How Will HSR Get to Downtown San Diego?

Feb 5th, 2010 | Posted by

The CHSRA board meeting in San Diego yesterday offered an opportunity to take another look at the debate over how to bring the HSR trains from the I-15 corridor to downtown San Diego. With residents near Rose Canyon complaining about using the LOSSAN corridor than runs through the canyon for HSR, the CHSRA has proposed some other solutions for getting the trains back to the coast. Predictably, these solutions are causing some of the same folks who criticized the Rose Canyon alignment to criticize the alternatives as well.

The CHSRA board was shown yesterday an updated presentation and route maps. The presentation acknowledged the considerable opposition to a Rose Canyon alignment, and included the following options for dealing with it:

Some of these proposed alignments, including SR-56, SR-163, and I-8, were suggested by Californians For High Speed Rail in our scoping letter submitted in November. These options seem sensible to study given the need to bring the trains downtown – remember that the trains should go where the riders are – but apparently some of the critics of the Rose Canyon alignment are also criticizing some of the alternatives:

After zipping south along Interstate 15, San Diego County’s planned high-speed rail line could zag west along Highway 56, state rail authorities said this week.

That’s something few people on the east-west corridor know about, San Diego City Councilwoman Sherri Lightner said Thursday. The councilwoman said she didn’t realize it either, until recently.

Highway 56 connects Rancho Penasquitos, Del Mar Mesa, Carmel Valley and other communities to Interstate 5, along sloping terrain dotted with oak trees and upscale subdivisions.

“The thousands of people who live on this corridor need to know if their backyard is going to be considered for a train,” Lightner said Thursday, speaking in front of the California High Speed Rail Authority’s board of directors in downtown San Diego. Lightner’s District 1 includes the 56 corridor….

Lightner said she prefers the I-15 route to Qualcomm, saying it’s the straightest, cheapest option.

Well, now they know. The Authority will indeed be holding public meetings in that community to propose a 56 corridor route, as they will with a 163 route, as they will with an I-8 route.

Unfortunately, Lightner falls into the “straight is best” trap. HSR has to go where the people are. It’s actually more expensive to build it on a straight line, because you’ll get fewer riders and therefore will require more public funding to build. This Tolmach argument that bypassing huge pockets of riders would somehow help HSR is madness, and strikes me as being designed to set HSR up to fail.

Not all San Diego officials were making critical comments. Mayor Jerry Sanders expressed his support for the project:

“We stand firmly behind high-speed rail and will do all that we can to bring it to San Diego,” he said. “It will fuel our economy, help the environment and improve our quality of life.”

Of course, for that to happen, the issue of how HSR gets downtown has to be resolved. The above image indicates the primary options. All of them need to be considered openly and fairly – Lightner’s outright NIMBYism shouldn’t be the determining factor. What are the impacts on costs? On ridership? On travel times?

In assessing this, CHSRA and the community should keep an open mind. They should also not place undue weight on a Qualcomm Stadium station, which strikes me as being pretty much unnecessary. I’ve not been convinced that a University City stop is all that necessary either. What IS necessary is bringing HSR trains downtown, where there is a lot of urban density and destinations that passengers would want to go.

  1. Clem
    Feb 5th, 2010 at 15:33

    HSR has to go where the people are

    Yes, but…

    This does not define “where the people are”. How close is close enough? In France they seem to think building HSR on the outskirts of a town is the optimal way to serve that town. That’s the result of a careful and methodical trade-off between cost (downtown alignments require many more grade separations through dense street grids and residential neighborhoods), noise (100 dB non-stop trains), and ridership potential (integration with the local transit network).

    Evidently the “go where the people are” downtown-or-bust TOD purists don’t understand this trade-off. Ridership isn’t everything: you also have to consider cost and environmental impact, and the solution must be arrived at by careful trade-off of these variables. Any informed HSR supporter should think through this trade-off, but here we have anonymous hooligans running around calling Tolmach some very bad names.

    I don’t think HSR should go down I-5. But I also don’t think HSR should go through downtowns along SR-99. There is a third option, imagine that!

    The same principles apply to the San Diego approach.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    In France they seem to think building HSR on the outskirts of a town is the optimal way to serve that town.

    Only for smaller towns. SNCF goes into smaller towns that cover the cost of the run into town and otherwise provide a station wherever the corridor is laid out. However, they go into larger cities.

    Of course, larger cities in France already have an electrified express rail corridor going into town, so that is re-using existing infrastructure.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    Everyone keeps saying that about the TGV, but the TGV goes to downtown Paris, it goes to downtown Lyon, it goes to downtown Marseille. Even Lille is hardly a beetfield station.

    The beet-field TGV stations are for cities far smaller than San Diego, and smaller even than Fresno or Bakersfield. They’re also less sprawling, which means it’s possible to go around them while still serving them. Getting around Bakersfield such that you’re not running trains through suburbia, but still getting close enough to serve anyone, is a bit difficult. Same goes for San Diego, the HSR station in San Diego that doesn’t go by anyone’s house would be in Temecula.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Agreed. Madrid Atocha station is in the center of the city. Barcelona Sants, Sevilla Santa Justa and the Córdoba stations are all on the edges of the city centers, but very much NOT beetfield stations.

    If you look at Fresno you see that the UPRR corridor isn’t exactly in the middle of neighborhoods (that’d be the BNSF corridor). Instead it’s on the backside of downtown, with lots of vacant lots and industrial parks to the southwest (near Highway 99). Fresno’s downtown has a lot of potential, sort of like SoMa in the 1980s, and HSR will help it really take off.

    Clem Reply:

    Name ONE European HSR station located in a downtown district where trains pass through at 180+ mph.

    I’ll give you a hint.

    You can’t.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    Name one reason why you always insist on ignoring the Shinkansen? There’s no Fresno sized city between Paris and Lyon for the TGV to run through at 180mph.

    As far as I can tell the AVE passes by Zaragoza at full speed, but they’ve built a bypass. If we’re trying to keep costs down that seems counterproductive.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    As far as I can tell the AVE passes by Zaragoza at full speed, but they’ve built a bypass. If we’re trying to keep costs down that seems counterproductive.

    Only if you don’t think it through.

    It’s more than possible that the costs of a high speed bypass plus the cost of a lower-speed detour (one or two tracks only, not four) into towns might be cheaper than the cost of nine mile elevated four track urban blight. And then there’s the matter of CHSRA city centre grade separation “solutions” precluding fixing the FRA/steam train/Amtrak/freight track grade crossing problems.

    Study it, think about t, add it all up, and the result might be surprising to you.

    PS the “transit oriented development” potential of having airliners passing by at Flight Level 0 are, let us charitably say, imaginary. Noticed any massive, profitable, urbane, life-affirming, TOD action built right up next to I-5 or any airports lately? Dim-witted and/or un-travelled foamers really need to visit the real world sometime. I love trains as much as any of you, but 350kmh in anybody’s back yard, including mine, is just asking for it.

    Anyway. Nobody runs 350kmh through city centres. Nobody. What fantastic insights do the World’s Finest Rail Engineering Professionals at CHSRAPBQD have that the rest of the world somehow missed?

    Joey Reply:

    Just a minor technical point – the four track section would probably be about a mile long or less.

    Also, Japan is coming very close to running 350km/h trains through city centers. They likely will in the near future.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Just a minor technical point – the four track section would probably be about a mile long or less.

    Not if the CHSRA is drinking its own headways and service density koolaid.

    A 1600m long section of quadruple track means 400m before and 800m past the stop location at the end of a 400m platform. But getting up to 300kmh (let’s be generous and ignore 350 for argument’s sake and data availability sake) starting from the station stop needs 1800m (and 320 seconds.)

    But 1800m at 300kmh (speed of a non-stop express train) takes only 22 seconds.

    So the following train has to be at least 5 minutes further back than if it were behind a non-stopping train, just to allow acceleration out of the starting blocks of a preceding stopper. Now double that for the deceleration into the station.

    A short loop means that nearly all the acceleration and braking for a stopping train takes place on the mainline tracks, which eats up tons of line capacity.

    So, either you don’t have a zillion high speed trains an hour, or you build much longer loops around the stations. You can’t have both.

    And yes, I do know quite a bit about two-track Shinkansen overtakes. Look carefully and you’ll see that depicted operation supports my point.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Wouldn’t the 5 dimensional space time generators they are going to use at Transbay to have two trains on the same track at the same time also work out in the Valley?

    Joey Reply:

    “Page does not exist”

    Anyway, my claim of the four track sections being about a mile comes from this document, which specifies a total 6000′ length for the four track section (including switches). You mention that the express train has to be at least 5 minutes behind the local. This seems quite logical, since you would want the express to be following the local as close as possible so that the local doesn’t have to wait in the station for minutes on end for the express to pass.

    spokker Reply:

    “Dim-witted and/or un-travelled foamers really need to visit the real world sometime.”

    Paranoid programmers who everybody is sick of really need to visit somewhere other than Europe and see what’s going on in the rest of the world.

    spokker Reply:

    The TGV may be a technical wonder, but let’s not pretend that the pussy French didn’t put many of their stations in the middle of nowhere because they were afraid of shithead NIMBYs.

    Of course, the French already had robust, quick and efficient rail links into their city centers. The Central Valley doesn’t. Cut them off and kiss their support goodbye. Yeah, they would just love to take Amtrak and transfer to an HST.

