Browsing Tag: track

    Wolfpack Wood Recycling:  From Crisis to Clean-up at the Oroville Dam (Morbark Owner)
    Articles, Blog

    Wolfpack Wood Recycling: From Crisis to Clean-up at the Oroville Dam (Morbark Owner)

    August 15, 2019


    My name is Tim Dempewolf and I own Wolfpack Wood Recycling I’m working on a site here in the
    foothills out of Oroville California. I’m under Syblon and Reid company and
    they’re working under Department of Water Resources. It was kind of a hurry up emergency to
    get people in here to get the trees out. They were worried at the time that if
    the water come over the spillway that it would wash all the trees down into the
    river and they didn’t want that to happen. When they said it was gonna come
    over the spillway the next morning it was … “Get my stuff out first!” It was a lot of people trying to move pretty quick, getting everybody out of harm’s way. Now it’s just trying to get everything in order to so they can start fixing the dam. At this point I started out clearing, like I said, under the emergency overflow. Then I went down and was chipping trees and brush where they were taken to make room to put stockpiles for the dirt they were taken out of the river. Now at this point I’m clearing under power lines that they had to move and reposition. I started my business in 2007. Most of the time I do subdivisions and orchard removals by myself, or my wife and I have. I have Buck and Hunter. They’re my little buddies. I’m trying to teach them how to run the grinder and excavator. My equipment — I’ve got a 320 CAT
    excavator and a Morbark 4600XL on tracks. I’ll be honest with you. I wouldn’t buy
    a grinder unless it was on tracks. A lot of the work that I do is on hills
    and steep ground. I purchased the Morbark equipment because they’ve always had a pretty good name, and I’ve had nothing but good luck with
    Morbark grinders. At one point when I started grinding I
    would get my wear parts from a different company because of pricing but now Morbark is getting their prices more comparable and their tips are getting better. At this point I think I am going to stick with Morbark parts. I was doing a project last summer out of Auburn California on a railroad job, and I hit some parts that come out of the
    railroad tracks. I’ve tore up some stuff hitting steel, but I never really have completely damaged the machine. When I hear the words “Morbark Strong” it means to me that you’re gonna have something that’s dependable and will hold up. It’s quite a project here. A few people, if I go into a restaurant or something they’ll see me dirty and ask me what I’m doing, I’ll tell them I’m working on the Oroville dam. They’re pretty appreciative of everyone doing their job up here.

    Guide to Sid Meier’s Railroads : How to Lay a Parallel Track in Sid Meier’s Railroads
    Articles, Blog

    Guide to Sid Meier’s Railroads : How to Lay a Parallel Track in Sid Meier’s Railroads

    August 15, 2019


    DIXON GILLETTE: In three, two, one. Okay.
    Now, we’re going to talk about laying parallel track and building switches. Most of the time,
    you’re going to need to build parallel track because you’re just going to be having too
    many operations being conducted at your city depot centers. So, to lay parallel track,
    we’re going to select our Double Track icon here or push D on the keyboard. Again, you
    can see it highlights the track that you currently own. Again, you’re going to see your mouse
    pointer change into your circle colors depending on the type of operation that you are performing.
    So to begin laying parallel track, you’re going to want to bring your mouse pointer
    directly beside the track that you want to lay, and we’ll just zoom it a little bit here.
    And as you can see here, we now have a green chevron. Now, to begin laying the track, left-click
    on your mouse once to begin the start point and then simply drag your track alongside
    the other track. Once you’re satisfied with its length, left-click again and, as you can
    see, you’ve just completed parallel track building. Now, from there, we can build a
    switch. To build a switch, we’re going to want to push our Single Track icon or T on
    the keyboard, and we’re going to want to drag our mouse pointer over the edge of our parallel
    track. Now, you’re going to want to click once there and drag this to an interior portion
    of your other track. Now, as you can see, you have a yellow indicator there, and that’s
    telling you essentially that you are building on an interior portion of your track. So what
    we’re going to do is once we’re happy with each position, we are going to left-click
    again, and it will build the switch. And now, as you see, in its place, there is now a signal,
    so now trains can utilize both of these tracks and your routing will become all the more
    efficient.

