The Instigator
wmpeebles
Con (against)
Winning
8 Points
The Contender
OpinionatedMan
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points

High Speed Rail

Do you like this debate?NoYes+1
Add this debate to Google Add this debate to Delicious Add this debate to FaceBook Add this debate to Digg  
Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 2 votes the winner is...
wmpeebles
Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 1/22/2012 Category: Technology
Updated: 5 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 3,438 times Debate No: 20577
Debate Rounds (5)
Comments (0)
Votes (2)

 

wmpeebles

Con

Resolved: A nationwide high speed rail network in the United States should not be built in the near future.

Definitions:
High Speed rail: a type of passenger rail transport that operates significantly faster than the normal speed of rail traffic.
Near future: A short period of time, referring to the amount of time from now until 10 years or so into the future.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Debate format:
Round 1: Acceptance of terms of debate, statement of definitions
Round 2: Main arguments
Rounds 3 - 4: Rebuttals and additional arguments
Round 5: Closing arguments.

- Anyone who makes a statement in the debate has the burden of proof on that statement.
- Anyone accepting the debate should finish the debate and not forfeit any of the rounds.
- Pro should be arguing against the resolution, that a nationwide high speed rail network in the United States should be built in the near future.
------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I look forward to a good debate from my opponent and, whoever you are, good luck. :)
OpinionatedMan

Pro

I accept and these are my definitions:

  • High-Speed Rail – Express: Frequent, express service between major population centers 200–600 miles (320–965 km) apart, with few intermediate stops. Top speeds of at least 150 mph (240 km/h) on completely grade-separated, dedicated rights-of-way(with the possible exception of some shared track in terminal areas). Intended to relieve air and highway capacity constraints.
  • High-Speed Rail – Regional: Relatively frequent service between major and moderate population centers 100–500 miles (160–800 km) apart, with some intermediate stops. Top speeds of 110–150 mph (177–240 km/h), grade-separated, with some dedicated and some shared track (using positive train control technology). Intended to relieve highway and, to some extent, air capacity constraints.
  • Emerging High-Speed Rail: Developing corridors of 100–500 miles (160–800 km), with strong potential for future HSR Regional and/or Express service. Top speeds of up to90–110 mph (145–177 km/h) on primarily shared track (eventually using positive train control technology), with advanced grade crossing protection or separation. Intended to develop the passenger rail market, and provide some relief to other modes.
  • Conventional Rail: Traditional intercity passenger rail services of more than 100 miles with as little as one to as many as 7–12 daily frequencies; may or may not have strong potential for future high-speed rail service. Top speeds of up to 79 mph to as high as 90 mph generally on shared track. Intended to provide travel options and to develop the passenger rail market for further development in the future.

It isn't plagiarism because I do not claim these to be my own definitions; they are wikipedia's.

For the source see here:
http://en.wikipedia.org...;
I also define a short amount of time as 10 years as well (to agree with you).

Debate Round No. 1
wmpeebles

Con

Thank you OpinionatedMan for accepting this debate. Remember, no rebuttals in this opening round, and no new arguments in the final round. I hope this becomes a challenging and fun debate. Good luck.

New definitions:
Eminent domain: an action of the state to seize a citizen's private property, expropriate property, or seize a citizen's rights in property with due monetary compensation, but without the owner's consent

Contention 1: Costs for acquiring right of way would be expensive, lengthy, controversial and unavoidable.
To build a railroad line, whether or not it is publicly or privately financed, there is usually land along the proposed right of way that is currently owned by a private citizen that needs to be claimed by the government via eminent domain[1]. Only 94% of land in the United States is undeveloped, but successful high speed rail corridors would have to be located near metropolitan areas, necessitating the need to acquire land via eminent domain. While 94% of land is undeveloped, many family farms that have existed over generations would be devestated. Eminent domain cases are not easy, as many people would fight their cases in court, with the possibility of several appeals per case. Spread out over the United States, eminent domain cases would become costly.

Contention 2: Costs for building infrastructure would be expensive.
Building a high speed rail corridor would have to be built from scratch, since current freight lines are unsuitable for the speed which high speed trains need to go as well as the capacity that high speed rail would necessitate. Among the things needed to build a single high speed rail line that cost the most money would include: land clearing and grading, bridge building, ballast and maintenence equipment, steel rails and the millions of concrete rail ties to support them, signaling equipment, fencing around track and control centers and maintenence offices.

Contention 3: Transportation times would still be longer than air travel with current technology.
As my opponent mentions in the 1st round, high speed rail currently tops around 160 mph. A boeing 747 can travel up to 570 mph [2]. A number almost 4 times that of current HSR technology. High speed rail would also be limited to where the tracks are laid, whereas air travel maintains a distinct advantage at mobility in being able to go anywhere an air port or landing strip exists. Because of this limitation, High speed rail at this time would not atttract a high amount of users who prefer timelyness in transportation.