    Peter Reply:

    Not just cut them off from HSR service, but from the jobs that brings, too. This is not about someone’s ego trip about building a “perfect” HSR line. It’s about bringing the many benefits of HSR to as many citizens of California as possible.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    SNCF also has to try to run a profit – though of course with its conventional rail services that includes government payments for provision of services – so for the small towns they kill two birds with one stone – the NIMBY problem and the extra expense of running through town – by running through town if the town pays for it. Then its up to the town government to fight with the NIMBY’s.

    But that is smaller towns, not big cities. For cities the size of San Jose or San Diego, they use the existing electric passenger express corridors for access.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    “Dim-witted and/or un-travelled foamers really need to visit the real world sometime. ”

    Fuck you too ;-) I have actually ridden the TGV and the Eurostar, and the ICE and many other trains in many other countries, and yet it doesn’t make me an expert.

    I’m not saying that the lines are going to be ice cream trucks for all the kids in the yard. I’m saying that clem’s assertion that “In France they seem to think building HSR on the outskirts of a town is the optimal way to serve that town.” is provably false for any town over 200k population. If I’m wrong about that, show me. I’m fully aware that you guys know more about this than I do, but where are these beet field stations in the World’s Greatest Railroad Engineering Societies for towns the size of Fresno? All the examples people have given are for towns the size of turlock, or livermore. If Gilroy and Hanford get beet field stations then isn’t CHSRA just following the European Best Practices? I know you like to bitch that Californians think we’re special, but where is the 500k city between Paris and Lyon that could serve as an example here? Or on any of the other LGV? Should we look to Germany? Where the ICE are forced onto legacy lines to lumber through towns?

    I actually agree that a bypass would make more sense, but I don’t see how it’s going to save money as I don’t see how you’re going to run a bypass past bakersfield that doesn’t involve 30 extra miles of track. And you know as well as anyone that the cost of 1 mile of four track line isn’t twice the cost of 1 mile of two track line, even with elevateds. A 50-foot wide grade separation isn’t half the cost of a 85 foot one, and there’s more than enough roads around bakersfield that you’re not going to avoid grade separating your bypass.

    “Anyway. Nobody runs 350kmh through city centres. Nobody.”

    Nobody runs 350kmh trains. What’s your point? The Japanese have managed to go from 200kph trains to 320kph trains and keep their noise output flat. I know you like to exclude them from discussions over World Standard Engineering Practices, but why can’t we buy the E5s (other than the shittacular TTC/DTX)? Or are you claiming that 300kph is fine and dandy, but 350kph is asinine? Besides, it’s all about the existing noise along that corridor. Nowhere in the World Standard Rail Societies are they running those steam trains you love to harp on. If HSR at 350kph is a “Flight level Zero airline” what’s an Amtrak Diesel with horns and bells at each grade crossing?

    The rail line in fresno is spitting distance from the highway and the bulk of the city is already pushed to the northeast of it, putting HSR down that ROW is as close to a “tangent” station as you can get without putting it in BFE. With Bako if you didn’t want a 30 mile bypass, you’d have to literally put the station halfway to the 5, in which case you might as well just not put in a station. Gilroy I could give two shits about, give them the “wow” if they want it, put it downtown if they want it. Gilroy actually does resemble the towns that have the TGV beet field stations.

    But back to the point of this article, nowhere in the world, including in the rail engineering mecca that is europe, would anyone consider putting a station anywhere except downtown san diego. I have no problem with a qualcomm stadium station so long as they also bring the line all the way to downtown – the stadium station would actually work as a park-and ride for large sections of san diego county, just like Artic will for Orange county and parts of LA. Clem mentioned the Aix station in a previous post as an example of a Beet field station done right, but SNCF would never have considered making that the terminus in favor of bringing the tgv to marseille.

    Clem Reply:

    clem’s assertion that “In France they seem to think building HSR on the outskirts of a town is the optimal way to serve that town.” is provably false for any town over 200k population.

    That’s because towns over 200k population either are a terminal (with no trains passing at 300+ km/h), or they have a high-speed bypass that keeps 300+ km/h trains outside the urban core. You can’t find any European towns with non-stop high-speed service through urban cores.

    The fact that there is no such thing in Europe ought to start little gears turning in people’s heads.

    Zaragoza is the perfect example that proves this rule: it’s a big town that required service to its urban core, and yet they built a bypass because ramming HSR through dense urban cores is nonsense. There are several cities in Italy configured like this. Lyon is configured like this.

    Of course, Richard has again succeeded in attracting more attention to the style of his comments than to the substance of his comments, which other posters are only too happy to ignore by railing about the former.

    Joey Reply:

    But what about Japan…?

    dist Reply:

    “In France they seem to think building HSR on the outskirts of a town is the optimal way to serve that town.”

    Clem, I think this statement is more or less wrong because, like you said, 200k towns (and lots of other smaller towns) are either a terminal or on the terminal treck of the TGV. Since the whole country (and HSN) is Paris centric, France doesn’t really need trains to woosh by the middle of a city. And since there is much free land (unlike Japan) you have no reason to go through a town. It is easier and less costly to go around or re-use the old existing tracks when necessary than to build in a very contraint environnement like European cities are. There is not much space to build a HSL through a city in Europe, they are too dense.

    This configuration is however not replicated in Japan were land is scarce.

    And I clearly don’t think that anyone in France think “building HSR on the outskirts of a town is the optimal way to serve that town”. It’s however the optimal way to serve that town and the realy big town behind it, at the end of the HSL, without exloding the budget. But don’t generalyze, there isn’t much “beet-field” or outskirt TGV stations to begin with. Like said before, most cities are served by TGV in their main station and San Diego with it’s huge metropolitan area should be too served in its centre.

    Those “beet-field” stations are really baddly design and have many accessibility issues. It’s not easy (allmost impossible) to access them by train or public transit.

    Taiwan also have a problem with its HSN which was build too far from city centre and badly connected to the existing mass transit network.

    Anyway, and I allready sy that in my other post below, the French configuration might not be possible to be replicate in California since California doesn’t strikes me as a very centralized place. I really think California should have an approach to these issues similar to the Shinkansen network. Mostly because of the sprawling nature of the american cities. If you want something usefull and easily accesible by anyone you need it close to the center or a big infrastructure node. Also, I might be wrong but I think it will be easier to build through the cities in the US than in Europe because of lesser urban density. Which, should make everything cheaper to build and reduces the impact on urban life than say a HSL through Paris or Lyon or Madrid.

    Also, entrenched and noise barriers (plus a train specially designed to lower noise output) the noise in urban area shouldn’t be a huge issue.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    What about Spain, which has a population distribution more similar to California’s than France. It seems to me that there is a non-stop Madrid/Barcelona, which have to go through Guadalajara-Yebes, Calatayud, and Camp de Tarragona, and El Prat in the tunnel.

    They run at 186mph, and those are stations without bypass spurs around them – where are the stations located relative to town.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    “Zaragoza is the perfect example that proves this rule: it’s a big town that required service to its urban core, and yet they built a bypass because ramming HSR through dense urban cores is nonsense. There are several cities in Italy configured like this. Lyon is configured like this.”

    Ok, so then if we’re looking to Europe, the line would have a terminus station in downtown San Diego, like Marseille, with a beet field station in Escondido like Aix, and perhaps a station in University city or a park-and-ride focused station at qualcomm (football stadiums are perfect for this as their parking lots are empty most of the time anyway).

    Fresno and Bakersfield would get 2-track lines to downtown stations and bypasses like cities their size do in europe, not beet field stations.

    Gilroy, Merced and Hanford would get beet field stations and the line would wow around the other cities.

    If we were doing it like the Japanese, San diego would look exactly the same with a downtown terminus and the other cities would get through-running trains with quieter rolling stock and more noise barriers.

    As I mentioned before, the Fresno alignment, despite going downtown, is quite close to the 99, perhaps the bypass could go along the 99. Even with the situation in fresno, however, the sprawl is so bad that you’d have to go way out of town to get completely out of suburbia.

    In bakersfield, the sprawl is epic. The alignment goes through downtown, yes, but most of it is along a highway that borders an existing heavy freight track and a huge rail-yard that is smack in the middle of downtown bakersfield. Perhaps a bypass along the UPRR ROW to the north of downtown might work, but a european-style bypass would have to go something like 119 to the 5 to 43. If you “study it, think about it, and add it all up” I’m not sure there’s a european-style solution to Bakersfield and Fresno that is less expensive than the Japanese-style solution.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Bruce McF asks: “What about Spain … have to go through Guadalajara-Yebes,

    Greenfield, 8km outside Guadalajara.

    Strike 1!


    Past”, not straight through.
    Though this conurbation is so small that that discinction is a bit of a toss-up.

    But… this section uses the right of way (and station location) of the classic line, and train speed is limited to 220kmh. (I’m not very clear on this situation; I can’t even fake Spanish.)

    Strike 2! Probably.

    and Camp de Tarragona,

    The “Camp” in “Camp de Tarragona” is a bit of a clue, isn’t it?
    Here’s the greenfield AVE station, while here is the centre of the city of Tarragona. The station looks like this.

    Strike 3!

    and El Prat in the tunnel.

    The speed limit through El Prat de Llobregat station is 135kmh.

    Strike 4!

    They run at 186mph, and those are stations without bypass spurs around them – where are the stations located relative to town.

