Thanksgiving Open Thread

Nov 27th, 2008 | Posted by

According to the San Francisco Chronicle holiday travel was unusually light at SFO yesterday – the economic crisis keeping more folks at home? Perhaps people chose to drive to their in-state destinations but as anyone who has tried Interstate 5 around a holiday knows, the two lanes get backed up very fast. It once took me 10 hours to make it back to Berkeley from Santa Ana the day after Christmas on I-5 – nearly twice the usual travel time.

Obviously you know where I’m going with this. Ten years from now travelers won’t have to choose between expensive airfares, costly and time-consuming car trips, or staying home for the holidays. High speed rail will provide a fast and affordable way to visit your family or friends. I can only imagine the TV reports from November 2018 – busy scenes at the Transbay Terminal, Diridon Station, LA Union Station.

Ten years from now high speed rail will become part of the fabric of everyday life in California. We’ll wonder – rightly – how we ever got along without it.

And what am I thankful for? The 6,512,189 Californians who voted to make HSR a reality by passing Proposition 1A earlier this month.

Enjoy your Thanksgiving, everyone.

  1. Spokker
    Nov 27th, 2008 at 11:31
    #1

    A HSR ticket during Thanksgiving and Thanksgiving weekend, now that certainly won’t cost as low as $55 :)

  2. Anonymous
    Nov 27th, 2008 at 12:34
    #2

    I’m ready for it now, please. ;-)

    But I am so thankful that it is in our future.

  3. luis d.
    Nov 27th, 2008 at 13:31
    #3

    I’ve checked out the current business plan on the CHSRA website as Loren pointed out in the last post and it is much more detailed.

    It is more detailed then the innitial “Brochure” business plan that was first released and is worth looking over.

  4. Loren
    Nov 27th, 2008 at 16:02
    #4

    I’ll repeat the link for everybody’s edification: the CAHSR site’s Library

    Some highlights:

    * They plan to select from existing high-speed-train designs, and to have spatial and/or temporal separation from built-like-a tank, FRA-compliant trains. Spatial includes crash barriers and elevated trackways.

    * The system will be available for light-freight service using similar rolling stock. Imagine USPS, UPS, or FedEx trains on the system.

    * They plan to try to have parts of the system completed if they cannot complete the whole system, and they have chosen SF-SJ and LA-Anaheim as such high-priority parts, since these can be useful for commuter service. If they can complete more, they will try to do the Central Valley and then connect it to either LA or SF.

    * From the construction and financing schedule, they expect to do all segments close to simultaneously, with SJ – Central Valley done a year after the others.

    * It seems that part of the official cost estimates is padding for construction costs, in case overruns happen along the way.

    * The initial line has a spur out to Merced, a spur that will be served by locals from SF and Anaheim.

    * They will operate a mixture of local, semi-express, and express trains, the latter stopping only at SF, SJ, LA, and Anaheim. Some of the semi-expresses are skip-stop trains, and some of them are local near SF and LA.

    * The best SF-LA time is 2h41m (express), while the worst one is 3h23m (local).

    * Intermediate stations will have platforms on sidings on each side of the main line.

  5. Andrew
    Nov 27th, 2008 at 19:44
    #5

    Thanks Loren. It sounds interesting, I’ll have to dig into it myself later.

    I would’ve thought that they’d start with the Central Valley, where there aren’t many building obstacles and a lot of from for a long, straight demonstration track where they could test some trains at around 200 MPH and really get people excited about the whole project.

    The three planned variations of service sound exactly like the Shinkansen, where there are Nozomi (only major stations), Hikari (major stations and then some), and Kodama (all stations) trains.

  6. Tony D.
    Nov 27th, 2008 at 21:15
    #6

    I know this isn’t an aviation blog, but in my wildest dreams, I actually think a HSR line from San Jose through the Pacheco Pass makes possible an eventual replacement to Mineta/San Jose International Airport (SJC).

    Those of you familiar with SJC know that it’s basically a downtown airport that has no business being smack in the middle of a major metro area; much like the now defunct Hong Kong Kai Tak Airport was. My “dream” would put SJC either southeast of Gilroy or halfway between Gilroy and Hollister; lot’s and lot’s of open land, both farm and unused acreage, out there. The key would be a fast connection to either the current SJC terminal now under construction or downtown Diridon/SJ; in comes high-speed
    rail!

