Claim: Declining rail mode share in Japan proves high-speed rail is impractical

TheNZThrower

Active Member
According to a Cato Institute post by Randal O'Toole, the fact that the nationwide mode share of rail transport has declined over time is somehow evidence of High-Speed Rail being impractical:
When Japan opened its first high‐speed rail line in 1964, nearly 70 percent of passenger travel was by rail and only 12 percent by automobile. Although Japan’s lines are considered highly successful, today only 25 percent of passenger travel is by rail and nearly 70 percent by auto.
He cites this mode share table that's claimed to be from the Japanese Ministry of Transport, which shows the transport modal share for rail decreasing from 1950.
Screen Shot 2022-07-12 at 1.43.19 pm.png
However, I have a few reasons why I think this data is presented in a misleading manner:
  • There is no methodology outlined for the data, nor any links to the original source
  • This could be referring to nationwide modal share
    • Which means that if this were true, this would include routes where passenger rail routes don't exist, as well as routes of all distances
      • This means that this includes routes over distances where High-Speed Rail would be impractical, or non-existent
As I'm not an expert in transport or statistics, it would be greatly appreciated if anyone can chime in on this.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
The first table shows that the absolute number of passenger•km is not declining, suggesting that the rail network is operating near its capacity limit.

4 new lines are being constructed to go into service within the next 8 years.

If you were to abolish the rail network, this transport capacity would need to move to air (5-fold increase, clearly impossible) or road (50% increase), leading to overwhelming congestion.

I suspect that, as elsewhere, the expansion of passenger travel by road and air is a consequence of politics investing in these modes of transport, more than it invests in rail.

For comparison: passenger numbers in German high-speed rail (ICE):
Article:
162877-blank-355.png
 

CaptainCourgette

Active Member
The first table shows that the absolute number of passenger•km is not declining, suggesting that the rail network is operating near its capacity limit.
Yes I suspect thats it, We've all seen the videos of the super crowded japanese trains, where they actually employ people to push people into the trains, here in barcelona its only crowded like this a couple of times a year, and even then, no where near that scale.
Mate when you're pushing people into trains how can you increase the number of people going in?

Also I see the data from 2019 it was 435 billion passenger km so 4x what the share was in 1950, 2020 it dropped to 263 billion km no doubt, because of covid

Im sure the average size of a japanese person has greatly increased from 1950 as well, so each carriage can accommodate less people than it once did
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
According to a Cato Institute post by Randal O'Toole, the fact that the nationwide mode share of rail transport has declined over time is somehow evidence of High-Speed Rail being impractical:

is that actually what he is claiming?

bold added for emphasis and context.
Article:
.

6.It Won’t Get Many People Out of Cars or Planes
The most heavily used high-speed rail lines in the world, including those in China, Europe, and Japan, gained their riders from conventional trains, not from autos or airplanes. The United States doesn’t have enough conventional train riders for high-speed rail lines to succeed.

When Japan opened its first high-speed rail line in 1964, nearly 70 percent of passenger travel was by rail and only 12 percent by automobile. Although Japan’s lines are considered highly successful, today only 25 percent of passenger travel is by rail and nearly 70 percent by auto.46

The three European countries with the most high-speed rail lines are France, which opened its first high-speed rail line in 1981; Germany, which opened its first in 1991; and Spain, which opened its first in 1992. Since then, all three have built many lines, with Spain’s system extending the most miles. Yet, as shown in Figure 1, none have seen rail reduce automobile or airline travel. At most, money-losing high-speed rail lines reduced the market share of profitable bus lines.

1657624416865.png
Rail advocates sometimes claim that the opening of high-speed rail lines has led to a reduction of air service in those corridors, as if the replacement of profitable airlines with unprofitable trains is to be applauded. But the reality is that air travel in Europe has massively increased thanks to the introduction and expansion of low-cost air carriers. While data sources are inconsistent for earlier years, between 2010 and 2019, air travel grew 260 percent faster than rail travel in France, 63 percent faster in Germany, and 56 percent faster in Spain.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Article:
.
The United States doesn’t have enough conventional train riders for high-speed rail lines to succeed.

[...] money-losing high-speed rail lines reduced the market share of profitable bus lines.[...]

