Friday Open Thread

Aug 27th, 2010 | Posted by

Still in Hawaii – hope all is going well back in California. Use this as an open thread for whatever HSR-related issues are on your mind. Did anyone make it to the HSR event in Orange County that we mentioned in the Tuesday open thread?

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  1. StevieB
    Aug 27th, 2010 at 13:22
    #1

    The study presented at the Orange County HSR event is available as Thinking Ahead: High Speed Rail in California

    StevieB Reply:

    Parking is a very important part of the study. There is a basic conflict over the amount of parking.

    Parking is also likely to emerge as a key land use issue, with transit advocates
    generally wanting less to discourage driving to/from HSR stations and traffic
    engineers/developers typically wanting more to accommodate the anticipated
    demand generated by system ridership and new development projects
    surrounding station areas.

    The high cost of parking structures, loss of urban land that could be developed for more economically viable purposes, and the parking structures making the station area less walkable by crowding out more pedestrian friendly
    uses all problems. Local government in Southern California has asked for mitigation of the parking requirements.

    Recognizing the enormous financial burden and negative urban planning/
    design impacts that these parking requirements would impose, officials at both
    Metro and the OCTA have requested that the CHSRA modelers to be more openminded
    to other connectivity concepts that might reduce anticipated parking
    needs.

    The plans for Los Angeles Union Station call for 3579 parking spaces for High Speed Rail which is the largest amount of additional parking called for in the Los Angeles to San Diego segment. I believe Union Station is the best transit connected station in the segment with Amtrak and Metrolink train, subway, light rail and bus links. The study advocates for parking needs. Regardless of the parking mitigation strategies ultimately implemented, most of
    the additional parking capacity will most likely still need to be built and provided
    at the outset of operations. One of the valuable lessons learned by Metrolink is
    that parking needs were greater than ever anticipated, due to the large catchment
    areas, especially at outlying and terminus stations.

    Union Station as a transit center is best suited for more transit oriented development and less parking. I believe the parking requirements are based solely on the number of boardings at a station and do not take into consideration important environmental factors. Parking is a very important factor in all cities anticipating a station and the CAHRA should be asked to clarify parking requirements.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    I agree. Union Station should be a TOD site, not as a parking lot.

    StevieB Reply:

    The parking requirements at all stations should be asked for further clarification. Union Station as the best example of being transit connected shows how the numbers do not reflect the environment of the station.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Agreed. The proposed parking requirements range from the inappropriate to the bizarre. The priority at LA Union should be providing parking for *rental cars* and *taxis*; the number of people driving to the station and needing long-term parking there is going to be miniscule.

  2. D. P. Lubic
    Aug 27th, 2010 at 18:05
    #2

    Hope your trip is working out well.

    Did you have the chance to check out a couple of steam tourist roads on the islands?

    And did you get to hear or see anything of interest about the proposed rail transit system in Honolulu?

  3. Lionel
    Aug 27th, 2010 at 18:20
    #3

    Wish someone would explain the hub-bub over whether Palo Alto will have two or four tracks, etc.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Only two tracks are needed, until the end of time, between Redwood City and Santa Clara.

    See http://www.pobox.com/users/mly/Caltrain-Timetabling/Hillsdale-200704/Hillsdale.pdf
    to see how a well-defined and customer-attractive operating plan combines with strategic capital investment in limited amounts of infrastructure to give the best level of service and the lowest level of community impact.

    Anybody who wants to quadruple elsewhere is selling you a bill of goods: either on the take, utterly contemptuous of the idea of positive return on public expenditure, or too dumb to live.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That does include the nasty HSR trains going across the bridge that doesn’t exist to Fremont doesn’t it?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    It works perfectly well with no change at all for 2 high speed trains per direction per hour (which is all anybody is going to see any time in the first decade of operation of this over-sold white elephant), even assuming the worst and most expensive possible alignment via The Tumbleweed Capital of Silicon Valley.

    Thanks for pretending you don’t understand obvious things like that in order to afford me another opportunity to spell things out for the less swift or the more recent arrivals.

    StevieB Reply:

    Are you happy running freight trains at night on the same tracks you run HSR trains during the day?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Running modern heavy freight trains on a high-speed line is admitedly not an ideal situation. The late W. Graham Claytor, who was president of Amtrak for a time, noted that the FRA-compliant Amtrak trains of his administration (AEM-7 and E-60 electric locomotives pulling Amfleet and Heritage cars) could run over the interlockings and crossovers in the NEC at 125 mph all day, and there was little if any damage. . .but one unit coal train, with its 100-ton capacity coal hoppers, would bang up the switches enough that Claytor could tell when such a train had passed by the feel of his office car running on the tail end of a passenger train. This is a large part of the reason that freight is limited to local service on the Corridor today; when freight cars were smaller, and speeds somewhat lower, this was a major freight road as well as handling a huge passenger load, including through trains from Florida, Chicago, and other places fed by the connecting lines in sharing Union Station in Washington, along with through trains from New England that shared Penn Station in New York (New York, New Haven & Hartford connecting service to Boston).

    The only exception to this was the Baltimore & Ohio, which had its own line north to New York, part of which ran on trackage rights on the Reading Company and the Central of New Jersey to get to Jersey City, N.J. (actual connection to New York was by bus and ferry boat).

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Me? Perfectly happy. What’s your problem? These guys don’t seem to have a problem. What sort of “HSR trains” are there that would have an issue with this, especially where the speeds on the hypothetically shared will be (well) south of 200kmh anyway?

    Not that there are going to be any freight trains anyway once this is all done. (We’ll pay for there to be freight trains, but there won’t be any. Win-win synergy!)

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Actually, all the examples you had available bear out Graham Claytor’s commentary for the NEC. All of the freight trains shown are either the local services mentioned with relatively short and light trains (USA), or are European goods trains with much lighter equipment. Very few railways outside of North America and Australia run anything like 100 to 200 car coal trains with car capacity in the 100 to 125 ton range (gross weight is somewhat higher due to the weight of the car itself), with axle loads in excess of 35 tons. The only line I know of in Europe that might do something like this is an iron-ore hauler in Sweden. This was what gave the track foremen on the NEC fits in trying to maintain line and surface, particularly in interlocking plants.

    Now, of course, if what you would be running in California was much lighter, like trains full of auto racks (which despite their considerable size are actually quite light as rail cars go), or even refrigerator cars, then my comments don’t apply. . .

    http://www.railgoat.railfan.net/railwhales/a-axles.htm

    http://www.railgoat.railfan.net/railwhales/index.htm

    Nathanael Reply:

    Long run, coal trains have got to go away. (Global warming means coal power plants are extremely dangerous and must be stopped.) Metallurgical coal, iron ore, and steel will remain major heavy commodities, but they run on a limited number of routes with much smaller volumes.

    I don’t know how the axle loads on other unit trains in the US compare (aggregates, grains), let alone container trains which are the new standard and the future of freight — but I’d assume all are lighter. Even the aggregates, because they’re generally smaller volumes.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The maximum gross weight on a well car without articulated bogies corresponds to an axle load of 25 metric tons (link).

    jim Reply:

    If coal trains go away, the four big freight railroads go bankrupt.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    In rail freight car design, there are essentially two types of cargo–those that fill a car to its capacity by weight (coal, aggregates, lumber and other wood products, bulk steel (coils, plates, and rails, usually shipped in gondolas or on flats), grains, newsprint, and interestingly, beer), and those that fill a car by volume (automobiles, appliances, certain foods such as processed cereals, wood chips, hay). Car size is dictated by these factors. Coal cars and their axle loadings set the standard; grain cars, with less dense cargo, and similar cars assigned to plastic pellet service, weigh as much but are much larger. Going in the opposite direction, an iron ore car is as heavy as a coal car, but much shorter and smaller overall, because of its denser load. Auto racks are among the largest of cars, but do not weigh anything like a coal car because a auto is really mostly space surrounded by sheet metal.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If environmental legislation is what makes coal trains go away, then the extra pollution and carbon taxes on oil will shift higher-value goods from trucks to rails, which will make up the difference. I’m not sure how profitable European freight rail is, but JR Freight is profitable even though bulk goods can go by sea.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    4

  4. D. P. Lubic
    Aug 27th, 2010 at 22:46
    #4
  5. D. P. Lubic
    Aug 27th, 2010 at 23:26
    #5

    No surprise–Wendell Cox thinks trains are un-American, at least according to this fellow:

    http://www.open.salon.com/blog/louis_v_galdieri/2010/02/01/is_high-speed_rail_un-american

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703389004575033672230734364.html

    Positive comments about trains–no surprise here either, unless you’re Wendell Cox:

    http://www.balloon-juice.com/2010/08/20/as-american-as-the-interstate-highway-system/

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Meh. I think I’ve said it on this blog at least twice before: Cox is the mainstream media equivalent of a troll. Ignore him and he’ll go away on his own. Nothing he’s done has prevented public transit ballot measures from winning 2-to-1. The limiting factor to transit expansion in the US isn’t what industry-funded liars say; it’s the high cost of US-only regulations and contracting practices.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Oh, yes, I recall the comments. Cox is actually getting to be a joke, and I would say an expensive one for his clients. How does he get paid to be the ineffective fool that he is? I think he is conning, or at least wasting, his clients’ money, which is actually a good thing for us.