    Let Me Google That For You.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    To clarify the rambling nature of my first point: if we’re going to look to other countries for examples of lines where there’s half-million-population cities along the midpoint of the line between two megapoli, then the only examples I’ve been able to find are Japan and Spain. Japan goes through the city centers, spain goes through and around.

    spokker Reply:

    That won’t matter to Mr. Mynlaalrnarik. His fetishization of German rail standards knows no bound. It’s almost as if any single decision made regarding the California high speed train project is a personal insult to him and his sensibilities. I imagine that he has post-it notes affixed to his monitor so that he never forgets to include the phrase “World’s Finest Railroad Engineering Professionals” in a post to denigrate those who have education, experience and passion for what they do. No, they’re corrupt. He’s a saint.

    It hints of narcissism. The CHSRA is not listening to him, not admiring his suggestions, proposals or criticisms. Therefore, anybody who actually lives in the world of compromise and imperfection is worthy of his vitriol. He speaks of a process that cannot be changed yet he continues to ramble on. Is it a sign of masochism? The rest of us are able to deal with setbacks. We are able to offer compromise when things don’t go our way. We are able to handle a process that is bigger than ourselves. I don’t like LA-Anaheim, but I’m able to deal with the people who do.

    He never makes a humorous post. He never tries to connect with any other posters. He is always spewing, spewing, spewing. I hope that for his sake he is more amiable in real life, for I can’t imagine a single soul wanting to ever be around him, much less spend their life with him.

    I wonder if he suffers from the same mental condition that infects Mr. Tolmach?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I can read technical German and I have taken the considerable time and effort and money to find or buy a lot of professional rail technical documentation in German and English. English-language standards end up of no practical interest as they are either (best case) translations of foreign practice or (usual US case) a bunch of freight-centric not invented here exceptionalism with no justification other than grandfathering. The only English-speaking high speed line is in Britain, but it’s built entirely to French standards — CTRL is a ligne à grande vitesse plonked down on the other side of a small strait.

    I could quote the same sorts of things from Sweden or Norway or Denmark or Switzerland (and probably the Netherlands) or Britain since I can muddle my way through those Germanic languages. That should be little surprise, since there is considerable movement towards continental technical harmonization, and Germany is a leader in a lot of passenger rail technology and practice. (Even though I don’t speak Spanish, I could probably use ADIF standards as examples also, since, well, they’re largely copies of what already worked elsewhere. Smart people in Spain!)

    French is effort for me, and since all that is of interest is one well documented (what evidence of real world practice have you ever provided? remind me again?) case, I don’t spend a lot of effort digging around for RFF track alignment standards.

    I can’t say anything about Japan or other Asian countries other than what I find in translation or what I’ve experienced as a tourist, so I choose to say little or nothing.

    So, you get German standards, and real, in-service, German examples, quoted exactly, that anybody who cares to can verify. Though that is less fun than arbitrarily asserting wishful counter-factuals.

    jimsf Reply:

    For some, it seems the whole project is about technology and not people. There are people who think in these terms. But public transit isn’t about technology just like architecture isn’t ultimately about buildings. Both are about people and their environment, and the technology is nothing but a tool to be put to use in whatever way the people who asked for it see fit. This isn’t France, or Spain, or Japan, and what those countries have or haven’t done is only loosely relevant. This is California, and these are California cities and the system is being designed to serve the people who voted for and will be paying for, the project. Regardless of what any know it all jackass thinks about how “not good enough” it is. That’s simply not for YOU to decide Richard.

    Brian Stanke Reply:


    Name one French “beet field” station that has triggered massive economic development. …. Of wait there are none.

    Second, name ANY Central Valley city that MAY have a station where they mayor is claiming he/she wants no station downtown, but one of those uber flop “beetfield” ones. … Oh wait even Riverbank wants their station downtown. (Hanford was told no downtown station for you by the Authority. The city rejected one west of the town)

    Third, read my masters paper on HSR are population growth patterns in France:

    The TGV was likely a major cause of the end of population dispersal in large French cities. In Lille and Lyon it coincided with a reversal of dispersal (sprawl) and the start of people moving near downtowns again. In Le Mans and Nantes it slowed or stopped dispersal but didn’t have as big an effect as in the larger cities. Fresno and Bakersfield are both larger than Nantes or Le Mans, both of which have downtown stations.

    Fourth, French TGV often run point to point rather through cities because their cities are on lined up along railroad lines like California’s. Even so TGVs run straight through Le Mans to Nantes just not at full speed, because Nantes is not worth spending a lot of money to get to. SF to LA is worth the cost of going through the Central Valley at 220 mph.

    Clem Reply:

    I’m not talking about beet field stations, Brian.

    I’m talking about places like Reims. Just look at the satellite photo: if this were in California, Parsons-Bechtel-Soprano would be proposing a four-track elevated viaduct rammed right past the Notre Dame de Reims cathedral, and people would be fawning about the incredible TOD potential. But no: what you see is a sensible bypass around the periphery of town, which requires very few grade separations.

    Right now, central valley towns love the idea of a downtown station because they haven’t got the first clue about the impacts of HSR. And the people who ought to be giving them a clue, pointedly aren’t!

    Advocacy shouldn’t be an excuse to forego critical thought.

    I note that NOBODY has been able to find me even a SINGLE station in Europe where trains go through at 300+ km/h. If they were common it wouldn’t be that hard, would it?

    (Oh, Andy and Joey, I keep harping on France because it’s the only one I really know something about).

    Clem Reply:

    Excuse me, I meant a single station in a downtown urban core where trains go through at 300+ km/h.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    How many trains? All but the non-stop LA/SF express will be stopping at both Bakersfield and Fresno. And Bakersfield and Fresno are the two high priority targets for having a downtown station.

    If the HSR corridor bypasses downtown Fresno and Bakersfield, an express 200~250km/hr corridor into Fresno and Bakersfield would clearly be called for, and the majority of trains would be on that express corridor, with only a few non-stop LA/SF services using the bypass (and, obviously, there is no need for a station on the bypass, so no need to worry about whether its on the fringes of the town or running through an outer suburb).

    But if an express 200~250km/hr corridor is going to be built, its surely more capital efficient to build it so that 300km/hr operation is feasible, and allow the non-stop Express services to run at 300km/hr in, say, a 9am to 5pm window.

    jimsf Reply:

    Id guess there will be far more local and limited (fno-bfd) trains than full la-sf express.
    and the express trains do not have to run through at 220 to make the 2:40 travel time.

    look if an sf-la express leaves tbt for la and proceeds at

    125mph from sf to south san jose 60 miles at 125
    220mph from south san jose to gilroy 20 miles at 220
    125mph through gilroy 5 miles at 125
    220mph gilroy to fresno 100 miles at 220
    125mph through fresno 5 miles at 125
    220mph fresno to bakersfield 105 miles at 220
    125mph through bakersfield 5 miles at 125
    220mph bakersfield to palmdale 80 miles at 220
    125mph through palmdale 2 miles at 125
    220mph palmdale to the sanfernando valley 30 miles at 220
    125mph san fernando valley to union station 25 miles @125

    you get about 100 miles at 125mph (=2.08 miles per minute= 50 minutes)
    and about 330 miles at 220mph (=3.60 miles per minute =92 minutes)

    total = 140 minutes = 2 hours and 20 minutes.
    *****SO, apparently you can can slow down to 125 through the downtowns and still have an express run that has 20 minutes to spare. ****

    so really whats the big whoop anyway?

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    @jim: and all you would need are trains that can accelerate infinitely fast.

    jimsf Reply:

    Andy, again my numbers still leave plenty of additional time to make up for acceleration. how long does it take to speed up to 220 from 125 about a minute?

    I mean, someone please correct my figures, but show your work. i did.

    jimsf Reply:

    according to this vid of tgv speed record, the train accelerated from 125mph to 220mph in 90 seconds,

    so if you had to slow down/speed up at each downtown, at 3 minutes per, thats 4 times 3 minutes or 12 minutes.

    and thats assuming you need the full 5 miles I gave each downtown at 125 ( placing the accel and decel time outside of that 5 miles) If you incorporate the accel and decel time into the 5 mile range you acually gain more time)

    unless someone can show me otherwise, An SF-LA express can make the 2:40 run time, while slowing down to 125 per downtowns, with time to spare.

    So there is no need to worry about blowing through downtowns at 220.
    and there is no need to worry about making the run time.
    Much ado about nothing.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    @Jim 125mph-220mph in 60 seconds would be amazingly fast for a train. A buggati veyron takes about 20 seconds to go from 100-200mph. The n700 shinkansen with it’s fast starting acceleration (2.6km/hr/s) would need to be able to pull that all the way to 220mph. That’s not going to happen.

    Your numbers are fine, but they aren’t good for more than a back of the napkin estimate, you can’t just take line lengths and claim you’re accurate to within 20 minutes.

    The most recent runtime figures from the August board presentation show some of the complications. Things like hills. Even flat-out their velaro isn’t able to run 220mph from sylmar to palmdale up that grade.

    jimsf Reply:

    well then dont use the velaro. Use the Tgv, and as shown right here in full living color the TGV went from 125mph (201km_ to 220mph (354km) in 90 seconds.

    And fine, so there are some other places to slow down, so you don’t slow all the way 125, change it up to say 130 or 135, through downtown

    and then you dont use a full five mile stretch, maybe fresno doesn’t need a full 5 miles at 125, maybe the length at 125 only needs to be 3 miles, so gain some there and lose some on the grades.