[...] the replacement of profitable airlines with unprofitable trains is to be applauded [...]
Amtrak operates the Acela as the USA's only high-speed rail in the "Northeast corridor". It's highly profitable.
Article:
In fiscal 2019, Amtrak only lost $29 million on operations, and the budget estimates submitted to Congress in March 2020 predicted a break-even that year, followed by small but steady operating profits through 2025. The very profitable Acela service and the less profitable regional service between D.C. and Boston had finally pulled in enough operating revenues to pay for the losses of the long-distance trains, as was originally envisioned back in 1970. By 2023, the unified operating profit would reach $35 million, and that would double two years later.
Amtrak-ridership-forecasts-FY21-vs-FY23.png
Amtrak-service-lines-FY22-27.png


If airlines are so profitable, why do airlines regularly go bankrupt?

As for long-distance buses that high-speed rail is competing with:
Article:
Greyhound Canada shutting down all bus service permanently

Anthony Perl, a professor of urban studies at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, B.C., says the news did not come as a surprise, since the company's business model has been on a slow decline.

Financial challenges

"They're a for-profit company and they've proven after trying for decades that you can't make a profit trying these routes with relatively small populations," he said in an interview.
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
Generally, the idea that public transport ought to be profitable is misguided.
Car travel is not profitable either, every time I move my car I'm losing money, and the road infrastructure is mostly funded by taxes. It's a loss all around.

Public transport achieves several goals, most of which become clear when you consider the alternative of moving equivalent traffic by road. The most obvious impact is pollution and emissions (and indirectly, health), rail is the second most efficient mode of transportation, next to shipping. But it's also obvious that road travel into urban areas can't be expanded infinitely due to lack of space. (The social, conomic and ecological implications of many US cities designed for cars and "sprawl", as opposed to "walkable cities", is a larger discussion.)
Germany is offering a low-price flat-rate for commuter rail this summer, and that has significantly reduced road congestion in several urban areas. Offering cheap public transport makes road travel cost less, too!

Looking to profits alone when thinking about public transport neglects its other benefits that affect everyone.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Article:
Passenger and freight rail receive $66 billion in the infrastructure bill the Senate passed last week. But the details are still up for negotiations in the House before the bill hits Biden's desk.

Regardless, any number close to $66 billion will be a large infusion of cash for an industry that's watched its competitors — road and air travel — receive overwhelmingly more government aid. Rather than compete on a level playing field with other transportation modes, American passenger rail has had to fight off attempts from multiple presidents to slash its funding.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
As for long-distance buses that high-speed rail is competing with:
that's cherry picking as the OP article is about America.

but i'm not going to argue with you (because i dont want to vs all your comments are fact) about transportation issues in America. ..which is a big ass country. My liberal state (Northeast corridor) has so far rejected high speed rail federal offers, but my state isnt California or DC.

I only questioned if NZ accurately paraphrased the alleged claim. NZ likes to paraphrase his OP claims, instead of quoting a specific claim.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
I will though note that in my area where people take the train into NYC/Manhattan, i've never heard a complaint about time. They seem to enjoy the commute because they can read or decompress on way home before having to deal with the kids :) so in my area a nonstop from Manhattan to Boston might help with pollution and contrails vs planes, but i agree NY to Connecticut high speed rail isn't super necessary. I dont know how people in LA (los angeles) feel or where they are going to from LA.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
that's cherry picking as the OP article is about America
was actually the opposite as it was one of the top hits of my searches on the profitability of long-distance buses

but it's the same in the US as in Canada
Article:
Despite this, the parent considers margins too thin to retain the Greyhound unit. Operating profits dropped from $32.8 million in 2018 to $14.2 million this fiscal year, which ended in March 2019. Revenues fell 7%, in part due to wholesale service elimination in western Canada.2 The operating margin fell from 3.6% to 1.7%.

Article:
Oct 21 (Reuters) - British transport company FirstGroup (FGP.L) has sold its U.S. intercity coach network, Greyhound, to Germany's FlixMobility after more than two years of trying to offload the iconic brand.


