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

TheNZThrower

Active Member
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.
But what if a bunch of armed hijackers or terrorists were to speed the train up to force it to derail at a curve into a bunch of buildings? Won't that be a security concern?
 

Landru

Moderator
Staff member
But what if a bunch of armed hijackers or terrorists were to speed the train up to force it to derail at a curve into a bunch of buildings? Won't that be a security concern?
Automatic Train Control would prevent that.
In Japan, the Automatic Train Control (ATC) system was developed for high-speed trains like the Shinkansen, which travel so fast that the driver has almost no time to acknowledge trackside signals. Although the ATC system sends AF signals carrying information about the speed limit for the specific track section along the track circuit. When these signals are received on board, the train's current speed is compared with the speed limit and the brakes are applied automatically if the train is travelling too fast.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Automatic_train_control?wprov=sfla1
 

CaptainCourgette

Active Member
WRT deathrates here US data from 2000-2009 deaths per billion Miles travelled
Cost should take into consideration death/injuries

Riding a motorcycle 212.57
Driving or passenger in a car or light truck 7.28
Passenger on a local ferry boat 3.17
Passenger on commuter rail and Amtrak 0.43
Passenger on urban mass transit rail (2002-2009) 0.24
Passenger on a bus (holding more than 10 passengers – transit, intercity, school, charter) 0.11
Passenger on commercial aviation 0.07

https://faculty.wcas.northwestern.edu/ipsavage/436-appendix.pdf

note : urban mass transit rail death rate includes those killed by violent acts (stabbing etc), I don't think they include these numbers on bus,planes,cars etc

EDIT:
For Europe its a lot lower, Most deaths there seem to be at crossings (I'm not sure if they are counting the people eg killed in a car that gets hit by a train) and where a carriage runs over someone.

Based on the most recent data, ERA has estimated that the fatality risk for passengers travelling on trains is 0.033 fatalities per billion passenger-kilometres at EU level
https://ec.europa.eu/eurostat/stati...php?title=Railway_safety_statistics_in_the_EU
 
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Landru

Moderator
Staff member
Provided it can't be overridden. I had a conversation with a train driver-in-training, and seem to recall that (on some systems) it can be.
Yeah, you're going to need some evidence to back that up. And don't forget. Most HSR is electric. You can just turn off the power.
 
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TheNZThrower

Active Member
The Cato article mentions that China's car ownership has increased by 19.2% per year, whereas rail ridership has only increased by 6.4% per year. He then infers that an increase in the number of trips by car must also be similar, and hence HSR is not attracting people away from cars:
Information available about China is not as detailed as about Japan or Europe, but automobile ownership in China is growing much more rapidly than rail ridership. In 2005, China had 21.3 million passenger cars. By 2019, this had increased by more than 10 times to 340 million, a growth rate of 19.2 percent per year. By comparison, rail ridership has been growing at only a third of that rate, or 6.4 percent per year. While China still has fewer cars per capita than the United States, it has more total motor vehicles. The rapid growth in auto ownership is likely mirrored by a similar growth in driving, showing that high‐speed trains are not reducing auto driving.
However, he is not only using two disparate metrics for gauging transit use, ownership vs ridership, he is also committing a fallacy of division. He claims that ridership for all rail has increased less per year than car ownership, and then infers the same must apply to HSR specifically. This is not the case as according to Wikipedia, the amount of HSR passengers in China has increased from 61 million per year in 2007 to 2.29 billion per year in 2019:
Screen Shot 2022-08-27 at 7.55.20 pm.png
This means that the increase per year as a percentage once averaged out is about 37%, almost twice as much as cars. This isn't even mentioning that a successful HSR line doesn't need to reduce nationwide car ridership, it just needs to reduce it on the specific route it is available on (e.g. Beijing-Shanghai).

In addition, the article cites no source for their figure on Chinese rail ridership.
 