    Guide to Sid Meier’s Railroads : How to Lay a Single Track in Sid Meier’s Railroads
    Articles, Blog

    Guide to Sid Meier’s Railroads : How to Lay a Single Track in Sid Meier’s Railroads

    August 14, 2019


    DIXON GILLETTE: All right. To begin laying
    single track, you’re going to want to start out at your city that you are over. Now, one
    thing that’s important to keep in mind when laying track is you can only build track off
    of existing track. You can’t just start track out in the middle of nowhere. To begin, you’re
    going to want to select your Single Track icon here or push T on your keyboard. What
    this will do is this will change your mouse pointer into your track selector. And when
    you’re not over your track, you will see a red circle with an X there. That means you
    cannot lay track at that other position. To change this into the green circle that you
    want, you bring it over the edge of your track and as you can see are mouse pointer changed.
    To begin laying the track, you’re going to left-click your mouse and simply drag your
    track towards the direction that you want to build in. So we’re going to go over here
    to the cornfields and build our track there. To actually build the track, you’re going
    to left-click again. And as you can see, the track is actually built now. Now, as you could
    see, if you keep dragging your mouse out you’re still in Track Laying mode. So you’re going
    to want to exit your Track Laying mode by right-clicking on your mouse. Now, one thing
    that’s important to keep in mind is that when you are laying track, you’re going to want
    to make sure that you have brought your track all the way within the green circle of the
    industry or city. If you don’t bring it within this transparent green circle, you’re going
    to find that you won’t be able to build a depot there, so make sure that you always
    bring it within the green circle. And those are the basics of laying single track.

    Action News Investigates: Railroad to nowhere financed by taxpayers
    Articles, Blog

    Action News Investigates: Railroad to nowhere financed by taxpayers

    August 14, 2019


    IT’S A RAILROAD TO NOWHERE FINANCED BY YOU, THE TAXPAYER. WE ARE LEARNING THEY ARE REPLACEING A RAILROAD TRACK THAT’S NOT BEING USED IN THREE DECADES AND WASN’T SEE TRAFFIC ANY TIME SOON. PAUL VAN OSDOL IS HERE NOW WITH THIS STORY. WHY ARE THEY DOING THIS? IT MAKES NO SENSE. THERE’S SOMETHING TO THIS. ALLEGHENY COUNTY HAD TO TEAR OUT THE OLD TRACK TO BUILD A A NEW BRIDGE. COUNTY OFFICIALS WANTED TO AVOID REBUILDING THE RAILROAD, BUT THEY TOLD ME THEY HAD NO CHOICE. INTERNAL CREEKS, THEY HAVE BEEN WORKING ON A RAILROAD. NOT THIS RAILROAD WHERE TRAINS RUN ALL THE TIME, BUT THIS ONE ACROSS THE CREEK WHERE THE OLD RAILROAD TIES ARE BARELY VISIBLE AND THE UNUSED TRACKS ARE COVERED BY WEEDS AND BUSHES. THE NEW TRACK WILL RUN A QUARTER MILE BETWEEN TWO SECTIONS OF UNUSED TRACK. A LOCAL HISTORIAN SAYS NO TRAINS HAVE RUN ON THIS LINE SINCE THE 1980s WHEN THE NEARBY WESTINGHOUSE PLANT WAS STILL ACTIVE. EVEN WITH A NEW TRACK, NO RAILWAY IS EXPECTED HERE ANY TIME SOON. IT KIND OF SEEMS LIKE A WASTE OF MONEY PUTTING IN A TRACK TO GO NOWHERE. Reporter: MIKE HAS BEEN WATCHING THE CONSTRUCTION FROM HIS NEARBY RESTAURANT. DOES THAT MAKE SENSE TO YOU? NOT AT ALL. I DON’T KNOW WHERE IT’S GOING TO. Reporter: ONE END OF THE RAIL LINE GOES INTO THE KEYSTONE COMMONS INDUSTRIAL PARK OWNED BY THE REGIONAL INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION. THEY ALSO OWN THE OLD TRACK. ALLEGHENY COUNTY NEEDED TO MOVE THE TRACK TO BUILD A NEW BRIDGE BETWEEN TURTLE CREEK. THAT REQUIRED THE BLESSING OF THE RIDC AND THE STATE PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION. WHY IS THE COUNTY REBUILDING A RAILROAD LINE THAT HASN’T BEEN USED IN THREE DECADES. WE SHOULD REPLACE A TRACK AS PART OF THE PROPERTY THERE BECAUSE THEY USE THAT FOR FUTURE ACCESS TO THEIR PROPERTIES. Reporter: THE COUNTY DID NOT WANT TO REPLACE THIS OLD TRACK, BUT THE RIDC DID AND IT HAD THE PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION ON ITS SIDE. NOW AS BAD AS THIS OLD TRACK LOOKS, THE RIDC TELLS ME THEY HOPE TO USE IT AGAIN SOME DAY. SO THE TAXPAYER FUNDED RIDC FORCED THE COUNTY TO SPEND TAXPAYER MONEY REBUILDING THIS UNUSED TRACK. TOTAL COST, $365,000. DOES IT MAKE SENSE TO HAVE TO REBUILD A TRACK BETWEEN TWO SECTIONS BASICALLY ABANDONED? IF I WAS THE PROPERTY OWNER, IT WOULD MAKE SENSE. Reporter: BUT IT DOES NOT MAKE SENSE TO THE COUNCIL. HE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT THE RAILROAD TO NOWHERE UNTIL WE TOLD HIM. EVEN THOUGH IT’S IN HIS DISTRICT. COULD THAT MONEY HAVE BEEN PUT TO BETTER USE? YEAH, IT COULD BE. Reporter: THE RAILROAD WORK WAS ALSO A MYSTERY TO THIS AUTO REPAIRSHOP OWNER WHOSE BUSINESS. HAS BEEN CRIPPLED BY THE BRIDGE CONSTRUCTION. I’M STRUGGLING TO PAY BILLS. I HAVE LOST SO MANY CUSTOMERS IT’S UNBELIEVABLE. I HAVE SEEN A LOT OF WASTED TIME AND MONEY AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED. Reporter: THE NEW BRIDGE IS EXPECTED TO OPEN BY THE END OF THE MONTH. WHEN IN THE FUTURE, IF EVER, THE