Article:
Based on the most models developed, less than 1 percent of all routes studied were found to cover their fully allocated costs (i.e., generate a profit).
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
I will though note that in my area where people take the train into NYC/Manhattan, i've never heard a complaint about time. They seem to enjoy the commute because they can read or decompress on way home before having to deal with the kids :) so in my area a nonstop from Manhattan to Boston might help with pollution and contrails vs planes, but i agree NY to Connecticut high speed rail isn't super necessary. I dont know how people in LA (los angeles) feel or where they are going to from LA.
A comment on the Japanese high-speed rail said its main effect was to tie urban centers closer together.

NYC to Boston is less than 200 miles, a dedicated high-speed train could cover this in under 2 hours, given proper infrastructure. A company headquartered in Manhattan that wants to expand would get a choice of locating in NYC (expensive) or in Boston (cheaper, lower salaries) as the branches are now tied closely together by the fast train. A NYC executive could spend 1 day per week in Boston, being productive on the train (1st class compartment with wifi), having 4-6 hours in Boston, and be back home the same day, reliably.

If you had a fast rail tying Manhattan to Stamford, Bridgeport, New Haven, maybe Hartford and Springfield/MA, you could divert NYC growth to cheaper Connecticut, win/win for all concerned.
 
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Ann K

Senior Member.
Any mass-transit method that goes to a city must be backed up by further transportation options when you get there. Nobody wants to have to ride to town and then spend more time to find a cab or bus or walk for blocks unless driving (or parking) is simply not an option. I don't know what options are available at the terminus of the high speed rail in Japan, but I don't think you can consider the success of one without examining the other. Few American cities are equipped to provide ample ground options.

Or ... Perhaps the decline in rail traffic is a measure of financial success in Japan, if it reflects much greater auto ownership.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Or ... Perhaps the decline in rail traffic is a measure of financial success in Japan, if it reflects much greater auto ownership.
no decline in rail traffic, increase in car traffic is shifting the proportion.
Increase in car traffic is usually the result of investment in roads
(which may be a result of auto makers lobbying)
 

TheNZThrower

Active Member
The first table shows that the absolute number of passenger•km is not declining, suggesting that the rail network is operating near its capacity limit.

4 new lines are being constructed to go into service within the next 8 years.

If you were to abolish the rail network, this transport capacity would need to move to air (5-fold increase, clearly impossible) or road (50% increase), leading to overwhelming congestion.

I suspect that, as elsewhere, the expansion of passenger travel by road and air is a consequence of politics investing in these modes of transport, more than it invests in rail.

For comparison: passenger numbers in German high-speed rail (ICE):
Article:
162877-blank-355.png
The original data also does not distinguish between HSR and conventional rail. Such a distinction is vital for a comparison between HSR and its closest competitor, air travel.

As most train trips in Japan occur very frequently within heavily urbanised areas, and as most of Japan's population lives within those areas, yet still auto travel dominates mode share. I don't understand why given those assumptions.
 

TheNZThrower

Active Member
To add more context, the Cato article was trying to prove that HSR won't attract many passengers away from car & air travel, and hence reduce the number of people travelling by car or airplane and increase the number travelling by HSR, as most passengers that flock to HSR do so from conventional rail according to the article:

6. It Won’t Get Many People Out of Cars or Planes​

The most heavily used high‐speed rail lines in the world, including those in China, Europe, and Japan, gained their riders from conventional trains, not from autos or airplanes. The United States doesn’t have enough conventional train riders for high‐speed rail lines to succeed

The data on transportation mode share from Japan was made within this context.

Now of course my main objection is that as the Japanese data includes all road and air routes as it is based on total nationwide passenger kilometres [Pkm], it also will inevitably include Pkm over routes where a direct high speed or conventional rail route is nonexistent or inconvenient. Hence a more appropriate comparison would be the mode share of HSR over time on a specific route where a direct HSR connection exists compared to airplanes or cars, as HSR can't exactly attract people away from cars or airplanes where it doesn't exist. The same applies to all conventional rail routes too. In addition, this does not provide any proof that most of HSR passengers come from conventional rail.

To play devil's advocate: If there exists enough inconvenient routes to cause car travel to be dominant in terms of mode share by Pkm, then what does this say about the efficiency and rail travel?
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
To play devil's advocate: If there exists enough inconvenient routes to cause car travel to be dominant in terms of mode share by Pkm, then what does this say about the efficiency and rail travel?
I think this is actually about access to speedy & frequently scheduled public transport.