TheNZThrower

Active Member
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
Can you source where you got the Pkm data for Japan from?
 

Greene

New Member
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.

One doesn't need to wrest control of the vehicle to create a mass casualty event.

If Ayoub El Khazzani has been more competent and/or lucky the 2015 Thalys attack could have been very bloody. That doesn't count the potential damage an explosive device could cause.
 
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Mendel

Senior Member.
One doesn't need to wrest control of the vehicle to create a mass casualty event.

If Ayoub El Khazzani has been more competent and/or lucky the 2015 Thalys attack could have been very bloody. That doesn't count the potential damage an explosive device could cause.
they can just as easily shoot up a busy restaurant, or place a bomb on the tracks. You can't use "security" to prevent attacks, all you'd do is inconvenience all travellers.

(kind of like the effect of copy protection on digital media)
 

TheNZThrower

Active Member
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.
Also, what would your counter be to the argument that ''you can streamline airport security to achieve comparable total travel times to HSR at a fraction of the cost''?
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Also, what would your counter be to the argument that ''you can streamline airport security to achieve comparable total travel times to HSR at a fraction of the cost''?
well, first I would ask for evidence for this claim, specifically that

a) this total travel time reduction is possible in practice, on domestic routes (and for the US, not transcontinental—above a certain length the aircraft wins)—remember luggage!

b) the total cost for society per passenger•km (or passenger•mile) is actually less, door-to-door, and including a way to reckon carbon footprint, tax relief etc., and also including a suggestion on how to move the HSR passenger numbers through airports (currently, they'd be overwhelmed in countries with good HSR)

I've been flying Ryanair recently, and I've never sat this uncomfortably, nor had as little space, on a train, bus, or subway. Unfortunately, trains don't go across water, and ships are slow. (And I've rarely been this much delayed!)

HSR runs on short intervals—typically 1 hour in Germany, less in Japan—, which is possible because it can efficiently bundle passengers from different itineraries along the route, and because (unlike air travel) the overhead for an extra stop along the route is low. This adds to convenience because I can choose when to travel, and incur very little wait time. On many air travel routes, you can count yourself lucky to have one direct flight per day. For a fair comparison, figure a random starting time (say, between 8 am and 2 pm), and then determine how much later you'd arrive, choosing two major cities in Germany (or France, or Japan) as start and destination. The investment that would be necessary for aircraft to beat trains at this game (on average) would be substantial, as would be the environmental damage.
 
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TheNZThrower

Active Member
Going back to the Cato article, it claims that air travel has increased at a faster rate than train travel as proof that HSR won't attract passengers away from alternate modes of transit:
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...

Rail advocates sometimes claim that the opening of high‐speed rail lines has led to a reduction of air service in those corridors... 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.
Looking at 2010-2019 Eurostat data in Pkm on both trains:
Screen Shot 2022-09-10 at 11.20.06 pm.png
and planes within the national borders:
Screen Shot 2022-09-10 at 11.20.22 pm.png
We observe the following:
  • the increase in Pkm for trains vs planes in Germany is around 17,000 vs 43,000, a difference of approx. 250% in favour of air travel
  • the increase for Spain likewise is 6,500 vs 35,000, a difference of approx. 540%
  • the increase for France from 2012 onwards (due to a lack of data) is 5,300 vs 64,000, a difference of 1200%
Now these figures show a much greater growth in air travel than rail travel, but this can't be extrapolated to HSR without committing a fallacy of division. In addition, the conclusion that most of those HSR passengers would have otherwise taken conventional rail over the same routes, as opposed to car or plane, does not follow from his argument.

In addition, the decrease in air travel refers not necessarily to a total decrease, but a decrease compared to the absence of an HSR line.

@Mendel, given that you're much more familiar with European rail than I am, why did air travel grow more than rail travel, and what conclusions can you infer from this fact?
 

