TagHSR

Life at the speed of rail

Brandon Souba and I entered a design competition held by the Van Alen Institute.

The winners were announced publicly today and guess what, we were one of the 10 finalists! Here’re the other winners and their work.

Chicago photographer Drew Bly was instrumental in this as he provided the wonderful film portraits of people around which we created profiles of potential high-speed train passengers.

Mariane

Each person has a different transportation need and the profile describes how high-speed rail will fulfill that need. This is the purpose of the competition:

Life at the Speed of Rail seeks the visions of the architectural design community, planners, graphic designers, artists—anyone who wants to contribute to the discussion surrounding high-speed rail.

Life at the Speed of Rail calls for participants to produce projects and scenarios that engage high-speed rail at all scales — architectural, metropolitan, regional, national. Participants may decide to tackle one or more of these scales and produce projects that reimagine the high-speed train itself, the section of the railway line, the design of crossings and intersections, the form and program of railway terminals, the graphic identity of the high-speed rail network, and so on.

A selection of entries will form the foundation of an image library — a resource for print and online media seeking better ways of illustrating and analyzing infrastructure needs.

View our entire project in a slideshow.

Oscar

Erica

Jordan

Juliette

Daniel


High-speed rail in Illinois, February 2011 edition

View a map of the places described in this article.

A friend of mine traveled by Amtrak’s Lincoln Service from Chicago to St. Louis in January 2011. He reported, “It’s extremely smooth north of Alton and south of Lincoln. You can barely even hear or feel that you’re on a train.” Track replacement as part of President Obama’s economic stimulus and high-speed rail plan is complete between Alton and Lincoln, Illinois.

Photo shows a Union Pacific work train next to new track in Carlinville, Illinois. Photo by Tim Carman, taken in November 2010.

The next track replacement phase will take place between Lincoln and Dwight, scheduled to be completed in Fall 2011. A December 2010 press release from the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) explains the next steps for the first state to begin construction on high-speed rail grants provided by American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA):

  1. Installation of new, enhanced grade crossing warning protection
  2. New cars and locomotives
  3. Station upgrades

Like all press releases, this one also seems to ooze idealistic endeavors by adding that the “public can expect to enjoy its first taste of 110 mile-per-hour train service when a 20-mile segment between Dwight and Pontiac is completed in 2012.” But this project has a high likelihood of being completed as described.

Read more posts on high-speed rail in Steven can plan.

Who wants to give up high-speed rail

UPDATED: 11/16/10 and 11/19/10 to include new reports from Journal-Sentinel about Walker’s campaign contributions and to reorder the timeline (now in chronological order) and news about North Carolina.

The Governors-elect of Wisconsin (Scott Walker) and Ohio (John Kasich) made it clear during their campaigns that they would put an end to current or upcoming high-speed rail construction paid for mostly by competitive grants from the Department of Transportation.

Illinois was the first state to start high-speed rail construction using federal stimulus money. Photo taken just outside of Springfield, right before IDOT announced the first phase of track construction (from Alton to Springfield) is complete and phase two should have begun yesterday, Monday (from Springfield to Lincoln).

Because of their stance, and because Secretary Ray LaHood has made it clear that Wisconsin’s $810 million and Ohio’s $400 can only be used for high-speed rail, the news changes daily. Here’s the latest in the chronology that’s happened in the past two weeks:

LaHood is laying on the pressure that high-speed rail will happen, but perhaps not in Wisconsin, if Walker has his way.

*3C stands for Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus.

Two Amtrak trains waiting to depart Chicago Union Station (CUS) in May 2010. Photo by Eric Pancer.

I voted – I hope you did, too

Photo by Eric Pancer.

I’m locking my bike at the elementary school to a bench. A guy on the other side of “the line” (marked by blue cones) asks me if he can give me a sample ballot.

“No, thanks, got my own!”

