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Bullfilter

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Belgian fuel taxes look similar (about 0.6 euro/litre on petrol)
The current fuel excise rate in Australia is 42.7 cents in excise for every litre of fuel purchased.
Wow, maybe this is just my American bias but that's an incredibly high tax! Our federal tax is only 18 cents/gal, while states range from 15-70, with most states being in the 30ish range.
In the rest of the world, the US is renowned for having outrageously low petrol/gasoline prices and complaining about how high they are! :D

The current Australian petrol price is I think (converted to gallons and USD) about US$4.60 per gallon (A$6.45/gallon) - which is still comparatively cheap compared to many places.

Looking quickly on some web sites, the average world price seems to be about $7.25/gallon (??) and in the US about $3.74? In Europe, it looks to be in the US$5.50-5.80 range. Of course, both local prices and the effect of exchange rates cause these to fluctuate widely.

I think one big difference seems to be in the billions of dollars of subsidies paid to oil companies in the US ... so the real cost may buried in a bunch of things not immediately obvious at the bowser.

PS: not saying whether they should or shouldn't be paid, or arguing any effect pro or con, just that they are. As many countries run subsidies, incentives, etc for policy or political reasons. :)
 
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Wraith11B

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Dear Science, another page lost to... The Gas Tax?!

Oh wait, wrong AAR!!! Carry on!
 
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El Pip

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Were there labor disputes broken up that way? I'd be curious to briefly read about one.
Indeed there were. At the extreme end a strike at the Novocherkassk railway locomotive factory which ended in the KGB shooting dozens and show trials exiling hundreds to the gulag. It is arguable that strikes were one of the causes of the collapse of the Soviet Union, coal miners were fairly regularly on strike in from 1989 to 1991. Or for the truly brave the strikes within the gulag system in the early 1950s!

In between those lots of low level "spontaneous reorganisations of the workforce and adjustments to the plan" which absolutely were not industrial disputes or strikes and the KGB would shot you for suggesting that. ;)
 
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roverS3

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It speaks to the success of the Soviet war effort that all these infrastructure projects are still going ahead. Things are comfortable enough that such "nice to have" upgrades can be carried out, certainly quite the contrast to OTL!
I agree! It doesn't feel like a truly life or death struggle for the Soviets in TTL, which I'd consider a massive win.
It's not a massive expense 6.65 IC/day, or just a bit more than 1,04% of total industrial capacity (including lend-lease), or 1,3% of total industrial capacity (without lend-lease). Still, if you add the fact we're also building a navy, it is clear that our situation is rather comfortable where industry is concerned. We did build 61 IC in 1936-1938, that's a lot of extra capacity.

Not sure about that. Fuel taxes bring in ridiculous amounts of money, certainly in the UK the total tax revenue from fuel duty covers the entire cost of road maintenance and most of the subsidy that goes to the railways. If anything it is rail freight that is subsidised. Belgian fuel taxes look similar (about 0.6 euro/litre on petrol) so I'd imagine it is a similar situation. That said I do agree that trucks are more damaging, it's just they are being subsidised by other road vehicles not by taxpayers. There are good arguments for more rail freight and less long distance lorry, I'm in favour of it as an idea, but it is not the cheap or economical option. Indeed with electric/hybrid vehicles coming road transport is going to get even cheaper (no fuel duty) and government's can't really start increasing the price of electricity without slowing down the very necessary move away from fossil fuels. It's a complicated problem.
Some research indicates that total taxes on cars are the highest in Belgium out of the entire EU. These include VAT on sales & repairs, fuel taxes, a yearly tax based on engine displacement, a sales registration tax, etc. Now, it is to be noted that we have a huge amount of company cars, which are very fiscally advantageous as the leases are tax-exempt for some weird reason. Very expensive to own a personal car, pretty cheap for your employer to include one in your compensation. Anyhow, now I'm wondering where that money actually goes (over 21bn Euros/year) as our roads are decent, but not the best (especially compared to our neighbours), and the railways get 'just' 5,4bn euros/year + some tax advantages (counting both the national operator and the national Infrastructure company). I would suspect that like most taxes in Belgium, it just goes into several massive pots (federal treasury & regional treasuries...) Considering how much infrastructure spending and public transport spending (outside of the trains) is decentralised, I haven't been able to pinpoint exactly how much money is spent there. We do have a very dense road and rail network, and the vast majority of the road network is lit up at night, including all the highways. It is entirely possible part of the money ends up paying for social security.

I've seen some talk about creating some sort of usage tax so electric cars can help pay for their use of roads, but there aren't enough electric cars around yet to make it truly useful IMO. Also, I'd expect electricity prices to go up as the demand due to electric cars goes up dramatically.
Bear in mind that electric road vehicles are significantly heavier than their internal combustion counterparts, which inevitably leads to more road wear. Unless we build catenaries over our highways, but that doesn't seem very practical.

The current fuel excise rate in Australia is 42.7 cents in excise for every litre of fuel purchased.
Wow, maybe this is just my American bias but that's an incredibly high tax! Our federal tax is only 18 cents/gal, while states range from 15-70, with most states being in the 30ish range.
In the rest of the world, the US is renowned for having outrageously low petrol/gasoline prices and complaining about how high they are! :D
@Bullfilter answered that one for me.

The current Australian petrol price is I think (converted to gallons and USD) about US$4.60 per gallon (A$6.45/gallon) - which is still comparatively cheap compared to many places.

