Sunday Open Thread

Oct 31st, 2010 | Posted by

A couple quick HSR-related items:

  • Freight rail companies and their supporters take issue with CHSRA CEO Roelof van Ark’s comments that Peninsula tunnels are unworkable because of incompatibility with freight rail. It’s true that in some cities, like underneath downtown Seattle, there are freight rail tunnels. But along the Peninsula, they’ll need lots of ventilation, which will rile up the NIMBYs. And the cost is still enormous. As we’re going to see on Tuesday, the political window for building gold-plated HSR infrastructure is about to slam shut. Governor Jerry Brown, should he win a third term, is very unlikely to support anything but the cheapest HSR infrastructure. And Congress is about to become inhospitable to this kind of funding. The real problem with Peninsula tunneling is cost, something many of its supporters have never acknowledged.
  • Despite claims that investors would never be interested in high speed rail, they’re showing quite a lot of interest in the UK’s High Speed 1 line from London to the Chunnel. While I’m not so sure I want the vampire squid to be so deeply involved in the California HSR project, this is further evidence that once we get the level of federal funding we need, we can fully expect private investors to get involved. Whether that’s a good thing or not remains an open question.
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  1. morris brown
    Oct 31st, 2010 at 07:03
    #1

    http://www.bakersfield.com/news/local/x989072246/Paranoid-or-just-vigilant-County-supervisors-intervene-on-rail-project

    Kern’s proposal draws ire of rail authority

    Ok there is now conflict in the valley — real competition. Who will give the Authority the best deal. It is all about the money folks.

    I have a solution. Let us have 2 maintenance facilities. That’s a real plan for the future, when of course the system will be carrying 300 million passengers a year and maybe even 2 facilities won’t be sufficient.

  2. jimsf
    Oct 31st, 2010 at 08:34
    #2

    Please tell me they are not going stop the connector this short of the terminal I already avoid oak, but now I’m going to extra avoid it.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    According to the below link, which is to a PowerPoint BART slide, it will be a 440 foot walk from station to terminal front door. That is not a bad walk. Not perfect, but not too bad.

    See pdf page 39, here
    http://www.bart.gov/docs/oac/Microsoft%20PowerPoint%20-%20OAC%20December%2010%20Award%20-%20Final.pdf

    And, as I had suspected before doign a search, the aiport will be undergoing additional changes in the future. Although yet to be determined, it appears the station location is intended to compliment and not preclude an additional terminal, and/or be in a centralized location.

    jimsf Reply:

    Well I guess then.. But whatever, as a san francisco I prefer to support my local hometown airport whenever possible.

    I don’t get why they are using the pulley system thing. Why don’t they just use airtrain like every other airport in america? Is there some advantage to the cable cars?

    I’m all for these projects but really, for oak, a dedicated rapid bus lane really would have done the trick. Even an elevated roadway. Oh well.

  3. Brandon from San Diego
    Oct 31st, 2010 at 09:14
    #3

    What? I do not understand this statement:

    “…Governor Jerry Brown, should he win a third term, is very unlikely to support anything but the cheapest HSR infrastructure. … “

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    He’s as frugal as it gets. When he was governor in the 1970s he was known for scaling back or even stopping whole infrastructure projects. The Antioch Bridge, for example, was engineered to carry four lanes of traffic but actually only has two, just one example among many of his cost-cutting.

    I cannot imagine Brown being supportive of a Peninsula tunnel if an aerial will do. If the locals come up with their own money, then he might not care, but even then he’ll probably be critical.

    jimsf Reply:

    The state was in the middle of a freeway building extravaganza in the 70s, they were popping up everywhere. Brown stopped them dead in their tracks. I do remember at that time, there was some nimbyism. Not like today of course, back then it was californians being super worried about paving over our paradise. and believe me, california was freakin gorgeous before we inherited 10 million too many people. The things we took as our birthright, the vast expanse of nature that could be in microcosm in even the most urban areas, is what made this place such a nice place to live. Especially up here in norcal, you just can’t imagine how it was. It went from this and this to this and this

    Funny, they used to talk about water and droughts in the news, and it was strange because we were ankle deep in water 6 months out the years. The stuff was everywhere all the time. In fact one county I lived in still has water as its largest export I believe.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Much the same thing happened here in the east in the last 10 or 20 years. What is so tragic about it is that it didn’t have to be that way. Those old trolley suburbs and smaller towns showed how it could be done, how it should have been done. Ironically, I think it might have actually cost less, and resulted in cheaper houses, if things had been done properly; think of things like shorter water and sewer pipe runs, shorter electric and communication wire runs, less pavement to build and maintain (and plow, in places with snow), less yard to mow. . .

    At the same time, think of how accessable places, including something like Palo Alto, brings a premium by being near a rail line, by being walkable in scale, by being human instead of auto in scale. So many of these corporatist and developer types claim, “The market wants McMansions,” but isn’t it funny that places with smaller houses and smaller lots can be and often are priced higher by the same “market?”

    Who sounds like a dummy here?

    Missiondweller Reply:

    Excellent point.

    Its interesting how places like Santana Row and The Grove that are recreations of old small towns and are compact and walkable are highly successful developments.

    Spokker Reply:

    Except the Grove feels inclusive in that all the good parts face inward, and the backs of stores face the neighborhood. It’s not very inviting.

    brandon from San Diego Reply:

    I have been on the Antioch Bridge. Honestly, I could understand keeping it at 2 lanes. 4 lanes is not needed for anything other that 30 minutes in morning and evening . As a result, is the go bs additional funding really neccessary to meet the demand… Or, to further encourage sprawl and intrusion in to farmlands and wetlands.

    Actually, it is probably less an example of frugality, but more toward environmental protection.

    brandon from San Diego Reply:

    I meant:
    4 lanes encorrages sprawl

    2 lanes disscourage sprawl.

    Pardon spelling errors

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Right. I’m not saying Brown’s move was wrong. But it is an example of his frugality when it comes to infrastructure.

  4. Brandon from San Diego
    Oct 31st, 2010 at 09:15
    #4

    It seems like CHSRA has been getting grant awards evry week for the past 2 months. Is there an itemized list going?

    jimsf Reply:

    Jerry Brown is well know for being Frugal. AS much as he is a friend of labor, he really did stand up to them when necessary. And Those of us who remember him wel form the 70s, know that the first thing de did was refuse to live in the governors mansion on the taxpayers dime. He also drove that beat up old car around. He turned down the towncars.

    So he’s frugal. He’ll support the project but he’s very likely to critical of waste.

    Emma Reply:

    Good! We need efficiency. The last thing we need is to throw out the little money we have for some “iconic bridges” or whatnot. We should build the most economic state-of-the-art system.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Mostly agreed. I think it’s important to make stations inviting and comfortable, rather than pure brutalist concrete constructions, which may not be totally “economic”. But that can be done with relatively small budget increments, not like “iconic bridges”. And unlike “iconic bridges”, it meaningfully improves the lives of riders.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    Most who comment in the Mercury forums believe PAMPA should either do what Berkley did or stop bitching. Although there are still issues that need to be solved, some that Clem has outlined
    1) Curve correction-the botched San Bruno
    2) Common platform height to reduce station footprints
    3) Station requirements to reduce space with smaller stations
    4) Banish the heavy freight giants in favor of light weight electrics that can handle 2% grades
    5) Get BART to one platform at Milbrae to prevent an unecessary trench, unless there are trains arriving and departing more than every 4 minutes, 3 platforms is overkill.
    6) Utilize as much at-grade, architectually pleasant ariels with sound reduction integrated
    7) Clear up th lies of increases when it was a change for expenditure dates required by the FRA
    8) Before the trainbox is dug, rethink the tunnels in order to provide wide curve radii

    Maybe someday in the future, Beale St will be developed to where San Francisco has 2 major rail terminuses. We shall see what happens though.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I am sure PAMPA would be all too happy to do a Berkeley if they could get BART and ditch the hsr.

    Victor Reply:

    Yep He sure is, But He will spend money where It’s needed as He’s no scrooge Who says spending is bad and yet wants to supposedly create jobs. But then I’ve already voted, 3rd time for Brown for this office. :)

    Victor Reply:

    3rd time refers to 1 each election as Brown has been elected/reelected Governor twice already, So He has a 3rd chance.

  5. Alonzo
    Oct 31st, 2010 at 13:13
    #5

    Let’s hope that Steve Cooley, the AG to be, starts paying attention to these frauds: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-high-speed-ethics-20101031,0,5414234.story.

    jimsf Reply:

    I don’t see any fraud. What’s the problem. Not the perceived, imaginary, or possible problem the actual fraud?

    Alonzo Reply:

    Might help if you got your head out of your ass, Jim.

    jimsf Reply:

    Has someone been convicted of some kind of wrongdoing or is this just baseless hyperbole for mudslinging’s sake? Where the fraud? Do me a favor and point out what fraud has taken place exactly.

    peninsula Reply:

    no, that’s where the AG comes in. Someone willing to prosecute the crooks, instead of the loser currently in the ag office.

    Peter Reply:

    You and Alonzo are assuming that anything they did was criminal. All the LA Times article talked about was completely circumstantial. To rise to a criminal level you’d need a lot more than inferences and theories.

    jimsf Reply:

    crooks? what was stolen?

    Victor Reply:

    Cooley said He’ll take His I think $80,000.00 Retirement pay to Supplement the AG’s low $150,000.00 a year pay, In effect double dipping. I’d rather not have Him as I’m not sure He’s pro HSR.

    Peter Reply:

    Smooth.

    jimsf Reply:

    I thought Harris was going to be attorney general. I’ve never even heard of that guy. really, The only name I ever heard was harris. So I voted her.