    If there is ever a Hollywood movie made on the rail transit revival, a character like Cox will have to be the comic relief. And then I wonder if the audiences would believe it!

    I think much the same can be said for Randall O’Toole, whose positions sadden me in a way because both he and I are steam train fans (go figure).

    American regulations and the like may be a factor as you say, but I’m not entirely sure that the regulation picture is the main problem. I have a friend who used to work for the US Park Service in Harpers Ferry; he was one of the rangers who dressed in old-time clothes and told stories about the town to the tourists.

    One of these stories was about how Harpers Ferry was this boom town prior to John Brown’s raid in 1859. At that time, there were a bunch of government employees in the federal armory there (Brown’s objective, by the way) making muskets at the rate of $30 a month ($360 for a year) at a time when the average American farmer had an annual cash income of $125.

    This was a good deal of money coming into Harpers Ferry, Virginia. (which would become West Virginia in June of 1863 ), and a lot of businessmen tried to get some of that money by opening a variety of businesses–boot shops, pharmacies, dry goods stores, and lots and lots of saloons. The business situation is very competitive–the average life expectancy of a business is only about 6 months.

    Jump ahead 150 years to today. If you spoke to people in the Small Business Administration until relatively recently, you would have been told that about 50% of all small business start-ups would fail in the first year, and up to 90% would fail in the first five years. The first part of that works out pretty close to an average life expectancy of 6 months in 1859, and in 1859 there is no income tax, no sales tax, no unemployment tax, no workers compensation tax, no minimum wage law, no overtime wage law, no Social Security, no Medicare, no child labor law, no health code, no building code–pretty much, “no nothing”–yet the failure rate was essentially the same as it is now.

    What this tells me is that the secret of business success is where it has always been–in the abilty of the management, and a bit of luck in being at the right place in the right time. And as for the limits on transit expansion, I still see that as a combination of factors, including the dominance of the oil, auto, and road lobby, the age of certain members of the population (including its legislative bodies), the cowardice of most political leaders at a bunch of noisy people, and sheer momentum of bad decisions of the last 35 to 80 years. Of these, I consider the human factors of cowardice and age to be the deciding ones.

    After all, didn’t someone here, I honestly don’t remember who it was, say that the cost of railroad projects in the US (or at least outside of California) came out about the same as their counterparts in Europe? Don’t the highway builders have to face the same regulations and taxes that a railroad builder would have?

    Take care.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    And who is paying these mouthpieces should aslo be printed in a rebuttal…

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Everything or anyone that does not march to the neo-con mindset is un-American..now trains ,well at least passenger ones or ones that travel over 100mph or the fact that before the oil/air/freeway world in his brain we had the world largest passenger network all private owned

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Oh, yes, and I wonder what those neo-cons would think of this image from an older America, in which young boys wanted to become locomotive engineers, as in the opening sequence of this publicity film by the New York New Haven & Hartford from 1942:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Px_ltuSo9-Y

    While on the subject of flicks, we have this trailer for a movie coming out in November. It’s (very) loosely based on an actual incident in Ohio back in 2001 or so. Hollywood adds some “Perils of Pauline” elements, like a much larger load of hazardous chemicals, a passenger train, and a derailment, complete with big explosion–but that’s Hollywood for you. Actually looks like a good film, although some would consider it just a popcorn movie (it is an action film, after all), with Denziel Washington and Chris Sharp, and Tony Scott as director. . .

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JM-0Ywc7wNY

    Have fun, don’t eat too much popcorn . . .

    YesonHSR Reply:

    An America of the pre-air/freeway era was very pro passenger train and when new a trainset or service was announced it was a point of pride for the city. many a trainset was under Christmas tree then .
    The Cox/neo-con crowd forgets that America was laid out more like Europe with trains connecting every major city some with 2 or 3 railroad lines and fast sleeper trains…sick isnt it what has been ruined and even now is attacked so it cannot make a comeback ..NOW thats un-American

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Yes On,

    I surely know what of you speak. It shows up in these vintage railroad public relations films as well as some of my own memory, even if it dates to long after these flicks.

    Some of these may have been posted before (by me, of course), but since we are on a little bit of a nostalgia kick here, well, I see no harm–and as you have pointed out, it is important to remember what came before.

    In addition to that, these old PR films somehow have a wonderful “America the Beautiful” feel to them, despite clunky narration, poor sound quality, sometimes corny music and even racial stereotypes. I hope you and others here will enjoy them.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM2VzVtEOWg

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nQVFixzowAY&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5QCQt_5hO5Q&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wcr38J0qNgs&feature=channel

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D7-l0xuZSvw&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OX5ydugXsJg&feature=channel

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sNBqm8xYAtE&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SWV7c1hfVk0&feature=channel

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DQjYSB6ivHg&feature=channel

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UCeCPrpAK60&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aeiEMK4bnIY&feature=related

    My personal favorite of the lot–freight operation on the Norfolk & Western, the last big steam railroad in America. As a steam fan, I like where one of the narrators, playing a veteran railroader, comments about the steam powered road, “Coal is the fuel we use–and like.”

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3mXo_ya-kAE

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UKY9PnkVr1A

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=e8mP4ERWlxo&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lcQ19n5kKXg&feature=related

    Enjoy, but watch that soda, candy and popcorn with all that butter!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I have a bunch of nostalgic video links in a response to Yes On about how America was very pro-rail in the pre-Interstate highway era (they are not yet visible as I write this, due to the comment needing moderation for some reason), but in any event, here are a few more to remind us of where we were, and to a certain extent, of where we would like to return. The first of these is a special to Alon and Adirondacker in that it features Pennsylvania operations on what is now the Northeast Corridor; please pardon the hokeyness of the time, and of a movie intended for the school age crowd:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K5fi9viZoTs&feature=related

    Special for Jim SF, and to illustrate transit connections–construction and opening of the Twin Peaks tunnel in 1918:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mSnqmLqg6yg&feature=related

    Early DMUs by Budd:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cZtiWcsVtgY&feature=related

    Santa Fe Super Chief promotional film:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PNyAQir_dfo&feature=related

    Enjoy!

    Nathanael Reply:

    I actually detest steam power, but I’m really nostalgic about the massive amounts of electric-powered rail that the US had in the late 19th early 20th century. The US was a *leader*. Apart from the massive and tragic loss of pretty nearly all the streetcars, we managed to keep quite a lot of the ‘heavy’ electric rail, but we still have little more than we did in 1950.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Nathaneal, Nathanael, please don’t say you detest steam power. . .I’m partial to the beasts, they are the closest thing we have ever made, with the exception of sailing ships, to a machine that seems alive. . .

    Of course, even I wouldn’t suggest bringing them back on a regular basis. Maintenance was awfully intensive with them for one thing; in fact, that was what killed them off.

    You are right about electric power, though. And we did loose a lot more than you seem to realize, including hundreds of miles of electric main line railroad in the Cascades and the Bitter Roots (Milwaukee Road), the Great Northern tunnel electrification (diesels now limit how many trains can go through Cascade Tunnel because of the time it takes the tunnel blowers to clear the 8-mile long bore, for a very long time the longest tunnel in the Americas), the heavy electrification of the tunnel under the Detroit River, the electric divisions of the Virginian Railway and the Norfolk & Western (the latter one of the few to be replaced by improved steam locomotives!–and a grade realignment and new tunnel), and more hundreds of miles of electric railroad in the former Pennsylvania Railroad territory that didn’t host passenger trains, because successor Conrail had to deal with cash flow for wire maintenance and a set of electric locomotives that were limited by the wire in the territory they could be used.

