Progress Made Along the Peninsula

Aug 10th, 2010 | Posted by

Californians For High Speed Rail (CA4HSR) is encouraged by recent progress made along the Peninsula regarding the high-speed rail (HSR) project.

Progress in Relation to Caltrain

First, it appears that our concerns regarding the compatibility of the Caltrain electrification project with high speed rail, reflected in our recent letter to Caltrain staff, seems to be coming to a positive resolution. Caltrain staff and the California High Speed Rail Authority (Authority) are now working together with a new plan to obtain funds (which total more than $4.7 billion from a combination of Federal stimulus/ARRA funds, Federal 2010 HSR appropriations money, and matching funds from Proposition 1A and other sources) for the San Francisco to San Jose Section of the HSR system. That plan includes the following basic elements:

Phase 1A (which would amount to $3.312 billion – $1.656 billion from ARRA funds and a $1.656 billion Proposition 1A match):

  • Modification of 4th and King Station to accommodate HSR service on two platforms.
  • Electrification of existing Caltrain tunnels in San Francisco.
  • Extension of the existing four-track section in Brisbane to the existing four-track section that runs through Redwood Junction. 
  • Completion of the remaining 39 grade separations projects between 4th and King and Redwood Junction. The plan assumes elevated track except for a one-track tunnel at Millbrae Station. If a trench is ultimately selected in portions of the corridor, a shorter distance of improvements would likely be pursued unless additional funds can be found.
  • Positive Train Control system for the entire corridor (either CBOSS or ERTMS). 

Phase 1B (which would amount to $1.43 billion – approximately $700M to $1.0 billion of this would come from a Federal grant base on the FY 2010 appropriations and the rest would come from Proposition 1A and other sources):

  • Completion of the remaining 6 grade separation projects between in Adobe Creek in Mountain View and Fair Oaks Avenue in Sunnyvale.
  • Expansion of existing two tracks to four tracks between Adobe Creek and Fair Oaks Avenue. Immediately south of Fair Oaks Avenue, the new four track section would tie in with the existing four track section, which runs to the Sunnyvale/Santa Clara border.
  • Reconstruction of San Antonio, Mountain View, and Sunnyvale stations to accommodate four tracks.
  • Expansion of the Millbrae Caltrain/BART station to include HSR.
  • Partial construction of electrification along the entire San Francisco to San Jose section (i.e. two of the four tracks along the corridor will be electrified in this phase, while the other two would be done at a future time).

 Addition work left for an unfunded Phase 2:

  • Extension of track to the Transbay Transit Center.
  • Construction of the HSR station at Diridon Station in San Jose.
  • Completion of necessary track expansions and grade separations in Atherton, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto.
  • Also likely required but not explicitly mentioned would be the completion of electrification of the other two tracks and the elevated viaduct between Santa Clara and Diridon Station.

The significance of this new plan is that electrification is now planned to take place after the expansion of the corridor to four tracks and all grade separations are completed except for one section between Redwood Junction and Mountain View (which would complete grades separations and track work as part of a Phase 2 build out of HSR when funds become available). Previously, Caltrain was attempting to obtain approximately one billion dollars for the CBOSS signaling system and two-track electrification system to be built before grade-separations and track work was completed. Elements of the new plan for electrification would still need to be relocated from Redwood Junction to Mountain View, but this is much better than having to rebuild the electrification system along the entire corridor. A caveat of the new plan is what the Authority means by only electrifying two tracks, rather than all the tracks in the new four-track sections. CA4HSR asks, would the two outside tracks be electrified for Caltrain or would it be for the center tracks for HSR (see below for a discussion of the track configuration)? Also, would the overhead contact system (OCS) just be added to, or would brand new OCS structures replace the two-track structures previously installed? CA4HSR will continue to request clarification on these issues.

CA4HSR is also encouraged by the consideration of implementing either CBOSS or ERTMS. However, more clarification is needed to confirm the intent of Caltrain and the Authority regarding the PTC system. For instance, Caltrain has been claiming that CBOSS is what they need to run their trains during construction. However, CA4HSR wonders the following: if the Authority chooses EMRTS as the ultimate PTC system, could that be employed on Caltrain trains during the construction period? This may require more coordination regarding the issue of freight, something not addressed in the new FRA application or the Supplemental Alternative Analysis Report. This new development could save up to a ¼ of a billion dollars, nothing to sneeze at. We strongly encourage Caltrain and the Authority to continue to increase coordination by resolving the issues related to freight that may create inefficiencies in the PTC signaling system and train operations due to differing platform heights.

Other positive news in relation to Caltrain is that, according to Caltrain, the San Bruno grade separation project, which is currently moving forward, will not require any Federal ARRA or Proposition 1A funds as was previously applied for by the Authority. All funds will come from non-high-speed rail funding sources. Further, the design will still accommodate two more tracks for HSR. CA4HSR understands that the design is not ideal due to the curve radius. However, given the project is moving forward, we are taking the position to identify other segments of the HSR system that will help make up for the lost speed in this section.   

Overall, CA4HSR commends all parties in planning the corridor more holistically.

Progress in Relation to Interoperability and Grade Requirements

The Supplemental Alternatives Analysis (AA) Report, released on August 5, contains some significant changes in approach that address key concerns expressed by CA4HSR in our comment letter for the Preliminary AA Report regarding interoperability and grade requirements.

The Supplement AA Report now recommends focusing on a track configuration that is oriented to allow access to both local and express tracks more easily. The Preliminary AA Report contains alternative track arrangements that placed the two Caltrain tracks to east or west side of the two HSR tracks, making overtakes very difficult if not possible. It appears the Supplemental AA Report has eliminated these alternatives, thought it is not absolutely clear. The report also revises text that allows for both HSR and Caltrain trains to perform overtakes, something not planned for in the Preliminary AA Report. This is a significant development that CA4HSR strongly endorses. All in all, it appears that interoperability has been greatly improved.

The Supplemental AA Report indicates that the 1% maximum grade design criteria for HSR tracks has as been relaxed so as to allow for 2% grades in some sections. This should allow for shorter elevated and trench sections. CA4HSR sees this is an improvement. We encourage the Authority to consider expanding application of 2% grades or more where costs and impacts can be reduced.

Discussion of Track Configuration Changes in the Supplemental AA Report

In addition to the new focus on interoperability, the Supplemental AA Report does recommend a specific track configuration for the four-track corridor, with Caltrain utilizing the outside tracks and HSR trains utilizing the inside tracks (Caltrain—HSR—HSR—Caltrain  or  Slow—Fast—Fast—Slow as commonly referred to in the blogosphere). The rationale for this, according to the report, is to significantly reduce ROW requirements. By keeping Caltrain on the outside, the platforms at the Caltrain-only stations can be placed on the outside, allowing for a much narrower ROW between stations. Some rail advocates prefer having HSR tracks on the outside and Caltrain tracks in middle with center platforms at Caltrain stations, which provides some operational advantages, such as allowing Caltrain to cross over to use the opposite platform at their numerous stations. However, this configuration necessitates a wider ROW, which is very challenging when considering impacts on the Peninsula. CA4HSR currently does not have an official position on the configuration regarding the whether HSR tracks should be on the inside or outside. We will continue to study this issue for the time being. For more information on these track configuration issues and the surrounding debate, please refer to the Caltrain HSR Compatibility Blog post titled “Peninsula (Northeast) Corridor.”

Changes Still Needed in the Supplemental AA Document

CA4HSR still wants to see a commitment to the following items in the Draft EIR/EIS:

  • A strategy to resolve freight issues so consistent platform heights are achieved between Caltrain and HSR.
  • Designing HSR/Caltrain stations on the Peninsula to allow for cross-platform transfers (like is done at MacArthur BART station).
  • Consideration of an adaptive re-use/redesign of the Millbrae Station to save money over the proposed tunneled station.