    Peter Reply:

    According to the polls, it’s about 50-50 chance for Harris or Cooley.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    I am not voting for Cooley, but, there is nothing wrong with accepting a retirement he has earned and supplementing his income elsewhere. Lots of seniors that have recently retired have been doing that too… except their last job is at McDonald’s. no one is complaining about them, are they?

    jimsf Reply:

    Some people earn their military pension, then in retirement, do something like work for the post office, and get that retirement too. They are entitled to what they worked for. we all are.

    Americans have just become bitter meanies.

    Victor Reply:

    Me neither, So Alonzo unless You have some real evidence, I’d quit saying that.

    Alonzo Reply:

    Here’s some more reality for all you Kool-Aid drinkers: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/11/01/high-speed_pork_107785.html

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “Here’s some more reality for all you Kool-Aid drinkers:” Alonzo

    “What’s strange in the US is that things that are being proposed such as high speed rail, are not groundbreaking, experimental, or extraordinary in any way. Its just normal standard stuff. The arguments for it are based on common sense that any sane person can use and say, “oh yeh, it would be a good idea to move lots of people in this proven efficient manner.” Yet the arguments from the insane, ie the right, don’t even make sense. They don’t even try to come up with something new and creative to back up their argument. It’s just stuff like, “California isn’t dense enough” or “No one rides trains.” One wonders if they really think this because they have actually never been outside their house, or if they know they are lying, but just can’t think of anything else. I mean I don’t understand the fear and hatred of public transit and infrastructure. It’s just not scary. A manned mission to Jupiter might be questionable, an undersea tunnel to Hawaii might be premature, but a run of the mill bullet train route?”–Jim SF

    The above comments by Jim explain why we don’t need to call the opposition nasty names, even when they do so to us. Their own nastyness just comes through.

    I can’t help but think of the old expression, “You can’t make a monkey out of me!” Truth is, no one can make a “monkey” (or fool) out of anybody. Fools can not be made; they can only be revealed.

    Think of the emperor who thought he got some new clothes. . .although in this case, it’s more like people running around in old rags who think they’re new. It’s why I’ve come to the conclusion that if there is ever a movie made about the rail revival in the USA, sort of a 21st century version of “Union Pacific” (1939), or the original version of “Silver Streak” (1933), a character like Wendell Cox will be seen as a clown, as comic relief.

    Wonder if I ought to try to write that script?

    jimsf Reply:

    yes write it.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Thanks, I hope I can get a round tuit; seems like all I have are square tuits. . .

    Just for fun, who would you get to play Cox?

    http://www.demographia.com/photo5.jpg

  6. Alan Figgatt
    Oct 31st, 2010 at 14:01
    #6

    This was more east coast NEC related news, but it may have some implications for the CA HSR system. On Thursday, Amtrak announced that they will buy 70 ACS-64 electric locomotives from Siemens to be used on the NEC and Keystone East corridors to replace the AEM-7s and HHP-8s. These will be 125 mph max speed locomotives for the Regionals, Keystones, long distance and corridor day trains.

    The relevance this has for CA HSR is that the locomotives will be built at the Siemens plant in Sacramento with some work also going to Siemens plants in Ohio and Georgia. According to newspaper articles, Siemens will be hiring 200 workers and upgrading the Sacramento plant to build the locomotives. The plant currently builds light rail cars. If Siemens bids to provide the CA HSR trains, they may well plan to propose using this plant to assemble & build their HSR train sets. That they have a working plant in a hard hit part of California which is building light rail cars and electric locomotives, and thus presents a lower risk than someone else proposing to start a factory from scratch may provide Siemens an advantage in the bid process.

    The Amtrak press release on the contract award can be found at http://www.amtrak.com/servlet/BlobServer?blobcol=urldata&blobtable=MungoBlobs&blobkey=id&blobwhere=1249216633199&blobheader=application%2Fpdf&blobheadername1=Content-disposition&blobheadervalue1=attachment;filename=Amtrak_ATK-10-141a_Amtrak_Electric_Locos_Release.pdf for anyone interested.

    jimsf Reply:

    very cool! Thats great they are building them right here in norcal! Too bad we cant electrify san joaquin and use these for 125 while we wait.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You can go 125 once you get rid of all the grade crossings and string up some wire, Until then the FRA and physics – no matter how much diesel you pour into an electric locomotive it won’t run – won’t cooperate.

    Joey Reply:

    There are diesels out there that can go 125. That doesn’t make it desirable though.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    but the FRA, with good reason, says no faster than 110 with grade crossings, Even then the grade crossings are much more elaborate than some flashing lights, bells and a coupla gates.

    jimsf Reply:

    Just curious, if the 5hr 22m trip from sac to bfd were sped up to 110 how much time would it save?

    jimsf Reply:

    about 90 minutes?

    Victor Reply:

    Which works out to 3 hours and 52 minutes, Not great, But It’s in the right direction for a stopgap solution.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I’m more curious, if the route from Fresno to Bakersfield was sped up to 125, with the part north of Fresno unchanged for now, how much time would that save on Sacramento to Bakersfield?

    Joey Reply:

    I thought that the threshold was 125. Not that it makes a huge difference.

    Nathanael Reply:

    110 is the highest allowed with grade crossings. (A bit unreasonable as they allow 125 in the UK, after experimentation. 90 is the highest allowed if you don’t have “hardened” grade crossings, which feature four-quadrant gates which shove back at cars trying to drive through them, and stuff like that.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    90 minutes would seem about right. Does anyone have numbers on how long it would take for an electric loco to accelerate up to 110 mph? I would like to make some more accurate calculations. If the trains were sped up to 110 mph, service could be doubled to Sacramento with 4 departures per day and 6 to Oakland.

    jimsf Reply:

    There are going to be increases to sjq service to sac with two additional trains. ( and plan to extend one of those north to redding, although the north valley doesn’t seem to be in a hurry to get it overall – maybe with the exception of chico with the csu.)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It depends on which loco it is. Talgo, KTX-II = good. TGV = okay. FRA-compliant clunker = terrible.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They couldn’t wait five years until the PTC mandates lets them buy noncompliant locomotives, which wouldn’t cost nearly $7 million apiece? Really?

    jimsf Reply:

    five years is too long. we need those jobs now not 5 years from now.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Amtrak is claiming 250 jobs for $466 million. This is paltry; if the money were spent on unemployment benefits, it would give annual salaries to 10,000 people.

    jimsf Reply:

    Yes but you wouldn’t be getting a boatload of locomotives either.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    A boatload of foreign-made off-the-shelf locomotives would cost much less, giving ample room to spend the rest on unemployment benefits.

    jimsf Reply:

    well I really don’t know about all that, But maybe you can just be happy that there are going to be new locos and more jobs. Sometimes its just that simple. The incessant tech snobbery around is tiring.
    I understand that people with backgrounds in tech and engineering can only see the the universe in mathematical terms but really, its not the end all be all. The kind of thinking you want does not happen here. Here, we are lucky to even have a clunky train at all. So be glad there is some meager progress.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Okay, let’s put it concretely: think about the 9,750 unemployed Americans who will not get anything because Amtrak was busy paying German rolling stock designers extra to crappify their trains.

    jimsf Reply:

    who are the 9750? and is there something wrong with the trains siemens builds? mightn’t they build the california hsr trains? What is the crappification exaclty, Are these german locos going to break down a lot or something?

    Peter Reply:

    He’s whining about FRA standards, that’s all.

    jimsf Reply:

    oh the unemployed? they are still going to get their checks. That doesn’t make sense.

    jimsf Reply:

    nothing is ever good enough for anyone around here. Where’s richard? Im sure he’ll have something to say.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The trains Siemens is pitching for California come out of the box, built to European standards. The cost per unit is not more than that of an Amtrak locomotive plus coaches.

    The other 9,750: think of it this way – the locomotives cost as much as checks for about 10,000 unemployed people whose benefits just ran out. They’re going to provide 250 jobs. Hence, 9,750 people who aren’t getting money.

    jimsf Reply:

    yeh but what can you do. you dont know why this decision was made. there must have been other factors involved that we are not aware of.

    jimsf Reply:

    I do know that amtrak is not going to want something non compliant though. They want stuff that is sturdy and will last and that can be used in a variety of situations. Suppose they need to use those locos somewhere else during a service disruption. they need that flexibility.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Amtrak needs new locomotives. It’s better that the 250 jobs are in California than in Germany. rs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Jim, they are electric locomotives. Try to run them to Chicago to make up for out of service equipment on the St. Louis – Chicago run and they don’t get much farther than Harrisburg. …. where the wires run out.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Noncompliant locos can last much longer than compliant ones. The TGV locos are expected to last 40 years. The original sets are as old as the AEM-7s, but SNCF is keeping them in service.

    And Amtrak may think it needs new locos, but it doesn’t need new compliant locos. The two-year wait between when the locos will be delivered and when the PTC mandate will go into effect is short enough that it can wait. Haven’t we learned anything from the premature development of the Acela?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Noncompliant locos can last much longer than compliant ones.