And obviously much of the car travel is short distance, too, and doesn't compete with HSR as defined.
 

TheNZThrower

Active Member
I was able to find information from the Statistics Bureau of Japan on transport mode share. As of 2009, rail accounted for 71% of passenger transport, with approx. 14% of the rest being by air and approx. 15% being by road. The 2019 numbers are similar.
Screen Shot 2022-07-13 at 8.25.07 pm.png
However, the motor vehicle data appears to mostly be composed of buses and taxis rather than private cars:
Screen Shot 2022-07-13 at 8.25.16 pm.png
This means we have to add data on private cars from elsewhere. I was able to find data on Passenger Kilometres by automobile from the Ministry of Transport, and it lists it in the following measurements in Japanese:
旅客輸送量(人員・人キロ・能力人キロ・実車キロ)
The first term translates roughly to passenger, which means total passengers travelling by car in this context. The second measurement translates literally as person kilometre, but more accurately as passenger kilometre. The third one translates literally as ability/capability/capacity passenger kilometre. It is the third one which has the largest figure, at 262 billion passenger kilometres in 2019. This is still less Pkm than all rail travel combined, and even with this figure added on top of the total Pkm of all transport in Japan in 2019 (totalling 860 billion Pkm), it still only makes up 30% of all transport in terms of Pkm. Even by this new figure, the total amount of Pkm from rail transport makes up 50% of all Pkm. Here is the table in question:
Screen Shot 2022-07-13 at 9.01.22 pm.png
The data is even worse if you were to take the number of passenger cars into account, as they appear to make up an even tinier fraction of the total road transport.

Now I may have screwed up in my data acquisition, so if anyone spots any errors I've made, notify me.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
The data is even worse if you were to take the number of passenger cars into account, as they appear to make up an even tinier fraction of the total road transport.
i could be wrong but it doesnt seem your charts indicate me driving my car to work. it seems more like it is looking at vehicles that transport passengers "as cargo". like taxis, hired cars, limos, buses, ferries? etc. ie. something you pay to ride.

which.. in say los angeles is fine, taxis (if they are used alot there for long distance) and buses and limos would add to traffic congestion.

our Metro North line stops so often i doubt HSR would make much difference. a bit i'd guess but if the train costs 5 million to save people 10 minutes of travel..is it worth it? i don't know.

bb4944ceede52855d6b26b46ae45eeb4 (1).png

Finally, the cost of HSR is outrageous. Current estimates for California's HSR system come in at $80 billion for 520 miles, or $154 million per mile. Amtrak estimates that it would cost $500 million per mile to turn its Northeast Corridor route into a true high-speed system.Apr 15, 2021
Content from External Source
https://www.forbes.com/sites/adammi...s-high-speed-rail-to-nowhere/?sh=39792275108c

500 million per mile? that doesnt sound possible.
 

TheNZThrower

Active Member
I think this is actually about access to speedy & frequently scheduled public transport.

And obviously much of the car travel is short distance, too, and doesn't compete with HSR as defined.
So as in the number of car Pkm from the Cato article is explained by people using them in areas of Japan that don't have connections to public transit that are as speedy and frequent as those in urban cores like Tokyo or Osaka?

And I think the point the Cato article was trying to make regarding HSR cannibalising conventional rail mode share is that if HSR does a good job of attracting customers away from air and car travel, then the percentage of mode share for air and car travel, and the total Pkm for both modes should decrease over time. As they have both increased over time in both mode share and total Pkm, it must follow that HSR isn't getting many people away from air and car travel, therefore it only leaves one more option for where significant numbers of passengers can be won over to HSR, and that is conventional rail. This also presumes that HSR mode share has increased in % despite making up a small fraction of total mode share like air travel.