Discussion of Vertical Alignment

Currently, CA4HSR has not taken a position on the vertical alignment profiles along the Peninsula. To date, we have been allowing the design process to unfold before jumping into the fray over what makes sense along the Peninsula. Building an improved and effective Peninsula Rail Corridor is an extremely complex undertaking, and we feel it needs a lot of study before a final determination should be made.

For sections of the corridor where at-grade is not feasible, we are open to both remaining options – elevated and uncovered trench – and believe both bring benefits to the communities while also enabling effective HSR service along a shared corridor with Caltrain that enables improvements to that service as well. Obviously, the details matter, and we will continue monitoring this issue and work to participate in facilitating a healthy and constructive dialogue between all stakeholders, as this process will remain contentious. However, with the significant narrowing of the ROW requirements for four tracks, we are encouraged that the impacts of either one of these alternatives will be significantly reduced.

It is too bad the Palo Alto Daily Post has come out strongly against both options, including a trench, which is something many people along the Peninsula have been willing to pursue. We continue to believe that the voice of high speed rail supporters in these communities has not been given full and equal weight by cities along the southern Peninsula, and strongly encourage elected officials to work to include views that represent the full range of opinions in their communities. We urge all stakeholders to view the new designs has progress towards coming to a common solution for all involved.

Update: The Authority Staff memo regarding the FRA application for the SF – SJ Section mentioned the following (page 12):

“Electrification of the alignment, dimensioned for Caltrain and HST whereby 2 tracks only will be electrified in this phase.”

This point has now been clarified by the Authority’s Dominic Spaethling in an e-mail to Elizabeth Alexis of CARRD. Apparently, electrification will cover all tracks between San Francisco to San Jose, including the four-track sections.

This is additional good news. It essentially means  electrification will be totally completed except for the two-track segment that will remain in Atherton, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto.

  1. political_incorrectness
    Aug 10th, 2010 at 14:15

    As per usual, progress is made slowly, at least it is in the right direciton. Sacramento’s new airport terminal was not what was originally proposed at first and it changed right up to the final design. More progress still has to be made though such as crossing out CBOSS all together. ETRMS level 2 is currently used on a 125 mph commuter railroad and can handle the frequency of Skytrain in Vancouver. I would also like to add to the list of the DTX three track tunnel to two track and gentling the curves into Transbay. Those are critical, there are Youtube videos of trains departing Barcelona Sants and hard curves creating quite a bit of screeching on the tracks.

  2. Tony D.
    Aug 10th, 2010 at 15:09

    Nice post Daniel. But I must ask: does all this mean Caltrain is no longer in dire financial straits and there’s no chance of the system “winding down” in a few years? If only two tracks get electrification “initially,” could that be the writing on the wall? Just asking.

  3. spokker
    Aug 10th, 2010 at 15:14

    Service to Gilroy could end by October. They are also talking about raising fares and cutting off-peak and weekkend service.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Right. This is clearly not good, and by “progress” we mean “finally some good news – agencies are working together!”

    Obviously Caltrain is still facing serious, immediate financial problems that warrant solutions. CA4HSR is open to a range of solutions there, and willing to work with others to help make them happen.

    Clem Reply:

    There is also the immediate issue of Caltrain’s fleet replacement coming due. The clock isn’t going to stop on those diesels and gallery cars getting ever older, more decrepit and less reliable. Most of the fleet will be life-expired in 2015.

    If PTC and electrification do not happen quickly, Caltrain would be faced with the highly undesirable prospect of replacing their fleet with another batch of diesel commuter trains.

    Considering that the peninsula segment is extremely unlikely to prevail in the winner-takes-all federal funding sweepstakes, we will be left with a rosy unfunded plan AND a life-expired fleet. In that case, I believe that electrification of the existing Caltrain system can and should still be undertaken in accordance with longstanding plans. I dare hope that CA4HSR will not oppose this.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    We’re not at all opposed to Caltrain electrification – our goal is that it be planned in accordance with the HSR system, and not require things like substations to be moved or have a totally different PTC system than what HSR is planning, in order to minimize disruption and be an efficient use of money.

    Reality Check Reply:

    So how do you weigh the “efficient use of money” of Caltrain replacing their fleet with more clunky FRA diesels and trailer cars vs. the “risk” of having to make some relatively minor adjustments to Caltrain electrification to accommodate HSR down the road?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Electrifying an at grade two track railroad and then coming back a few years later, ripping it all out to grade separate and build a four track railroad is probably a bit more than “minor adjustments”
    The cars and locomotives won’t suddenly stop working on Jan 1, 2015, they can be used past that date. Or they can lease old but not quite so old equipment from other operators. Or lease new or buy new and when they are ready to electrify, sell it. Or lease it to Metrolink or new services to places Caltrain doesn’t go or…

    EJ Reply:

    Caltrain points out in their electrification plan that the majority of the expense in electrification is in building substations and transmission wires, so most of the infrastructure doesn’t need to be ripped out at all. The expensive contact wires themselves can be re-used, so all you’re really talking about when grade-separating the railroad is dismantling and re-building the masts that hold the wire. Check their plan, it’s all costed out.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The people who do that don’t work for free.

    EJ Reply:

    Sorry, I figured you might read the report where they analyze all the relevant costs. You can find it on Caltrain’s website.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    Without HSR money to fund the HSR/Caltrain corridor, there is no hope of electrification happening per the current Caltrain electrification EIR anyway. Caltrain is banking on the SF-SJ winning the prize. If the money goes to LA, Caltrain is out of luck until more federal funds flow. Hence the need for the $50B fund for HSR. If this fund is established, hopefully money will start flowing again to begun work on sections of the HSR system that aren’t funded with ARRA and 2010 appropriations.

    There is really no point to view Caltrain upgrades separate from HSR.

    Clem Reply:

    There is no hope? Reality Check, do you happen to know how much money is in the bank for it?

    Probably not much, thinking off the top of my head. The usual rule of thumb for Bay Area transportation politics is that if it doesn’t involve Parsons-Bechtel-Soprano pouring some concrete, then it doesn’t get funded. Caltrain electrification is a systems and rolling stock contract, so they don’t get their cut. Go straight to jail and do not pass go.

  4. Eric M
    Aug 10th, 2010 at 15:18

    I think as we start the true design process, a lot of things will change and fall into place. At first, everyone shoots for the stars with regards to design, then comes back to reality. No need to overbuild too much and save some money here and there.

    I know this has been discussed extensively on Clem’s blog, but why not just pick a platform height of 48 inches, which looks like a sweet spot with train manufacturers, and be done with it. If Caltrain is going to run more frequent service, just stick with single level trains like the Siemens Viaggio Comfort (close to HSR height), so everything can be shared along the corridor. It sure as hell would make the Transbay Terminal better and no need to double deck Diridon Station in San Jose. Just tell the people working on the freight trains to not hang off the side of cars.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Just tell the people working on the freight trains to not hang off the side of cars.

    They’d have to redesign all the water towers and coal hoppers and move the icehouses….

  5. HSRforCali
    Aug 10th, 2010 at 19:22

    God, these people seem worse than the Peninsula NIMBYs:

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    Holy flipping crap. These guys really are nutsos

    Spokker Reply:

    LOSSAN Corridor has already been evaluated and eliminated beyond Irvine. There are real engineering problems along the coast. The ROW is even more restricted in some places than anywhere else. San Juan Capistrano is an actual historic place on top of that.

    LA-SD is roundabout, but it will allow the Inland Empire to be served, which is important too.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I’m also not entirely sure how one would built bullet train tracks below the notoriously unstable bluffs around Capistrano Beach – and on that extremely narrow ROW anyway.

