Merced HSR Supporters Angry At Construction Proposal

Nov 25th, 2010 | Posted by

In the wake of yesterday’s announcement that Madera-Corcoran be the starting point for HSR construction in California, project supporters in Merced, which was not included in the first segment, have expressed their outrage at the choice. Their primary concern is that the California High Speed Rail Authority staff assessment of the proposed starting point gave low scores to the Merced segment since it is not directly on the SF-LA route, but is the first stop on the spur north to Sacramento. This has Merced HSR backers worried that their station will be delayed to Phase II, which might not be built for some time.

One of the supporters who expressed their anger was Congressman Dennis Cardoza, a Democrat whose district includes Merced. Yesterday he sent out this fiery press release:

“This last-minute bait-and-switch tactic is a Thanksgiving Day fraud. It completely eliminates the Merced station, which is in violation of Proposition 1A, and completely eliminates the entire Northern San Joaquin Valley from Phase I,” said Congressman Cardoza.

“The Authority staff has never vetted the Corcoran-to-Borden route with the public, and instead has wasted the community’s time and good will with endless public workshops and meetings on the other routes. This deceit harms the long standing trust and support that the Merced community and others in the Northern Valley have provided. This will completely undermine future support of the project.”

The staff recommendation was expected to select the first route of the train: either from Merced to Fresno, or from Fresno to Bakersfield, which have been the subject of public discussion and staff analysis. Instead, the staff selected a hybrid route which runs between Corcoran and Borden (near Madera), eliminating Merced. Proposition 1A, which the voters approved in 2008, provides $9.95 billion in state bonds funds and requires a high speed rail station to be built in Merced. 

“I have long advocated for the high speed rail project in California, but if voter intent is to be subverted in this way, it will certainly jeopardize the future passage of all bond initiatives,” said Congressman Cardoza. 

“The staff recommendation is fundamentally flawed.  Building the first leg of the high speed train from Corcoran to Borden turns a blind eye to the public’s concern over the lack of enough ridership to justify expenditure of billions of dollars and is a waste of public funds.  What kind of ridership figures does the Authority expect to see with trains running between Corcoran and Borden?  If this is how the system is going to be built, we need a full investigation of the process.”

In October the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a $715 million grant to construct High Speed Rail with the requirement that the first phase of construction be in the San Joaquin Valley. In total, more than $4.3 billion is available in state and federal funds for this phase of the project.

“Simply put, the Merced-to-Fresno route is the superior choice. It achieves greater ridership and begins the core of the project, facilitating connections to Southern California, the Bay Area and Sacramento. The Merced-to-Fresno segment also has the offer of free land for the construction of the heavy maintenance facility at the former Castle Air Force Base.  This would be the most prudent use of funding and the most logical location,” said Congressman Cardoza.

I can understand why Cardoza is upset, but these claims are unjustified. Merced has NOT been excluded from the project, any more than any of the other stations listed in the AB 3034/Prop 1A bond. Unless Cardoza can show evidence that Merced is losing its station, his claims that the proposed starting point for construction violates the bond is not accurate, and very unhelpful.

Another critic is the person who comments on this blog under the name “Castle Expert,” a longtime project supporter from Merced County. Here’s excerpt from their comments denouncing the construction starting point choice:

As a big time High Speed Rail supporter I am deeply troubled by this sneaky act of the authority staff. Madera to Corcoran was written on a cocktail napkin and was never ever vetted like Bakerfield to Fresno or Fresno to Merced. I first heard about this proposal last week at a San Joaquin rail meeting but when I went back to look it up the proposal the language approved by the voters of California and the crtieria for the FRA funding this site misses nearly all the criteria put forth by the bond measeure and the President….

The latest rumor I have heard is that Cardoza is going to call for a full blown Congressional investiagation and he is going to contact FRA about freezing the money coming to California until this sham is corrected. I can hardly wait for people to see this route I would love to go on Rush Limbaug and show him what people are getting for their stimulus money a track to nowhere.

How does this selection build the spine when it does not even biscet the middle of the valley. If you live in Merced, Modesto or Sacramento you were just duped by the promise of HIgh Speed Rail. Anyone that lives in these areas is going to be missed altoghter or built sometime is 2020 or later if ever. I hope this board overturns this terrrible and illegal use of the tax voters wishes.

Again, I can understand why Merced HSR supporters are unhappy with the choice. However, I don’t believe this outrage is justified – and in fact it will deal a much greater blow to Merced’s HSR hopes if it is sustained.

I can understand why Merced is concerned about what has happened, since it opens the door to Merced being kicked down to Phase II. I don’t necessarily think that’s guaranteed, and I’m open to building to Merced as soon as we can.

However, the best way to ensure that Merced gets nothing – and to alienate other HSR supporters – is to use this to attack the project as a whole. If Merced does that – if, for example, Cardoza uses this to join Republicans in an investigation or trying to take back HSR money – it sets up an adversarial situation where the rest of the state has to fight Merced for the sake of the project’s survival. The result would be hostility to Merced, and much less support for Merced’s desire to be included in Phase I.

Look at the Peninsula. When cities there started attacking the project because they didn’t get their way, many project backers became hostile to their concerns. When the stimulus money went to the Valley, many backers saw it as a welcome case of “screw you” to those Peninsula critics. Maybe not the best reaction, but an understandable one.

I would also suggest making a clear case for why Merced deserves to be on Phase I. I personally support it, but we need Merced itself to make that argument. After all, Merced is not directly on the SF-LA route, so it can be easy for others to argue Merced isn’t a priority. Show people why it is.

Finally, Congressman Cardoza needs to step up his efforts to secure more federal funding for the project – which is by far the most important thing needed to bring HSR to Merced quickly.

Let’s be very clear here: Merced has been strongly supportive of HSR. They should continue that support if they are to bring the bullet trains to them in the near future. The only thing they’ll get from an adversarial approach to this choice is further delays in getting what they want.

UPDATE: Just to reemphasize that I don’t believe Merced should be cut out of Phase I, nor do I believe that’s what is happening here. My point is that if Merced is worried, the best way they can ensure they get HSR as quickly as they can is to work with other supporters, instead of turning to the dark side of HSR criticism.

  1. peninsula
    Nov 25th, 2010 at 11:50

    I love the blatant mafioso tones in this post. If you fight us, you’ll be sorry…

    “Let’s be very clear here: Merced has been strongly supportive of HSR. They should continue that support if they are to bring the bullet trains to them in the near future. The only thing they’ll get from an adversarial approach to this choice is further delays in getting what they want.”

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Sounds like the peninsula and their constant threats about what’s going to happen with high-speed rail if they don’t get the tunnels

    Peter Reply:

    It’s not a threat. It’s an accurate assessment of what will happen if certain events occur.

    Missiondweller Reply:

    Me too. At first I thought it was just because Godfather II was on today and it was in my head.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Whatever. It’s an honest assessment. I want Merced to get HSR as soon as possible. But if they choose to attack the project, they’ll be setting up an adversarial situation that isn’t necessary and that will make it impossible for supporters to help them.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Think of it like this–they will scare the railroad people away with all this adversarial talk. Who would want to put up with some of this garbage? I can tell you I got mighty discouraged from some the ridiculous reactions I got here in West Virginia, including being called a Communist. Makes you anything but “proud to be an American,” as Lee Greenwood puts in his “God Bless the USA.” In fact, it makes you feel about one inch tall, and you think your country is being run by a bunch of yahoos.

    Ironically, those same yahoos live in all kinds of ways that would upset really conservative people. They speak with bad language, they wear clothes that range from just ugly to overly revealing, they talk about being for “family values” and “traditional living” as they cheat on their wives and get married multiple times (I’m speaking mainly of public figures here, such as Newt Gingrich), go in for some so-called Gospel music that sounds bad (at least to me), while at the same time they rebuke me and my wife for out taste in traditional and classical music which includes for the two of us (although not always both of us) bluegrass, jazz, big band, and classical and church music, including music on enormous pipe organs.

    The late Paul Weyrich, who was a very conservative person (and also a great rail supporter), once claimed that conservatism was not just a political view, but a way of life. I think he was very disappointed near the end of his life at some of these things in the culture, and that they were also in his own conservative (Republican) political sphere.

    A friend of mine in Shepherdstown, W.Va. (he is the one I mentioned before in discussions on a potential coast-to-coast overnight service as HSR would gradually expand) commented that the so-called “conservatives” seem to be anything but conservative. For him, to be a “conservative” means “to conserve.” This means to save, to preserve the best of what we have. One of the leaders in this conservation outlook was a very prominent Republican, one Theodore Roosevelt. Yes, I know about his hunting and such, but he also held a lot of mining and logging outfits at bay in his time, and was hated for it. I think he may have been a bit like some modern hunters and other gamesmen who enjoy hunting and fishing, but also realize that you need to care for the land and the creatures so you can continue to hunt and fish.

    Can you say the so-called “conservatives” in the political sphere stand for this today?

  2. Mike
    Nov 25th, 2010 at 11:53

    My take is that the authority is trying to put themselves in the best possible position to compete for additional funding. The 4 billion for Corcocan to Borden is already secure. Another approx. 4 billion would complete the entire central valley phase 1 segment, from Bakersfield to Merced. Which is much more useful than from Fresno to Hanford… so the ridership numbers for that additional 4 billion will be nice and rosy, more so than if they chose Merced – Fresno or Fresno – Bakersfield for the first 4 billion.

    Victor Reply:

    Agreed, They were told to pick one or the other, Someone had to be first and Merced is supposed to be beyond the Wye on the way to Sacramento CA, Not on the side of the Wye heading towards San Francisco, Plus there are the funds that CA could maybe get from the refunds from Ohio and Wisconsin that could at least push the segment from Hanford into Bakersfield proper, That could be the CHSRA’s reasoning behind the Fresno to Hanford Segment Selection.