    There was also the loss of the interurbans. I don’t know how familiar you are with them, but these were essentially larger trolleys that ran between towns, like a Greyhound bus, complete with package service. Some lines were pretty extensive–the Sacramento Northern ran for 183 miles between San Francisco and Chico (22 miles of which are being preserved by the Western Railway Museum), and the Pacific Electric was a system with 1,000 miles of track, all of it around Los Angeles (the City of Angels also had the Los Angeles Railway, or LARY, which was an unusual and extensive narrow gauge city system.) Some were pretty fast, too; the Cincinatti & Lake Erie had a straight track and a series of cars called the “Red Devils” that had big motors combined with aluminum bodies; in a publicity stunt, one of them raced an airplane, and won! That says more about aviation in 1930 than anything else, but it still required running at 97 mph! That same car also had to negotiate street trackage in the town the line passed through (but the street trackage wasn’t part of the race!). One of them is preserved at the same Western Railway Museum mentioned above in its later colors of the Cedar Rapids and Iowa City Railway (CRANDIC), which bought the car after the C&LE folded up in the late 1930s. I’ll get some links up about this stuff later when I get more time (darn, I’m always having to squeeze this sort of thing in between my job, taking care of my house, andtaking care of a bunch of cats. . .and sometimes I tell my wife she is an expensive pet, too . . .)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The neocons don’t really oppose HSR. The ones who are connected to oil probably do, but the ones who aren’t, like David Frum and David Brooks, tend to believe in a strong national government doing things the country can be proud of; a nationwide rail transit system could appeal to them.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Interesting, the generational factor could be at work again. David Frum was born in 1960 and David Brooks in 1961; both are ex-Canadians, incidently.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Frum

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/David_Brooks_(journalist)

    I hadn’t heard of either of these two fellows before you brought them up just now, or at least not enough to recognise them as instantly as say a Rush Limbaugh or a recently departed James Kilpatrick. Have they said anything in either direction about HSR that you can link to?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I haven’t read anything by either about HSR, or anything transit-related. But both come off as potential supporters.

    Although neither is as bombastic as Limbaugh, they’re important in intellectual conservatism. Brooks was tapped to be the successor to edit National Review, but was then turned away because he was Jewish and the journal was Catholic; he’s now on an op-ed writer for the New York Times. Frum was one of Bush’s speechwriters, and the person who came up with the phrase “Axis of Evil”; even outside the administration, he was one of the most important proponents of the Iraq War and castigated conservatives who opposed it.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Ha. “Intellectual conservatism”. Contradiction in terms, these days. Both Brooks and Frum are really very good at making up almost-coherent rationalizations for their preconceived notions, but it’s not what an intelltectual would call *intellectual*.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    True. Neither are Galbraith (John or Jamie), Frank Rich, Joe Klein, and Michael Moore. But we use conventional definitions, not philosophical definitions.

  6. rafael
    Aug 28th, 2010 at 06:06
    #6

    The California legislature has passed AB619, a bill that will require all vendors bidding for contracts related to the California HSR project to disclose their role in the Holocaust and what they have done to date to make amends. It is widely believed the bill’s intended target was SNCF, the French national railway operator.

    In effect, this will force SNCF and possibly other bidders to either decline to bid or expose themselves to Jewish groups seeking admissions of guilt and unspecified monetary compensation.

    http://www.sfvbj.com/news/2010/aug/27/legislature-approves-california-high-speed-rail-bi/

    Peter Reply:

    LAME.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    agreed.

    Spokker Reply:

    All SNCF is going to do is translate the response they’ve already given in Europe. Their position is that the company was basically taken over by the Nazis and 2,000 SNCF employees were killed when they resisted.

    Peter Reply:

    Interestingly, SNCF supports AB619.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Maybe they think that DB will have to report more, based on the actions of its predecessor railroads. Or maybe they think that it could set the stage for anti-Japanese and anti-Chinese legislation.

    Peter Reply:

    From what I gather, it’s what others have already said: SNCF was requisitioned to assist in the Nazi war effort, they had to follow Nazi orders, and 2000 of their employees were murdered for resisting orders or obstructing the Nazi war effort.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Maybe it’s because anybody who dares even breathe a hint that this might perhaps be several light years beyond the pale of sanity will be labelled an anti-semitic genocide-approving terrorist? Welcome to the United States.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Oh, God. Not even my Likud-voting friend from Tel Aviv actually believes any of that. Are you sure this blog is not satire?

    John P. Reply:

    Has anyone seen this ABC News piece on the SNCF-Holocaust connectio?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TmvYJCYvxvA

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    A mixture of emotions here. The first is the unfortunate sadness for the man who survived the Holocaust. None of us can begin to imagine what this was like.

    At the same time, the story itself seems, as others have commented, lame. I very seriously doubt anybody from that time is working for SNCF today; I’m not even sure there would be any SNCF employees alive from that time, considering that most would have had at least some seniority at the time of the war, and as pointed out elsewhere, many SNCF employees risked everything in the underground movement, and about 2,000 employees paid the ultimate price.

    My own interpretation is that this is more sensationalism on the part of the news media, in this case ABC. I find this greatly disappointing, considering so many other questions that should be discussed, including the questions I challenged Morris Brown with in another post. Now, Morris can choose not to answer, but it seems to me we would have a heck of a story about the problems of the auto culture, and the prospects of addressing those problems with rail services of different types. Yet, these and other questions remain essentially invisible.

    Oh, and if we want to consider willing corporate Nazi involvement, we need to also look at the activities of GM (which owned Opel during the war years, an important truck builder in Germany at the time), and IBM (whose licensed card readers could be used to simulate computer operations in the sorting of data, which is how the Nazis figured out who was Jewish enough by blood line to send away). Both of these firms maintained contact with their operations in Nazi territory through neutral Switzerland; IBM in particular continued to provide engineering expertise to its German and Vichy French operations through the war (although actual capital or profits could not be shared because of laws in both the US and Germany back then).

    More and more I am convinced the corporate model for larger businesses has some very serious problems, and should be replaced with something like the cooperative model.

  7. Loren Petrich
    Aug 28th, 2010 at 11:55
    #7

    That seems lame. Why is SNCF a likely target? I’d expect German companies like Deutsche Bahn and Siemens to be even bigger targets.

    nobody important Reply:

    The bill only targets companies/operators that transported prisoners to camps, not the companies that made the equipment.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    This must mean that all Alstom will be free to bid on the high-speed trainsets?

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Then again we’re they even around in the 1930s and 40s?

    nobody important Reply:

    Yes, and any other manufacturer of equipment.

  8. Nadia
    Aug 28th, 2010 at 16:08
    #8

    For the detail oriented folks, just wanted to re-post here in the Open Thread that CARRD has obtained the System Requirements for the entire project.

    You can see them at: http://www.calhsr.com/resources/system-requirements/

    Warning – the file is very large. We’re hoping to get the updated Technical Memos soon.

    Joey Reply:

    Might be a nice addition to Clem’s list of resources.

    Clem Reply:

    Done. Thanks again Nadia!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The standards say that even at very high speed, there’s a gauge tolerance of about 4 mm, and at lower speed it goes up to almost 9 mm (page 34). Is this normal?

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    For LGVs the tolerance is 1 mm.
    I suppose standards had to be lowered not to hurt American firms. LGV-type tolerance would oblige them to invest in expensive new equipment and send engineers abroad for training.
    Lack of parallelism causes hunting (one of Acela’s problems) and wheel-flange wear. The upside is that more maintenance will be needed, creating many stable jobs.

    rafael Reply:

    So, let them invest in expensive new equipment and send engineers abroad for training. This is a $40+ billion project forcrissakes.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    The SNCF’s insistence on perfect track geometry might be more financially than technically motivated. It owns the rolling stock and has to pay for its maintenance while all that concerns tracks is paid by RFF (= the French state). So, it may be viewed as using technical specifications to transfer costs to the state.
    The Californian situation is different. Saving on construction to keep initial costs low doesn’t seem illogical. Rolling stock maintenance will only be needed when the line is operated. Its cost will be proportional to the number of trains actually running and likely more than covered by profits.
    I don’t think a few mm’s disalignment will cause any safety issue. Maybe the ride won’t be as smooth as it is in Europe but passengers will find it far superior to what they are having now with the FRA’s current 25.4 mm (1 inch) tolerance.

    Victor Reply:

    And since none here has any real knowledge of this and what a bigger gap could do, I’d say listen to those with experience in this field and err on the side of caution. If the SNCF says 1mm, then It should be 1mm, Unless You have something to back up a bigger gap like some real life data?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    1 mm sounds too low to me. The track irregularity chart in Lindvahl’s thesis, examining the feasibility of very high-speed tilting trains, has the gauge ranging from 1,434 to about 1,440 mm.

    Does anyone know what the TSI rules are?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    EU TSI:
    ≤ 120kmh: -9 +35mm
    ≤ 160kmh: -8 +35mm
    ≤ 230kmh: -7 +28mm
    > 230kmh: -5 +28mm

    Please send me $2m and I will translate these numbers to fractions of furlongs for Our Local Unique PBQD Special Needs.

    I strongly doubt that RFF specifies a ±1mm tolerance, but my Francophobe google-fu is insufficient to contradict this unlikely figure. Typical tolerance elsewhere for new track construction or total renewal for the highest speed track classes is ±2mm, but this is different from the maximal legal tolerance for maintenance of track in service.

    A handful of others off the top of my head:
    CH: -5 +35mm
    DK: -5 +28mm (200<V≤250)
    NO: -5 +14 (>145kmh)
    UK: -5 +15 (>145kmh)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Thanks. So the PBQD numbers look fine, other than the use of inches.

    If only the rest of the document were that good.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    I found the 1mm specification in Wikipedia and the sources they give are printed documents I couldn’t check.
    Alstom seems to be more permissive. The Allegro Pendolino will run on Finnish (1524 mm) and Russian (1520 mm) tracks. Alstom says the 4mm difference (which is added to the tolerance) is not a problem.

