Thursday, February 25, 2010

Hazy Lazy Crazy Train

State Senator Shannon Jones also thinks the 3C Snail Rail Boondoggle is a waste of taxpayer money:
Lately, we've heard a lot of talk about Governor Strickland's push to bring passenger rail to Ohio. It's time to set the record straight and make the facts known. Once you review the following information I think you'll agree that the Governor's priorities have gone off-track.

Thanks for taking a few moments to review the facts. I look forward to your feedback.

Shannon Jones

Click pics for larger view


  1. OK, so America can't even begin the process of moving away from oil. Good job American't.

  2. Anonymous,

    How do you begin that process with a train that runs on deisel oil? Any shock to petroleum markets is going to hit 3C just as hard. It's simply a bad plan in every respect.

  3. So what's COAST transportation plan for the future? Nothing.

  4. A diesel train uses much less fuel per passenger than do an equivalent number of cars with just one or two people riding in them.

    Running a handful of trains, which is the initial plan, does not merit electrification of the line. The French originally intended to avoid this capital expense by building a diesel-powered high speed train network. They built a diesel test locomotive in the 1970's but abandoned that plan and chose an electric design instead which can maintain a higher speed, is more reliable, creates almost no polution because it is powered by France's many nuclear plants, and operational costs are not subject to fluxuations in fuel costs.

    Amtrak's Acella is based on the French TGV design, but was not allowed to buy off-the-shelf TGV equipment because of ridiculously rigorous crash standards. Just like the TGV, Acella can achieve speeds of over 200mph+, and could operate close to that speed on several stretches along its route, but the FTA prohibits speeds above 150+ on any track that shares operations with freight.

    The interstate highways are state-owned property and I suggested on my blog that we build high speed intercity rail lines in the medians or alongside I-71. Because these tracks would not have any freight service, Ohio could buy Acella trains and operate them at the full 180-200mph speed.

    The real operational cost savings of TGV-style high speed trains is that they run so fast that very few trains are necessary. A true high speed train could travel from Cincinnati to Cleveland in under two hours, meaning it could make two Cincinnati > Cleveland round trips per day. So by purchasing just four trains, we could have eight daily departures to Columbus and Cleveland while paying just four staffs.

    The TGV is profitable largely for this reason and also because it has claimed almost all of France's former domestic air travel. Also, the TGV is so reliable that it has come to be used by some as a commuter train. Imagine people from Cleveland commuting to jobs in Cincinnati every day -- the equivalent happens in France.

  5. "A diesel train uses much less fuel per passenger than do an equivalent number of cars with just one or two people riding in them."

    What a coincidence, because that's exactly how many people there will be riding the 3C snail rail - one or two.

    It's all moot anyway. The Ohio Senate is not going to allow this boondoggle to move forward. Book it. This silly venture is going to die on the vine much like the wet dream of rail psychos everywhere - the streetcar.

  6. Provost,

    Cars 25-50% full vs. trains 25-50% full are about a wash fuel-wise, so why do people keep talking about fuel?

    Transportation systems are about mobility. And there's nothing like the freedom and convenience of being able to drive wherever you want, whenever you want. Trains can't begin to match that without literally restructuring our whole society around rail at enormous cost.

    That might be something to consider if it could supplant roads and cars eventually, but it can't. As long we have fire engines, ambulances, police cars, and mail jeeps, the roads must stay.

    The question then becomes, "why build and maintain 2 incompatible transportation systems (road & rail) when roads alone are capable of fulfilling all our transportation needs?" That's the question nobody has yet answered satisfactorily. You have some solid ideas (like combining ROWs) for implementing rail, but for now the "no build" option remains our best bet.

    That said, you are correct that HSR could be a game changer because of its ability to supplant air travel. Make the 3C boondoggle a HSR system, or show a clear and doable path by which snail rail can become HSR, and your vision may have a chance.

    Until then, 1 of 2 things will happen. The current 3C will die on the vine. Or if it gets done, it will be constantly ridiculed by folks like us, and serve as an example of why every other future rail system will also be a boondoggle. Do it right or don't do it at all.

  7. Received your 'crazy train' brochure in Friday's mail I don't think its crazy - I think it's a great idea, especially when we have to drive, as my husband did early this morning, to northern ohio to pick up kids arriving home on college break. Sure would be nice not to have to make that three-hour drive in the middle of the night, but rather make the short drive to Sharonville at a much more reasonable hour. And you think Ohioans don't subsidize the highway infrastructure. This year alone, $2 billion in highway construction will be invested or "subsidized" by taxpayers.

  8. Norm,

    It's difficult to take you seriously when you're not even using existing transportation options. You could have put the kid on a Greyhound bus for about $42. It's about a 5 hour ride, 1-1/2 hours less than the train. Departures are pretty reasonable at 9:30am, 3pm, 6pm, and 11pm.

    That option doesn't cost taxpayers any extra money at all because the roads have already been built, and have to be maintained whether the Greyhound runs or not.

  9. Do all of the roads really have to be maintained? Progressive cities have removed interstate highways and either replaced them with much less expensive surface boulevards or parks. New York City removed the elevated West Side Highway after its 1973 collapse ( San Francisco did not rebuild the Embarcadero Expressway after the 1989 earthquake (

    Many speculated in the late 1990's that Fort Washington Way should have been replaced with an at-grade boulevard, more than halving the cost of the project. All eastbound traffic was in fact closed for six months in 1999. Did the city shrivel up an die? No, of course it didn't. So where was COAST's attempt to block the Fort Washington Way boondoggle, a road whose partial closure during reconstruction proved that it is an unnecessary luxury?

  10. Is there some kind of tax that I can vote for to support this slow-train? If so, I'm for the project. I love new taxes!!!

  11. " it will be constantly ridiculed by folks like us."

    Ha. Good thing no one values COAST's endorsements or opinions. Remember Issue 9 and all your other failed candidates/issues:

    Maybe when you rally against the 3C you can get Brad Wenstrup to speak, he's not too busy being mayor or anything.

  12. Wenstrup doesn't want the 3C's train to actually enter city limits since according to him Cincinnati is more dangerous than Iraq.

    Ever notice how they have all those roadside bombs but no railroadside bombs in Iraq? Maybe the troops should start riding trains.

  13. Uh, I iz a car driver Merican. How is a what fer train to make a go? Deez is nuf fer me ter drive me car. Stop munny drain fer train an fer educashun.


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