    That depends on design and maintenance. The GG1s were behemoths even by today’s FRA standards. They were kept in service for over 40 years. NJTransit’s last one went out of service in 1983.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The GG1s were produced at a time when engineers designed locos to be this heavy from the start. It’s different from today, when the FRA-compliant locos are adapted freight locos or adapted European passenger locos.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Thought you might find this interesting as a reference item;

    http://www.steamlocomotive.com/GG1/

    http://members.localnet.com/~docsteve/railroad/gg1.htm

    http://prr.railfan.net/freight/PRRdiagrams.html?sel=ele&sz=sm&fr=

    Enjoy.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Alon, given the historic horrible unpredictability of Amtrak funding, and the fact that the current electric fleet is already failing, they do NOT want to be caught short with a shortage of locos in a “government shutdown” or “zero out Amtrak” year. Given the dysfunction of the federal government for the last 30 or more years (mostly but not entirely thanks to Republicans), Amtrak is doing the only logical thing.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If it’s a funding issue, then they can order noncompliant trains, run them on the line that has PTC, and test them on other lines to prove to the FRA that they’re safe and should be allowed to run in regular service. It’s okay to sit on rolling stock for two years, considering the alternative.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    order noncompliant trains, run them on the line that has PTC, and test them on other lines to prove

    Hmm. On the 25Hz line that stretches across Wyoming and Utah?

    Alan F Reply:

    “A boatload of foreign-made off-the-shelf locomotives would cost much less,…”
    The price Amtrak is paying for the Siemens ACS-64 is considerably less than the prices NJ Transit paid for the Bombardier ALP-46As electric locomotives which were built overseas. In December 2007, NJ Transit ordered 27 ALP-46As with spare parts for $245 million or about $9 million each. There was a follow-on order for 9 more ALP-46As for $72 million or $8 million each.

    Amtrak is buying 70 ACS-64s assembled / built in Sacramento for $466 million in a 6 year delivery contract. That works out to $6.66 million each which indicates that Amtrak is getting a very good price. Also indicates why Siemens won the contract and not Bombardier, if both locomotives met Amtrak’s requirements.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The ALP-46 is not an off-the-shelf locomotive. It was derived from an off-the-shelf locomotive by beefing it up to meet FRA standards. Of course it’s going to be more expensive. Why not compare the price Amtrak and NJT think is fair to the price Europeans pay for European locos?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    The ACS-64 isn’t off the shelf either, having been beefed up for FRA requirements as well. Some Googling indicates Slovenia purchased 20 EuroSprinters for 80 million Euro in late 2004. 4.9 million dollars at the average exchange rate then prevalent, about 5.5-5.6 million adjusted for inflation.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    First, by this standard, Amtrak is still overpaying by about 20%. Second, the Slovenian price seems pretty high. A quick overview of what other countries pay reveals lower prices, of around 5 million dollars per unit or less for the Eurosprinter or its competitors. And third, EMUs would be even cheaper: Sweden pays barely more for a four-car EMU then Amtrak is for a single loco.

    Alan Figgatt Reply:

    Why would PTC mandate and implementation allow Amtrak to buy non-compliant locomotives? Why would Amtrak want to? The NEC still has grade crossings in CT, freight traffic, and many commuter rail trains operating on it. Why would Amtrak seek waivers for what will be their workhorse electric locomotive? No, Amtrak will go ahead and get locomotives which meet all the current FRA regulations. Worry about applying for waivers for reduced crash worthiness standards and thus lighter high speed train sets when it comes time to order the Acela replacements.

    As for waiting another 5 years, the AEM-7 DCs units are getting very long in the tooth and reportedly are becoming increasingly difficult and more expensive to maintain with decreased reliability. Makes sense for Amtrak to order 70 electric locos in one big order to replace 3 different models to reduce their maintenance and operational costs.

    jimsf Reply:

    exactly. I’m sure they will see where they are with things when its time to replace the acela consists.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Amtrak believes that the PTC mandate will let it buy noncompliant locomotives; it said so in one of the “For the cost of full HSR, we could cut Acela travel times by half an hour” reports.

    The grade crossings, commuter trains, etc., are completely irrelevant. The whole point of PTC is that buff strength is unnecessary no matter what other trains plow the line.

    The problem with compliant locomotives is the same at all speeds: higher costs, higher energy consumption, reduced performance. For a heavy trainbox, the FRA weight penalty is about 4-5 tons. For a light one, which Amtrak should be looking at even though it isn’t, it’s higher. The workhorse should be maximally efficient, not maximally inefficient.

    I’m pretty sure you could get TGV locos for less than what Amtrak’s paying. You could also get Shinkansen EMUs for about the same price, acting as locomotives and displacing some unpowered coaches, and get nearly the same power-to-weight ratio, more streamlining, and barely a quarter the track wear.

    Clem Reply:

    The NEC already has PTC, known as cab signal + ACSES

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The PTC came online only after the Acelas were pressed into service. This is one of the few areas where the problem isn’t Amtrak, but Congressional pressure on Amtrak to start service as soon as possible.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Not all of the NEC has ACSES, actually, I checked recently and some of Amtrak’s funding is to finish getting it on the entire line. (They skipped some of the low-speed segments where it adds relatively little value.) ACSES also has to be modified slightly to satisfy the PTC mandate, but apparently that’s not considered a big issue.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The electric locos are falling apart. They really can’t wait.

    Note that they aren’t replacing the diesel locos, where they do not yet have a fleet shortage.

  7. jimsf
    Oct 31st, 2010 at 16:27
    #7

    Here’s some good news… we have this little show up here, very long running and well respected, “this week in northern california” With the ever popular norcal journalism diva, Belva Davis, and today they discuss, a couple of props. First, the 18 dollar fee to help our parks, is polling very high, turns out there is very strong support for older conservative native californians who remember and cherish the state park system along with the younger more environmentally aware liberal voters. So it will pass.

    And the part I really love, prop 23, turns out, its doing so poorly, that the texas oil companies have thrown up their hands and given up, they don’t want to waste any more money. HA! We ran those texans right out of town. ( ironically I think sf is playing tx tonight in the world series… ok so … “go giants” yes thats the extent of my baseball enthusiasm. but all our city landmarks are lit in giant Orange lighting this week.)

    so anyway, the texas oil companies have been run out on rail and the anti 23 folks managed to raise twice the money from silicon valley clean energy tech folks. Apparently though, the oil companies have taken whats left of their prop 23 money, and put it behind prop…. the one about a 2/3 vote on fees….. 26? because I guess some of those fees include environmental fees on things like buying tires. I have an idea. Why don’t texans and texas oil companies, stay in texas where they belong. Whos with me.

    Victor Reply:

    I am and I agree, My Grandma and Her 3 kids left Texas back in the 30′s, But then California is a far better place to live.

    jimsf Reply:

    texas schmexas thats what I say.

    Why o why can’t we please secede? please? Given the choice, I’d choose cali secession over world peace.

    Victor Reply:

    Cause It won’t help or happen, In short It would be a pipe dream.

    jimsf Reply:

    well perhaps if 19 passes then.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I love the pipe dream pun. Was it intended?

  8. Andre Peretti
    Oct 31st, 2010 at 18:19
    #8

    I understand these locomotives will create local jobs and that seems to be more important than technical specifications.
    An American airline can buy Airbus, Bombardier or Embraer and no-one will find anything wrong with it. Everybody understands an airline has to be efficient and buy planes that exactly fit its needs, no matter in what country they are made.
    For passenger rail, the situation is the reverse. For any project, what seems to matter most is how many local jobs it will create. Buying foreign is unthinkable.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    This was meant to be a reply to Alon, not a new post.

    Peter Reply:

    That’s what happens when it’s the government buying foreign. Private parties are different.

    jimsf Reply:

    part of the thinking is that they want in part to use amtrak to help boost domestic production so that we can have a full scale domestic railcar and loco industry here at home when passenger rail enters its renaissance. or something like that.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That thinking is utterly wrong. Americans won’t learn anything about making good trains from working line jobs at a Siemens factory that makes bad trains. Transplant factories just don’t create that expertise.

    Better would be to imitate what Japan, Korea, and now China do when engaging in industrial policy. This includes:

    1. Sending engineers to world-leading countries to learn about rolling stock design.
    2. Learning locally from agencies that design trains well, such as New York City Transit.
    3. Hiring foreign experts to teach this to Americans in the US.
    4. Tech transfer agreements for good (i.e. noncompliant) trains.
    5. Hiring people to reverse-engineer rolling stock and then use clean room design them to make American versions.

    An additional tactic, used in Britain, would be to get engineers from outside Amtrak to design rolling stock, and hermetically seal them from the rest of the company to keep their minds fresh. This is how British Rail developed the Advanced Passenger Train.

    jimsf Reply:

    Well I think is a matter of having a white house that friendly to amtrak, as well as american labor. I don’t really know though. This is america and not japan after all. EVerything here is about politics.

    Useless Reply:

    @ Alon Levy

    The problem with your example of industrial policy.

    Japan : None of those apply. Japanese invented bullet train, remember?
    Korea : OK. The text-book perfect example.
    China : There is no such thing as a clean room Chinese rolling stock, save for failed ones like China Star. The thing with Chinese is that while they are good at producing knock offs, they really really cannot come up with any original stuff. A similar thing happened with Chinese auto industry, where Chinese automakers were producing knock-offs at a blazing pace, then hit the brick wall when it was finally time to come up with their own designs. And the exact same story is repeated in every other industry, be it a jet-fighter or a spaceship.

    So what is America to do? Well, America may be hopeless, because manufacturing has been on a decline in the US and those companies that want to set up a factory in the US struggle to find people with experience.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Japan did not invent the bullet train. It bought technology from the US, used decades of real-world experiments done in the US and Germany, and built the Shinkansen to the standards of American cutoffs.

    But most of the direct learning from foreign experts in Japan was done long before the Shinkansen era. It goes back to the late 19th century.

