is a valid concern for Michigan, I pulled reparable government sources for numbers. While it may not be an exact representation of Michigan, it should give a broad idea of rail travel vs car travel in the United States. It is hard to get an exact number crossing sources, however you can still find information showing Amtrak being overall more efficient than road transport. And of course it would be not running empty trains and the likes. The purpose of the discussion is not just trains are better, it’s if we used transit including trains it would make an impact on the environment with existing infrastructure.

Amtrak’s eco information: https://www.amtrak.com/travel-green
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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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Ypsi wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:38 pm
Typhoon wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 5:08 pm
Since none of the corridors in Michigan are electrified, your numbers won't work.
While this is a valid concern for Michigan, I pulled reparable government sources for numbers. While it may not be an exact representation of Michigan, it should give a broad idea of rail travel vs car travel in the United States.
Except it doesn't. The US does not have "high electrification rates" for intercity passenger service.

If one uses US domestic travel only, it looks like Michigan should be buying some Prevost buses.

https://www.theprch.com/this-vs-that/fu ... n-bus-car/

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https://money.cnn.com/2015/04/22/news/e ... index.html

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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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Amtrak and most companies long ago found out that if they could market to be "green" or "eco-friendly" they might get some trendy audiences to pay attention. Just like most of these claims, however, the reality is that it's mostly crap and just for the environmentalists to feel cozy inside, which is all they really crave.

My favorite example of this is hotels asking you to be "green" and "eco-friendly" by reusing towels and changing the bedding less often. They saved an absolute buttload of money by being able to reduce staffing due to reduced workloads and saving on laundry costs.

Businesses almost never do it for the environment. They do it for the almighty dollar. Same thing for wind farms, rooftop solar, etc. It all make dollars and cents, and the "eco-friendly" tagline applied at the end, having had nothing to do with the decision to begin with.
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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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~Z~ wrote:
Thu Jan 27, 2022 9:17 am
Gonna toss this video in: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eBtDEFGOJNg
It is actually weird there is no Passenger trains from like Chicago to Sault Ste Marine MI and ON.
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Re: Study Time....again - A2TC commuter rail project

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dalek ling wrote:
Fri Jan 28, 2022 8:44 am
It is actually weird there is no Passenger trains from like Chicago to Sault Ste Marine MI and ON.
There are not enough passengers along that route who would use train transportation to justify the cost of the equipment/people/etc.
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