Sunday Open Thread

Mar 28th, 2010 | Posted by

A beautiful day here in Monterey – hope it is for you as well, wherever you might be in California (or elsewhere in the world). Some HSR links:

  • Modesto Bee editorializes in favor of Merced’s Castle Airport for the HSR maintenance hub, pointing out that the site has the space to accommodate the trains and would pose a minimal impact to neighbors.
  • Chinese airlines are beginning to abandon service on routes served by HSR, including Zhengzhou to Xian. This is in spite of the fact that HSR ticket prices in China are significantly more expensive than the slower trains they replaced, suggesting strong latent demand for high speed passenger rail service that is now being met.
  • Seattle Transit Blog takes a look at HSR plans for the Pacific Northwest corridor from Eugene to Seattle and Vancouver, BC. Ben Schiendelman argues, correctly I believe, that new local rail services in Portland, Seattle and Vancouver will boost HSR practically and politically. In the meanwhile, the $500 million in stimulus funds for the PNW corridor will help the Amtrak Cascades, which use Talgo trainsets, deal with some persistent bottlenecks, including the single-track Tacoma waterfront tunnel.
  • A Colorado DOT study pegs the cost of regional HSR at $22 billion, to serve the I-25 Front Range corridor (Denver metro to Colorado Springs) and the I-70 corridor from Vail to Denver International Airport. Most of the cost is for dedicated HSR tracks, as the study’s authors recognize sharing with freight ROW is not ideal from a service or revenue perspective, as well as the fact that Colorado’s freight rail corridors generally do not serve the key destinations in the state.
  1. Castle Expert
    Mar 28th, 2010 at 15:57

    At the end of the day Castle is the only site which is truly intermodal and because it is owned by
    one property owner it can come online almost immediately. Lastly, the Castle site will decrease the amount of deadheading of trains compared to any other sites and this site will save the tax payers money since it is the only site submitted that was a former Brown field site.

    Joey Reply:

    I doubt that Castle will ever become a major intermodal hub.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Most trains would travel from Los Angeles to San Francisco. So locating the maintenance hub in Merced would actually involve the most deadheading of any route.

    Joey Reply:

    Chances are that most of the overnight stabling will take place at the endpoints anyway, rather than at the heavy maintenance facility

  2. SL
    Mar 28th, 2010 at 16:53

    In the updated designs from the March 9th TJPA CAC meeting, different platform heights are clearly shown in the cross section of The Transbay Terminal (page 8). Unfortunate.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Brought to you by America’s very finest transportation professionals.

    Caelestor Reply:

    I’m starting to think we’d be better off by electrifying and upgrading all the current tracks to 125 mph. No extra tracks needed, just build four tracks at key stations.

  3. ks
    Mar 28th, 2010 at 18:06

    I suspect the Chinese embrace HSR out of nationalism – their HSR is home-built, while Boeing and Airbus are American and European, respectively.

    Anyway, I hope Americans are not too patriotic when it comes to clean tech.

    greg Reply:

    Not really, since the long-distance buses on many routes with newly-opened HSRs have been similarly affected. We’ll see significant reshaping of the public transit patterns as the national and regional HSR network are being completed.

  4. jimsf
    Mar 28th, 2010 at 18:36

    well, because who doesn’t love a compare and contrast essay…

    I flew to long beach and back this weekend. (outstanding weather down there folks, LA looks so terribly inviting and user friendly from the air) flight versus hsr…

    well, door to door, civic center to 1st and Cherry

    10am left house
    1020 bart
    1050 sfo
    1100 tsa
    1110 gate
    1135 departure
    1250 lb gate
    120 1st and cherry.

    total 3:20

    The return was a little faster because tsa in long beach is one gal, a tent, and a folding table, or so it seems. ( that place, always feels like I’ve landed at a dairy queen with those picnic tables out front)

    hsr woulda been

    10a house
    1020 hsr dep
    115p Anaheim
    145 1st and cherry

    total 3:45
    25 minutes longer by hsr, but, no other modes, no transfers, just step on, step off. no ear popping, no being confined to a straight jacket, no claustrophobic toilets and no peanut toss.