  3. dave
    Nov 25th, 2010 at 12:01

    To all HSR supporters, your voice represents your area. If you speak productively, resonably your city, your route will be given further consideration and given a hand. If you attack the project on the grounds of selfishness, talk of scandal without evidence, your city or town will get the back of a hand. Don’t take a shit on your cities image by being hysterical.

    Peter Reply:

    To paraphrase van Ark (?): This is a marathon, not a sprint.

    jay taylor Reply:

    Or was that Ice Cube ;)
    “Life ain’t a track meet, it’s a marathon”

    Nathanael Reply:


    What does Madera to Corcoran, centered on Fresno, have which no other segment has?

    Answer: In addition to being relatively uncomplicated (unlike the mountain passes), Fresno is, as far as I can tell, *gung ho wholeheartedly* behind the project no matter *what* the details are. Hanford is desperate to get a station, period, and are gung ho for it as long as it stops there. It’s mostly on the happy-to-work-with-HSR BNSF route.

    Is it any wonder they’re getting the first construction? Bakersfield was well in line to get early construction, but they started making meritless complaints about the station and track location. Merced is still quite likely to be built early, but not with the hysterical attitude which some appear to have taken.

    jimsf Reply:

    @ Dave
    yep, pretty much just like life in general huh!

  4. James Fujita
    Nov 25th, 2010 at 12:09

    for what it’s worth, I’d rather deal with Merced IMBYs than Peninsula NIMBYs.

    if we were building a commuter train line instead of a HSR route, you could make an argument for Hanford (50K)- Fresno (909K)- Madera (50K)- Merced (80K). It’s a shame Merced really isn’t on the L.A. to Bay Area route.

    Peter Reply:

    I wonder if the Authority is now wishing it had chosen the Altamont alignment.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    just maby!! Ok Im off for Turkey dinner!!! Happy Thanksgiving to all!!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Thanks, have a nice trip. My wife is just starting our bird now, be ready by 6 this evening.

  5. Castle Expert
    Nov 25th, 2010 at 12:29

    Folks this is not merely sour grapes this is a blant decit by authority staff and especially Van Ark.
    The North valley of Sacramento, Stockton, Modesto, Turlock and Merced County all joined together as a coalition to support High Speed Rail back in 2001. Merced is instrumental in involving the Ag folks from Bakersfield to Modesto. Through the work of the Merced Committee meetings were set-up with the Secreatary of Ag, Farm Bureau and the authority to discuss a mitigation numbers that were acceptable to Ag and the authority. Merced folks also got major Farm Buera organizations to stand down and not protest the annoucment until the authority voted on this annoucment.

    Interestingly before this annoucment was offical we in Merced sent out an emerrgency e-mail to authority and Van Ark specifically asking him about this route and the addition of adding Hanford as a station. Van Ark never repleyed back and one authority staff member said we were always thinking about adding Hanford as a station read your report.

    Merced Community members became so worried about this new route and not being vetted we referred it over to the attorney general and met with one member of the authority Board who agreed this might cause some legal issues with the Bond measure and Federal funding.

    Than when Assemebly woman Galgiani who is also Chairwoman for Agriculture of California has an agreement from Major Ag players regarding the Chowchilla Y Van Ark shows up at this meeting and with a resoltuion in site on the Y and he abruptly says we are sticking with what we have submitted meeting over.

    Right after this meeting Merced folks realize this route has been picked and begin to notify our elected officals who our in various meetings with authority officals and board members throughout the state telling them of the inpending annoucment. Next the annoucment is made at
    10:00 a.m. no one from Merced Community or elected officals is contacted until after the annoucment is made public so they at least have a few moments to react.

    Van Ark calls Assemblywoman Galgiani and explains to her his decision totally catching her off guard and she is the Chair Woman for the Authority. In the mean time Jeff Baker does a conference call an hour before the annoucment and tells all callers on the phone of course Merced area is not invited on this conference call saying that anymore federal money will be used for the Bay Area or LA.

    After the conference call some folks working on Fresno to Bakersfield our sick to their stomachs because Baker basically says anymore money from the Feds is going to be spent on LA and bay area. They now realize Merced is not going to come online until Merced- Sacrmento and even though we were competitors they do not like how Merced was notified and how this process unfolded.

    2:00 yestereday Superviors Pedrozo the Chairman of the Merced County committee finally recieves a call from Carrie Bowen telling him about the selection. Mayor of Merced is never notified by anyone.

    Early yesterday morning Congressman Costa calls Cardoza and tells him he is sickened by this choice and does not like the new hybrid himself he is also worried about what Cardoza is going to do because Cardoza was instrumental in working with La Hood to secure federal dollars for High Speed Rail.

    Present day Cardoza release press relese, the Ag community leaders from Bakersfield to Modesto who promised to stand down and give the authority time to mitigate see their Chairwoman of Ag
    Cathleen G be completely ignored by Van Ark and now our preparing to orangize.
    A large law firm from San Franciso contacts the Merced Committee and volunters to help them litigate this annoucedment since they see huge procedural errors in this selction. The Farm Buerua Presidents through out the valley who sheepishly came to the table at the behest of the Merced area now are “Man on fire” and our furious with authority staff and Van Ark who they feel has no inclination to work with them.

    To quote one farm Bureau President” If this is what the authority staff and new director do to their friends in Merced County who have pushed this project since 2001 what are they going to do with our concerns.”

    Joey Reply:

    CALM DOWN!!!

    This still doesn’t necessarily mean that Merced won’t be included in Phase 1, and definitely doesn’t mean it won’t be included in Phase 2 (which it will of course).

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The logic used to choose Fresno is good logic, given the criteria of getting to the Bay Area and the LA area (now defined as San Jose and San Fernando respectively). It will hold until you are to San Francisco and LA. I think LA- Anaheim may now be in the same category as Merced, if not in a lower rank.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I hope it is. As I’ve repeatedly said, LA-Anaheim is a low priority, but Pringle may think otherwise. And as I’ve said, I’ve given up on figuring whether Pringle still wants a tunnel to Cathedral of St. Curt ARTIC or is willing to accept shared track.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Get LA/SF built and LA-Anaheim can be finished off of revenue bonds, even gold plated ~ though the gold plating will then be directly in the way of faster start on San Diego and Sacrament.

    Get LA/CV built and CV/SF will follow.

    So it may come down to whether Pringle wants to be in on the ground floor or to hold out for gold plating, with no guarantee that it won’t get ambushed politically when push comes to shove.

    Victor Reply:

    Revenue Bonds, I like that, Although I’d rather go for the track sharing, But then I’m a bit cheap.

    jimsf Reply:

    And can we remember that this isn’t a “different route” being chosen. Its e the same route. The only thing up for grabs is where will construction begin. They appear to have looked at building the complicated part of the valley core – the section through the one major city – frenso- who also happens to be cooperating – and to build out from their to end points north of bfd and south of mcd – points that are just short of the areas that aren’t fully ready for construction, as bfd is working out how to best get into town and merced is still toying which WYE alternative would be best. They can’t very well say “we are starting in merced, when the wye alternative hasn’t even been nailed down. By the time this first construction commences, they wye alternative could be finalized and the mcd/wye could be part of san jose to madera. That just depends on funding, and we don’t have any idea what that picture will be at that time. So its ridiculous to rule it out. By the same token, BFD could come through with their solid preferences and get the next construction if they are ready to go. With this big chunk first, and the san jose/chowcilla wye/madera second and a castle hmf announced, that knocks out a huge part of phase one. Then into bfd after that followed by palmdale. Now youve got high speed track from san jose to palmdale, the wye complete, the hmf chosen. What remains of phase one then is caltrain ( by then maybe they will have figured out what they are doing) and the upgrades from palmdale to anaheim. Then phase one is done.but what order they do all that in makes no real difference and will depend on funding at any given period and the readiness of the communities involved. There is nothing complicated about this. Its only complicated when people start hyperventilating.

    Jack In Fresno Reply:


    Sour grapes are sour grapes. Roberts right, you should be out there fighting for more money to make sure the project gets completed. Not trying to destroy the project in this “If I don’t get the train now then no one will” attitude.

    Clem Reply:


    1) somebody was going to get the short end of this $4 billion.

    2) Merced should join the Altamont lawsuit. It’s still kicking, and likely why Van Ark wouldn’t touch the wye with a ten foot pole. A San Jose vs. Northern CV smack down would be fascinating to watch.

    3) pass the popcorn!

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Isn’t the fact that there’s no way to tell where the wye will end up being a sufficiently substantial reason to not want to touch it? Its not the kind of project risk you need on your first segment,.

    Nathanael Reply:

    This is just goofy thinking on the part of the hysterical people at Merced.

    Would they have been happier if the Fresno-Bakersfield route had been chosen as the first step? That is even FURTHER from Merced. Seriously, they need to get over themselves.

    Hanford HAS always been on the plans, haven’t you read any of the documents EVER?

    StevieB Reply:

    Hanford is an optional station that fulfills the two station requirement. If as VanArk said in the press release, “The funding other states are sending back to Washington – if redirected to California – would allow us to extend initial construction all the way to Bakersfield”, then Bakersfield fulfills the requirement and Hanford need not be in the initial build.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    All the way TO Bakersfield, or all the way through Bakersfield to a Bakersfield station?

    I rather thing its the former.