CaptainCourgette

Active Member
Its mostly down to price, i.e. The low budget airlines
eg a couple of years ago, I went return barcelona -> malta for 10 euros & return barcelona -> canary islands for 20 euros. Thus 10+ hours in a plane for 30 euros.(*)
The economics can't possibly work, so they must be getting subsidized somehow, I assume my Maltese, Canary governments/regions get tourists in to spend money.

Though I betcha the rail use has grown in germany much more in the last 6 months than flights. Why? pricing, the german government had made train travel much cheaper, they are currently doing the same in Spain.

If we look at the data in Europe high speed rail travel has been growing at a faster rate than plane travel, Its the normal short haul train usage that hasnt changed much over the years
In 2018, air passenger-km in the EU-27 were 140 % higher than in 1995 and 82 % higher compared with 2000
Passenger-km by HSR (the total of domestic and international travel) in the EU-27 has grown by 283 % since 1995 and by 114 % since 2000

https://www.eea.europa.eu/publications/transport-and-environment-report-2020

(*)Though I believe now Ryanair have said they will stop the ultra low budget flights
https://www.bbc.com/news/business-62495846
 

FatPhil

Senior Member.
@Mendel, given that you're much more familiar with European rail than I am, why did air travel grow more than rail travel, and what conclusions can you infer from this fact?

I've noticed a lot of growth in low cost carriers market in Europe over that time, it became quite a competitive market. There's been a fair bit of bailing out since then too, so I presume margins are wafer-thin.
 

TheNZThrower

Active Member
To continue, the Cato article claims that HSR releases more carbon emissions than it saves:
High‐speed rail construction also releases a huge amount of greenhouse gases, particularly for concrete ties, steel rails, and other construction materials. One study predicted that building California’s 520‐mile line would release 9.7 million metric tons of greenhouse gases, or 18,650 tons per mile. Assuming that California’s high‐speed trains would fill, on average, 50 percent of their seats, the study estimated that operating those trains would reduce greenhouse gases but that it would take 71 years to repay the construction cost. Since rails, concrete ties, and other infrastructure must be replaced or rebuilt every 30–40 years—and even more frequently on lines with frequent train service—and since such replacements would require the release of more greenhouse gases, the savings would never make up for the cost.
The study he cites is this 2009 paper from Chester & Horvath, comparing HSR to cars, airplanes, and heavy rail transit (HRT)/conventional rail. They make the following statement:
The energy and GHG payback for the CAHSR investment varies significantly depending on utilization of all competing modes in the corridor. A time until return on investment (ROI) can be determined for construction of the CAHSR system, which we estimate at 9.7 million Mg [Megagram/metric ton] CO2e, roughly 2% of California’s 490 million Mg CO2e emitted in 2004 (CEC 2006). The ranges in potential occupancy levels for each mode can produce scenarios where CAHSR will or will not outperform the other modes. Assuming that autos currently capture 75% of PKT, HRT 1%, and air 24%, the time until ROI is determined (CASYS 2007). Including all non-operational life-cycle components, the energy and GHG emissions ROI ranges from 8 and 6 years to never as shown in table 2. At mid-level occupancy for all modes the ROI is achieved at 28 years for energy and 71 years for GHG emissions. The GHG ROI can be reduced with the purchase of less carbon-intense electricity.
Correct me if I'm wrong, but doesn't this refer to the mid level occupancy (or occupancy at 50%) for all modes including cars? Thus what applies to HSR in this case also applies to cars.