    @Richard, do the + figures represent the amount of gauge broadening in curves? I see the highest + figure is for CH which is a very mountainous country.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Andre, constructing new track to a ±1mm tolerance is very challenging. Maintaining it in service to that level is impractical. I’m guessing the Wikipedia source was from a press release or popular science or rail enthusiast magazine in which somebody boasted about the theoretical precision of their new track maintenance machines.

    Re the Swiss figure (which legally must also be there en fr for you):
    this is a national law for when it is no longer legal to run trains on the track, and actual maintenance specifications (there will be multiple levels for different tracks and renewal levels which I could discover with effort but … enough!) will be much tighter;
    the figure is inclusive of any curve gauge widening (“écartement maximal de la voie en cas de surécartement intégral et d’usure latérale des rail”);
    Switzerland’s network is largely a “low speed” network and this +35mm isn’t far out of line with 140kmh limits elsewhere);
    legal limits are extremely conservative;
    lastly, AB 16 section 4.4 limiting equivalent conicity of wheel/rail results in tighter limits for >160kmh, … but now we’re getting way into Too Much Information territory.

    The Danish link I provided may interest you because it provides multiple tolerances, both for different track quality/speed classes (kvalitetsklasse) and tolerance classes (fejlklasse) for different levels/ages of maintenance. This sort of tight monitoring of progressive degradation of tolerances has been a big deal over the last decade or so (I think it started in Austria): the idea is to measure often to ensure what one does just enough preemptive maintenance, but not too much, and to identify problem spots or problem processes where tolerances increase faster than are expected.

    StevieB Reply:

    For speed equal to or greater than 220mph the design criteria for the gage is plus or minus 1/8 inch.

    Page 47 CHSTP System Requirements

  9. jimsf
    Aug 28th, 2010 at 20:27
    #9

    Trains will apparently bring mayhem and doom

    Peter Reply:

    And all of 25 protesters care. Sounds like the “protests” in PAMPA.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Honestly, I am not familiar with the Wisconsin proposal for HSR. But, isn’t it planned to be grade separated?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Emerging HSR, quad gate crossings, speed sensitive trips.

    Of course, a slow, mile long, coal train results in much longer delays, and that is what people’s experiences are with crossings om much of the Great Lakes. But its not the present Caltrain frequency that they are talking about … let alone the frequency when Caltrain is electrified and HSR is running multiple trains in peak demand periods.

  10. jimsf
    Aug 28th, 2010 at 20:28
    #10

    “I notice it’s Friday night and a lot of people around here would like to get on with their lives but that train isn’t going to quit on Fridays. That train isn’t going to quit on Saturdays or Sundays or if there’s an ambulance that comes through like the one that came through a few minutes ago,” Madison resident Ron Nagel said.

    what does that even mean?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It seems to mean that they plan to run the train ON SATURDAY AND SUNDAY TOO!!! zOMG!

    Like, eight times a day during the week and five times a day on the weekend! WALL TO WALL TRAINS THE GATES WILL NEVER OPEN!!!

    thatbruce Reply:

    Double rainbows all the way!!! Wait, wrong meme.

    It means that the concept of ‘grade separated’ hasn’t quite gotten through.

    (Assuming the quote is in regards to HSR service)

    jimsf Reply:

    People can’t possibly be that ignorant of the reality.

  11. John Burrows
    Aug 29th, 2010 at 01:05
    #11

    Reasons for not having a Mid-Peninsula HSR station:
    1. No “prime property” needed for the station.
    2. There would be no extra traffic, noise, or congestion to interfere with pleasant suburban lifestyle.
    3. Cash strapped cities of Redwood City, Palo Alto, and Mountain view would not have to pay millions for ugly parking structures.
    4. Many on Peninsula wish to stop HSR at San Jose. For them, eliminating the Mid-Peninsula station would make no difference.
    5. Riders north of Belmont would use Millbrae and riders south of Mountain View would use San Jose. Those between would manage just fine with upgraded Caltrain service or they could drive a little further to San Jose or to Millbrae.
    6. Total population of Peninsula cities between Belmont and Mountain View is around 370,000. For these cities lack of a station would be viewed as a minor inconvenience by some; as a blessing by others.

    So why not forget the Mid-Peninsula station and instead build another station in the Central Valley, the area of California that is most likely to be transformed by High Speed Rail. The Visalia area of the Central Valley has been studied as a possible site. They would still have to pay for a parking structure, but there would be advantages.

    Advantages for a Hanford-Visalia site :
    1. Station might be much cheaper than a Mid-Peninsula station to build and might reduce total cost of project.
    2. Time and money saved as opposition would be less ferocious.
    3. Travel time between San Francisco and Los Angeles would still be the same.
    4. A larger population would be served: 430,000 for Visalia Metro Area compared to 370,000 for Mid-Peninsula.
    5. HSR would link the Visalia Metro Area to Los Angeles and to the Bay Area in a way otherwise impossible. Travel time to Los Angeles Union station would be about 1 hr – 25 min; to San Jose Diridon about 1 hr- 10 min. For some in the Visalia area the commute to either Silicon Valley or to parts of the Los Angeles area would become possible.

    Walter Reply:

    Problem is, it’s a one-way flow. Sorry, but nobody wants to go to Visalia. The Peninsula is both a dense metropolis and (especially if the station is built in PA), a destination.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Points 2 and 5 (against a mid-peninsula station) seem to be at odds with each other.

    You say that no HSR station would avoid extra (road or rail) traffic, noise, or congestion within the suburb in which it is located. Then you refer to people using upgraded Caltrain service (more trains on existing track, more road traffic to/from the existing station) or driving a little bit further to Millbrae or San Jose (more avoidable road traffic along the major roads passing through other suburbs, hence Not In My BackYard).

    jimsf Reply:

    I agree that Hanford is a much better choice than a mid peninsula station. The assumption that “nobobdy” wants to go there is just typical bay area/la elitism and I say that as a bay area elitist so I know what I’m talking about. Peninsula folks already have to go to SFO and SAn Jose for air travel anyway and its all of 20 minutes north or south of them respectively, so using HSR at those locations would be no more trouble especially considering they already have samtrans and caltrain transit available to them. Meanwhile, while the mid peninsula can not be expected to grow much ( strict anti growth sentiment and little space) the san joaquin valley will see the bulk of California’s future growth, and they are already horribly underserved by all modes – road, air, rail and bus.

    As for PA being a destination. I have never heard of such hogwash. PA exists as an important place only in the minds of its self absorbed residents and students. It’s irrelevant to the rest of the bay area. No one goes there for anything. FOr christ sake Walnut Creek is a more popular destination than PA.

    Joey Reply:

    Clearly you’ve never heard of the software industry of Stanford University.

    jimsf Reply:

    big deal. old news. nobody gives a rat’s behind about palo alto except insider techie types. and no one cares about insider techie types except other insider techie types. As a bay area “Place” PA hardly registers.

    Joey Reply:

    Oh FFS it’s not a question of who cares about what. It’s a question of whether people doing business with high-profile technology companies will want to use HSR, and the answer to that is undoubtedly yes.

    jimsf Reply:

    The central valley is where the future growth is going to occur. period. HSR is for the future needs of california. PA is currently well served by two nearby airports, good local transit, and will have two nearby hsr stations.. Like I said, the central valley is way, way underserved by all modes as it stands and this situation will only get worse if they aren’t taken care of.

    jimsf Reply:

    Thats like a handful of executive types. I’m talking about serving real, ordinary californians, the ones who make up the bulk of population, and the future residents, who will live, in overwhelming numbers, in the more affordable parts of the state. The population of PA is not going to increase. The population of the hanford visalia are will probably triple in 30 years.
    from 2000 to 2009, Tulare county population increased by nearly 17 percent compared to 9 percent statewide. Kings Co, 15% compared to 9% statewide, same for Fresno Co. Kern Co grew by 22% compared to 9% statewide.

    Meanwhile SAn Mateo CO during that same period grew by only 1.7 %
    and Santa Clara Co grew by only 6.1 % during that period. Less than half the growth seen inland.

    Further, the pop of SM Co and SC co is approx 2.5 million, and barely growing, while the pop of the Fresno- Bakersfield corridor is 2.4 million and growing at twice the rate.

    Planning for the future would dictate that hnf-vis is the better choice.

    Joey Reply:

    Thats like a handful of executive types.

    And software engineers. And salespeople. And university students … and staff. etc etc.

    By the way, why does this have to be and either/or scenario? There is the 24 station limit, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that we can only have a mid-peninsula station OR a station in Hanford (outside of Hanford technically). And if absolutely necessary, it can probably be modified – the point was really to keep every little nowhereville along the route from demanding a station.

    jimsf Reply:

    Yes but if you look at the figures and put away the bay/la elitist attitude for minute, you will realize that the san joaquin valley is not “nowheresville”
    Sure have both. Buts lets no pretend that pa is somehow more deserving than hanford. I’m looking at the future realities of growth. PA/mid pen. will not grow. Hanford/SJQ valley will by huge margins. PA/Mid Pen is already well served. Hanford/SJQ is underserved.