    But the point remains, that you can get the express train from tbt to laus in 2:40 without running through the downtowns at 220. make the adjustments wherever you like, but it can be done, and it can be done without a problem. I mean numbers were generous in the distances that had to be at 125. Ill even give you more…..

    hold on.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The TGV has worse acceleration than its peers because of its loco-hauled setup.

    But the reason your timetable doesn’t work isn’t acceleration. It’s that you’re forgetting that both Pacheco and Tehachapi Passes are slow zones because of the grades involved. The simulations have trains going through Pacheco Pass at 220 km/h and Tehachapi Pass at 180 km/h.

    Shinkansen practice is that a station stop in high-speed territory adds 7-8 minutes to the runtime; this is also CAHSR’s plan for the Central Valley. In lower-speed areas, it only adds 3 minutes. So that alone would suggest that slowing down to 200 km/h through each town should add 4 minutes to the total travel time.

    jimsf Reply:

    Well, first I did it over again and was more generous with the 125 segments. remember Im not talking about run times for trains that are making stops. Im talking about run times for true express. a train that leaves SF and doesnt make any stops until it gets to LA.. OK?

    Then even after a put the pacheco and the both ends of the souther cali moutain crossings, down to 125, as seen here

    where I put tons of extra 125 operation and way less 220 operation I still get a run time of 2:50 and thats if the train goes 125 all the way from SF through and past gilroy and over the grade.

    as for tgv. hello it most certainly does accelerate from 125 to 220 in 90 second, all you have to do watch the video its right in front of your face.

    you people just want to create problems where there aren’t any. just like the nimbys.
    Do you know, that if california just built the damn thing and told the nimbys and all of us to shut the hell up, that when it was done, no matter the result, californians would accept it, ride it, and use it successfully? you do realilze that right? That all of this hand wringing is nothing but time consuming, money sucking nonsense?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And, further, 125mph is quite conservative for the CV context. If 220mph is “too loud” for a stretch of the run through downtown Fresno and downtown Bakersfield, surely 160mph would not be.

    The whole meme of “ooh, ooh, binding constraint, this is why its a problem, now the burden of proof is on you to prove its OK”, its a denialist meme. Its very effective with people who wish to believe that there is a whole host of serious problems that will “stop the project in its tracks”, but if we step back and take a dispassionate look at them, many of them are just stories being told for no reason other than the existence of that binding constraint.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    Jim that was a specially built test set running OCS over-juiced to 31kv, with all bogies powered, for more power in a five-car test set than a 400m n700 or a 400m AGV. What’s more, it could only do it in 90 seconds. There’s no way you’re getting from 200kph – 300kph in 60 seconds with a full train that has less power and 3x the weight.

    But please, by all means, let the CHSRA know that their run simulations are bullshit because you’ve run the numbers. I’m sure they’ll be super interested.

    jimsf Reply:

    Andy, I knew you were going to make the “special train” argument. But thats fine. The bottom line is still that an express train can get from tbt to laus, in 2:40 without running at 220 through downtown.

    Maybe the length of “slow” through town can be shortened.
    and maybe the amount needed to slow – 150 instead of 125, for example –

    all of that can be be modified as needed but you can make it happen.

    Are you suggesting that the only way to meet the 2:40 express time is to run at 220 through fresno and bakersfield?

    and even if it takes 2 minutes to accelerate from 125 to 220 so what?
    How many minutes are you saying it takes to go from 125 to 220? 10?

    jimsf Reply:

    andy, how much can the express trains slow down through the downtowns and still make the 2:40?

    and what distance does each slow zone encompass” 20 miles per city? 5 miles?

    The speeds and the distances can be tweak however they need be to meet the goal. how hard is that?

    Clem Reply:

    The bottom line is still that an express train can get from tbt to laus, in 2:40 without running at 220 through downtown.

    Jim, the only bottom line is you’re making stuff up. Your position boils down to nothing more than a proof by assertion.

    jimsf Reply:

    Clem, then where does it say otherwise?

    jimsf Reply:

    I think you guys just want to make the process seem more complicated so you can propose all kinds of unnecessary solutions to have something to talk about.

    And finally if they do have to run at 220 through towns ( and thats only the towns like fresno and bakersfield that are in the 220 segment, as all the others are already in slower areas to begin with)
    then so what. just mitigate the damn noise and be done with it.

    The sky isn’t falling.

    jimsf Reply:

    There won’t be any need for more than one true sf-la express per hour anyway. the rest of the trains are going to stop in fresno and bakersfield. and most of the trains will make all the stops so speed through town won’t even be an issue for the most part. except that one train.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    Just look at the satellite photo for bakersfield, which has nearly twice as many people as Reims (4x if you count the metro area, not sure what reims’ is) and half the density. Where would you put the bypass? Reims is only about 3-4 miles across, Bakersfield is about 10-12 and the exurban sprawl is closer to 20. Where are you going to put a station in bakersfield that actually serves bakersfield but doesn’t go through anyone’s neighborhood?

    jimsf Reply:

    excellent point. And, again, only the true express trains have to make the 2:40 travel time. So does anyone have the numbers on how much a tbt-laus express can slow down through city centers and still make the 2:40 – Ill bet they can slow to 125 mph through gilory, fresno and bakersfield, for a total of 1 -2 minutes per city and still make the 2:40 with rom to spare.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If they put the noise limit so low that 125mph was required, there’d be no freight operations allowed on the main CV freight corridors. A short 160mph section would be more energy efficient. than a short 125mph section.

    dist Reply:

    Yeah… that’s because there is none at the moment and I allready gave you some reasons why:

    – very dense urban fabric
    – high cost of a downtown corridor
    – very few space to transform and dedicate to a segregated ROW
    – no need to do such a thing because of the very nature of the French network (man, did you even read my posts?)

    You can’t compare a Californian city with a regular European city. Their physionmies are totally different. Look at Fresno and Reims for exemple, one has several highway/freeway going through the middle of the urban fabric and not the other and is just unendless ‘burb. The other one have streets were you can’t have a car crossing another.

    But I would explain it again, one and last time. Most of the French network is dedicated to offer a fast connection between Paris and the other cities. Those trips account for the highest numbers of passenger. The outskirt stations are merally used to link those provincial cities with one another. A need which is slightly marginal. It’s easier to go to Paris and then take another TGV than to use those stations located outside the urban fringes. This is system, f not very practical for everyone, is economically very sensible for RFF and the SNCF. They can maximise train and infrastructure use. And, if you need to go somewhere near, you just hop on a TER (regional train) which offers quick and numerous services.

    California is another matter. There, the associated cost with a “downtown” corridor (the ROW also could be on the fringe of the said downtown) should be a lot less higher than in Europe where it is allmost impossible to create the space for a HST Row or a freeway or a highway in the city core.

    But, in the US this is quite different, the very nature of US urban development makes a “downtown” ROW possible and desirable. But first, you have to define “downtown” because I can look at a map of Fresno all day long I won’t see any downtown emerge from the sea of strip malls and familly homes that makes the city. Just forget your (well choosen) appocalyptic image of a HSL viaduc passing by Reims’ Cathredale (I’m confident you won’t see anything thing like that happen in the US). “Downtown” can be a pretty vague and open term and can also just mean near city centre.

    If you think it’s impossible, think again. What you just need is to put your HSL along a freeway or a freight corridor. That won’t make much damage to the urban environment and the damage can even be controlled. US very loose land use is a boon for such project and can also make a perpherical bypass too costly (cities too big with stations that would then have an uncompetitive access and impossible to serve by public transit – that’s what happen in France with those peripherial stations).

    And stop focusing on Europe, Japan is upgrading its Shinkansen ROWs to 300kph operations and they go through the midle of certain cities with no problem whatsoever. You just need to make sure that the ROW s equiped with sound barriers or is entrenched. You can even work on the train or rail design to minimize the noise output. Also a train going +300kph doesn’t take many time to come and go. It wooshes by. It’s a very ponctual phenomenon and that’s not worse than a freeway.

    I lived for a very long time near a Paris RER ROW (like 50m away) but I allmost never hear a thing. I now live a block away from the Berliner S-Bahn Ring but the only thing I can hear from my home is the sound of the highway located more than a kilometer away. My point being, if the system is well design a HSL go through a city won’t make much damage to it.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    I am utterly perplexed that one would advocate for bypassing downtowns all together in the Central Valley. The only way such a position would be feasible is if cities getting stations were committed to and already developing massive new downtowns, of which they are not. In Europe, stations were often planned in conjunction with new downtown-type development, but they were located adjacent to the traditional urban centers. As for the Central Valley cities, their downtowns are generally depressed and need a shot of infrastructure and TOD development to improve them over the current situation. Furthermore, Fresno and Bakersfield have huge areas of vacant land immediately surrounding the HSR sites. I can’t think of better places for and HSR stations.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Well, I do believe HSR should go through downtowns, along existing rail corridors. The purpose isn’t just TOD, but to fundamentally reorient California urban development back inward towards the city centers, away from sprawl. This is especially important in the Central Valley.

    As to what I mean by “go where the people are,” you want to put stations in areas that are dense and well-served by connecting transit. Stations should augment existing nodes as much as possible. Downtowns very much should be served by HSR. I don’t see a strong argument for NOT doing so.

    Jarrett Reply:

    I totally disagree with the I-5 idea, but Clem does have a point. In some of the recent literature, the express trains are shown passing through these proposed downtown stations at 220mph in order to obtain the LA-SF travel time goal. I think it would be difficult to create a dense, livable, transit oriented neighborhood around trains passing at maximum speed.