But that aside, a blog responding to Cato called ''Pedestrian Observations'' claims that one of Chester and Horvath's sources made an error in energy conversion:
O’Toole is citing Chester-Horvath’s lifecycle analysis, which is not favorable to California High-Speed Rail’s energy efficiency. The only problem is that this paper’s analysis relies on a unit conversion error between BTUs and kWh, pointed out by Clem Tillier. The paper was eventually corrected, and with the correct figures, high-speed rail looks healthy.
Tillier's post makes the following statement:
The energy consumption figure cited in the Berkeley study and its supplementary data is 170 kilowatt-hours per vehicle kilometer traveled, or kWh/VKT, a measure of how much energy a high-speed train consumes on average when traveling one kilometer. This number is correctly converted by Berkeley from a figure of 924,384 BTU/VMT referenced in the energy chapter of the 2008 CHSRA program-level EIR. That chapter in turn references a peer-review study performed for CHSRA by the German firm DE-Consult in 2000, which evaluated the energy consumption of a hypothetical 16-car trainset with a seating capacity of 1200 and a design speed of 385 km/h (240 mph) and an operating speed of 350 km/h (220 mph), essentially a souped-up German ICE3. The DE-Consult study (unavailable online) contains detailed performance simulations for the proposed California system that give the average energy consumption of such a train as 74.2 kWh/VMT, or 46 kWh/VKT (see copy of Annex 4-11). And therein lies the error: CHSRA’s consultant botched the conversion from kilowatt-hours to British Thermal Units, feeding Berkeley a figure of 170 kWh/VKT instead of 46 kWh/VKT.
But Chester and Horvath cited the 2005 rather than the 2008 CAHSR report:
Screen Shot 2022-09-15 at 8.44.30 pm.pngScreen Shot 2022-09-15 at 8.44.46 pm.png
But the 2005 version (above) still gives similar figures to those of the 2008 version (below):
Screen Shot 2022-09-15 at 8.57.13 pm.pngScreen Shot 2022-09-15 at 8.58.31 pm.png


But that aside, Vandal ignores that it is useless to claim that building and operating HSR would release a lot of GHGs without comparing said increase to the GHG increase of alternatives such as cars or planes.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
But that aside, Vandal ignores that it is useless to claim that building and operating HSR would release a lot of GHGs without comparing said increase to the GHG increase of alternatives such as cars or planes.
Yes.

It feels off that railway construction and maintenance should use more energy than maintaining a highway of comparable capacity. (This works out even better for freight.)

And if you don't operate your trains at 220 mph, but "only" at 160 mph, that saves on operating energy.
 

TheNZThrower

Active Member
Yes.

It feels off that railway construction and maintenance should use more energy than maintaining a highway of comparable capacity. (This works out even better for freight.)

And if you don't operate your trains at 220 mph, but "only" at 160 mph, that saves on operating energy.
Why 160 rather than 220?

Also, I did some conversions on the 924,384 BTU number into kWh. According to RapidTables, 924,384 BTUs is not 170, but 270 kWh. And conversely 170 kWh is 580,064 BTUs. So where was the 170 kWh in the 2005 CAHSR report?
 

TheNZThrower

Active Member
In addition, the Cato article claims that HSR would have a 51% load factor (how many seats are filled in a vehicle) because Amtrak has the same load factor. Therefore HSR would have a worse energy efficiency than advertised, and possibly worse than alternate modes:
Many comparisons of the energy efficiency of high‐speed trains with planes assume both are equally full. But, prior to the pandemic, airlines filled 85 percent of their seats while Amtrak filled only 51 percent of its seats. That’s because most airline flights are nonstop, so the airlines can base the size of the plane on the projected demand for each individual route. Most passenger trains, however, make many intermediate stops, and the trains must be sized to meet the maximum demand along the route. As a result, many trains tend to be relatively empty for much of their journeys, greatly reducing their energy efficiency.
However, this ignores that just because Amtrak has a 51% load factor does not mean that any future HSR line will also have such a load factor unless there is evidence otherwise, which Vandal doesn't provide. It also ignores that the nature of rail travel and intermediate stops means that trains can theoretically carry more passengers along a route (e.g. NY-DC) than their maximum capacity. This means that as new passengers are constantly embarking on intermediate stops even as some disembark, this leads to more passengers transported than the load factor alone suggests. This means that the energy efficiency reductions won't be as bad as the Cato article suggests.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Why 160 rather than 220?
because that cuts the air resistance in half, and because it's a realistic operating speed for HSR in Germany — the ICE4 is designed for a top speed of "only" 165 mph for a reason.

