London School of Economics: HSR Delivers Economic Growth

Sep 17th, 2010 | Posted by

Note: Apologies for the extended downtime on the blog Thursday night. Our hosting company had a power outage that forced them to take their servers offline, affecting not just this blog, but numerous other transit blogs. We’re back up and everything should be running smoothly now.

This blog has consistently argued that high speed rail will provide badly-needed economic growth to California at a time when we desperately need it. Mired in the worst recession in 60 years, California is not in a position to turn down projects or infrastructure that will provide significant long-term economic growth and job creation prospects.

Several studies have already indicated California’s HSR project will create jobs, including the recent UCI Institute for Transportation Studies report, and the US Conference of Mayors report.

Now the London School of Economics is out with a new report showing that existing HSR lines produce demonstrable and meaningful increases in economic growth to the cities they serve:

Economists discovered that towns connected to a new high-speed line saw their GDP rise by at least 2.7 per cent compared to neighbours not on the route. Their study also found that increased market access through high-speed rail has a direct correlation with a rise in GDP – for each one per cent increase in market access, there is a 0.25 per cent rise in GDP.

The findings, from the London School of Economics and Political Science and the University of Hamburg, may be used to support arguments for high-speed networks which are already being planned in the UK, US and across the world. Until now, no one has demonstrated that high-speed rail brings clear economic gains along its routes….

Their research focused on the line between Cologne and Frankfurt, which opened in 2002 and runs trains at almost 185mph (300 kmh). The authors looked at the prosperity and growth of two towns with stations on the new line – Limburg and Montabaur – and compared them with more than 3,000 other municipalities in the surrounding regions.

The new line brought Limburg and Montabaur within a 40-minute journey of both Cologne and Frankfurt. Over a four-year period, the researchers found that both towns and the area immediately around them saw their economies grow by at least 2.7 per cent more than their unconnected neighbours.

This should be required reading for city council members in cities such as Redwood City, Palo Alto, Gilroy, and Bakersfield, where debates over how the tracks should be built threaten to overshadow the recognition of the significant economic benefits that HSR stations would bring to their cities and their economies. Gilroy, which faces an unemployment rate of 17%, and Bakersfield, facing a 16% unemployment rate, are two cities in particular that would massively benefit from the HSR stations being proposed for them.

In Gilroy’s case, this blog has repeatedly made the case about how Gilroy will benefit from HSR. By providing a fast and affordable method of travel, HSR will encourage companies to locate in Gilroy and will encourage workers with jobs in SF and San José to move to Gilroy, providing a massive boost to property values and creating significant numbers of jobs. Without an HSR station, however, Gilroy risks becoming a backwater, left behind by the 21st century economy and mired in high unemployment.

These arguments hold true for the other cities where a station is proposed, including the Peninsula cities. That’s one reason why such large majorities support the project there, in spite of the efforts of a small but vocal group of prosperous HSR critics to prevent that economic growth from coming to the Peninsula.

Once again, we see the stark economic terms in which the battle over building HSR is being fought. Those who oppose it are fighting to prevent anyone else from sharing in the economic security the critics enjoy. It is an inherently elitist position (even if not every critic is in the elite), one that ruthlessly ignores and denies the dire economic realities that are being experienced across the state, a position that aesthetic values are more important than jobs, that the role of local government is to protect property values instead of providing for broadly shared prosperity.

The LSE study deserves a wider audience – especially in the cities that will gain the most direct economic benefits from this transformative infrastructure project.

  1. Nadia
    Sep 17th, 2010 at 07:45

    OT: The Governor spoke to League of California Cities last night about HSR. This is the only report I’ve seen thus far:

    “Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger has invited himself to speak via telephone to a meeting on high-speed rail set up by Palo Alto tonight at the League of California Cities Conference in San Diego. ”

    It was apparently a very last minute thing…

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I hope Arnold cites this study in his remarks. Palo Alto elected officials are not only systematically ignoring their constituents, who still strongly support HSR, but they are now potentially undermining the city’s economic and jobs growth as well.

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    Not according to Ogilvy’s poll which found that only 21% of Californians consider HSR to be a priority. Oops. Question 7.

    This is a shocker, given the HSRA’s big hoopla press release claiming overwhelming support. If you combine the two messages, it’s saying that although lots of people “support” HSR, very few people consider it a priority.

    I think this gets to the heart of the debate: one side insists there’s support therefore let’s build it, and the other side says people aren’t that anxious to get it built. Support vs. priority. There is a difference. Is the HSR project one of the most important things facing California today? Not according to the HSRA/Ogilvy poll.

    You can bet the CHSRA is well aware of that conundrum – it’s probably what drove them to put together such a survey in the first place. And if by chance they don’t get this, their PR firm does.

    I’d like to see the raw data for the other poll; bet there are some good surprises in that one, too.

    tomh Reply:

    Robert said “strongly support” then you go on to mention a poll that talks about “priority.” There’s no oops here. Of course it’s not a high priority for most people, they have more immediate concerns. That said, the fact that more than 1/5 of Californians consider it to be a priority, in this economy, is a GOOD thing for HSR.

    Peter Reply:

    I guess “priority” will be the new NIMBY buzzword…

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    That’s right. Lump it in with transparency, ridership, audit, LAO report, “business plan”, accountability, CSS, subsidy, etc.

    It’s just another meaningless buzzword that’s worth shit. It’s like navigating a cow pasture full of pies. HSRA’s survey inadvertently added a pile of priority shit. If you step in it you have to scream NIMBY. It won’t go away, but if you say it loud enough and with great frequency you won’t notice the stench.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I imagine most Californians would prioritize at least one of the foreclosure crisis, the unemployment crisis, the health care crisis, the climate crisis, the totally-non-functional-state-legislature-due-to-the-2/3rds-rule crisis, or something else, above the high-speed rail. I’m impressed that 1/5 of Californians think HSR is up there as a “priority”.

  2. Eric M
    Sep 17th, 2010 at 09:03

    I like how the San Jose Mercury News and Palo Alto News always have articles about the doom and gloom of the HSR project, partially complaining about financing, but when two countries come out and say they will help finance the project, not a word from either of their paper. Bigots!!

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    They are quick to judge. However, I would like to see what they hear about the $25 billion it would cost to fully upgrade SR 99 to Interstate standards and expand it. So much for issues with financing. Before we know it, they will have a front page article “HSR will need State Subisides” citing the unreliable Reason Foundation report. Studies will then come out saying it will cover operating costs. They will try and oppose high-speed rail at every turn and the dominoes are beginning to fall.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Hsr will certainly deliver economic growth to Bechtel.

    No one, institution or country is going to bankroll the CHSRA without consideration of one kind or another. Not even Bill Gates. Absent taxpayer-funded loan guarantees the “investor” will demand leverage. It is the hackneyed Golden Rule of economics: he who has the gold makes the rules.

    One possibility would be insisting on input on the details of the project. Or their people on the board of directors. Or their companies doing the engineering or construction.

    The CHSRA is so offcourse sovereign interference might provide a much-needed shakeup. I expect the controversy to get really ugly. Neo-colonial sovereign funding is like being capitalized by la cosa nostra – there is always a favor to be asked later.

    jimsf Reply:

    Hsr will certainly deliver economic growth to Bechtel

    and bechtel employs 49,000 people. We should be thankful they are doing well.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Same could be said for PG&E. Lot to be said for having the right connections.

    jimsf Reply:

    I have several family members who had long careers at PGE which afforded them and their families a good middle class life for decades.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Neocolonial sovereign funding? It’s hella better than oil company colonialism. At least we get something useful which doesn’t kill us.

