Honolulu Rail Honolulu's Impeding Rail System Addressing Research Paper

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Honolulu Rail

Honolulu's Impeding Rail System:

Addressing the Necessary Factors to Ensure the Successful Implementation of a Mass Transit Rail System in Honolulu, Hawaii

The Honolulu High-Capacity Transit Corridor Project has already gone through a plethora of designs and revisions and has recently the project has been approved by the governing authorities. The project is meant to address many issues that can propel Honolulu into a more sustainable direction. Inspiration for this project did not require a great leap in human inventions and technology. In fact, many nations have already successfully constructed such rail systems. Not only have they proven successful, but they have been successfully transporting people for many decades now. However, for whatever reason, the United States has never adopted the efficiency of rail systems to the extent that other cultures around the globe have.

These issues that stand the most room for prosperity from the implementation of a contemporary rail system can be, for the most part, split into two underlying themes. One such theme can be identified as a mere practicality. Rail systems, especially the more advanced high-speed versions, can offer individuals many superior benefits in regards to their travel that cannot be otherwise found in other alternative options such as automobile, bus transit, or even air. The other theme that accounts for the bulk of the attraction not already mentioned is the fact that rail systems are comparatively environmentally friendly. Rail systems do not emit nearly as many greenhouse gases as competitive transport methods per user. This is an important consideration given the fact that many among the atmospheric sciences discipline are currently stating that "our planet is in peril" (Hansen, 2007).

Problem Statement

In order to conduct research properly, the problem must be identified and in this case the problem is that it is unclear what makes a rail system valuable to an expanding community. The Literature Review section will present a background of worldwide systems that are currently being utilized. The Methodological section will introduce the commonalities that various systems share. Furthermore, the analysis section will provide interpretations of different factors that affects the success of & #8230;., based on the findings in the Methodology section and the Literature review sections, and also provide answer as to which factors might determine the success of the impeding rail system in Honolulu. Finally, the Conclusion and Recommendations section summarize the findings and provide possible recommendations for other cities to follow.

Literature Review

The United States had historically used the resources that it has access to within its own borders for its development. The early portion of its industrialization was primarily fueled by fossil fuels, mostly oil and coal. Although coal is still relatively plentiful, oil as a domestic resource it ran into its peak production sometime in the mid-twentieth century. However before the demise of domestic oil production, an infrastructure and to some extent a culture had already formed on the presence of inexpensive and available oil resources. Therefore to meet the demands of the American society oil was imported and the industry was heavily subsidized by the U.S. government.

To meet the obligations of this arrangement oil has been heavily imported ever since the U.S. sources dried up. However, the contemporary arrangement is currently being stressed by a plethora of factors which bring in to play many of the alternatives to development without ubiquitous oil, such as efficient public transportation, which under the circumstances are more attractive. Such factors include world-wide peak oil production as well as unrest in the Middle East; the wealthiest region in terms of petroleum resources. By comparison, Europe and parts of Asia developed without a similar access to resources as the U.S. had and therefore their trajectories represent a growth pattern that evolved without the prevalence of oil and furthermore integrating more encompassing forms of public transportation.

As previously mentioned, there are two underlying categorization of ambitions that can account for most, if not all, aspects of the need for advanced rail systems in light of the new energy constraints being placed on the U.S. This is evident in the stated goals of the rail project itself. For example, the project's goals are stated clearly on the primary website that the charter organization has developed (Honolulu Rail Transit, 2011). The stated goals of the project are:

Improved Mobility


Improving the Economy

Protecting Our Environment

Sustainable Growth


Each goal is virtuous in its own right, however when considered as a whole, the benefits to the Hawaiian community are plentiful.

Since the United States has been relatively slow in attempted to adopt this technology, there is some debate about how feasible it will be to build rail systems in a manner that would met the standards already in place in other nations. President Barrack Obama addressed this very point in a speech he presented to a crowd in the University of Tampa, who is also engaged in plans for the construction of a rail system. The President announced, "There's no reason why other countries can build high-speed rail lines and we can't" (Mauvinere, 2010). However, even the high-speed rail advocates in the U.S. still have their doubts about whether the domestic systems will be able to provide the results found in countries such as Japan, Spain, France, and China.

Other critics are quick to point out that there is such a large gap in the development of the industry between the U.S. And its competitors that even substantial investments of public money will not produce anything near what can be found abroad. For example, today you can travel between Paris and Lyon (250 miles) on a high-speed train in less than two hours. From Boston to Philadelphia, a comparable distance, it takes some five hours on what is considered to be the U.S.'s closest thing to high speed rail; the Amtrak Acela (Walsh, 2010). Therefore, to create similar systems in the U.S. As found elsewhere in the world, many argue that it will require more than just money; instead it will require the rapid development of an entire industry. "The problem with the passenger rail business has been the lack of demand" said Robert Furniss in regard to the situation with rail in the United States (Walsh, 2010). To further illustrate this point (illustration shown below), an example of the technology that exists in Japan is provided. This technology is not used today however, it was finally retired in 2002, but the since its introduction in 1964 it could transport millions of passengers daily at speeds up to one hundred forty miles per hour; nearly a half century before a, taken in a loose context, comparable system emerged in the U.S.

Figure 1-1964 Japanese Shinkansen

Since the industry may not be capable of constructing efficient systems while domestic producers are still in their infancy, many outsourcing opportunities have also been considered. Chinese companies' seem to be more than willing to offer bids for many of the potential projects. China does hold some expertise in the technology and has already built over four thousand miles of high speed rail for its own train system (McDonald, 2010). Additionally, Beijing already has in the works over sixteen thousand additional miles planned to be completed before 2020. Currently, the Chinese are employing technology from compilation of French, German, and Japanese technology.

Another option would be to outsource the rail technology from a number of European or Japanese firms and use U.S. sub-contractors to complete the labor requirements. Examples of firms that cities in the U.S. could pursue such a strategy with are companies such as Siemens AG (German), Veolia Environment SA (French), and the Skanska AB (Swedish) firms (Elfes, 2011). However, even though there are many companies that specialize in the industry internationally, the demand for rail is also growing at an exponential rate. Currently, the list of rail projects underway exceeds fifty, and includes a range of countries including everyone from Ghana, India, Turkey, and South Korea and of course more developed countries such as Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and the Netherlands (Railway Technology, 2011). The spikes in demand for such systems have undoubtedly limited the supply by many of the major industry competitors.

Research Question

What factors are necessary for Honolulu to sustain and gain maximum benefit from a rail system?


With so many examples available of rail systems outside the United States, the primary question that must be asked is what criteria should be utilized in identifying appropriate models. In order to explore this issue it seems reasonable to look at systems that are commonly thought of as the most successful system as well as the least successful rail transit system. Ratings of these rail systems contain a significant subjective aspect to the scales of inquiry. However, the categories by which the scales are determined generally fall into three broad and all-encompassing aspects.

One such aspect deals with monetary matters. The system must be less expensive or at least comparable other modes of transport. Additionally, it must also provide…[continue]

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