This means that the energy efficiency reductions won't be as bad as the Cato article suggests.
this just means you can't get the person•km efficiency from the seat capacity of the train, necessarily. But we don't do that with cars, either. Once we use the system-wide energy expenditure vs. the actual (pre-pandemic?) transport statistics, you get a valid number no matter how full the trains are.

And adding or removing cars from a train doesn't increase or decrease the energy expenditure in proportion, especially with regenerative braking.
 

TheNZThrower

Active Member
this just means you can't get the person•km efficiency from the seat capacity of the train, necessarily. But we don't do that with cars, either. Once we use the system-wide energy expenditure vs. the actual (pre-pandemic?) transport statistics, you get a valid number no matter how full the trains are.

And adding or removing cars from a train doesn't increase or decrease the energy expenditure in proportion, especially with regenerative braking.
What do you mean? That you can't get the maximum Pkm efficiency of a train at max capacity?

And do you mean that once you compare the energy use of an HSR system in total vs the pre pandemic 51% load factor, that energy efficiency still comes out in favour of HSR vs alternatives?

And what is the energy expenditure in proportion?
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
What do you mean? That you can't get the maximum Pkm efficiency of a train at max capacity?

And do you mean that once you compare the energy use of an HSR system in total vs the pre pandemic 51% load factor, that energy efficiency still comes out in favour of HSR vs alternatives?

And what is the energy expenditure in proportion?
i wasn't aiming that high

basically, my first point was that to take the "vehicle efficiency" for the locomotive and relate that to the number of seats on the train is naive, and I don't think anyone reasonable does it that way? instead we have been relating energy expenditure to person•km, and that calculation is not affected by how full the trains are. Their actual energy efficiency is obviously affected.
 

TheNZThrower

Active Member
i wasn't aiming that high

basically, my first point was that to take the "vehicle efficiency" for the locomotive and relate that to the number of seats on the train is naive, and I don't think anyone reasonable does it that way? instead we have been relating energy expenditure to person•km, and that calculation is not affected by how full the trains are. Their actual energy efficiency is obviously affected.
Is person km the amount of energy consumed by a passenger per kilometre? Or the energy consumed per Pkm?
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Is person km the amount of energy consumed by a passenger per kilometre? Or the energy consumed per Pkm?
no, that's just the sum of all distances all passengers traveled.
(If a train with 320 passengers travels 70 km, that's 320×70=22400 passenger•km.)

you are using this in the table in your OP, I thought you'd recognize it.
 

TheNZThrower

Active Member
no, that's just the sum of all distances all passengers traveled.
(If a train with 320 passengers travels 70 km, that's 320×70=22400 passenger•km.)

you are using this in the table in your OP, I thought you'd recognize it.
So now that I understand, your argument is
  1. you can't gauge the efficiency of the train per Pkm by looking only at the load factor of the train
  2. To do so, you have to look at the energy consumption required to operate the HSR system in total Vs the pre-pandemic transportation statistics (I presume you're referring to load factor in this case)?
But even by this metric, won't increasing Pkm require some increase in load factor of existing trains (if you don't increase the number of trains)?

And how does adding or removing cars not affect energy efficiency in proportion?
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
So now that I understand, your argument is
  1. you can't gauge the efficiency of the train per Pkm by looking only at the load factor of the train
  2. To do so, you have to look at the energy consumption required to operate the HSR system in total Vs the pre-pandemic transportation statistics (I presume you're referring to load factor in this case)?
There are probably other ways to do it, but yes, this seems sensible.
But even by this metric, won't increasing Pkm require some increase in load factor of existing trains (if you don't increase the number of trains)?
They do increase the number of trains.
And how does adding or removing cars not affect energy efficiency in proportion?
If you leave half the cars behind, you'll still need more than half the energy, because a) there might be the same locomotive, b) air resistance depends on cross-section and speed more than on length.