  3. G Ratener
    Sep 17th, 2010 at 10:38

    Since this article mentions Gilroy. Why is it assumed that “growth” is by nature a good thing? Expanding The Bay Area down to Gilroy will definitely result in economic growth, but the the purpose of HSR should be to emphasize current urban centers such as Oakland, San Jose, SF, etc…, not on trying to urbanize backwater towns such as gilroy, turning them into full fledged suburbs. Under the current proposal Oakland, a town badly in need of economic development will be missed entirely by HSR. has CHSRA considered placing the line eastbay up to Oakland then under the bay to San Francisco? this would serve all important cities within the bay area albeit with the added expense of a tunnel.

    EXCEAR Reply:

    Peninsula transit planners are short sighted and retarded enough to not understand the concept of “future system expansion”. The TransBay Terminal is not designed to support a tunnel beneath the Bay. If they did, the next expansion to CHSR would likely have been SF-Oakland-Concord-Sacramento.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Growth is precisely what the hsr as currently conceived is all about. The green angle was simply a hook to get Prop 1A passed.

    What is particularly galling is the pandering to the favored few. Thus Palmdale gets a free BART but Santa Clarita is aced out, all due to backroom dealing. Picking who’s big enough and who’s too small borders on the arbitrary and ultmately comes down the biases of the planners. If you are going to detour to Palmdale why not add a Tehachapi halt? And leaving out Sacramento? Tolmach’s opposition is justified and a healthy sign of public awareness. Did PB expect people who advocated the original and obvious Tejon plan to just roll over? Did they expect the burghers of PAMPA to welcome berms down the middle of their downtowns?

    Tony D. Reply:

    Growth is going to happen regardless of whether HSR is built or not. Tolmach’s opposition justified? He’s a damn lunatic representing a lunatic fringe, and that’s all! What part of majority rule don’t you get rat? Boy you must be miserable. Oh well.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sorry, but the majority has turned against this project.

    Besides there never was any majority behind the Palmdale caper. Just some crooked real estate developers, a couple notorious influence peddlers from the Bay Area and a certain firm best known for the big dig shenanigans. Some majority.

    And the only loonies around here are those who cling to the delusion that this scheme could ever turn a profit. Or that traipsing after the UP all over the state makes any sense in the 21st century. Pathetic. The UP will still be making money hand over fist when the State of California will be trying to find a buyer for this money pit at pennies on the dollar..

    YesonHSR Reply:

    No they have not..nimbys and the ones that voted no in the first place play all this BS up as if huge amounts of people have changed their mind..If it was not for the media spotlighting the whinners nobody would even care about all this nimby drama

    synonymouse Reply:

    1 “n” in whiner.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Sorry, but you’re lying again, syn. The polls show that the majority continues to support the project. And you’re completely nuts about Tejon, as everyone with the slightest grasp of engineering knows. Just as nuts as Tolmach is about Altamont.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Polls are so juiced as to be little more than propaganda. How come Schwarzie & Co. pulled the water bond prop even tho the “polls” showed it had majority support?

    Peter Reply:

    Tolmach is also nuts about Tejon, too, lest we forget.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Tolmach is also correct on Tejon. It’s hard to grasp why the foamers prefer second-rate and inherently dysfunctional over optimal. Even with Tejon the hsr is going to be borderline.

    Willie Brown is talking up the likelihood of a Whitman victory. He has been quite good at seeing political trends. Hopefully Whitman will see her way to a true “reset” of the hsr.

    I am holding my nose in voting(so far)for Whitman. Her exempting the cops and prison guards from pension reform is imho elitist and divisive in the typical Reaganite manner. Jerry could redeem himself if he started talking some trash about the hsr in the debates. But the Etheridge scandal brings up the issue of whether he has the basic competence to choose staff any more. Ron Dellums had to fire her because her performance was so poor.

    Peter Reply:

    How is Whitman more elitist than you, Mr. We-Should-Bypass-All-The-Cities-In-The-Central-Valley, not to mention Mr. We-Need-To-Reduce-The-World’s-Population-To-A-More-Reasonable-Size?

    synonymouse Reply:

    It certainly appears that Whitman is quite willing to take on the DMV workers, janitors, etc. but won’t touch the prison guards’ union or the Chippies. It is the cops who are getting the big bucks so if you want to cut the budget you can’t leave them out. But a lot of past governors have played that political game. It is a class thing.

    jimsf Reply:

    How is it exactly that reducing employment and lowering wages is good for the economy and how is it not elitist?

    Syn, What do you do that is so valuable to society?

    jimsf Reply:

    And what does “take on the dmv” mean? Take them on? For what? They are jsut people barely making a living wage doing a thankless administrative job that has to be done?

    Do propose we not register vehicles? That we not license people to drive? Not give tests? Not collect revenue? Not process violations? Not make state ID cards available? Not have rules and regs pertaining to the safe operation of cars, motorcycles, boats, and off road vehicles?

    You’re a nut.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I can’t figure where you are taking this line of reasoning. Both Whitman and Brown are stuck with the task of cutting the state government in order to come up with some sort of budget. Both of them have committed to this idea. In recent state expenditures have ballooned out of control. The welfare state is not sustainable.

    But naturally the cutting and outsourcing will be focused on the lower end. IMHO they should start with the UC chancellors and toadies. But the managerial class protects the managerial class.

    The rich and corporations have the resources to avoid taxation so the revenue burden falls on the rest. Ordinary citizens have to constantly dampen their urge to spend but for the pols of both parties they just can’t reign in the largess.

    jimsf Reply:

    The state employee salaries, for clerks/admin ast. and most other font employees falls between 2k – 4.5k per month, that translates to a take home pay of 300-600 a week. I know because it what I make. Consider rent and mortgages in california are well in excess of 800 a month and up even in the least expensive areas, and just what in hell do you expect us to do, outsource the work to people who live in north dakota?

    If you want to cut the budget, you have to go after the layers of overpaid bureaucracy. People making ridiculous amounts of money cushy jobs in places like the air resources board. 6-8k + Heres the list

    look it over and see that the vast majority of state jobs pay between 2 and 4k per month and most of those jobs are the ones that directly serve their customers, the people of california. I don’t need the line at the dmv to be any longer than it is. I want more customer service there not less. I also want high paid well trained fire and law enforcement on hand at all times. I also want a labor commission that is well staffed and able to return phone calls to people who have been ripped off by shady employers. I also want decent home health care for the elderly and disabled. I want my homes and food and restaurants properly inspected, my roads safe and in good repair, and I am more than happy to pay my taxes in california for these things. The vast majority of civil servants in cali are not living some high end glamourous life on the taxpayer dime. They live in moderate neighborhoods and drive shitty cars just like the rest of us who are trying to get by. if you want to cite anecdotal exceptions, then go after those exceptions. If you want to clean out redundancy then I’m all for it, but what I will not tolerate is scapegoating the poor working stiffs who have a thankless job, providing the basic services WHICH WE AS CALIFORNIANS have DEMANDED we have in place, while at the same time spending all day taking abuse from that public, ( yes scream at the dmv worker because you are too stupid to fill out your paper work the right way for instance). The only elitist here is you syn.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I pretty much agree with you on this. I worked for the government for 40 years.

    But they will still try to outsource the DMV and increase the compensation of the insider’s little boards and the UC sinecures.