    The complaints about Chinese knockoffs are overrated. China has the same GDP per capita today as South Korea in 1980, years before Samsung tried to compete with Sony for exports. Chinese industrial policy has put China on about even foot or even better with where Korea was then, which suggests the methods (if not the current products) should be useful examples to learn from.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The thing with Chinese is that while they are good at producing knock offs they really really cannot come up with any original stuff

    But some of your best friends are Asian, right?

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    The decline started during the Reagan-Thatcher era. The accepted doctrine was that America and England had reached the ultimate stage of evolution: they were post-industrial while Europe and Japan were still industrial, and the rest of the world pre-industrial. I remember an Englishman married to a French girl who was surprised at how proud her parents were because he was an engineer. English parents, he said, would have been proud if their daughter had married a lawyer or a trader but would have frowned at an engineer.
    Do you remember the Japanese joke? in a Japanese firm the engineer/lawyer ratio is 20/1, in the US it is 1/20.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Part of the problem comes from the fact that trains, contrary to planes, are not considered hi-tech in America.
    The USAF is not a private company and yet it was the launch customer for CFM engines (a 50/50 French-American joint venture). Getting cutting edge technology outweighed Buy American. The only condition was that the engines be assembled in the US and branded GE.
    As regards rail, the mentality is very different. A train is just a train and any factory can build it. Why send tax dollars abroad when GM has idle plants which could be put back to work building high-speed trains? That’s the general impression I get when I read American media.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why use GM plants when there are idle train facilities? Lots of them scattered all around…

    rafael Reply:

    @ jimsf -

    The JR companies invariably buy trains made in Japan, SNCF buys trains from Alstom, DB usually buys from Siemens, RENFE is Talgo’s #1 customer and the Italian state railways buy from consortia that usually include AnsaldoBreda. In each case, politicians and/or bureaucrats favor local manufacturing jobs over getting the best value for money. Ergo, the US is not at all exceptional in this regard. Politicians don’t care about arcane FRA regulations, they care about pork and prestige.

    Civilian aerospace contracts are different because a large number of people (= voters + campaign contributors) actually fly, so politicians care more about their safety than about where the planes are manufactured. Moreover, commercial airline operations are for-profit enterprises whereas passenger train operations have up to now always been taxpayer-subsidized public transportation.

    Express HSR operations are very likely to be self-sufficient, after a short ramp-up period – IFF the infrastructure construction projects are properly planned, fully funded and actually completed. And by “properly planned”, I mean maximizing value per taxpayer dollar, not maximizing revenue and profits for PBQD or any other vendor.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Rafael, this is increasingly not true. Japan still buys Japanese because European manufacturers don’t make anything to Japanese specifications, but increasingly Europe is one unified market. SNCF is soliciting bids from Bombardier and Kawasaki for the next TGV replacement, Germany buys trains from Stadler, and Italy is buying the AGV.

    rafael Reply:

    Your claim that the JR companies are buying trains made in Japan because foreign manufacturers don’t have products that meet Japanese railroad standards is fine example of circular logic. Every country, including the US, abuses safety and other regulations for technological protectionism. This is also true of other industries, e.g. automobiles.

    As for Europe, the primary reason that railways now cast a wider net is that EU directives force them to open up their tenders to all manufacturers within the EU. Once they have to look across their national boundaries, they might as well look at non-EU options. However, in practice, the tender process still tends to favor local manufacturers.

    Italy’s state-owned FS recently preferred a consortium of AnsaldoBreda and Fiat Ferroviaria (an Alstom subsidiary based in Italy) to Kawasaki’s efSET for the ETR600. NTV, a private competitor, did choose Alstom’s AGV instead but then again, it didn’t need any money from Italian taxpayers.

    SNCF hasn’t ordered any AGVs because it’s primary HSR lines are running near or at capacity in terms of trains per hour, such that the higher speeds made possible by the new design would be hard to square with the timetable. Instead, they’re still buying lots of TGV Duplex trains because they offer more seats per meter of platform length.

    DB recently chose Siemens as the preferred vendor for its massive ICx program. They chose to offer basic interiors to ensure their bid was the lowest. DB wants something fancier for its money but AFAIK the two parties are still in negotiation about that. Alstom’s bid included fancier interiors to begin with and also included the modifications and testing overheads for German signaling – the ETCS overlay is not yet implemented in many parts of DB’s network (or SNCF’s, for that matter).

    That said, there have indeed been some smaller cross-border sales in recent years. RENFE operates a small fleet of Siemens Velaro trains, Southeastern Rail in the UK bought some modified Hitachi A-trains and, DB purchased some Stadler gear for regional service because they needed high acceleration performance. Eurostar Group (55% SNCF, 40% LCR, 5% SNCB) recently ordered 10 full-length Velaro trains – from Siemens’ UK subsidiary.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    European trains are legal in Japan, I believe. It’s the converse that isn’t true. Japan doesn’t have the EU’s excessive buff strength standards, and instead prefers its trains very light. I don’t think any European vendor comes near the weight Japanese vendor achieve, except maybe Stadler.

    rafael Reply:

    Both European and Japanese manufacturers have the engineering know-how to meet each other’s bff strength/axle load targets. The issue is that it’s both risky and expensive to develop a model (or even a model variant) that is aimed exclusively at an export market that’s hard to break into.

    Hitachi did sell some modified trains (BR Class 395) to Southeastern Rail in the UK and on the back of that, Eurostar Group asked them bid against Siemens and Alstom for the expansion of its fleet. Afaik, they declined the request – perhaps they figured it was just a ploy to wring a better deal out of the European manufacturers. In other words, the risk and expense of developing a model that would meet the special Eurotunnel regulations and also be compatible with multiple foreign signaling standards was just too great.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    “SNCF buys trains from Alstom”
    That was 20 years ago. Alstom lately lost a contract for 600 duplex regional trains to Bombardier, with an option for 200 more. The total price is $12 billion.
    Why did Alstom lose? 3 reasons:
    - it was 15% more expensive
    - Bombardier’s engineers proposed exactly what the SNCF wanted while Alstom insisted on costly improvements that were not needed.
    - the third reason is unofficial: Alstom asked the government to intervene and the SNCF didn’t like that.
    It also lost the Eurostar bid for the same reasons. Eurostar is now a branch of the SNCF and Alstom relied on government pressure to win the bid in spite of the fact its trains were 20% more expensive than Siemens’. As far as trains are concerned, national preference is dead in France.
    Concerning the Bombardier trains: they will have the boa configuration, for security reasons. It has been noticed that women tended to desert regional trains and went back to driving for fear of aggressions by suburban youth. The SNCF thinks the boa cars will lure them back.

    Rafael Reply:

    Yes, but consider that the French government is trying to veto Eurostar Group’s decision in favor of Siemens’ UK subsidiary over Alstom. The reason cited: current Eurotunnel safety rules require trains with passengers on board to be ~400m long to ensure there are at least 2 exit doors near connectors to the service/escape tube, which are spaced 375m apart. They also require that a train be capable of reaching a tunnel portal if 50% of motive power becomes unavailable. Worst case, trains must be split in the middle after transferring passengers from the damaged half to the intact one. In addition, trains must be designed to higher-than-usual standards in the event of a fire.

    Alstom’s existing Eurostar design meets all of these special rules for the tunnel, whereas Siemens’ Velaro design doesn’t (yet). For example, a full-length train consisting of two coupled trainsets means that transferring passengers from one to the other is only possible via the emergency/maintenance sidewalk next to the tracks. A recent test proved that this is actually faster than forcing everyone to walk along the narrower aisle inside the train. However, evacuating passengers to the service/escape tube is faster than either and therefore the preferred response in the event of a fire. More importantly, 20 years of experience have shown that engine fires pose a much lower fire risk than the goods transported on Eurotunnel shuttle trains for trucks. The “wrong kind of snow” was responsible for shorting out the power electronics on five trains last Christmas. The upshot is that some of the safety rules for high speed trains can be relaxed while others may need to be tightened.

    The French government owns a majority of shares (but only 7 of 18 votes on the board) of SNCF, which in turns owns 55% of Eurostar Group shares. It also owns 50% of Eurotunnel. In statist France, it would be political suicide not to attempt a bit of ye olde regulatory protectionism. Ultimately, this may well end up in an EU court where Eurostar Group would likely win – but only after a year or two. Ergo, old habits die hard and only by giving the EU the last say.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    It’s true that Siemens doesn’t comply with the rules as they exist now, but it does comply with the future safety rules, if the security commission accepts them, which it probably will.
    Alstom are sore losers. They didn’t find anything wrong with the future rules until they lost the bid. And in addition to a TGV-like configuration they also offered the AGV which doesn’t comply with the old rules. The truth is once more their price wasn’t competitive and they relied on the French government to apply pressure on the SNCF. And once more, their scheme failed.
    The French industry minister’s posturing is easy to explain: the Alstom factory which was to have built the trains is in Valenciennes, his constituency. The city is totally Alstom-dependent. That’s why he has to make a lot of noise to show the voters how hard he is fighting for them.
    Many think this Franco-French squabble is disastrous. Alstom and the SNCF are bidding as a consortium in several projects and their current disagreements hardly give a positive image.

    rafael Reply:

    I agree that Alstom and the French government are sore losers in this particular case.
    My point was that the ambition to abuse regulation for protectionist purposes is very much alive and kicking in France, at least for HSR equipment. The French claim that their offerings are always rejected by Deutsche Bahn is accurate but misleading: Alstom is rarely the lowest bidder.