    Currently underserved + largest growth = high priority.

    Joey Reply:

    I never said that Hanford was a “nowhereville.” I was talking about places like Tehachapi and, for instance, Wasco or Shafter or Corcoran or Chowchilla which are far too small to support major HSR ridership, but might want a station anyway.

    And you’re still not letting go of the assumption that we can only have a mid-peninsula station OR a Hanford station.

    Peter Reply:

    Well, as an issue I’ve been spanked on in the past, you can’t change the terms of Prop 1A without putting it back to the voters. So the 24 station limit is fixed. Due to prior and ongoing incompetence at the planning level, it appears that SF will have TWO stations, so that removes one more potential station from the bag. Not even including Irvine, there are already 25 stations shown on the Authority’s website (if you add a second SF station). One will have to go in order to meet the 24 station limit.

    Joey Reply:

    There’s always Industry…

    Peter Reply:

    Industry and Norwalk, actually. But to drop both just because we have to clean up the SF planning mess just seems a little cruel and unfair.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So the 24 station limit is fixed

    Well they could eliminate the Mid Peninsula station and MissionBay/4th and Townsend. Then get together with Caltrain and pick the same boarding height etc. Once the system is open, suddenly discover that the careful planning they did to allow Caltrain to use any platform anytime alsow works that way for HSR trains. Voila, any Caltrain station is an HSR station.

    Peter Reply:

    @ adirondacker12800

    Yes, that is another issue of planning incompetence to be dealt with…

    jimsf Reply:

    Not only that, but with the valley you have an opportunity to shape future growth. On the Pen. whats done it done and set in stone.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Depends on how you think of “set in stone” In 1980 the population of San Mateo County was just under 600,000, it’s now over 700,000. Things change.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    So … Palo Alto is the second most used station on the entire Peninsula corridor (including Rod “not yet dead” Dididon Memorial in the Tumbleweed Capital of Silicon Valley), therefore … trains should not stop there.

    And so … eastern Contra Costa County (Walnut Creek, Tri-Valley, San Ramon, etc) is full of Real Americans who deserve rail service more than those poindexters at Standford, therefore … high speed rail should not serve the Altamont corridor.

    Son, I like the cut of your jib! Give this promising fellow an open-ended contract at PBQD and Cambridge Systematics, with a minimum retainer of two million and whatever else he needs to make him happy. And make it snappy!

    jimsf Reply:

    First, Walnut Creek is not the Altamont Corridor. Second, I was arguing against the anti valley bias that goes on all too often, that’s all. If they can increase the numbers of stations then build both. But with PA being well served already, and the san joaquin valley being underserved, as I pointed out. It makes sense to have a station between fno and bfd. I noticed that everyone conveniently overlooked the population and growth facts. With or without hsr, at PA Mid PEn. folks still have more transportation infrastructure than you can shake a stick at and a 1.7 percent growth rate. While the 2.4 million in the fno-hnf-vis-bfd corridor have a 15 percent growth rate historically, and are operating decades behind the rest of the state in terms of transportation infrastructure. Its also, as I said, common knowledge that this is where cali’s growth is going to continue to occur. Of course those folks are just a bunch of right wing hicks and poor folks who drive ugly pick up trucks instead of hybrids and range rovers, so they don’t count in the minds of bay/la folks right? Well they do count and they deserve a station.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many stations the system has wasn’t carved in stone tablets on Mount Tamalpais in days of yore never to be violated. It just means they can’t use money from the bonds to build stations.

    Build a very nice four platform station in Palo Alto, Redwood City and Mountain View for the use of the Caltrain Express trains. If they pick the same platform height etc for Caltrain as HSR all they have to do to make those stations HSR stations is hang out a shingle that’s painted blue and gold with “HSR” on it and install a few ticket vending machines.

    jimsf Reply:

    I have to agree that the caltrain hsr situation is a mess. common sense would dictate a standard hsr/caltrain platform. In fact its probably true that two tracks with four tracks in those areas where there can be four tracks with no problem, would suffice considering bart runs trains at 3 minute headways with two tracks and no passing. A combination of two and four tracks and passing track, with say, 4 tracks at the PA station, and some dispatch coordination would be all thats needed. I don’t ever see a need for more than one hsr every 15 minutes ( per per hour) ever. I have said that from the beginning and for the most part a caltrain every 15 minutes would be overkill except during peak. A few stretches of only two track row, here and there can handle 8 trains, one behind the other, per hour with its rails tied behinds it back.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If the trains don’t pass the the fastest train goes as slow as the slowest train.

    jimsf Reply:

    no they can pass so long as the passing is done in the 4 track or passing track stretches. and most of the row is 4 track row already. there is really only a couple of spots where if you wanted to placate the neighbors and do only two tracks, you couldnt pass but they are short and with proper dispatching/scheduling you run them single file through those spots. Of course people may argue about future need for capacity, just like they argue that about tbt, but really its going to be like another century before that need arises. 4 hsr trains per hour around the clock, one every fifteen minutes will be enough capacity for decades.

    Joey Reply:

    jim – the key is to have a service plan and a timetable which will allow you to model where trains will pass each other rather than just building and praying it work out (or pouring more concrete if it doesn’t). In addition to future capacity (which should be modeled in the timetable) also need to leave some padding for unexpected occurrences such as train failures, medical emergencies, etc. Shit happens.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    For a train to move from the local track to the express tracks or vice versa both tracks have to be clear. Swapping in and out of the tracks eats up capacity. That extra space you need on both sets of tracks never gets recovered. Unless everything works perfectly a small disruption can delay the whole system. If it is even slightly busy those delays can last for hours.

    Joey Reply:

    So are you suggesting that we build six tracks then?

    jimsf Reply:

    four tracks all the way fully separated and with full interoperability would be the most desirable way. I’m just thinking in terms of options should there be continued issues with row/property and or funding that might require cutting back. I do hope they put a lot into mitigating the impact of whatever structure is built. Not to side with Nimby’s but a massive wall is kind of unacceptable. Id like to see them use a combination of elevated the tracks half way and depressing the roads half way and then put in a massive no holds barred program of landscaping/arts/architecture to make the whole thing an attractive addition to what is now a god awful ugly row area, as oppose to just adding more ugliness. and the row, as it is, is u g l y now two ways about it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    the key is to have a service plan and a timetable which will allow you to model where trains will pass each other rather than just building and praying it work out

    Versus building a railroad that meets todays needs and hoping it will work out?
    All the itty bitty towns up and down the Peninsula over the next 50 or 60 years will discover that they can chase ratables by letting things get built near the train station. The Peninsula of 2060 is going to be much different than the Peninsula of 2010.

    So are you suggesting that we build six tracks then?

    The express trains stay on the express tracks which means they don’t use up capacity on the local tracks. The local trains stay on the local tracks which means they don’t use up capacity on the express tracks.

    jimsf Reply:

    Actually the Penisula isn’t going to change much at all. There is very strong anti growth sentiment there. Its about as built out as they want it to be. The hill areas are very wealthy and untouchable, the bayside would require fill which never goes over in the bay area, the 101 and caltrain corridors, well each proposed project has to go through a decade or more of planning, and approval. I don’t see it changing much. It hasn’t changed that much since the 70s really. Not compared to the change we’ve seen elsewhere in the state.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The hill areas are very wealthy and untouchable, the bayside would require fill which never goes over in the bay area, the 101 and caltrain corridors, well each proposed project has to go through a decade or more of planning, and approval.

    Bay on one side and mountains on the other make all the more likely that they will grow up instead of out. A grungy convenience store here, an old industrial site there. Redeveloping a parking lot there. Drooling passionately at the new ratables possible when they rezone a street two blocks away from the station from single family houses to multifamily condos. It’s not going to look anything at all like it does now in 2060.

    ….hasn’t changed since the 70s yet the population of San Mateo County increased 17% since 1980. Things will change.

    Joey Reply:

    @adirondacker:

    That would be fine, except that there are more than two service patters to be considered here. At bare minimum you have CalTrain local, CalTrain express, and HSR. Now, running both CalTrain express and HSR on the express tracks along the entire corridor doesn’t make sense because they travel at significantly different speeds, partially because CalTrain expresses will stop at 5 stops while HSR will only stop at 0-2. The HSR trains will likely need to overtake the expresses at some point along the way (before Richard kills me I will add that this is not necessarily the case with Altamont but almost certainly is with Pacheco). Now, even with grossly exaggerated official figures, the CalTrain locals are only using maybe 1/4 of the local tracks’ capacity. Doesn’t it make sense to use some of that excess capacity to allow HSR trains to overtake CalTrain expresses?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    So don’t have the HSR travel at a significantly different average speed from the Caltrain expreses between SJ and SF, and arrange the timetable (“timetable” WTF foreign concept is that?) to minimize the infrastructure needed to accommodate the residual speed differential.