    But raising taxes is not the panacea because the pols will throw away the money on gold-plated BART’s LA to Palmdale, etc. They blow it on way sub-optimal infrastructure, like BART to SFO and the Muni Central Subway, which we will be struggling to find the money to maintain in the future.

    jimsf Reply:

    Well for the record, as a taxpayer, I fully support the hsr, central subway, bart, and ttc, in their current forms/plans. Unlike others, I don’t have a personal vendetta against these things just because they didn’t go my way, nor do I use a list of extraneous irrelevant excuses to oppose these projects – in an attempt to cover up the fact that I don’t care about the people who will be served by them- just because I may not.

    Joey Reply:

    I take it you also don’t care that there might be a more effective, more useful, and less expensive way to serve those people?

    jimsf Reply:

    No not really. In each example I support the current plans. I think the hsr should serve all the valley cities as well as the high desert. I have always supported bart to san jose. We have all been waiting decades for that to finally get done. I support the ttc design because it went through a decade of planning and public input and my fellow san franciscans provided that input and now we move forward. The central subway is a key element in future muni expansion and the truth is that the the opposition to both the t line and central subway in this town purely racist. White people on the west side are pissed that the black folks and the chinese finally got a piece of the action in this town. That’s exactly what thats about and people make no bones about saying it, while making fun of those groups. I’m shocked at how openly disdain for them is displayed in sf. Further the CS, as I keep pointing out, is a link, underground through the most densely populated neighborhood west of the mississippi that will allow for future expansion.

    So again, no, I don’t care about the “more useful”etc straw man aspects. At all.

    jimsf Reply:

    Now if you’ll pardon me I need to go take BART, from out front of my building, down the millbrae/sfo extension line, to tanforan, where it stops right in front of Target, so I can by some crap to wear while I’m on vacation in palm springs next week. Oh sure I guess I could take the dreaded T line over to 4th and take caltrain down too, but today I’ll go with the horror of bart. I just hope I’m not too terribly inconvenienced.

    Joey Reply:

    And I take it that you also don’t care that these projects have systematically defunded smaller transportation projects, many of which would have provided huge transportation value at a small cost.

    Oh, and for the record, you know my stance on BART to San Jose, but I do support the Central Subway, at least in the long term. I just think there are a lot of higher priorities for SF (for instance, Geary and Van Ness, neither of which are going to see a penny until the Central Subway is done).

    jimsf Reply:

    Well I’m glad you support the CS. Its important to get that done. Once its out of the way it can be extended above ground to the north and west as far as the neighborhoods want it to go.

    As for Geary and Van Ness, I’d like to see the BRT started asap, but I can tell you that nothing happens quickly here in SF. We waited decades for everything else. Just keep waiting. Quite frankly if they wanted to speed up the 38 they could do it by simply putting the yellow posts a la the gg bridge and eliminate a land of auto traffic from 30th down to market. It will never though because people refuse to give up a lane of traffic. They are already throwing a fit in the Richmond over the eventual brt lane loss and construction. And since projects are conceived, planned, and approved on a local level, right down the neighborhood, with block by block, homeowner by homeowner, business owner by business owner, then thats the way it goes. For every person who doesn’t like it, there’s another person who does.

    jimsf Reply:

    per bart today. quick, timely, efficient as usual. zipped from civic to san bruno in no time at all. BUT a couple of criticisms for our friend mr bart train… first, Bartholomew, get rid of those disgusting gross, filthy cloth seats and carpets. I feel like I need a shower after riding. Second, can we please update the his and her “Tron” like voice announcements? I mean the his and her thing is fine for denoting the opposite directions but voice tech has come a long way. They don’t have to sound like early 80s robots. I mean the robot from lost in space had more personality. I propose a variety of voices for different announcements. …. uppity white woman from menlo park, sister from the hood, snappy gay hairdresser, Charo, and Richard Nixon. You know just to mix things up a little.

  4. ladyk
    Sep 17th, 2010 at 11:49

    Please do not use Limburg (population 33,000. 740 per sq km) and Montabaur (pop 12,000. 370 per sq km) as shining examples of why to do HSR. A 2.7% additional increase of GDP in two small towns is banal in the scheme of things, especially with regard to building cost. They are stark examples of what not to do when implementing HSR. Those two stops were built for purely political reasons, and now trains traveling 185 mph are forced to stop there throughout the day, and waste precious minutes and energy, all for some commuters in the morning. Montabaur and Limburg are one of the two major reasons why the Cologne-Frankfurt travel time can not be forced under 55 minutes.

    ladyk Reply:

    More background on Limburg&Montabaur and how to make high-speed trains “crawl”:,1518,699847,00.html

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Regardless of the minor stops on the Frankfurt-Köln NBS, that Spiegel article is nearly completely backwards. Multi-polar Germany has the advantage of a very rich and generally well-performing rail network; people who try to structure it otherwise (such as former, rapidly deposed, and not all missed former airline executives) are simply ignorant of or hostile to their customers.

    Fanboys (and construction industry shills) who can’t see beyond “faster = sexier” keep trying to sell this vision of high-speed non-stop non-connecting airline surrogate trains, based somehow on the notion that nobody lives or seeks to travel to any points between the largest conurbations. But that’s not the way the country is developed, and it’s not the way the rail network works, and it’s not the way the rail network keeps and gains riders.

    Strategic sections of higher speed track, good engineering to improve average speeds (which are what count, not top speeds: the upgraded 19th century classic line Berlin-Hamburg is the fastest trip in the country despite 230kmh top speed), and rich and reliable connections to other services are what work and what will continue to work: the imperial, extremely centralised capital-and-provinces development pattern of Paris-and-France or London-and-Britain (or even Madrid-and-Spain) is simply inapplicable to Germany.

    But that doesn’t stop people getting all excited about how long and fast and stop-free their last TGV/AVE/etc ride was, and having Powerful Businessman Fantasies about how wonderfull it would all be if they could made it from Hamburg to Frankfurt without having to make allowance for all those little people who got on and off along the way The grass is always greener and all that.

    ladyk Reply:

    As a German, I agree with you that the non strategy of building HS lines (that are not really fast) here and there to satisfy “political visions” and at the same time neglecting the ordinary network produces the worst of both worlds. A lot of money simply goes nowhere to produce very little results while at the same time cost-effective improvements are not sexy enough to get funded. Latest example “Stuttgart-Ulm”, a financial black hole if there ever was one. That project will definitively cripple the German rail investments for the next 15 years.

    bleh Reply:

    That’s all nice and well but it’s average speeds where DB sucks most. The TGV transports more people than all of DB Fernverkehr even though Germany’s higher population and polycentric structure should be *more* conductive to train travel, not less (because air traffic’s entirely point to point).

    There’s a difference between
    a) Not just connecting the largest population centers and ignoring everyone else and
    b) having a XX million Euro train capable of reaching 330km/h connect Montabaur with Goettingen.

    There’s also a difference between
    a) Not spending all your money on prestige projects like a Munich-Berlin or Frankfurt-Hamburg line and
    b) Building ridiculously expensive freight-capable HSR lines between such population centers as Hanover-Wuerzburg, Ingolstadt-Nuremberg-Erfurt and Stuttgart-Ulm

    if you’ve never heard of half those cities then don’t feel bad for being an ignorant American. They don’t fscking matter and if anything should have been bypassed by the HSR line with ICE (express, as in not stopping everywhere) trains connecting the population centers directly while IC trains do stop in those towns by taking legacy tracks from the HSR line to the city center.

