Author Topic: Life on the Rails  (Read 33387 times)

Duque de Bragança

  • Can I Be: Ottoman Empire
  • ***********
  • Posts: 5148
Re: Life on the Rails
« Reply #345 on: February 19, 2019, 03:12:13 pm »
The article is pretty damning, and not just for high-speed rail. 200 million euros per km is already far too much for Paris, but a realistic figure once everything is factored in.

Quote
f New York were able to build subways at the kind of per mile prices achieved in Paris — about $230 million per kilometer on recent projects rather than more than $2 billion per kilometer for the Second Avenue subway — then New York’s current mass transit spending plans would be sufficient to expand and transform the system. But under the current dynamic transit planners can’t get much done.
« Last Edit: February 20, 2019, 01:37:20 pm by Duque de Bragança »

mongers

  • Blessed by Valmy
  • **************
  • Posts: 16663
  • Embrace the solitude
Re: Life on the Rails
« Reply #346 on: February 19, 2019, 03:59:47 pm »
I thought this article was an interesting explanation on how California managed to achieve a projected $40 Billion in cost overruns on a $30 Billion project while it was still in the planning stage:
.....

I'll see you and raise you:  HS2 - the hundred billion pound railway vanity project to get train journey time back near to those of the Victorian era.  :bowler:
"We have it in our power to begin the world over again"

Tonitrus

  • Incan Torpedo Boat Commander
  • ************
  • Posts: 9931
  • Blah
Re: Life on the Rails
« Reply #347 on: February 19, 2019, 06:05:23 pm »
Should have been mag-lev.  :(

Savonarola

  • Can I Be: Ottoman Empire
  • ***********
  • Posts: 6346
  • WEREWOLVES BUILT MY PRIUS!
Re: Life on the Rails
« Reply #348 on: February 20, 2019, 08:13:40 am »
I was wrong yesterday, as I see from this article the California High Speed Rail project was part of the 2009 American Reinvestment and Recovery Act.  I thought it was from a later voter initiative.
In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace—and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock

Duque de Bragança

  • Can I Be: Ottoman Empire
  • ***********
  • Posts: 5148
Re: Life on the Rails
« Reply #349 on: February 20, 2019, 01:35:50 pm »
I thought this article was an interesting explanation on how California managed to achieve a projected $40 Billion in cost overruns on a $30 Billion project while it was still in the planning stage:
.....

I'll see you and raise you:  HS2 - the hundred billion pound railway vanity project to get train journey time back near to those of the Victorian era.  :bowler:

Victorian-era with 350-400 kph?! Wow!  :D
« Last Edit: June 14, 2019, 05:55:48 pm by Duque de Bragança »

Duque de Bragança

  • Can I Be: Ottoman Empire
  • ***********
  • Posts: 5148
Re: Life on the Rails
« Reply #350 on: February 20, 2019, 01:43:56 pm »
I thought this article was an interesting explanation on how California managed to achieve a projected $40 Billion in cost overruns on a $30 Billion project while it was still in the planning stage:
.....

I'll see you and raise you:  HS2 - the hundred billion pound railway vanity project to get train journey time back near to those of the Victorian era.  :bowler:

Not enough money spent, according to the wiki, since the connection between HS1 and HS2, a London bypass actually, costing a mere £700 milion, was, guess what bypassed, or cut to save money.  :lol:

Quote
High Speed 1

Map showing the proposed HS1–HS2 link across Camden, as proposed in 2010
The Department for Transport initially outlined plans to build a two-kilometre-long (1.2 mi) link between HS2 and the existing High Speed 1 line that connects London to the Channel Tunnel. At their closest points, the two high-speed lines will be only 640 m (0.4 mi) apart. This connection would have enabled rail services running from Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham to bypass London Euston and to run directly to Paris, Brussels and other continental European destinations, realising the aims of the Regional Eurostar scheme that was first proposed in the 1980s.[58][59] Several schemes were considered, and the route finally put forward was a tunnel between Old Oak Common and Chalk Farm, linked to existing "classic speed" lines along the North London Line which would connect to HS1 north of St Pancras.[60][61][62][63]

Concerns were raised by Camden London Borough Council about the impact on housing, Camden Market and other local businesses from construction work and bridge widening along the proposed railway link.[64][65] Alternative schemes were considered, including boring a tunnel under Camden,[66] but the HS1-HS2 link was removed from the parliamentary bill at the second reading stage in order to save £700 million from the budget.[67]

KRonn

  • Can I Be: Ottoman Empire
  • ***********
  • Posts: 5926
Re: Life on the Rails
« Reply #351 on: February 20, 2019, 07:33:32 pm »
I thought this article was an interesting explanation on how California managed to achieve a projected $40 Billion in cost overruns on a $30 Billion project while it was still in the planning stage:
.....