    Cutting Model Railroad Track: Dremel Rotary Tool
    Articles, Blog

    Cutting Model Railroad Track: Dremel Rotary Tool

    August 14, 2019


    Cutting Model Railroad Track If you’re a model railroad enthusiast
    having a Dremel rotary tool can be a huge help. To show how easy it is to cut track we’ll be using a Dremel 300
    series tool and a Multi-Vise to secure it. To cut we’ll use an EZ Lock EZ409 cutting wheel and to remove any burrs a #511E or #512E buff is recommended. A Dremel 400 series XPR, 200
    series or 10.8 Volt Lithium Ion tool can also be used for
    this project. After the cutting wheel is attached then
    secure your track in the vise. Setting the tool to its highest RPM ease the cutting wheel smoothly through
    the track using light pressure at the desired point. Repeat the same action on the second
    rail. If burrs remain attach a buffing
    accessory #511 or #512 to remove them. Here’s some more thoughts on cutting
    model railroad track. If the section of rail that needs to be
    cut is still in place you may want to use the right angle attachment to cut it. If you have a lot of cutting to do you
    may need to replace your cutting wheel during the course of your project. Dremel makes a variety of cutting wheels
    depending on the thickness of the material that needs cutting. Check your
    catalog for the right size wheel.

    Working with Tubular Track | Classic Toy Trains magazine
    Articles, Blog

    Working with Tubular Track | Classic Toy Trains magazine

    August 13, 2019


    Hi, this is Bob from Classic Toy Trains
    magazine. What you see before you is not a finished layup. We are still
    in the early stages are building our project layout. So I wanted to take a couple minutes to
    talk to you about pre-planning and track. For example none of the accessories here are wired. The track is not bolted down. What we’ve
    done is we’ve set it all up to get an idea what it’s going to look
    like before we do anything that we really can’t reverse or is just a lot of
    trouble to reverse. Part this involves setting all the track
    down to see if we needed to cut any
    fitter sections. What are filter sections? Well everything will go together in a uniform
    pace connecting at all. But sometimes you just
    may find you need a little bit more room in one area a little less room in another
    area for the best fit of the layout on your train table.
    And right here we see an example of that. We had the track
    set up and it pretty much filled the width of
    the train table, it went right out to the sides. So I we had
    some things we have wanted to do that having an exceptionally wide
    footprint was not going to be the best thing so what we did is we created some fitter sections and I’ll talk to you about
    how to do that. This illustrates the reason that you
    have a gap between the rail and the edge of the
    table so you can put nifty accessories like
    the signal tower on rather than have to try to improvise something hanging off the side of the table. We decided to use traditional Lionel
    tubular track as the basis of this layout. The
    tubular track for O-31 or O gauge is
    full sections and half sections. The track itself, you’ll find the
    ties have little cardboard insulators that prevent
    electrical current from traveling through the metal rails. to the outside now this is important
    because when you start to make a shorter sections you will have to loosen
    up the had track plates to move the ties around. Also you may find on your travels that you build yourself a layout and you find
    yourself this is what the track looks like
    when you want to mate it so you may have to reposition the track pins. Very easy to do if you have a pair of
    pliers You might want to all loosen up the that track section on the inside and
    then just yank it out. So, these are some of the
    tools you might find pretty handy. A flathead screwdriver, maybe a straight needle-
    nose pliers or I find this one really handy, it’s kind of a bent needle-nose pliers. For our project today you’re going to need a marker, of course, safety glasses,
    you’re going to need a hacksaw, a clamp. Now, this may be the most
