Tag Archives: Rail

Iran, Afghanistan open first rail link with eye on trade


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High-Speed Rail Is Going Nowhere Fast in the U.S.

High-Speed Rail Is Going Nowhere Fast in the U.S.(Bloomberg Opinion) — Some leaders in the U.S. are intent on reviving the old dream of high-speed rail. Senator Bernie Sanders is proposing $ 607 billion for a new high-speed train network as part of his Green New Deal. Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez included it in her own plan earlier this year. On Twitter, Sanders’s political allies sing the praises of high-speed rail systems such as China’s.High-speed rail puts an optimistic, futuristic face on an economic agenda that might otherwise seem mainly about sacrifice and belt-tightening. It’s high-tech, beautiful and iconic. It would be a substitute for regional air travel and road trips, and reduce carbon emissions. And it’s an area where the U.S. genuinely lags other countries. Anyone who has experienced the speed and convenience of traveling from city to city by bullet train in Japan or France will understand the appeal.But although this is a good long-term goal, any actual plan for building bullet trains must reckon with why high-speed rail has consistently failed in the U.S. The Obama administration also was a fan of the idea, and requested more than $ 50 billion for high-speed rail projects. Much less ended up being approved, and even less was spent, thanks to state-level and congressional opposition; most of it went to upgrading existing commuter rail lines.The one major high-speed rail project was in California, with plans for a train between Los Angeles and San Francisco. But costs ballooned; originally, the project was slated to cost about $ 40 billion, but the estimate has now at least doubled. The date for the end of the first phase of construction has been delayed from 2029 to 2033. Governor Gavin Newsom has indicated that the project will be scaled back.California’s bullet train has thus fallen victim to the same problem that plagues most U.S. transit and infrastructure projects — inflated costs. Unless the source of those costs can be identified and dealt with, states are likely to balk at the prospect of committing to big-ticket projects that they know will likely go way over budget.Reducing those costs is even more crucial because even under the best of conditions high-speed rail typically struggles to support itself. Japan’s famous Shinkansen system lost so much money in the 1970s and 1980s that it was broken up, privatized and subjected to ruthless cost-cutting measures. Most of China’s high-speed rail lines also operate in the red, as do many in Europe.Now, that doesn’t mean high-speed rail isn’t worth it. Transit systems don’t have to fully pay for themselves in order to benefit society because they have spillover effects that power regional economic growth. Highways, trains and buses facilitate networks of economic interactions whose value can’t be captured by tolls and user fees.But the spillovers from high-speed rail are likely to be smaller than for other infrastructure projects. Unlike roads, bullet trains don’t carry freight, only people (the U.S. already has an excellent freight rail network). They could generate some increased tourism, but not much, because most people can already take road trips for a similar price. Research from China suggests that one important kind of economic activity bullet trains will stimulate is interaction among high-skilled workers, such as business executives, researchers and so on. That’s more than nothing, but it isn’t the kind of boost that highways and freight trains deliver. It also means that the biggest beneficiaries of high-speed rail would be corporations and high earners. And in the U.S., which already has well-established regional air travel and freeways, the increased benefit from more business trips will likely be smaller than in a developing country such as China.Other factors specific to the U.S. make high-speed rail less attractive than in Europe or Asia. Sprawling U.S. cities tend to be built around cars and roads, meaning that many high-speed rail passengers who arrive at their destination would have to either rent a car or use expensive ride-hailing services. That increases the incentive to just drive all the way. It also means that trains linking city centers would generate less economic activity in the U.S. than in more densely populated countries. In addition, the U.S. is likely to be more concerned about terrorism than other countries, because bullet trains are an obvious high-profile target. Security would add to the cost of rail systems.So although high-speed rail is a good long-term project for carbon-emissions reduction, the U.S. would probably get more bang for the buck by focusing on local trains — fast commuter rail linking suburbs to city centers, subways and light rail to let people get around cities without cars and buses that utilize the existing road systems. These projects aren’t as grand and beautiful as bullet trains, but they would do more for economic activity and livability — and they would be a lot more cost-effective.To contact the author of this story: Noah Smith at nsmith150@bloomberg.netTo contact the editor responsible for this story: James Greiff at jgreiff@bloomberg.netThis column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.Noah Smith is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist. He was an assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University, and he blogs at Noahpinion.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion©2019 Bloomberg L.P.



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Bail Set at $2 Million for Suspected Killer in Seattle Light Rail Shooting

Bail Set at $  2 Million for Suspected Killer in Seattle Light Rail ShootingA probable cause hearing was held Tuesday at the King County Courthouse for a 20-year-old suspected of shooting three people at a Seattle light rail station.