    Joey Reply:

    It would presumably have be built along I-5 in Capistrano Beach and San Clemente (which would mean a lot of tunnels). A tunnel under Del Mar would probably be necessary as well.

    thatbruce Reply:

    A tunnel under Del Mar (most likely cut’n’cover of PCH) is already in the long term transit plans of San Diego county, along with a tunnel through the Golden Triangle (around UCSD).

    For those suggesting that a train route follow I-5 between San Juan Capistrano and San Onofre in order to bypass San Clemente (either in the median or a tunnel), please look at the terrain involved. The freeway crosses a few valleys, imitating (to a train) a roller-coaster, and the infamous Capistrano formation imposes other (geologic) limits on what you can expect to do with tunneling.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    This is a classic case of a lack of knowledge combining with a pre-existing distrust of government.

    Alhambra seems to not understand how HSR works. It’s not their fault, and I don’t blame them for it. It’s not something we are familiar with in California. When the city councilmember (who certainly seemed to be playing to the crowd) mentioned trains running every 10 minutes, residents probably thought “oh my god – imagine the loud horns and freight-train like noise!” because I doubt they have any better understanding of what HSR sounds like. Again, that’s not a slam on those residents, it’s just a fact that they, like most Californians, can’t really envision what this is going to be like, so they default to what they know, even if it’s not accurate.

    Hardly anyone in Alhambra is going to hear this train; it will likely fade into the usual din of city life. But clearly more needs to be done in terms of outreach here, and it would help if city officials and residents didn’t take an immediate “oh my god this is going to destroy us” attitude – which, as we know, tends to be the default these days here in California.

    dave Reply:

    That’s exactly what I thought as I watched. I pictured them thinking about a freight train’s roar and rumble coupled with the horn and then repeating that every 10 minutes just before they boo’d. I don’t really blame them, scared of what they don’t understand is more of what’s happening here.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    This video seems a good demonstration of the true noise impact. The comparisons to planes and freight trains are instructive.

    jimsf Reply:

    And if you get just a little bit further from the tracks it sounds like this . Hardly noticeable within the context of the existing freeway din. And over quickly.

    William Reply:

    Robert, isn’t CAHSRA doing some research on HSR train noise in Spain and Taiwan? Have they presented some report in their meetings yet?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    They are doing that research, but I don’t know if it’s been presented or not.

    Peter Reply:

    Last I heard (at one of the Gardner Community Meetings) the new report was supposed to be out in June. I emailed the Authority at their website to ask about the status over a month ago, but still haven’t gotten an answer.

    Since they were doing this study in conjunction with the FRA, I’m guessing that the FRA is taking its sweet time to finish the report.

    Maybe Robert or CA4HSR could ask them about it? Maybe they’d get a faster reply?

    Peter Reply:

    I’m currently emailing with Jeff Barker about the status of the new FRA study. He didn’t know what I was asking about in the beginning. I emailed him back explaining exactly what I was referring to, and I’m waiting to hear back from him again.

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    They’re close to finishing that research. They want to add 1- and 24-hour sound levels to the report. They’re holding the report back for another week or so for those comparisons, and for the communications team to work their magic into making this a report that’s easy for the general public to understand.

    One could choose to interpret this as an attempt to ‘soften’ the impact of the report. 24-hour sound analyses tend to make existing conditions sound worse since nighttime noise gets penalized, effectively making the entire 24 hours seem worse. We’ll have to see what sort of ‘magic’ the communications team does to the report.

    Peter Reply:

    “One could choose to interpret this as an attempt to ’soften’ the impact of the report.”

    Or “one” could wait until the report is released before accusing its authors of whitewashing. Conspiracy theorists are running rampant.

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    Uh, Peter, did you read my last sentence?

    Peter Reply:

    I did. And it is part of your argument that the communications team is attempting to whitewash the report. You imply that they are whitewashing it, and then say they are working “magic” on it. Seems pretty conspiratorial to me.

    Spokker Reply:

    There’s a house right under a tall viaduct at one point. Would love to interview that person or someone similar.

    Peter Reply:

    Heh, I remember complaints in Germany from people living beneath a metal viaduct who would occasionally have the contents of the toilets dumped on their house. Ah, the days when you couldn’t flush the train’s toilet in stations…

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Your comment tickled some brain cells just now. I seem to recall that Amtrak had to retire a bunch of cars and spend a pile of money on the remaining older cars for a variation of this. What I was told happened was that some Congressman was on a vacation, and was fishing from under a railroad bridge in Florida when a passenger train passed overhead. You can guess what happened.

    End result was a variation of the squeaking wheel getting grease.

    There is also a story about a railway historical group, who were in the excursion business with a nice fleet of cars available for charter, including some classics from the 1920s. Of course, at this time, retention toilets are not required for these cars, and a new man, in the pit under one of them in the repair shop, is looking at the running gear and asks a verteran, “Why are these brake beams so crusty looking?” The veteran didn’t say a word, but just looked up slightly, as did the new man, at the open end of the waste chute (drain pipe) just six inches above their heads. . .

  6. William
    Aug 10th, 2010 at 21:24

    Current Caltrain Baby-Bullet stations, such as Menlo Park, Hillsdale, Palo Alto, Redwood City, Mountain View (if not selected as a HSR station), should be built with 2 island platforms to allow transfers between locals and Baby-Bullet expresses.

    Also, I think one of the reason that HSR insisting in keeping HSR and Caltrain platforms separate is ticketing, obviously HSR cannot be a POP system. So I think it might be wise, at least on the stations listed above with island platforms, for Caltrain to adapt a fare-gate system.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    HSR isn’t going to have turnstiles. POP is the conventional method for trains. When the conductor comes around and collects your ticket he’s checking that you have proof of payment…..

    One of the ways they can finagle another station somewhere in the state, assuming they have the same platform height etc.. is to call the mid Peninsula station or SFO a Caltrain station….

    Joey Reply:

    Why? Plenty of existing HSR systems, particularly those in Europe, work on POP systems. Many don’t even have controlled access to the platforms.

    That being said, between POP and faregates, I’m not convinced that one is superior to the other, for either HSR OR CalTrain, though of course they should both be on the same fare system.

    Dan S. Reply:

    Well, clearly HSR can work either as a POP system or with controlled access to the platform. I’ve used both. I took the HSR from Brussels to Paris and all I ever had as a ticket was a barcode on an email that I printed out, which I handed to the conductor from my seat. On the other hand, I’ve taken the Shinkansen in Japan a lot, and you have to go through the turnstile to get to the platform, and you still have to show the conductor your ticket on the train.

    But ticketing and pricing and all that stuff is ultimately up to the *operator* of the California HSR system, and not to the CHSRA organization that’s building the system now, isn’t it? So I think they very well might be trying to keep the option open for the final operator, whoever it might be, to use access-controlled platforms if they choose to do so. Just conjecture, of course.

    But FWIW, I’ve always preferred ticket gates to POP systems. I think it mostly removes that “presumption of guilt” where you have to prove that you’ve paid already. I like the feeling of knowing that I’ve already proven to some machine that I can be on the train, and I actually have more collegial feelings towards my fellow passengers too, knowing that they have to prove to the machines, both entering and exiting the system, that their fares are fully paid for! :-) And it removes a lot of the temptation to see if you can “beat the system.” But hey, everyone’s different, and for the record, I don’t care as long it gets built!!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    There’s a third fare control system – namely, having station attendants check tickets at the station. It’s done on the iDTGV, which makes me think it’s not so expensive.

    Anyway, it very much is California’s decision whether to put turnstiles or not. It’s okay for California to make its own decisions about things that affect public systems like Caltrain. If it requires extra infrastructure, it shouldn’t be up to the operator.

    jimsf Reply:

    I prefer fare gates for this type of system. YOu have to funnel everyone through cursory security anyway. You can have the option to buy your ticket on the spot from an agent or kiosk and then scan thru the fare gates for accounting. Or you can print your bar code at home and scan thru the fare gates for accounting. It could also be set up to accommodate clipper cards were you tap thru for accounting. And it keeps the everything beyond the fare gates in a controlled secure environment.