    The problem is that Hamburg-Munich should take perhaps 3 hours by the standards of just about any other HSR system in existence, but it takes 6. So noone in his right mind takes the train for that route but only for small parts of it. This is then taken as prove that trains have to stop everywhere because that’s where the passengers want to go. It’s completely stupid. If you offered non-stop service you would get additional passenger so there would be just as many trains serving today’s stops even faster than they do today (because they could use the HSR line most of the time) but additional trains replacing airplanes and cars.

    But wait, wouldn’t that be ridiculously expensive? No, because you’d build HSR lines for, wait for it, high speed rail. Freight trains want lines as flat as a pancake but don’t care about curves, HSR hates curves but isn’t bothered too much by gradients. Trying to do flat and straight in a relatively mountainous country is completely, frikkin mad. And all it gets you is freight trains ruining the tracks.

    So why are the Germans so stupid?
    Well, this is where it gets interesting for California:
    1) Local interests. Ingolstadt is a global city with a population of almost 100000 people. It’s completely unacceptable that the HSR line bypasses the city, it would be disconnected from the German rail network (it’s utterly impossible for a train to switch from the HSR line to legacy tracks if you live in loonieland), an outrage, yadda yadda. So it’s on the line. It’s completely unacceptable that trains go through the “city center” at 200mph, so they do it at 80, takes just 5 minutes. It’s completely unacceptable that there are trains that don’t stop at Ingolstadt, they’re doing just 80 anyway, a stop would barely take 4 minutes. Repeat that for 20 other towns just like it and you go from 2 hours to 6.

    2. Nimbys. They’re just as bad as in the US. Hundreds of thousands of tree-huggers who want to save the planet and angrily demand that DB is strengthened and less aircraft etc etc. But they also fight every single attempt to improve the rail network tooth and nail.

    3. Money. You start with a very expensive project that’s potentially worth it. Then you start cutting corners in a way that saves 10% of the costs and cuts 90% of the value.

    Beware those 3 traps.

    Emma Reply:

    It also has something to do with the fact that the ICE is not always on time. While TGV and Shinkansen run on largely or completely separated grades, the ICE has to share. It’s especially horrible in in Northrhine Westphalia where the train can only run at 90mph. It’s ridiculous. I would take the regional train that would pass the ICE occasionally.

    “3. Money. You start with a very expensive project that’s potentially worth it. Then you start cutting corners in a way that saves 10% of the costs and cuts 90% of the value.”
    EXACTLY! That’s what I have been saying people in this blog who give in to giving up grade separation. This is how it begins. You give in only one time and the next moment the train only runs at 110mph.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Emma, you’ve got it exactly reversed: the TGV is routinely late when it uses legacy track, whereas the ICE isn’t. In Germany, you get a delay certificate every time the train is late by 10 minutes. In France, they don’t even refund you the money unless the train is late by an hour.

    bleh Reply:

    I don’t know what Germany you’re talking about but it’s certainly not any Germany I know.

    In Germany, EU, you get 25% of your money back if the train is more than an hour late if you’re one of the lucky few who snatched a delay certificate from the train chief before they ran out. If it’s more than two hours late, it’s 50%.

    This only applies:
    a) if the delay wasn’t due to force majeure or the acts of a third party, which conveniently excludes weather and suicides (I’m not certain a court would uphold that crap, so good luck)
    b) you didn’t use any of the special offers that make train tickets just twice as expensive as flying instead of 5 times.

    Perhaps you’re thinking of Japan or Switzerland.

    Again, DB Fernverkehr has a bit more than 100 million passengers a year, the TGV has more than 180. There’s a reason for that.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Okay, to be fair, the 31-minute lateness I had to deal with was on iDTGV. They said specifically there was zero refund for under one hour lateness. The regular TGV I took back was only 27 minutes late, which would have allowed me to just connect to the regional train I needed (the regional trains run every half an hour between Nice and Monaco, and are timed to just miss the TGV in both directions), if the regional train hadn’t also been late.

    And yes, I know SNCF has more intercity ridership than DB (but the domestic TGV gets 100 million passengers a year, not 180 – perhaps you’re also including the Grande Lignes and Eurostar and Thalys). That comes from segments that are mainly on LGVs. When I took the TGV between Nice and Paris, it was empty at the eastern end, roughly east of Toulon.

    Peter Reply:

    Why is it that the ICE takes 4 hours from Berlin to Frankfurt? It’s only slightly over 500 km. Driving only takes about 5 hours. I’m surprised anyone rides that stretch at all…

    Matthew Reply:

    It takes 3h 29m by ICE Sprinter, or 5h 6m driving. It’s much more comfortable to take the train, and is faster than flying or driving. You’re surprised, but the trains are very often full. I think that DB has a strong focus on the network as a whole, not just on breaking speed records. I find it kind of funny that a group of people who live in a country with rail service as anemic and unreliable as it is would sit and snipe at the German train network. The point is, in the 4 years I lived there, it was easy and inexpensive to get just about everywhere I needed to go by train without having to own or rent a car. I’ve never had that sense of mobility anywhere else I’ve lived, and the comfort and convenience of not having to drive is fantastic. And to answer bleh, Hannover has a metro population of over 1 million people and is the site of a very popular convention center; Stuttgart is a major manufacturing center with a metro area of 5.3 million people, it is headquarters to several major manufacturing companies including Mercedes-Benz and Porsche, as well as auto component suppliers such as Bosch; Nuernberg has a metro area of over 1 million people, it is a major manufacturing center, and is home to major companies, such as Siemens. The other cities you mentioned have populations generally around a couple hundred thousand, and are well spaced for a stop on the line. They typically serve not only the city itself, but the surrounding areas, and passengers transferring from numerous local feeder lines.

    Peter Reply:

    But there are only two ICE Sprinter daily each way between Berlin and Frankfurt. Otherwise it’s four hours. I still think they need to upgrade that segment.

    I’m not trashing the German network, and I understand some of the roadblocks (still trying to make up for decades of Soviet-style infrastructure, and yes, NIMBYs, lots and lots of NIMBYs).

    I’m not surprised the trains are often full. I remember seeing T-10er on their way home on weekends on the ICE, sitting on their packs because it was standing-room only. I lived in Berlin for 13 years beginning in ’88, and didn’t learn to drive until I moved to CA. My mother still doesn’t drive over there.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    But there are only two ICE Sprinter daily each way between Berlin and Frankfurt.

    Every wonder why? DB Fernverkehr is in the business of not losing money (or trying to make Hartmut Mehdorn look good, something like that.)

    If there were immense demand for these pure airline-surrogate, point-to-point trains I’m pretty sure that they would be run. The fact that only a pair of these supplemental peak ICE-Sprinters run (and they’re well-used; I’ve ended up standing on them) is a hint that the cost/benefit trade-off of two point end to end speed versus networked transportation connectivity takes a dive nearby that makes them a marginal economic proposition. (The commercial failure of the Metropolitan also provides a hint that Important Businessmen are much keener on demanding limited-stop trains dedicated to themselves than thay are on personally paying for them.)

    Instead what we see are two trains per hour, every hour, that make the trip half an hour slower, take slightly longer routes (not avoiding Hannover or Hildesheim) and serving the not insignificant intermediate cities and providing scores of connecting services at Kassel, Göttingen, Hannover (2 stations), Hildesheim, Braunschweig and Wolfsburg.

    Engineering and economics and are all about trade-offs.
    I don’t think DB’s service network trade-off is a terrible one. It’s far from perfect, but it’s at least 100 years ahead of CHSR.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    That’s all nice and well but it’s average speeds where DB sucks most. The TGV transports more people than all of DB Fernverkehr even though Germany’s higher population and polycentric structure should be *more* conductive to train travel, not less (because air traffic’s entirely point to point).