    Clem Reply:

    The argument for not doing so has to do with the astronomical cost of grade-separating through a dense street network, and the high noise impact of non-stop express trains.

    What is so utterly perplexing about that?

    The result that I fear is (1) massive cost overruns possibly leading to outright project failure, and (2) noise and vibration speed limits through downtown areas that prevent run times from ever approaching the promised 2:40.

    You guys appear totally oblivious to these risks. As HSR advocates, you need to explain very clearly how you would address these clear and present threats to the entire project.

    HSR should follow the 99 corridor “where the people are” but it should wow around downtown cores the same way as European HSR. For all Californians, the resulting system will be faster and cheaper, and the affected cities won’t be blighted by 100 dB trains.

    AndyDuncan Reply:

    What European HSR line “wows” around a city of a half-million people? All I’ve found of cities that size are places like Zaragoza where they built a bypass around the city in addition to the expensive, grade-separation-heavy, city-center line.

    Hanford looks like it’s going to get a “wow” and a beetfield station. Just like the European cities of 50k populations.

    And where would you “wow” around bakersfield? You have to go almost all the way over the the 5, or run across the foothills to get away from the sprawl. Running along an existing, noisy rail ROW seems like the best option.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Both concerns are quite legitimate. I don’t think we’re oblivious to them – instead I don’t see them as necessitating a greenfield HSR station. There can and should be cost-effective solutions that serve downtowns and achieve the desired trip time without blowing out eardrums.

    jimsf Reply:

    Those cities do not want the trains on the outskirts because they don’t want their growth to sprawl towards the direction of the vineyard/cottonfield station. They want them downtown in order to revise the original railroad centered downtowns yore. They specifically do not want trains going around.

    spokker Reply:

    There will likely be a compromise. Tolmach and his crew won’t get the I-5 racetrack, but 220 MPH HSR won’t go to Central Valley cities either. It’ll probably be moved far enough away so that the stations are still somewhat convenient but it won’t be moved all the way to I-5 and the Grapevine route will not be adopted.

    Peter Reply:

    I’d argue that it would be worth the time penalty to, at least in operation, have the express trains slow below 220 mph to transition through the CV downtowns, while still having the alignment go to downtown stations. They still need to prove they can do SF-LAUS in 2:40 to meet the requirements of Prop 1A, but there’s no need to do it in operation, especially if it only adds two or three minutes.

    jimsf Reply:

    and we know that not every train is to meet that 2:40 only the nonstop true express from sf to la, and that can be reached, even with the slowdowns to say 150 for the few seconds it takes to get through town. remember these areas are small and the amount of time the train would be in a downtown affected area would be, what, less than a minute at 150-185 or so?

    jimsf Reply:

    actually my rough calculation says that in the matter of fresno for instance, the 2 miles of “downtown” along the uprr row between hiway 180 and hiway 41 slowing down to 186 from 220 would get the train through the area in about 45 seconds or less., and then back up to speed. and since there are only two downtowns to slow down to 186 in anyway, frenso and bakersfield, on the stretch between sf and la, then losing 2 minutes worth at a 40 mph reduction, does nothing really to hurt travel time.

    timote Reply:

    “They still need to prove they can do SF-LAUS in 2:40 to meet the requirements of Prop 1A, but there’s no need to do it in operation, especially if it only adds two or three minutes.”

    Ya, that’s what I’m thinking too – that they will be able to technically meet the requirement by blowing through towns, but that in reality they won’t do it – whether forced to by the communities or whether they never really intended to, not sure which.

    I think getting the initial implementation is key. If we want to upgrade the system later to gain a couple minutes of time (can’t imagine it would be worth it), we can worry about it later. Kinda like the Acela but sucks a lot less ;-)

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And also, as I noted, the environmental impact of noise depends in part on the ambient noise level … a given decibel level between 9am and 5pm competing against traffic noise will have less impact than the same decibel level at 7am or 9pm.

    After all, that’s why Sydney airport does not operate 24 hours a day … they have a noise curfew st night.

    A 5pm to 9am noise curfewed speed limit, and a higher operational speed limit that applied 9am to 5pm, would simplify having actual express service under 2:40 without having to build the corridor into a multi-mile vitrine.

    On the other hand, building it into a multi-mile vitrine would support a linear park and pedestrian and cycle paths unencumbered by motor vehicles, so its not an option to toss aside from the outset.

    Peter Reply:

    I think the FRA’s manual automatically adds 10 db for operations after 10 pm. This means that trains running between 10 pm and I believe 7 am would have to run a bit slower.

    jimsf Reply:

    The question for san diego is which people, “the people” arent just to the west, they are also to the south and east. Why are the people to the west valuable but not the folks in the faster growing east and south sides? In fact Ill bet there’s more people on the east side, and more of those people would use hsr. Red Coast folks do not get on public transportation because its for “icky people.” Nor do they want public transportation running through their bucolic, manicured just-so, country club setting.

    I propose this as being far more equitable I mean why run it way over to one far northwest corner, which the furthest away point from the majority of the urban area?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Is the alignment available?

    jimsf Reply:

    I dont know, seems there room to run it along the freeway and then tunnel it under broadway through downtown to santa fe.

    Joseph E Reply:

    Nope, wouldn’t work south of Mission Valley (Interstate 8)
    The 15 south of 8 is hemmed in on both sides by neighborhoods and even goes under a 1-block freeway cap, and has multiple cross-streets thru City Heights. That neighborhood is also poor and ethnically diverse, an a set-up for “environmental racism” lawsuits. The 805 corridor south of 8 has the same problem; I lived 1 block away from there, and there is very little room to expand the right-of-way without taking out houses and apartments on one side. Getting to downtown would require a tunnel west of the terminus of 94, and then you are stuck with a weird east-west station downtown, which there really isn’t a good spot for, and no ability to easily expand south toward the border.

    The western alignments have the big advantage of using the existing LOSSAN corridor into Downtown, which also parallels I-5 south of Rose Canyon. As for a station at Qualcomm, there is a nice light rail station there, as well as at the two malls in Mission Valley. If you want a park-and-ride, put it at Old Town San Diego Transit Center, and let people park at the malls or airport parking lots and ride a couple of stops to the HSR station, or let private developers run bus shuttles, like at airports.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Which is precisely where the alignment above turns the west to follow I-8 to the existing rail corridor. That would give Qualcomm as the suburban station and Santa Fe as the downtown station (and of course the proposed new Lindbergh Field intermodal would be a fine Surfliner station).

    jimsf Reply:

    well ok but good luck with those wealthy uppity white nimbys who live up there. doesn’t matter to me if it ever gets to SD anyway.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    To me, the Qualcomm alignment sketched above is more appealing, given that we are talking about <190mph speeds in this segment.

    Dan Reply:

    I live here, and I don’t actually know if there are more people along the 15 or the 5 in San diego. What I can say is that the coast has more dense development while the 15 tends towards large single-family homes. The largest urban density outside of downtown is certainly UTC (university city) which is a combination of high-rise offices and mid-rise apartments/condos.

    If we’re going to talk about “the people”, then we really need to look in south-county (between downtown and the border) including Chula Vista, National City, etc. There are a huge number of working-class people living in these cities who are probably an excellent demographic for HSR. Whatever alignment is chosen shouldn’t exclude the possibility of a longer-term extention towards the border.

    Matthew F. Reply:

    I think Downtown is as far south as it’s going to go. South Bay communities are well served by the trolley.

    HSRComingSoon Reply:

    What about the Japanese? The Shinkansen seems to blow by stations using a SFFS track setup as well. Granted, the speed is not 220, but it is still pretty fast.

    mike Reply:


    The same principles apply to the San Diego approach.

    But San Diego is larger than any French city except Paris. And all of the large French cities (Paris, Marseille, Lyon) have downtown stations. San Diego is a terminal station, so the 300 kph concerns do not apply.

    I understand your point re: Fresno and Bakersfield, but San Diego is a totally different situation. Now, if the alternatives were “tunnel all the way to Santa Fe Depot” versus Qualcomm, then I’d say Qualcomm would be superior.

    In the bigger picture, the cities with population 250,000 or greater that lie anywhere on Phase 1 + Phase 2 are:

    Los Angeles, San Diego, San Jose, San Francisco, Fresno, Sacramento, Santa Ana, Anaheim, Bakersfield, Riverside, and Stockton.

    Of those 11 cities, a downtown station seems obvious for every one except Fresno, Bakersfield, and Stockton. Those three appear to be the debatable cases.

    Incidentally, the full HSR system would directly serve 11 of the 13 California cities that exceed 250,000 people, and indirectly serve the other 2 that are not directly served (Oakland and Long Beach).

    Joey Reply:

    Fresno has a population of 500,000, with 1 million+ in its metropolitan area. It’s not exactly small. Bakersfield is similarly sized. These aren’t little settlements we’re talking about.

    Joey Reply:

    I would like to point out that in Europe there are already a large amount of electrified, standard speed rail lines traveling into city centers. So it is frequently possible to build the HSR line around cities with connections to the standard speed line to reach downtown, and they don’t have to spend the money to build a full high speed line into the city center. This solution is used heavily in Italy and frequently in France as well.

  2. BruceMcF
    Feb 5th, 2010 at 15:34

    Looking at the Google Map of San Diego, it ought to be brought down SR163 so that the second San Diego station can be put in the perfect Auto Uber Alles location: the tangle of spaghetti between SR-163, SR-52, and Kearny Villa Rd.