Looking quickly on some web sites, the average world price seems to be about $7.25/gallon (??) and in the US about $3.74? In Europe, it looks to be in the US$5.50-5.80 range. Of course, both local prices and the effect of exchange rates cause these to fluctuate widely.
All right, time to whip out the calculator. I had to look up the figures, because I wrongly assumed these were UK/AUS gallons and the numbers were way too low, but it's now clear to me they are US gallons. So, according to your figures, that's 1,08 €/liter in Australia, 0,87 €/liter in the US, and 1,29-1,36 €/liter in Europe (this seems low, but fuel does tend to be cheaper in Southern and Eastern Europe). Now, the last time we got petrol for our car, about two weeks ago, we paid just below 1,6 €/liter or US$6,84/gallon. This was at a regular petrol station, not an extra expensive one along a highway. The internet tells me that the current average price in Belgium is about 1,65 €/liter, just over US$7/gallon, or almost double the US petrol price... Good thing our car does 30 mpg (US gallons), and we don't use it very much.

On air freight, well tax on jet fuel is banned under the 1944 Chicago Convention on civil aviation, so changing that requires getting 193 nations to agree. Which has indeed proved tricky!
I mean, isn't that the sort of thing our politicians supposedly hold massive climate conferences for? If they're going to all fly to Glasgow for a few days, they might as well start paying taxes on the jet fuel.

There can be labour disputes in the Soviet system, it's just they end in labour being declared 'traitorous wreckers' and being sent to the gulag.
Were there labor disputes broken up that way? I'd be curious to briefly read about one.
Indeed there were. At the extreme end a strike at the Novocherkassk railway locomotive factory which ended in the KGB shooting dozens and show trials exiling hundreds to the gulag. It is arguable that strikes were one of the causes of the collapse of the Soviet Union, coal miners were fairly regularly on strike in from 1989 to 1991. Or for the truly brave the strikes within the gulag system in the early 1950s!
I would also suggest watching the movie 'Dorogie tovarishchi' (Dear Comrades) by Andrey Konchalovskiy which depicts the strike in Novocherkassk. I sadly haven't had time to see it myself, but my father did and said it was rather excellent.

This one I can help with. Junkers sold it's stake to a group of Finnish private investors in 1929, partly because Junkers owned Lufthansa and didn't want the competition and partly because they needed the money due to a series of financial mistakes, compounded by the stock market crash and depression.
Interesting, and now Lufthansa owns Brussels Airlines, the somewhat underwhelming but financially sound successor to SABENA. It is interesting that our national airline is owned by a German company, but as we just saw, this isn't the first time such a thing happened.

Another excellent update and I commend your for including the vital infrastructure that others often overlook. :)
It is my pleasure.

Oh wait, wrong AAR!!! Carry on!
I haven't developed an unhealthy compulsion for top of the page posting... yet.
 
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RustyHunter

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In the rest of the world, the US is renowned for having outrageously low petrol/gasoline prices and complaining about how high they are!
That's fair, although I try not to complain (too much). It was kind of crazy, but I was paying below $1.70/gal during the pandemic, so anything seems high compared to that!

I think one big difference seems to be in the billions of dollars of subsidies paid to oil companies in the US ... so the real cost may buried in a bunch of things not immediately obvious at the bowser.
That's a fair point, and I'd be curious whether Americans are paying the money in some other ways. BTW, is a bowser what Australians call a gas pump? That's a fun nickname if so!

Indeed there were. At the extreme end a strike at the Novocherkassk railway locomotive factory which ended in the KGB shooting dozens and show trials exiling hundreds to the gulag. It is arguable that strikes were one of the causes of the collapse of the Soviet Union, coal miners were fairly regularly on strike in from 1989 to 1991. Or for the truly brave the strikes within the gulag system in the early 1950s!
I would also suggest watching the movie 'Dorogie tovarishchi' (Dear Comrades) by Andrey Konchalovskiy which depicts the strike in Novocherkassk. I sadly haven't had time to see it myself, but my father did and said it was rather excellent.
Thank you, these look like excellent resources. I will have to find some time to look for the movie, or at least read some articles if nothing else.

Bear in mind that electric road vehicles are significantly heavier than their internal combustion counterparts, which inevitably leads to more road wear. Unless we build catenaries over our highways, but that doesn't seem very practical.
That's a very good point, but I think most governments are trying to incentivize electric cars, so adding extra costs to them is not the goal yet. They're also only a small fraction of vehicles in the US, so they wouldn't really raise much extra revenue.

I'm a little hesitant on electric cars personally, mostly because of three things: first, their range is fairly limited, especially considering how spread out things are in the United States. Second, I'm not convinced lithium mining is really that much better for the environment, and we would need to generate more electricity from somewhere. I think they have a place, I'm just not certain they are a true solution to our problems.
 
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Bullfilter

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BTW, is a bowser what Australians call a gas pump? That's a fun nickname if so!
It’s one nickname, yes. Though ‘petrol pump’ is used as much or more.
I was paying below $1.70/gal during the pandemic, so anything seems high compared to that!
It got up to A$1.80 per litre here a week or so ago!
I'm a little hesitant on electric cars personally, mostly because of three things: first, their range is fairly limited, especially considering how spread out things are in the United States.
Similar here. Australia is close to the size of the US, but with a population of only around 26m, so once you get outside the big cities, everything is proportionally even more spread out. Where I live has a population of only about 375k, and I regularly drive about 35km just to go to cricket practice!
 
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RustyHunter

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It’s one nickname, yes. Though ‘petrol pump’ is used as much or more.
Well, I'll file that away in my trivia. Who knows when it might come in handy!

