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Friday, April 2, 2010

Spain Does Trains Right

Spain does High Speed Rail Right

...sprawling, mostly rural yet worldly Spain...
...delays of five minutes or more get you full refunds in cash...

Midsize towns like Ciudad Real, once lifeless and losing population, have been able to attract software companies, university professors and doctors from Madrid, 120 miles away, because the painless commute for the new "Avelinos" is now only 50 minutes.

"more people travel between those cities by rail than by car and airplane combined."

The AVE cuts nearly four hours off the 6 ½-hour trip by car and virtually matches the door-to-door flight time (over some 315 miles) when you add at least 90 minutes at airports for arriving early, deplaning and retrieving baggage. Air passenger traffic for this highly profitable route has dropped more than 40 percent in 18 months.

Compare this to the the increasingly obvious mess that is the the Tampa-Orlando HSR initiative. I'm starting to worry that the Obama administration may not have put their HSR money in good places. Shaving an hour off the connection in the North East Corridor is estimated to take $10 billion. You could buy a lot of ugly, flat, cheap, cheap Right of Way between Salt Lake and St. George, or Salt Lake and Sacramento, double-track and electrify the whole mess.

Transit is a network, and I begin to wonder if connecting two lesser nodes at a lower price is not more efficient then connecting two larger nodes at a much greater price.