I'll see you and raise you:  HS2 - the hundred billion pound railway vanity project to get train journey time back near to those of the Victorian era.  :bowler:

In the 90s Massachusetts did similar with a huge project, the Big Dig, to put a main highway underground beneath Boston. Initial price tag was around 3 billion using State and Federal funds. By the time it was "finished" it was costing around 16 billion with issues needing billions more to fix. Still needs lots of maintenance and fixes, was leaking badly when first built and it took a while to fix that or get it under some kind of control. US Congress held hearings on why it cost so much and the corruption over it, but I don't think they really got to the bottom of things. The Feds may have cut assistance though, probably did but I forget the details. 

Now for the last two years Boston has been rated the worst traffic in the country. So much for the Big Pig. They did do some good things though, like the Ted Williams tunnel right to Logan Airport which gave a faster, easier route to the airport from south of Boston. And straightening out some highway interchanges into the city.

The Minsky Moment

  • Octogon Champion
  • *************
  • Posts: 12075
  • Requiem for a Scheme
Re: Life on the Rails
« Reply #352 on: February 21, 2019, 11:10:12 am »
The article is pretty damning, and not just for high-speed rail. 200 million euros per km is already far too much for Paris, but a realistic figure once everything is factored in.

Quote
f New York were able to build subways at the kind of per mile prices achieved in Paris — about $230 million per kilometer on recent projects rather than more than $2 billion per kilometer for the Second Avenue subway — then New York’s current mass transit spending plans would be sufficient to expand and transform the system. But under the current dynamic transit planners can’t get much done.

"Cut and cover" isn't realistic for 21st century Manhattan - it would have rendered some of the most expensive real estate in the country effectively non-functional during construction, massively disrupted road traffic on the east side, and caused huge losses and closures to business (and thus RE and income tax revenue to the city).

One very significant contributor to subway construction costs in NYC that articles like this rarely mention is the nature of the underground environment in NYC.  Precisely because Manhattan is so dense and has been so for a long time, building underground requires dealing with a huge complex of pipes, conduits and wiring that has been built up over centuries now.  It's not like 1900 when you could just take a giant shovel and start digging without worrying much what you might be hitting.
The purpose of studying economics is not to acquire a set of ready-made answers to economic questions, but to learn how to avoid being deceived by economists.
--Joan Robinson

Syt

  • Blessed by Valmy
  • **************
  • Posts: 28315
Re: Life on the Rails
« Reply #353 on: February 21, 2019, 11:26:29 am »
FWIW the avg. costs for the rails in Vienna is ca. €200M per km underground and €100M per km above ground.

Inner areas are all underground, and with Vienna's history, extra time/effort needs to be made for the chance of finding archaeological artifacts. A few places can have the ground opened for constructions, but in the dense "single digit" districts, esp. 6th-8th it's not feasible. In fact, a major expansion in the city is currently being delayed because the suppliers were well over the expected price mark (which is good, because I can use my station for a year longer - it will be closed for two years during construction/expansion).
“There is a theory which states that if ever anyone discovers exactly what the Universe is for and why it is here, it will instantly disappear and be replaced by something even more bizarre and inexplicable.

There is another theory which states that this has already happened.”


― Douglas Adams, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Savonarola

  • Can I Be: Ottoman Empire
  • ***********
  • Posts: 6346
  • WEREWOLVES BUILT MY PRIUS!
Re: Life on the Rails
« Reply #354 on: February 28, 2019, 05:50:32 pm »
My co-worker Glen is in Chicago as part of a project where we're making Amtrak compatible with the PTC initiative in the Chicagoland area.  He went into Union Station this morning and was programming some of the network switches.  While he was there one of the Amtrak employees ran a line out from where he was into another room.  Suddenly there was a ZOT and some enormous sparks.  The Amtrak employee had created a short, and tripped a circuit breaker.  There was some momentary concern that he had caused some harm, but it looked like everything was still okay.  So he went back and, rather than unplug the line, he reset the circuit breaker.  This time he did manage to fry Amtrak's CAD (Computer Aided Dispatch (I think :unsure: that's way outside my area of expertise); it's the box that let's them move the rail switches remotely.)  They tried to launch the backup CAD, but that hasn't been used in a long time, and they couldn't get it to run; so:

More than 60,000 Chicago Metra commuters may be stranded by Union Station signal problems

Our project manager was on the phone most of today making sure Amtrak agreed that this was not our fault. 
In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace—and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock

Tyr

  • Blessed by Valmy
  • **************
  • Posts: 18870
  • In the end we will win
Re: Life on the Rails
« Reply #355 on: March 01, 2019, 01:26:45 am »
I thought this article was an interesting explanation on how California managed to achieve a projected $40 Billion in cost overruns on a $30 Billion project while it was still in the planning stage:
.....