Similar here. Australia is close to the size of the US, but with a population of only around 26m, so once you get outside the big cities, everything is proportionally even more spread out. Where I live has a population of only about 375k, and I regularly drive about 35km just to go to cricket practice!
I suppose the US and Australia really do have a fair amount in common. I've always wondered, how do people generally travel from one coast of Australia to the opposite? There aren't many roads through the Outback right?
 
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Bullfilter

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I suppose the US and Australia really do have a fair amount in common. I've always wondered, how do people generally travel from one coast of Australia to the opposite? There aren't many roads through the Outback right?
There’s a road across, in the south, including across the Nullarbor Plain (largely desert). You can get a transcontinental train (the Indian-Pacific) but most people would fly. Like you would say from NY to LA, for example.
 
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serutan

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Indeed there were. At the extreme end a strike at the Novocherkassk railway locomotive factory which ended in the KGB shooting dozens and show trials exiling hundreds to the gulag. It is arguable that strikes were one of the causes of the collapse of the Soviet Union, coal miners were fairly regularly on strike in from 1989 to 1991. Or for the truly brave the strikes within the gulag system in the early 1950s!

In between those lots of low level "spontaneous reorganisations of the workforce and adjustments to the plan" which absolutely were not industrial disputes or strikes and the KGB would shot you for suggesting that. ;)

And don't forget the omnipresent "they pretend to pay us and we pretend to work" thing which isn't a dispute as such but definitely had effects on the 5 year plans.
 
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roverS3

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That's a very good point, but I think most governments are trying to incentivize electric cars, so adding extra costs to them is not the goal yet. They're also only a small fraction of vehicles in the US, so they wouldn't really raise much extra revenue.
Indeed, and even if we don't switch to EV's, the fuel consumption of cars is going down. (if we disregard the uptick from people switching to pointless SUV's). Eventually, there will need to be another tax. In Belgium they've been talking about a tax per km you drive, initially only in Brussels itself, but I could see it expanded to the entire country.

I'm a little hesitant on electric cars personally, mostly because of three things: first, their range is fairly limited, especially considering how spread out things are in the United States. Second, I'm not convinced lithium mining is really that much better for the environment, and we would need to generate more electricity from somewhere. I think they have a place, I'm just not certain they are a true solution to our problems.
Cars are just incredibly inefficient ways of transport. Sure, they will take you from point A to point B, but you're lugging along nearly 2 tonnes of metal and plastic everywhere you go, so not so great energy efficiency, and a lot of resources for just 1-5 people. Considering most cars on the road have only 1 or 2 occupants, they're incredibly space-inefficient as well, which is why adding lanes and roads to 'solve' congestion leads to cities like LA, where most of the surface is made up of parking lots, 25-lane highways, and 6-lane stroads. This leads to everything being further apart, so everyone has no choice but to drive, and eventually everyone is still sitting in traffic all of the time.

Using a modern diesel bus to transport 50 people is better for the environment than using 25-50 electric cars, and it takes up way less space. I'm not saying cars don't have a place in our transport system, just that they should be used as little as possible in densely populated areas. A car only makes sense if you're going somewhere remote where no good public transit exists and you have to take several people and/or heavy stuff with you. (otherwise a motorcycle makes more sense). The problem is, of course that we're coming out of over half a century of car-centric zoning. Urban sprawl is terrible for public transport because people live too far apart, so either your busses are half-empty, or people end up having to drive to the bus stop.

We need to go back to spatial planning based on walkability and public transport, like we had before cars were widely available. I'm not saying everyone should be living in massive cities, just that at every level buildings should be clustered around public infrastructure as much as possible. Farms would probably be the exception here. You could have a choice to live in a relatively small village that has a bus-stop with regular bus service to nearby villages and the nearest train station, or in the town where the regional train station is located, or in a medium-sized city in which you can switch from the regional train to an intercity train which takes you to a major city, from where you can take high speed rail to other major cities, or planes to far-away destinations. Even within large cities, we need to vary the density of buildings, allowing for larger apartment buildings around metro and train stations, medium-sized apartment buildings around tramway/lightrail and brt stops, and clusters of munti-storey row-houses around bus stops. In the 'dead zones', you would have larger parks, and some semi-detached housing, from where you would have to walk further or cycle to get to public transport. Of course, a solid cycle lane network should supplement this public transit network.

This is a slow process, but it is happening, not by building new cities, but by modifying existing ones. Densification around train and metro stations is already happening in many growing cities as is. Instead of adding suburbs, or extending the urban area, increasing building heights around high-capacity public transit is just more efficient for everyone. In Flanders they've actually started giving houses a mobility score based on how accessible your house is by varied forms of public transport.

Similar here. Australia is close to the size of the US, but with a population of only around 26m, so once you get outside the big cities, everything is proportionally even more spread out. Where I live has a population of only about 375k, and I regularly drive about 35km just to go to cricket practice!
375k isn't that small. That's about the size of Charleroi, a rustbelt city south of Brussels (Yes Belgium also has a rustbelt...). So, looking at Charleroi, I would expect your city to have a decent-sized tramway system, two railway stations with trains at least every hour to every town over 200k residents around (and quite a few smaller ones), and lots of bus lines. Also, the beginnings of a network of cycle lanes around the main station and along the river/canal (if your city has one of those). And I do think Charleroi has a lot of room for improvement.