    important thing the tubular track is really great stuff
    but when it is new it is very difficult to get together.
    Again, this is just sort of a footnote section before we get on to making the fitter section. You may find
    it very difficult to get the track sections together you will want to wear gloves to make it
    easier you can force they track sections
    together if you have the right supportive base or just as with removing
    the track pins, go to the female section of the track and crank it open just a
    little bit each one of them and
    this will slide right in. Now we determined on our layout what
    we needed was track sections that were two inches in
    length so we measured it. Two-inch track
    sections. Now what I did was I took an old piece of K-Line track. It was a little bit
    longer than the regular section and this is the “donor piece,” if you
    will. Now it’s very simple you don’t need a
    whole lot of exotic equipment. We used a Jim Lyle’s Toy Trains
    offers a little framework that you can stick the track in
    and you can move it around, adjust it, trim it. But you
    don’t necessarily need anything fancy you can use a piece of wood scrap so
    would brace the piece of track in place and then go from there as long as you
    have a supportive base for it. You have your choice of using a
    hacksaw or motor tool. Is one better than the other? My experience is that the motor tool
    tends to cut through the tinplate track very fast but you do have the problem of the blade the blade fracturing. I don’t know how many yearsIn used one,
    never had a problem with that. I was at our founding editor Dick Christianson’s
    house helping him on his layout. I started to cut a track section. He said,
    “Why don’t you put some eye protection on.” I said, “Well that’s not a problem.” He said, “Well, sometimes they break.” And
    i’d heard that, but I’d never actually seen it. So I put some eye protection on, cut the
    track, no problem. About 20 minutes later, he duplicated the process and the
    blade fragmented and started flying all over the place and he was glad that he had his safety goggles on. But unless you want
    to invest in that, a hacksaw works pretty well.
    What we’re going to do here is brace down the piece of track
    with a piece of word. You’ve got the marks there and then you
    just start cutting. And the finished track section just
    as smooth as silk. Minimum amount of frustration. I cut
    right through it. You might want to take a file and trim
    down the the edges so that if you use locomotives with traction tires they are not
    rolling across sharp edges cutting into the traction tire.
    The whole time it would take you to cut a piece a track into a
    fitter section is probably less than five minutes — and
    that’s of you’re drinking coffee while you do it!
    So, plan ahead with your track don’t worry about nailing everything
    down, screwing everything down, or Liquid Nailing everything down. Set up your track. See what fits where, and
    then adjust accordingly. Classic Toy Trains as the leading
    magazine in the O and S gauge hobby. Don’t miss an issue. Start your
    subscription today by going to ClassicToyTrains.com/sub.

    October Sky (2/11) Movie CLIP – Railroad Scare (1999) HD
    Articles, Blog

    October Sky (2/11) Movie CLIP – Railroad Scare (1999) HD

    August 12, 2019


    Yeah. Now what are we gonna
    tell the railroad when they
    catch us pryin’ up the track?It’s abandoned.
    See, the county’s covered
    with abandoned spur lines.A mine shuts down,
    the track just rusts over.$8.20.This is worth eight twenty? A ton. Come on. Go, go!
    This thing weighs a ton
    all by itself! Four-hundred pounds. Four-hundred pounds? All right. O’Dell, you’re sayin’ this thing
    is worth a buck 65? Woo-hoo! Whoa. O’Dell? L- It’s abandoned.
    Uh, look at the rust. Caretta number two
    shut down in ’51. Shit! Get it up! Get it up!
    Just get it up! Give me a hand, man.
    Come on! Forget it! Forget it!
    Just stop the train! Roy Lee! Stop!
    Stop! The track’s out! Stop!
    Stop!
    Stop it! Stop!
    Stop! The track!