I'll see you and raise you:  HS2 - the hundred billion pound railway vanity project to get train journey time back near to those of the Victorian era.  :bowler:


There's no vanity project about it.
It's a highly necessary capacity expansion.
██████
██████
██████

Savonarola

  • Can I Be: Ottoman Empire
  • ***********
  • Posts: 6346
  • WEREWOLVES BUILT MY PRIUS!
Re: Life on the Rails
« Reply #356 on: March 01, 2019, 08:57:16 am »
The CAD was brought back online at 8 PM last night.  This is the CAD for Amtrak territory between Detroit and Saint Louis; which is the main route for both freight and passenger between three large cities.  This was such a major outage that it's likely Amtrak is going to have to testify before Congress.

Glen thinks the problem is that Amtrak cannibalized their Disaster Recovery CAD whenever parts of the main CAD broke and never replaced the DR CAD.  So when the main CAD went down there was no disaster recovery plan.
In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace—and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock

Tonitrus

  • Incan Torpedo Boat Commander
  • ************
  • Posts: 9931
  • Blah
Re: Life on the Rails
« Reply #357 on: March 01, 2019, 09:42:01 am »
The story of Amtrak is such a sad one, made sadder still in that it didn't have to be that way.

And likely far too late to correct easily...much like our healthcare.

Savonarola

  • Can I Be: Ottoman Empire
  • ***********
  • Posts: 6346
  • WEREWOLVES BUILT MY PRIUS!
Re: Life on the Rails
« Reply #358 on: June 14, 2019, 03:40:57 pm »
It’s a long flight to Tel-Aviv; made even longer because we had to stop twice first in Atlanta and then in New York.  Fortunately Bill, the (sort of) project manager, has membership to the Delta Sky Club so we could relax a bit at JFK before heading to Tel Aviv.  Security is strict on flights into Israel, we had to go through security again and couldn’t take bottled water on the plane unless we had a receipt showing that we had purchased it in the airport.  Then you’re not allowed to stand up on the plane when you’re over Israeli territory.

In true Alstom fashion we were contacted by our security advisor after we had arrived in Israel.  We gave him our hotel information and he told us “Good luck.”  We didn’t realize it at the time; but we had arrived at one of the more contentious weeks of the year.  The week began with Jerusalem Day and ended with Shavuot all while Ramadan was going on.

Bill thought it would be a great idea to rent a car.  It wasn’t.  Tel Aviv is filled with a number of twisty one way streets which the driver’s approach with the typical Mediterranean aggressiveness.  I can’t drive in circumstances like that; where I’m from in Detroit you need to give cars space since you don’t know who’s armed and you don’t know who’s a homicidal maniac.   That approach doesn’t work in Israel, you need to tailgate and cut people off or else you’ll never get anywhere.

Our meeting was near the airport; but there aren’t many hotels by there.  Alstom has two types of approved hotels, ones on the beach and ones near the West Bank.  We chose a beach one, and got the stern reprimand from the registration system: “Why would you choose such an expensive hotel when there are so many cheaper options conveniently located within rocket distance of the West Bank?”

Our hotel was nice; the beach is a long park and we could watch people playing volleyball and doing chin-ups from the lobby.  It was very Jewish; there was a mezuzah on every door, the heating and cooling had a “Sabbath” setting on it and there was a warning against taking snacks from the mini-bar on the Sabbath.  We qualified for the “Executive lounge” both having spent way too much time in hotels over the past year.  They served Israeli beer and Mezes for dinner, and they served coffee and Mezes for breakfast.

Bill requested “Valet parking” at the hotel.  They parked his car but it was up to us to get it out.  It was wedged between two other cars and I had to guide Bill as he rocked it back and forth until we got out.  This was made much worse as Bill had kept the parking break on while he was getting out.  He would stall, stall then lurch forward.  Somehow we got out.  Then the drive to Motorola headquarters was an adventure.  IPhone maps wasn’t quite up to date and we ended up going through the old port of Jaffa before finding the highway.