    The EU rules mean that there is now cross-border competition and, the French are no longer as competitive as they once were. For example, the AGV is their first design featuring highly distributed traction, whereas Siemens started shipping Velaros years ago. Ironically, Alstom and Siemens were both members of the consortium that developed the ICE3 on which the Velaro is based.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    In fact, Alstom was the first to use distributed traction for high speed. The TGV-01 prototype was all-wheels powered but this feature was abandoned because the SNCF thought it needlessly complicated maintenance. It only wants distributed traction on regional lines with frequent stops. For the TGV’s long non-stop trips, acceleration is not a problem. The train takes the 3.5% climbs in its stride, like a roller-coaster.
    The problem is different in Germany where route profiles oblige the ICE to decelerate and accelerate very often. That will also be the case for the new trains which Eurostar intends to use to compete with DB on its own turf. It might also, in part, explain the choice of the ICE3 which won’t have to be tested for German tracks.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Although the Velaro predates the AGV, the AGV is the better train. It’s much lighter, so it has a better P/W ratio. The Velaro’s P/W ratio, 19.7, is the lowest among all high-speed trains currently produced. The AGV’s is about 23, one of the higher ones.

    And for a reason I still don’t understand, Siemens is not leveraging its use of standard bogies to reduce axle load. Its maximum axle load is 17 t, same as the AGV, which spreads its weight among fewer axles.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I do not believe that express hsr operations will be self-sufficient because the route is not direct and the labor costs will be excessive. BART exemplifies what to expect.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    Apples to oranges comparison of intercity vs interregional transportation systems. *buzz* sorry try again

    synonymouse Reply:

    Au contraire, with so many stops the CHSRA is little more than a BART inflated to fit a larger space, namely SF-LA. Same Brutalist celebration of blight, same overcompensated militant unions, same besotted meander as with BART-SFO, same undermaintenance – all just on a statewide scale.

    The CHSRA scheme comes in a box that doesn’t say “some assembly required; it says “”some subsidy required”.

    rafael Reply:

    The big difference is that each and every BART trains stops at each and every station along its route. BART doesn’t have any overtake tracks anywhere, nor does it operate multiple limited-stop patterns. Even the Contra Costa crossover will be used only to shorten the yellow line to Walnut Creek-SFO during off-peak hours. BART is a subway network in which multiple lines share some key sections of track. All trains are locals.

    Most HSR trains will stop at few – if any – stations between SF TTC and LAUS. I’m not sure you entirely grasp the concept of operating multiple express service classes and/or stop patterns, e.g. during peak periods, just as Caltrain already does on a smaller scale.

    You also keep forgetting that Central Valley residents will likely use HSR more frequently than anyone else on the starter line. Flights into the Bay Area and LA basin are infrequent and quite expensive. Driving there takes a long time. Why should CHSRA bypass an almost-captive market?

    As for Tejon Pass, we’ve covered this before. It would be sensible alternative he the Tehachapis if trains could cross the San Andreas and Garlock faults at grade, but that would require transmissions with two gears to tackle the short but ruling 6% gradient sections (at ~50mph) while also sticking with a top cruise speed of ~220mph in the Central Valley. CHSRA ought to commission a technical feasibility study on this, if only because the Tehachapis route has run into snags in downtown Bakersfield and near Disney’s outdoor production lot in Santa Clarita. That said, running tracks at grade across Tejon Pass would not be at all easy, either.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I suggest the traffic potential of the car-centric San Joaquin Valley is being over-stated. The PB scheme is just too slow to compete with the airlines. You might be better off setting up a state-run airline and subsidize flights to Fresno.

    If the economic crisis persists, as a number of pundits predict, we may even see the Valley do a rustbelt – namely a population decline.

    jimsf Reply:

    same overcompensated militant unions
    could you expound on that a little. It always makes me laugh. How many times have bart employees gone on strike in the past 35 years?

    synonymouse Reply:

    They have never had to, as the machine has stepped in and force BART management to cave.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Even more ludicrous considering that many of the prospective employees of CAHSR are busy going through puberty right now.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I’m not sure it’s about expertise. Just getting the right sort of factory production lines back into the US is a difficult accomplishment at this point.

  9. jimsf
    Oct 31st, 2010 at 19:15
    #9

    So I remember reading these future books back in the 70s, some of which were written in the 60s, and one theory for transportation went something like this..

    apparently, if you were to bore a hypothetical hole straight through the earth ( pretend there is no molten core, or overdeveloped real estate in hell full of nimbys down there) and then you ran a train through it, actually you would drop the train down the hole, and it would accelerate until it reach the center, then equally decelerate ( begins once you pass the center you are now going straight up instead of straight down) and come to a stop on the opposite side of the earth. and the speeds would be really fast and require zero energy to go or stop.

    and, that you could apply that same concept in a modified way to cut through any part of the earth to another point. SF to NY for instance, by tunneling straight through and disregarding the curvature of the earth. A train will fall down a grade and accelerate to a half way, and deepest point between sf and ny, and then equally slow down as it would now be going j”up hill” into new york.

    Anyone ever hear of this?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah, I heard of it. It’s stupid. At the distance of, let’s say, Chicago-LA, which is 2,800 km, the train would at its deepest pass 155 km under the Earth’s surface, where it’s basically molten lava.

    If you want a vactrain, it would be much better to keep it overground (not a problem in places like Nebraska), or as close to the surface as possible. A transoceanic tunnel would be about 50 meters underwater, anchored to the seafloor with cables – no molten lava there. Something like this.

    jimsf Reply:

    oh here it is

    are you sure it would be that deep

    jimsf Reply:

    that document appears to be written in cantonese. lol.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I can’t even read that document. And yes, I’m sure.

    thatbruce Reply:

    And to actually make money off it, you’d need a sizeable percentage of the population of LA and Chicago to swap places each day.

    rafael Reply:

    @ jimsf -

    On a side note, any train will require significant energy input to overcome rolling resistance + aerodynamic drag or even worse, to maintain a vacuum + transporting pressurized air so the passengers and on-board staff don’t suffocate.

    Keep in mind that in the Internet age, transit time need not be wasted. As long as they can get some work done or personal affairs taken care of while traveling, SF-LA business travelers – whose time is arguably more precious than that of tourists – will choose HSR over flying. Basically, anything under 3 hours is “good enough”. The 2h40m target in AB3034(2008) really only serves to maximize revenue and profits for the companies that land the construction contracts for the infrastructure.

    It is far cheaper to provide reliable broadband internet access on board than to shoot for ever-higher top speeds, especially if that involves hare-brained schemes involving 2800 mile tunnels deep under the surface that need to be evacuated.

    As for raw travel time, the most cost-effective solutions require regulatory agencies that strike a sensible balance between freight and passenger services plus reducing headway loss per stop (50% of brake time + dwell time + 50% of acceleration time) plus straightening tight curves plus proper maintenance. In other words, focus on keeping the average speed as high as possible and the risk of breakdowns as low as possible. This also is also a prerequisite for avoiding high infrastructure costs – both political/environmental and financial – in built-up areas by redefining both local/regional and HSR performance targets in the affected stretch such that they can share tracks.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I know I’m nitpicking, but the time lost to a stop is much less than 50% of brake and acceleration time plus dwell time. The reason is that acceleration is much faster at low speeds than at high speeds. Thus the train spends a higher proportion of its acceleration time at medium and high speeds than at low speeds, which means the average speed over the acceleration time is higher than 50% of the top speed. For example, my N700-I acceleration model says the train does 0-300 in 179 seconds, but loses only 63 seconds in acceleration.

    rafael Reply:

    Yes, 50% is only correct for constant de- and acceleration rates throughout the entire speed range from zero to line speed. It’s a conservative zero-order approximation for timetable development in situations featuring moderate speed limits (e.g. 90mph) to enable HSR and local/regional trains to share track, PTC and corridor traffic management, e.g. at either end of the starter line. Any discrepancy between this approximation and real-world non-constant de- and acceleration will then provide some operational buffer for timetable robustness.

    For track sections that are dedicated to HSR at high speed limits (>> 90mph), this buffer would become unacceptably large and a more accurate model for de- and acceleration should be used to estimate headway loss for any stop along the way, e.g. Gilroy, Fresno, Bakersfield or Palmdale.

  10. morris brown
    Oct 31st, 2010 at 23:00
    #10

    Nothing really new here, to those that have been following the conflict of interest charges against Pringle and Katz, but Dan Walters has penned a new article on the subject with a bit more info.

    http://www.sfexaminer.com/opinion/columns/oped_contributors/One-budget-goodie-gets-the-ax-as-incompatible-offices-cited-106410458.html

    jimsf Reply:

    Well if there is a gray area maybe they should step down. If one guy is the mayor of anaheim, and he decides to step down, maybe he can be replaced by someone from up north who can make the northern end of the system from SF to SJ get done first instead of the Anaheim LA section. That would be awesome. ALthough What pringle is doing does make sense as far as working with disney or whatever, since the whole point of the hsr system is to tie key business and industry with people.

    YOu know who we need to replace pringle… Willie Brown. He could make sure that SF-BFD is completed first and keep the nimbys on the pen out of the way.

    rafael Reply:

    Don’t underestimate the political clout of SoCal, home to 2/3 of the state’s population. Orange County would never accept losing its voice on the CHSRA’s board, any more than San Diego or Santa Clara county would.

    jimsf Reply:

    AS for dan walter. right wing ideologue and hack. Thats the Bee. Its not like you can’t see right through the bs. Its like watching fox news and pretending like its really,….. news.

  11. Joey
    Nov 1st, 2010 at 06:58
    #11
  12. Alonzo
    Nov 1st, 2010 at 10:28
    #12

    Here’s some more reality for all you Kool-Aid drinkers: http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2010/11/01/high-speed_pork_107785.html

    Peter Reply:

    Right, Samuelson. The most reliable source of all things HSR.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Sigh. Please stop handing us reality drinkers shots of Kool-Aid, Alonzo, we know better.

