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Calling all HSR-experts for debunking Carbusters anti-HSR

by A swedish kind of death Mon Nov 8th, 2010 at 10:39:09 AM EST

It recently came to my attention that Carbusters - an online anti-car magazin - featured an anti-HSR article.

High-Speed Rail: Green or Mean? - Carbusters

High-Speed Rail: Green or Mean?

High-speed rail is often touted as a means to move forward and beyond the current modes for long distance transport. Its advocates tells us that, by combining the low energy use of trains and the high speed of planes, it will be the best option for our future transport needs. But is it really so? In this article Hampus Rubaszkin debunks some of the myths surrounding high-speed trains and argues that we can't solve our transport problems by using the same kind of thinking that created them.


The talking points look fairly familiar, I have seen some debunking done before. But instead of starting googling I figured I'll call the experts here to debunk them. Maybe we can get a featured article in next issue or at least stop myths from being spread among european green-left.

Point 1:
High-Speed Rail: Green or Mean? - Carbusters

For every investment in HSR there is also an alternative use of the money. In order to become a fast, safe and affordable alternative to car travel, local and regional public transport is in desperate need of funding.

If I remember correctly, this argument is common in the US, and Bruce should be able to debunk it in no time. Right?

Example 1:

A tragic example is the terrible commuter-train accident in Belgium earlier this year. Belgium is investing millions of euro in HSR, and at the same time the safety standard of local trains has deteriorated to a point where lives are placed at risk.

Any Belgian resident that are up to what goes on in Belgian rail?

Point 2:
High-Speed Rail: Green or Mean? - Carbusters

With HSR, endpoint inhabitants in major cities will have a new alternative to travel fast and convenient from city to city. But the people in between are likely to end up with fewer train connections (high-speed trains make few stops), or no train station at all. Because of the need to make HSR-lines very straight, it is also likely that the in-between stations will be built away from city centres, surrounded by malls and shopping centres in connection to the new station. The effect of that is - as we all know - increased car dependence.

Somehow, I think connecting cities in between with the HSR line could be done by rail. What is common today in countries that has real HSR?

Example 2:
High-Speed Rail: Green or Mean? - Carbusters

Building HSR is extremely expensive and, as a consequence, so is their ticket price. Since the HSR service started running from Paris to Brussels, there is no regular train service left on the route. Ticket prices on the HSR-line are very expensive, and so the budget traveler ends up with two options: bus or car.

Is this true? Parisians, check your train schedules!

Point 3:
High-Speed Rail: Green or Mean? - Carbusters

Now, what effect will HSR have on carbon emissions? First, the high speed of the trains (top speed 300 km/h) increases energy consumption by at least 60 percent, compared to a modern train operating at regular speed (top speed 200 km/h). Some may argue that in the future this won't be a problem, because then the energy will be renewable. But we know that for a long time ahead, most electricity in the world will continue to be generated from fossil fuels. High energy consumption equals fossil fuels burned, equals increased CO2 emissions.

Don't start comparing with flying before you read the next point.

High-Speed Rail: Green or Mean? - Carbusters

Second, the ability of HSR to generate new traffic must be addressed. As described by Per Kågesson, researcher in environmental- and energy-systems analysis, at least 25 percent of the trips will be newly generated.

In the study Kågesson also concluded that one million yearly single trips on a typical 500 km line resulted in a reduction of about 9,000 tons of CO2-equivalents. That is about the same amount as the yearly personal emissions of 900 EU citizens. Considering that building the line causes millions of tons of CO2 emissions, 9,000 tons is negligible. It could take 50 years before even the carbon-debt of building the line is repaid. The climate crisis calls for a much faster response than that.

Now, take out your models for climate calculations.

Conclusion:
High-Speed Rail: Green or Mean? - Carbusters

Local and regional rail investments, combined with airliners starting to pay for their external costs through fuel taxes, is likely to be the fastest and most fair way to make that shift.

Convinced yet?

Display:
I figured that when we have thoroughly gone through the points we can write an article for next issue of Carbusters.

I figure that it will be up to me (or other swedish-speaking ETers) to find that article by Kågesson. So I'll start there.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Nov 8th, 2010 at 10:46:17 AM EST
Found it!

OECD/ITF: JTRC Discussion Papers

Environmental aspects of inter-city passenger transport
Per KAGESON, Nature Associates, Stockholm, Sweden
Discussion Paper No 2009-28, December 2009

The 25% increase is nothing he shows, it is something he assumes in making the calculations, based on an Norwegian HSR-line.