Sources:
[1] http://www.ce.utexas.edu...
[2] http://en.wikipedia.org...
OpinionatedMan

Pro

Since I cannot rebut, I shall immediately enter the constructive of my side:

Contention 1: Rail travel has fewer weather related delays.
Rail travel has less weather dependency than air travel. If the rail system is well-designed and well-operated, severe weather conditions such as heavy snow, heavy fog, and storms do not affect the journeys; whereas flights are generally canceled or delayed under these conditions. Nevertheless, snow and wind can cause some issues and can delay trains.

Contention 2: High-speed rail has greater capacity than roads.
Railroad tracks permit a far higher throughput of passengers per hour than a road the same width. A high speed rail needs just a double track railway, one track for each direction. A typical capacity is 15 trains per hour and 800 passengers per train (as for the Euro star sets), which implies a capacity of 12,000 passengers per hour in each direction. By way of contrast, the Highway Capacity Manual gives a maximum capacity for a single lane of highway of 2,250 passenger cars per hour (excluding trucks or RVs). Assuming an average vehicle occupancy of 1.57 people, a standard twin track railway has a typical capacity 13% greater than a 6-lane highway (3 lanes each way), while requiring only 40% of the land (1.0/3.0 versus 2.5/7.5 hectares per kilometer of direct/indirect land consumption). This means that typical passenger rail carries 2.83 times as many passengers per hour per meter (width) as a road.

Contention 3: High-speed trains are highly sustainable and green.
US High-Speed Rail Association: "Trains are the most sustainable & green form of transportation. Electric high speed rail is the most energy efficient of all trains. A national high speed rail system is the centerpiece of a sustainable America, and will significantly reduce congestion and our dependence on cars and oil, while cutting our carbon emissions by epic proportions. The entire system can be powered by clean, safe renewable energy including wind, solar, geothermal, and ocean/tidal. Clean electric trains are a major form of daily transportation in numerous countries, and are the single most powerful transportation choice that can solve serious mobility, energy, environmental, economic, health, and social problems simultaneously - on a global scale."

Contention 4: High-speed rail helps businesspeople be more productive.
US High-Speed Rail Association: "High speed rail delivers fast, efficient transportation so riders can spend less time traveling and more time doing business. High speed rail delivers people quickly to their destinations in city centers. Fast boarding times, no security delays, and no waiting for baggage (or lost bags) adds up to much less time spent getting to and from meetings. Adding to these savings, there's also little or no down time - people can be far more productive and efficient during a trip on a train, than flying or driving, and return to the office sooner with a shorter turn-around time. High speed rail allows people to continue working the entire trip using laptops and cell phones. Flexible meeting space is available on the train. Because of the reliability of trains and the reduced total trip time, an overnight stay is not always required - saving additional time and money. High speed rail offers great flexibility to plan last minute trips, purchase tickets on short notice, and make changes to schedules without huge penalties."
Debate Round No. 2
wmpeebles

Con

Rebuttal 1: Rail travel has fewer weather related delays.
While it can be argued that rail travel is affected by less weather related issues than other forms of transportation, there is no form of transportation including HSR that is completely elusive to mother nature. All forms of transportation are affected by weather. Let the facts be told to a candid world:

Earlier this month, train services were suspended in China because heavy rain and fog disrupted power supplies, leading to the shutdown of high voltage equipment which powered the wires used by high speed rail locomotives [3. http://www.chinadaily.com.cn...]. In December of last year, snowstorms caused widespread delays of France's TGV rail service and more than 3,000 riders on Germany's high speed rail service had to spend the night on trains due to snowstorms [4. http://americanexpatinfrance.com...]. In cold climates, catenary wires, wires that provide electricity to a rail vehicle through a pantograph are vulnerable to ice accumulation and often causes problems with electrical conduction between the wire and the pantograph [5. http://www.transcience.freeserve.co.uk...]. Due to the increased mass of catenary wires from the ice, they will oscillate in windy conditions, potentially causing arcing [6. http://www.lafn.org...]. Arcing can damage electrical equipment and can cause fires [7. http://en.wikipedia.org...]. There also poses a severe danger of wildfires to railroad service. Rail service to a major HSR artery in wildfire areas could be suspended for days, leading to unique delays not suffered by aircraft service [8. http://www.mysanantonio.com...]. There are also many other potential weather-related delays including, but not limited to tree felling, track washout in heavy floods, and track buckling in hot weather [5].

My opponent's argument that rail travel has fewer delays than other forms of transportation is sadly overlooked. HSR along with other forms of transportation are all subject to weather delays of one form or another. There is very little, if any advantage that HSR tackles over this issue, and thus should not justify building an entirely new high speed rail system in the United States.