  13. Peter
    Nov 1st, 2010 at 11:05
    #13

    So I just got an email inviting me to a Town Hall meeting in San Jose, where they will be discussing “the development of a Cooperative Agreement and evaluation of the High-Speed Train alternatives for downtown San Jose, including responses to community questions about the tunnel alignments.”

    Please tell me they are no longer considering tunnel alignments through San Jose. I hope these are just “Sorry, but tunnels are not financially or technically feasible” responses to questions about the tunnel alignments.

    Clem Reply:

    Are you into iconic bridges, then?

    Peter Reply:

    No. A simple aerial is enough for me and all that’s needed. We’re not even crossing an impressive body of water, but a frakkin’ freeway interchange, for Pete’s sake.

    Rafael Reply:

    Between SJ Diridon and Point Lick (just north of where the tracks line up with the Monterey Highway and the southern end of PCJPB property), HSR could share track with Caltrain and UPRR, but only IFF the following preconditions can be met:

    a) SJ Diridon implemented as a single-level station

    b) a fully integrated timetable for all three operators, possibly also Amtrak CC if that is extended to Gilroy and ultimately Salinas so Caltrain can focus on operating electric trains.

    c) interoperability between the PTC implementations, e.g. via an overlay or, by persuading UPRR to switch to ERTMS and ETCS level 2 in this short stretch.

    d) low speed limit (~40mph) for the curves in the Gardner district, this also reduces noise and vibration emissions

    e) closing the last remaining grade crossings at Auzerais Ave and W Virgina St to motor vehicles and constructing ped/bike underpasses there plus an additional emergency connector between W Home St and Hannah St

    f) constructing an aerial just north of Point Lick to cut over to new high-speed passenger-only tracks above the Monterey Highway

    g) environmental approval for the increased traffic volume

    h) regulatory relief from FRA (in the context of a “rule of special applicability”, which CHSRA needs to obtain anyhow) and possibly CPUC (regarding platform height at Caltrain’s Tamien station)

    If feasible, the concept of shared tracks could be extended all the way to the TTC in San Francisco, provided Caltrain and CHSRA both accept certain constraints during Caltrain’s rush hour and freight operations are restricted to the night.

    Joey Reply:

    UPRR is not going to cooperate like that. Even if they were willing to, it’s better, for a number of reasons, to keep heavy freight trains off the passenger tracks altogether. 3 tracks – 2 HSR/CalTrain and 1 UPRR, as Richard has suggested, is probably the best solution in this area.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Out of curiousity, how many freight trains do operate down this line? Also, what do they carry? It’s not likely you have 200-car coal trains with 125 ton cars, but there still might be a fair traffic )although other comments seem to suggest there isn’t much.)

    Joey Reply:

    It’s not a huge amount of freight, but enough to cause congestion problems along the coast line.

    Joey Reply:

    Err, maybe someone else has more specific statistics than I do.

    Peter Reply:

    City of San Jose is not going to cooperate like that, either. There would also be another mini PAMPA-like uproar from the Gardner neighborhood if the Authority went back to a through-Gardner alignment, even if it was just adding one extra track, much less two.

    rafael Reply:

    @ D.P. Lubic, Joey -

    I believe current freight traffic volume on the short SJ-Point Lick section is about 3 trains per day each way. From UPRR’s perspective, the coast corridor is primarily a backup route to and from the LA/LB harbors in case the Tehachapi Loop becomes unavailable after an earthquake or accident. Much of it is single track, but not this particular section.

    The 1991 contract between PCJPB and SP (now part of UPRR) included a clause that gives the freight operator to use at least track #1. In practice, Caltrain lets UPRR use both tracks. There are sidings in both directions near Tamien station.

    I realize that UPRR will raise red flags regarding schedule flexibility and PTC interoperability or switching between incompatible systems, but perhaps these issues could be addressed via limited financial compensation. Wrt track geometry, a low speed limit would reduce the maintenance overhead. If that’s not acceptable, a few miles of gauntlet tracks dedicated to HSR & Caltrain equipment could be installed, with much higher superelevation in the curves. Either way, there would be no need to mess with the existing grade separations to enable three tracks side-by side.

    @ Peter -

    It would be much harder for Gardner district residents to block an increase in traffic than the construction of (an) additional track(s) next to the existing ones. HSR and Caltrain EMUs will be much quieter than any freight trains, especially if you consider that passenger comfort criteria will anyhow limit feasible speeds through the tight curves to at most 55mph. Additional noise mitigation might be needed, but that’s cheap relative to the alternative presently under consideration.

    As Richard Mlynarik has pointed out, it is in PBQD’s financial interest to plan – and later bid on the construction contract – for a much more expensive solution involving a bi-level station at SJ Diridon, elevated new tracks to either side of it, plus an “iconic” cable-stayed bridge across I-280 and CA-87 featuring even tighter curves that would impose an even lower speed limit. Great for the infrastructure construction companies, but arguably an avoidable investment burden for taxpayers.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Surely it would be possible for the lines to the north on the Peninsula to fly over UP’s line from the East Bay going into to Diridion — possibly by sinking the UP line. After that, passenger is on the east, freight is on the west, they don’t have to ever cross each other’s tracks.

  14. Spokker
    Nov 1st, 2010 at 13:56
    #14

    The CHSRA has announced a few possible designs for their high speed trainsets. One of the front runners is from a Japanese manufacturer.

    http://i.imgur.com/0PSBV.png

    Somewhat not safe for work, but if I told you that it would tip you off that I was up to something.

    Peter Reply:

    HAHAHAHA

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    And did you take note that this thing is like a modern bullet, with “power cars” at each end for bidirectional operation?

    Of course, we do have an American counterpart, and it “runs,” too, and has been for a few years:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n5aj2t70sHQ

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8IZqRdznPs8

  15. John Burrows
    Nov 1st, 2010 at 18:13
    #15

    When Burlingame rebuilt it’s downtown library about 15 years ago, they encountered a very big problem with underground water as they tried to excavate for the basement. If I remember right the contractor had to cement in the entire excavation and install pumps (which are probably still there).

    The library is about 600 feet from the future high speed rail tracks.
    I wonder what the chances are that an underground HSR line through Downtown Burlingame will also encounter serious groundwater problems. Of course almost any problem can be solved—all it takes is a little extra engineering— a little more in the budget. After all, during an unusually heavy winter, we don’t want tunnel sections or parts of the trench liner popping out of the ground like giant boats.

    Victor Reply:

    Probably even money on the odds of water being there, Above ground or semi above ground would be better and I think Brown would want the same, If He becomes Governor and I hope He does too. Meg would be Arnold all over again, Only without the accent.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Schwarzenegger and Whitman are quite different. Schwarzenegger would be a centrist Democrat in a midwestern state, whereas Whitman is a real Repub, altho probably a little to the left of Ronald Reagan, who could not be elected in today’s California. So many people and institutions, like BART and Bechtel, are on the permanent government tit that California has a quasi state-run economy like the eastern bloc countries of old.

    The unions and the bleeding hearts will compel Brown to raise taxes – the initial perfunctory vetoes will be strictly window dressing. Once the tax bite sets in we will have to see how the the Issas will react. 45% anti-tax is probably enough to recall Brown.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Whitman is a real Repub, altho probably a little to the left of Ronald Reagan, who could not be elected in today’s California.

    Saint Ronnie would be denounced as a flaming liberal by today’s Republincans, especially since he had the temerity to sign tax increases into law. Richard Nixon… they’d probably call him a Communist.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Whitman is far to the right of Reagan. She’s just a straight-up corporate looter, though, so not as far to the right as the “Christian dominion” folks who get elected from the South and Midwest (and even Pennsylvania).

    Nathanael Reply:

    And we have proof that Syn is a right-wing lunatic. Hint, Syn, look up the actual government budgets. In California. The only really frighteningly outsized one is the prison budget….

    Rafael Reply:

    There are numerous gravity-drained conduits (creeks, storm drains, probably sewer mains) that cross under the railroad tracks en route to the Bay or treatment plants. Given the very modest west-east gradient near the tracks, it’s also not surprising that the water table is be fairly high in some places.

    It is possible but difficult (i.e. expensive) to construct tracks below grade in these conditions. Example: the new alignment for light/medium freight and high speed rail through the lower Inntal (Woergl-Innsbruck) currently under construction in Austria, part of the EU’s priority axis #1 between Berlin and Palermo. Since this narrow, picturesque valley already hosts a very busy motorway plus a very busy surface rail line, about 80% of the alignment will be below grade, including multiple bored tunnels.

    In a few short sections, the rock is so saturated with water that conventional excavated tunnels are no longer feasible. Instead, conventional coffer dams are installed and, wet soil excavated from the surface while groundwater is allowed to seep in from below. This creates a small temporary lake that almost fills the entire void. Next, GPS is used to precisely position thousands of individual dumps of special concrete that sets underwater. Divers regularly inspect the progress made, reporting any gaps and thin spots where additional concrete is required. In addition, the surface is evened out. The result is a sufficiently smooth, watertight slab of concrete. Next, four concrete side walls are erected.

    Later, conventional tunneling methods will be used to excavate the drier rock at either end. The rails, OCS and signaling are installed last. The cuttings could be partially or fully covered with concrete lids, I’m not sure if they will be. The completed alignment is due to enter service in 2012.