And in conclusion, I'll cite Kågeson, p.25:

The conclusion of this paper is that investment in high speed rail is under most circumstances likely to reduce greenhouse gases from traffic compared to a situation when the line was not
built. The reduction, though, is small and it may take decades for it to compensate for the emissions caused by construction. However, where capacity restraints and large transport volumes justify investment in high speed rail this will not cause overall emissions to rise.

In cases where anticipated journey volumes are low it is not only difficult to justify the investment in economical terms, but it may also be hard to defend the project from an environmental point of view as it will take too long for traffic to offset the emissions caused by building the line. Under such circumstances it may be better to upgrade an existing line to accommodate for somewhat higher speeds as this would minimize emissions from construction and cut emissions from train traffic compared to high speed rail.



Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Mon Nov 8th, 2010 at 11:09:06 AM EST
In order to become a fast, safe and affordable alternative to car travel, local and regional public transport is in desperate need of funding.

Yes! But it is not either/or but both/and. His views of economics might preclude doing either, but, so long as there is significant unemployment in the EU, with appropriate actions by governments and monetary authorities, the infrastructure can be built and so doing will benefit the economy during and after the construction without increasing inflation, though inflation could be caused by other factors, including increased resource costs. Unfortunately, public adherence to neo-liberal economic views will likely prevent such sane actions.

A tragic example is the terrible commuter-train accident in Belgium earlier this year. Belgium is investing millions of euro in HSR, and at the same time the safety standard of local trains has deteriorated to a point where lives are placed at risk.

So, has train travel become more dangerous in Belgium than car travel? And, again, it is not really an either/or choice unless Belgium is at full employment.  

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."

by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Mon Nov 8th, 2010 at 12:27:17 PM EST
Infrastructure takes (mainly) labor to do, yes. If there is available labor and a societal need, but money is lacking, then the government should print the money and build the societal good.

And I have covered the CO2 question, the researcher in question recommends HSR where it makes sense population wise. Over a couple of decades you get more opportunity for travel for a lower CO2 cost.

So, can anyone tell us what has happened with old rail where HSR was installed?

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se

by A swedish kind of death on Mon Nov 8th, 2010 at 01:43:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For every investment in HSR there is also an alternative use of the money. In order to become a fast, safe and affordable alternative to car travel, local and regional public transport is in desperate need of funding.

This is clean BS, and the worst kind of zero-sum thinking. In the USA, local, regional and intercity public transport is in desperate need of funding. Public transport functions best if modes for different distances and capacities, which are in effect different levels of a hierarchic system, are linked up at hubs. The accessibility via the other levels increases the utility of each mode (you get more HSR passengers with a subway link to the station resp. you get more light rail passengers with a link to a HSR station). It doesn't make sense to pick out one level of public transport, even less to make them run for the same money.

What is debatable is the ratio of funds earmarked for the different modes. However, given the severe underfunding on all public transport fronts and the hundreds of billions given to road construction, it is silly to look for a re-division of funds already earmarked for public transport rather than a re-division between road and rail.

A tragic example is the terrible commuter-train accident in Belgium earlier this year. Belgium is investing millions of euro in HSR, and at the same time the safety standard of local trains has deteriorated to a point where lives are placed at risk.

Gah. No, the safety system did not deteriorate, it was outdated and its upgrade was very sluggish.  But that doesn't mean that there was no investment at all: new trains are purchased (and already have the new Belgian safety system -- including one of the collided trains!), and Brussels's and Antwerp's suburban rail system was expanded resp. its lines were upgraded and partly quadruple-tracked in parallel with high-speed line construction.

Of course, again, Belgium could do a lot more in terms of rail investment. (In particular, more new suburban trains.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 8th, 2010 at 02:05:48 PM EST
Exactly. This is not just zero-sum thinking, but a right-wing belief that the only tax revenues we have available are whatever government collected in a given year - that we can't ever go out and get more from the rich.

Here in California I keep using the argument that "a rising tide lifts all boats" (yes, it's cribbed from Reagan, but it works) - that greater investment in HSR will fuel public support for connecting transportation services.

However, I've also found that people who make this argument, that we have limited funds available and should spend it elsewhere, are really just looking for excuses to oppose HSR.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Tue Nov 9th, 2010 at 02:38:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Which makes it so odd reading that same argument from a swedish green. As a local politician in Stockholm who sees national rail taking precedence over local he probably means it though.