If the load factor goes up, the train becomes more efficient, but it's not supportable to say that trains are inefficient when they're half full on average. (It's also unreasonable to compute efficiency based on 100% utilisation.)
 

TheNZThrower

Active Member
There are probably other ways to do it, but yes, this seems sensible.

They do increase the number of trains.

If you leave half the cars behind, you'll still need more than half the energy, because a) there might be the same locomotive, b) air resistance depends on cross-section and speed more than on length.

If the load factor goes up, the train becomes more efficient, but it's not supportable to say that trains are inefficient when they're half full on average. (It's also unreasonable to compute efficiency based on 100% utilisation.)
Ah, get it now. increasing train numbers can increase capacity to meed demand without affecting load factor much. And for EMUs, the cross section & speed contribute more to the air resistance that increases energy use than the extra cars.

But why is it unreasonable to determine efficiency in relation to 100% capacity?
 

Ann K

Senior Member.
because trains are not 100% full

(neither are cars, btw)
Nor is the percent of capacity that is actually used possible to determine beforehand. Later, yes, because they'll have statistics by then, but it's just "hopeful statistics and talking points" before that.
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Nor is the percent of capacity that is actually used possible to determine beforehand. Later, yes, because they'll have statistics by then, but it's just "hopeful statistics and talking points" before that.
well, we have capacity figures from othed HSR systems in America and all over the world, so for a rough better/worse/about equal comparison the existing numbers should do.
 

CaptainCourgette

Active Member
If you leave half the cars behind, you'll still need more than half the energy, because a) there might be the same locomotive, b) air resistance depends on cross-section and speed more than on length.
Yes a train (after the first engine) is like travelling totally slipstreamed, this is different with cars/trucks where each vehicle has to push against the air in front of it (this may change in future with AI driven cars, zooming along the motorway with 1cm distance between them :D )
Thats air resistance but theres also ground resistance to consider.
Steel on steel (ala a train on tracks) has 20x less friction than a rubber wheel on a road, thats 20 times, not 20%. Massive improvement. Think how narrow train wheels are vs a deforming car wheel, let alone a wider bus/truck wheel.

In short if anyone claims vehicles are more efficient for fuel vs trains then they are talking out their asses. Sure there are cases where this is not true eg a train with a couple of passengers going up a hill but as a general rule of physics it holds
 

Mendel

Senior Member.
Sure there are cases where this is not true eg a train with a couple of passengers going up a hill but as a general rule of physics it holds
trains going up hills are just as efficient, but since they're so efficient going straight, the engines are underpowered for going up hills.

Example:
A Siemens ES64U2 "Taurus" locomotive is rated for 230 km/h (142 mph) and moves HSR in Austria. It is also rated to pull up to 1600 tons of cargo at 160 km/h.
You'd need 40 40-ton trucks with at least 400 HP to move this cargo on the road (more slowly!), that's 40×400=16000 HP. The Taurus only has 10,000 HP, which is like using a 250HP truck to move 40 tons.
Article:
Durch die enorme Kraft von 10.000 Pferdestärken (7.000 kW) bringt der 86 Tonnen schwere Taurus bis zu 230 km/h auf die Schienen. Bei Zulassungsfahrten im vergangenen Monat zwischen den Bahnhöfen Wels und Lambach erreichte der Taurus im Testbetrieb sogar eine Geschwindigkeit von 250 km/h. Durch die im Vergleich zu anderen Lokomotiven einzigartige Kombination von Kraft und Hochgeschwindigkeit zieht der Taurus Güterzüge mit einem Gewicht von 1.600 Tonnen mit 160 km/h und ermöglicht somit wesentlich schnellere Cargoverbindungen mit höheren Beförderungsmengen.
 
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