    The gory details are available on this website, unfortunately only in German. However, the 3D model plus the “Fotogalerie” and Video tabs under the heading “Unterinntalbahn Live” should give you an overview of the entire project if you don’t speak the language.

    http://www.unterinntalbahn.at/
    http://www.unterinntalbahn.at/1-ausbauschritt/unterinntalbahn-live/

    For a more concise overview in English, use the following links:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Lower_Inn_Valley_railway
    http://www.tunneltalk.com/Austria-Design-considerations-for-high-speed-rail.php

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The BART cut and cover tunnel to warm springs is being constructed THROUGH Lake Elizabeth. It is about 12 feet under the water table. they have constrcuted some kind of membrane that is keeping it really dry.

    Joey Reply:

    Are they really? I thought that the segment under the lake was going to be bored.

    Peter Reply:

    They drained a section of the lake and are doing the cut-and-cover right now.

    Nathanael Reply:

    BART really does know how to go for overkil on construction, don’t they?

    Peter Reply:

    They actually wanted an aerial over Central Park. They were forced to move it underground as it goes past the park. Given that there are no trees in that area, the visual impact would have been quite impressive…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    special concrete that sets underwater.

    Most concrete sets underwater. The stuff you buy in the hardware store will set underwater. Most concrete will set harder if you keep it under water until it’s fully set. It’s a mid 19th century innovation. General rule of thumb is to keep it wet for 28 days if you want a really hard set.

  16. D. P. Lubic
    Nov 1st, 2010 at 19:24
    #16

    Some commentary on the coming election:

    http://www.unitedrail.org/2010/10/17/this-week-at-amtrak-2010-10-18/

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Since the article was written, ARC got killed for good. It’s dead permanently unless Amtrak tries to revive it or unless New York proposes something different.

  17. Spokker
    Nov 1st, 2010 at 21:39
    #17

    Man I can’t wait for tomorrow. I love going to vote in the morning and following the all-day election coverage. It’s not going to be as fun as 2008 since there’s nothing directly related to transit (Measure R in 2008 too, double whammy), but it should be interesting.

    I get to the polls right when they open. It’s like waiting for the iCrap phone or something.

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    Wish I was as enthused out here in the Central Valley where the last poll shows Jim Costa trailing by 10 points to a farmer Republican who will work to kill the project.
    Miss LA, especially now that the Measure R projects are ramping up.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Yep, it’s not quite as Christmas Eve-like as November 2008 was, when we were eagerly anticipating the passage of Prop 1A and the other measures, but it should still be an eventful day of election returns.

    Spokker Reply:

    The excitement isn’t tied to whether my preferred candidates or issues win or not. The excitement is that millions of people are going to participate in the ultimate poll.

    Those shit polls you read in USA Today and Newsweek and all that nonsense have relatively low sample sizes. An election, not that’s a poll! Costs a pretty penny but I love it.

  18. morris brown
    Nov 1st, 2010 at 21:49
    #18

    LA Times: Lawmaker wants tighter ethics rules for California bullet train authority (Jerry Hill)

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2010/11/lawmaker-wants-tighter-ethics-rules-for-california-bullet-train-.html

    —————

    Thursday the Lowenthal T&H comimittee meets: The agenda is:

    THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 4, 2010

    TRANSPORTATION AND HOUSING
    ALAN LOWENTHAL, Chairman
    1:30 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. – Room 112
    (Please note time change)
    INFORMATIONAL HEARING
    SUBJECT: Review of the U.C. Berkeley Institute of Transportation Studies
    assesment of the High-Speed Rail Authority’s Ridership Forecast
    and the State Auditor’s Monitoring of the High-Speed Rail Authority

  19. John Burrows
    Nov 1st, 2010 at 21:56
    #19

    I was looking at a Quinnipac poll from Mar 24 and noticed the following result:

    Of voters 18 to 34—23% identify with the Republicans, 42% Democrat, 17% Tea Party.
    Of voters 35 to 54—25% identify with the Republicans, 32% Democrat. 19% Tea Party.
    Of voters over 55—-27% identify with the Republicans, 36% Democrat, 11% Tea Party.

    When it comes to high speed rail, my understanding is that Democrats are more likely to be supporters than Republicans and that the Tea Party is likely to be strongly opposed. The poll indicates that as we get older we are slightly more likely to think Republican, but much less likely to follow the Tea Party line. Just how much does your age influence your likely hood of supporting high speed rail? I am thinking that age does not make that much difference. I would be interested in seeing more statistics on this.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I don’t think the poll says that at all. One does not become more Republican the more you get older. Instead it shows that different generations have different political perspectives. Most research actually shows that one’s political views are hardened in the mid to late 20′s and rarely change.

    John Burrows Reply:

    Actually my views have become more liberal as I have gotten older. I switched from Republican to Democrat in 1976 to vote for Carter. But I would agree that the poll I noted does not show that voters change their political perspective as they get older. It does indicate that voters over 55 are slightly more likely to be Republican and voters under 55 considerably more likely to be influenced by the Tea Party. I think it also shows that generational differences in political viewpoint are not huge. I would still be interested in seeing any numbers regarding support for CAHSR by age group. I have looked and haven’t had any luck.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Check the polls done before 1A in 2008. Young voters were substantially more pro-HSR than older voters, but I forget by how much.

    jimsf Reply:

    Keep in mind that california is not the us when it comes to attitudes about issues.

    jimsf Reply:

    Ok enough with the tea party. The fact is, the tea party is nothing but a rehased renamed recostumed right wing of the republican party. It isn’t some big new paradigm shifting movement. I’ve seen it enough times know that. The republicans know they can not win on their basic platform anymore due the permanent demographic shift in america in the last 30 years. The only way republicans can win is to a. count on dems not turning out, and b, go to their right wing base and stir them up. The republicans rarely actually do what the far right wants, but they are a convenient and easy to dupe voting block. If democrats were to actually vote in the numbers they are registered, the republicans would never win anything. This is also why repbulicans consistantly run on fear rather than hope. They haven’t much to offer because their game is always the same. Basically, they are still the party of the wealthy and the only way they can get elected is to use demogoguery and xenophohia. They do it again and again. Its tired. THey ought to be embarrassed but they have no shame.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I can vouch for the Republicans seeming to sit on their hands on the abortion issue during the six recent years in which they held power in the White House and both houses of Congress. Big disappointment for the pro-life crowd, or should be. . .(yes, I know not everybody in California is with me on this issue, but it does illustrate the Republican brand of “phoney baloney.”)

    Another item to comment about is the Republican and Tea Parties’ fixation on business taxes and regulation, claiming that regulation and taxes stifle business (and with it, job creation).

    I have a friend who used to work as a ranger with the National Park Service in Harpers Ferry. He was one of the rangers who would dress in Civil War era clothes to tell the tourists the story of Harpers Ferry, the John Brown raid, and the following war.

    A slight digression: I once ran into him in a pizza place after work. As he was paying his bill, the girl behind the counter asked him, “Sir, can you tell us where we can find some vintage clothing? We would like to have a 50s night here.”

    He replied, “Oh, gee, ma’am, I don’t know anything about vintage clothes. I just wear these, I just work in these.”

    I piped up, “Kyle, Kyle, you’re in 50s clothes now–the 1850s! You’re only off by a hundred years!”

    One of Kyle’s stories was about how Harpers Ferry was a boom town at the time of the John Brown raid. There were a lot of government employees in the armory there that was Brown’s target, at that time making $30 a month, or $360 per year. This was a considerable amount of money back when the average American farmer had a cash income of $125 per year (and it also says something about inflation since the 1860s).

    A lot of businessmen tried to tap into that money flow. They opened up all manner of small businesses–boot shops, pharmacies, dry goods stores, and lots and lots of saloons. The business situation was very competitive; Kyle said the average life expectancy of a business was only about 6 months.

    Jumping ahead almost 150 years, if you spoke to someone in the Small Business Administration, they would tell you that, on average, 50% of all small business start-ups in any given year would fail, and that up to 90% would fail in the first 5 years. The first part of that statement–a 50% failure rate in the first year–works out to that six-month life expectancy on the eve of the Civil War.

    What really look interesting is that in 1859 there is no income tax, no sales tax, no unemployment tax, no workers compensation coverage, no Social Security, no Medicare, no Obamacare, no minimum wage law, no child labor law, no anti-discrimination law, no health code, no building code–in short, “no nothing”–and yet the failure rate was as bad, if not worse, than it is today!

    This doesn’t tell me regulation is good or bad (although it can be either); it does tell me the real secret to success in business is in the abilities of the management, combined with a bit of luck in being in the right place at the right time.

    If you take the apparent “what-me-worry” attitude the Republicans seem to have to peak oil, and combine that with this observation about the real secret of success in business, along with the shenanigans some big firms have been in during some recent years, and you have an organization that can only be described as dangerously delusional. It’s as if they live in a fantasy world, in a fairy tale.

    Between that and the phoniness on real conservative and true “family values,” I’ll take the incompetent and/or disorganized Democrats.

    jimsf Reply:

    “Delusional” lol …would certainly describe some of the candidates today.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Just one nitpick: if half the businesses fail in the first year, then generally the life expectancy would be two years, not half a year.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    One of the thngs I find interesting about these numbers is that there is a significant proportion that apparently isn’t aligned with any of the choices presented.

    18—-34: 23%R, 42%D, 17%T, 18%N (None of the offered listings)
    35—-54: 25%R, 32%D, 19%T, 24%N
    Over 55: 27%R, 36%D, 11%T, 26%N

    It’s also worth noting that these numbers may not reflect actual voter registrations; it’s my understanding that as registration percentages, the Republicans have been shrinking (and becoming quite old in the process), the Democrats could be described as “static” or “holding their own” (depending on your choice of spin), while the real growth was in the Independents.