    StevieB Reply:

    If over a billion dollars returned by other states is sent to California then a Bakersfield station is much more likely.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Like I said – if you want HSR, attacking the project is the worst possible way to get it. If you worry that Merced is in a precarious position, then tell us how we can help the HSR supporters there bolster their position. Any attack on the project is going to drive a wedge between you and other supporters across the state – especially since, and I sincerely do not mean this to be dismissive, Merced is not the largest city on the route and therefore is not seen as much of a priority to the rest of the state. So that makes it all the more important to stay away from attacking the project, and all the more important to work with the rest of us to secure more funding so that Merced isn’t cut out of Phase I.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    The Merced response is ridiculous, but expected. Have any other bergs claimed they have been duped too? Los Angeles? San Diego?

    I concur with Robert… if the objective of a berg is to be included in the HSR project as early as possible, the most product approach is to provide support and assistance, and not assert that staff has done something wrong or inappropriate or broken a law. I believe, at the end of the day such claims undermine the whole State effort and makes other stakeholders potentially more nervous. Rhetorically, will the Feds be more forthcoming with funding if they see/sense that there is not unity on the project???

    In fact, where is the State democratic leader in this project? They should contact the Merced representative and give them an ear.

  6. J. Wong
    Nov 25th, 2010 at 13:10

    “Deceit”? So you’re saying that all along the Authority was planning on not including Merced in Phase 1? It isn’t just because facts changed, mainly the funding restrictions? I can understand you’re upset, but you should be focused on how to get HSR started no matter what. I live in SF and would accept an initial San Jose-LA run if that’s what it takes.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    From any kind of commonsense perspective, you were never going to build one inch north of the wye unless you were doing Altamont.

    On one hand, it is a relief to see some commonsense in the decision making.

    On the other hand, the Merced crowd is not crazy to feeling led on.

    If Merced wants to be in the game, they need to start pitching the virtues of Altamont and the possibilities of FTA funding, as well as FRA funding, instead of just political connections.

    If they don’t do this, they are out for a long, long time.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Merced could still get the HSR maintenance base, which would be an excellent motivation for putting in the line to Merced early.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Of course you want them to pitch Altamont – it gets HSR out of your town. That’s what you’ve been after for the last two years.

    The other option is for Merced and other cities on the Sacramento route to push for accelerated construction of the project. That’s much more likely than a sudden revival of Altamont.

    Clem Reply:

    I wouldn’t count Altamont out just yet, and it has a long list of advantages in addition to bypassing sensitive areas of PAMPA. (not counting eastern Menlo Park as part of PAMPA). The lawsuit still has some life in it if the ridership estimates are found to have been rigged. While many on this blog consider that to be grasping at straws, I think it’s wiser to keep a close watch on this court case as it unfolds.

    Clem Reply:

    The case to watch: Sacramento Superior Court civil case 34-2010-80000679.

    Opening brief due December 1st.
    Reply brief due December 17th.
    Hearing March 18th.

    tony d. Reply:

    A little to much beverage on this Thanksgiving hey Clem! Altamont (at least as the primary Bay Area to CV route) is dead.
    It is grasping at straws! Nothing to consider.

    Peter Reply:

    I’m still pretty sure that issue preclusion will prevent them from relitigating the ridership study issue. The plaintiffs messed up their discovery (didn’t do their due diligence) on the ridership issue and didn’t figure out what the real issue was until after they had gotten final judgment against the Authority. They already tried to relitigate it and lost.

    Clem Reply:

    They got tossed out because there was an upcoming, new opportunity to sue under CEQA upon the re-certification of the Bay Area – Central Valley EIR. In the meantime, no determination was ever made on the matter of ridership. The new case, 34-2010-80000679, is the result, and is barely even started through the process. The interesting parts will occur on the dates I mentioned above.

    It’s worth noting that the option mentioned by Elizabeth, namely Altamont to San Jose continuing to San Francisco, would likely have beat the ridership of every other alternative under the ‘goosed’ parameter set. Is this why it pointedly wasn’t studied?

    Peter Reply:

    You are correct, there was a new opportunity to sue under CEQA and no determination as to ridership was made at the time the writ of error coram nobis was tossed out. BUT, there WAS a determination as to ridership when the original lawsuit was decided. I’m pretty certain that that qualifies the ridership issue for issue preclusion.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That alternative was studied. It was goosed because of stupid ideas of how long it takes a train to reverse direction, but even if you shorten the reverse move, the trip time becomes just too long.

    rafael Reply:

    Uhm, that’s debatable. Take a gander at CHSRA’s Final Bay Area EIR/EIS (chapter 7):

    Route option 7.2.12 (Pacheco Pass base = CHSRA’s preferred option):
    SJ-LA 2h09m, SJ-Sac 1h18m
    SF-LA 2h38m

    ergo: SF-SJ 0h29m, SF-Sac 1h47m

    Route option 7.2.9 (Altamont via SJ Diridon w/o new Bay crossing):
    SJ-LA 2h19m, SJ-Sac 0h49m
    SF-LA 3h17m (!), SF-Sac 1h39m (!)

    ergo 2: SF-LA includes 197 – 139 – 29 = 29 minutes for dwell + turnaround at San Jose Diridon. SF-Sac includes 99 – 49 – 29 = 21 minutes for same. This implies turnaround time would depend on where the train is going. Either way, it’s preposterously long given that HSR trainsets have driver cabs at both ends.

    ergo 3: Altamont with an East Bay spur up to Fremont would add 10 min to SJ-LA.

    Not studied at all: variation of 7.2.9 with South Bay station at Santa Clara/SJC instead of SJ Diridon, to enable run-through operations. Connecting transit for such a station would be delivered by VTA, Caltrain and the BART extension plus potentially by Amtrak long distance, Amtrak CC and ACE. Total SF-LA distance would be reduced a little bit relative to option 7.2.9, such that it would be reasonable to assume a non-stop SF-LA time of ~2h46m, i.e. 8 minutes (5%) longer than 7.2.12. Against that, SF-Sac would take just ~1h16m (~29% faster than 7.2.12).

    Bottom line: travel time shouldn’t be cited as a major advantage of Pacheco. The real reasons for CHSRA’s declared preference appear to be twofold: One, San Jose wants its HSR station at Cahill St to spur real estate development near there and, it has the political clout to get its way. Two, there’s no available right of way to construct dedicated HSR tracks between Santa Clara/SJC and Fremont Niles in the East Bay – last not least because of the BART extensions to Fremont Warm Springs and Silicon Valley.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    So you are saying that by using an alignment that is not available, it would be possible to get a notional 2:46, with 4 minutes notional leeway, SF/LA.

    Well if ifs and buts were candies and nuts, we’d all have a bloody Merry Christmas. How much bloody time would it take via an alignment that isavailable?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The rail authority is currently studying three different alignments under the Altamont Corridor project.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    More than three when all the combinations and permutations are laid out, but all of them share restriction to two track and allowance for tighter curves.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Not studied. We brought it up in our EIR comments and the Rail Authority’s response was that they studied one that got to San Francisco AND had a line up to Oakland , which kind of defeated the purpose of looking at a route without a split.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Well, they did study a splitless Altamont option, one just going to SF, without SJ. Modifying it to include SJ and a reverse move might not even raise ridership – it would slow LA-SF trains too much.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    It’s probably not totally done, but neither does it seem all that likely. If Altamont was selected, you’d suddenly see people in Fremont, Pleasanton and Livermore making the same arguments made by some in PAMPA against the project. It would delay the connection from the Central Valley to the Bay Area by as much as half a decade.

    Elizabeth Reply:


    First – Altamont has become synonymous with a Dumbarton bridge crossing, but Altamont simply means where you cross the Diablo Mountains.

    There are variants on Altamont, such as going to San Jose and then going up the Peninsula through my city up to San Francisco that have none of the objections to the original route (crossing the bay, splitting trains) that were never studied.

    72 other variants were looked at, but not this obvious one. We don’t advocate it per se but think it should be looked at.

    Second, there is an actual project underway to provide service through the Altamont pass to San Jose. The immediate project objectives of High Speed Rail have been redefined as getting to the San Fernando Valley and San Jose. Given this, it is reasonable to look at both ways to get to San Jose. The Altamont Corridor route gives Merced people some chance and might be eligible for FTA funding, as part of a new starts process.

    Third, this doesn’t mean not building Pacheco eventually to speed up service to San Francisco. It is just rethinking the order.

    Fourth, the Altamont corridor looks like a much cheaper and faster way of getting to the Bay Area. Even just getting to Warm Springs would get you onto BART.

    We are not saying do it. We are saying it is worth looking at and considering. You asked for people to get concrete suggestions to the Merced folks. This is a concrete suggestion.

    StevieB Reply:

    Can you get from Los Angeles to San Francisco in 2:40 going through Altamont and San Jose? If you cannot then the plan has a fatal flaw.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is not faster hsr alignment between LA and SF Bay Area than Tejon-I-5, Altamont.

    But I have to interpret the Corcoran segment selection as quite a gift to the hsr opposition. What little monies are available should have gone to the area of most crying need for public transit, which is of course LA. Perhaps Van Ark unconsciously grasps the flaws in Prop 1A and the resulting PB scheme and wants to bring the controversy to a head quickly.

    And to those who continue to drone on about Chinese funding, don’t you read the newspapers? You really think it will be acceptable to accept money from a superpower with whom our relations are marked by steadily rising friction? You guys need to get out more.

    StevieB Reply:

    Synonymous, you are rambling incoherently again. The alignment is going through Palmdale and Fresno so you by necessity need to add the travel time through those cities to answer my question. The remainder of your post is incomprehensible.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Its not local transit, its high speed rail, which is intercity transport, and to be specific, inter-metropolitan transport.