    A Tour Of The Central Coast Model Railroad
    Articles, Blog

    A Tour Of The Central Coast Model Railroad

    August 11, 2019


    In San Luis Obispo, California
    not far from the Amtrak station… Craftsmen have been working for the last five years
    on building a historically accurate
    and very realistic model train layout. It depicts railroad operations
    on the Central Coast of California
    during its heyday in the 1950s… When railroad operations were at their peak
    and steam locomotives were transitioning to diesels. The San Luis Obispo railroad museum
    occupies the original 1894 wood freight house
    which dates back to
    the Southern Pacific railroad’s arrival. The museum is dedicated to
    preserving and presenting the railroad history
    of California’s Central Coast. Museum members have collected, restored,
    and displayed all sorts of historical
    railroad artifacts, photographs, and documents. And not many people
    really know about this little museum,
    which opened just five years ago. Ever since that grand opening back in 2013,
    a very talented group of model train fanatics has been
    working to add an additional feature to the museum. Let me take you upstairs
    and show you how things are coming along
    on construction of the Central Coast Model Railroad! It’s an incredibly complex and detailed
    model train layout… That realistically portrays all of the significant features
    of the railroads that have served
    San Luis Obispo and Santa Barbara counties
    since the late 1800s. Building a detailed, historically accurate layout like this
    takes a huge amount of work. Like I said, they’ve been
    working at it for five years now
    and they’re only about halfway there! But they’ve made tremendous progress
    and a lot of the individual scenes
    that make up this layout are basically complete. At this point, they’re able to run trains
    on quite a bit of the layout… Even though a lot of the details of the realistic
    backgrounds aren’t quite complete yet. And the goal is that by the time the
    Central Coast Railroad Festival occurs this October… That all the track work
    and supporting wiring will be complete… And they’ll be able to run trains
    through the entire two level layout… Even though it’ll be years
    before all the scenery will be completed. On the day I visited,
    only the lower level of the layout was operational.
    But it was still pretty incredible! These are HO scale trains, and very realistic. They’ve got trains that represent several different eras
    of railroad operation on the Central Coast. My favorite part of the display
    is a scene modeled after the Pacific Coast Railway… A 3-foot narrow gauge railway
    that began operation in the 1870s… And was used to move people and freight
    off steam ships arriving at Port Harford…
    now known as Port San Luis. Trains reached San Luis Obispo in 1876
    with later extensions to Santa Maria
    and ultimately Los Olivos. Avila Beach of the 19th century
    is recreated in incredible detail… Including the pier, the yacht club,
    the old custom house,
    and even the old railroad bridge… That crossed San Luis Obispo Creek
    and which remained there
    all the way until the 1980s. And Harford pier,
    which you can still visit today in Port San Luis,
    is recreated with amazing detail! Including the hotel Marre
    which used to sit not far from where
    Fat Cats restaurant is today. But that’s just one small part
    of the Central Coast Model Railroad.
    It’s a big layout… And with so many amazing little details,
    you can see why it’s taken them
    five years just to get to this point. They’ve got some really cool
    model trains running on the layout, too… Representing many different kinds of trains
    that ran through San Luis Obispo County over the years. This cab-forward steam engine represents
    what it was like during the steam era
    from the late 1800s until the 1950s
    when diesel locomotives started to take over. The Southern Pacific liked to
    use this type of steam locomotive
    with the smokestack in the rear
    and the crew at the front… Because of the large number of tunnels around here
    especially on the Cuesta climb
    towards Santa Margarita. If the smokestack had been at the front,
    like it is on a conventional steam train,
    the crew would have had trouble breathing
    in those tunnels. This Southern Pacific diesel locomotive
    in the famous daylight paint scheme
    is an E7 from General Electric’s
    Electro-Motive Division, EMD. These were a common sight on the Central Coast
    starting after World War II. And this beautiful model
    of an Amtrak Superliner
    is a very realistic representation of the
    passenger trains that still run through our area today. In my next video,
    we’ll follow the Southern Pacific “Lark” passenger train
    pulling Pullman sleeping cars all the way
    through the lower portion of the layout… That was operational the day that I visited
    the Central Coast Model Railroad
    at the San Luis Obispo Railroad Museum. And if you come for a visit yourself
    during the Central Coast Railroad Festival
    October 5th, 6th and 7th… You’ll see trains running through both
    the lower and upper sections of the layout. I’m Jim Zim…
    normally a G-scale model train guy, but… I’ve got great respect for the artistry I saw today
    at this beautiful HO scale layout
    at the San Luis Obispo railroad museum. I think you’ll get a big kick out of my next video
    also shot here at the Central
    Coast Model Railroad So, subscribe to my YouTube channel
    to make sure you don’t miss it! And here are a few links to a few of my other videos… All of these are
    big G-scale trains
    running at my house.

