Tuesday, January 7, 2014

HSIPR or HSR for Short

I suppose we should start using the more technical name of High Speed Intercity Passenger Rail (HSIPR) rather than the more conventional HSR for High Speed Rail, as this is about to get serious.  But forget the semantics because in a twitter world characters are at a premium (unlike parking spaces downtown).  It's also worth checking out the full Mattingly study which has a number of interesting points about HSR's ability to capture percentages of air travel (85-90% if HSR can achieve the link in under 2 hours, 50-80% for up to 3.5 hours).

The primary purpose of the study was to examine the suitability of existing highway corridors for the geometries and right-of-way availability to bring HSR along side (or even in some cases over the top of) the highway corridor.  This makes a lot of sense.  For one, TxDOT wants to avoid the mess that the Trans-Texas Corridor caused in terms of right-of-way acquisition (as well as its myriad of other issues).  Also, as I've said a million times rail creates disconnections except at its station areas or termini.  It creates edges and border vacuums just like a highway, so might as well pair the edge-makers up together (like highways and floodplains -- see: downtown Denver).

There are also recommended criteria for selecting station areas.  One stipulation was approximately 20 acres for a downtown station.  I have just the place:

Since there's no need for 345 anymore.  Wink wink. Nudge nudge.  Amirite?

Actually this location does solve a number of problems (assuming 345 goes bye bye).  It utilizes the examined 45 right-of-way to steer the trains into downtown, there is redevelopable area nearby, it avoids the border vacuum problem by not bringing the rail deeper into downtown, in all likelihood the D2 link will be somewhere near this vicinity, linking HSR to the broader train network, and it doesn't disturb the Elm/Main/Commerce trio.

Just a quick thought as I sifted through the Mattingly study, found here.  Thanks to Owen Wilson-Chavez who linked to the study, to which he contributed, via twitter.

Let me add (if I have never put it in print before) that the Texas triangle is just about perfect for high speed rail, given the distances allowing for sustained top speed, but not so long that air travel begins to make more sense.  Aus-Dal-Hou is almost identical in scale to the Madrid-Barcelona-Valencia triangle that I had the pleasure to train around two years ago.  Each about two hours in duration and far more comfortable than on a plane, let alone the minimal security, wait time, and discomfort of airports in general.