    That is why the USDoT mandated that the money go to the CV ~ to guarantee that it not be diverted from its intended purpose of intercity transport into local transit.

    And pragmatically, its the CV that is least well served by existing intercity transport along the Stage 1 route.

    jimsf Reply:


    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    And, within California, has among the highest unemployment rates in the State and the Country. Some of the funding will go to delivering jobs to a region in desparate need.

    Caelestor Reply:

    Once again, the only suggestion that even holds water is Altamont.
    When you build a rail system, you go where the population (and passengers) is.

    dave Reply:

    Agreed and not just because I live on the Altamont route. If we could do Altamont, through southern Livermore to Sunol and San Jose, then go north on the Peninsula and on to San Fran. in 2:40- Maybe even 2:50 it would definitely be worth the savings in of a few Billion for 10 minutes extra that will hardly be noticeable when your typing away on your laptop or watching a movie on the train.

    What worried me about sueing is that although we want this alternative instead, sueing in my mind is not the way to go when we face an uphill battle to fund any sort of train in the U.S. If we where guaranteed the funding and commitment to this project and NO DELAY in planning and construction if we sued to get the right alternative, then sue, sue away.

    The problem with half of the people sueing is that they are NIMBY’s under the guise of “Do it right or not at all”. The other half actually want Altamont for the better of the State and transportation, so I simpathize for the these people that truly feel the Altamont is superior and can’t get it done because NIMBY’s hurt their cause. But like I said if you can sue them for not considering acceptable and reasonable alternatives that make sense and NOT DELAY the planning or Construction Process, then go for it!

    jimsf Reply:

    Who on earth is gonna ride a train from san francisco, go all the way down to san jose then back up the eastbay then out to the valley, then back down again to la. People here would laugh and wonder who thought of such a thing. Might as well take bart from the city over to dublin and catch the train there if you’re gonna propose such a thing.

    dave Reply:

    @ jimsf

    I know it sounds silly but it’s not even that North from San Jose, it’s North-East and it’s not even that deviated. BTW, why the hell would people care what direction it was going as long as they knew how long the trip was going to take? I would not ask the pilot flying my airline in what direction he’s flying. Actually as a matter of fact don’t a lot of flights make you transfer in another state whether it’s in the direction of your destination or not. It’s a huge waste of time. But I guess that from a San Fran perspective you wouldn’t want that deviation.

    dave Reply:

    Also if they built Dumbarton Rail Bridge in conjunction with what I (was) proposed you can get the same Pacheco Pass feeling from SF. If you wanted SF to SJ then just take Caltrain Express (BB). But at least we get sections that serve more than the purpose to cross empty mountains/hills and prairies.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Crossing empty mountains/hills/prairies between population centers … that ought to be reserved for something that has a way to somehow compress that empty distance between those population centers, such as High Speed Rail.

    Oh, wait, that’s the job of Express HSR.

    If you want an Express Interurban, then build an Express Interurban.

    Joey Reply:

    Also where you have to build the least (Pacheco HSR + Altamont Overlay + Capitol Corridor upgrades vs just Altamont).

    Caelestor Reply:

    Altamont would single-handedly make ACE competitive and pave the way for Dumbarton Bridge as well.
    Though Fremont and Pleasanton may not be supportive of HSR through their cities.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    @ Caelestor

    ACE is not competitive at all. Terrible daily ridership. In fact, it is odd ACE gets so much press as they have less than 7000 daily riders… no more than 3500 in each direction. In California, there are already 500+ BUS lines that have better ridership.

    Caelestor Reply:

    Yeah, I know ACE patronage is quite low. I was assuming that ACE would be able to use the HSR tracks to get through Altamont Pass and Niles Canyon faster. That alone could shave 30 minutes-1 hour off the travel time.

    Clem Reply:

    Getting to San Jose via Altamont requires going around the $6 billion elephant in the room (or is that a pig?) in the form of BART to San Jose. Providing fast transit between Livermore and the golden triangle would massively undermine the already shaky ridership projections for several BART extensions, sending their cost per new transit rider further into the stratosphere. PB will simply never allow this to happen to their golden goose.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I have to agree, Besides direct service to San Jose and San Francisco is redundant, unlike LA, which is a thru station. Caltrain or BART would provide adequate connection to a collector station at SFO. But Livermore could do as an interim terminus for the Bay Area.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    To have enough capacity on Caltrain to serve an HSR terminus in San Jose you need four tracks of electrified railroad ( unless you want to put all the Caltrain riders onto a bus ) If there’s four tracks of electrified railroad between San Jose and San Francisco the cheapest option to serve those passengers is to just run the HSR trains to San Francisco.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “Run the HSR trains to San Francisco.”

    So instead you, along with the genius Caltrain employee professional who heads up the Peninusla Rail Program, instead propose that most Caltrain passengers — who will vastly outnumber “predicted” HSR pax, let alone real world 1/4 the number ridership — be put on a bus in SF, adding 15 minutes to every single journey time, because 2/3 of the “Caltrain” downtown terminal is given over exclusively and irrevocably to HSR with its incompatible platforms, airline security, checkins, fare gates, assembly areas, holding areas, etc.

    There are two alternatives: either San Jose Diridon Intergalactic will be, per PB’s grotesquely fraudulent ridership “projections”, so ultra super megamodal that 9tph (9tph!!!!!!!!!!!) of HS trains SJ-SF will be ferrying around a ton of empty seats, in the process displacing Caltrain trains and Caltrain passengers from the public Caltrain right of way and the desirable northern Caltrain terminal station, and so terminating a significant subset of HS trains at Diridon Megalomanic makes perfect operational sense (and pokes one in the eye of the Great Satan of the North Peninsula); or …

    PB’s grotesquely fraudulent ridership “projections” are grotesquely fraudulent, travel demand to San José, Capital of Silicon Valley will be a small fraction of estimates and HS travel demand in the SJ-SF line will be a fraction (realistically 1/4 to 1/2, maximum, per every comparable system anywhere in the world) of “projections”, and so right of way capacity, track capacity, station capacity and seat capacity should be allocated where they will serve most humans: namely to a realistic level of Caltrain service.

    Neither way can you unconditionally justify “four tracks of electrified railroad between San Jose and San Francisco” (the trains have to go somewhere at the end of the line), neither way requires putting those poor hard put upon self important HS riding business dudes on a nasty old bus, and neither requires putting the 2/3 or more of corridor users who aren’t Flight Level Zero Airline passengers to be dumped out on a bus short of the the (SF CBD) destination of the largest number of them.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Fix the Transbay design and Caltrain doesn’t need more than two tracks at Transbay, ever. A decent two-track terminal can turn 12 tph. A very good one can turn nearly 30. The main requirements: a few tens of meters of tail tracks, a wide platform with unobstructed views replete with stairs and escalators, and trains with 3-4 doors per car and wide vestibules. It’s not how American railroaders are used to working, but it’s common enough on American rail systems that happen to be called “subway” or “elevated” that it’s not too outlandish.

    jimsf Reply:

    look its almost gone! Very sad to see it go. Yes it was run down but still… such a familiar place. All that remains now is the facade. :-(

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I wasn’t suggesting forcing Caltrain riders onto a bus, anywhere.

    People who suggest that terminating all HSR trains in San Jose and having passengers transfer to Caltrain are assuming that a two track railroad can carry a gazillion train an hour. It can’t. They also assume that the Locals and Semi Expresses Caltrain now runs would merrily continue. You can’t unless you want to restrict the corridor to a few trains an hour. If you want to shuttle passengers between San Francisco and San Jose you either have to upgrade the corridor or start bumping passengers off it. One of those upgrades would be electrification, once it’s electrified the only reason to force people to transfer in San Jose would be to annoy them.

    I live east of the Sierra where incompetent if not downright stupid operators get 15, 20, 25 trains an hour into a terminal on two tracks. I dunno why Caltrain and HSR think they won’t be able to bring everything all the way in on the two tracks north of Bayshore.

    I live east of the Sierra where 6 platform stations handle more traffic than the Peninsula will ever see. I dunno why the Pan Galactic needs two levels and all those tracks.

    …have you ever considered switching to decaf….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m not sure why you keep blaming PB for all your problems. Outside the US, PB gets projects done on a reasonable budget, and if costs escalate, it’s due to genuinely unforeseen issues. The problem isn’t the consultants, it’s the politicians who’re supposed to oversee them.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    40 years of Bay Area transportation history suggests that you are confused or very very naive.
    Projects are generated by consultants and then passed on by agency staffers to be rubber stamped by boards.

    There’s tens of billions of dollars at stake here: serious people don’t allow transient lightweight elected officials to mess with that sort of thing, except to demand extra cost “community facilities” and the life.

    Do you seriously think people like Rod Diridon are even capable of coming up with this stuff on their own?

    FYI I have at home a nice set of PB-generated BART SJX proposed engineering alignment maps, all ready to go and dated before former SJ mayor and project frontman/bagman Ron Gonzales had even heard of the word “BART” or the project appeared in any Santa Clara VTA long term plan, let alone become the agency’s highest and sole priority for the next 30 years.

    jimsf Reply:

    OF course there are old plans for routes to san jose because bart planned and we all knew, that bart would eventually go there. There are probably plans laying around somewhere for the 680 line from san jose to livermore and walnut creek too.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Diridon doesn’t come up with this stuff on his own, but he doesn’t care or know enough to make sure costs stay in control. The ultimate fault is with him and the people he appoints, not PB. Governments that bother to provide minimal oversight of what the consultants propose manage to build the same projects, with the same consultants, for anywhere from one third to one fifth the cost. PB-designed BART projects have insane budgets, while at the same time PB-designed Marmaray has a reasonable budget for the engineering involved. The Siemens-designed attempt at countdown clocks on New York City Transit blew up completely, while a much more involved Siemens project designing the automation of Paris Métro lines has succeeded. It goes on and on – the problem is that the boards in the US rubberstamp everything and refuse to do things in-house. Switching to different consultants changes nothing; switching to different management style at the agencies does.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    So there you have it, Elizabeth, you are proposing an “obvious” alignment that (1) won’t meet the design goal and (2) is already claimed by a prominent local stakeholder.