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Protesters rail against Biden on deportations

Protesters rail against Biden on deportationsBiden has come under fire for the 3 million deportations that occurred under the Obama administration.



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Derailed? Feds plan to cancel nearly $1B for California's high-speed rail project

Derailed? Feds plan to cancel nearly $  1B for California's high-speed rail projectFederal Railroad Administrator Ronald Batory wrote Tuesday to state officials that the administration was canceling its grant agreement with the California High-Speed Rail Authority, and halting $ 928.6 million in future grant payments it was expected to make to fund the project through 2022.



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U.S. agency to cancel $929 million in California high-speed rail funds

U.S. agency to cancel $  929 million in California high-speed rail fundsCalifornia Governor Gavin Newsom said last week the state will dramatically scale back a planned $ 77.3 billion high-speed rail project that has faced cost hikes, delays and management concerns, but will finish a smaller section of the line. The Transportation Department’s Federal Railroad Administration said in a letter it wanted to halt funding because the state had “failed to make reasonable progress.” It cited Newsom’s announcement to scale back the project.



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Gov. Gavin Newsom curtails plan for High-Speed Rail, plans to only build between Merced and Bakersfield

Gov. Gavin Newsom curtails plan for High-Speed Rail, plans to only build between Merced and BakersfieldGov. Newsom says he's ending the state's effort to build a high-speed rail line between San Francisco and Los Angeles. Newsom says he wants to continue construction of the high-speed link from Merced to Bakersfield.



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North, South Korea Open Rail Project Despite Sanctions Barrier

North, South Korea Open Rail Project Despite Sanctions BarrierLong-stalled plans to restore rail links severed by the Korean War were revived in historic summits by North Korea leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in earlier this year. While South Korea said the Security Council granted an exemption to United Nations sanctions Tuesday to allow the ceremony to proceed, additional relief would be needed to start construction. “The result of the North and South Korean railway and road project depends on our nation’s mental strength and will.



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Cruise line: Autistic man climbed deck rail, went overboard

Cruise line: Autistic man climbed deck rail, went overboardMOBILE, Ala. (AP) — An autistic man missing at sea since Sunday, when he disappeared from a Carnival Cruise Line ship traveling from Alabama to the western Caribbean, went overboard after climbing over a deck rail, the company said Wednesday. The family says he is presumed dead.



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Taiwan rail crash kills 18 as train flips

Taiwan rail crash kills 18 as train flipsAt least 18 people were killed and 171 others injured on Sunday when one of Taiwan's newer, faster trains derailed on a curve along a popular weekend route, officials said. The Puyuma express train was carrying more than 366 passengers from a suburb of Taipei in the north toward Taitung, a city on Taiwan's southeast coast, when it went off the tracks at 4:50pm, the Taiwan central government said in a statement. Hours later, one of the train's eight cars was seen tipped over at about a 75-degree angle, with the entire right side destroyed. Firefighters with lights on their hard hats, fearing people may be trapped beneath the car, were looking underneath as a crane prepared to upend it. The National Fire Agency cited the Cabinet spokesman's office as saying 22 people were killed and 171 injured in the disaster, but then lowered the toll to 18 saying there had been a miscalculation. Some passengers were crushed to death, Ministry of National Defense spokesman Chen Chung-chi said. "Their train car turned over. They were crushed, so they died right away," General Chen said. Soldiers have been removing bodies to identify them, he added, but nightfall was complicating rescue work. Photos from the scene just south of the city of Luodong showed the train's eight cars in a zig-zag formation near the tracks. Five of the cars are turned over on their sides. The train fell in a zig-zag shape Credit: CNA PHOTO/AFP/Getty Images Most of the deaths were in the first car, which flipped over, a government spokesman said. It was unclear how many people may still be trapped in the train, said the spokesman, who spoke on customary condition of anonymity. Some 120 soldiers joined firefighters in their rescue work. On a live feed provided by Taiwan's United Daily News, rescuers were seen carefully carrying what appeared to be a body wrapped in white plastic away from the site. Local television reports said passengers were trying to escape through train windows and that bystanders had gathered to help them before rescuers arrived. The Puyuma was launched in 2013 to handle the very difficult topography of Taiwan's east coast and is distinct from the high-speed rail that runs on the west coast. The trains travel up to 150 kilometers (93 miles) per hour, faster than any other in Taiwan except for high-speed rail. The train that derailed is 6 years old and its most recent inspection and major maintenance took place in 2017, Taiwan Railways Administration Director Lu Chie-shen said at a televised news conference. Authorities are investigating the cause of the derailment.



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