    I also find it interesting that the Republican “identification factor” increases by 2% in each age block, which I understand to be within the margin of error (typically described as +/-3%); if that’s the case, the number is insignificant, lending some credibility to Robert’s interpretation (which also echoes the “crystalization of views” my psychologist instructor mentioned so many years ago).

    We do have a documented age pattern (and apparent generational shift) in regard to the desireability of auto ownership, and I have observed (and Amtrak reportedly measured) a rail favoritism pattern with a sag in the middle; this seems to have moved up considerably in age (my generational break pattern), but I’m not a professional polster, and I can’t really document it. I do find it interesting that the Democrats look so strong in the low age end, apparently at the expense of the Independents. There is also the question of who and how many will actually vote; a smaller but more energetic group can turn an election to its favor over a larger but more appathetic group that just doesn’t go out the door on election day.

    Now the waiting begins. . .

    Nathanael Reply:

    If the age brackets are broken down tighter, on a national level, the “republican peak” is currently in people around 40. The “anti-rail peak” is older than that.

    More interestingly, the views of the increasing numbers of independents are swinging closer and closer to the views of Democrats, while Republicans live in their own little fantasy world.

    Most of the Tea Party groups are Republican-funded operations, but the fact is that a number of their founders have rejected them and dissassociated themselves from them after realizing that they’d been taken over by corporate money. The anti-big-corporation right wing is a meaningful number of people, I haven’t seen it measured, and at the moment it has nowhere to go.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “If the age brackets are broken down tighter, on a national level, the “republican peak” is currently in people around 40. The “anti-rail peak” is older than that.”–Nathaniel

    I concur. That “republican peak” would coincide with the people in it being in their late teens and early twenties in Ronald Reagan’s time, when their views of themselves and the world would crystalize. They do not seem to be anti-rail as such (they undoubtedly make up a good proportion of the riders I see on the commuter train and the subway here, and are likely on Caltrain, Muni, and BART as well), but they are “anti-government,” and may not be knowledgeable on the real cost of the road system, and will oppose rail on spending grounds.

    The older, true anti-rail crowd has been well discussed here, of course, and is still significant in numbers, mostly in its low end (i.e., 60–70), with the numbers dropping off as they get older (grim reaper effect). It also means the original older pro-rail crowd is about gone, too; I estimate their break point currently to be about 90.

    There are a lot of things in the anti-big-corporation crowd’s complaints that are legitimate. I wonder how frustrated they must be with “nowhere to go.”

    Nathanael Reply:

    Watch out in overinterpreting “Tea Party” identification — it’s more of a protest identification and you’re going to find a pretty odd mix in there.

    Note that not-party-aligned has *huge* numbers. It actually has been growing over time, and that’s not a generational effect. Don’t try to guess what they think other than being disgusted with “business as usual”. The smart ones will be trying to get rid of the insane supermajority requirements and reform the voting system. The ignorant ones will just be voting against incumbents every election.

  20. jimsf
    Nov 1st, 2010 at 23:07
    #20

    The mayhem continues in downtown sf.

  21. D. P. Lubic
    Nov 2nd, 2010 at 09:31
    #21

    On the historical side—

    In the postwar era, the Chesapeake & Ohio Railway planned a streamlined daylight train to run between Washington, DC and Cincinnati, Ohio. This train was to be called “The Chessie,” and its illuminated tailsign was to be an image of the road’s mascot, Chessie the Cat.

    http://www.allcatsarelegends.com/Chessie%20Sleep%20Like%20a%20Kitten%20from%20orginal%20print.jpg

    This was, as noted, to be a daylight train, and as such it was mostly coaches, with diners, observation cars, and domes, all built by Budd. It was to be a state-of-the art luxury train, and the features included true lounges for both women and men, other fine lounges for “colored” passengers (this was a railroad that ran in Virginia and Kentucky in the segregation era), an observation lounge with an aquarium, and a special children’s car featuring Disney artwork on its walls. Power was to be a set of coal-burning steam turbine electric locomotives of enormous size. In addition to this, sections of the train were to also run from Newport News, Va., and Louisville, Ky., making connections with the main line train at Charlottesville, Va., and Ashland, Ky. These were to be platform connections, as the schedule was too short for the traditional combining and/or breaking of trains that was normally done.

    There was quite a bit of hoopla about this train, a lot of PR, the equipment was delivered, test runs were made–but it never turned a wheel in revenue service! There were a combination of things that happened. They included delays in equipment delivery that took years, changing market conditions, a realization that the market wasn’t what it had been supposed (the Baltimore & Ohio had its own pocket version of this train, its legendary Cincinnatian, and found it lost money except in the summer), and there were problems with the equipment, specifically those three huge turbine engines that turned out to be maintenance nightmares. Later, other problems, including coal strikes that greatly reduced the overall revenue of the railroad, lead to the start of the inevitable retrenchment from passenger operations.

    The turbines would be scrapped in just three years, and many of the cars from this and other car orders would be sold to other lines (many of the Chessie cars themselves wound up in South America), yet this aborted streamliner had many features that would be worth looking at today, including what would be meeting space, a theater car, and a children’s car–with Disney characters. . .

    http://www.cohs.org/repository/Archives/cohs/web/cohs-28979.jpg

    http://www.cohs.org/repository/Archives/cohs/web/cohs-29175.jpg

    To be continued:

    James Fujita Reply:

    Hard to feel nostalgia for a train with “colored” lounges.

    Also, I would hope that our Japanese/ Chinese/ French/ German HSR won’t be a “maintenance nightmare”….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Maintenance nightmare mostly because they thought using coal powder furl in a turbine would work. Abarsive dust that burns into abrasive dust. Somebody wasn’t thinking too clearly.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Adirondacker,

    You are thinking of the proposed coal-fired gas turbine that the rail industry put a lot of effort into; an experimental unit, using the carbody and running gear of a former Great Northern W-2 electric locomotive was used for the test bed, on the Union Pacific. C&O’s was a steam-turbine-electric, like a stationary power plant, although using a conventional locomotive boiler and no condensor. That didn’t improve things much; the units were prone to all manner of water leaks, which did wonders for the electrical gear. On top of that, firing the thing was wierd for some reason, at least partially due to the steady draft supplied by the turbine; this made firing different from conventional engines with their pulsing exhaust.

    Engine crews, also used to conventional power, didn’t like the general layout, either. The locomotive was arranged with the coal bunker in front of the cab, then the cab itself, then the boiler (which was oriented firebox forward, stack to the rear), followed by the space for the turbines and generators. “Coal bunker in front of you, all the machinery behind you!” was a comment by one engineer who hated the turbines enough to go back into freight service. Air compressors, same as on a conventional locomotive, were located in a compartment ahead of the coal bunker. Lots of long pipe runs, lots of long electrical runs, lots of electrical runs and motors located below water and steam pipes, which could drip onto the electrical stuff. Turbine and generator compartment filled with machinery, very difficult for a man to get into.

    http://www.cohs.org/repository/Archives/cohs/web/cohs-20555.jpg

    http://www.cohs.org/repository/Archives/cohs/web/cohs-20556.jpg

    http://www.cohs.org/repository/Archives/cohs/web/cohs-20553.jpg

    Continued:

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    This shot is interesting; the turbine locomotive is about a year old here, and next to it is newly delivered 4-8-4 conventional passenger engine No. 614. The new Lima-Hamilton Corporation Greenbriar type would be the last conventional steam passenger locomotive built for service in the United States by a commercial locomotive builder; there would be only three more steam passenger engines built for US service, all home-made by the Norfolk & Western. What is interesting is that this last passenger engine, refined with roller bearings on all axles, a one-piece cast frame with main air tanks and cylinders made part of the casting, and with lightweight roller rods and an aluminum boiler jacket and cab, is still in existence today, and was used in excursion service in the 1980s and 1990s.

    http://www.cohs.org/repository/Archives/cohs/web/cohs-21432.jpg

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    As to the colored lounges, what can I say?

    I did get to talk to a black gentleman who was a C&O employee (his wife worked with me, I wish I could express here how beautiful her voice was, a wonderful Virginia accent that was so pleasing to listen to; I wonder how she sounded in her church choir, which I understand she participated in). His story about segregation on the C&O highlighted how rediculous it was.

    According to him, the C&O’s passenger cars had a three-sided sign at each end that could be rotated or “flipped” to display three messages. The messages were “Whites Only,” “Colored Only,” and “No Smoking.” In Virginia, segregatoin on trains was in effect, so a black man, gettin on the train in Charlottesville, or Hinton, or some other place, had to ride in one of the cars with the “Colored Only” sign, which was usually right behind the mail cars. This was in effect until the train got to White Sulpher Springs, which was the first stop in West Virginia. The Mountain State had segregation in other places–but not on trains or other public transit. At this point, the conductor came through and “flipped” the sign to the “No Smoking” side. A black man could then go where he wanted to go on the train–until it reached Huntington or Kenova, which, depending on the schedule, was the last stop in West Virginia before entering Kentucky. At this point, the conductor would have to round up black people in the rear of the train, shoo any white people out of the front of the train, and flip the signs back to “Colored Only” or “White Only.” This would be in effect until the train reached Ohio, either just before the end of C&O trackage in Cincinnati (New York Central forwarded C&O cars to Chicago from there), or just after leaving Limeville, Ky., where the line to Detroit branched off after leaving Ashland–and so the conductor had to “flip” all the signs to “No Smoking.”

    Ridiculous! Just plumb ridiculous! Phooey!

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