    The reason people keep narrowing Altamont down to Dumbarton is that Dumbarton is the option that seems like it could get from SF to LA in the required time … though of course at the expense of shooting ridership in the foot by leaving San Jose off the route.

    peninsula Reply:

    Right. Because people who live in San Jose are a bunch of morons who wouldn’t be able to figure out how to get to an HSR station in Redwood City…

    They drive or take taxis to the airport today, I’m sure they could figure out how to give the taxi driver instructions to take them to the HSR station… Or will they say, ohhh, that extra 5 minutes in the taxi is just not worth it – we’ll just drive the 7 hours to LA…

    jimsf Reply:

    That’s ridiculous. No one is gonna drive all the way up to redwood city from san jose when the they can fly out of san jose. Most of san jose’s population is adjacent to or south of the san jose airport. Its not a 5 minute drive to redwood city from san jose by any stretch of the imagination.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Get your travel time grounded in reality first. Google maps lists the routes from central San Jose to Redwood City at 29mins, 34mins and 36mins. You can’t add half an hour plus transfer penalty to travel time without substantially affecting ridership ~ at least, not in the real world.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Dear Bruce,

    I’ve been — many, many times — to San Jose Intergalactic Multimodal Superstation — at the peak of rush hour.

    You could roll a bowling ball down any of the platforms — Caltrain, bus, VTA light rail — and not hit anybody.

    Take it from somebody who worked in Santa Clara County for two decades: “downtown” San Jose, let alone a train station on the other side of the simply gorgeous 8 lane overhead freeway that graces The Capital of Silicon Valléy, isn’t anybody’s destination.

    Rental cars or parking lots (or even, horrors, some select bus lines) in places like Fremont or Redwood City or Milpitas or Mountain View are going to serve more real passengers than the ghosts who supposedly will inhabit the parking lots and low rise nothing that is “downtown” San Jose. It isn’t where the action is, and 30 years of Redevelopment Agency slush spending nothwithstanding, it’s not where the residential and commercial action is going to be 20 years from now either.

    San José may style itself as The Capital of Silicon Valley, but the silicon is nowhere near “downtown” and it isn’t moving there any decade soon. Look at a map. Ride around and look around. Or just use Google Streetview!

    Or to put it in all goofy OMG TOD soi-disant “urbanist” terms: SJ is multi-polar (ie a giant festering landmass of annex sprawl): it’s foolish to wish or imagine or hallucinate that a single hypergalactic choo choo station, itself located half a mile from the “downtown”, will best serve this developed geography.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:


    I won’t say you are wrong (I don’t live out there, so I can’t know), but could the light patronage you are seeing be the result of San Jose being the last station on this commuter route that is focused on San Francisco? I see the same pattern on the MARC (Maryland Rail Commuter service) I occasionally use to get to Washington, DC. Entering or leaving Washington it is very common for the train to have standing room only, but the loads get progressively lighter the further out you go. It certainly isn’t a packed train–in fact, it’s mostly empty–by the time it gets to Martinsburg, W.Va., some 75 miles and two hours from Washington Union Station.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    D. P.,

    I don’t live there either, but I could tell you that the comparison with MARC is completely wrong. The ridership on the Brunswick Line thins out gradually as you move out from the center, since there’s no dominant center other than DC. The same is not true on Caltrain, where the cities at the southern end are a huge employment cluster. The reference here is Human Transit‘s posts on the importance of development at the terminal of the line.

    Now, San Jose already has the development. It’s the Bay Area’s largest city, with more residents (but fewer jobs) than San Francisco. The problem is, it’s an auto-centric mess; people who work there drive rather than taking the train. Even at the station, there’s nothing. It’s surrounded by parking lots large enough to contain Rumsfeld’s ego, and walled off by arterial streets where your odds of being run over are higher than the odds a politician’s stump speech will contain lies.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I didn’t say anything about the location of the San Jose station, though criticizing the current planned location for being a mile from downtown while at the same time saying San Jose is a sprawlathon seems quite clearly to just be reaching for whatever complaints lie in reach, since they are not internally consistent.

    If there’s any active development at all in a city like that when gas hits the $5~$10 range, it’ll be around dedicated transport corridors that do or can support oil-independent transport, and San Jose goes into that with one hand tied behind its back in the form of one of those idiotic median highway alignments for local light rail.

    Talking about whether or not downtown San Jose is a magnet destination is a hefty red herring for what is primarily an origin station. An origin station should be somewhere people can get to it. According to your description, its got freeway access, plenty of parking, its got the Caltrain , ACE, Capital Corridor, 12 bus lines, Santa Clara TC has Caltrain, the light rail and 20 bus lines. Probably easier to add bus lines than heavy rail corridors, and there is a heavy rail spur from the corridor that runs through SJD that crosses the light rail line, so probably easier to connect the light rail to SJD with a tram-train than bring the heavy rail through, but either seem plausible as origin stations.

    But you can’t have a HSR station serving the Bay and skip both Oakland and San Jose. San Franscisco is not ready for another Bay tunnel, so Oakland is out. The Altamont direct route cuts off San Jose, which is idiotic. The Altamont loopy route hypothetically costs ten minutes running direct out of SCTC, if the most direct alignment was available, which it does not seem to be, so getting around that will cost more than 10 minutes. SF/LA is already over half way over the 2:00 mark to the 3:00 mark, so its already giving ground in the day return market ~ in both directions, since San Francisco is a substantial destination station ~ and every ten minutes closer to the 3:00 mark excludes more day return trips.

    jimsf Reply:

    yeh – and the san jose airport isnt in downtown either and people manage to get there – with no rail connection.. so getting to hsr at diridon, with bart, vta, ccjpa,amtrak, and ace, makes the several blocks from dowtown pretty much irrelevant.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Bruce, the official documents say Altamont is 2 minutes faster than Pacheco. I think they’re wrong and Altamont will be a few minutes slower, but only because a UP route will not be available in phase 1, forcing trains to use the more easterly BNSF line.

    It is completely feasible to skip San Jose. It’s not that big of an origin and destination itself; the cities further to the north are (the biggest, Palo Alto, is impossible under Altamont, but it looks like it won’t be used under Pacheco because of its political opposition to the project). The quality of connecting transit there is horrific: the light rail line is Wendell Cox’s wet dream, ACE is three roundtrips a day, and CC is far slower than BART to SF. This leaves Caltrain, which connects equally well to any Peninsula station.

    Train stations surrounded by parking lots almost never work. On high-speed systems, they all underperform with one exception, Aix-en-Provence TGV, which is very convenient for the northern Marseille suburbs.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Train stations surrounded by parking lots almost never work. On high-speed systems, they all underperform …” …

    … “train stations surrounded by parking lots underperform” is not a catgory labeled “fail to work”, its a factor, don’t work as well as we would otherwise expect given the population, frequency, reliability, and the trip time to the primary destinations.

    And, yes, its true, if there was a dense city center that was an employment center and so a hub for transport connections, that would be a factor increasing the success of the line. But given the frequency, reliability, and trip time available to the population within the main cachment at either SJD or SCTC from Pacheco, and longer trip time with the loopy Altamont alignment via whatever is the next best egress from San Jose through the East Bay to Altamont (given that the best is not available), or even worse the lower frequency and substantially longer trip time with a split alignment with San Jose as an afterthought, its going to cost riders. And the first is flirting with not meeting the Prop1A(2008) LA/SF conditions, which is a big project risk to take on, so prudence could well dictate the split alignment.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Peninsula @ 2:44,
    One of the dumbest posts that I’ve ever read here. It will be a cold day in hell when Northern California’s largest city (SJ), and the economic powerhouse of the state (Silicon Valley), is left off the main HSR line. What are you people smoking up there on the Peninsula anyway?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The reason people keep narrowing Altamont down to Dumbarton is that Dumbarton is …

    … so the same people who supported and profited by fillin in thousands of acres of weltlands in north SJ and Milpitas, complete with a 6 lane highway, can come over all “environmental” at the prospect of a nasty evil choo choo (in a tunnel or otherwise) defiling a pristine untrammelled environmental refuge (the one bisected by the 6 lane freeway bridge and being bored under by a major pipeline project.)\

    … at the expense of shooting ridership in the foot by leaving San Jose off the route.

    Proving that deliberate, outright, outrageous, trivially contradicted and egregious lying isn’t limited to people directly on the consult payroll. (My apologies if you are on the payroll.)

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If you claim that something can be trivially contradicted ~ in the genuine sense as opposed to foaming at the mouth tossing accusations right and left in confidence that if you accuse enough people of enough things some of the accusations are probably true ~ without proceeding to provide the trivial contradiction, you come off sounding like a BS artist.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The *only* reason some people want Dumbarton on the table is to keep the trains out of Palo Alto and the politically connected parts of Menlo Park – the Dumbarton corridor does go through a lower-income portion of MP, but those residents don’t count to the Stone Pine Lane Gang and their allies.