    Problem solved. Hundreds of millions saved.

    Maybe that costs the minority users of the corridor a couple minutes of journey tie. That’s just how things work in the real world of real economics and real engineering and real limited resources. It’s not as if the subcretins at PBQD-HNTB-PCJPB-CHSRA-TJPA aren’t already going out of their way to build in as many unnnecessary slow obstacles along the corridor and in the stations anyway.

    Joey Reply:

    Given realistic service levels and a decently-integrated timetable, it should be possible to do this even given a significant speed difference between CalTrain expresses and HSR trains. It may not be operationally desirable, but it is possible.

    (for reference, this analysis is based on the oh-so-advanced technique of overlaying lines onto Clem’s TAKT timetable to represent HSR – 6tph alternating local (40 min SF-SJ), limited (35 min), express (30 min)).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No one goes there for anything

    You don’t go there for anything. It’s one of Caltrain’s busiest stops. Someone is going there for something.

    jimsf Reply:

    yeh, people from nearby areas already well served by caltrain.

    Joey Reply:

    That’s wasn’t the point.

    Joey Reply:

    Interesting fact – during the AM commute, more people get OFF at Palo Alto than get on (2189 vs 820). This suggests that it is a major destination and not just a place where people live.

    jimsf Reply:

    meanwhile the daily for bart walnut creek is 5646.

    Joey Reply:

    And more people still commute to Palo Alto than to Walnut Creek. What does it matter? Total ridership for specific stations, when compared between two different systems, means very little unless you account for the differences between those systems (BART has the resources (fleet and operational funds) to run more trains, BART has access to downtown SF, Caltrain is (rightfully) perceived as outdated and slow, all of which are going to change in the near future).

    Peter Reply:

    I have to agree with Joey on that. You can’t compare boardings at two stations in separate systems when the systems are completely unequal. It’s a false analogy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There aren’t a whole lot of people taking GGT to get to Transbay to transfer to BART so they can go to Walnut Creek. So Walnut Creek is being used by people from nearby areas already well served by BART.

    Spokker Reply:

    I even went to Palo Alto to get a sandwich once!

    Joey Reply:

    For christ sake Walnut Creek is a more popular destination than PA.

    Do you have ANYTHING to justify this other than your personal preferences?

    jimsf Reply:

    Its not my preference. It just that I have lived in the bay area for 40 years and I know.

    jimsf Reply:

    how long have you been here?

    Joey Reply:

    My whole life (still less time than you though). But my observations so far show that if you don’t live in Contra Costa County, you have little reason to go to Walnut Creek. Not the case with Palo Alto. If you have some reason why Walnut Creek might be a MAJOR destination, please share it.

    jimsf Reply:

    Walnut creek, along with danville and pleasanton are big retail/restaurant destinations for the eastbay.

    “the Walnut Creek BART Station is a magnet for suburban commuters throughout central and southwest Contra Costa County. Walnut Creek has the second- highest number of peak period AM boardings (1,897) in the BART system. Situated at the edge of Downtown Walnut Creek at the heart of the “Golden Triangle” office district, the station is located at the intersection of I-680 and SR24, two of the highest volume highways in Northern California.”

    Peter Reply:

    But peak AM boardings don’t make it a big retail/restaurant destination. That just indicates that it’s a bedroom community. Not that I doubt that it’s a big destination as well, but your info does not indicate that.

    Joey Reply:

    BART’s station profile study indicates that of all of Walnut Creek’s users, 66% live near there (bedroom community function) and commute to another destination, 24% work there, and all other functions account for only 10% of its ridership (restaurants, shopping and errands making up only a small portion of this 10%).

    Caelestor Reply:

    If the 24 station limit really can’t be satisfied, then get rid of Millbrae. It’s practically useless without an Airtrain extension (which doesn’t seem to be on the construction list).

    Peter Reply:

    Hell, put the Millbrae-SFO BART link out of service by running a cheap private bus. Just run it for the same price as BART, actually make the link on weekdays, coordinate it with the Caltrain schedule, and see how long BART lasts. THEN they might decide to extend Airtrain.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Any of San Jose, Mountain View, Palo Alto, Redwood City, Hillsdale, Millbrae, Mission Bay and/or Transbay (all of which should be constructed with full-length 400m platforms for the use of Caltrain express trains regardless of HSR white elephants) can be “the” peninsula high speed rail stop, with absolutely no problem, with absolutely no magic construction … if only complete and utter morons weren’t in charge of “designing” the Caltrain corridor.

    You see, out there in the real world, the world not screwed up by American Transportation Professionals, there are these things called “platforms” at these things called “stations” and whether a particular platform at a particular station is a “stop” or not depends on whether the train passing through that station slows down and opens its doors or not. If stopping causes more passengers to ride the train than are lost by the slight slowdown to make the stop, then the service planners (service planners! surely you jest!) for the rail system (system! ho ho ho!) adjust the timetable (?!?) so that the “stop” is made at the “platform” of this “station”.

    The very idea that some kind of magic “high speed stop” needs to be constructed in order to make this happen is one that only the very most stupid type of subhuman could even conceive, let alone seriously propose, let alone seek multiple billions of your tax dollars to implement.

    Peter Reply:

    I agree with the substance, but not the smug, mocking tone.

    Matthew Reply:

    Infrastructure has to support the operating plans of a system so that a stop by HSR doesn’t screw up the throughput of the line. I think it’s not just about a platform, but about bypass tracks that will be used by express trains, etc. Having trains with vastly different operating speeds on the same track will inevitably cause operational inefficiencies, delays, etc. I think we want CAHSR to design a reliable and flexible system, and making sure the infrastructure matches likely scenarios for operations is a vital part of that. A platform is just a platform, but a station is much more than just that.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Bypass tracks on the Peninsula = epic fail.

    The explanation: the speed difference between stopping and non-stopping trains on the Peninsula would be small, on account of the 200 km/h speed limit plus the constraining curves. The official plan (based on simulations with the Velaro, which has the worst acceleration of any HSR train) says that an extra stop on the Peninsula would add 3 minutes of travel time, including dwell time. This means there’s a 6-minute difference between stopping and non-stopping trains between SF and SJ. With a half-decent operating plan, it translates to a limit of about 6 tph local and 6 express, which is more than a) there will ever be demand for, and b) the capacity constraint between LA and Chowchilla.

    You should think of CAHSR as running on dedicated track between LA and SJ, and on upgraded legacy track between SJ and SF. On upgraded legacy track, a high-speed train station is just a normal station with enough platform length and a compatible boarding height. Six-track passing segments would be built if total Caltrain + HSR traffic demanded it, which it won’t unless cars are banned.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Exactly. In addition, scheduled 200kmh north of San Jose is unlikely anywhere (agency apparatchik misrepresentation notwithstanding).

    Andrew Reply:

    One wonders why you haven’t gone on a shooting spree yet.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Can’t stand the sight of blood. That’s all.

    Peter Reply:

    Ok, then booby traps? You wouldn’t have to see the blood, then.

  12. jimsf
    Aug 29th, 2010 at 08:58
    #12

    There is a plan for a new solar powered city and research ranch in King Co, 150,000 pop Quay Valley

    jimsf Reply:

    cool check out this video the cntral valley is planning for the future growth and will wind up being leaps and bounds ahead of us old school westbay types. This looks like it would be an attractive place in which to retire too.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Maybe I’m missing something, but based on the video and other illustrations, the place looks like it is still pretty car-centric, despite an elevated train in one video shot.

    Matthew Reply:

    Awesome! It’s like Orlando meets Dubai, only everything is stock footage of other places, and there are lots of random African animals, white people, and NASCAR! I love how they partition every city function into its own quadrant separated by ample roads and road oriented landscaping. That way, I can plan ahead what I’m going to do for the day, and be able to get everywhere conveniently in my car. No need for walking or spontaneity.

    jimsf Reply:

    I was thinking vegas, but orlando may be more accurate. In any case its a nice concept so long as they have a light rail or shuttle system connecting everything together. One doesn’t necessarily want to live right next to the noise from the entertainment area for instance, just have easy access to it.

    Joey Reply:

    How large is it? Considering how flat that area is, bicycles might be able to meet most transportation needs assuming that there isn’t too much area to cover.

    jimsf Reply:

    12000 acres (18-19 sq miles) so thats what, about 4 miles by 2.5 miles or two thirds the size of sf

    jimsf Reply:

    I meant to type 4 miles by 4.5 miles.

    jimsf Reply:

    east to bike no doubt but no everyone wants to ride a bike either. They could make it car free and have everyone use those electric carts. I see that in the palm springs area a lot.

    jimsf Reply:

    “easy” not east.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    PRT, they’ll have PRT… as soon as they figure out PRT.