I suppose the US and Australia really do have a fair amount in common. I've always wondered, how do people generally travel from one coast of Australia to the opposite? There aren't many roads through the Outback right?
There’s a road across, in the south, including across the Nullarbor Plain (largely desert). You can get a transcontinental train (the Indian-Pacific) but most people would fly. Like you would say from NY to LA, for example.
Going from Sydney to Perth will probably remain more efficient by plane for quite some time, possibly for ever. Even then, the train is painfully slow. Sydney to Perth takes over three days, that's less than 60 km/h on average. If you consider that much of this rail line goes through the middle of nowhere, it's not like you're constrained to narrow curves by a dense urban tissue, or that the train has to stop every few kms. It won't be profitable to go all in and build HSR across Australia, but I don't see how rebuilding the slowest sections, adding some tracks in the busier sections, better timetable management and better rolling stock wouldn't be able to easily double that average speed at a fraction of the cost of building high speed rail. Bump up the frequency, and smaller outback towns on the line might have a truly viable alternative to driving when they need to go to either coast.

However, there is no good reason not to build HSR between Sydney, Canberra, and Melbourne (except for lobbying from Qantas). Considering the distances involved, the HST would be more than competitive with the aeroplane (if your train only stops in Canberra and the HST goes from city center to city center). Sure it'll probably cost about 10 billion USD to build (if you get the Spanish involved, they're very good at building good HSR on the cheap, almost as cheap as china but with much higher labour costs), but it would all but eliminate one of the busiest air corridors in the world, and it would be profitable in the long run. Of course you'd need to produce clean energy to power the trains, and as you're getting nuclear subs anyway, now might be the time to start building nuclear power plants. Or just build solar, though you will then need massive battery arrays.

Oh, and whatever you do, don't get the guys building the US West Coast high speed rail project involved. They're putting too many stops on the line, and they're doing lots of needlessly expensive things, like buying the land only after the route has been announced. Not doing land swaps (outside of urban areas), where you only buy the land the track sits on, and reorganise the parcels so each affected land owner gets a new parcel that's entirely on one side of the tracks, and only slightly smaller. Not picking the most cost-effective route etc. Using very few contractors with actual experience building high speed rail etc. Alstom and a group of French contractors who built the TGV lines actually went to the government of California with a worked out plan that would cost a fraction of what they're building now, and those morons turned it down.

Finally, there is no point in switching to EV's if you're burning coal or gas to produce the majority of your electricity.

All right. I'll get off my soapbox now. This is the consequence of loving trains and having a father who is an urbanist.
 
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Wraith11B

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Hey now, I'm honestly considering an SUV, and namely the new Bronco, because I have a dog, and my little Jetta just doesn't cut it when I have to drive down to the family house on the beach.

I also drive one for work, but that one is covered by work for gas and all that, but I'd rather not have an Explorer.
 
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roverS3

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Hey now, I'm honestly considering an SUV, and namely the new Bronco, because I have a dog, and my little Jetta just doesn't cut it when I have to drive down to the family house on the beach.
What's wrong with a 4 wheel drive station wagon? (something like a volvo V60/V90 cross-country, a bmw 5-series touring 4x4, Audi A4 Quattro, Subaru forester (though that one is almost an SUV) ) It's lighter than a similar sized SUV, decent enough off road for all but the most extreme applications, still enough space for a dog or two. Of course, there is only a limited offering of those kinds of vehicles in the US. Sure, the bronco looks tough and retro, but I can guarantee you it will use more fuel than a similar-sized station wagon or van, not to mention the higher center of gravity which is terrible for high speed stability, and makes it less responsive on the road.

I also drive one for work, but that one is covered by work for gas and all that, but I'd rather not have an Explorer.
If you need the space, a small van is just better. Lower center of gravity, probably more cargo/passenger space, lower load floor, and lower fuel consumption all things being equal. If you don't need the space, a sedan or station wagon will do just fine. Our family car is a 2020 Citroën Berlingo (too bad they don't sell those in the states).
We 'need' such a large car because:
We're a large family, even if half of the 6 children and my dad have moved out of the house, having a removable third row of seats has proven very useful.
My mother plays the double bass, and while you can transport a double bass in a mid-sized hatchback, this precludes you from taking along any passengers (well you can squeeze in one person, but it's not going to be comfortable. Also, with the van we can transport the double bass, my cello, some luggage, both dogs, and the four of us who still live with my mother to our vacation home in the Ardennes. And even without four wheel drive, the front wheel drive Berlingo actually works decently on gravel roads.
In the end, we do less than 10.000 km/year with that car, and plan to keep it until it's 15 years old at least. We actually downsized from a 2004 Opel Vivaro because we went from an 8 person household to a 4 person household. We also only sold the Opel because it was a diesel, and was no longer allowed into the Brussels area starting from 2020. (a measure meant to reduce fine particle emissions).
 
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Indeed, and even if we don't switch to EV's, the fuel consumption of cars is going down. (if we disregard the uptick from people switching to pointless SUV's). Eventually, there will need to be another tax. In Belgium they've been talking about a tax per km you drive, initially only in Brussels itself, but I could see it expanded to the entire country.
That's a very good point. Even SUVs and trucks are getting way more efficient though. It used to be pretty normal for trucks to average 12 mpg, now most of them are 20+ mpg on highway and maybe 18 in town.

Cars are just incredibly inefficient ways of transport. Sure, they will take you from point A to point B, but you're lugging along nearly 2 tonnes of metal and plastic everywhere you go, so not so great energy efficiency, and a lot of resources for just 1-5 people. Considering most cars on the road have only 1 or 2 occupants, they're incredibly space-inefficient as well, which is why adding lanes and roads to 'solve' congestion leads to cities like LA, where most of the surface is made up of parking lots, 25-lane highways, and 6-lane stroads. This leads to everything being further apart, so everyone has no choice but to drive, and eventually everyone is still sitting in traffic all of the time.
That's a good point. A lot of it in the US is just cultural. We've never really had a mass transit culture outside certain cities, so cars have always been prevalent. Not really sure what the fix is.