    I will say the folks at jet blue are very nice though, and the flight attendant guy comped me two bottles of skyy. ( maybe they don’t want to lose me to hsr…)

    Joseph E Reply:

    Jimsf, I hope you enjoyed your stay in Alamitos Beach, our Neighborhood. How did you get from LB airport to 1st and Cherry in 30 minutes, did you take a taxi? It looks like you didn’t check any luggage either.

    I traveled from Long Beach to Sacramento (and points north after renting a car); it took 5 hours to get to the rental car place, and another 30 minutes until we got in the car and left.

    We left our home in Long Beach (7:25 am), took the bus (7:30am) to the Blue Line (7:40am), transferred to the Green Line (8:25), got to shuttle to LAX (8:45), waited to check baggage (9:15), went thru security (9:45), got Pinkberry, boarded (10:05), left the gate (10:25), deplanned in Sac (12:00), got luggage (12:15), took the shuttle to the rental car place (12:30).

    With an all-taxi trip, we would still take almost 4 1/2 hours to get to downtown Sacramento, for example. HSR would be a 30 minute ride to LAX, about 3 hours to Sacramento, and 30 minutes to your destination, at least 1/2 hour shorter. And via transit it would be and even better comparison: 4 1/2 hours instead of 5 1/2 hours.

    jimsf Reply:

    Joseph, no I didn’t check bags, it was a quick trip to see the b52s in agoura hills, ( awesome ) so I flew down sat afternoon, (it was good karma cuz we also zero traffic on the 405 from long beach to agoura hills – the whole way! can you believe it) and flew home sunday afternoon. quick and simple no fuss no muss, and bart stops in front of my apt in sf, and delivers me just a short walk from jet blue at sfo intl term. still, id rather take hsr even it takes a few minutes longer.

  5. jimsf
    Mar 28th, 2010 at 18:41

    oh and important.. round trip with tax 134.40. Of course I booked it 2 months ago.
    So hsr needs to offer last minute fares at 60 – 65 bucks each way, and that way, when the last minute airline tickets are going for 165 each way, people will take the train at the last minute instead.

    Joseph E Reply:

    And how much for the taxi? The Amtrak bus from LA Union Station to LBC costs $5 and only takes 30 to 45 minutes most of the time; the Blue Line costs 1.25 and takes 1 hour.

    jimsf Reply:

    For mine, I didn’t use taxi as friends pick me up at the airport.. as they would for hsr. That would probably be the case for most people I guess.

  6. Brandon from San Diego
    Mar 29th, 2010 at 06:42

    ^^^ You guys have some speedy trips! Myself, similar trips are closer to 5hrs or more. However, I give myself more time to get through airport. I am always in the gate area 45-60 minutes prior to departure time – 15-ish minutes prior to boarding.

    jimsf Reply:

    I just can’t stand waiting around so I always cut it closer and the TSA at SFO has always done an amazing job of getting people through quickly, in my experience anyway. Plenty of staff. Oakland is dreadful though. Plus with Oakland its a bart to a bus to a slow tsa so you have to pad your time for each one. My trip would have been even faster from sfo, had I not read the weekday bart sked by mistake. I could have shaved another 15 minutes of the trip.

  7. Matthew
    Mar 29th, 2010 at 10:15

    More scientific evidence indicating that oil prices are likely to rise dramatically over the next few years:
    Not a surprise, but good to point to people who think energy efficiency isn’t a problem, or that airfares are unlikely to increase in the near to mid-term.

  8. jimsf
    Mar 31st, 2010 at 20:31

    By the way doesn anyone subscribe to this its expensive , 199 a year, but has all the inside scoop apparently. It caught my eye in an ad in progressive railroading that i was thumbing through at crew base. By the way, having gone through some issues of industry mags, it would seem that there is def. no question that we are headed directly for a high speed future. The railroads, and all the support industries, as well as private investors and government agencies appear to be gearing up for it in each of their capacities judging by the articles and perhaps more telling, the advertisements.

    Peter Reply:

    Looks like someone decided to capitalize on the public’s thirst for more HSR information. All this information you can get from other sources for free. You just have to be willing to spend the time looking for it.

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