    Matthew Reply:

    Not having to be funneled through security is one of the potential benefits of HSR. Germany, for example, doesn’t have any passenger screening at the stations. It takes a lot of stress out of making your train, especially if you know you always have the option of buying a ticket on board. We don’t need to be adding to paranoia and operating costs for something that likely wouldn’t be really effective.

    jimsf Reply:

    It’s most likely going to be a security area. I’m pretty sure of that. Limited access to platform areas for ticketed passengers only.

    HSRforCali Reply:

    I don’t think passengers would mind going through fare gates, it’s the metal detectors that many don’t like.

    jimsf Reply:

    There won’t be any metal detectors, just a controlled security arena.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The TGV doesn’t have any of that, either. They check tickets when you’re on board. Even the iDTGV has people checking tickets right in front of the train doors.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    YOu have to funnel everyone through cursory security anyway.

    Why? If it’s needed for HSR why aren’t going to be funneling Caltrain passengers through security? Why not BART passengers? Why isn’t there a TSA agent on the Geary bus? There is no security to speak of on the NEC.

    jimsf Reply:

    THis is brand new system being built from scratch and will built in such a way as to prepare for future security scenarios. The nec is an ancient piecemeal system. Access at tbt to platforms will be limited. I can’t say what the smaller stations will consist of, but even bart has controlled access to paid areas. There is no way they are going put a loosey goosey free for all situation in place in this environment.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The NEC and it’s competitors have been through two World Wars and have been targets of terrorism. Real doozey just before the US entered World War I that blew out out windows in miles away from the explosions, though in polite company that is referred to as sabotage not terrorism.
    Last significant breach was in 1993. There is no security theater. Trains and train stations aren’t a good targets.

    Caelestor Reply:

    You don’t really need fare gates unless ridership per train is too high for the conductors to reasonably check.

  7. Spokker
    Aug 10th, 2010 at 21:37

    “obviously HSR cannot be a POP system”

    Why not?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I would guess it’d be for security reasons. I actually would assume HSR will have turnstiles, or something like it. Less intensive than the TSA, but something where there’s uniformed security asking to see a ticket, an ID, and probably ask you to put your bags through a scanner (sort of like 1990s-style airport security in the US, or what exists currently on the Spanish AVE).

    That is indeed something that’ll have to be worked out for shared platforms, but it should be doable without requiring separate platforms.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Shinkansen and AVE are separate systems for the most part. Different track gauge than the conventional trains. Which means separate platforms.

    So people who want to get from the mid Peninsula station to someplace a Caltrain express serves will have to produce a ticket, photo id and go through security to get on a Caltrain express? How do you control the people getting off the Caltrain express at a shared HSR/Caltrain platform? Put security in at Sunnyvale? What happens when all of the trains are running on one track either because there’s a problem or it’s off hours and they are doing maintenance on the system? Everyone goes through security at every Caltrain station so when they hop off the train onto the secured HSR platform at SFO, even though their ticket says Atherton to San Carlos, they’ve been screened?

    The security theater at major NEC stations is waving your ticket at the assistant conductor at the gate to the track. There is no security theater at the other stations.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Northeast Corridor is turnstile-free. Why would the TSA insist on separate rules for California?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Internal passports required for travel. Movement of residents and visitors tracked by and subject to arbitrary denial by an unaccountable and metastasizing state security apparatus.

    What a wonderful country you live in. Remind me again who won the Cold War?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Who won the cold war … wasn’t that Saudi Arabia? They got ticked off at the godless commnunists supporting a secular government in Afghanistan and turned on the taps, which hammered the Soviets with their much more expensive to produce oil (having pumped and burned their cheap oil, just as we have done).

    Looking around Northeast Ohio, it definitely wasn’t the US that won.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I’m not saying I like it. I hope we can replicate the practices adirondacker and Alon described on the NEC. But I wouldn’t be surprised if some kind of additional security were required.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why? In nice round numbers a 100 million people pass through Penn Station every year. The last significant incident was in 1993. Six people died. More people have died falling, not jumping, onto the tracks, since then.

    jimsf Reply:

    There needs to be a controlled security environment to create at least a minimal deterrence, and offer some sense of peace of mind for passengers. Most security will be behind the scenes but keeping a certain amount of control over the platform area will be necessary as we move into the future so we may a well plan for it now. Only verified ticketed passenger should have access to the platform areas. There doesn’t have to be a full TSA style screening, but in lieu of that, there should be layers that do not inconvenience people. Allowing ticketed passengers only beyond fare gates doesn’t inconvenience anyone. You can kiss grandma goodbye at the turnstile.

    jimsf Reply:

    This is a good one

    jimsf Reply:

    This one too….

    and these are the brand new ones currently being installed in muni metro

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That means every Caltrain passenger has to pass through it too. Why?

    jimsf Reply:

    One plan I’ve see for tbt in fact even keeps certain ticketing areas beyond a secure point.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So to get the ticket to get through the turnstiles you have to go through the turnstiles?

    jimsf Reply:

    no, but you have to go thru a security area. This is the plan I saw.

    Dan S. Reply:

    If you assume that Caltrain and HSR share platforms, then yes. If they don’t share platforms, then turnstiles for HSR don’t have any bearing on Caltrain.

    Spokker Reply:

    Why install turnstiles at all? I assume these trains will already have staff on board. They can check the tickets too. No need for expensive turnstiles that do zilch for security.

    There is no need to separate Caltrain and HSR like this.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    Of course its all security theatre-trains like the Capital Corridor and ACE (not to mention Caltrain) already carry large numbers of passengers, and there have been zero terrorist incidents. One of the big selling points for HSR is not going to have to go through TSA security theatre.

    Though, given the paranoia, security concern trolling, and greediness on the part of the DHS and private companies that I’m sure will want in on a piece of the security $$$, I’m not holding my breath.

    Spokker Reply:

    “Only verified ticketed passenger should have access to the platform areas. ”

    I fully agree, and that’s the rule on many rail systems with proof of payment. There is no reason to install turnstiles on any rail system in the United States. Fare checkers double as security. They are far superior than a turnstile, which cannot help you in an emergency.

  8. John Burrows
    Aug 10th, 2010 at 23:18

    I assume that the first major construction project undertaken by HSR will be the 100 mile long test track which is supposed to be operational by 2015. To build this track along with the Heavy Maintenance Facility, and the necessary electrification and signaling seems like a pretty big deal. One hundred miles is nearly a guarter of the entire segment from San Francisco to Anaheim, and the cost must be in the billions. I don’t think that the location of the maintenance facility has been determined yet, but if it is in Merced then the test track would have to run through Fresno, either on the proposed elevated section or on some kind of temporary bypass.

    I also assume that funding for the test track would have to come out of the Fresno-Bakersfield segment and additionally, the Merced-Fresno segment if the Heavy Maintenance Facility were built between Fresno and Merced. I don’t know how exactly the test track is to be funded, but it seems to me that it might eat up a big chunk of the money that will be available for CAHSR at least until early 2012.

    Hopefully the mid-term elections will not erode congressional support for the 50 billion transportation bill and hopefully it will get passed in 2011.

    Joey Reply:

    High speed track through the Central Valley is estimated to cost about $33 million/mile. So not including the maintenance facility, stations, or any sort of massive viaducts through urban areas, the cost for 100 miles of track is around $3.3 billion.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    I hoping this is the first section..its true HSR even if at first Amtrak 110mph will use it. The SF-SJ section really is a commuter line that will host HSR.. this section may not even qualify at this point as a n intercity route for funding per the battle is just begining with these Nimby towns…

  9. PeakVT
    Aug 11th, 2010 at 03:58

    “The plan assumes elevated track except for a one-track tunnel at Millbrae Station.”