    This is all a diversion. Pacheco was picked, and the most sensible thing to do is move ahead with it as planned, while also building the upgraded Altamont corridor as planned. A sure way to drive up project costs and force a delay of the timeline is to make major route changes to suit the demands of a tiny few.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I should clarify this: the only reason *HSR critics* want Dumbarton is to keep the trains out of their cities. There is obviously a legitimate case for Dumbarton/Altamont from the perspective of a good HSR system, but I’ve never believed that case to be stronger or weaker than the case for Pacheco – and since we’re 2.5 years past the decision on that alignment question, I don’t see the value to a timely and cost-effective construction of HSR by switching now.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Unless it can be done cheaper and at this point in the same time frame for a 2020 opening then no it should stay Pacheco. Then the question how to you get to SanJose?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The case for an Altamont alignment is that the east bay is a huge market and you really miss it going Pacheco. You give up at least 1/3 of your potential Bay Area riders going Pacheco.

    Altamont to San Jose: 94 million riders
    Pacheco to Sa Jose: 80 million riders

    If you look at just trips to from bay Area, the pick up in riders is really significant.

    tony d. Reply:

    THAT’S WHY THERE WILL EVENTUALLY BE AN ALTAMONT HSR OVERLAY! Why do you Altamont foamers keep ignoring this?
    By the way, why aren’t those zillions of East Bay riders swarming to ACE?

    Joey Reply:


    Assuming there is ever funding for one. Even assuming that it could get build before say 2040, wouldn’t it be better to build fewer routes (thus saving a lot o money)?

    why aren’t those zillions of East Bay riders swarming to ACE?

    Because it’s not frequent, reliable, or time-competitive. I hope you are aware that ACE runs only 3 round trips PER DAY.

    jimsf Reply:

    ACE is designed for valley passengers not the eastbay. When ACE was started, there was a big labor pool that worked in the southbay and who relocated to stockton and tracy for cheap housing and ace was designed to serve them. Those demographics may have changed some with the economy in the last 10-15 years.

    Caelestor Reply:

    I think the huge problem is that there are 2 fundamentally opposing sides that support the same cause for different reasons.

    Oh, the grey and greyness of our lives…

    tbh, Altamont does look like it would save money, but how long would it delay the project if we switched alignments at this point?

    jimsf Reply:

    I don’t see how it would save money. even if the pass portion is easier, you still have the problem with crossing the bay and constructing line to both sf and sj. To change things now would add a decade to the project, starting fresh with legal challenges from the eastbay cities and the bay protectionists. You just aren’t gonna get that train over the bay.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Robert, the correct thing to do when faced with two places to cross an obstacle is to design crossings at both places, and then choose as late as possible, so you have as much information as you can get. The cost of doing those designs is small, whereas the potential savings are very large. What if the Pacheco tunnel turns out to cross an as-of-yet unknown fault line?

    Victor Reply:

    Agreed, Besides the authority was only given a few choices, Build on one of two central valley segments or return the money, So since It has to built somewhere, Fresno to Hanford is as good a choice as any, Plus It’s 65 miles of track near the BNSF which is HSR friendly and if any refunded DOT money comes to CA(from Wisconsin and Ohio, Plus Florida?) the line can then be extended for another 20 miles down from Hanford into Bakersfield, Where as the Fresno to Merced portion is supposedly nearer to the UPRR and they are anything but HSR friendly, Their more like a Giant Nimby, So the Authority choose the path of least resistance which just happens to have 65 miles on It. Oh and I don’t even live close to any part of the planned HSR route through CA, The closest planned stop to Me is Palmdale CA.

  7. Drunk Engineer
    Nov 25th, 2010 at 13:21

    I can understand why Merced is concerned about what has happened, since it opens the door to Merced being kicked down to Phase II.

    Opens the door? Merced’s chances for HSR were doomed the day Pacheco got selected.

    Time to add a new acronym: PAMPAM.

    Castle Expert Reply:

    Drunk Engineer, our area totally agree’s with your assessment of Phase II. If you look at the scoring criteria Merced is behind the 8 ball. (We are screwed based on staff scoring which is determined by Van Ark)

    Everyone, is telling Merced to calm down but you folks tell me how you would feel if your Congressman who help secure stimulus money and your assembly-woman who wrote the bond language for the High Speed Rail measure have been surgically bypassed and not even given a chance to come up with some alternatives.

    Folks the authority had a conferrence call yesterday with the area’s who were selected and they said I quote, “Any federal money received will go to Los Angeles or the Bay Area” Their is no way Los Angeles or the Bay Area is going allow for a small finger to be built next.

    So we the north valley do all the heavy lifting and now get kicked to curb and if we complain we our calleded cry babies and told to calm down, shut our mouths and get behind the project. I challenge in other area in the state other than San Jose who has does as much for HSR as Merced County.

    The only thing I regret writing on all my blogs is my unfinshed sentence about Van Ark being South African. What I mean is our area has met him twice and the first time I met him I felt he
    might be the person to make this happen because of his experience. But the second time our area met him we had to literally force a meeting because his staff was not returning our phone calls or letters. We met with him last week for over 2 hours he never mentioned this alternative or his staff scoring critertia. In fact looking back his demanor was more like a robot.

    The only thing he was emphaitic about is that HIgh Speed Rail is a slave to Southern California and that the valley was lucky LA had so many issues because otherwise we would be last on the list. This guy is not from America and he does not understand our enviromental laws or the politcal consequences of consenus building. These 2 combinations plus the hint of arogance make for a dangerous combination.

    Van Ark has basically destroyed Cathleen G creditability and Curt Pringle is frantically try to call our Congressman Cardoza to get him to reconsider calling La Hood. Finally our state Senator Jeff Denham who has been standing down due to the High level of excitement for High Speed Rail in Merced County is now a Congressman and he is furious with this decison and how poorly the authority staff botched this annoucement. Guess what, he is now a newly elected Republican Congressman and very good friends with Nunes and Kevin McCarthy now that Merced County is out of the running do you think he will be quiet for much longer?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Oh for crying out loud. You weren’t selected for the very first portion to be built and suddenly it is the end of the world and no one is ever going to build the HSR through Merced despite a total lack of evidence for that.

    peninsula Reply:

    Castle Expert. Many on the Peninsula saw the writing on the wall early – the utter slimy distrustworthiness of the authority (namely as Diridon stood up oh so many months ago and told the people of Peninsula to go f themselves – so to speak). So frankly, not surprised at all that your area was used and abused. Not surprised at all – and I guess everyone over there was looking at the Bar Area like we were hysterical nut cases accusing the authority of lies, deceit, arrogance. As for Galgiani, is SHE surprised? You lie with dogs, first you get a case of fleas, then you get bit. Poor Galgiani? She’s done more to force the damaging piece of crap HSR (and corrupt CHSRA), down the throats of California – and more than anyone else to attempt to maneuver sneaky back door deals through the legislative process. Yah, I don’t feel sorry for her at all. She’s an idiot for being so stupid as to get used like a cheap trick by the mafia chsra. she’s exactly where she’s engineered herself to wind up – kicked to the curb.

    The best thing the merced area interest groups can now can do now is join forces with the Peninsula cities to get the WHOLE PROJECT shut down – hit the reset button, close down the CHSRA, and start from scratch, designing a system that makes actual sense. Then Merced would end up on the hwy 99 route – from Sac to LA – with an Altamont pass cutover to the East Bay. And Bay area wouldn’t even be on the route at all.

    J. Wong Reply:

    There is no such thing as a “reset”. Shut down the project now and it will never get built. Maybe you’re willing to turn California and the US into a backwater, but I’m not. And don’t think it can’t happen; you make the wrong choices and don’t keep up with the rest of the world and that is where you end up.

    jimsf Reply:

    High speed rail wasn’t forced on californians, californians voted for it. Peninsula, you aren’t going to get your way. All you are is a bitter old nimby crying cuz you don’t want the train near your house. Too bad.

    Nathanael Reply:

    You really are acting hysterical.

    Obviously LA is crucial to any HSR system. Do you dispute that? Obviously if any HSR system is built, it will eventually go to Sacramento, unless the state capital is moved. Do you dispute that?

    With this segment being constructed first, the next priority will be south to LA… but anyone who imagines that there WON’T be construction through Merced to Sacramento is fooling themselves.

    The Peninsula voted for HSR, but is also full of WATB NIMBYs and agencies who fight with each other. Who wants to deal with that crap?

    If you shut the project down, it just delays Merced getting anything.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Explain why Hartford and Albany have. to put it politely, mediocre train service. Harrisburg had electric service until the system had so much maintenance deferred that they switched to diesel service. ( They’ve reinstalled it recently and done other improvements ) Annapolis doesn’t even have train service. ..then there’s Dover. Dover doesn’t even have an Interstate.

    Clem Reply:

    There’s one thing you still don’t seem to appreciate: Van Ark is a Corporate Executive Officer, not some figure head. It’s about time someone cut through the political maneuvering on the board and in the legislature, and it looks like we’ve got our man.

    There ought to be some great fireworks at the December board meeting.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Thing is, you can complain about the criteria, but the criteria that killed you is the one in the Federal legislation on independent utility. If the authority criteria had NOT reflect that, it would have been exactly the kind of thing that peninsula keeps charging.

    There is no guarantee that the Merced alignment will run on or near the BNSF alignment, and if it does not, there is no clear way to provide for satisfying the independent utility requirement.

    But if you are lucky, Van Ark is correct and the drive will be to push Palmdale to Burbank through first, since that makes Merced a natural for the end of Phase 1.1, including the maintenance facility, and then on to SF in Phase 1.2, with the trains already up and running. Phase 1.1 to SF and Phase 1.2 to LA makes Merced less of a shoe in, though of course if you land the maintenance facility that’s the other in.