However, this doesn't necessarily follow as it could be the case that while HSR has taken on most of its passengers from car and air travel over the routes that have HSR (e.g. Tokyo-Osaka) with only a relatively tiny percentage of total passengers being won over from conventional rail over the same distance, it just as well could be the case that this is counteracted by increases in car and air travel over other routes where HSR is nonexistent. As in without HSR, it would have caused air travel and car travel to increase in mode share and Pkm even more than with HSR.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
500 million per mile? that doesnt sound possible.
you have to buy the land (expensive in urban areas)

you need to flatten the land, build bridges/dams/terrain incisions/tunnels for the tracks, do environmental compensation. (the faster you want the train to travel, the straighter the tracks must run, and the more expensive it gets.)

you need to build a bridge for every road crossing the tracks

you need to build stations, control infrastructure, electrical power infrastructure, and service buildings

you need to buy rolling stock

best case: Tokyo-Osaka is 300 miles, 170 million passengers per year, if you think 20 years, they have 3.4 billion passengers per mile, if it hypothetically cost them $500 million/mile to build, that's $0.14 per passenger per mile. That's obviously hard to recoup. California is spending much less, and also the investment in rail should be somewhat offset in savings in road capacity building. And you simply can't build another LAX airport.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
As in without HSR, it would have caused air travel and car travel to increase in mode share and Pkm even more than with HSR.
Often, existing rail lines are replaced with HSR, and obviously, initially you simply "inherit" the old ridership on the new line; the question is, what comes next?

When you widen a freeway, it takes a while for traffic patterns to adapt to the new capacity. Obviously, that works much more slowly with rail, but the theory is that HSR helps drive passenger numbers up (see the Amtrak graph above) when they would be in decline if you didn't invest in rail.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
our Metro North line stops so often i doubt HSR would make much difference. a bit i'd guess but if the train costs 5 million to save people 10 minutes of travel..is it worth it? i don't know.
if your passenger train is sandwiched between two freight trains, it can't speed up much; it's hard to even run an "express train" that foregoes a number of stops.

That's why true HSR needs its own set of tracks and has far fewer stops.Running a fast train parallel to that metro route, and connecting the smaller stops to the HSr stops with the existing infrastructure, drastically cuts travel time for commuters living farther away, and widens the area NYC can get workers from.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
best case: Tokyo-Osaka is 300 miles, 170 million passengers per year, if you think 20 years, they have 3.4 billion passengers per mile, if it hypothetically cost them $500 million/mile to build, that's $0.14 per passenger per mile.
well plus maintenance over 20 years. that's what buggers Metro North the most, snow on tracks, trimming, replacing rails etc.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Finally, the cost of HSR is outrageous. Current estimates for California's HSR system come in at $80 billion for 520 miles, or $154 million per mile. Content from External Source https://www.forbes.com/sites/adammi...s-high-speed-rail-to-nowhere/?sh=39792275108c
Generally, just throwing a big number out there is an argument on the same level as saying "if Earth is a globe, we're moving at 1000 mph, can you believe that?" Responsible information should compare the $80 billion cost with the expected benefits for the state, as the politicians deciding this project surely have done.

Article:
fig1-libor.jpg
 
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deirdre

Senior Member.
Running a fast train parallel to that metro route, and connecting the smaller stops to the HSr stops with the existing infrastructure, drastically cuts travel time for commuters living farther away, and widens the area NYC can get workers from.
yea, in my area anyway i can see hsr as a total replacement for planes. as it might cut down on pollution. and you can detach cars, most of the planes that fly like Boston to NY are only half full most of the time. it's such a waste.

(on the other hand i dont want to travel 200 miles an hour on a track, so i'd still risk the plane). I like regular trains, but unfortunately their cost is crazy so i still almost always drive unless i'm planning to get completely drunk (going clubb
bing). If i worked daily in Manhattan i'd almost have to take the train as parking is so limited now in Manhattan during the day.
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
Sure. What's cheaper to maintain, a freeway or a set of tracks?
a freeway?

but california's deal looks more like a plane replacement. which is fine for hsr, imo. i'm not sure i'd care if it's cost effective..if youre too congested around airports you really dont have any other choice.
all_projects_thumb.jpg
Article:
While Phase 1 of the high-speed rail system refers to the 520 mile San Francisco/Merced to Los Angeles/Anaheim section of the program approved by California voters in Proposition 1A in 2008,
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
i can see hsr as a total replacement for planes. as it might cut down on pollution
it will cut down pollution. aircraft emit exhaust gases up high where their greenhouse effect is magnified, compared to emissions near the surface.

it's also hard to imagine air travel without fossil fuels
 

deirdre

Senior Member.
it's also hard to imagine air travel without fossil fuels
to be honest it's also hard for me to imagine electric HSRs. at least anytime in the near future. we have electric shortage issues now, and only a fraction of people drive electric cars. but that's California's problem...i'm pro-republic. CA can do what they want, the voters voted yes so...mozel tov.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
to be honest it's also hard for me to imagine electric HSRs. at least anytime in the near future. we have electric shortage issues now
Railways operate their own power infrastructure, they don't use the public grid.