    Sorry to bring this up again, but this part of the design is just nutso. IMHO CA4HSR should take a strong stand for 4 at-grade tracks at Millbrae, if it hasn’t already. I understand why BART would want to defend it’s “turf,” but there’s no rational reason for putting up with it. (There are plenty of irrational reasons, of course.)

  10. morris brown
    Aug 11th, 2010 at 05:17

    The City council of Belmont last evening (Tues 8/10/10), voted to send a strong letter to the FRA urging that the Bay Area segment not be funded.

    The Town of Atherton rail committee has voted to also send a letter.

    The mood of the Cities along the CalTrain corridor has changed to one of anger, and is resulting in active opposition to the project as now being presented.

    The posting here is simply not reflecting what actions the City councils going to take with regards High Speed rail through their communities.

    I don’t know if Mr. Krause or CA4HSR was in attendance at the last PCC meeting, but certainly the mood has changed from one of let’s pursue CSS and get accommodation with the project, to one of they aren’t listening to us and they will not be allowed to destroy our communities.

    Adding to all of this is Kopp’s disclosure that extending the tracks from 4th and King to the TBT at First and Mission is not a one billion dollar project but rather 2.8 billion dollars; money that has thus far not been included in cost estimates for the SF to San Jose segment.

    Certainly Menlo Park and other cities now realize that the only option that will be offered will be aerials, which are not acceptable.

    Palo Alto was not at the last PCC meeting. Not sure if they are gong to send a letter or not.

    In summary, Mr. Krause’s posting here does not reflect current attitudes of the Cities towards this project.

    TomW Reply:

    I think you are mixing up the views of the city council with the veiws of the city residents.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Precisely. These councils have not succeeded in reaching out to the majority of residents who support HSR.

    bleh Reply:

    The mood of the Cities along the CalTrain corridor has changed to one of anger, and is resulting in active opposition to the project as now being presented.

    Thanks for making that clear. It’s hard for the outside observer to discern the constructive criticism and reserved support then from the anger and active opposition now.
    Both look remarkably like whining and obstructionism mixed with a haughty sense of entitlement. So if you have further insights, feel free to add them.

    Dan S. Reply:


    Peter Reply:

    “they aren’t listening to us and they will not be allowed to destroy our communities.”

    They are in fact listening to you. What you want they just can’t afford to give you. And you know that. And you know (and we know) that what you want to do is kill the entire program.

    This will not destroy your communities. A tsunami would destroy your community. A massive fire would destroy your community. A railroad along an existing, VERY active ROW will simply be a temporary inconvenience during construction, after which it will no longer be noticed. Stop acting as if the sky is falling, and grow up.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    “At a crowded California High-Speed Rail Authority meeting in San Francisco last week, state officials revealed that some Bay Area cities along the line would have aboveground tracks that would either be located next to the existing Caltrain tracks or on structures similar to freeway overpasses.”

    Who said final designs were in place?

    Peter Reply:

    Well, I guess KTVU can foresee the future.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    I would like to remind Morris and others that an open trench designed to allow for retrofit to be covered is STILL an alternative being carried forward into the EIR for the Burlingame-San Mateo segmenta and the Atherton-Menlo Park-Palo Alto segment. If it turns out that these ciities oppose a trench (even if it is initially open), I will personally conclude that this position is extremely unreasonable.

    mike Reply:

    The mood of the Cities along the CalTrain corridor has changed to one of anger, and is resulting in active opposition to the project as now being presented.

    According to all your previous, that’s been true for months and months now. Nothing has changed at all. Except we haven’t seen a new lawsuit filed lately. Honestly, it seems like you guys are slacking off a little. When’s the next one coming?

    Peter Reply:

    Morris’ suit is due to be dismissed early next month.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Morris is correct in hinting at the obvious: PB-Bechtel does not do trenches – it does elevateds. BART is the real world example. Tunnels are possible, if the parties involved can come up with the money, for a 2-track system but not 4-tracks.

    Personally I think the PCC’s strategy is doomed to defeat. I guess they could derive some scorched earth satisfaction from prolonged civil disobediance, as with the Berkeley tree-sitters, eventually unsuccessful but highly embarrassing to the Pelosi machine. The latter would not be pleased to face a rebellion from normally supportive liberal PA et al

    I am surprised that Morris and others have not as yet recognized the old saw the enemy of my enemy is my friend. The PCC’s only recourse is to start seriously agitating for BART to supplant both Caltrain and the CHSRA. They would have to take on San Francisco but then the City would not put up for a moment with even the suggestion of berms or elevateds in its downtown.

    Peter Reply:

    If PB and Bechtel are in fact involved in some conspiracy on the Peninsula, wouldn’t the conspiracy be tailored to maximizing their own profits? If that were the case, they would want to construct trenches, not the cheaper aerials. Again, logic fail.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I suggest that once you figure the blight mitigation and security features into the elevated the costs will not be significantly different, certainly not by comparison to the cost differential with tunnel.

    You are forgetting corporate culture, which in the case of Bechtel is unwaveringly Brutalist. The idea is to impose its signature with a structure that will both visually and audially dominate the surrounds for miles. Coporate symbolism, sorta like the TransAmerica shaft in SF.

    On the other hand if the BART empire were to be convinced it really had a shot at usurping Caltrain Bechtel would surely have to side with its ancient ally.

    Joey Reply:

    Right. Cause there’s tons of mitigation on the BART lines.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART has only two tracks and much of its elevated lies in industrial or freeway areas.

    Joey Reply:

    The number of tracks is more or less irrelevant. Besides, BART is louder than HSR is ever going to be (except maybe at full speed). Anyway BART has plenty of elevated track through residential areas (see Richmond and Fremont lines).

    Peter Reply:

    “You are forgetting corporate culture, which in the case of Bechtel is unwaveringly Brutalist.”

    Is that a fact?

    Athens Metro, designed by Bechtel

    Dulles Metrorail Station, designed by Bechtel

    Brutalism just so happened to be in vogue when BART was designed and built. That means NOTHING about whether Brutalism will be chosen as the style for HSR. You’re just pulling that out of your ass and making half-baked assertions.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Berms and elevateds thru downtowns are unqualifiedly and unabashedly brutalist. For one obvious thing BART hates competition and hates being upstaged. The last thing PB-Bechtel wants to do is make the hsr prettier than its pet client, BART.

    As it stands, a standard gauge ocs Caltrain with express service already would cast the hopelessly proprietary BART in a retrograde and obsolete light. That’s one reason BART worked to kill the TBT tunnel.

    Peter Reply:

    “That’s one reason BART worked to kill the TBT tunnel.”

    Do you have ANY shred of proof that BART had ANYTHING to do with delaying the TBT tunnel? That, once again, is an assertion you pulled straight out of your ass, just like the rest of your comment.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If you were around the Bay Area in the early nineties you would would be aware of this, as it was common knowledge. Columnists covered the campaign to kill the TBT tunnel under developmnet and divert the monies to BART to SFO. The major players were, of course, BART-PB along with Kopp and Willie Brown with the worthies at MTC approving the coup. It was similar to BART grabbing the Dumbarton Bridge funds more recently.

    Caltrain supporters were shafted; the impetus was clear that BART muscling out Caltrain.

    Dan S. Reply:

    I lived in the Bay Area in the early nineties, not aware of it. Not saying it definitely isn’t true, I’m just saying that one man’s “common knowledge” is another man’s “conspiracy theory.” Synonymouse, you seem to have created your own echo chamber here!