Going from Sydney to Perth will probably remain more efficient by plane for quite some time, possibly for ever. Even then, the train is painfully slow. Sydney to Perth takes over three days, that's less than 60 km/h on average.
That sounds like a miserable trip. Who has 3 days to waste inching along on the train?

Considering the distances involved, the HST would be more than competitive with the aeroplane (if your train only stops in Canberra and the HST goes from city center to city center). Sure it'll probably cost about 10 billion USD to build (if you get the Spanish involved, they're very good at building good HSR on the cheap, almost as cheap as china but with much higher labour costs), but it would all but eliminate one of the busiest air corridors in the world, and it would be profitable in the long run.
I do think HSR makes a lot of sense between urban hubs, especially running from NYC to DC would be a good route. The Northeastern US is basically the only place Amtrak (our passenger rail) is profitable or used, while it's almost nonexistent in the rest of the country.

don't get the guys building the US West Coast high speed rail project involved
Yeah, those guys are a bunch of clowns, but they're really just a symptom of a bigger problem in the US. We've gotten terrible at building infrastructure on time and at reasonable cost. It's hard to believe all the things that were built in the 50s when we can't even manage to build a short stretch of HSR now.

In the end, we do less than 10.000 km/year with that car, and plan to keep it until it's 15 years old at least.
Wow, driving culture in the US and Belgium is very different. The average American drives at least 15,000 mi/year (24,000 km), and I've personally had years where I've been closer to 30,000 mi.

Hey now, I'm honestly considering an SUV, and namely the new Bronco, because I have a dog, and my little Jetta just doesn't cut it when I have to drive down to the family house on the beach.
The Bronco is fairly small as SUVs go, especially compared to a Chevy Suburban or similar. It sounds like you also need the off-road capabilities?
 
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Bullfilter

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That sounds like a miserable trip. Who has 3 days to waste inching along on the train?
Just quickly, re this and the other related posts: it’s really just a tourist related thing, not done for actual ordinary travel, so I don’t think it is ever likely to be speeded up much. It would almost defeat the purpose. One would do it more like you would in Canada, say over the Rockies to the Great Plains (if that’s what they’re called in Canada). A way to see the whole continent from end to end, preferably in one of the ritzier sleeping cabins. You’d then fly back (or vice versa).
 
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That's a good point. A lot of it in the US is just cultural. We've never really had a mass transit culture outside certain cities, so cars have always been prevalent. Not really sure what the fix is.
That's not strictly true. Before ww2, and especially before ww1 most of the US towns and cities were built around transit. You had tramways, even tramway suburbs, lots of passenger trains etc. After ww2, the conscious choice was made to start building everything for the car. US car manufacturers even worked together in order to buy up all the tramway lines in the US, rip out the rails, and convert them to mediocre bus lines with less frequent service (guess who makes the busses). Massive subsidies for highway construction, with almost no state support for the railways, especially passenger railways, made things worse. Highways were built through and over dense urban neighbourhoods with little urban housing in it's place. And then we come to zoning. The bane of all public transit: 'detatched single family residential' zoning.. Even when you can build apartment buildings, there are ridiculously high 'parking minimums', which means that you are pretty much forced to water down the density of the neighbourhood with massive parking lots and garages. There are pictures of quite a few US cities were dense neighbourhoods were torn down in order to start over with wider roads, large parking lots and lower density, all in favour of the automobile. Did you know there are places in the world that are neither a forest of skyscrapers, nor a sprawl of detached buildings? There is an in-between, though North-American zoning rarely allows for that. Every american dreams of their own detached home, not realising that that very dream only makes them more dependent on their car.
Some of these mistakes were also made in Europe, see for example Rotterdam, (though at least that city was torn down by the Luftwaffe and rebuilt post-war to favour cars), or the typical flemish suburbs made up of 'detatched single family residential' areas between existing villages. But never on the same scale, and we've also started resolving some of these problems before many areas in the US have even recognised them. The Dutch were the quickest to realise the necessity of relatively dense neighbourhoods, and I have to say that the way the Netherlands is zoned is leagues better than the near-anarchic way we did it in Belgium. We're making some of the right moves, but the Dutch are a few decades ahead.

I do think HSR makes a lot of sense between urban hubs, especially running from NYC to DC would be a good route. The Northeastern US is basically the only place Amtrak (our passenger rail) is profitable or used, while it's almost nonexistent in the rest of the country.
The problem with the US North-East corridor is that it's so (sub-)urbanised, with high real estate values, that upping the rail speeds becomes ridiculously expensive beyond what has already been done within the existing right-of-way (electrification, high speed rolling stock, ...) You either need to expropriate lots of expensive land or tunnel under it to widen curves etc. They are buying new Acela's which I understand will be tilting, allowing to go just a little bit faster, but the underlying problem is the infrastructure, and there are no quick or cheap fixes for that. Of course, if they can pay about 25bn USD for the big dig in Boston, I'm sure they can build a few extra rail tunnels or expropriate a couple thousand sub-urban houses to speed up the N-E corridor, right? It's a no-brainer really, those rail tunnels/corridors would be much more useful that a bunch of oversized road tunnels under boston anyway. I mean, who in their right mind destroys an urban elevated highway system only to replace it with tunnnels? You're just, very expensively, hiding the problem underground.