    Service similar to Hong Kong International Airport’s “Airport express,” (BART-like service between airport and Hong Kong proper) or the once-proposed Narita (Tokyo International Airport) Shinkansen HSR could be implemented along the Caltrain/HSR corridor between SJ and Gilroy, with a spur line into new SJC terminal. Imagine boarding an “SJC Express” HSR train at “Mineta Terminal” or Diridon and being at remote SJC in 20-25 minutes!

    I realize there might be environmental/NIMBY issues out there, and Rafael has mentioned the proximity to the San Andreas fault, but this is something hopefully San Jose/Santa Clara County leaders (present and future) could look at 10-20 years down the road. Hey, nothing wrong with dreaming. High-speed rail makes it possible.

  7. Tony D.
    Nov 27th, 2008 at 21:28
    #7

    Back to reality Robert. The CHSRA board will have a public forum in San Jose:

    December 3, 2008 at 10am
    Board of Supervisors chambers
    70 W. Hedding St., San Jose

  8. political_i
    Nov 27th, 2008 at 21:39
    #8

    If they cannot build the Central Valley segment, why not try for San Diego? That way, you could have a good commuter corridor. Can 10 billion only do Aneheim-LA and SF-SJ? Or is this an assumption of no federal dollars?

  9. Anonymous
    Nov 27th, 2008 at 22:37
    #9

    I saw that there’s a meeting coming up in SJ. Can someone please post a reminder a day or two before, as I’m certain to forget and would like to go.

    -Peter

  10. Ben
    Nov 27th, 2008 at 23:05
    #10

    Those two corridors were chosen because they would provide the most immediate benefit by constructing them first (commuter rail).

    Because of Funding, engineering and materials (according to their EIR) it isn’t feasable to construct everything at the same time, so they decided to focus on the places that will start providing revenue service sooner.

    The San Diego extension is part of Phase II and isn’t funded atm.

  11. CComMack
    Nov 28th, 2008 at 08:12
    #11

    Robert, your vision is almost guaranteed to come true, when HSR is built. Here in New York, where I flew in early Wednesday on the red-eye, the holiday travel crowd pieces on the TV news are always done from Penn Station, even though the three airports are always busy (JFK looked like it was seriously picking up even when I went through at 6:30a). I’m rare in that I’m willing to fly for Thanksgiving (this year, at least), but rail-competitive distance trips are very popular on this weekend.

    Of course, Amtrak is forced to borrow extra equipment from the commuter railroads every year to handle the Thanksgiving crowds on the NEC, something that CHSR will not have the option of doing. HSR can definitely handle surge capacity better than any other mode, but I predict that the system’s first Thanksgiving will be a little bumpy as they gain that experience.

  12. Rafael
    Nov 28th, 2008 at 11:22
    #12

    @ CComMack -

    well, since CHSRA will be using off-the-shelf European or Japanese rolling stock, they could fly in extra trainsets to handle holiday traffic.

    Just kidding, of course …

  13. Anonymous
    Nov 28th, 2008 at 12:07
    #13

    A local news station, KMAX, used to (or still does) show, before going to commercial, a list of flights in Sacramento, their destination, time of arrival/departure, and if they were on time or late. Makes me wonder if news stations would do the same with HSR, possibly with stating what track number traiins would be on, as well.

  14. Ryan
    Nov 29th, 2008 at 03:57
    #14

    Once it took me 12 hours to get from Santa Cruz to San Diego (normally 7) on the Sunday after Thanksgiving. I-5 was stop and go all the way from where the Pacheco pass comes out (152) all the way to the bottom of the grape vine. I was not happy.

    Another time it took me 12 hours due just to L.A. traffic alone! 7 hours from San Diego to Hollywood, and 5 hours from Hollywood to Santa Cruz. Dont ask!

    We need HSR!!!

  15. James
    Nov 29th, 2008 at 18:45
    #15

    If the Caltrain peninsula line goes electric with diesel powered freight operations, can they still, once or twice a year have a special run of the old steam engine?

    Diesel can be made compatible wtih electric but is it ok to have steam exhaust under the wires?

    It has not happened in a while afaik. After months of hearing the air horn at the crossing, it is strange to hear the whistle.

  16. Rafael
    Dec 3rd, 2008 at 08:14
    #16

    @ James -

    I wasn’t aware Caltrain even had a steam engine. Technically, the overhead catenaries should be ok with steam, what comes out of the chimney is anyhow flue gas from the boiler – cp. diesel locomotives. There’s always some H2O in flue gases if the fuel contains hydrogen atoms.

    However, catenaries are designed to handle rain just fine, so a little gaseous H2O isn’t a problem.

Comments are closed.