Sweden's finest (and perhaps only) collaborative, leftist e-newspaper Synapze.se
by A swedish kind of death on Tue Nov 9th, 2010 at 04:56:14 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... but the zero sums are confused. Its combining the wrong things together in the fixed sum framework.

Suppose there is a specific amount of money available for transport. That money may then be budgeted to local and intercity transport. It would be irrational to do the initial allocation by technology, when both local and intercity transport have to be provided.

If the money available to intercity transport is limited ~ for example, if the Eurozone countries have made a political decision to impose an artificial shortage of money on themselves, even though they have substantial labor and equipment resources available, and HSR would save energy resources relative to alternatives ~ the capital cost for providing a given transport capacity via air, road and rail needs to be examined, as well as the capitalized cost of the operating subsidies required by air, road and conventional passenger rail.

Where HSR provides sufficient full economic benefit to justify its full economic cost, it will typically generate an operating surplus, so that is a capitalized benefit to offset the capital cost of building the line and buying the trains.

By contrast, for local transport, the most beneficial local transport may require substantial operating subsidies. So if there are not unlimited funds for ongoing operating subsidies, then dedicating the intercity capital funding to HSR frees up operating funds to provide operating subsidies to local transport.

Indeed, for areas where common carrier local transport is marginal, a multimodal connection with an HSR station provides an additional traffic anchor that increases farebox recovery ratios and increases the amount of local common carrier transport that can be provided with the same operating subsidy funding.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 04:25:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With HSR, endpoint inhabitants in major cities will have a new alternative to travel fast and convenient from city to city. But the people in between are likely to end up with fewer train connections (high-speed trains make few stops), or no train station at all. Because of the need to make HSR-lines very straight, it is also likely that the in-between stations will be built away from city centres, surrounded by malls and shopping centres in connection to the new station. The effect of that is - as we all know - increased car dependence.

Here they touch on some real problems with some HSR projects, but assume that it can't be done another way.

  • It is of course true that the number of intercity trains on old mainlines paralleling a high-speed line typically decreases. However, this doesn't always mean a quality decrease in train connections: the discontinued services on the old line are often through trains with few stops, and the number of trains on the old line with more stops can actually increase. (For example, the two stations on the old line that are bypassed by the high-speed line section opened in South Korea this past 1 November were passed by most KTX trains but now up to 12 a day and direction stop there.)

    The bad examples here are when a railway sets high ticket prices for a high-speed line but then fears that passengers will use the slower but cheaper alternative, and makes that service worse on purpose. You don't have to stop all HSR construction to avoid this problem...

  • The author forgets about effects on other lines. In countries where normal rail and HSR have the same gauge, it is common to run high-speed trains beyond the end of high-speed lines, to cities along conventional lines, which would not justify a high-speed line in themselves (or construction is still planned). That way, service and ridership is improved on those conventional lines, too.

  • The author also forgets about capacity problems, which are enhanced by the different speed of local, intercity passenger and freight trains. There are cases when high-speed rail lines have enabled enhanced local passenger train frequency (above all Japan; but also, for example, Mannheim-Stuttgart, or indeed Brussels-Leuven...)

  • It is true that many secondary high-speed rail stations are built in the green. However, some of these (including the French ones) weren't meant to be built by the railway and are a bone given to local politicians; and others represent silly cost-saving, saving the cost of a not even too long tunnel under a city. Still others, typically in the Far East, are meant to foster the growth of a new city centre. In the USA, HSR stations could even serve as centres for concentrated development in place of existing sprawl.

  • The author probably also missed that some of these away-from-town stations have fostered the development of local rail: after protests about bad traffic connection, a local rail line was built, which then also served other parts of the city. (Examples from the themes of my last two diaries are the subway extension also serving Cheonan-Asan station in South Korea, and the new lines in construction to Hsinchu, Taichung and Tainan stations in Taiwan.)

  • The author also forgets about high-speed lines without existing parallel conventional line service. For example, Sweden's new Botniabanan, or the Jönköping-Göteborg section of its planned triangle system.

  • Carbusting is one thing, but what about airplanes? I'm afraid the main alternative to HSR is not existing conventional rail, but short-range planes.

Building HSR is extremely expensive and, as a consequence, so is their ticket price. Since the HSR service started running from Paris to Brussels, there is no regular train service left on the route. Ticket prices on the HSR-line are very expensive, and so the budget traveler ends up with two options: bus or car.