Yeah, those guys are a bunch of clowns, but they're really just a symptom of a bigger problem in the US. We've gotten terrible at building infrastructure on time and at reasonable cost. It's hard to believe all the things that were built in the 50s when we can't even manage to build a short stretch of HSR now.
The Texas high speed rail project looks much better. They actually enlisted experienced Spanish firms to plan and build the tracks, with US sub-contractors. (and we know the Spanish are great at building 'affordable' HSR) The Dallas-Houston route makes sense, doesn't have too many stops, and allows for relatively easy expansion to Austin. The difference in cost with the West Coast project is going to be ridiculous. The only failing of Texas HSR is that the stations look like they are a bit too far from the city centres.

Wow, driving culture in the US and Belgium is very different. The average American drives at least 15,000 mi/year (24,000 km), and I've personally had years where I've been closer to 30,000 mi.
I must say that we are on the low end even for Belgium, as both my parents, and both siblings who still live with us commute to work/school by train, I go everywhere I need to by bicycle (All the places I go regularly are within a ca. 10km radius). So, the car is only used for getting groceries (though I often go by bike as well, so that's less than once a week), transporting my mother's double bass to/from music school (less than 10 km round trip, once or twice a week), to go to/from our vacation home (about 150 km each way a few times a year), and occasionally to go see a concert in another city or to go see one of my siblings who have already moved out.

The Bronco is fairly small as SUVs go, especially compared to a Chevy Suburban or similar. It sounds like you also need the off-road capabilities?
In the US maybe. In Europe the bronco would be about in the middle. It's taller than the 'mid-sized' (for us) SUV's like the nissan qashqai or the bmw X3, but shorter (as in less long) than the 'full size' SUV's like the bmw X5 or the Range Rover. You only very rarely see anything larger than those. I've seen a few bmw X7's, and there are a few crazy people who have imported 'regular' American pick-ups like a dodge Ram, or ford F-150, but those are all clearly too large for our roads.

That sounds like a miserable trip. Who has 3 days to waste inching along on the train?
Just quickly, re this and the other related posts: it’s really just a tourist related thing, not done for actual ordinary travel, so I don’t think it is ever likely to be speeded up much. It would almost defeat the purpose. One would do it more like you would in Canada, say over the Rockies to the Great Plains (if that’s what they’re called in Canada). A way to see the whole continent from end to end, preferably in one of the ritzier sleeping cabins. You’d then fly back (or vice versa).
If I ever visit Australia, I'll keep that in mind, seems like more fun than driving across the country.
 
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Wraith11B

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Not to help derail the thread much, but the reason I like the Bronco (rather than a station wagon) is that they do have the looks, but all the options you cited in their base models are way more expensive (hooray tariffs) than the base model Bronco. Sure, I could also get away with the Sport version, but if I'm going to have a nice car (I've had the Jetta for nearly three years and put barely 10k miles on it, so about 16k kms for the metrics), I'd just rather get something I like.

Also, my dog is big, almost 90lbs (45kilos, metrics) and fluffy. Having him in the car is limiting to what else I can bring.

Sure, it's a bit of a vanity project, but I'm good with it.
 
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roverS3

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Not to help derail the thread much, but the reason I like the Bronco (rather than a station wagon) is that they do have the looks, but all the options you cited in their base models are way more expensive (hooray tariffs) than the base model Bronco. Sure, I could also get away with the Sport version, but if I'm going to have a nice car (I've had the Jetta for nearly three years and put barely 10k miles on it, so about 16k kms for the metrics), I'd just rather get something I like.

Also, my dog is big, almost 90lbs (45kilos, metrics) and fluffy. Having him in the car is limiting to what else I can bring.

Sure, it's a bit of a vanity project, but I'm good with it.
It seems the only good station wagons being sold in the US today are imports. I hope this isn't the future of the European car market too, as we have also seen some brands, especially more budget brands for some reason, reduce the number of different station wagons they offer in favour of cross-overs and SUV's. I also didn't realise just how (comparatively) cheap suv's are in the US. Here in Europe they are all more expensive than similar sized hatchbacks or station wagons of the same brand with the same engine.

The full-size bronco definitely looks significantly better than the sport version. Nothing wrong with a vanity project, especially if you aren't going to drive it very much (for an american). Even if I deplore the general trend towards using them for everything, I definitely get the allure of a good-looking and capable 4x4 like the bronco. I'm sure you'll get a lot of enjoyment out of it.

In an attempt to bring this thread back onto it's rails, I present to you, the best SUV ever to be built which will never be surpassed. As you can see it works perfectly well on the beach:

LadaNiva.jpg

Anyone who disagrees is a capitalist pig, obviously.
 
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That's not strictly true. Before ww2, and especially before ww1 most of the US towns and cities were built around transit. You had tramways, even tramway suburbs, lots of passenger trains etc.
That is a good point. I suppose I was being a bit too absolute, but it's been the way it is for basically everyone's living memory. I frankly think car-culture will remain a thing in the United States for a long time, just considering how much more spread out we are. For example, Wisconsin is about the size of Germany and has less than 6 million residents while Germany is well over 80 million people. The incentives, lifestyles, etc. are just inherently going to be vastly different than Europe.

The bane of all public transit: 'detatched single family residential' zoning.
I think the tension is that most people want a single family home ideally (in the US anyways), which leads to all the problems with commuting that you've described. I know I wouldn't want to spend my whole life in apartment complexes and aim to get my own house some day.

