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And back to a ten-hour ride from Beijing to Shanghai? I don't think so. 150-200 km/h is nice for a country for the size of Austria or Ireland, but only means air transport boom (and much lower energy efficiency) where there are distances of 300 km or more.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 3rd, 2011 at 08:44:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In a country used to sleeper trains, there might be two sweet spots : one at 3hrs/trip, which allows for same days returns, and one at 8hrs, which allows for the ideal 12AM - 8AM night trip (see St Petersburg-Moscow as an example). Beijing Shanghai already had that time of travel before the new high speed line...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Sun Jul 3rd, 2011 at 09:33:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Once the Beijing-Wuhan and Guangzhou-Shenzhen-Kowloon high-sped lines will be complete, the 8 hour per trip will be Beijing-Kowloon for the sleeper high-speed trains (the "E" subclasses).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 3rd, 2011 at 11:57:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Depends on what you do with the trains. It is not impossible to imagine "business class" cars with fewer seats but more table space and fast internet access. If you can put in eight productive hours on the train, it beats wasting four hours in planes and airports where you can get nothing useful done.

But you'd have to re-think both the train side and the business side of such an arrangement. And re-thinking is painful.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Sun Jul 3rd, 2011 at 10:43:15 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But how large a segment of the air/rail demand is that? This is not an entirely new idea: the Metropolitan trains of the German Railways were all-first-class trains made for businessmen, with "Office" seating that included a plug for each seat and cell phone repeaters (no WiFi yet 12 years ago), that ran between Cologne and Hamburg. The service ended after five years (1999-2004), due to low occupation.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Jul 3rd, 2011 at 12:10:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You can only put people in a confined space for 8 hours (awake) if there is no other practical alternative. That's where the 3 hour rule comes from. Thrombosis can be a nasty thing.

But I agree that very high speed service of say 350+ km/h is an artifact of a cheap energy environment. It will become more of an elite activity (e.g. if a serious electricity starts hitting China). Someone will have to decide what speed is fast enough. I guess 250-300 is the maximum we will see in the energy-austere future.

Schengen is toast!

by epochepoque on Sun Jul 3rd, 2011 at 12:55:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well if energy shortage is serious enough to ground airplanes and cause widespread blackouts, I think we would be back to 120 km/h (and 24-hour trips), making most of regenerative braking.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 4th, 2011 at 01:41:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Vietnam has widespread blackouts and 50 km/h trains, yet still has airplanes...

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Jul 4th, 2011 at 02:51:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Unless prohibited by regulation, there will always be airplanes for at least a small segment of the population. They're fundamentally more efficient than trains for carrying small loads at high speeds. Once past the first few minutes of climb, they fly where there is significantly less wind resistance, they go in straight lines, they don't stop at stations along the way...

There are multiple transportation problems to solve, and airplanes are the best solution for some of them...

by asdf on Mon Jul 4th, 2011 at 11:40:51 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ehh.. No. Energy is only fungible in certain directions. It is very plausible - indeed likely - that oilshortages could limit air travel very heavily without impacting the supply of electricity at all. Particularily in china, which has a grid which is going to be all hydro-nukes-coal.
by Thomas on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 06:44:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You failed to notice "...and widespread blackouts".

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 04:50:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yhea. Because I dont belive in them. The world can, and will, have oil shortages. The price of coal is going to go through the roof for anyone not on top of a coal mine in the medium term, the natural gas boom is.. well, its real, but its not going to be cheap natural gas. None of which matter an iota.
Electricity is the lifeblood of civilization, and whatever it takes to keep it flowing will get done. There are two possible futures for electricity; 1: The price of wind keeps dropping and extremely large scale storage schemes like the granite piston idea are put into practice providing, cheap, renewable and on-demand power to the world.
2: Renewable energy stays vaporware, and the political opposition to nuclear gets ground into a red paste beneath the insatisable demand for more juice as carbon based power becomes ever more expensive, and the world ends up with a breeder reactor in every city. Unsafe? Possibly. But not remotely as suicidal as letting the power go out. Nations without reliable electricity have utterly abysmal average lifeexpectancies, and this is not just correlation, its causation. Lack of electricity kills people.