Some electric HSRs (Japan, France, Germany):
SmartSelect_20220713-212158_Samsung Internet.jpg
Cd41-0015g.png
20180614010149-2109ec05.jpg
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
500 million per mile? that doesnt sound possible.
EU:
High-speed rail infrastructure is expensive, and is becoming more so: on average, the lines we audited cost 25 million euro per km (not taking into account the more expensive tunnelling projects). The costs involved could in fact have been far lower, with little or no impact on operations. This is because very high-speed lines are not needed everywhere they have been built.
Content from External Source
-- https://op.europa.eu/webpub/eca/special-reports/high-speed-rail-19-2018/en/

China and comparison:
China’s high speed rail with a maximum speed of 350 km/h has a typical infrastructure unit cost of about US$ 17-21m per km, with a high ratio of viaducts and tunnels, as compared with US$25-39 m per km in Europe and as high as US$ 56m per km currently estimated in California.
Content from External Source
-- https://www.worldbank.org/en/news/p...china-one-third-lower-than-in-other-countries

UK:
"At £307m per mile of track, can the cost of HS2 be justified?" -- https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news...ile-of-track-can-the-cost-of-hs2-be-justified (HS2 being a notorious one for cherry picking in costs arguments)

I can only presume that costs up near $500/mm (ain't metric great!) assume a green field project, no infra, no nothing, rather than just replacing an old set of lines with some higher spec ones on the same property. I'm pretty sure HS2 involved a lot of compulsory purchase orders.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
EU:
High-speed rail infrastructure is expensive, and is becoming more so: on average, the lines we audited cost 25 million euro per km (not taking into account the more expensive tunnelling projects). The costs involved could in fact have been far lower, with little or no impact on operations. This is because very high-speed lines are not needed everywhere they have been built. Content from External Source -- https://op.europa.eu/webpub/eca/special-reports/high-speed-rail-19-2018/en/
The project-related expenditure we audited covered 2 100 km of different types of high-speed rail infrastructure (trackbeds, tunnels, viaducts and overpasses).
Content from External Source
I think if you investigate freeway construction under the same terms, costs are not that far different.

I understand that the main criticism of the auditors is that high-speed tracks are not presently utilized at their full design speed; I'd like to see a rebuttal of that point.
 

TheNZThrower

Active Member
The Cato article then tries to rebut a common argument in favour of HSR, namely that the faster overall journey times (once you factor in check in, airport security etc...) only matters if there are jobs near the destination, and it so happens that there are more jobs near all airports in or near LA than in the LA Downtown, where the LA Union Station is located:
Rail advocates argue that rail downtown‐to‐downtown times are competitive with planes, but this is only important where there are lots of downtown jobs. New York has 1.9 million jobs near Penn Station, and Washington, DC, has more than 400,000 jobs near Union Station, so this argument may be valid in this corridor. But the jobs in most other American cities are far more dispersed, with an average of 8 percent of urban jobs located in central city downtowns, where many train stations would be located. Many major cities are also served by multiple airports, and when all the jobs and residences near those airports are counted, they can greatly outnumber those located in or near downtown. The areas around the Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Burbank airports, for example, have twice as many jobs as downtown Los Angeles.
The Cato article gets its data from the 2014 edition of demographia, and includes the combined jobs from Downtown Long Beach (30,050 jobs) which is 3 miles from Long Beach airport, Burbank-Van Nuys airport corridor (103,555 jobs), and LA Airport-El Segundo (135,405 jobs), which add up to 269,010 jobs. It then compares it to the jobs in Downtown LA, which number 136,585 jobs, which amount to 132,425 less jobs. It then assumes that anyone travelling into LA from another city within HSR service distance for work doesn't fit a specific job profile and would simply accept working for any type of job within the area regardless of its nature. And from this he concludes that therefore as there are more jobs around airports than the CBD, where the HSR station presumably would be, it follows that air travel does a better job at ferrying people from outer cities near LA into the city itself for their jobs.