In the US maybe. In Europe the bronco would be about in the middle.
That is pretty interesting to hear. I guess I'm so used to full-size trucks being everywhere that I'd never thought how they're such an American thing. I guess that explains why some foreign car companies don't even sell trucks here.

If I ever visit Australia, I'll keep that in mind, seems like more fun than driving across the country.
That does sound interesting, although I think a day would be enough for me. I doubt I'll get to Australia anytime soon, but it's definitely a cool country I'd love to see!

Apologies for leading this thread off-track. I'll get back on topic from here on out!
 
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I frankly think car-culture will remain a thing in the United States for a long time, just considering how much more spread out we are. For example, Wisconsin is about the size of Germany and has less than 6 million residents while Germany is well over 80 million people. The incentives, lifestyles, etc. are just inherently going to be vastly different than Europe.
The car will always have it's place in very sparsely populated areas, and it is true that the US has more of those than western Europe.
I think the tension is that most people want a single family home ideally (in the US anyways), which leads to all the problems with commuting that you've described. I know I wouldn't want to spend my whole life in apartment complexes and aim to get my own house some day.
But that's just it. Your single family home doesn't need to be detached, it doesn't need to be low, and it doesn't need a massive street-side setback. Zoning in the US is so screwed up that the only options are often fully detached single family homes, 5 over 1 apartment complexes, or skyscraper apartments. There are so many other form factors, two-family buildings for example (which might have two street facing doors, with one leading to a stairway, and another onto the ground floor, so there is no shared space at all), terraced houses, semi-detached houses, single family mixed use buildings, where you have a shop on the ground floor and a multi-storey single family apartment above it. (which used to traditionally be the home of the shop owner) This is referred to by urbanists as the 'missing middle'.

I used to live in a typical bourgeois 19th century single family home here in Brussels. The walls are built out of solid brick, the floors oak beams and planks, with decorated plaster ceilings. Even if two load-bearing walls are shared with the neighbours, you can't hear them unless they start drilling into the shared wall. This is because you have over a foot (about 35 cm) of solid brick separating you. The terraced house in question is about 6m wide (20 feet), and not counting the basement extension, it's about 9m (30 feet) deep. The ground floor is elevated by about 1 m (3,3 ft), which means people walking on the street can't see inside your living room, and also that your basement has low street-facing windows, which people also don't tend to look through because they would have to crouch to do so. You enter on the left of the street-facing façade, and the door is followed immediately by a few steps. The left hand side of the house is taken up by the stairway/hallway (about 1,6 m or 5 feet wide), with a small room towards the back on each floor. The right hand side has two ca. 4,2m by 4,4m (14'x14,5') rooms per floor.
On the basement level, we have the kitchen (street side) with natural light from the street, and the dining room (garden side), which has garden access through a small basement level courtyard, which was made into a veranda. There is also a restroom in the old coal storage space.
On the ground floor, we have the music room on the street side (this would have been a dining room or living room in the old days) and the living room on the garden side, these have high ceilings (about 3,6 m 12-13 feet), and are separated by large and tall wooden folding doors. The space behind the stairway is used as an extension of the living room.
The first floor has a bedroom on the street side with a balcony (the one I used to share with my older brother) and my parent's home office on the garden side, these have relatively high ceilings (about 2,9m or 9feet). It also has a restroom and laundry room behind the stairway. The second floor has two more bedrooms, used by my 3 other siblings, and the bathroom in the space behind the stairway.
Then there is the large attic, which was converted into a large bedroom for my parents.

Even if it was a bit cramped by the end when we were a 7 person household, this was a fine single family home, and had my parents not had so many children, we might still live there. The only negatives were that we had a rather small garden, and we ended up buying a small garage across the street to store our many bicycles, as the hallway was a bit too cramped, and dragging them down the stairs to the basement would have been a pain. All in all, this neighbourhood, made up almost exclusively of similar single family homes (some divided into two apartments), is much denser than even the densest American suburb.

Nowadays we live in an old farm (95 sqm / 1.000 sqft x 2.7 floors plus an extension on the ground floor). It's the middle one of a row of three farm houses, so ours is a row house, and both of our neighbours have a semi-detached home. The rest of the street is a mix of similar farm houses and taller, narrower, more urban houses (similar to the one we used to live in) as well as some more recently built terraced houses (which tend to have garages on the ground floor), a few small warehouses and a few small apartment buildings. There is only one fully detached home in my street. The neighbourhood is densifying rapidly as it is well served by public transit, and they're even building a new metro line that will have a stop nearby. There were no apartment buildings when we moved here, now there are four nearby, though they aren't offensively huge, just a little bit taller than the tallest houses.
 
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OOC: It's been a while, but I'm back again.
This is a very useful quote and I shall here appropriate it. :D

General Markkur's Beechcraft C-45 landed at 9pm on the 8th of October.
Always a pleasure to see the old General back in action! At least it is for me, I cannot say the same for Lyadov et al!

Bottom a 1933 Duesenberg Model SJ. The SJ was a marked improvement over the J, featuring a supercharger to give the 7 liter straight eight engine a bit more oomph, upping the power output from 265 bhp to 320 bhp. It had a top speed of around 235 km/h and could accelerate from 0-100 km/h in about 8 seconds. These cars were faster than the Buggati's of the time, despite being a lot longer and heavier.
Clearly a lot of fun to drive, and it seems like we have an awful lot of fast drivers in this story rampaging through the streets of Leningrad...