    The Railroad Crossing That Never Existed
    Articles, Blog

    The Railroad Crossing That Never Existed

    August 11, 2019


    Hello ladies and gentlemen I’m over here
    at North West 80th Street in Medley Florida and I’m gonna show you guys a
    railroad crossing that was never built okay this is a warehouse complex over
    here was built like early to mid-90s and I remember driving by the Palmetto
    and seeing them built it and I also remember looking and seeing that these
    pavement markings, they paved these roads right and then they made the pavement
    markings RXR you can see here well as you can vaguely see here
    because of paint it’s been chipped away and faded after 20-something years rxr a
    so that’s this is facing west the nearest railroad is over here see I can give you a close-up on that this is a Seaboard Industries um so this railroad i’m certain never went
    past where these wheels are and you can see there’s a lot of
    activity going on here so yeah here is where the wheel stop are and that’s
    where the boxcars come to load right this is a FEC track by the way FEC
    spur so yeah then you see that the track stops right there right okay so NW 80th Street right there
    next to the fire hydrant is where the pavement marking is RXR and then Im going to show you the other pavement marking So I don’t know if like the
    they had an intention to build the spur all the way over here and they never did
    or if these, the person the traffic engineer or whoever it is responsible
    for these placed this in error so here you can see the there comes a
    seaboard marine truck and I don’t know if, here’s the other
    other pavement marking like I said I don’t know if these were placed in error or they just never built the spur out to where it needed to be built to originally planned to be built oh yeah
    and here you can see the address guys I’ll include a Google Maps link anyways
    please remember to follow me on instagram railrol82 and I
    thank you very much viewing please subscribe like over and
    out