  13. tony d.
    Aug 29th, 2010 at 08:59
    #13

    Hey all,
    Check out the ridiculous Op-Ed in todays SJ Mercury News by James Janz of the Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail.
    I know everyone is entitled to their own opinion (even if its full of lies and slander), but to somehow portray the opposition as “everyone” is what’s really appalling.
    Oh well, add Janz to the list of folks who should happily lay across HSR tracks when the system’s complete.

    Peter Reply:

    Yeah, well, the Community Coalition on High Speed Rail also states:

    As many of you know, the California High Speed Rail Authority is proposing to build an elevated structure between San Jose and San Francisco along the present Caltrain corridor. If that proposal comes to pass (and it’s not a “done deal” yet, and CC-HSR and other groups are fighting it), the Authority will need to take property from private parties along portions of the corridor.

    Right, because tunneling will require LESS eminent domain. I forgot. Silly me.

    StevieB Reply:

    The paper gave an opinion article to Janz to respond to Opinion: Diridon: And here’s the rest of the high-speed rail story last week. I have no idea whether it is better to go first or last on opinion pages. In a depressed economy more people seem to believe negatives and look for faults.

    William Reply:

    I think us who are pro-HSR, need to submit a rebuttal to every negative editials that got printed in a major newspaper like SJ Mercury. This way, people will know that elevate structures aren’t as ugly as some believed, and trench or tunnel aren’t as “out of sight” as they thought.

  14. morris brown
    Aug 29th, 2010 at 11:45
    #14

    Opinion: High speed rail: do it right or not at all:

    http://www.mercurynews.com/opinion/ci_15925870?nclick_check=1

    This opinion piece from Jim Janzz, an attorney and president of Community Coalition on High-Speed Rail (www.cc-hsr.org) will be looked at with total scorn by most of those reading this blog.

    Start tearing it apart guys and gals…

    Peter Reply:

    I think we already did. Which you would know if you bothered to even look at the thread just above your post.

    Bianca Reply:

    Morris, this was already posted nearly three hours ago. *Directly* above your comment. Coming in to drop an anti-HSR piece without checking to see if it’s already been posted is starting to become a pattern, and eventually people are going to stop paying attention to your comments.

    Clem Reply:

    Interesting that he quotes that Berkeley greenhouse gas study. That particular piece of scholarship continues to get credit despite being based on grossly incorrect HSR energy consumption figures– so grossly incorrect as to change the entire conclusion of the study. Curiously, the authors of this study are very meek when it comes to fixing their errors…

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Well, overall it sounds like railroads, including the high-speed variety that run on electricity, are not your cup of tea.

    Having said that, here is a chance for you to answer some questions I have about the nation as a whole, and perhaps the world. . .

    1. The USA uses two thirds of the oil it consumes for transportation. Something like 48% of total consumption is gasoline alone. Heavy trucks burning diesel fuel account for another 6%. That means that 54% of the oil used in this country is for motor fuel alone, strongly suggesting that our highway system is our Achilles heel. There is also the question of peak oil for the whole world. How would you address this?

    2. One thing that has been suggested is more drilling for our own oil. This is certainly something to pursue, and it will be pursued, but the figures I’ve seen for total estimated reserves, including the offshore stuff that’s presently off-limits for a variety of real and political reasons, totals 79 bbs (billions of barrels). We currently use 7 bbs per year. At that rate, the estimated 79 bbs would last only 17 years. What would we do in year 18, and not just for cars, but for air service, too?

    3. Electric and other alternative fueled vehicles are touted as the future of the automobile. I won’t say this is a bad idea–it’s not–but there are other problems. For instance, how do you deal with failing road revenue (which is mostly fuel taxes) when you get a significant number of vehicles on the road that do not burn fuel as such? What would be your alternate highway funding mechanism?

    4. In a related matter, currently only 51% of highway expenditures comes from fuel taxes on a cash flow accounting basis. Not included in any of that are other costs, such as deferred maintenance, and external costs, such as air pollution. This strongly suggests the road system is badly underpriced. How would you deal with this?

    4. We are, I believe, at the limit of what we can do with cars in terms of operating speed. The limit is not the cars themselves, but the abilities of drivers. This is becoming one of the attractive attibutes of even “higher speed rail,” or HrSR (as an editor of Railway Age suggested calling 110 mph operations), and of course is a core benefit of true HSR. Assuming you prefer to stay with a modern highway option, how would you improve overall running times?

    5. As a corollary to the above, we have an aging population, with problems due to failing eyesight, hearing, reactions, and other problems. What would you propose as an alternative transportation system for people who are, through no fault of their own, becoming unfit to drive? (P.S.: I’m facing this personally, with failing night vision, specifically vision that does not recover from headlight glare as readily as it used to.)

    6. Part of the reason for pursuing the HSR option is highway capacity problems. In many places, roads can no longer be widened, due to constraints of a filled right-of-way. If you were to add still more road capacity, where would you do it?

    7. Other problems include incompetent drivers, rude drivers, drunk drivers, and finding a parking space. Many of us are weary of dealing with this same old garbage day in and day out. How would you address this?

    I’m going to say I know HSR is not an answer to many of these questions; rather, I would argue that a general change of lifestyle, largely based around a turning away from the car culture as we currently know it and a return to rail, including reviving streetcars and interurbans, would be, at least for a good proportion of it. Yet, others would say I’m full of hooey (and a rotten Communist besides). What would be your opinion on this?

    I look forward to reading your reply.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If I remember correctly Clem at the Caltrain-HSR Compatibility blog calculated that the whole ROW from San Jose to San Francisco takes up approximately 700 acres. 10 million dollars an acre, which is wildly overpriced even for the Peninsula, would come up with billion dollars. If they can figure out how to build 50 miles of four track tunnel for 7 Billion…..

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Fascinating, no reply, nothing at all–does it mean he has no answer? Does it mean no one in the pro-highway field can answer these questions, which are part of the reason for us wanting rail back?

    Peter Reply:

    No. He just posts the anti-HSR blog comment equivalent of graffiti. He has no interest in discussion. I’m looking forward to his lawsuit getting dismissed for lack of standing this month. The order should be entertaining. Also interesting that his attorney apparently has refused to communicate with opposing counsel since June. Sound similar to Morris’ M.O.?

    StevieB Reply:

    Peak Oil, when the maximum rate of oil extration is reached, has not yet occured and will not be reached for at least 4 years. Many deny that we are running out of oil because there is no apparent shortage. People will not worry about oil until it costs them personally.

  15. Spokker
    Aug 29th, 2010 at 15:21
    #15

    One of the arguments for a tunnel has been this idea that by removing the current tracks and putting them underground, businesses will be able to spring up and thrive on the former ROW, right?

    If this is such a hot prospect, why don’t they raise taxes or borrow to fund the tunnel themselves, then pay it off with all the extra tax revenues generated by this holy strip of land?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    My arguments against tunnels in general is that they are heartstoppingly expensive to build (they are considered a last resort in engineering circles because of this), they are not entirely maintenance free, especially as they get older, if they have a dip in profile as these would seem to have, you have a drainagle problem, and in the case of a run down the Peninsula, they would put trains in a sewer or cave. Who wants to ride in a sewer or a cave? We left caves 10,000 or so years ago, and what do the WOOFers want to do? Put us in a cave because they don’t like trains!

    Spokker Reply:

    Of course. Long tunnels in suburban areas is a stupid idea. We know it is and they know it is, but they aren’t upfront about it.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    What ends up being “built” atop newly buried railways in urban areas are urban parks. That’s not just because the world is full of enlightened park builders: it’s because the money dudes, who always get first dibs on everything, aren’t interested. It’s where the tracks and yards have been removed from both ground level and below ground that you see the apartment blocks and office towers going up.

    Only in the very core of the very most expensive and already developed CBDs do the substantial costs of constructing over rail lines and stations come anywhere near parity with the development value of the highly encumbered “new” land.

    If it doesn’t come anywhere near pencilling out in San Francisco, where does that leave the sub-Tokyo densities of Palo Alto, San Jose or Burlingame? Just look at the huge acreage of low-rise (or no-rise parking lots) within the business districts of these burgs and then try to imagine why somebody would volunteer to do risk-prone liability nightmare civil engineering yoga atop a train box on a publicly owned parcel of land rather than bulldozing a single story shack on a free title parcel a block away.

    The idea of magic newly created land paying for anything is a delusion, one removed from financial reality by an order of magnitude or more in real dollar terms.

    Peter Reply:

    In SF they even take it a step further and build the parks directly on top of the buildings on top of the tunnel…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Except in SF they built the bus stop in the sky, lipstick slapped a park on the top where no one will ever use it, and never even thought for a nanosecond about the trainy stuff that’s supposed to make do somehow in a warren underneath somewhere.

    Not that you were trying to raise my blood pressure past a critical level or anything…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not that you were trying to raise my blood pressure past a critical level or anything…

    Be careful there. American health care isn’t known for its quality or efficiency.

