10 votes

A Modest Proposal to Make Domestic Air Travel Obsolete

10 comments

  1. [5]
    emdash (edited ) Link
    A longer term approach, in lieu of high speed trains, should be electric domestic aircraft, which should be able to carry dozens, or even up to 100 people for routes < 1000km, which covers most if...

    A longer term approach, in lieu of high speed trains, should be electric domestic aircraft, which should be able to carry dozens, or even up to 100 people for routes < 1000km, which covers most if not all domestic routes for many small countries. Take New Zealand for example. Our topography and demographic dispersion makes high speed rail impracticable for all but city-level lengths of track. But electric aircraft capable of these requirements are just around the corner, and Norway is looking at implementing such a solution.

    7 votes
    1. [2]
      spctrvl Link Parent
      I dunno if I'd call that the long term approach, it'd be the opposite if anything. Electric planes are a decent stopgap for places without rail infrastructure, but they're always going to be...

      I dunno if I'd call that the long term approach, it'd be the opposite if anything. Electric planes are a decent stopgap for places without rail infrastructure, but they're always going to be significantly less energy efficient than high speed rail, since they have to fight gravity while carrying their power source with them.

      3 votes
      1. emdash Link Parent
        Of course. But efficiency is just one consideration in the broader picture which needs to consider very real environmental (try asking those in Norway how they feel about laying rail tracks &...

        Of course. But efficiency is just one consideration in the broader picture which needs to consider very real environmental (try asking those in Norway how they feel about laying rail tracks & infrastructure above & below their fjords and mountains) and economic (high speed rail, especially underground, is incredibly expensive) costs.

        It's easier to service a route that may require 100 marginal transits weekly with a single electric aircraft flying direct three times a week than it is to build high speed rail directly (completely out of the picture), or ask commuters to enjoy a hub-and-spoke model with multiple transfers.

        The likely outcome is a good mix of both.

        4 votes
    2. [2]
      NaraVara Link Parent
      Does New Zealand's topography present more challenges than Japan? I think dispersion is one of those things that's a chicken and egg problem. When you have infrastructure that serves hubs, the...

      Does New Zealand's topography present more challenges than Japan?

      I think dispersion is one of those things that's a chicken and egg problem. When you have infrastructure that serves hubs, the economies in those hubs get into a feedback loop that makes them keep growing and concentrates the population. This is basically why the city of Chicago even exists. They intersected a bunch of railways there so it functionally turned into a hub for commodity exchanges.

      2 votes
      1. emdash Link Parent
        Japan has a highly industrialized economy that focuses on manufacturing amongst other things, with a population of 126 million. For the most part, New Zealand is a service-oriented economy with a...

        Japan has a highly industrialized economy that focuses on manufacturing amongst other things, with a population of 126 million. For the most part, New Zealand is a service-oriented economy with a heavy focus on tourism & farming. Population? 4.75 million. Topographically, it's just as challenging: take the Cook Strait for example, which separates the North & South islands. If you take a look at bathymetric charts of the area, you'll see depths exceeding 225 metres in some places, and on either side of the strait, the population centres are separated from the ocean by miles of hills and mountains. A bridge is out of the question too. The strait experiences frequent storms exceeding 150km/h+, with huge waves which frequently suspend ferry services.

        There's no way it'll ever be feasible to build high speed rail here.

  2. vakieh Link
    As someone in a country entirely surrounded by water, please put this in the title so I don't think somebody has developed awesome sea trains. No, I don't mean boats, I mean laying down track on...

    domestic flights

    As someone in a country entirely surrounded by water, please put this in the title so I don't think somebody has developed awesome sea trains.

    No, I don't mean boats, I mean laying down track on the water for the sea trains to travel on. Is that so much to ask?

    But seriously though, air travel is very important, and is not going anywhere fast.

    6 votes
  3. [2]
    cge Link
    Is it safe to assume that the authors of the article want to present this proposal as being ridiculous? If not, why would they refer to A Modest Proposal in the title? Or should we assume instead...

    Is it safe to assume that the authors of the article want to present this proposal as being ridiculous? If not, why would they refer to A Modest Proposal in the title?

    Or should we assume instead that the authors of the article want to completely misrepresent the proposal in a clickbait title? The paper they refer to, at least in an automated translation, states its goal as "By 2035 we want to make domestic flights largely obsolete." That is somewhat different that "make air travel obsolete," and would seem to entirely misrepresent what appears to be an actually rather modest and reasonable proposal of decreasing VAT on train tickets, introducing a CO2 tax of €40/ton, increasing train frequency and punctuality, aiming for time competitiveness between trains and domestic flights along high-traffic corridors, and simply increasing convenience of train travel (eg, by improving wifi). The article, of course, explains some of this this, but we are left with a title that presents something very different.

    5 votes
    1. ubergeek Link Parent
      Yeah, I don't think it's really a "Modest Proposal".

      Yeah, I don't think it's really a "Modest Proposal".

      1 vote
  4. [2]
    Bullmaestro Link
    Rail is already a decent way to travel over in Germany. Yes it's not as efficient as the likes of Japan's or China's rail network but Germany helped pioneer the technology that they used. As much...

    Rail is already a decent way to travel over in Germany. Yes it's not as efficient as the likes of Japan's or China's rail network but Germany helped pioneer the technology that they used. As much shit as the German public give Deutsche Bahn, they're a lot better and cheaper than most of the train operators here in the UK.

    I'd like to see a German resident come over here, spend a day travelling via Southern Rail then turn around and say DB's management suck.

    5 votes
    1. Greg Link Parent
      I'd say it's not a competition. The fact that we're even worse off in the UK means we should be complaining even louder, not telling Germany to stop complaining.

      I'd say it's not a competition. The fact that we're even worse off in the UK means we should be complaining even louder, not telling Germany to stop complaining.

      1 vote