There are no direct trains, but there are lots of trains on partial sections. And it was the original system in France that showed how things can be done differently: on the first high-speed line, ticket price was the same as for trains on the parallel conventional line. Then higher peak hour and lower off-peak prices were introduced as a means to limit rush-hour crowding, and advance purchase is favoured... Paris-Brussels tickets range between €44 and €82.

The author also forgets to mention the increase in the number of Thalys passengers relative to the old number of train (and plane) passengers.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 8th, 2010 at 03:02:46 PM EST
SNCF did use HSR to introduce yield management in its pricing system, which can be very annoying and hard to manage. And they didn't bother building a proper website to at least make it acceptable !

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Tue Nov 9th, 2010 at 02:32:57 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The "..." was to indicate my own distaste for the current SNCF ticketing system.

BTW, forgot to give a comparison. Paris-le Mans, TGV: €17.00-€51.60 (with €31.50 appearing the most common reduced price), TER: €29.00.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Nov 9th, 2010 at 05:09:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, here in California our plan to send the trains through city centers (something I strongly support) is criticized by some train buffs who want the straight lines. The usual example is idiots who suggest we send the trains along Interstate 5 in the Central Valley, bypassing the 2 million or so people who live along the Merced-Fresno-Bakersfield corridor that we're planning to serve.

Those three cities alone are going to be utterly transformed by this project, and in very positive ways. Each city has a lot of potential to thrive - they just need something to encourage greater development in the city centers, and need better connections to the Bay Area and LA. I wonder what might provide that...

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Tue Nov 9th, 2010 at 02:40:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Everything I've heard about Fresno suggests you should sever all links to it, road and railway :-))

keep to the Fen Causeway
by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Tue Nov 9th, 2010 at 05:30:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I've always heard it called the "armpit of California" and its politics resemble that of Mississippi. On the other hand, it has a large Latino population and a growing Democratic movement, and some beautiful and interesting neighborhoods where diverse cultures are flowering. Its LGBT community is particularly strong (and it has to be given its location).

However, the HSR system will be the demographic equivalent of putting Lenin on a sealed train bound for the Finland Station. It will make Fresno a desirable place to live for people currently priced out of LA or the Bay Area, producing over time a more Democratic electorate. This is what happened further north, when the Tracy area became home to folks priced out of the Bay Area who ousted a longtime Republican member of Congress in the 2006 election.

Fresno will be utterly transformed by HSR. If its right-wing residents understood the nature of that transformation they'd fight the train to the death. So far though, they have other things they're focused on...for now...

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Tue Nov 9th, 2010 at 12:42:47 PM EST
[ Parent ]
at least 25 percent of the trips will be newly generated.

That's dwarfed by the energy efficiency and CO2 emission improvement for the trips replacing car and plane trips.

In the study Kågesson also concluded that one million yearly single trips on a typical 500 km line resulted in a reduction of about 9,000 tons of CO2-equivalents. That is about the same amount as the yearly personal emissions of 900 EU citizens. Considering that building the line causes millions of tons of CO2 emissions, 9,000 tons is negligible.

Considering that the line will be there for many decades at least, comparing annual CO2 savings from just one million trips with construction emissions is silly. And road building and airport building have CO2 emissions, too.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Nov 8th, 2010 at 03:09:17 PM EST
Here in California the High Speed Rail Authority has decided to pursue 100% renewable energy sources for the trains, which helps fuel development of large-scale solar and wind projects by ensuring they will have a reliable customer for their power.

And the world will live as one
by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Tue Nov 9th, 2010 at 02:41:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
An additional point: construction-related CO2 emissions come mostly from the manufacture of cement and steel. There is research into a significant reduction of both. From what I remember, at least steel production is possible in a system closed from the viewpoint of the carbon cycle (i.e. without burning coal).

However, you can't make air travel carbon-free, however you tax it.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Nov 9th, 2010 at 04:39:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Both are in theory carbon neutral: steel is produced by the removal of oxygen from iron ore (mostly haematite: Fe3O4) which can be done by any number of processes given enough energy.  Concrete is made my ejecting CO2 from limestone (plus a whole slew of things involving silicate and aluminate), but this CO2 is absorbed by the concrete as it cures (except in some special types of concrete).
by njh on Tue Nov 9th, 2010 at 06:48:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll let others address the specific points, but in general the article fails because it makes a conceptual mistake of many involved in debating transportation policy that structurally biases the conclusions against more investment in large projects such as HSR.  The mistake is to conceive of HSR as solution to a transportation problem instead of as a solution to an economic growth problem. The principal object of any new transportation project is not to move people to where they presently want to go, but to move people to different places where more economic development, i.e., growth, can occur.