However, as business travellers tend to take on a specific kind of job rather than just any old job, it is up to the article to prove that the jobs near the airports in and around LA are of the type that suit business travellers. Because I'm pretty sure that the job distribution in Downtown would be different from the airport. In addition, the Burbank-Van Nuys corridor includes the area around the general aviation Van Nuys Airport, which doesn't serve any passengers.

In addition, he ignores that if he includes Long Beach airport, then he would also have to include jobs in the areas within 3 miles of the LA Union Station.
Screen Shot 2022-07-17 at 11.15.38 am.png
As you can tell from this map outlining Downtown LA, more than just downtown is within 3 miles (4.8km) of Union Station, and hence all of that area surrounding Union Station, especially where transit links are present, should have their job count included.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
HSR is often connected to airports, e.g. Frankfurt (FRA), 4th largest passenger airport in Europe, is also an ICE stop. Schiphol has a train station in the basement as well: "Many cities in the Netherlands offer direct connections to Schiphol. You can travel to Schiphol from Amsterdam, Utrecht, Leiden, The Hague, Delft and Rotterdam 24/7, often without changing trains." ( https://www.schiphol.nl/en/page/by-train-to-schiphol/ )

California is no different:
Article:
2022_Draft_Business_Plan-25-791x1024.jpg

We notice 5 HSR stops in L.A.: Burbank, downtown, Norwalk, Fullerton, and Anaheim. Yet the Cato article only considers one of these:
The Cato article gets its data from the 2014 edition of demographia, and includes the combined jobs from Downtown Long Beach (30,050 jobs) which is 3 miles from Long Beach airport, Burbank-Van Nuys airport corridor (103,555 jobs), and LA Airport-El Segundo (135,405 jobs), which add up to 269,010 jobs. It then compares it to the jobs in Downtown LA, which number 136,585 jobs, which amount to 132,425 less jobs.
Simply considering Burbank reduces the deficit to less than 30000 jobs, and the 3 additional HSR stops should give HSR the advantage easily.

Generally, it feels arbitrary to choose a 3-mile zone; it negates another advantage of central rail stations: they're typically a nexus of a city's public transport network. The area of LA you could reach by public transport from Union Station in half an hour is considerably larger than what you could reach from LAX (and includes LAX); the airport has the disadvantage of being on the periphery.
 

TheNZThrower

Active Member
The author of the Cato article, Randal O'Toole also had this to say about the profitability of various Shinkansen lines:
To help finance the first shinkansen, now known as the Tokaido Shinkansen, JNR borrowed $80 million from the World Bank in 1961 and proudly finished paying off this loan in 1982. Based on this, it is popularly believed that the Tokaido line paid for all of its capital costs. But did it?

The 320-mile line was originally projected to cost ¥200 billion, but it ended up costing nearly twice that, or about $17 billion in today’s money. That cost was lower than it might have been because in 1940 JNR had purchased the right-of-way, dug some of the tunnels, and graded some of the route in an effort to build a high-speed line. The $80 million World Bank loan represented less than 9 percent of the total cost, with the rest coming from bond sales and loans from the Japanese government, particularly through the country’s postal banking system.

While the line carried lots of passengers, it isn’t clear how JNR could have repaid all of these loans as 1963 was the last year in history that it earned a profit. By 1972, it was losing (in today’s money) more than ¥10 billion (roughly $100 million) a year. To counter these losses, JNR repeatedly increased its passenger fares, which only accelerated the shift from rail to automobile travel.
However, what Randal ignores is that JNR has been privatised since 1987, with the Tokaido Shinkansen being operated by JR Central. He doesn't factor JR Central's overall profitability into the equation. In addition, it could as well be the case that though the Tokaido Shinkansen is profitable enough to pay off itself by 1987, other loss-making lines operated by JNR could just as well negate any profit the Tokaido Shinkansen brought.