I used the Chicago Tribune’s “ballot maker” website to print a list of the people I wanted to vote for. That included these three Metropolitan Water Reclamation District candidates. I also voted for other candidates who have shown their support for things I want, like high-speed rail (a currently occurring reality in Illinois) and public transit. I voted for people like Pat Quinn and Dan Lipinski to further support these efforts to make Illinois more economically competitive as well as develop more sustainably and most important of all, get people where they’re going on environmentally-friendly transportation modes.

Why did you vote? What message did you send?

Chicago and Illinois construction updates, October 2010 edition

This post will be updated as I receive more information and shoot more photos. Please contribute your own updates and news.

  • High-speed rail in Illinois – Yes, America is building some “high-speed” rail (for the second time). The first leg of track replacement is from Springfield to Alton (across the Mississippi River from St. Louis). I am really interested in renting a car and driving down here to see it for myself.
  • 31st Street harbor/marina – Originally introduced on my blog in July and again in August. The Chicago Park District is developing a full marina, including a boat ramp and restaurant.
  • Sustainable streetscape in Pilsen – A water feature and bioswale was recently installed at Benito Juarez Community Academy on Cermak Road. I’ve been told it’s especially fantastic during the rain, as the water is collected from the roof, pours down a spout into a small creek.
  • 35th Street Metra station – Originally introduced on my blog in July. The line will help my roommate get to his old neighborhood faster. Oh, it will improve access to the White Sox stadium, hopefully helping to reduce idling and congestion on the Dan Ryan expressway and our neighborhood roads that get backed up during baseball games.

31st Street Beach and harbor construction.

Do you have construction updates for your city or state?

High-speed rail under construction in Illinois

UPDATE: The City of Carlinville Facebook page provides consistent and timely updates on the railroad crossing closures while the Union Pacific track is upgraded. The City posted photos, too.

If you weren’t specifically seeking out information on high-speed rail (HSR) construction, and you weren’t searching for “track renewal train” and other obscure keywords, you wouldn’t actually know about the status of HSR.

But that’s why you follow my blog – I’ll keep you updated.

Right now, crews are working 10 hour days, working 10 days on, and 5 days off* in Carlinville, Plainview (photo), and Alton, Illinois, to remove existing track and wooden ties and replacing them with concrete ties and continuously welded rail (CWR).

The proof is in the videos, taken only four days ago in Carlinville (map) on October 1, 2010. Watch more videos from PSQLead.

The Harsco Track Technologies Track Renewal Train 909 (TRT-909) does the following:

  • Picks up and carries out of the way old rail
  • Removes old wooden ties with a robot arm
  • Digs up ballast
  • Places new concrete ties
  • Drops in new rail and heats it so it can be “continuously welded”
  • Clamps new rail to new ties

What the beast looks like from afar. Photo of Union Pacific’s TRT-909 in Aldine, Texas, by Matthew Holman.

Thankfully Illinois doesn’t have a growing anti-rail political force like Ohio, California, Florida, or Wisconsin. All of these states have Republican candidates running for governor who say they will stop the train in its tracks. Read more about this unfortunate situation in The New York Times.

*This information comes from a secondary source. I hope to get in touch with someone who knows more about the work.

Departing under the best conditions

I was reading a brochure and timetable (yes, we still call them that) about the TGV Lyria high-speed train service from Paris to cities in Switzerland. Someone left it on a counter at work. It’s in French, and I can read about half of it.

The timetable asked that travelers board the train at least two minutes before the departure, “pour assurer les départs TGV Lyria dans les meilleures conditions” (to ensure the train departs in the best conditions).

Two minutes? You only have to find your train 2 minutes before departure time?

Short story: Back in 1998 (I was 14), my mom and I were traveling from Paris to London on the Eurostar (travels under the English Channel). We’re walking down the ramp to the platform and one of the conductors sees us coming. He yells or motions for us to hurry up. We start jogging down the ramp and jump into the nearest car door.

About 45 seconds later, the train leaves.

A Eurostar train at Gard du Nord. Photo by Marcel Marchon.

More about being on-time:

  • 87.8% of TGV Lyria trains were arrived on time in June 2010.
  • 76.% of flights from 24 reporting airlines arrived on time in the same month. (U.S. DOT)

© 2014 Steven Can Plan

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