Presently, economic growth prospects everywhere are constrained by space limitations (congestion), energy limitations, and environmental limitations. If we assume a no growth world, the Carbusters article and others who make the claim that HSR doesn't deliver enough energy reduction and other benefits which justify its cost can be (though not necessarily have to be) correct. Given other transportation options, and existing travel routes, a new, competing means of moving people may not provide enough efficiency or other benefits.

But we don't live in a static world. For better or for worse, we live in a growing world where the principal obstacle to growth is figuring out how to get more benefits from ever scarcer resources.  And HSR does precisely that by allowing ever more people to travel rapidly over longer distances despite increasing constraints on energy, space, and the climate. Its another well-shaped piece to complete another round of the ongoing Tetris game of growth and urbanization.  

It is true that HSR is unlikely to lead, by itself, to lower greenhouse gas emissions and other economic benefits because people are likely to just increase their overall travel instead of merely switching modes of it.  But that is a good thing -- a benefit of HSR and not the drawback that its detractors try to claim.  HSR allows economic growth to occur that otherwise would never be able to.

To understand this point I think it is helpful consider a business case study of early American railroads. Famously, all of the major railroads in the 19th century except one are said to have relied on substantial US government assistance for operation (and which went bankrupt nonetheless). The one railroad that didn't was the Great Northern Railroad, which today, after over a century of growth and acquisitions of weaker competitors, has grown into the Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad (BNSF), which itself recently became super-billionaire Warren Buffet's largest acquisition. It was founded in Saint Paul, Minnesota by a Canadian named James J. Hill, who subsequently also became, for a time, the richest man in the world like Mr. Buffet is today, personally underwriting much of Great Britain's efforts in World War I as well as changing US policy on the war from neutrality to alliance with Britain. (Although a Canadian citizen, J.J. Hill was politically very involved in US politics and served as chairman of the Democratic Party in Minnesota for most of his later life.)

Unlike the other railroad barons of the age, however, James J. Hill did not view his business as principally that of transportation. Rather, he viewed himself, and built his business, upon a model of real estate development.  He bought strategic tracts of cheap, inaccessible prairie land (much of it recently surrendered by Native American Indians), as well as urban land in city centers that would benefit from increased farming, and then he built railroads to reach them, selling the land for a profit.  It didn't really matter for the Hill railroad whether or not it paid for itself -- it sometimes did but often didn't -- because the real profits of the whole enterprise were the land valuation gains from economically developing the Great Plains. (That's where the name "Empire Builder" comes from for the Chicago-Seattle line that Hill built and is now run as an Amtrak service.)

Similarly, HSR allows for economic growth that would otherwise be constrained by real scarcity in space, energy, and environmental damage. Limiting analysis to mere transportation and efficiency outcomes like the Carbusters article does misses the primary benefit that new transportation options such as HSR provide -- economic growth.

by santiago on Mon Nov 8th, 2010 at 04:05:50 PM EST
IIRCC, the Union Pacific, Southern Pacific and AT&SF all had federal land grants as incentives to the investors. The UP had grants of the right of way and square miles on alternating sides of the right of way from Nebraska to California. That was a lot of land, even if it was still occupied partly by bison and Native Americans. I would think that the Northern Pacific had the same deal. These were national priority projects and the land that was being granted was, in effect, other people's land. This was one reason that late 19th century moguls were so concerned about Georgist land tax programs.

"It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Tue Nov 9th, 2010 at 08:56:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Great Northern railway (Northern Pacific was a different, competing one led by tycoon Jay Cooke and which did receive land grants and also went into bankruptcy) actually didn't have the same grants provided to other railroads, perhaps because James J. Hill was not a US citizen or perhaps because he simply didn't ask for them. Part of the Great Northern was formed from J.J. Hill's purchase of the St. Paul, Minneapolis & Manitoba Railway, which had previously received land grants for rail right of way, but Great Northern itself never actually received any land grants -- the only railroad never to have done so, in what is now a legend in US railroad history.

 

by santiago on Mon Nov 15th, 2010 at 11:30:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
(and let's face it, that's the best case, for Europe and the US), economic growth is not required to justify the cost. It's more a matter of the cost of not doing so. For example : maintaining real estate value in cities served by HSR, rather than seeing them collapse as other modes of transport become impracticable.

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II
by eurogreen on Thu Nov 11th, 2010 at 06:32:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Maintaining real estate values IS an economic growth justification for rail.  