    Joey Reply:

    Ironically, it might be easier to put businesses under an elevated line than above a tunnel.

  16. BruceMcF
    Aug 29th, 2010 at 20:04
    #16

    Sunday Train: at Daily Kos: Can Trains Help Win The Day in Australia?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Bruce, you’re doing your articles on steel interstates a disservice when you don’t mention the scales involved. The transcontinental rail lines in Australia are useful for freight service, but will never work for passengers. The distance between Perth and Sydney is a little less than the distance between New York and Los Angeles. It’s a natural air corridor, not a rail corridor. Even Sydney-Melbourne is a marginal passenger rail corridor.

    Better to focus on urban transportation, which is where the vast majority of Australia’s VMT are. As you note, Australia’s public transit is better than the USA’s. It also has much better regulations for passenger rail; Cityrail couldn’t have worked with North American railroading practices. So far, it seems transit mode shares are increasing on their own. Sydney has gone up from a 21% transit mode share to 25% in the last ten years (it’s now barely behind New York), Perth has seen its rail ridership skyrocket, and Brisbane has turned a corner since it built the Quickway. It’s better to build on this than to try to go after the much smaller intercity market.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    It would be an overnight sleeper run, but think of the fast running you could do on a portion of that Austrailian route. The section I’m thinking of includes a tangent that’s 300 miles long! It’s the longest stretch of straight railroad in the world; you could step along pretty nicely on that line.

    Have fun. :-)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s not even an overnight run. It’s over two nights. The track may be straight, but it’s not built for high speeds, and the demand is so low it’s pointless to upgrade it.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The transcontinental rail lines in Australia are useful for freight service, but will never work for passengers.

    Talk about a non-sequiter. “In a diary about the need to provide carbon-free interurban transport if Australia were to get serious about controlling CO2 emissions, the Steel Interstates, which are intended to move freight and power, are only useful for moving freight and power.”

    And its not even true. Melbourne/Adelaide is fine as a daytime corridor, Melbourne/Brisbane works for a morning departure sleeper. Sydney/Canberra/Wagga Wagga is a fine daytime corridor, so is Melbourne/Albury/Wagga Wagga. Sydney/Newcastle/Maitland/Port Macquarie is a find corridor. Coffs Harbor / Gold Coast / Brisbane is a fine corridor.

    In terms of the Steel Interstate, where the justification for the passenger service has to be that it pays for the cost of the rolling stock and operating costs, there are large numbers of useful corridors that happen to lie along those four transcontinental corridors.

    Obviously if you were referring to whether corridor construction is justified by passenger rail benefit, that would have been the proposed HSR corridor, not the Steel Interstate.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Sydney-Canberra-Melbourne: one of the most obvious HSR corridors in the world.
    It should have been in service for nearly 10 years now … except Anglophone Brain Damage means it will never happen.

    Melbourne-Adelaide passenger: maybe a medium speed (“classic”) corridor, but it’s hard for even me to justify the costs.

    The long distance passenger stuff (Countrylink, Traveltrain, etc): irrelevant to hopeless. Better than Amtrak perhaps, but pretty much hopeless.

    (Adelaide-)Melbourne-Sydney-Brisbane freight: obvious, four decade overdue investments.
    Australian political brain damage means that these won’t happen either. Stupid, tragic, irrational, infuriating.

    BTW Bruce: I rode all the NSW night mails and all the NSW and Qld mixeds. Fun and useful for me, but economic/transportation basket cases. Train fan ≠ innumerate.

    PPS Nothing to do with California. Please move along now.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I don’t see any difficulty justifying the cost of the rolling stock, access fees, and user fees to run a Melbourne/Adelaide corridor service. There’s no extra corridor cost to supporting that kind of service, once a Steel Interstate has been put into place for freight and power transport.

    As far as the argument that the Steel Interstate concept is irrelevant to California needs far more to support it than just “nothing to do with California”.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Just how much CO2 will be saved by electrifying Australian freight rail, anyway? Put in other words: why spend money on increasing the energy-efficiency of the mode that carries 400 ton-miles per gallon rather than increase its market share versus the mode that carries 40?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    How much CO2? Less than none. Australian freight (except the coal death trains, the heavy haul iron to port lines, and WA-Parkes) is a nightmare of inadequate British loading gauges, inadequate axle loads, incredibly slow and twisty and steep 19th century “pioneer” alignments, pockets of antediluvian safeworking that waste multiple hours of transit time, inadequate length passing loops spaced inappropriately and too much single track, etc, etc.

    Electrification is about priority number 1000 in terms of making rail, which has been systematically underinvested for half a century, even remotely competitive with the road system, which has feasted massively and modernized incredibly. It would just take rail funding away from improvements that might make a difference: hence the negative CO2 balance.

    And again none of this is relevant to California.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I know it’s irrelevant to California. I was responding to Bruce’s link, which I can’t anywhere else because I’m not a Daily Kos member and have no intention of becoming one.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The major impact of a Steel Interstate is on capturing mode share from trucking. Its not as if the sole component of the Steel Interstate proposal is electrification, after all, but there is no more effective means of providing sustainably powered long distance transport than electric rail. The balance of the speed upgrades, as described in the Inland Freight Expressway documents, are equally important … its a coherent system, after all.

    And California is in the same globe as Australia, with similar needs to transport its product long distances in a post Peak Oil world in which the freight transport system that it primarily relies upon for its high value exports to the balance of the country shall shortly be mostly obsolete.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    ARTC claims that rail has an 81% mode share of land transport between Perth and the eastern states. Is the situation on the Sydney-Brisbane and Sydney-Melbourne corridors different? Because if not, then it’s pointless.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Very different.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Rail’s mode share in non-bulk freight is 57% Perth / Eastern States, 35% Brisbane / Melbourne, under 20% in all other intercapital non-bulk freight and under 10% Sydney/Melbourne and Sydney/Brisbane, the two largest non-bulk freight corridors.

    Bulk freight mode shares are obviously higher ~ bulk freight mode share overall is 48% rail and 36% shipping, dominated by coal and iron ore.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Or, in other words, being able to address the majority of current passenger vehicle miles traveled while being incapable of handling the majority of freight ton miles is not sufficient. Freight is an aspect of carbon-free transport that simply cannot be ignored in any serious analysis of carbon free transport.

    thatbruce Reply:

    The population of Australia is, as BruceMcF noted, mostly on the east coast of the country. The reason for that concentration is that west of the Great Dividing Range (last I checked, the ‘Front Range’ is on the east coast of USA), the ability of the land to support a dense population drops off tremendously, especially if you want a western standard of living. As a result, most non-urban rail studies in Australia tend to concentrate on the east coast, or connecting production centers with the east coast.

    @Alon Levy: I don’t see where in BruceMcF’s article passenger service across his ‘Steel Interstate’ is mentioned. Electrified freight and electricity grid interconnections are the focus of the rail section of his article. Note that the transcontinental lines do carry passenger trains, but predominately for the tourist market, due to the distances involved.

    The ARTC study that BruceMcF linked to covers upgrading (but not electrifying) the mostly-existing lines to connect Melbourne to Brisbane via an inland route. A number of the corridors mentioned in the report have already been set aside or are being upgraded to support double-stacked standard-gauge freight, some electrified.

    Peter Reply:

    The Front Range is in Colorado.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Well caught; my mistake there.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That’s the one I was talking about. Living in Newcastle and taking the train to the North Tablelands, there’s no mistaking which side of the Dividing Range you are on. But of course, if it was actually high enough to be called Great, the monsoon would go much farther inland, as it does in India (which actually has a Great Dividing Range to work with).

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Oops, have to edit that to the Dividing Range (calling it “Great” is unjustified hyperbole).

    HSRComingSoon Reply:

    Actually, it is the Great Dividing Range. That range plays a huge role in determining the climate of Australia and is in many cases why the outback can’t support large population centers. Seems pretty Great to me.

    thatbruce Reply:

    There is also the Great Australian Bight, the Great North Road, and many other Great or otherwise Big Things around Australia, most of which have been covered by the Great Outdoors. You could even take a Great train.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The Great Barrier Reef, I’ll grant without question.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I raise you The Big Banana

    HSRComingSoon Reply:

    Indeed, lots of great things about Australia. After living in Canberra for two years, I can tell you the great dividing range definitely has a great impact on weather and climate on the Eastern portion of Australia, much the like Great Australian Bight has on weather in South Australia, Victoria, Tasmania and southern New South Wales.

  17. D. P. Lubic
    Aug 29th, 2010 at 20:55
    #17

    A glimpse of how things used to be:

    http://server.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=30037

    Enjoy.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    The museum itself:

    http://wrm.org/

  18. Robert Cruickshank
    Aug 30th, 2010 at 13:09
    #18

    New thread coming later today – either an open thread or something specific on Palo Alto. Thanks for your patience. Regular posting will resume on Thursday!

Comments are closed.