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Why We Can't Have Nice Things
Twice the Price for Half the Speed
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  • seattleoutcast

    We can also thank the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931.

  • Fat_Man

    In other countries, the high speed rail is operated on separate tracks from the other services. I don’t think that is true with Acela. That may be the limiting factor.

    • Ofer Imanuel

      I know this to be correct, at least for the section from New York Penn to Newark Penn

  • Matthew Mitchell

    I think the headline writer (or his/her researcher) confused miles per hour and kilometers per hour. The top speeds of high-speed trains in service in Europe and Japan are around 300-320 km/h, which is not quite 200 mph. So 160 mph here in the Northeast is not nearly as slow as the headline implies.

    Alternately, someone might have confused the TGV speed record set in a special test (574 km/h) with the speeds attained in routine service. That speed record required a specially modified trainset, no passengers on board, overriding the signal system, and clearing the test track of all other trains.

    The trains themselves are not the key to high-speed operations: it’s having a dedicated right of way, and one with minimal curvature. That’s very costly to attain.

  • LarryD

    Expensive mediocrity. But no analysis of why. So I shall enumerate “the usual suspects”. Cronyism. Graft. Featherbedding. Peculation. And, as seattleoutcast points out, the Davis-Bacon Act of 1931, supposedly to insure the government pays “prevailing wages”, but in practice that’s union wages, which are higher than prevailing wages.

    Economists would categorize all of them as “rent-seeking”, not to be confused with creating some useful infrastructure and charging rent for its use.

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