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Proliferation of rail transport on Safehold

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Proliferation of rail transport on Safehold
Post by tjthw8s   » Wed Sep 19, 2018 11:32 am

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Developing rail transport would be fairly high on the agenda for many places post-fall-of-the-Group-Of-Four.

Chisolm most definitely; Sharlayan already proposing it to bypass unnavigable sections of rivers in a realm with few canals.

Again, any realm lacking in canal transport would probably find many advantages in developing a rail network.

Even Charis. And even with the advantages of Howell Bay.

For one possible example: suppose you build a seaport on the northeast coast of Margaret's Land on the coast of Tranjyr Passage. With a rail link south and east to Howsmyn's Delthak complex. Such a seaport would have a definite advantage for any commerce heading anywhere west of Charis, saving time since your ships no longer have to sail so far east before turning south thru Emerald Reach and the Charis Sea and then having to sail back WEST though The Throat into Howell Bay.

And, the Safehold Map from the downloads section appears to show a foothills region all along the western coast of the isthmus connecting Margaret's Land to Charis proper. A Rail line may be feasible all the way south to Telesberg itself.

Even steam powered freight trains would probably be able to maintain a speed of over 40 or 50 kilometres per hour. One could make the trip from Telesberg to Seaport in less than a five-day! And cut at least 3 or 4 five-days off the transit time a ship would take having to go the long way 'round.

And I would imagine that Corisande, Emerald and Zebadiah could certainly all have major benefits even to their own internal economies by developing rail networks.

Plus, even the mainland realms would probably jump on board as soon as they could get their own hands on steam power. Though I suspect Desnair may prioritize on steam power to increase their gold mines output first.

Thoughts?
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Re: Proliferation of rail transport on Safehold
Post by Weird Harold   » Wed Sep 19, 2018 3:42 pm

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tjthw8s wrote:Even steam powered freight trains would probably be able to maintain a speed of over 40 or 50 kilometres per hour. ...
...
Thoughts?


Some of the fastest trains in history were steam powered. A "Mile a Minute" was pretty much standard for American transcontinental trains and express trains, like the Flying Scotsman, in the UK. I'm not as familiar with other venues, but any long-haul express would be pushing 40-60 MPH instead of KPH.

I think the fastest spread of railroads on Safehold will actually be along the existing canals; replacing dragons along the tow paths and paralleling the canal's gradients.

It would be much more economical to establish coaling stations with barges and have canal water available with the added benefit of having suitable gradient already surveyed.

Steam Tractors traveling the high roads will probably precede railroads in most areas, and they're likely to be slower than your projected KPH; steam lorries capable of much faster speeds probably won't be to far behind (mainly depending on the development of pneumatic tires.)

Digging miles and miles of new roadbed is going to be a last resort where there are already canals and highroads. It's going to happen, but not until the production of steel rails catches up with demand and steam transport proves itself on the easier routes.
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Re: Proliferation of rail transport on Safehold
Post by Whitecold   » Wed Sep 19, 2018 5:16 pm

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Weird Harold wrote:Some of the fastest trains in history were steam powered. A "Mile a Minute" was pretty much standard for American transcontinental trains and express trains, like the Flying Scotsman, in the UK. I'm not as familiar with other venues, but any long-haul express would be pushing 40-60 MPH instead of KPH.

I think the fastest spread of railroads on Safehold will actually be along the existing canals; replacing dragons along the tow paths and paralleling the canal's gradients.

It would be much more economical to establish coaling stations with barges and have canal water available with the added benefit of having suitable gradient already surveyed.

Steam Tractors traveling the high roads will probably precede railroads in most areas, and they're likely to be slower than your projected KPH; steam lorries capable of much faster speeds probably won't be to far behind (mainly depending on the development of pneumatic tires.)

Digging miles and miles of new roadbed is going to be a last resort where there are already canals and highroads. It's going to happen, but not until the production of steel rails catches up with demand and steam transport proves itself on the easier routes.

I highly doubt you'll get the tow roads or any existing high roads to kickstart your railroad, there will still be animal town barges for quite a while. Horses coexisted with railroads for quite a while.
And while for speed the routes of the high roads/canals are likely suited, these are unlikely to be the first routes, as you won't get any cargo there. Few perishables are shipped, and for everything else barges are quite sufficient, especially as they can more easily be replaced by steam barges or even refitted, not needing additional infrastructure compared to rail, which needs the railbeds, bridges, tunnels, and large amounts of steel.
The expense will at first be mostly worth it there where there is no competition from canals.
Also, high speed trains need good steel, and lots of it, and efficient steam engines, so for now they will likely only happen with Charisian engineering involved.
So mainland rail projects will at first only have a limited speed advantage vs steam barges, while having a lot higher setup costs, pushing them to seek routes that are not canal connected.
Of course, prestige projects that have strong political support may be financed anyway, or a railway bubble might form, where investors think any rail project will be a gold mine.
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Re: Proliferation of rail transport on Safehold
Post by Weird Harold   » Wed Sep 19, 2018 6:35 pm

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Whitecold wrote:...Of course, prestige projects that have strong political support may be financed anyway, or a railway bubble might form, where investors think any rail project will be a gold mine.