    Why China Is so Good at Building Railways
    Articles, Blog

    Why China Is so Good at Building Railways

    August 11, 2019


    This video was made possible by Squarespace. Build your beautiful website for 10% off at
    squarespace.com/Wendover. Imagine a train that took you from Washington,
    DC to Dallas, Texas in nine hours… or Paris, France to Athens, Greece in nine hours…
    or Adelaide, South Australia to Perth, Western Australia in nine hours. These train trips actually take 44 hours,
    44 hours, and 41 hours respectively so the idea of making any of these trips by train
    in nine hours seems almost absurd. In China, though, that’s reality. In September, 2018 the country opened up a
    brand new high speed rail route with d irect trains from Hong Kong to Beijing. This is about the same distance as DC to Dallas,
    Paris to Athens, or Adelaide to Perth and yet these trains make the trip in only 8 hours
    and 56 minutes. What makes this even more impressive is that
    ten years ago, in 2008, at the time of the Beijing Olympics, China’s high-speed rail
    network consisted of this. We’ll have to zoom in because the extent
    of the network was one 19 mile-long Maglev train from Shanghai Airport to the outskirts
    of Shanghai and a traditional high-speed rail line from Beijing to the coastal city of Tianjin. Today, ten years later, that network has expanded
    into this. China has eight times as much high speed track
    as France, ten times as much as Japan, twenty times as much as the UK, and five-hundred
    times as much as the US. In fact, China has as much high-speed rail
    track as the rest of the world combined. It is staggering the amount of progress they
    have made in such a short amount of time. Traditionally high speed rail exists in small
    countries with rich populations by the likes of Germany, France, and Japan. China is neither of these things. The country is enormous, about the same size
    as the US, and is also not rich. While no longer poor, China is definitively
    a middle income country. It’s about as rich as Mexico, Thailand,
    or Brazil. In fact, despite being the country with the
    most high speed rail in the world, China is also the poorest country in the world to have
    any high speed rail. Despite the country’s vast size, China’s
    huge population makes it very dense especially in the east half. This means that China does have large cities
    close enough together where it makes sense to take the train rather than the plane. Trips like Guangzhou to Changsha, a distance
    of 350 miles, take an hour by plane or 2 hours and 20 minutes by train. When factoring in the time it takes to check
    in, go through security, and board it absolutely makes sense to go by train when traveling
    between these two cities even without considering that the high-speed train is cheaper than
    flying. High speed rail even makes sense in China
    on longer routes where it wouldn’t in other countries. Beijing and Shanghai, for example, are about
    650 miles apart. Normally that would be too far for high speed
    rail to make sense. Paris and Barcelona, for example, are 500
    miles apart—closer than Beijing and Shanghai—but only two high speed trains a day run between
    the two cities compared to about 20 flights. Between Beijing and Shanghai, on the other
    hand, about 50 flights run per day run compared to 41 trains. Considering the trains carry far more people
    each, up to 1,200, trains are therefore the dominant means of transport between these
    two cities. There are a few differences between these
    two routes. For one, while Beijing-Shanghai by train takes
    4 hours and 28 minutes, Paris-Barcelona, despite being a shorter distance, takes a longer 6
    hours and 25 minutes. The other factor, though, is about the competition. Europe has an efficient air transport network
    dominated by budget airlines that are often far cheaper than trains. You can find tickets for flights between Paris
    and Barcelona for as little as $12 while the cheapest Beijing-Shanghai flights go for $74. Air travel within China is also far from efficient. China Southern, China Eastern, and Air China,
    the three largest Chinese airlines, arrive on time an average of 67%, 66%, and 63% of
    the time respectively. A big reason for this is that there’s just
    not enough room in the skies. A majority of China’s airspace is military
    controlled meaning that there are just these narrow flight corridors that account for 30%
    of airspace where civilian planes can fly. With tons of planes and not much room to fly
    planes are frequently delayed by air traffic control to wait for the airspace to clear
    up which leads to the abysmal on-time ratings of the country’s airlines. While the Beijing-Shanghai flight takes only
    two hours the potential of delays, along with all the other factors that make air travel
    slower, help make the train the popular means of transport on this longer route. Other train routes in China, though, make
    less sense. For example, in 2014, the new high speed train
    line opened between Lanzhou and Urumqi. These two cities are relatively small by China
    standards. They both have a population of 3.5 million
    and between them are only small towns. They’re also not close—about 1,000 miles
    separate them. This project could therefore be compared to
    building a high speed train from Denver to Seattle—they’re modestly sized cities
    a long way’s apart with nothing big in between. Some people would use it but it wouldn’t
    make any financial sense. In China, Lanzhou and Urumqi are not small
    cities but there’s really nothing big in between and, at that distance, there’s no
    sense not flying. The Lanzhou-Urumqi high speed train takes
    11 hours compared to the 2.5 hour flight and the construction cost of that line was $20
    billion meaning that, if every seat on every train was filled tickets would still have
    to cost $400 each way just to make back the construction cost in 30 years. In reality tickets cost about $80 and trains
    are far from full meaning that this rail line is just insanely far from profitable. The ticket revenues from these trains reportedly
    don’t even cover the cost of electricity for the line let alone construction and other
    operating costs. So why would the Chinese government sink so
    much money into something that has no prospects of really ever making money? Well, politics. Urumqi is the capital of the Xinjiang province. While 92% of China’s population is Han Chinese,
    the Xinjiang province is primarily Uyghur—one of the minority ethnic groups of China—and