    Meanwhile, rail in France is pretty much a fiasco aside from the to-from-or-via-Paris TGV routes.

    The RERs (outside Ile-de-France) are only starting to recover to the extent that they simply copy the Dutch/Swiss/German integrated clockface-driven timetable model, freight is a total, unmitigated catastrophe, one that only shows tiny glimmers of hope where the evil Teutons have invaded and taken over, and most of the non-TGV grandes lignes are an inconvenient, unreliable, impenetrably ad hoc embarrassment (though perhaps there is hope.)

    Be careful what you wish for.

    I’ve had a great time riding long distance high average speed TGVs all over the place for touristic and train fan reasons, but I would never mistake non-Parisian France for a land with a useful non-highway transportation system.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Outside Ile-de-France they’re not even called RERs – they’re called TERs. And yes, they sometimes run on a takt, and it’s nice. It would be even nicer if there weren’t inexplicable gaps in the takt, in which for one hour the train runs just hourly, and if the TGVs and TERs were timed to meet each other instead of miss each other.

    Also, your last link doesn’t work.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The link I was trying for was “Rhine-Rhone HSL sparks 2012 timetable revolution in France. Further horaire cadencé intégral infestation, hooray.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Ah, yes, that article. I have the same response to it that I posted in my above comment.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I don’t see how it compares. By that standard we’d be talking about putting in a stop at Wasco and Tehachapi. But we’re not.

    Of the cities I listed, only Gilroy is a town similar to Limburg or Montabaur. But Gilroy gets a stop because it is a major connecting point for about 700,000 people (the population of Monterey, Santa Cruz, and San Benito Counties, as well as the south Santa Clara County region). The other places I mentioned – mid-Peninsula and Bakersfield – are major population and employment centers whose need for a station is beyond doubt. And none of these stations slow down the California system to an unacceptable speed – instead they bring in paying customers whose fares are needed to keep the system solvent.

    The study is useful in showing that HSR is indeed a big economic boost to the cities that get a station, even the small ones. Whether those two German cities deserved the station is not only irrelevant to that study, it’s also an irrelevant comparison to the CA HSR project.

    ladyk Reply:

    No comparison to Gilroy intended – it may well deserve a station. Just saying that the study itself is flawed. Sure, if you connect the last hinterlands (Montabaur&Limburg) to HSR it will have a positive effect on those towns, which is a rather trivial study result. But that’s not the point of HSR. The point is high average travel speed and high capacity between major nodes, i.e. a real quantum leap for mobility. I’d much rather like to see a study quantifying the economic benefits for cities with lots of passengers and the country/state as a whole.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The point of HSR is not to connect two dots on a map, but to provide fast intercity rail service for individuals. That means you balance stops and speed, direct lines and the need to hit population centers.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The point is changing accessibility, which is more complicated than it looks on the surface.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Actually, the Frankfurt-Koln high-speed line is notorious, at least among German planners, for gerrymandered route, largely missing all the intermediate population centers. For that reason, it is interesting to compare this line against Gilroy, although not for reasons that someone like Robert would like.

    I’ll copy below what Hajo had to say about it:

    The state of Hessen required a high-speed branch to Wiesbaden, the state capitol. “Required” does not mean, that they were willing to bring the money, but that they could block the planning process. This branch is now … “underutilized” puts it mildly. The state of Hessen further required an ICE stop in Limburg, which is a town of 18000. Full-blown station with separated station tracks. Then there was the state of Rheinland-Pfalz, which required an ICE stop at the town of Montabaur, 12000 people. Full-blown station with separated station tracks … Then there was the state of Nordrhein-Westfalen, where the cities of Cologne and Bonn are sitting on an underutilized big airport. Requirement: Build a track loop from the high-speed line to the airport, with an ICE station under the airport.

    This project was supposed to attract more passengers to that underutilized airport. Again, the region was in a nice blackmailing position, to force building their airport loop at a cost of > half a
    billion, which was an airport subsidy, but accounted for as part of the high-speed rail project. In reality, no ICE train passes through this loop until today, because that airport does not generate enough passengers. One ICE line ends at that station, because the short hop to the airport can be done during the turnaround time at Cologne, making local politicians happy at low cost to the railroad. A further cost-riser was routing along the motorway. Doing so was supposed to put
    noise to a location, which was already noisy anyway, plus where habitat etc. pp. was interrupted anyway as well, so this routing was seen as the least harmful to other interests.

    You can easily see, that the Spaniards, who do not saddle their projects with such a lot of issues, build their lines at 1/3 the cost.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Do you have a link to where Hajo said it? When I Google select phrases from the quoted part, I get nothing.

    jimsf Reply:

    the point of hsr is not to get people from la to sf. its to make the regions of the state more connected. It should help correct the jobs/growth imbalance as well and help put the metro areas on a more level playing field and create a more versatile live/work environment across the regions.

    G Ratener Reply:

    The stations “in each town” are actually in the countryside outside the towns in both cases. this means the stations serve groups of towns, so only looking at the populations of the towns of Limburg and Montabaur alone is misleading. Anyhow, from a livability perspective putting HSR in between towns is disastrous.

    Missiondweller Reply:

    2.7% additional growth is “banal”?

    Try compounding that year after year for 20 years.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    From my reading of the paper, the 2.7% is a one time change in level, not permanent change in growth rates.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    even a one time 2.7 % increase compounded over decades makes a significant difference.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    You might say that an extra 2.7%each year adds up. Compounding is not really an issue.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Put $100 in a savings account for 40 years or put $102.70 in a savings account for 40 years. I’ll take the passbook that started with $102.70 thanks.

    John Burrows Reply:

    2.7% additional growth over a 4 year period. What happens after 4 years? Does the growth accelerate? Does it continue at the same rate? Does it taper off? Does it stop? Too bad we don’t know the answer.

    The line was completed in 2002. What’s going to happen in these towns over the next 4 year period?

  5. Alon Levy
    Sep 17th, 2010 at 12:47

    The smallness of the towns studied makes the study questionable when it comes to larger cities like Bakersfield and Fresno. If HSR concentrates economic activity near stations, then it’s natural that very small cities near stations should benefit; however, it’s unclear about whether larger metro regions do.

    In other words, the evidence so far is consistent with at least three different explanations:

    1. HSR promotes more economic activity across the board.

    2. HSR benefits metro regions connected at the expense of regions less connected, without a net benefit to the country.

    3. Within each region connected by HSR, the station area benefits at the expense of the hinterland, without a net benefit to the region.

    Due to excessively small n, 1 vs. 2 is underdetermined. But 1-2 vs. 3 can be resolved by looking at HSR’s effect on midsize cities on the way. In Korea there are Daegu and Daejeon, on which the KTX’s effect has been mixed. In Japan there could be a comparison of Shinkansen-connected Niigata, Sendai, Shizuoka, Hamamatsu, Okayama, and Hiroshima; disconnected Sapporo; and barely-connected Kumamoto, Kagoshima, and Fukuoka. My admittedly superficial understanding of Japanese economic geography is that such a comparison would tend toward 3.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    I skimmed the study. It basically supports #3.

    “Results presented in Table A2 in the appendix reveal that relative to the rest of West-Germany our study area underperformed throughout our observation period along a more or less linear trend. This finding holds for population, GDP, GDP per capita and employment and indicates that the transport innovations, if at all, had a rather localized economic impact and did not shift the level of economic wealth for the study area as a whole.”