But that's a good question.  I'm not sure the math holds out for rail (or any other new mode of transportation) without economic growth.

Here's a proposition to ponder: Without economic growth, there is no need for any expansion of transportation infrastructure.

by santiago on Mon Nov 15th, 2010 at 11:35:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, yes and no. Within the foreseeable future, we'll have to replace the entire car fleet and petroleum support infrastructure anyway, just to retain current capacity. So the decision is not between doing maintenance on existing infrastructure versus building a new system, but between which new system to build in order to handle any given transportation task.

Even if this were not the case, the case for an upgrade to the infrastructure that results in lower resource use for the same service would depend on your planning horizon. If the service cost, including depreciation, is lower for the new mode than the old mode, then there exists a discount rate for which an upgrade is viable.

Finally, it is possible to have growth in terms of the quality of service rather than in terms of the number of ton- or passenger-kilometers travelled. Rail offers a number of advantages over airplanes and cars - they are more comfortable than either; unlike planes, you don't have to go through a gauntlet of goons to get on; and unlike cars you're not driving yourself, so you can use the time for more interesting pursuits.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Mon Nov 15th, 2010 at 01:53:58 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For every investment in HSR there is also an alternative use of the money.

This is also true of lunch, and indeed everything. Everything has an opportunity cost.

by TYR (a.harrowellNOSPAM@gmail.com) on Tue Nov 9th, 2010 at 12:33:29 PM EST
... money depends on economic institutions. The opportunity cos of using the resources, by contrast, is intrinsic: those resources cannot be used for something else at the same time (and for resources destroyed in the process, ever).

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Fri Nov 12th, 2010 at 09:13:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Le sillon alpin perturbéThe Alpine line perturbed
Par ricochet, l'arrivée fin 2010 du TGV du Haut-Bugey, censé mettre Paris à trois heures de Genève, rendra les lignes moins efficaces et moins productives sur 40 % des TER rhônalpins. C'est le sillon alpin reliant Valence, Grenoble, Chambéry et Annecy qui en pâtira le plus. Des temps d'arrêt seront rallongés, comme en gare de Grenoble où certains trains devront rester à l'arrêt pendant 19 minutes. Des arrêts seront supprimés, comme à la gare de Moirans. Sur le Chambéry-Annecy, le temps de parcours sera rallongé. Sur Lyon-Chambéry, certains trains vont être remplacés par des cars.By ricochet, the arrival of the Haut-Bugey TGV at the end of 2010, which is supposed to put Paris within 3 hours of Geneva, will make 40% of Rhone-Alpes' regional lines less effective and less productive. It's the alpine line, linking Valence, Grenoble, Chambéry and Annecy, which will suffer the most. Stop times will be lengthened, for example at Grenoble where certain trains will be stationary for 19 minutes. Other stops are suppressed, for example Moirans. On the Chambéry-Annecy section, the transit time will be longer. On Lyon-Chambéry, some trains will be replaced by buses.
« Tous ces petits détails concourent à faire en sorte que dans de plus en plus de cas de figure, il devient beaucoup moins pertinent de prendre le train que la voiture », déplore Jean-Charles Kohlhaas, président de la commission transports au conseil régional de Rhône-Alpes. « Nous allons à rebours de nos engagements.»"All these little details add up to more and more situations where it will make more sense to take the car rather than the train", complains Jean-Charles Kohlhaas, president of the transport commission of the Rhone Alpes Regional Council.



It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Nov 12th, 2010 at 01:41:24 PM EST
(link to PDF)

Unhappily, it tends to validate the scando-greenie article. The lesson is that the national networks will tend to favour the prestigious HSR lines, at the expense of the humdrum regional services, unless there is a counter-power pushing back. In the present case, the Greens voted down the SNCF's proposed regional schedule, which will oblige them to revise it and present a new version, if I have understood correctly (the Greens, including Kohlhaas, are in coalition with the Socialists in the regional government, but voted with the right on this measure to defeat it... the Front National voted with the socialists).

The Rhone Alpes regional government (the French regions have very little power, sadly) has been at the forefront of rejuvenating regional networks, and its model has now been adopted in most regions;

It is rightly acknowledged that people of faith have no monopoly of virtue - Queen Elizabeth II

by eurogreen on Fri Nov 12th, 2010 at 01:47:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The flaw in the scando-greenie article is not that these are possibilities, but in treating these are intrinsic rather than as policy decisions.

There is no technological choice that cannot be made less sustainable by ill-advised policy decisions.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Sat Nov 13th, 2010 at 10:35:32 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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