Friday 22 September 2017

ET3 MAGLEV AND POLITICS by Daryl Oster

Have you lived in Beijing, or Chengdu China?  I Daryl Oster have, and the pollution
and grid-lock is MUCH worse than in any US city I have been in.

Part of the reason is that they are still wasting money on antiquated passenger train
systems that have proven unsustainable compared to cars and jets.  We have the best transportation in the world.  And it is true that the use of cars and jets are reaching market saturation just like trains did in the early 1900s. Can we agree it is time for a NEW transportation paradigm, not returning to an old one like trains?

New transportation modes are almost never implemented by government.  In fact history proves that most transportation technology advances are initially resisted by government, but private investment in modes offering a major improvement in VALUE eventually win even the status-quo dominated halls of government.

We can hopefully agree that maglev is a core technology in the next transportation shift.   Those who investigate the facts will see that maglev will not be applied to trains on a wide scale.  The reason is the private sector is value driven — investors want a low risk and high return — investing in high-speed trains (maglev or otherwise) is PROVEN to be a big loss — a loss that only government is prone to repeat.

Government represents the status quo.  Trains are the old status quo, displaced by cars and jets.  Trains are only given token subsidy in the US to prop up the old toothless elder who once ruled by building much of early America.  Government will receive increasing pressure to support roads and airports because the present status quo (car and jet industry) will have to face sustainability issues of energy, environment, and economy, and the
resulting marginal returns of future investments in the status quo.

What is sensible is to stop funding modes that have a negative return on investment.  This is clearly trains, (and increasingly roads and airports).  In this way, private investment in innovation will not have to face the risk of being taxed to support what they seek to replace!  Since government is the status quo, this will not likely happen.  The old train hogs fighting for space at the trough of government will continue to fight each other for a
diminishing subsidy, the car and jet pigs will feel the hunger pains, learn there is a feed trough for marginal value technology — and horn in on the slop (the train lobby will not stand a good chance against a starved auto and jet lobby).

The passenger rail industry lies about ecology and efficiency are increasingly apparent.  People will eventually realize that future generations can be enslaved by laws, but no productivity can happen before they are born.  More will come to understand that we cannot tax the unborn to solve our economic crisis; and since transportation is the master key to survival and the cornerstone of the global economy, a quantum level improvement in transportation value is the only way to return to prosperity.

Innovation of transportation value will most likely take place as far from government as possible, as have past transportation innovations of a disruptive nature.  The only innovations that stand a chance of displacing the status quo will be those that offer a 10 fold improvement in transportation value.  This is maglev — but not maglev trains.

Why do you think the rail industry GAVE the passenger train infrastructure to the government back in the early 70s? — It was NOT out of charity!  It was because the return on investment was negative.  Over $40B in subsidy later, and the 99% of Americans who can’t use Amtrak still have little clue to how they are being ripped off.  Cargo at 14mph does not care how rough the rails are (unless the train derails).

Only one HSR system in the world makes more than the operating expenses (Japan), but the operating profit is less than the inflation on the capital investment, so the ROI is still negative.  If anything, outdated regulations are in favor of public transpiration.  In fact one of the reasons the Japan HSR trains are able to recover operating costs is that Japan regulations are VERY oppressive to automobile owners.  Even so, cars are about 70% of the passenger miles of passenger travel in Japan.

It is true that protective rules eventually destroy a market.  In the case of trains, this has helped our economy.  It has also accelerated the demise of the automobile industries in the US; hurting our economy in the short term.   In the long term it may prove to be a blessing if it accelerates car and aircraft collapse for us, we could be the first to make a leap to innovative modes and once again lead the world (instead of following those who follow us).

Yes, electric HSR was invented in the US by Weams.  In 1889 he demonstrated an electric train in Maryland that was tested at 120mph by an electrical engineering journal (other witnesses said it had operated at 150 to 180mph).  Steam power ruled in the US, but the work of Weams was copied  in Germany and by 1904 had taken the electric train speed record to 130mph.  Japan and France were next to copy HSR and extend the records — and now China.  One cannot lead by following the leader, why would we want to follow the followers who are just following our 120 year old lead?

You can blame rules and regulations all you want, it does not change the truth that trains are outmoded by cars and jets. (Just as steam boats and trains outmoded sail and muscle a hundred years earlier.)

If trains were as wonderful as the rail industry is claiming, why did they fail to maintain the 90% market share of intercity passenger travel they enjoyed in the US in the year 1910?

Yes, and unfortunately for the global economy such “experts” have caused untold damage to the global economy by convincing governments to grossly subsidize the old status quo — this stifles innovation.

In Europe and Japan where rail is still in a growth phase, government taxes cars and aircraft to the point of marginal ROI, and uses the value to prop up the old status quo — this has a chilling effect on investments in innovation.  If the failed technologies of old were just allowed to fade away, innovative transportation technologies that maximize value would again flourish– as they did in the US in the early 1800s through the mid 1900s with innovators such as Fulton, Ford, the Wrights, and Curtis.

Is the dinner trough not as full as you would like?  How about using the tried and true method of bringing enough value to the market place to attract investment looking for favorable ROI potential — like Ford did.  Instead of using schmoozing skills to convince politicians to take from tax-payers and line the pockets of the train industry, you could use your skills to focus on technology that maximizes value for the global economy.

Good point, and we can agree that maglev could be a “good guy” and quicken

transportation.  If anyone has been “stabbed in the back” it is the tax- payer.  And the train industry is really not to blame — they are in survival mode with their last dying gasps.  The bad guys are the politicians who succumb to the “wine and dine”  trips to EU and Asia where they are invited to ride luxury HSR and maglev trains.   They don’t want to acknowledge that trains must ride over the backs of the value producers with a very heavy load, and they turn a blind eye to any true innovation that is not able to put on the glitz or fund their campaigns.

It has been proven, first here in the US, and then throughout the world, that trains cannot compete with cars and jets except in a few niche markets.  In most cases, cars and aircraft are not “the right system for the job”, yet they are much better than trains.  Othercountries are following the US, let’s continue to lead, and not be seduced into falling for “smoke and mirror” tactics of the railroaders who dress up antiquated trains with maglev tech — it is like putting lipstick on a pig — the pig is still there under the makeup.

Even the shiniest maglev train is far from modern — it is still a 170
year old train and subject to the gross limitations of trains; including the
limitations that allowed cars and jets to displace trains to niche markets.
If you are not anti-modern, then you should stop supporting trains and put
your skills to better use and help implement the maglev innovation that
offers the highest benefit/cost ratio.

Best regards,
Daryl Oster
et3 team
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2 Comments

  1. Doug Cloutier says:

    Great interview, ET3’s evacuated tube transport is the way to go. We all should be lobbying for change. Could not agree more with what Daryl Oster said. Would like to see more coverage on ET3 from our media.

    Reply
  2. james says:

    Daryl
    Many thanks for publishing this excellent article on Starkorecity website. It is a valuable addition.
    Graham

    Reply

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