    Caelestor Reply:

    By building south first, it would also be possible to run the occasional train from LA to Merced (and perhaps onto Sacramento) while the Bay Area portion is being constructed.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    More than the occasional train … at under two hours LC/Merced, two sets gives eight services per day, and while its three more hours on a San Jaoquin without incremental upgrades on that corridor, there would still be likely to be additional demand compared to today from transfer patronage.

  8. Rant
    Nov 25th, 2010 at 13:37

    Stop the “train”, I want to get off…or is it…Screw you, I’ve got mine.

    I will probably not live to see the day HSR connects SF and LA but I consider it absolutely essential that we plan, design/spec and secure right-of-way for HSR. As to construction, that is linked to our spending priorities.

    The National and California debt is a concern. I fall in the camp that says if you want to spend, TAX. If you cannot tax, DO NOT spend except for large infrastructure projects or “necessary conflicts”. But then there must be a percentage of GDP cap on spending. I heard on the radio that each child born today starts with $40,000 debt. If true, that is insane.

    A long time back, it was stated the first phase of construction needed to be in the Central Valley so rolling stock could be evaluated. Starting with Fresno and working in both directions makes a lot of sense. If we are to spend the stimulus money it also makes sense to not over spend therefore the current plan is sensible.

    In my opinion, construction priority needs to be given to connecting the Central Valley to either SF or LA. Given NIMBY’s, Caltrain and UP problems, I vote for LA. We send them our water, why not send them our dollars.

    dfb Reply:

    The SF Bay Area is more dependent on water imported from the Sierras than is L.A. ;-)

    Rant Reply:

    Should have left out the water comment as it adds nothing of value. As to the percentage of GDP comment, I do not care what peg you use. The point to make is debt should not be a way of life and there should be a sense of urgency to pay off debt.

    Victor Reply:

    @ Rant, Not everything can be done doing what’s called Pay as You go as is mentioned in the link below on CA Bonds:


    Yes and no. Using bonds is definitely more expensive because of the interest
    that accrues. Major projects,
    however, are difficult to pay for all at once, and putting aside current funds
    isn’t always practical; bond financing helps distribute the cost over several
    generations of taxpayers. Projects are funded by bond money
    because the facilities provide services over many years, from which generations
    of taxpayers benefit. Paying interest increases the cost of the project, but the
    expense is usually outweighed by the fact that it’s completed
    sooner, and when adjusted for inflation over the normal 30-year repayment span,
    the cost is less than expected.

    Overall, infrastructure projects generate construction dollars and employment
    opportunities, enhance economic growth, and provide valuable benefits due to
    well-maintained roads, up-to-date technology and a better educated workforce.

    California Government Bonds

  9. MGimbel
    Nov 25th, 2010 at 13:51

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!!!

    Nathanael Reply:

    Happy Thanksgiving. The Authority staff made an excellent choice and we should be pleased. :-)

  10. jim
    Nov 25th, 2010 at 15:03

    This is, at this moment, just a staff recommendation. The authority need not adopt it.

    If it does, though, it seems to me it will be committing an unforced error. CHSRA doesn’t need any more enemies. It has managed to antagonize San Francisco politicians to the extent they felt it necessary to go round the authority to get funding for the TBT. It has managed to antagonize many on the Peninsula. Not everyone in Anaheim is happy with it, despite Pringle’s best efforts.

    There was no reason to antagonize the northern valley. This choice is not clearly superior to Bakersfield-Fresno. In at least one sense, it’s worse: there is no Madera-Corcoran DEIS being worked on. The manner in which it was done was unduly aggravating.

    One does wonder if CHSRA staff is trying to get the thing shut down. Perhaps they don’t think they can do it. If they’re prevented by politics, it won’t be their fault.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Given that the TBT is a gross piece of misdesign, I think it would be fairer to say that certain SF power groups deliberately antagonized the HSR authority.

    Why is this choice superior to Bakersfield-Fresno? Bakersfield NIMBYs. I can’t imagine why the northern valley would complain about an option which is slightly better for them than Bakersfield-Fresno, which was obviously superior to Fresno-Merced in every way.

    Clem Reply:

    There was no reason to antagonize the northern valley.

    I don’t get it. I’m with Drunk Engineer on this one: the northern valley got the shaft the moment the Pacheco alignment was selected. All you need to do to understand this is look at a map of California.

    I also find all this HMF back-and-forth to be comical. What other HSR system anywhere else on this planet has ever had towns fighting to land a maintenance facility like a bunch of junk yard dogs fighting over an old shoe?

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    It’s just not that simple.

    There’s always competition in California between cities and counties for resources because the State has provided several means of local control and yet disavowed any overriding authority for itself, save the Legislature.

    In the Central Valley, there’s competition between farmers over crops, competition from cities over sales tax revenue, and there’s also competition between regional economic development plans for jobs.

    Thus the fight between Merced and Fresno. The Heavy Maintenance Facility will require prevailing wage construction jobs. That’s huge in and of itself. It will always require (union) jobs to run it. It’s very attractive to the Central Valley, where water shortages are slowly destroying the agricultural economy. Plus, the north valley thought this would allow them to build more housing (cuz don’t we need more of that) to continue it’s now stalled role as a bedroom community to the Bay Area.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If the Wye is on the UP alignment, they’ll have to go to Merced to connect to the BNSF corridor for “independent utility” for Federal funding. And that is the shorter and straighter alignment, which is why its the preferred option.

    The only ones who can screw Merced out of that position where the UP and BNSF alignments diverge is UP.

    Victor Reply:

    UP is always willing to do whatever is needed to keep their ROW theirs and theirs alone.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Central Valley really is that poor, and California is willing to place the HMF there. Many provincial French areas are not much better off, but they never had a chance to get an HMF when the Paris outskirts (just like Brisbane) make a much better site. Basically, blame the fact that in California, the opinions of more than just the primate city matter.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    This choice is clearly superior to Bakersfield / Fresno, in that it leaves incremental extension options available to both the south and, if the alignment is settled, north, while the Bakersfield/Fresno option would, on the funding, have been the not-quite Bakersfield to not-quite-Fresno option and extension would have very quickly run into big civil engineering bills.

    And Clem is right … going as far north as they can justify while spending the federal money is a better deal for Merced than not-quite Bakersfield to not-quite Fresno would have been.

    jim Reply:

    What I was thinking last night was that they’d have to get both EISs done to construct a segment that crossed EISs. But thinking more about it, it may be that if either one of the EISs gets complete by the drop dead date, they can let a contract which obligates all the money (an ARRA requirement), contingent with resepct to the piece that’s not yet EISed over, but allowing construction to start on the piece that’s in the segment whose EIS is complete. So this way they don’t have to bet by the end of this year on which EIS will complete on time. They win as long as one of them does.

    I still think they mishandled it, though. There are politic ways of doing this sort of thing and impolitic ways.

    Victor Reply:

    According to this Map Here from the Transport Politic The Line would start just North of Fresno in Herndon and not just short of Fresno or even short of Fresno, Just North of Fresno, As the Line would go through Fresno to Corcoran and Corcoran is South of Hanford where a 2nd station will be located at, The other station will be in Fresno.

    Victor Reply:

    Ok here’s a screen grab of the Map from the Transport Politic since the image is hidden behind javascript: HSR-Map1st-segment.

    Joey Reply:


    Victor Reply:

    Thanks, I couldn’t find that in the source code for the pop up.

    Caelestor Reply:

    Now there’s a station at Hanford? Which station are they going to take away?
    I don’t think the Merced people should worry too much, the tracks north of Fresno conveniently stops south of the wye.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    What do you mean “now”, its been penciled in since long before the latest grant application.

    Caelestor Reply:

    I always thought it was a proposed station, not a definite confirmation.
    On the other hand, now that gap between Fresno & Bakersfield doesn’t look that huge.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    LA-US and SF-TBT are locked in by Prop1A(2008), the others come out of the planning. At ~900K, metro Fresno is the largest metro area in the CV stretch of Phase 1, you’d expect the outer suburban CV station in Phase 1 to be somewhere north or south of Fresno.

    And a Kings/Tulare County outer suburban station has been part of the planning for some time, as reflected in the Californians for HSR Comments for Merced-Bakersfield segments

    Last October, they opposed a Visalia station, set the outer suburban at the lowest priority of the four, and only if contained within close proximity of the intersection of 198 and 43 – which is the preferred location on the preferred alignment in the current planning.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Just short of Fresno to just short of Bakersfield is one of the other two ways they found to spend the available funds in the CV. It would score second, and Merced would score last, because of the uncertainty over the feasibility of connecting it into BNSF at one of the two ends ~ this is not enough money, on their reckoning, to be sure of bridging the entire distance where BNSG and UP alignments diverge, leaving one end dangling and the section unable to provide independent utility with the San Joaquin if the UP alignment is adopted for the Wye.

    Look in the next Board Meeting page at the supporting document with the maps to see the maps of the other two options.

  11. jimsf
    Nov 25th, 2010 at 15:21

    Ok hold on though everyone. There’s phase one, SF-ANA and there’s phase two SAC and SAN

    but in phase one, there are still these sub segements mcd-fno and fno-bfd and sf-sjc and sjc-fno and bfd-lax etc So Merced can still be in phase one, even if it isn’t where construction begins. If they had chosen fno-bfd, merced will still be in the exact same boat, part of phase one, but not the first segment of construction. So there is not big whoop here yet to get in a twist about. I mean for all we know, this could mean that they toss toss the heavy maintenance facility to Castle, as a consolation prize, and that would be better for merced cuz those are permanent jobs. SO everyone just relax. Not only that but building south from COC to BFD or North from MDR to MCD, could happen concurrently if additional funds come along. This is all still up in the air. RELAX.