Rebuttal 2: High-speed rail has greater capacity than roads.
Speaking in terms of passenger carrying capacity so to speak, my opponent brings up that HSR has the capacity to transport more people per square meter of land usage than highways do. But I would like to point out several flaws in my opponent's argument. 1. My opponent assumes high speed rail trains will be 100% occupied in his example. 2. My opponent assumes that passenger cars will not be fully occupied, and that they will average 1.57 people per vehicle. 3. My opponent does not take into account that highways also service the trucking industry in addition to passenger cars. In my opponents next argument on this subject, I would like to see how the numbers actually compare with all the parameters are the same, instead of skewed. For example, what percentage of highway traffic is passenger traffic? This is necessary in accurately computing the argument that my opponent has provided, which he does not.

Also, disregarding the uncertainty over which form of service has the greater capacity, there is yet no argument that high speed rail will actually attract more passengers than it does from road traffic. And if we look at the numbers, high speed rail only services less than 10% of passenger traffic in France [9. http://en.wikipedia.org...]. In fact, TGV known for its trains that travel in excess of 200 mph, was barely profitable for its first 16 years of service [10 http://www.economist.com...]. This puts forth a very large argument against developing a large national high speed rail network since if only 10% of passenger traffic utilizes high speed rail in France, a lot of money would be spent in the United States on a form of transportation that does not project to be very profitable down the road. So my opponent can argue all he wants that capacity on high speed rail may be bigger than on road, the real difference comes down to actual ridership and how much revenue can actually be generated.

Rebuttal 3: High-speed trains are highly sustainable and green.
My opponent's main argument is that because high speed rail runs off of electricity, it runs on green energy. But my opponent is only looking at the air pollution aspect part of the argument. Being green means much more than cutting CO2 emissions. Hydroelectricity creates large scale environmental impact, ruining watersheds, dislocating animals, blocking mating grounds for species of fish, and causes many more environmental issues [10. http://www.keyframe5.com...]. If we are to use hydroelectricity, it does not necessarily mean that the energy produced from it is green. Moving onto solar, silicon solar cells have a theoretical limit, known as the Shockley-Queisser limit which states that the maximum efficiency of a solar cell is limited to around 33.7% [11. http://en.wikipedia.org...]. This makes solar panels widely inefficient since they only convert a small percentage of the sun's energy into electricity. Overuse in silicon mining contributes to large amounts of carbon monoxide into the atmosphere [12. http://www.enviroliteracy.org...] Moving onto geothermal energy, It is a very promising resource that truly could be green energy. But it has one major drawback and that is it only feasible in areas where magma is close to the surface of the earth, areas where hot spots exist such as Hawaii, Alaska, and a few western states [13. http://www.energy-consumers-edge.com...]. It is unlikely that this kind of energy could ever entirely support America's energy needs. Wind turbines create noise pollution, limiting its use to undeveloped land and farm land [14. http://energyinformative.org...].

In conclusion on this topic, any form of energy is likely to not be totally green. This negates my opponent's argument that high speed trains are green since the energy that they use is most likely to be produced in one way or another that harms the environment. In terms of sustainability, electric trains are not the only form of transportation that has the potential to become green. Electric cars, although new to the market, also have the same potential benefits that high speed rail would also provide for in that dependency on fossil fuels and foreign oil would be reduced [15. http://www.sciencedaily.com...] Bio-fuel could serve the same purpose for airplanes as electrical power would to cars and trains. The argument that high speed rail would be sustainable could also be applied to other forms of transportation. This does not justify building a grandiose high speed rail network in America.

Rebuttal 4: High-speed rail helps businesspeople be more productive.
If the goal of HSR is to become more productive, it has failed in countries with successful HSR networks and corridors. As mentioned earlier, HSR accounts for less than 10% of passenger traffic in France. Even if HSR benefits business people, I find it hard to use this to justify building a national high speed rail network considering the high costs to set it up and the lack of widespread use in countries who have had HSR for several years is very large.
OpinionatedMan

Pro

OpinionatedMan forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 3
wmpeebles

Con

*Sigh* I extend my arguments.
OpinionatedMan

Pro

OpinionatedMan forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 4
wmpeebles

Con

Well Vote Con...
OpinionatedMan

Pro

OpinionatedMan forfeited this round.
Debate Round No. 5
No comments have been posted on this debate.
2 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 2 records.
Vote Placed by Hardcore.Pwnography 5 years ago
Hardcore.Pwnography
wmpeeblesOpinionatedManTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: FF
Vote Placed by airmax1227 5 years ago
airmax1227
wmpeeblesOpinionatedManTied
Agreed with before the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Agreed with after the debate:--Vote Checkmark0 points
Who had better conduct:Vote Checkmark--1 point
Had better spelling and grammar:--Vote Checkmark1 point
Made more convincing arguments:Vote Checkmark--3 points
Used the most reliable sources:--Vote Checkmark2 points
Total points awarded:40 
Reasons for voting decision: Both debaters made decent arguments until Pro's FF, with a slight edge to Con. So arguments and conduct to Con.