    Is it true that the median in I-15 is already slated to be used for Diamond lanes in the area where the Qualcomm Stadium Station crowd want to run the HSR down the median? That claim was made in the HSR-denier smorgasborg diary at dKos yesterday.

    Matthew F. Reply:

    Kearney Mesa has no transit links with the rest of the city.

    Face it: If you want to integrate high speed rail with the entire city’s transit infrastructure, Santa Fe Station takes the cake.

    The FasTrak lanes are definitely going as far as the interchange with the 52 – which isn’t as far as I thought. Perhaps the median south of there isn’t AS spoken-for

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Kearney Mesa has no transit links with the rest of the city.


    the perfect Auto Uber Alles location

    I don’t much care in detail where the suburban San Diego station is located – though, generically, preferably not in an Auto Uber Alles locale … but definitely, Santa Fe seems to be the best intermodal downtown location

    Jeremy Reply:

    Bruce, I was also very excited about Santa Fe, especially given the heavy residential development downtown, walkability and the “tourist factor”. However, the little publicized intermodal transit center (ITC) in the plans for Lindbergh Field is intriguing and would combine direct access ramps from I-5 and a huge parking structure, while still retaining the trolley and possibly a Coaster connection. Worth a very serious look.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    No, it’s not worth a serious look. It’s not downtown. It is not as well connected as you think. No Coaster service and the Trolley provides only baisic service levels there.

    Santa Fe Depot has a many magnitudes greater transit access.

    Francis Reply:

    I agree with Jeremy, the ITC by Lindbergh is worth a serious look. I live downtown and the Santa Fe depot has the best connections to public transit, we all agree. But I would be happy with either a Sante Fe or Lindbergh station because both have great potential.

    The biggest criticism with a Lindbergh station is that it is not downtown, and not connected to the public transportation that Sante Fe offers. With the construction of the ITC between the airport and the 5-freeway you could build a San Diego Grand Central Station which has the potential to dwarf the public transportation access available at SF Depot. The ITC could connect freeway access, trolley, bus-depot which would be built to serve the airport but could easily accommodate HSR’s passenger needs, and the ITC has the added advantage of ample parking spaces. SF Depot has very little room now that those huge condo towers have been installed. Building a station at Lindbergh might harm local commuters, but not very much since most local commuters will be using local transit not so much HSR.

    The biggest advantages to HSR at Lindbergh is that you could connect people to the Airport and have more space for a terminus station. Being a mile from downtown really isnt that big a deal in my opinion, and I live downtown.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    As above, its obviously not a candidate for the Downtown station, and as a suburban station, its too close to downtown – if the San Diego suburban is that close to downtown, it pressures the next station to be closer and the stage is on a slippery slope toward stopping train station separation.

    But the proposed Lindbergh intermodal will be a fine trolley stop and Surfliner station.

    Francis Reply:

    Thats probably the way things are going to happen with HSR and the ITC being separate projects. But my point was the ITC has the potential to serve San Diego’s needs just as well, if not better, than the Santa Fe Depot.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If its Qualcomm and Santa Fe, you have an HSR station on the Trolley Blue line serving down into the south of the county, and origin of the Coaster and Surfliner, and near the Coronado Island Ferry piers, and an HSR station on the Green line, with both on the special events line between Qualcomm and the convention center district.

    And Santa Fe is only a short walk from America Plaza and the Orange line, 9 bus routes, and only a couple of blocks away from the Coronada Island pier.

    I think it definitely makes sense to swing the airport access to the other side of the field where its possible to put a train station for the Surfliner and the Coaster to stop, but its too far from downtown to be the ideal downtown HSR station, and too close to be the suburban HSR station.

    Francis Reply:

    Yeah Santa Fe is a good choice too. haha

    Anyway just so you know the Coronado Ferry no longer exists. Sad but true, it was deemed a security threat to North Island Naval Base as one reason to shut it down.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Ah, those bastards, stealing San Diego’s tourist draws. Of course, the military industrial complex is a bedrock of the San Diego economy.

    Still can’t move the convention center.

    Bobierto Reply:

    Actually the Coronado ferry does still exist, though it’s not a major commuter option. The military ran a commuter boat directly to the naval air station at north island, adjoining Coronado, and that is what was shut down.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Oh, worth a look, but the connection to the Interstate only rises to a top priority for the suburban San Diego station, the one that originally include University City as an option and that has some people pushing Qualcomm.

    However, when it gets a closer look, I think it’s too close to downtown to be effective as the suburban station. At least Qualcom and UC are about the right distance from downtown for the suburban San Diego station.

    Jeremy Reply:

    Matthew, that’s pretty much right – the I-15 Managed Lanes project terminates at Rte 163 (no plans to extend south) but some additional general purpose lanes have just been finished “tapering” down towards Hwy 52. There is tons of ROW generally in the stretch of I-15 from Rte 163 to Qualcomm, at least compared to the stretch north to Escondido, which is a very wide concrete channel! Having said that, the Executive Director of SANDAG, Gary Gallegos, is on record as opining that HSR along the new Managed Lanes stretch, while an engineering challenge, is still quite possible.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    What is the alignment from Qualcomm to Santa Fe? Looking ahead, when “low” gas prices are $5/gallon and an oil price shock is $10/gallon, Qualcomm is not an unreasonable junction for the dedicated local transport corridors that will be required to avoid the majority of San Diego turning into suburban slum.

  3. Arthur Dent
    Feb 5th, 2010 at 15:51

    “Ridership isn’t everything: you also have to consider cost and environmental impact, and the solution must be arrived at by careful trade-off of these variables.”
    Well said, Clem. And besides, if ridership were everything, the CHSRA is in serious trouble. just posted a ridership forecast timeline. Robert? Clem? Can you make sense of this?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I saw the timeline. I don’t see the problem. It seems to be of the “if anything changes or looks bad, then the project is automatically bad.”

    What I see instead is further confirmation that Altamont and Pacheco were similar in many respects, but there was no obvious benefit to one or the other.

    Agree with Clem, of course, about ridership not being everything. Trains should go where the riders are, in a cost-effective and practical manner.

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    Really? It looked more serious than that to me. Be good if any ridership modeling experts could explain it.

    Peter Reply:

    We’ll see what (if any) fallout there is from this, but it doesn’t look like a massive scandal that will derail the project to me. Especially not if the ridership numbers are still within a range that outside parties have stated will still not require operating subsidies.

    Opponents of the project will of course argue that “this”, whatever it really means, is proof of a grand conspiracy.

  4. jimsf
    Feb 5th, 2010 at 17:36

    I just want to reiterate this point to be clear and to keep some perspective as we all seem to get carried away with absolutes at times..

    so remember.

    ONE: ONLY the true express trains, as is, non stop from San Francisco Transbay Terminal to Los Angeles Union Station have to meet the 2:40 travel time. ( that means no stop in san jose or frenso or anywhere else)

    AND TWO: the majority of trips will not be the nonstop true express sf to la type, but all the trips in between who’s travel times have no stipulation. ( to my knowledge)

    Slowing down for one minute, to run through the downtowns at fresno and bakersfield, will do little, and certainly far less to to impact travel times, than what the actually stopping for passengers on locals and limited will do. And with those local and limited riders, they aren’t traveling the full distance so their travel times are short no matter what.

    There isn’t a problem here folks. relax.

  5. Eric M
    Feb 5th, 2010 at 17:59

    Well here is a cool video showing a Chinese train flying through the station at full speed. Not as bad as everyone thinks it is.

    jimsf Reply:

    over before you know it

    Peter Reply:

    Heh, and a good chunk of the noise in that video was from the Learjet flying shotgun with the camera.

    spokker Reply:

    Web videos are cool, but do nothing to demonstrate the sound of a high speed train. You can only know by being there.

  6. HSRComingSoon
    Feb 5th, 2010 at 18:40

    Here’s an article about the upcoming Alternative Analysis for the SF-SJ corridor. See here:

  7. mike
    Feb 5th, 2010 at 19:08

    Clearly Lightner didn’t get the memo from the Palo Alto NIMBYs that would have taught her that Hwy 56 is an ideal corridor for HSR because no one cares if it gets built next to a highway.

    Actually, unlike 101, Hwy 56 does look like a decent alignment. There’s a ton of room in the median, and it’s reasonably straight except for one curve that I’d crudely estimate is around 90 mph. Even that curve might be avoidable if you were willing to depart from the highway ROW at that point and exercise a limited amount of eminent domain.

    Jeremy Reply:

    Lightner also didn’t get the memo advising public officials not to confuse their own, uninformed opinions with fact and never to make ridiculous statements to the press. I live very close to Hwy 56 and I agree with Mike somewhat, but unfortunately I would anticipate some degree of NIMBYism because (a) a portion of the 56 does traverse a major natural preserve with regional trails (Los Penasquitos Canyon) and (b) part of the alignment runs very close to upscale neighborhoods. Having said that, this is indeed a freeway with lots of ROW (currently underbuilt at 4 lanes, programmed for 6 lanes probably within 10 years and designed for ultimate buildout as 8 lanes or “transit options” in the median). I just hope that the “path of least resistance” to the coast and the Authority’s (I think) extraordinarily receptive stance to local input does not relegate the location of the only north-central San Diego station to an afterthought. I see pros and cons to both the Qualcomm and UTC options (a whole separate discussion). Another subtopic not, I believe, getting enough (or any) press is the enormous implications for local overlay. San Diego official and public understanding of this issue is I believe waaayyy behind where it should be at this stage (Lightner was too excited about straight lines to understand this point). Heavy commuter rail infrastructure for central and north-inland San Diego is a gift from the heavens that may not come again in our lifetimes and, from that perspective, the Qualcomm or Rte 163 alignments are much more attractive than the Rose Canyon or Rte 56 cutovers, which duplicate heavy rail Coaster service and (finally) an upcoming light rail extension.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, the anchor point for local dedicated transport corridors is one of the pluses for the Qualcomm option.