If we do not get at least one car chase before the jig is up, I shall lead the thread in revolt. :p

Once again the Committee is torn on the issue of what to do with the unfolding situation in Leningrad. While Rozïtis is getting closer to uncovering 'Odinatsat's past, the Americans are now very much involved, with General Markkur now likely leading a personal vendetta against whoever murdered Captain Johnson. 11 herself seems to be threading a fine line, revealing enough to keep the detective close, but not significantly more than what he already knows. Considering how calculated her responses are, it seems quite likely now that she has broken into Rozïtis' office at least once. It's not easy to say who is playing who between Goleniewsky and Rozïtis, but they are definitely playing a dangerous game. What is Rozïtis' endgame really, and how much is 'Odinatsat' going to reveal to keep the charade going? I'm sure we'll find out from Lyadov, who is gearing up to use every tool in his arsenal to keep tabs on his now secretive colleague and his new ladyfriend.
A complex series of events and a lot to unpack, many threads to resolve. And thus far, precious few clues as to the possible identity of this mysterious murderer, such that Odinatsat remains the prime suspect due simply to lack of any others at hand!

The meeting itself took place in a railcar parked on a siding at Tornio station as there was no suitable meeting room in the station itself. Luckily the carriage had a stove. On the table, a map of the Finland SSR was laid out. The Infrastructure of pre-liberation Finland was shown in black, and improvements to the network had been added in coloured ink. 'Devyat' briefly explained what had been done, and what the future plans were:
A very nice rework of an authentic map, the changes also look quite authentic and I'd be hard-pressed to recognize that it was alti-historical were it taken out of this AAR context!

A good plan. Using trains is far more efficient than trying to use trucks!
Someone should tell Paradox this.

There can be labour disputes in the Soviet system, it's just they end in labour being declared 'traitorous wreckers' and being sent to the gulag.
Thus marking one of the rare concurrences of opinion between El Pip and the Soviet Union.

I mean, isn't that the sort of thing our politicians supposedly hold massive climate conferences for? If they're going to all fly to Glasgow for a few days, they might as well start paying taxes on the jet fuel.
Ah, but see, this would require the politicians to exercise accountability, and there is nothing they hate more except perhaps serving the common person.

I haven't developed an unhealthy compulsion for top of the page posting... yet.
There is still time. In fact I will assist you momentarily by hitting the "Post Reply" button.

I'm a little hesitant on electric cars personally, mostly because of three things: first, their range is fairly limited, especially considering how spread out things are in the United States. Second, I'm not convinced lithium mining is really that much better for the environment, and we would need to generate more electricity from somewhere. I think they have a place, I'm just not certain they are a true solution to our problems.
In my mind the problem being solved is rather more pragmatic: eventually we will run out of cheap, accessible oil and then we will have a fuel problem if we have not switched over. Certainly you get the climate change wing which continues to insist on sounding the alarm despite the proven fact that at least half of the population could not give a damn and worse in many cases will actively do the opposite just to spite the alarmists. Arguing from the point of economic and resource realities seems a more persuasive bent yet one not largely present in public discourse. That being said, progress is made in that direction regardless, and as far as climate change I think the real benefit will come from transferring the problem towards the power generation sector which is doing much better in terms of clean renewables and/or nuclear sources than I think most give credit for, particularly the efficiency of the latest generations of solar materials are incredibly competitive and only getting better.

Cars are just incredibly inefficient ways of transport. Sure, they will take you from point A to point B, but you're lugging along nearly 2 tonnes of metal and plastic everywhere you go, so not so great energy efficiency, and a lot of resources for just 1-5 people. Considering most cars on the road have only 1 or 2 occupants, they're incredibly space-inefficient as well, which is why adding lanes and roads to 'solve' congestion leads to cities like LA, where most of the surface is made up of parking lots, 25-lane highways, and 6-lane stroads. This leads to everything being further apart, so everyone has no choice but to drive, and eventually everyone is still sitting in traffic all of the time.
The thing about cars is that they are inefficient, but also the most flexible mode of transportation. Any other mode - train, plane, bus, and so on - you are limited to wherever that mode of transport stops and beyond that are reliant on personal locomotion. As covered above, with the suburban spread outside many American cities (a quite complicated cultural phenomenon I won't delve into here, suffice to say much more has gone into this than poor urban planning) this is really not considered workable by most and there are I think fairly good reasons for that, granted not intractable problems in theory but likely so in practice.

That said, cases like Los Angeles do demonstrate that bringing that suburban thinking into city planning is a recipe for transportation disaster and I doubt you will find many sane thinkers to say otherwise.

Alstom and a group of French contractors who built the TGV lines actually went to the government of California with a worked out plan that would cost a fraction of what they're building now, and those morons turned it down.
I suspect it was a case of "Buy American" which unfortunately plays extremely well with the voters even at great financial cost. Not sure why Alstom et al did not try to rework their plan to use American contractors to convince the politicos since that seems to have worked in Texas, California is rather beyond my own wheelhouse and I can't speak much to what goes on out there.

But that's just it. Your single family home doesn't need to be detached, it doesn't need to be low, and it doesn't need a massive street-side setback.
Many in the US would argue this quite strongly, I don't think it is a question of who is right or wrong as much as it is the cultural imperatives that have led to the present states of affairs in different places. Suburbia in America is in some significant part a result of people who wanted to move away from the cities, yet be close enough to continue commuting and working there (necessitating certain degrees of density) combined with the desire to own "property" including a nice spacious yard and some distance from one's annoying neighbors. Again, rather more complicated cultural factors going into it than can be resolved in a single AAR thread about murder in a Soviet ballet theater, and I guess a war or something.

Speak of, the top of the page awaits... ;)
 
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