There is no 3; "the world fails to produce enough electricity to meet demand". It is simply not a plausible outcome.

by Thomas on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 05:26:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Ahem.

Wind power is cheaper than nuclear with current technology. Even when, as at present, nuclear is allowed to externalise final storage and decommissioning costs.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 05:38:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The context I am assuming is that of a completely low carbon grid. This changes the cost calculations drastically because it means wind no longer gets to externalize its load balancing costs onto the rest of the power sector, because there is no rest of the power sector.  This is, however an issue that can be solved with sufficiently heroic civil engineering. Google "granite piston storage". I promise you will like the scheme ;)

-- Secondly, I would very much like it if you provided me a link documenting a current producer of nuclear electricity who does in fact externalize the costs you mention. Because I cannot at the moment think of any examples.

Thirdly: There is no such thing as "The cost of wind" and the "Cost of nuclear" at the present time. The per-kwh-produced cost of wind is massively dependant on location and climate, and same calculation for nuclear is extremely sensitive to the political context of the construction programme. For example, I very much doubt you are correct in, oh, South Korea. Or China.

by Thomas on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 05:57:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
-- Secondly, I would very much like it if you provided me a link documenting a current producer of nuclear electricity who does in fact externalize the costs you mention. Because I cannot at the moment think of any examples.

TEPCO

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 05:59:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The context I am assuming is that of a completely low carbon grid. This changes the cost calculations drastically because it means wind no longer gets to externalize its load balancing costs

Neither does nuclear, and there is no reason to believe a priori that nuclear will have lower load-balancing costs than wind in a properly run grid.

Secondly, I would very much like it if you provided me a link documenting a current producer of nuclear electricity who does in fact externalize the costs you mention. Because I cannot at the moment think of any examples.

Right now spent fuel rods are being kept in on-site storage in much of the world. That was, as you surely recall, one of the things that blew up in TEPCO's face. Those fuel rods are going to need final storage at some point, and if that doesn't happen before the plant is decommissioned, you're essentially betting that the company in question will not use its limited liability status to pull a Bhopal.

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Tue Jul 19th, 2011 at 07:11:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Actively cooled initial waste storage is an inherent nessesity of all solid fuel reactor designs. - fresh waste is just too hot to go straight into final disposal. If you want rid of this problem, it is nessesary to transition to reactor designs that permit online reprocessing, like the molten salt reactor, or this http://www.rbsp.info/rbs/RbS/PDF/aiaa05.pdf rhing.

But advanced reactor research is depressignly underfunded. It really would not take very much money by government research programme standards to build a prototype of either of the above.

by Thomas on Wed Jul 20th, 2011 at 01:20:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Re balancing costs.. Are you joking? A nuclear grid needs sufficient balancing capacity to timeshift about less than half its output 12 hours. A full wind grid would need about ten times that. This is not an insurmountable problem for wind - as I said, google granite piston (I really like that idea. Its clever, and should work) but neither is it equivalent.
by Thomas on Wed Jul 20th, 2011 at 01:23:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Re balancing costs.. Are you joking?

No, I'm considering the actual economics of load-balancing, which depend on how much electricity you need to balance, not on how much capacity you need to build (combined-cycle gas turbines are cheap, converting pig shit to biogas is expensive).

So you need to make the case that wind requires more MWh per year than nuclear, not that it requires more MW (which is not necessarily the case either - nuclear being more concentrated, it requires more backup capacity to deal with unexpected plant closure).