    Dan Reply:

    I don’t really know much about the technical side of siting HSR, but I do drive the 56 regularly. There are actually very few houses that border it since much of the area was only developed recently. Those that do tend to be on hillsides overlooking the valley where the 56 runs through (much like the 52 in this respect).

    The problem with the 56 is that it is too far north. i.e. once you get close to the 5, there are a number of freeway interchanges and bridges you’d need to deal with. There is also a commercially developed area in UTC which would be difficult to get through.

    BTW: this blog should add an option for a post’s author to edit the post w/in some timeframe. It would certainly cut down on typo’s/etc. Additionally, being able to collapse threads would be a nice addition.


    BruceMcF Reply:

    How much does it ease the curve to bring a viaduct up so it has the whole SR-56 footprint to work with?

  8. Dave
    Feb 6th, 2010 at 00:06

    That’s through a station.

    Clem Reply:

    Hengyang is another excellent example of a downtown bypass.

  9. dist
    Feb 6th, 2010 at 06:55

    I’d like to point out a thing that seems a bit misunderstood here.

    France’s TGV network was design has a mean to create fast point-to-point services in order to compete with airlines. In France, TGV is some time nicknames the \plane-on-rail\.

    For some reasons (I won’t explain those now), France human geography is quite different that the one from Germany. France just doesn’t possess the Ruhr density of large/medium cities which transformed the ICE in a high speed regional network. In France, there is Paris (which account for a fith of the country population and ~30% of the national GDP), then Lyon, Marseilles, Lille, Nice, Toulouse, Bordeaux…

    Next point, those big population centres are all quite far from each others. They are not clutered in the same area but are widespread. Which make this fast point-to-point service design even more desirable and effective. Once your goal is too linked the big population bassin together you don’t really need to put your high speed rail line in the middle of every medium/small sized city on the way. It’s more effective to bypass them and connect the HRL to slower feeder lines, there is many TGV who don’t end up at the big terminii, they just got off the LGV en route and stop at a small city main station.

    This is what happen, for exemple, at Reims (~220.000 people, 29th biggest French urban area) which is directly connected to Paris in half an hour (141km) by the LGV Est. This is also what happen with Metz (~430k) or Nancy (~415k), the LGV doesn’t go through them, it bypass them and those cities are connected to Paris by direct trains that go out the LGV at some point. There is also one of those famous \beet-field\ station on the LGV between those two cities for trains that go to or come from the East.

    This is one of the thing, the TGV network is design for fast point-to-point and direct connection from and to Paris. It’s for exemple easier and quicker to make Bordeaux-Marseilles by Paris than by the more direct route through Toulouse. The TGV network is not comparable to the Japanese or German network.

    And as far as the \beet-field\ stations are concerned, they usually are poorly designed. The last build are better than the first one but they usually missed railroad or good public transit connections and they are usually a failure, the only exception I know off is Avignon’s TGV station were urban development is now taking place. But the station was built far out in the suburbs.

    So, like I said, the French HSN is very peculiar in his design and it was made like that partly because of the very heavy weight (both economically and politically) of Paris. A particularity that California doesn’t really possess with its sprawl like communities. In and all, I think California will be best advised to take example on the Japanese HSN. And since the whole network will need to be build from scratch you can build stations in or around small/medium sized cities on the way without impacting direct trains.

  10. Brandon from San Diego
    Feb 6th, 2010 at 11:43

    Concerns about speed through cities seems incorrectly mis-placed if applied to the San Diego section. At no place will trains surpass 180mph in the county.

    Concerning the alignment options…. one thing clear is that the large majority were already examined in the prior planning/environmental phase. 2004? And the preferred alignment ran through Rose canyon and then down the existing rail ROW and terminating at Downtown San Diego Santa Fe Depot.

    The only functional purpose of including these alterntaitves again is to satisfy local concernsfor a second time… and for political purposes. I suspect with great certainty that the preferred alignment will be selected again.

    What I am not so certain about… is whether Lidbergh Field will bump Santa Fe Depot. That would be a travesty! Lindbergh is not downtown, has nominal relationship to the airport, and becomes worthless for local commuters.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Satisfying local concerns that are likely to be poorly understood in the preliminary planning phase is why a scoping stage includes public comment.

    If Qualcomm is better connected by the road network to more parts of San Diego than University City, and a large number of suburban residents view driving into University City as little better than driving into downtown, then omitting it from the Alternatives analysis would seem to be a mistake. Its simply not acceptable to say, “yeah, it may or may not be a better place for a station, but there are some headaches in working out the alignment so we didn’t bother looking at it”. If its not the final selection, the pro’s and con’s to that alignment have to be laid out in public and in detail.

    Of the three proposed suburban-type stations, Lindbergh would have the richest collection of transport options, but putting the suburban station so close to Santa Fe seems highly dubious. And it would of course be a mistake to put two suburban and no downtown stations in San Diego.

    Matthew F. Reply:

    In the long run, it sounds like the orange and blue lines will terminate at 1 America Plaza, with the green and whatever color the mid-coast gets running south along bayside to Imperial & 12th.

    I wonder if instead the blue and orange lines could run up the coast a few stations to Lindberg, connecting the stop there (as well as the airport) to the entire city?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    What’s your source for that?

    Bobierto Reply:

    I have seen this too, but I can’t find where now. The new green line uses different trains, that the stations south of Old Town can’t accommodate. The long-term plan is to update the stations, lengthen the green line to down town, and shorten the blue line so it ends downtown. They may also eventually change the downtown alignment so that the blue line continues past 12th & Imperial past the convention center to terminate at Santa Fe, and the orange line no longer serves the convention center, but instead terminates at Americas Plaza or Santa Fe. At that point all three existing lines would terminate at the same place (Americas Plaza and Santa Fe are across the street from each other) with no overlap of service downtown (the C street corridor that the blue and orange lines share is highly congested). The district around Santa Fe is highly congested with no room to idle waiting for arriving passengers, let alone park. I am not at all convinced that Santa Fe is a better location for a HSR terminus than Lindbergh. The long-term plan is to reconfigure the airport so that arrivals/departures are along the freeway. I will keep looking for a source regarding the trolley line reconfiguration, and post it if I find it.

    I agree with a prior commenter that a Lindbergh location is just about as convenient to downtown – many downtown residents would take the trolley to Santa Fe, as the station is at a far end of downtown. So what is the problem with taking the trolley two or three more stops to Lindbergh? Lindbergh probably has a slight edge over Santa Fe for people living in the rest of the urban core. For tourists and business visitors I suspect Lindbergh would be better. Frankly if there is to be a second station, Qualcomm would probably be better situated for suburban populations than University City, which is heavily congested with traffic, and not well-served by public transportation. Also the business districts around University City are very spread out, and the projected trolley line to UTC won’t serve the large developments north of University City. (My company recently moved from downtown to University City, and I live near downtown, so my knowledge of this part of the city has unfortunately greatly increased lately.)

    You will probably get plenty of NIMBYism for the 56 corridor though the ROW would be available there. I was surprised the 52 wasn’t considered – good ROW there too, more heavily developed but frankly less affluent so possibly less likely to complain? Sorry to be a cynic there. Either the 15 or the 163 to the 8 make a lot of sense, the 163 bypasses Qualcomm but would involve less landtaking along the 8, which is going to be a problem – also the 8 follows the San Diego River, and when they built the trolley line there, there huge environmental controversies, so expect more wetlands issues if they try to build a giant train line there. The mayor wants to build a new football stadium downtown, if that were to happen, I don’t know whether the Qualcomm location would be better or worse – it would be a major site for redevelopment, probably with a focus on medium-density housing, and possibly a major satellite campus of SDSU. And though I am loathe to say this, if HSR terminated at Qualcomm, it wouldn’t be a crisis. It has good public transportation service, excellent freeway access, room for train parking (I don’t know how they’ll resolve that downtown), and room for automobile parking as well. If there were stations at Qualcomm and Lindbergh/Santa Fe, Qualcomm would be the choice of most suburban users – and remember, San Diego is mostly suburb.

  11. Alon Levy
    Feb 6th, 2010 at 13:39

    I find what Richard and Clem do here weird. On the one hand, Richard blasts TJPA for claiming “Asians don’t value life the way we do” in response to a question about Shinkansen turnaround times. On the other, both Richard and Clem ignore the Shinkansen when it comes to downtown HSR alignments.

    For the record, Shizuoka and Hamamatsu are both about as big as Fresno, and have trains going through downtown at 270 km/h without stopping. The Tokaido Shinkansen can’t support higher speeds because it was built for 200; even 270 requires 200 mm superelevation and tilting trains.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And as has been repeatedly pointed out, slowing down to 270km/hr for three km will add under two minutes to a run – a noise curfew on speeds over 270km/hr between 5pm and 9am would not be a massive impact on total system ridership.