Motorola has a large headquarters in an office park near the airport (called, appropriately enough, Airport City.)  Motorola just had a worldwide dictum for their offices to move to cities; most of the workers weren’t happy about this as Tel-Aviv has very little parking.  Most of the workers work yarmulkes and the breakroom was stuffed with engineering books.  We spent most of the day in the meeting room; which was dimly lit and overly warm.  I struggled to stay awake through much of the meeting.  We did hash out the issues concerning radio; so the meeting was a success. 

Michael, Motorola’s lead for this project made it his personal mission to show us Israel.  That evening he took us to Tel-Aviv’s hottest grill joint; called Meatos.  I think he was disappointed in our crazy American tastes when Bill and I both ordered sheep kofta rather than a steak.  We had left the car back at Motorola HQ and we’re in some sort of step challenge for work, so Bill insisted on walking back a mile and a half to our hotel.  We saw the back streets; Tel-Aviv is a modern city (founded in 1909, although Jaffa has been occupied since pre-historic times.)  Almost all of it was new construction, and some of the architecture is quite funky; so funky in fact that the city reminded me of Miami Beach, though somehow not quite as Jewish.

The next day we took a taxi to Motorola.  Our taxi driver was a maniac, slicing into long lines of cars without a moment’s hesitation.  Throughout the drive he kept complaining about tourists not knowing how to drive in Israel.  Bill and I just kept quiet.

We had a few meetings in the morning with the Motorola brass and then we were off to Jerusalem.  Michael was born in France and had immigrated to Israel as an adult.  He said that a lot of people had difficulty believing anyone would do that; but to him Israel felt like home and everyone here was his brother.  He also described how his education was different than his children; in France academics are everything.  In Israel it’s more about establishing a sense of people and place (his children go on a lot of field trips) and of independence (in high school they do a number of camping trips so that they’ll be prepared for the army when they’re eighteen.)

Israel is a tiny country; it’s only about 70 Km from Tel-Aviv to Jerusalem.  Michael took us to some vista points around the city.  Almost the entire city has a beige color, the same color as the stones of the ancient city.  Michael and Bill got talking politics and religion, and they had surprisingly similar views.  So we had to go see the new US embassy in Jerusalem.  Bill got his picture taken out front of it.  I think their only significant difference in theological outlook was concerning if the messiah was going to arrive at Armageddon or going to return at Armageddon.

We went to the old city next.  I had been listening to a podcast about European views of the Muslim world.  I learned that some of the earliest translations of the Koran had come from then Muslim Spain, where the Dominican Friars who had put it together could discuss the work with Muslim scholars.  The next translations occurred about a century later out of Paris, and while there was a broader corpus of scholarly works on the Koran available, it was removed from the Muslim world.  The lecturer thought the former was superior.  Jerusalem, and the old city especially, would be the place for a religious scholar as every sect of Judaism, Islam and Christianity was represented there.

The old city is tiny; and, though higher in elevation than Tel-Aviv, much hotter.  As everything is made of stone there you get warmed by the sun and baked by the rocks.  The city is divided in four quarters; the Jewish quarter, the Christian quarter, the Muslim quarter and (to my surprise) the Armenian quarter.  I could tell we had entered the Christian quarter when I saw whole hogs hanging up at the butcher shops.  Michael took us to the church of the Holy Sepulcher and let us wander as he took some calls.  The Catholics and every major division of Orthodoxy maintains a chapel there.  I was expecting the Russian Orthodox chapel to be the most gaudy; but it was surprisingly tasteful with just a few icons.  The Greek Orthodox, on the other hand, took the prize with everything covered in silver leaf.  We didn’t go through the tomb as Bill kept bitching about idolatry.

We couldn’t enter the Muslim quarter due to tensions running high.  Michael explained that, under the most favorable of circumstances, Bill and I might be able to enter the Dome of the Rock and Al-Aqsa mosque; but he could not ever.  He was steamed about this.  We did see the Wailing Wall; I learned that the Wailing Wall is segregated by gender.

The next stop on our journey was Paris.  I was expecting scrutiny leaving the country; but what they do is segregate you into lines based on how Arab you look.  Bill and I sailed though that pre-check without issue.

There were a number of events going on in Paris the week we were there; so we couldn’t stay at the usual hotels by our headquarters in Saint-Ouen.  Instead we had to stay in the Montmartre, near the Moulin Rouge.  Our hotel was one in a chain named after writers, this one was Marcel Aymé.  They even had a green horse head in the breakfast room.