    Elizabeth Reply:

    It also looked at the role of construction and construction spending on the local economies. They couldn’t find any relationship.

    This goes back to our emphasis on thinking about accessibility. Changes in accessibility are the main benefit of a project like this and planning should be focused on it.

    mike Reply:

    Actually it doesn’t support #3. The key text is: “…relative to the rest of West-Germany our study area underperformed throughout our observation period along a more or less *linear* trend.” (emphasis added)

    If there were negative treatment effects of the HSR stations on neighboring areas, then you’d expect the underperformance to be highly nonlinear. Specifically, it would kick in strongly post-2002 (when the stations opened).

    In fact you observe the opposite. The trend is quite linear (Table A2), and 70% of the total underperformance has already accrued by 2002.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The linear underperformance is exactly why #3 is supported.

    If the region was underperforming for unrelated reasons, you should still see a change in slope at the time the high speed rail line came into being if HSR was lifting the entire regions fortunes, rather than just shifting them around.

    This is consistent with a lot of the Japanese research.

    I think it is possible that it could have a net positive in certain areas, but those require special circumstances. In general, it just shifts. In fact, I would expect San Francisco to benefit at San Jose’s expense, even though both will get stations. SF is part of more general planning efforts that have been underway for a long time and the station location in SJ is constrained by many factors.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Do you have any references to the Japanese research? I only know of Korean research, and I’d be interested to read what Japan has experienced.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    A really good lit review is in this paper: with most of the major references.

    A more recent interesting paper is here:

    Brian Stanke of CA4HSR has posted his master thesis which also has an extensive lit review:

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Thanks for the links – they’re really interesting.

    But it seems that the lit review on Japan doesn’t really support 3. Some studies support 1-2, some support 3. Nakamura and Ueda seem to support 2 a little more than 3, and the other studies tend to argue for 2-3 and against 1.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    I think it is fair to say that people looking from some miracle effect on the national economy from HSR are having a real hard finding it.

    This is not surprising as a passenger train moves people but not goods, unlike roads and freight lines. For goods, changes in physical accessibility is truly transformative.

    For the knowledge based economy, something like the Internet is going to have a much more transformative effect on accessibility. You may see changes in firm location within a region, but in California, the knowledge based economies are quite clustered already.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    I’d also add that 2 and 3 are a little hard to distinguish sometimes because it depends on how you define a region.

    David Levinson’s article would suggest that getting 2 or 3 depends on the configuration of a network. Make something that looks like a network, you get 2. Do a linear route and you get 3

    Alon Levy Reply:

    To me, a region would be a metro area, or maybe a coherent rural region. In California, you’d want to compare Bakersfield, Fresno, and Merced with Hanford/Visalia, Modesto, Stockton, Chico, and Redding, moving Modesto to Stockton after phase two opens. The predictions of 2 and 3 on those regions should be specific enough to be falsifiable.

    While I don’t think 1 will happen, I don’t think it’s inherently stupid. While the knowledge-based economy is clustered around NorCal, it has a large service market in SoCal. Easy intercity transportation could also make it easier for firms in each region to recruit from the other region, increasing the labor market pool. (However, this really boils down to transportation value, which means that any such benefit will be reflected in ridership, and does not need to be justified further.)

    I don’t see a linear versus polycentric distinction in Levinson. Levinson talks about how HSR reinforces existing patterns of settlement, which by themselves can be linear or polycentric. California is already more or less linear, like Japan and Taiwan (and yes, I recognize that SF-Sac is a big exception and that it makes Altamont much better than Pacheco). France and South Korea are hub-and-spoke; Switzerland and Germany are polycentric.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    “moving Modesto and Stockton to the with-HSR category.” Oh wlel. Tpyos nad missnig hprases are easy to msis.

    mike Reply:

    “If the region was underperforming for unrelated reasons, you should still see a change in slope at the time the high speed rail line came into being if HSR was lifting the entire regions fortunes, rather than just shifting them around.”

    Ah, I see what you’re saying – they failed to include interactions with the actual treatment indicator in their appendix table, so the reported coefficients are for the entire study area, not for the study area excluding the treated counties.

    Given this specification, however, the test has no power. The study area appears to include 115 counties, only 3 of which are actually treated in their model. The HSR effect in those 3 counties would have to be implausibly large to detectably raise the 115 county average (which is what you’re looking at in Table A2), regardless of whether the 3 treated counties are generating new GDP or drawing it from surrounding counties.

    The specification you actually want to run to test Alon’s hypothesis #3 would be to compare changes in the three treated counties with changes in the local surrounding counties (which are the most likely ones to lose business to the treated counties). Unfortunately, the choice of where the treatment area ends is necessarily subjective, so it would be hard to convince people that your result was credible.

    bleh Reply:

    In Japan it’s

    4. The country as a whole profits, as do cities along the line, but:
    Those cities become more dependent on Tokyo, Osaka, Kitakyushu and to a lesser degree Hiroshima, Kyoto and Nagoya. There’s a difference between a city at the top of the local food chain even if the pond is small and a city that’s some kind of major exurb of Tokyo even if it is richer and bigger. Look at Yokohama, really large, definitely not poor but nevertheless very focused on Tokyo.

    Sendai’s not all that close to Tokyo and the kind of city you’d expect to be the region’s center of gravity, its metropolis, even if it’s a small one. But with the Shinkansen there’s always Tokyo looming in the distance. Sendai’s got a million people but it kinda feels smaller.

    If you’re happy with your current situation HSR might not be without downsides. OTOH if you’re down you take what you can get which is why in Aomori there where Shinkansen 2010 posters plastered everywhere and 3 little Shinkansen 2010 flags fluttering at every lamppost.

    bleh Reply:

    Kitakyushu should have been Fukuoka-Kitakyushu, sorry.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The issue is, Sapporo is literally at the top of the local food chain, even though the island is small. It has negative population growth, but so do all parts of Japan other than Tokyo, Nagoya, and Okinawa. Is it really doing worse than Sendai and Niigata on economic metrics like employment and per capita income?

    The Shinkansen has definitely helped make Japan more Tokyo-centric. And it’s definitely had tremendous transportation value, as can be seen by the balance sheets of the JRs, as well as symbolic value. I’m just skeptical that it’s had additional economic value.

    bleh Reply:

    That’s the thing. Sapporo is at the top of the local food chain and due to lots of tourism local food chain is pretty filling. So Sapporo doesn’t need the Shinkansen.

    Compare Sendai with Aomori. Both lost a lot of their traditional industries and Tohoku’s economy as a whole is pretty depressing. But Sendai is a lot better off than Aomori because it’s close to Tokyo in travel time terms. There’s always places that are better off than others and especially in economically difficult times you often have one or two shining beacons and the rest is in the dumpster. HSR can be a “virtual extension” of a city. It makes no difference if you commute 1h from the outskirts into the center or 1h and 200 miles from a different city, so HSR can extend the prosperous regions and because economics isn’t a zero-sum game in most cases, it makes everyone better off (it doesn’t work perfectly because that commute from the outskirts is gonna be a lot cheaper unless you deliberately take the hit to HSR’s profitability to help the whole country like the French do)

    It won’t turn California into HappyHappyLand but unless you know anything that does and only costs $40b building it is still a good idea. =)

    Let’s say for the sake of argument that overall HSR is a tremendously good investment with $10b in profits (both of the HSR line itself and the state economy as a whole) annually. Compared to California’s overall economy that’s still not much and would be pretty hard to quantify. That’s the general problem with infrastructure projects. Everyone agrees that their value lies in the indirect benefits to the economy as a whole but they’re just so hard to measure.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’ll grant you that Sendai is doing better than Aomori. But is Morioka? Did Hachinohe start overperforming Aomori in 2002?

