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Month: April 2016

Small-Scale High Speed Rail: Bad Idea ?>

Small-Scale High Speed Rail: Bad Idea

When I was nine, my father explained capital-intensive business to me.  It’s an industry in which the competitor with the most assets wins.  Railroads were his example.  A short line doesn’t make money.  The expansive network succeeds. High speed rail in the United States is a capital intensive business.  It works in the Northeast Corridor.  The network is linear, from Boston to Washington.  It qualifies as a network because it connects the following cities (please don’t complain I left out…

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High Speed Rail for Buffalo and Rochester ?>

High Speed Rail for Buffalo and Rochester

How much of the interest in high speed rail comes from a need for rapid intercity transit and how much is a nostalgic dream of the steam whistle? Rochester and Buffalo have joined the city pairs lobbying for high speed rail service.  Boston to Washington is the only corridor where it’s proven in the United States.  San Francisco and Los Angeles are trying.  What all those cities have in common is high population density and a proven airline market. What’s…

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Hyperloop if CAHSR Fails ?>

Hyperloop if CAHSR Fails

Is Hyperloop positioned to take over where California High Speed Rail leaves off? If the CAHSR project were to be abandoned, how much of the work could be repurposed to Hyperloop?  The answer is, a great deal.  In this hypothetical scenario, California gets a transport system better than CAHSR, but not as mind-boggling as Musk’s original vision. Californians get what they voted for California voters would get what they voted for, a high speed transportation system that would allow schedules…

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Hyperloop in Emerging Markets ?>

Hyperloop in Emerging Markets

Flying cars, personal helicopters, and teleportation.  There’s nothing like a new form of transportation to fire the imagination.  Garage-based inventors show us something new and promise more every year.  If it weren’t for these efforts, Popular Mechanics would have nothing to write about. Hyperloop, Elon Musk’s dream of a transonic transport system in an evacuated tube started out the same way.  What apparently started as a stack of scribblings on bar napkins was edited by SpaceX engineers to a cogent…

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Hyperloop Life Support ?>

Hyperloop Life Support

In the aviation business, cabin pressurization, heating, and air conditioning are quaintly called “environmentals.”  It’s not the only euphemism in commercial aviation.  The passenger briefing describes a “water landing.”  The reality is only six times has an airliner alighted on water without the loss of life.  In every case the event happened either in a river in a metropolitan area or near a rescue ship, where rescue personnel were minutes away. Sugar-coating doesn’t change the facts Hyperloop will likely follow…

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Freight via Hyperloop ?>

Freight via Hyperloop

The first space rockets carried satellites, chimps, and dogs.  Only then did we put a human in a capsule and send him to space.  The smart approach for Hyperloop is to do the same: freight first, then passengers. Artists renderings have been turning up on the web with a forty-foot container snuggled in a pod.  While the cargo may not complain about the ride, the Hyperloop system may. A standard forty-foot container is 40 ft long, 8 ft wide and…

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Hyperloop Ridiculous Claims and Artists Conceptions

Hyperloop Ridiculous Claims and Artists Conceptions

Homer Simpson told us that 97% of statistics were made up on the spot.  Politicians don’t seem to worry about the facts, either.  Hyperloop is exciting enough without ludicrous claims.  No way is riding the Hyperloop going to be free.  Cheap in off-hours, perhaps.  I’m not sure why a stretch project like Hyperloop needs unrealistic expectations added to it.  Brainstorming is a great activity.  I know not to criticize any idea however outlandish.  In this case, I think it’s just not helping the cause.

The headlines are misleading.  Read this one: Elon Musk’s Hyperloop: A Dutch team with designs on supersonic train concept (ZDNet 2016)

Supersonic Hyperloop?  Not likely.

Read here.

Artists’ Conceptions

Likewise, artists’ conception fuel the imagination.  It would help, however, if the illustrations that accompany every tech blog would be the result of a discussion with an engineer first.  No one has proposed a Hyperloop route across the Golden Gate into Marin County.  No one has proposed a Hyperloop route that would block all ship traffic into San Francisco Bay.  Yeh, yeh, I know that the bridge is iconic and a metaphor for the Bay area.  It’s just so unrealistic that it doesn’t stimulate me.

Gateway and California High Speed Rail ?>

Gateway and California High Speed Rail

New Jersey Transit and Amtrak riders dream of the day the century-old Portal Bridge in Kearny, NJ is replaced.  This old swing bridge opens a few times a week, mostly to make way for barges loaded with sewage sludge to move down the Hackensack River.  The old bridge breaks down and thousands of riders wait while the bridge is fixed.  It’s an example of the Northeast’s crumbling infrastructure and our need to invest. Portal Bridge is on a section of…

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