Even though we were right by a Metro station and our headquarters are as well; Bill refused to take the Metro (or “The Tube” as he kept calling it.  He had been stationed in the UK while in the Air Force, so he kept referring to Euros as “Quid” as well.)  This is the strangest thing I’ve encountered in rail; no one ever wants to take the train.  We had to take Ubers to HQ.

Our headquarters are all glass and steel.  You could tell who the foreigners were as every one had a flag of his home country at his desk.  Our big buzzword now is “Inclusivity”; it sort of makes sense now.

We went through a series of meetings with the general contractor for our upcoming project there.  The GC is a Romanian firm and the project is in Africa.  No one seems to know how large this company is or if they are at all capable of doing a project of this scope in Africa.  We’ve hired some of their former employees and even they weren’t sure.

I had adjusted to the time change by this point.  Bill had no problems in Israel, but by this point broke down.  He had stayed up until the wee small hours perfecting the project schedule every night and struggled to make it through the meetings.  This was all theater of the absurd.  This isn’t really Bill’s project, he’s been promoted to management but hasn’t been willing to let go of his former projects.  (He talks about handing it off to the real project manager, but keeps adding caveats as to when.)  The schedule is meaningless, we’re working in the third world where things are going to happen at their own pace, Insha’Allah.  Ruining your health for a meaningless task that’s someone else’s responsibility seemed ridiculous to me; which is why I’ll never be a manager.

I couldn’t talk Bill into going to see Notre Dame; so I took the Metro down after dinner one night.  You can’t get too close, but it made a beautiful ruin in the setting sun.  As I was coming back to the hotel I saw a number of young men transporting a refrigerator.  Two of them were carrying the fridge and one other was slapping one of the carriers.  The slapper was wearing a jacket which read “Obergruppenführer.”

We were then in Chicago earlier this week for a different project (again, not his project, but one that he’s having a hard time letting go of).  I think our time there can be best summarized by the following exchange:

Bill:  I wasn’t that impressed by the food in Chicago.
Savonarola:  Well, what did you expect from Texas Road House?

I think he’s listened to a bit too much Fox News and thinks all of Chicago really is a war zone.  So instead of Gino’s or Superdawg we ended up at the finest dining establishments in Lagrange, Illinois.  Amusingly we were there to meet with an Australian team.  The Australians asked the locals what there was to do in Chicago.

“Well… there’s Millennium Park… oh and they have boat tours on the river.”
In Italy, for thirty years under the Borgias, they had warfare, terror, murder and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci and the Renaissance. In Switzerland, they had brotherly love, they had five hundred years of democracy and peace—and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock

Malthus

  • Blessed by Valmy
  • **************
  • Posts: 20442
Re: Life on the Rails
« Reply #359 on: June 14, 2019, 04:17:41 pm »
What impressed me most about the old city of Jerusalem, when I was there years ago, was the vast variety of weird religious groups I'd never heard of that were represented there - often wearing outlandish ceremonial garb.

I remember walking through a dense throng when suddenly it parted as people hastily got out of the way of a marching line of hawk-faced old bearded gentlemen, each carrying a large black staff which they brought down with a shattering crash on the flagstones in unison at each other step as they grimly marched forward.

I asked a girl who these guys were. She said "oh, those are the People of the Stick" as if I ought to know what that was. To this day, I have no idea who the "People of the Stick" were. I suppose, by the reaction of the crowd, that if you got in the way of their march, they would quickly hit you with their sticks.

Allegedly, there is a mental hospital in Jerusalem that specializes in would-be saviours who show up as tourists - the so-called "Jerusalem Syndrome". I heard at the time that one form of treatment was group therapy (after all, if someone thinks they are Jesus, introduce them to a whole room filled with other people who think they are Jesus!) - now that would be interesting. What if the real one showed up?  :hmm:

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kfar_Shaul_Mental_Health_Center

Quote
The hospital is known in particular for its association with Jerusalem Syndrome, a condition in which the sufferer is gripped by religious delusions. The hospital sees some 50 patients a year who are diagnosed with the condition.[9] Israel psychologist Gregory Katz has said many of the patients are Pentecostals from rural parts of the United States and Scandinavia.[10] The syndrome was first diagnosed in 1993 by Yair Bar-El, a former director of the hospital.[9]
The object of life is not to be on the side of the majority, but to escape finding oneself in the ranks of the insane—Marcus Aurelius