    On another note, “take the hit to HSR’s profitability to help the whole country” is a perfect description of the Joetsu Shinkansen.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I don’t think Bakersfield fears becoming more dependent on LA; they’re already very, very dependent on LA. :-P

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    I’ve read several studies published in France about the TGV’s economic impact. They concern cities bigger than those on the LSE’s study.
    For some of them, the impact has been zero and for others, spectacular. The example often cited is Lille, a city in the North of France which had become a backwater after its textile industry had fled to China. The city council decided that being on the TGV map was a unique opportunity to change Lille’s image (the place no-one wants to go to). The mayor managed to get all the city’s lifeblood to work together: chamber of commerce, developpers, transit operators, shopkeepers, cultural associations. When the TGV station was opened, the city was ready. Today, in Lille’s streets, you can hear all languages and many English people have made it their home.
    Other mayors limited their efforts to lobbying to have a station, and then waited for the TGV miracle to operate. They are still waiting.
    HSR doesn’t create anything. It enhances what already exists. If you have a city nobody wants to go to, being able to go there faster will change nothing.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    You have contradicted yourself in this. If it changes nothing, why have English speakers made it their home? You can claim it hasn’t economically changed but these are all claims, what factual evidence is there that nothing economically has changed?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    English speakers have made the Riviera their home, too. Lille itself may look nicer than it used to, but Nord-Pas de Calais is still the French answer to Cleveland and Detroit.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Being a mediterranean, I wouldn’t choose to live in Lille. Yet I must say that, for a northern city, it feels unusually warm and welcoming. The rust-belt atmosphere has completely disappeared and there are chic boutiques and restaurants everywhere.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    There is no contradiction. Maybe I wasn’t clear enough. I just contrasted two attitudes.
    – Lille, formerly “the city no-one wants to go to”, managed to mobilize everybody, especially business people, on a project to give the city a new look and make it foreigner-friendly. The city had become attractive and HSR made it easily accessible. The two ingredients of success were there.
    – Other cities (Tours, for instance) relied on the “TGV dynamics” to boost business. The impact was very limited. HSR had made them accessible, but they had made no effort to make themselves attractive. One ingredient was missing.

    jimsf Reply:

    I always heard that Marseille was the city no one wanted to go to, till they fixed it up and made it attractive….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, Marseille is the new city that nobody wants to go to. My mom is afraid of it.

    jimsf Reply:

    hmmm then samantha brown lied to me. She did a segment on it that made it sound quite wonderful.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    I lived in Marseille 14 years and was perfectly happy there but I must say the city has a very bad (undeserved) reputation in France. This dates to the time when it was “the French Chicago”, with powerful gangster families running everything. It’s a very cosmopolitan city with people of French ancestry a minority.
    If you go to Marseille, nothing will happen to you unless your car has a Paris number plate.

    jimsf Reply:

    Thats how I understood it to be, very international, with influences from all sides of the mediterranean.

  6. Nadia
    Sep 17th, 2010 at 14:06

    More news coverage of Arnie’s crashing of the HSR meeting:

    It is great to hear that the Governor has made a public commitment to opening up a dialogue between his administration and the cities about what is happening on a local level with this project. His interest in attending this meeting validates the fact that local concerns must be addressed in order to make this project successful.

    Spokker Reply:

    Will locals with concerns turn on him when they don’t see their desired outcome?

    No matter what any governor says, tunnels and trenches through suburbia won’t happen. That also means HSR won’t happen, but that’s sort of the point.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    It would be nice if local elected officials would also show an interest in addressing the concerns of their constituents who support HSR, who are currently being systematically ignored by these councils.

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    Just posted on this. A minority of the supporters consider HSR a priority – according to their survey. I did not know that.

    It looks like elected officials are doing their job after all.

    Peter Reply:

    That’s interesting. The question is, why do they not consider it a priority? Is it because of the economy, or is it maybe because it still does not appear to be “real” yet. Service is a decade away, after all. This could contribute to it being way too vague a concept in people’s heads…

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    The survey said it was because of the negative effect on the state budget and the amount of taxes they’ll have to pay. Those are very real and plausible concerns.

    Peter Reply:

    But they’re the same concerns that would be applicable if HSR is not built. Instead, we’d be ploughing even more money into freeways and airports.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Those are actually joke concerns, but people don’t realize it. General population understanding of the drivers of the state budget, and for that matter the federal budget, is nil.

    Californians who are worried about the state budget and about taxes need to look at the prisons budget. Period.

    After that? The highways budget is a candidate for serious attention.

    Also the discriminatory effects of Prop 13 which mainly benefit corporations; also the level of oil & gas severance taxes…. oh, I could go on and on.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    So? One can strongly support something and not consider it their highest priority. Doesn’t mean it should be stopped outright, as a few extremists propose.

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    Also indicates that it shouldn’t be rammed through. 21% is a strong message. Are you willing to hear it?

    Peter Reply:

    It’s not being “rammed through”. The environmental review has been ongoing for years, and won’t be completed for another year, at least. It’s not the Authority’s fault that people weren’t paying attention.

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    Gotcha. Fingers in ears.

    jimsf Reply:

    How is being “rammed though” when it was proposed decades ago, studied to death, gone through the environmental process, the outreach, and put and apporved by a statewide vote? Just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean its been “rammed through.” get over it.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    This is just another one of their stall tactics and smokescreens these towns use for everything they don’t want to happen their famous for it Menlo Park and PA of course it’s being “rammed through”because it did not come out the way they want… which is a goldplated Expo tunnel notice
    open trenchs are no longer acceptable.. these whiners are well known in the Bay Area they will never ever be accommodated so just keep moving forward and let them scream

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s not fingers in ears. I personally support HSR. I also think that it’s about priority #10. They just didn’t have ballot props for a second stimulus, universal public health care, pulling out of Afghanistan, and other issues of higher importance.

    Caelestor Reply:

    I think it’s important to tackle anything that’s a priority. I believe there really needs to be a higher emphasis on education myself.

    Spokker Reply:

    I don’t consider HSR a top priority. Clearly, local transit is more important, but intercity transport is important too. Since my region is generally investing in local transit (Measure R), I’ll support HSR as the second priority.

    Peter Reply:

    I agree. HSR is not the highest priority, but it’s an important long-term priority. Given how long the construction takes (and not just for HSR!!) though, it’s important we start soon, otherwise it won’t be ready when we need it the most.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Hell, even *my* top priority isn’t HSR.

    This whole “priority” discussion is silly. NIMBYs like Arthur Dent are desperate to find anything to cling to in order to avoid accepting the truth, that the Peninsula wants HSR.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    I think it is a top priority not only for huge jobs program .Its starts the very first steps in pulling back American culture from all the damage of the 1950s interstate roadway projects . That’s why the Reason foundation and Cato fight it so hard for their oil bosses.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Let’s go through this again. NOT a California jobs program. It creates some short term jobs for very specific construction workers but costs an equal number of teacher jobs. The LSE study results also reinforce this. They saw NOTHING in the local economies during the construction phase.