    there has been an ongoing fairly strong separatist movement by the Uyghurs from China that has
    often turned violent. The central government in Beijing, however,
    wants the Xinjiang province to be just as integrated as the rest of the country and
    has tried a variety of methods to force this including moving Han Chinese into the region
    and the imprisonment of Uyghurs in so-called “reeducation camps.” The high-speed train is just the most recent
    tactic to bring Xinjiang closer to Beijing and this is no secret. The central government is fully upfront in
    saying that the line was built to promote, as they call it, “ethnic unity.” This isn’t even the first time they’ve
    used this tactic of railroad politics. Tibet, a region even better known than Xinjiang
    for its independence movement, was the last region in China not to have a railway due
    to its small population and intense terrain. The central government still wanted to build
    one, though, to bring it closer to the rest of the country and so they did. Trains now run directly from Beijing to Lhasa,
    Tibet in 47 hours on the highest elevation rail line in the world. These trains reach an elevation of 16,640
    feet—so high that passengers have to use a direct oxygen supply. Even the train to Hong Kong serves the central
    government’s goal of further integrating Hong Kong, which is an autonomous special
    administrative region, into mainland China. While high-speed trains to Hong Kong certainly
    do make a lot more sense than trains to the Xinjiang province, many Hong Kongers have
    not greeted the new service kindly as they view it as an encroachment on the autonomy
    guaranteed to them by Hong Kong Basic Law. The most controversial part has not been the
    fact that there’s a train but rather that the station in Hong Kong includes an area
    that is effectively now part of Mainland China since people pass through border controls
    before boarding the train in Hong Kong. Just like any country, what having a high-speed,
    efficient rail network in China is doing is bringing the country together and making it
    stronger even if it’s bringing together people that want to stay apart. No matter their motives, it’s clear that
    China is building their high speed rail network more efficiently than any other country. To compare, this is the plan for California’s
    high speed rail line from San Francisco to the Los Angeles area. It’s currently in very early phases of construction
    and is expected to open by 2029. Of course that means that the time it will
    take for the California’s high speed rail network to go from this to this is the same
    as the time it took China’s high speed rail network to go from this to this but, the main
    thing to look at is cost. This Californian network is expected to cost
    $77 billion and is 520 miles long meaning that it will cost $148 million per mile to
    build. China, on the other hand, is building their
    network at a cost of only $30 million per mile. Of course labor costs are lower in China and
    their network crosses more rural areas where land acquisition costs are lower but, what’s
    more meaningful is that they’ve turned building high speed rail into almost an assembly line
    process where they can mass produce even the most expensive elements like viaducts and
    tunnels. In true Chinese fashion, with scale they’re
    making high-speed cheaper. The big difference between China and a lot
    of the western world, particularly countries like the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand,
    and the UK, is that high speed rail is at the top of the government’s priorities. Unsurprisingly given their government structure,
    in many ways, China has placed social benefit, at least by the definition of the central
    government, ahead of profitability when developing their high speed rail network. High-speed rail lines just aren’t as profitable
    as other means of transport like planes but they are undoubtably better for countries
    so you have to consider the social benefit when looking at their overall profitability. For the San Francisco to LA high speed rail
    route, for example, one study found that the social benefit derived from lower carbon emissions,
    higher worker productivity, and reduced casualties from fewer people on the road would be equivalent
    to about $440 million per year. As it turns out, this is almost the exact
    amount that the state will have to subsidize the line for it to break even. The China Railway Corporation, a state owned
    enterprise, is actually slightly profitable, although it does have huge amounts of debts
    and is helped by government subsidies. The benefit to the Chinese people, though,
    is huge. The high-speed rail allows those who can’t
    afford to live in the most expensive cities like Beijing, Shanghai, and Guangzhou to easily
    commute from cheaper suburbs by high-speed rail. Thanks to the high-speed rail, there are now
    75 million people who can commute to Shanghai in under an hour. It is growing what are already some of the
    largest cities and, when it comes to cities, size is strength. These lines connecting the east’s largest
    cities are some of the most profitable rail lines in the world and they’re making living
    and working in China easier but the question is, when we look back decades from now, whether
    the high-speed trains to smaller cities will have made sense. Out of a desire to keep the lines going straight
    between the big cities, the stops for smaller cities are often out in the countryside dozens
    of miles away from the city core. The high speed station for Hengyang, for example,
    a smaller city of only a million, is about a 45 minute drive east of the city center. The hope is that new development will spring
    up around the stations but this network structure, even if it saves time on the train, wastes
    time before and after which degrades the benefit of high-speed rail. In all, China is really the first country
    to have experimented with long-distance, high speed rail through less-dense areas in its
    west. In the east, though, these trains are enlarging
    the country’s economic power. It’s just one of the many factors speeding
    up China’s catch-up with world’s richest countries. Even though China is building these trains
    for less and innovating on the construction of high-speed rail, the real reason why China
    is so good at building railways is because they have the one thing that almost every
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