    For the relatively small number of services that will NOT stop in Fresno and Bakersfield, that is a far smaller cost than mislocating the station for the majority of services that WILL stop in Fresno and Bakersfield.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I still think that CHSRA is wrong about how many services will stop in Fresno and Bakersfield. Both cities are in high-speed territory; skipping them cuts 7 minutes from the runtime. The same appears to be true for Gilroy.

    If CHSRA has a Shinkansen-style service pattern, then most trains will run nonstop between Sylmar and San Jose, just like most trains run nonstop between Shin-Yokohama and Nagoya.

    The Shinkansen way is to build downtown stations when possible based on ROW constraints. SNCF follows the same philosophy in its proposal for HSR in the US: for example, in the Midwest it proposes downtown stations for Fort Wayne, Springfield, and Toledo, where there is a straight railroad through downtown, and suburban stations for Madison and Lafayette, where there isn’t. Fresno and Bakersfield have a completely straight railroad serving their downtowns, so suburban stations shouldn’t even be on the table. At Gilroy there may be a problem with curve radii, which is why there are multiple proposed alignments, some with a downtown station and some without.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I’m not sure that the constraints on adding frequency on the California corridors in the first decade of operations will be the same as in Japan today.

    For the linear programming optimization station skipper schedule, you get more or less what the CHSRA gets.

    For regular schedules, I don’t see more express SF/SJ/LA services than all-stations and limited stops services to the Bay and Sacramento combined. The SF/SJ/LA express services may be the first to get longer and then bi-level trains, but given the capacity and the benefit of frequency, I’d expect whichever operator leases the run from CHSRA will have trains with Fresno and Bakersfield stops in addition to the all-stations through the CV.

  12. Joseph E
    Feb 6th, 2010 at 16:02

    Getting back to the point at hand, the alignment to San Diego, I think the Rose Canyon route would be the cheapest and fastest.

    I lived is San Diego and appreciated all the little green canyons between the neighborhoods on the mesas, but I don’t think Rose Canyon would be ruined by the trains. It already has the Surfliner and Coaster passing thru every half-hour; a HSR train going 90 mph every 15 minutes would not ruin the place for recreation. The alignment would only have to be about 50 feet wider, like a 2-lane highway with shoulders, and trains would certainly not be going 150 mph in that stretch, due to curves before and after.

    A station in UTC or University City would be nice, if the tunnel does not cost too much. If the highway 56 alignment is used, you could come down the LOSSAN corrider (5 then 805) and tunnel under the center of UTC, under Gennesse, which would also cut out a big, slow curve from the Surfliner / Coaster route and provide a nice central underground station for the University area.

    However, an alignment straight down I-5 could also provide for a station right next to UCSD and the VA hospitals. Or if the tunnel were coordinated with the Trolley light rail extension to UCSD, you could tunnel from I-5 under the UCSD campus for a station there, and continue south down Gilman back to the LOSSAN corridor.

    I prefer either the orange or the green corridor in this map if they choose to go down 56:,-117.182236&spn=0.147296,0.296288&z=12&msid=102764232639575421873.00047ef6a119cb968bcb7

    But the original idea with the UTC station and tunnel would be shorter and more direct, and a better TOD location near many jobs. If the trolley extension is built, there would be a short light-rail ride to UCSD.

  13. Emma
    Feb 6th, 2010 at 22:55

    First of all I embrace HSR to San Diego. The earlier the better. It MUST arrive in Downtown as everybody can reach Downtown at about the same traveling time. Although a station at Qualcolmm would be closer to my home, it would take me MORE time to arrive there. Why? For everyone who knows the location of the stadium knows that it is in this valley with a highway. In addition to that only one trolley takes me to Qualcolmm while three trolleys and ten bus routes can take me to Downtown.

    I would prefer a route through University City with a station. UCSD has about 30,000 students who wouldn’t be reluctant to use the high speed train IF it runs through their area.

    Coming from Europe I can tell you that there are no trains passing a Downtown station with 350 km/h for several reasons. The two main reasons are:
    -It is dangerous. But some do when the rail is not close to the platform
    (ICE 3)

    -Why should they avoid potential customers?


    BruceMcF Reply:

    Although a station at Qualcolmm would be closer to my home, it would take me MORE time to arrive there. Why? For everyone who knows the location of the stadium knows that it is in this valley with a highway. In addition to that only one trolley takes me to Qualcolmm while three trolleys and ten bus routes can take me to Downtown.

    They are not rivals – it wouldn’t be either Qualcomm or Santa Fe … it would be the suburban station at Qualcomm and the downtown station at Santa Fe, next to America Plaza. Can’t move the convention center, and can’t move the ferry docks, and won’t relocate the bulk of bus routes to run to the airport, so the argument for the airport as the “downtown” station 1.2miles to 2 miles from downtown, that seems fairly weak.

    The argument for the Qualcomm area is that its more centrally located for metro San Diego, the argument for the University City area is that the University is there as a traffic anchor. Of course, to date it seems that some of the loudest lobbying for Qualcomm is by Rose Canyon NIMBY’s.

  14. Richard Mlynarik
    Feb 7th, 2010 at 09:45

    Alon Levy :
    I find what Richard and Clem do here weird. On the one hand, Richard blasts TJPA for claiming “Asians don’t value life the way we do” in response to a question about Shinkansen turnaround times. On the other, both Richard and Clem ignore the Shinkansen when it comes to downtown HSR alignments.

    Here’s what I believe: there’s are significant difference between what can be done and what should be done, for just about any human undertaking.

    Saying that it’s possible to turn trains at an example rate (FYI the horrific, ignorant, racist TJPA consultant sleazebag was “countering” an example of commuter trains, not Shinkansen, and it was that incident that made be give up on any constructive engagement with those people as being beyond redemption, either personally or professionally) and saying that it is possible to build a 14 track two level Pangalactic station in San Jose and that it is possible to build the civil engineering structures that will carry 350kmh trains through Bakersfield are all things than can be demonstrated to be true.

    Saying that it’s technically desirable to limit train terminal reversal rate to a certain level for objective service reliability reasons, and saying that it is politically desirable to not ever even consider alternatives to a panglactic station are, on the other hand, quite different — at least to me.

    I agree with anybody that it’s technically possible to run 9 high speed trains per direction per hour at 200kmh between San Jose and San Francisco; or that it’s technically possible to build two entirely separate terminal stations in San Francisco; or that it’s technically possible to terminate the majority of Caltrain regional trains in a separate station outside the SF CBD; or that it’s technically possible to build a new rail route over the Pacheco Pass; or that it’s technically possible to site a train maintenance facility near Fresno; or that it’s technically possible to build completely separate high speed and commuter rail stations in San Jose and Los Angeles; or that it’s technically possible to grade separate high speed tracks while leaving commuter trains and freight trains in the same corridor at grade; or that it is technically possible to run trains at 350kmh through the middle of Fresno; etc.

    What I don’t agree with is that any of these technical possibilities are either economically desirable or result in desirable urban environments.

    I’ve done my modest share of travel to Japan and Honk Kong (but not China, Taiwan or South Korea), and I’m impressed by the rail engineering, and I enjoyed all the trains in my pathetic railfan way, but I don’t agree with the cheerleaders here that the resulting urban environments are desirable, especially when there are other, superior and more economic alternatives. NIMBY NIMBY NIMBY! Denialist!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The issue isn’t what’s possible here, but what promotes the highest level of service at the lowest price. SNCF’s penchant for edge-of-urban-area stations doesn’t come from love of desirable urban environment. Leaving aside the question of just how blighted Shizuoka and Hamamatsu really are, the French government doesn’t care about urban environments outside Paris and Hauts-de-Seine. It comes from lack of good railroad ROW that could run through downtown at high speed. For the LGVs to detour to serve downtown Aix-en-Provence or Reims would not be economic. This is not the case in California, where there’s a dead straight ROW from the Tehachapis to Sacramento.

    The entire question here is about whether it’s economic to build downtown stations in Fresno and Bakersfield, not whether it’s possible. Given the existence of a downtown ROW, the construction cost of a downtown alignment may not be much higher than that of a detour. (Again, compare SNCF’s proposals in the Midwest for corridors where legacy ROW is straight, such as Chicago-Cleveland, and corridors where legacy ROW is not straight, such as Chicago-Minneapolis.) The service level would unquestionably be higher – there’s much more within walking distance of downtown than within walking distance of a suburban station, even in spread out cities like Bakersfield and Fresno.

    (Yes, we all know CHSRA cares about other things, such as big stations named after board members. But said board members may still end up supporting good transit for unrelated reasons. American governments and companies are endemically corrupt and not building anything is not going to solve the problem.)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    By the way: Hong Kong has no high-speed rail… when you say the urban environment there is unpleasant, are you talking about the visual impact of els? Because if the issue is visual impact then there’s a far larger class of examples of downtown els (for a start, the Stadtbahn). It’s the noise mitigation that requires looking at Shinkansen examples.

  15. CMarquis
    Feb 10th, 2010 at 10:47

    While I prefer the UTC/LaJolla alignment for personal reasons, it’s inaccurate to suggest that the Qualcomm stadium alignment would generate fewer riders than UTC/La Jolla alignment. Both UTC and Mission Valley, where the Q is located, are zoned as high density business/residential development districts. The Q also has the advantage of having an existing trolley stop that, in addition to being in high density Mission Valley, also serves the East County cities of La Mesa, El Cajon and Santee.

    While I hope UTC will end up with a HSR station, it’s where I work and is a center of Banking/Finance and biotechnology industries, the Q alignment is a reasonable alternative that should generate as much, if not more, ridership.

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