    This is a transportation program. It is about alternative forms of transportation.

    jimsf Reply:

    not a jobs program per se, but common sense says of course it will stimulate nearby economies. And to say that it only creates constructions jobs is not accurate. Its not as if 50 guys and a bulldozer show up and build and 800 mile rail system on their own. There are design jobs, engineering jobs, administrative support jobs, on down to lunch truck jobs, and the fact that the construction job guys can keep paying their mortgages and take their kids to Disneyland and keep summer youth jobs going, it all adds up. You can’t drop and spread 40 billion into local economies and not have it affect those economies.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    First, have you seen the compensation levels for these engineers? It may provide more flexibility, but the complete outsourcing of the engineering is not cheap. Lots of money – not a lot of jobs.

    Second, many of the people working on this don’t actually live near the project. How many of the AECOM engineers working on the Fresno to Merced section live there and wouldn’t be working on something else?

    This is not a jobs program. This is not a jobs program. This is not a jobs program.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Just for kicks I googled the first two people mentioned in the project meeting writeup for Fresno – Merced. According to linked in, one works in Seattle and one works in Ohio.

    I can assume you that when you do the math with California matching money and the relative billing rates of these types of people vs people in the local school districts, it is a net loss of jobs.

    NOT a California jobs program.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    My you love to spin things!! SO all these people working on this project wont be paid or spend a dime and this huge project will be built with no new hires ? Every time I go down to Stanford on the CalTrain and I get off in Palo Alto …guess what I spend money in Palo Alto going to restaurants and shopping etc. ect.. you’re probably one of the people that says having a high-speed rail station in Palo Alto will be no benefit to the city.. maybe all you people should ask Stanford University what they think?

    Elizabeth Reply:


    Right now we are discussing the 600,000 jobs claim the HSRA is making for California jobs because of construction.

    There is a separate and actually more challenging conversation about the long run benefits of increasing mobility – this is the one the LSE study covered.

    The CHSRA ridership study had a problem and more or less showed almost no trips taking place that wouldn’t have taken place even if HSR didn’t exist. In this case, people would still be eating in Palo ALto, they just would have driven or taken Caltrain.

    This seems a little pessimistic but the evidence from around the world mostly shows a shifting of fortunes, not a change in fortunes.

    I think the answer is that the long term consequences depend a lot on the circumstances and a lot on the execution. No one should be relying on this to fuel future growth however. Long term growth, especially for places like the Central Valley, is tough and will require a lot of work, particularly in terms of dramatically increasing the education levels. In some CV towns, once you fill the government, school and medical jobs, there is almost no one left with a BA. If you want HSR to matter, this has to change and has to start changing now. The clear lesson from around the world is that the changes in a town need to preceed HSR, HSR doesn’t just make things happen.

    We all want silver bullets, but that is a really dangerous way of thinking.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    And here’s some other information read it on MSN .. jobs that are in shortage and in demand number one is number one skilled trades i.e. Eectricians ,Plumbers ,Welders.. etc. I think that qualifies as a big plus for our high-speed rail project …Number 2 ..transportation workers. The teaching profession is down at the number four place.. and yes high speed rail will change things for the better and will produce a huge benefit this is not building warp drive engines this is common sense and is used all over the world..

    jimsf Reply:

    here in sf the construction trades are begging for work, just one high rise projects keep them all busy for a while, hsr is certainly larget than a high rise. YOu can’t spend 40 billion dollars, especially on a transportation project, and have it affect the economy. Its common sense. No university studies or any other kind needed. Anyone with common sense and ears and eyes knows how it works. NO its not jobs program per say, but it is going to be good for the economy both while under construction and in the long term. EVen it it only created 100k jobs, those 100k people would be pretty grateful.

    peninsula Reply:

    Robert keeps asserting that they are ignoring the will of their constituents – as measured by what? CHSRA’s aggressively slanted PR campaign? Their survey of six peninsula residents, 50% of whom strongly support HSR? The results of the Nov 2008 election where all elements of HSR presented to voters turn out to be total lies? Any chance that these local communities actually have sources of feedback and input from their constituents other than Roberts tainted blog world?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The poll done for a candidate in the 21st Assembly district (and not by the CHSRA) shows that large majorities still support this HSR project, even after over a year of hearing all the criticism against it.

    I know the HSR critics want to pretend this poll doesn’t exist, and want to pretend their neighbors agree with them about HSR, but they don’t. The mid-Peninsula wants HSR. It’s a fact. Deal with it.

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    Do you have a link to the data? I’ve been conditioned not to trust any “messaging” without seeing the unadulterated data.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    That link is all that’s publicly available. Even if you were handed the full poll, I strongly doubt it would change your opinion. Facts don’t really matter to you.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    lies and tainted?? sounds like all the BS coming out PA and MenloPark!!

  7. Spokker
    Sep 18th, 2010 at 03:50

    Here’s some assholes riding the bullet train in Japan:

    But look how close the train operates near homes. I wonder what the noise is like.
    Property values? You’d think those homes would be condemned the way some people carry on.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    These homes also appear to be recently built so they obviously knew what they were getting into The same as our dear friends in the peninsula that moved next to 140-year-old railroad.. this BS about death and instruction unlivable neighborhoods in the divided cities is nonsense smokescreen nonsense.
    Its this arrogant American suburban lifestyle thats causing much of this Nimbish attidue nationwide

  8. jimsf
    Sep 18th, 2010 at 07:44

    Speaking of economic development… yesterday I received the “launch copy” of Railway Terminal World magazine. ( they got a magazine for everything nowadays) I don’t know why I got it, I didn’t order it, it just showed up. Anyway, the main article featured a drawing of ARTIC and the gist of the article was that, and this for all the TTC naysayers who have critical of the “mall” elements of the design, is that worldwide, rail terminals are focusing on not only begin multimodal, but on their retail, dining, full service destination aspects. This will be the way new stations are designed, as neighborhood destinations, not just transportation hubs. So it appears that TTC with its park, and shopping and dining and services and plazas etc is right on track.

    one of the most conspicuous differences between existing stations and those of 2025 will be the abundance of retail options

    and this will mean looking beyond the standard sandwich bar and offering up dry cleaning outlets, shoe repair, business centres, conference rooms, health clubs, cinemas, medical centres, banks, and child care

    cool. That’s exactly how I always pictured the new ttc. I knew they had it right.

    Joey Reply:

    Retail and restaurants are fine, as long as some minimal amount of attention is paid to the design of the actual platforms themselves.

    jimsf Reply:

    most platforms I’ve seen a long rectangular slabs of concrete. That seems to work.

    Joey Reply:

    Yes, rectangular slabs of concrete enclosed in a basement with low ceilings, poor access, and no natural lighting. Have you considered that this will be many peoples’ first AND last impressions of San Francisco?

    jimsf Reply:

    Again, like every other train platform. like every bart station, every muni station, and every other underground train station Ive ever seen, from coast to coast. People will only be spending all of 5 minutes on the platform. If they are early, they’ll be upstairs.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Let us recall that a number of large stations in the east, notably Grand Central Terminal and the late Penn Station in New York City, were also designed as retail centers, with many shops and restaurants, including a famous Oyster Bar in Grand Central, and direct underground pedestrian access to the Hotel Pennsylvania (yes, it’s the one in the Glenn Miller song) from Penn Station, and a similar arrangement to the Astoria from Grand Central.

    In addition to this, Boston’s North Station complex (built in the 1920s and recently demolished) included stores, restaurants, barbershops, beauty shops, a movie theater, a hotel, and even a small hospital back in the day that could handle relatively minor surgeries (such as appendix removal), along with a sports stadium called the Boston Gardens, and a railroad station with local rail transit connections, too.

    No doubt there were others in other places.

    Malls don’t sound like such a new concept, do they?

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