- Jake

Friends come and go. Enemies accumulate.

by JakeS (JangoSierra 'at' gmail 'dot' com) on Wed Jul 20th, 2011 at 08:19:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thomas:
and the political opposition to nuclear gets ground into a red paste

this sounds pathological... your rage at anyone who doesn't buy your belief system is justified in your mind because said non-believers and their airy fairy prejudices are going to cook us all with their ignorance.

either this is impulsive, extreme rhetoric, or something much more rabid. either way, i don't see your belligerent, haughty choice of words doing much to advance the justice of your convictions, no matter whether you are eventually proved right or wrong in coming to them.

'red paste' huh? you may want to walk that back, in the interests of all. your words may lead to someone's actions later on, and you may then regret them. the only people you 'inspire' with talk like that are rabid foamers already, who might take this as encouragement/incitement/permission to act out the homicidal scorn you seem to feel...

 

'The history of public debt is full of irony. It rarely follows our ideas of order and justice.' Thomas Piketty

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Aug 6th, 2011 at 05:46:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
... is the ability to have same-day return trips ~ whether business trips or personal. Save the motel/hotel stay, and you have a substantial gain.

For 8hrs, "here Monday, there Tuesday, here Wednesday" only works for sleepers ~ other than that, you are dropping out of the same day trip markets and restricted to the multi-day trip markets.

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 Sun Jul 3rd, 2011 at 09:50:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Indeed. Currently the 3-hour threshold for me is Vienna; if I have to go to a meeting further West, it's by night train.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Jul 4th, 2011 at 01:43:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In Western Europe, sleepers are slowly disappearing - but in Russia or China, sleeper train is the basic mode of long distance transportation.

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Jul 4th, 2011 at 02:50:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Precisely, because the sleeper doubles up as the hotel.

The only way I can make weekend trips from Madrid to Paris make sense from a cost point of view is to go by sleeper on Friday night.

Economics is politics by other means

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Mon Jul 4th, 2011 at 05:21:22 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, the ideal doubling up as a hotel would be for the sleeper car to go to Paris be dropped off at a siding, accessible to metropolitan transport, and then picked up again for the return trip to Madrid Sunday night. Then you could use the same sleeper compartment all weekend.

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 Mon Jul 4th, 2011 at 10:36:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Ah, the golden era of private sleepers for the robber barons' use !

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Jul 4th, 2011 at 11:35:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
They're still out there, you know...
http://www.aaprco.com/
http://www.privaterailcars.net/
by asdf on Mon Jul 4th, 2011 at 11:48:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Damn. Now I want to become a robber baron !

Un roi sans divertissement est un homme plein de misères
by linca (antonin POINT lucas AROBASE gmail.com) on Mon Jul 4th, 2011 at 12:42:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm thinking more a 21st century version as flying becomes more expensive.

The baseline is a comfortable sleeper coach. I've been on the 3 seats across, 60 degree recline overnight bus in Latin America, not hard to have a dual purpose sleeper / day coach that has each third row rotate the the seat back and seat up to allow the other two to space out for a sleeping recline.

Other service are built up on top of that. Keeping the same roomette for a day trip (during the week) or a weekend is one of the possible options to think through along the way.


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 Mon Jul 4th, 2011 at 02:50:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Here's something to ponder... The demise of rail travel occurred before the sexual revolution of the 1960s. If overnight rail journeys become more common, and if the cars were set up dormitory style and not segregated by gender, there could be a massive uptake of this--compared to being stuck in a car with your room-mate.
by asdf on Mon Jul 4th, 2011 at 05:27:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Quite. There's got to be some kind of cabin option.

Indeed, I was thinking of the "drop off roomette cars" as the third of three classes ~ coach sleepers, cabins, and roomettes. Cabins are convertable seats / sleeping, with shared facilities. Roomettes are long haul style cabins with the miniature facilities built in.

One presumes that the hanky panky in the coach sleepers would happen at the very least in the shower stalls among travelers patriotically doing their bit to save water by sharing a shower.

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 Mon Jul 4th, 2011 at 06:55:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]

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