He also has this to say about the Joetsu Shinkansen:
the prestige of the Tokaido Shinkansen led politicians in the rest of the country to demand that JNR build shinkansen lines into their prefectures and most of these lines failed to cover their operating costs, much less their capital costs.

Particularly notorious was the Joetsu Shinkansen, which terminates in the city of Niigata on Japan’s northern coast. Being built through mountainous territory, the line cost far more to build than the Tokaido line but carries only one-quarter as many passengers. Built at the behest of Kakuei Tanaka, a member of the Japanese Diet, the line terminates in Niigata, Tanaka’s hometown, whose metropolitan area has only around a million residents. Tanaka was prime minister of Japan for two-and-a-half years before being forced to resign in disgrace and tried and convicted for corruption, accepting bribes, and directing government construction contracts into his prefecture.

Most of his information appears to have come from this paper by Roderick Smith he linked.
 
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TheNZThrower

Active Member
Going back to the Cato article, it claims that equalising airport security would be a cheaper way of conveying the advantages of HSR's reduced total travel time:
The biggest factor slowing down air travel is the time required to get through airport security. Yet, security systems can be streamlined for a lot less than it would cost to build high‐speed rail. For a modest fee, for example, the Transportation Security Administration’s PreCheck program allows frequent travelers to swiftly bypass many security steps.

If high‐speed rail ever became a significant mode of travel, it also would require security systems. Wait times to pass through security to ride the Eurostar from London to Paris, for example, can sometimes be 30 minutes or more.
The first issue with the claim is that HSR security will always be faster and less cumbersome than airport security even if we took the PreCheck style of security and implemented it in all airports. To give one example, when you ride on the Shinkansen, there are no security checks (e.g. X-ray machines) to go through (though correct me if I'm wrong):

This means that when the Cato article cites the Eurostar's security check in times without comparing them with airport security check in times, they're cherry picking the worst case scenario for HSR security times while not comparing it to airport security times. Even then, the 30 minute time frame given were not the time taken for security checks on the Eurostar, but the time before departure where the gates are closed to further passengers. The Eurostar has the gate closure times it has because it's an international trip, and one that goes outside the free-travel Schengen Area of Europe. For domestic HSR, and HSR within the Schengen Area, no such gate closure times are present. The TGV closes its gates 2 minute before departure:
To have plenty of time to find your car, your seat, to store your suitcases etc... we advise you to arrive 20 minutes before departure.
Access to the train is guaranteed up to 2 minutes before departure, so avoid arriving at the very last minute!
And if we look at the German ICE, there are no security checks at all:
There are no check-in or customs procedures prior to boarding ICE trains. However, ticket control and ID checks occur once onboard if you are travelling internationally.
But let's say we do equalise airport security and HSR security. Would this mean HSR would lose its advantage in terms of total travel time vs air travel on short haul distances? Not really, as there are still many more factors that add to the total travel time via air travel (e.g. travel time from airport, check in, boarding, taxiing, loading luggage, finding luggage etc...) that haven't been equalised.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
But let's say we do equalise airport security and HSR security.
This is impossible. HSR has no security because it is impossible to crash a train into a skyscraper, and it's usually possible to stop a passenger train from outside.

This level of security (none) can't be extended to aircraft any more.
 

TheNZThrower

Active Member
The first table shows that the absolute number of passenger•km is not declining, suggesting that the rail network is operating near its capacity limit.

4 new lines are being constructed to go into service within the next 8 years.

If you were to abolish the rail network, this transport capacity would need to move to air (5-fold increase, clearly impossible) or road (50% increase), leading to overwhelming congestion.

I suspect that, as elsewhere, the expansion of passenger travel by road and air is a consequence of politics investing in these modes of transport, more than it invests in rail.

For comparison: passenger numbers in German high-speed rail (ICE):
Article:
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Something else I've noticed about the Japanese figures is that as they're in Passenger Km, they do not correlate with the total number of trips taken per mode of transit. The Cato article used the term ''percentage of passenger travel'' to refer to the percentage mode share of Pkm per transit type, which can connote the number of trips taken per its vagueness. However, it could be the case that the number of trips taken by car vs train are roughly equal, but that the former could be used more frequently to travel larger distances than the latter.

Just some statistical manipulation to point out.
 
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