    Peter Reply:

    “Berms and elevateds thru downtowns are unqualifiedly and unabashedly brutalist.”

    Oh, really?

    Spokker Reply:

    If I were white I would print out that photo and say, “We want something like this on the Peninsula.” Alas, I am tainted. One-drop rule and all.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Peter’s link points to historic European S-bahn, as if that is even remotely anything like what Parsons Brinkerhoff builds.

    How’s this for comparison. Tell me that doesn’t look like a guard tower in a prison complex.

    Note: this is Millbrae, built in the 21st century (i.e. not some example of bad old 1960’s brutalist architecture. Can’t wait to see how the new TBT turns out…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It was spec’d out by people who think BART is all there is in the world. Ask PB for something that matches your Brutalist stations elsewhere, PB is going to spit out plans for neo-Brutalist.

    Spokker Reply:

    Another property value killer:

    Peter Reply:

    The Peninsula is doomed, DOOMED, I say.

    Note: The second picture is taken next to an active at-grade freight yard and commuter rail (S-Bahn Berlin) station.

    Peninsula Rail 2010 Reply:

    Synonymouse, you badly misread the politics. PB got its start building the cut-and-cover trenches for the New York subway, and PB-Bechtel would gladly build a tunnel if the funds were even remotely available.

    Who says PB and Bechtel aren’t laying the foundation right now for BART along the Peninsula?? BART along the Peninsula has been a long-standing plan supported by MTC. The grade-separate-first-and-worry-about-actual-operational-improvements-later suggests exactly that Millbrae-Santa Clara BART is still a goal. BART necessitates complete grade separation with its third rail power source, but both Caltrain and regional HSR can easily function without complete grade separation. PB and Bechtel know that BART is their golden goose for design/construction pork, and BART has not given up its political ambitions of encircling the Bay. Never, never ever discount the imperial ambitions of BART and the political machine that promotes it.

    The PCC has much more power that you think too. It’s all going to get very interesting.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Caltrain-hsr will have taken up the only cheap ROW for BART to utilize to link the San Jose-Millbrae gap. 101 would be much more appropriate for the hsr as it is an express route. It would also spare the hsr from the effects of any Caltrain disruptions. But clearly the CHSRA is not interested, at least at this point, in 101. So for BART pushing out Caltrain is the only real option. That was one of the side advantages of BART to SFO – it killed the TBT tunnel in the early 90’s and undermined the viability of Caltrain. Still a BART-hsr would not provide the PCC any relief from elevated blight.

    The only other option would be to kill the hsr project statewide, but I see no Jarvisites collecting signatures for a re-vote. Another longshot would be a recall if Jerry wins.

    Perhaps you can derive schadenfreude from the certainty that this boondoggle will be accompanied with escalating buyers remorse as the years roll by. It will require perennial operating subsidies and there will be much finger pointing. Especially when LA tries to get the state to pay for below market fares Palmdale to LA.

    Meantime PA gets the ghetto treatment. Sorry, we all got snookered.

    Dan S. Reply:

    PA is going ghetto because it’s getting 2 more train tracks? I tell you, The Cheesecake Factory opening on University Avenue has done more to blight Palo Alto than upgrading the rail corridor could ever do! ;-)

    Spokker Reply:

    Go to Laguna Niguel in Orange County. I passed through recently on the bus and train. Rich, white area. There are also bridges and a big concrete freeway running through it. Nobody sleeps under the bridge. Nobody gets raped next to the concrete. No graffiti.



    Goddamn, you’d think a couple of extra tracks is going to turn Palo Alto into Richmond. These people are so afraid of the poor and so afraid of blacks that they think high speed rail is going to turn their shitty little overrated town in a disaster area or something.

    They want the train to run on the East Bay instead, where the poor people already live. Fuck them. This isn’t about transportation, it’s about race and class and it always will be. Don’t be fooled by these assholes.

    “Ghetto treatment.” Fuck you.

    jimsf Reply:

    You are once again under the mistaken assumption that Nancy Pelosi cares what a handful of nimbys in a two bit backwater think. Yes SF will not allow an aerial but SF can do that. PA can’t.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You can number the opposition on the Peninsula in the thousands of long-term homeowners, hardly a handful.

    This represents a distinct problem for the machine, and an opportunity for some new political faces to emerge.

    Wall Street is used to getting what it wants and it vastly prefers fiscal restraint over pump priming. Infrastructure spending these days comes up short in that it gives jobs to a relatively small number of highly paid skilled operators. It is definitely not a WPA.

    Peter Reply:

    “You can number the opposition”

    Stop using passive voice. It is an affront to the English language and does nothing to help you convince anyone.

    Passive voice: “You can number the opposition”

    Active voice: “The opposition numbers”

    Learn some basic English skills.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is a nuance you are not catching. The passive is intentionally more tentative.

    Apparently the Romans were very fond of using the passive for that very reason. Or at least according to one latin grammar I have been using.

    “caldum meiiere, fridigum potare”

    -C. Petronius

    Peter Reply:

    Oh, it’s perfectly clear why you’re using it: You have no facts to back you up, so to get around the fact that you are making things up, you use passive voice so you can back down from your previous statements when necessary. That was clear from the beginning. My comment just gave you the benefit of the doubt, that you did not know that you were using passive voice.

    You find me a book on writing English that DOESN’T tell you to avoid passive voice, and I will eat my hat.

    English is not Latin, and we are not Romans.

    synonymouse Reply:

    No, the Romans were much more worldly. English grammar is derived from latin.

    The great advantage of English, especially the American offshoot, is that hardly anyone cares about how well you speak it or write so long as they can more or less understand what you are talking about. The rigidity and perfectionism of French is why it has become secondary.

    Peter Reply:

    “hardly anyone cares about how well you speak it or write so long as they can more or less understand what you are talking about”

    Again, you are pulling that straight out of your ass. Tell that to an English teacher and watch his or her head explode.

    Peter Reply:

    “hardly anyone cares about how well you speak it or write so long as they can more or less understand what you are talking about”

    This is just another symptom of the shitty-ass education our children get these days.

    “The rigidity and perfectionism of French is why it has become secondary.”

    Or the fact that the French stopped being a major world power in the late 1700s, Napoleon notwithstanding. They stopped being able to exert their influence over large parts of the world, except for very few colonies. England, on the other hand, profited greatly from France’s decline, and was able to impart its language and culture all over the world.

    Yet another synonomousism pulled straight from his ass.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I doubt very much the historians would agrees with you on the eclipse of France in the late 18th century. La France d’Outre-Mer was acquired primarily in the 19th century.

    All the English teachers on the payroll in the US cannot stop a language’s tendency to drift. The Romance languages evolution from Latin is the test bed for this phenomenon. Latin itself evolved quite a bit over a few centuries, tho the rule of thumb is that written languages change more slowly.

    Don’t get your underwear all in a bundle about the passive tense. At least English hasn’t lost any recently, unlike French. The simple or definite past has all but disappeared from common usage. It would be like English speakers saying “I have gone” or “I am gone” instead of I went.

    I wonder how those English teachers with exploding heads react to Ebonics.

    Peter Reply:

    “I wonder how those English teachers with exploding heads react to Ebonics.”

    They spontaneously combust.

    PeakVT Reply:

    “English grammar is derived from latin.”

    Bzzzt! English vocabulary is about 60% Latin derived. English grammar is Germanic.

    Spokker Reply:

    Damn, slammed by linguistics.

    BW Reply:

    I think you both should get on with the conversation at hand and stop trying to “refudiate” each others use of prose. Sorry couldn’t resist

    synonymouse Reply:

    English grammar was derived from Latin grammar. Or should I say it was imposed on it, even tho English is an analytic language as opposed to inflected, such as Latin.