IIRC, Railroads pretty much killed the Erie Canal by paralleling it's route. It didn't kill the canal completely for some time because canal barges could hall more tonnage that early railroads, but the speed differential for passengers and non-bulk cargo was substantial right from the start.
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Re: Proliferation of rail transport on Safehold
Post by Randomiser   » Thu Sep 20, 2018 7:46 am

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Weird Harold wrote:IIRC, Railroads pretty much killed the Erie Canal by paralleling it's route. It didn't kill the canal completely for some time because canal barges could hall more tonnage that early railroads, but the speed differential for passengers and non-bulk cargo was substantial right from the start.


As you suggest it will depend on the economics. Any railway line alongide a canal is going to be competing with established businesses for years. The bargees may well be able to haul cargo at a cheaper rate per ton for a fair while, even with the costs of upgrading the leading barge of barge trains to steam. Whether that will be outweighed by the revenue from passengers and time dependent non-bulk cargoes will depend on what proportion of business those might represent. An entirely new route doesn't have the competition, but has to establish the trade from scratch.
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Re: Proliferation of rail transport on Safehold
Post by Weird Harold   » Thu Sep 20, 2018 8:42 am

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Randomiser wrote:As you suggest it will depend on the economics. Any railway line alongide a canal is going to be competing with established businesses for years. ... An entirely new route doesn't have the competition, but has to establish the trade from scratch.


The extensive high-road network on Safehold also need to be considered; development of "steam lorries" towing multiple trailers may well inhibit railroad expansion in much the same way expansion of good road networks greatly reduced America railroads. Safehold doesn't have to wait for good roads, they already have them.
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Re: Proliferation of rail transport on Safehold
Post by Julia Minor   » Thu Sep 20, 2018 10:22 am

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tjthw8s wrote:
Plus, even the mainland realms would probably jump on board as soon as they could get their own hands on steam power. Though I suspect Desnair may prioritize on steam power to increase their gold mines output first.



The way Desnair has been portrayed, I'm not certain they would start building steam engines unless they were forced into it. As long as existing Desnairian methods work, there's no real motivation for them to try something new. Heck, they didn't even want to try reorganizing their rifle production to use the CoGA's "circles of production".

Now, it wouldn't surprise me a bit if Silkiah installed a railroad. There's plans under way for an expansion of the Salthar Canal as of the last chapter of At the Sign of Triumph, but it could have occurred to someone that a parallel railbed could also improve shipping.
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Re: Proliferation of rail transport on Safehold
Post by Kael Posavatz   » Thu Sep 20, 2018 2:27 pm

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Weird Harold wrote:
Randomiser wrote:As you suggest it will depend on the economics. Any railway line alongide a canal is going to be competing with established businesses for years. ... An entirely new route doesn't have the competition, but has to establish the trade from scratch.


The extensive high-road network on Safehold also need to be considered; development of "steam lorries" towing multiple trailers may well inhibit railroad expansion in much the same way expansion of good road networks greatly reduced America railroads. Safehold doesn't have to wait for good roads, they already have them.


'Good' is purely relative. Those roads aren't designed for the quantity of traffic that powered vehicles will generate, and while draft dragons can haul heavy loads, powered units have the potential to haul still heavier loads. for that matter, there are still cargoes where the preference is for rail.

While way stations to take care of (and feed) animals are established, fueling stations have not been. Distributing coal in particular is far more problematic than acquiring locally-grown grain for the dragons.

Steam lorries may make more sense in a city, but I think rail is more practical for long-distance.
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Re: Proliferation of rail transport on Safehold
Post by Weird Harold   » Thu Sep 20, 2018 4:21 pm

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Kael Posavatz wrote:'Good' is purely relative. Those roads aren't designed for the quantity of traffic that powered vehicles will generate, ...


Won't they have to they have to discover that for themselves? I get the impression that Safehold's highroads make Roman roads look temporary. Some Roman roads are still in use.

In the short-term, at least, something like Australian road-trains may well be promoted as cheaper with less infrastructure to build. (note the outback has few roads as good as modern secondary roads, let alone Roman roads.)

Kael Posavatz wrote:While way stations to take care of (and feed) animals are established, fueling stations have not been. Distributing coal in particular is far more problematic than acquiring locally-grown grain for the dragons.


Coal (or other fuel) distribution (and water availability) is going to be problematic for the spread of steam technology in general, not just railroads.

Eventually Safehold will get railroaded into a network of rails to rival the heyday of rail transport in OTL. There's just some bumps and detours to get through to get there.
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Re: Proliferation of rail transport on Safehold
Post by Kael Posavatz   » Fri Sep 21, 2018 8:17 pm

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I just don't see steam non-rail land vehicles really having a chance to take off for general civilian use. Some specialized use (tractors for agriculture), and also luxury and military service? Sure. But for routine general long-haul transport that's an awful lot of infrastructure, and rail/canals are still going to be more efficient when you need a lot of stuff (or particularly heavy stuff) moved.

You didn't really see trucks doing long-haul until there were A) the roads and infrastructure to support it, and B) lots of places that needed the mid-sized loads that direct was more efficient than using rail to take it to a node and then distribute.

The issue I see with actually developing that infrastructure are 1) humanity is still concentrated enough that node-distribution makes sense, and the little places aren't worth the effort even with cargo trucks, 2) Charis is gearing up to round two, after which the whole technology issue becomes moot (save for the fanatics who refuse to accept Langhorne was... misguided but meant well; or Charis could lose, I suppose, with similar consequences). Steam-powered cars had a brief existence because ICE are so much more effecient than external combustion engines.
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