    I believe in German, like Latin, you can put the verb at the end of the sentence. Not at all like English syntax.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Some nosy people at Language Log checked, and found that all of those grammar books and style guides actually use the passive voice more often than is normal in English.

    Peter Reply:

    But do these grammar books and style guides TELL people to use passive voice? Seems to me as if it is more of a “Do as I say, not as I do” problem.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, they don’t, but the passive voice thing and many similar examples show just how useless they are. English has grammatically legal passive voice. That a few language snoots don’t like it doesn’t make it wrong.

    Peter Reply:

    My point is that it allows people like synonymouse to make outrageous statements while hedging at the same time. It’s a disingenuous method of making an argument.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sometimes, it does. Sometimes, it doesn’t. The passive voice can be used in a way that doesn’t involve weasel-wording, and the active voice can be used in a way that does.

    Peter Reply:

    Show me where Synonorat uses passive voice without weasel-wording.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Show me where he uses active voice without weasel-wording.

    Dan S. Reply:

    Really, “You can number the opposition” is passive? It’s been a few years since my English classes, but I think it’s active voice. “The cat was chased by the dog” is passive. “The number of protestors was estimated to be in the thousands” is passive. “You can number the opposition” is attributinga conditional action (can number) to the subject (you). Anyway, it’s a blog, who cares about the use of passive voice. It’s easy enough for Synonymouse to be countered simply based on his fallacious arguments.

    StevieB Reply:

    Certainly Menlo Park and other cities now realize that the only option that will be offered will be aerials, which are not acceptable.

    Aerials are not entirely a certainty. From The Daily Journal High-speed rail: What’s next?

    Peninsula Rail Program director Bob Doty presented two alternatives at an authority meeting last week in San Francisco that featured no underground options for most cities on the Peninsula. Underground solutions, however, are still a possibility on the Peninsula from an engineering standpoint if the communities along the line unite and find a way to pay for it, Doty said.

  11. Missiondweller
    Aug 11th, 2010 at 08:59

    Robert, in your post it said Phase 2 includes extension of tracks to the TransBay Terminal.

    Does this mean the trainbox which has won $400 million in Federal funding won’t be built until much later?

    That would be a shame because the tunneling will certainly be a long complex project that could be providing jobs sooner rather than later.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    No, its the tunnel (DTX) that won’t be built until much later. The train box is being built into the foundations, but not populated.

    Missiondweller Reply:

    Thanks. I think I misunderstood what the trainbox was thinking it included the tunnel from 4th & King to TBT.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The trainbox is being built. Groundbreaking is actually today. It just won’t be connected to anything for a long time.

    Peter Reply:

    The good part about not connecting it yet is that it gives us time to fix at least some of the problems with the TBT.

    Joey Reply:

    Yeah but we still have to work around a dense forest of concrete columns with a sub-optomal design.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    The turning radius has already been significantly enlarged and the position of Caltrain and HSR were switched so as to optimize the approach to the Transbay box since the initial outcry. It isn’t perfect yet, but much much better and possibly all that is possible given the constrainsts of a dense urban environment and where the TBT is located.

    Clem Reply:

    Do you know something we don’t? Or do you refer to design changes that occurred more than a year ago?

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    Here is the document that describes the latest design fixes that I am aware of.

    Spokker Reply:

    Are Caltrain and HSR at Transbay going to be a separate system still? Apparently it’s all set up for security theater bullshit.

    Have those plans changed?

    Spokker Reply:

    This is what I’m talking about:

    “Homeland Security Theater. The total segregation of passenger flows for HSR and Caltrain, to accommodate airline-style HSR security screening, constricts passenger throughput and prevents the flexible re-allocation of tracks

    If security theater cannot be avoided, then adopt a security plan that does not operate the TTC as two separate mini-stations. With only two available tracks, Caltrain would find itself just one minor breakdown away from a total disintegration of their rush hour schedule, a disaster for operational flexibility.”

    Airline-style security theater means a lot of people do not ride.

    Peter Reply:

    As per CHSRA’s website under FAQs: “High-Speed trains will not require lengthy “airport style” screenings because like other passenger rail transportation services operating throughout the United States, high-speed trains do not present as great a security risk as air transportation.”

    Spokker Reply:

    The CHSRA is not totally in control of that. The new head of the TSA has transit in his sights. He has not been very detailed in his intentions, but his rhetoric is scary.

    Dan S. Reply:

    Spokker, I think it’s premature to get too excited about the prospects for a screening process on HSR that is just like what we have to suffer through at the airports. Even if they’re designing the stations with space for security screening, I think it’s extremely unlikely that HSR screening will be at the same level of thoroughness than we have for air travel. FWIW, I do hope they ditch that whole idea too, though. I can’t imagine a metal detector, bag scanner, and cadre of TSA agents positioned 15 hours a day at the Palo Alto mid-Peninsula HSR station. (Yep, still holding out hope!)

    Spokker Reply:

    It’s good to be on your toes about this, though. I can’t imagine what you describe either, but the bloated TSA sure would love it.

    Dan S. Reply:

    Interesting — If I read them correctly, those plans list the curve radii for the turn into the station at 650 feet, which is 198 meters. Clem, in your blog post of March 2009 you called on the Authority to increase these curves from 150 m radii to “at least 200 m”. Maybe somebody was listening?

    Peter Reply:

    Are the concrete columns going to be part of the Phase 1 trainbox construction?

    Joey Reply:

    No, the bus terminal is going to be magically floating on the empty cavern below it.

  12. D. P. Lubic
    Aug 11th, 2010 at 10:11

    A bit off topic, but has anyone here seen the latest edition of Trains? It has an article in it about the NIMBY problem as it relates to freight roads.

    Two things stand out. One is that the person they use as someone who is typical in this crowd looks like what we see as typical, too, i.e., gray hair. The other is that they don’t mention the generational question.

    How did they miss all the talk about this here?

    HSRforCali Reply:

    Oh yeah, I saw that too! When I saw the headline, I thought it was going to be a story about the Peninsula.

    dave Reply:

    Saw It Too, Oops. I don’t have a subscription to Trains Mag.

    Spokker Reply:

    I saw two issues and it was a bunch of foamer crap. They treat our rail network like their personal train set.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Well, what it boils down to is that we are not alone. This even applies in the heritage railroad/tourist railroad field. What brings this up is a proposal by someone in the South Bend, Indiana, area to establish a trolley tourist line from Notre Dame University to the interchange point with what is now Norfolk Southern.

    This is over existing track that was used from the 1920s into the 1980s or 1990s to deliver coal to Notre Dame’s own heating and power plant (this sort of arrangement used to be quite common for large facilities). Apparently there was some sort of minor accident or problem back when service was suspended, and then-owner Conrail didn’t want to fool with the repairs to deliver coal for what seemed to them to be a short distance, using the costs of a unionized crew. Instead, they set up a transload point, and trucks deliver the coal from the railroad to Notre Dame through the streets of South Bend.

    The spur sleeps for 25 years or so, its track intact under the weeds, and then along comes this fellow who wants to make a tourist operation on this unused track with trolley cars, and revive coal deliveries with small electric locomotives similar to what Pacific Electric and Sacramento Northern used, taking the coal trucks off the streets of South Bend. You would think this is a great thing.

    Unfortunately, some retirement homes have been built next to this track. They do not impinge upon it, as the property was and still is railroad owned. But trains coming back, including coal trains that might run only a few times a year? The world will end! The clock will run backward! My hair will turn green and fall out! It’s the invasion of pod people–they want trains!

    I do post on that site, too, and so will provide links for you to see. Oh, I’ll let you guess what user name I use there. . .

    General link:

    Hope you have fun in a new place on the net!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Most likely, they’re aficionados of the old train network. Younger people don’t seem to give a crap about Union Pacific’s locomotive fleet; they want American transit to look like Western European or Japanese transit.

  13. Joey
    Aug 11th, 2010 at 15:35

    Completely O/T but this just occurred to me:

    CHSRA plans to run 9 TPH from SF to LA in Phase 1. The system is being designed for 5 minute headways, or 12 TPH. This leaves room for only 3 TPH to Sacramento in Phase 2 (the bottleneck being from Chowchilla to LA). How do they plan to deal with this?

    (note – not that I believe that the Authority’s 9 TPH prediction is realistic, but it seems like the system will be facing capacity issues somewhere down the line either way).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    By running fewer trains to Sacramento than to San Francisco, presumably.

    Joey Reply:

    Obviously, but only 3 TPH to Sacramento? Even then you’re running the system AT CAPACITY, which is just asking for trouble.

    Caelestor Reply:

    Simple solution: 9 tph to SF is infeasible and unnecessary. 4 or 5 tph will suffice.

    Caelestor Reply:

    Just double the capacity of each train with double deckers like in France. I doubt there will be 12tph for a long time, so it’s all good. Not even Japan has 5 minute headways IIRC.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Japan had 4.5-minute headways last year, with full-length trains, each of which has more seats than a bilevel TGV (1,323 versus 1,024).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Outside of the Tokaido?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not just Tokaido, but also Tohoku-Joetsu. On the shared section between Omiya and Tokyo, JR East runs 12 tph at the peak, of which 7 are single-level and 5 are bilevel. However, the trains are shorter than on Tokaido, with only 8 or 10 cars.

    Sanyo runs 8 tph at the peak, with 4-5 tph off-peak. Those are sometimes 16-car and sometimes 8-car.

    Peter Reply:

    How many trains per hour can ERTMS Level 2 support?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Thats a function of safe stopping distances.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    When all trains travel at the same speed, I believe the answer is 19. But in reality, express trains force locals to wait at sidings and introduce variable train spacing, so the capacity is somewhat lower, around 15.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    How do they plan to deal with this?

    You really believe any of those “projections”?

    They don’t “plan” to deal with anything. They’re just maximizing the scope and scale of the construction project. Remember: the same people promoting the scams are evaluating the “need” for the scams. There are no adults providing supervision at any level.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Sheesh. Run one train from SF to Fresno. Front half continues to LA, rear half reverses direction and heads to Sacramento. Apply a similar split for trains LA to SF/Sac.

  14. Al-Fakh Yugoudh
    Aug 11th, 2010 at 16:13

    I don’t see why they plan so many trains per hour. Based on what happens in other countries currently no more than 4 HST departures will be needed in each direction between SF and LA. More typically there will be a couple of departures per hour at peak periods and maybe up to 1 per hour the rest of the day.

    Each train carries comfortably over 400 passengers. I can’t imagine a demand that would require 9 TPH, or nearly 4000 passengers traveling on an HST from SF every hour. That would be the equivalent of over 40 airplanes an hour. That’s ridiculous.

    This is what happens currently in some of the most used HSR lines based on info I just got from, and

    Barcelona-Madrid= 1 TPH generally (sometimes 2 TPH at peak periods)
    Rome-Florence= 2 TPH generally (sometimes 1 TPH)
    Milan-Bologna= 2 TPH generally (3 at peak periods)
    Paris-Lyon= 2 TPH generally.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Bear in mind, France likes to run all trains direct with very few stops, leading to frequency splits. Paris-Lyon has 2 tph, but there’s an extra 2 tph Paris-Marseille, 1 tph Paris-Nice, and so on. The LGV Sud-Est’s busiest segment has 10 tph, I believe. California can’t expect to run fewer trains and hold the same number of people; something has to give.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I don’t see why they plan so many trains per hour.

    That’s the way the mafia always does things around here.

    Step 1: Commit egregious, blatant fraud on budget and ridership “projections” in order to ensure that money is poured down the rathole that you both promoted and “evaluated”.

    Step 2: Build as much absolutely useless junk as possible, based on the ridership “projections” of Step 1. The “budget” of Step 1 goes out the window at this point, but, well, these things happen, and there were unexpected complications that nobody could have expected, so please just keep signing those blank checks made out to “Parsons Brinnkeroff, Bechtel, and Soprano, or bearer.”

    Step 3: Profit!!!!

    Step 4: Gee ridership was half of what we “projected” and the “budget” doubled. These things happen, who could have imagined that things would turn out this way, the world is an unpredictable place, we’re sure to do better next time on an even larger project, and, anyway, who cares, because Step 3 is in the bag.

    jimsf Reply:

    I’ve always though that a train every 15 minutes from tbt and laus on the main line is plenty. 4 trains per hour on the hour and :15 :30 :45 in each direction. with one true sf-la express, on the hour, one “limited” ( sf-sj-fno-la) on the half hour, and two locals ( all stops) on the :15 and :45 That would give the smaller towns two trains per hour. more than sufficient and would give san jose and fresno 3 trains per hour (each direction)

    And it makes for an easy to remember pattern.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s four an hour departing New York for points south and west during peak hours now. A fifth one heading north. On creaky old Amtrak that barely does better than driving speeds.

    wu ming Reply:

    taipei-kaohsiung is 4 TPH all day long, two local, two express.

  15. Al-Fakh Yugoudh
    Aug 11th, 2010 at 16:40

    Also OT but a couple of weeks ago I read an article on the Economist about HSR in America. I don’t know if you happened to read it, but if not you should, since the Economist is certainly more authoritative than most publications. It’s critical of plans of making the HSjTs share tracks with freight trains. It doesn’t apply so much to California, since the plan is to have a totally separate line, but it’s aimed more at some plans in other places to upgrade the existing rail lines and have them shared with high(er) speed passenger trains.

    Here it is:

    Spokker Reply:

    The trains already share tracks with freight trains at speeds up to 79 (90 in some places). How much higher do you have to go to make a severe impact?

    thatbruce Reply:

    Compared to the passenger fleet, the freight trains will have more rudimentary PTC, and much longer stopping distances from the same speed. This entails safeguards being built into the system, such as increased separation between trains as the speeds get higher, and a matching decrease in overall tph during the times that you have mixed traffic on the same tracks. Freight trains adjacent to unprotected fast tracks also pose a risk as speeds increase, as the possible results of an unplanned and undetected (in time) intrusion get more dramatic.

    You can pump a lot more trains through a given segment if they all have similar performance charateristics.

    Spokker Reply:

    By the way, are there any videos that illustrate these kinds of things in action or other general railroading concepts, especially as they relate to capacity?

  16. RubberToe
    Aug 12th, 2010 at 09:53

    Does anyone know when they are actually going to start digging? I’m sure this will be preceded by the pile driving to install the steel that will be used for the walls to hold back the earth. Sometimes they have the groundbreaking and then construction doesn’t actually start for some time. Unless I’m mistaken, one of the reasons for the 7 year construction time line is that the design for the TBT isn’t actually complete.


    StevieB Reply:

    Demolition first starting Aug. 14, 2010.

  17. Daniel Krause
    Aug 12th, 2010 at 20:55

    I have posted the following update at the end of this post:

    The Authority Staff memo regarding the FRA application for the SF – SJ Section mentioned the following (page 12 – see link to memo in post itself):

    “Electrification of the alignment, dimensioned for Caltrain and HST whereby 2 tracks only will be electrified in this phase.”

    This point has now been clarified by the Authority’s Dominic Spaethling in an e-mail to Elizabeth Alexis of CARRD. Apparently, electrification will cover all tracks between San Francisco to San Jose, including the four-track sections.

    This is additional good news. It essentially means electrification will be totally completed except for the two-track segment that will remain in Atherton, Menlo Park, and Palo Alto.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Call Bombardier and order up some ALP45s then…. or some reallly reallly long extension cords.

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