    Jack In Fresno Reply:

    I think Castle and Crew thought they had a fighting chance with all the work they had done behind the scenes, and their political connections. The real question is what section will be picked next. If they select Fresno-Gilroy for example, it’s going to put Merced clearly in the phase II section and pretty much lock them out of competition for the HMF.

    jimsf Reply:

    Not necessarily, the hmf isn’t needed until its time to begin operation and there is nothing that says the wye can’t be built at any point between now and then. I think people are jumping to conclusions to quickly here.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    No, Merced is out. The costs of a Merced site go up astronomically because you have to build a couple of billion dollars worth of rail to get to it. The one thing that changes the math is building Altamont.

    jimsf Reply:

    Elizabeth, that has to be built anyway. The cost of the site doesn’t change. The wye and the merced station still have to be built whether the hmf is there or not.

    jimsf Reply:

    And you see the true colors showing about the peninsula, all they really care about is getting the train out of their back yard and all the phony concern over doing things “right” is just a bunch of BS. Its very transparent and has been from the beginning. I’m sick to death of people lying about their motives and consequently insulting the intelligence of those of us who know better. Please. Weak.

    Nadia Reply:

    your missing the point – read Elizabeth’s comment to Robert above re: Altamont….

    Nathanael Reply:

    Yep. Even more to the point, you don’t “retrofit” a wye unless you’re a special double-high-grade idiot — you always build your flyover connections with the original construction, so you don’t have to shut the running lines down in order to expand them. The wye towards Merced is going to be built the moment construction gets to it.

    If there is talk of not building the wye when construction gets to that area, *THEN* Merced should panic. There isn’t any such talk.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I will note that the alternative maintenance facility sites may also involve quite a lot of branch track to get to access, so it’s not at all obvious that the Merced one would end up being more expensive even if you don’t think about Phase II.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Even more to the point, you don’t “retrofit” a wye unless you’re a special double-high-grade idiot — you always build your flyover connections with the original construction, so you don’t have to shut the running lines down in order to expand them

    Yeah. Sure.
    Those Spanish (they’re just one step from being Mexicans!) wankers with the pansy blue painted catenary massts are amateurs compared to our World Class Transportation Professionals.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Neat photos.

    They remind me of some shots I got to see of the orginal TGV lines when they were under construction. What stood out about them (and these shots, too) is how much the earthwork looked like you were building a modern highway; the only real difference is that you are laying track and hanging wires over it instead of a paving a slab. No exotic rocket science here!

    The real problem, as some others have pointed out, is the “faith” some people have in the auto as the future, or in the belief that “business is always good, government is always bad.” I’ve heard that so many times it’s beginning to sound ridiculous. I mean, if “government is always bad,” in particular American government, how come they don’t leave and go to where there is less government to their liking? How come the arguments against the government come mostly when you are talking about a rail project and these same people never, ever mention what amounts to a “socialist” road program? Why do these people back what amount to wars waged by our government to steal, er, secure oil in the Middle East, but inherently hate the idea of the same government building an oil-free transportation system?

    Phineas T. Barnum was famous for, among other things, claiming that “a sucker is born every minute.” Another blogger commented that if this is true, there are too many minutes in an hour.

    Oh, the wonders of links! So much faster than my own writing!

    Elizabeth Reply:


    BruceMcF Reply:

    Depending on the alignment and the design of the Wye, half to two thirds of the track between the end of the proposed first segment of Stage 1 and Merced is the approach to and three corners of the Wye. You have to build the Wye anyway. So that part of that study section is “have to”.

    Unless the Federal government radically changes the way that they have been funding, when the first tranche rolls along after the Merced alignment has been settled, there’ll have to be independent utility for that segment, and the strongest independent utility within reach of the Wye will be at Merced.

    Indeed, if they adopt the preferred UP alignment, they have to go through to Merced to be able to connect to the BNSF corridor for independent utility.

    Though I have to say its just swell of you to offer to throw away the long term insurance of property values south of Redwood City to appease Merced with the long dead Altamont alignment. Such self-sacrifice is all too rare these days.

    Peter Reply:

    Not “Why”. “Wye”.


  12. J. Wong
    Nov 25th, 2010 at 15:38

    The reality is that no one gets exactly what they want. Someone is always going to be pissed off about something.

    Victor Reply:

    How true.

  13. D. P. Lubic
    Nov 25th, 2010 at 17:10

    We have all these accusations of arrogance, ignorance, and corruption in this rail project. I wonder how much is also in the highway department, but of which no one complains about. I wonder how much of this is fabricated to keep us in our cars.

    It would not be the first time–although I will let the readers here decide whether this was a natural business phenomenon or whether it was conspiracy and an abuse of corporate power.

    The fellow who originally put the National City Lines case together was E. Jay Quinby. From what I’ve read of him, he was something of an eccentric genius, very big in electrical work, worked as a wireless operator on a ship, a trolley motorman on the North Jersey Rapid Transit interurban, was an engineer with Western Electric and I think RCA, was the head of Greene Line Steamboat Company in the 1960s (among other things, he got a calliope installed on the Delta Queen, which used electronic controls he invented and built), and was involved with electric cars at the time of his death.

    He had a bit of money courtesy of an inheritance, and from what I can tell had some wonderful fun with it. He had two houses, one in New Jersey, the other in Florida. The house in New Jersey was a former fire hall, and he took advantage of the hose-drying tower to install a home pipe organ which had 32-foot pipes! The house in Florida had what we would now call a garden railroad in its yard, based on his beloved North Jersey Rapid Transit.

    This model railroad had, in its model collection, a “flat motor,” a self-propelled flatcar with a cab. The prototype and the model were used to haul tools and materials for track and wire repair. The model had the additional job of taking martinis from the house to a gazebo, crossing a bridge over a small chanel between two goldfish ponds on the way. One day the motor derailed at the bridge, and the martinis wound up in the water. Quinby and his guests, which reportedly included some railroad officials and other officials from General Electric, watched the goldfish get drunk on the martinis. After that, one of the ponds was named Scotch Lake, the other became Soda Lake, and the little connection was called Whisky Strait. . .ho, ho, ho, yeah, corny, I know. . .

    jimsf Reply:

    DP the only arrogance, ignorance and corruption around here is coming from the anti hsr crowd, fueled by a combination of political ideology, nimbyism, and sour grapes, and the unwillingness to accept defeat at the polls, ( something we see over and over again on so many levels these days, class and sportsmanship having gone the way of the dial telephone) The new american way isn’t to say, “well we lost that one so lets step up and help” but instead to piss and moan and cry and take from others in a sad and desperate attempt to say ” if I can’t have my way then I’m gonna make sure nobody else gets their way either. Thats what we see here today and what we have been seeing. I’d be embarrassed but these folks have no shame. Personally I can not believe the behavior. It would have severely admonished and frowned upon in the american in which I grew up.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    That and a lot of other behavior, too.

    “Hey, what’s that woman got on–her mind? Ha, ha, ha, ha!”–Jerry Reed to Burt Reynolds via radio in “Smokey and the Bandit”

    I’m an auditor for the State of West Virginia, working for the unemployment agency; I make sure wages are reported correctly.

    One of my assignments was to audit a (cough) “gentlemen’s club,” a/k/a strip joint, nudie cutie club, or as a health officer in my building calls one, a “butt hut.” This was at the accountant’s office, thank you!

    Here are some interesting numbers from the club, as recalled from memory:

    Gross revenue: $1.6 million per year.
    Cost of goods sold (food and booze): $303,000.00
    Payroll: Strangely I do not remember the total payroll, but I do recall that the two owners and the manager got a salary that amounted to $500.00 per day–for 365 days per year–EACH!

    The two owners also split a $40,000 profit at the end of the year. Nice.

    An interesting aspect of this operation, which is typical of these (cough) establishments is that the dancers are not paid by the club; they are considered (cough, cough) “independent entertainers,” sort of like if you hired musicians or a band. They are paid by customers who give them money directly for a “dance.” I imagine it being something like, “(Pant, pant) Sweetie, here’s a twenty, here’s my lap! (pant, pant, pant.)” (I ought to actually visit one of these places, just to see who blows their pay there.) These dancers all file Schedule Cs (profit or loss for a business, proprietorship form), and they go to the same accountant. The same accountant told me that these girls combined grossed another $3 million!

    Now, here is something to think about. That’s $4.6 million going through one such club, which is supposedly not the biggest or busiest such establishment in this area (although the numbers suggest it may be the best run). That $4.6 million gets counted in the GNP or GDP or whatever we use nowadays the same as $4.6 million of building cars, or digging coal, or cutting timber and making furniture, or building an HSR railroad. You take a look at that, you take a look at the amount of money that runs around on Wall Street, and you wonder how much of our trillion-dollar or whatever it is economy is actually productive activity. You even have that in California; the movie industry in Hollywood, which many people would consider non-essential, is worth some $9 billion per year in “economic activity.” The “skin movie” business in nearby Burbank is supposedly worth $13 billion per year!

    The point of what is now a rant from me is that our GNP or GDP measures money running around; it doesn’t measure what the money is doing! You might say the money is divorced from reality.

    Those GNP or GDP measures made sense back when they were first adopted in WW II to aid in measuring things like steel production, but they don’t measure anything but money today.

    I wonder what Bruce McF (who posts here) would have to say in answer to this; he is an economist, you know, at the “”Burning the Midnight Oil” site. You might want to check him out there.

    Hope you had a good day for Thanksgiving.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That’s exactly right, the GDP only measured the market value of newly produced goods or services. It does not measure: standard of living, health of the economy, addition to real wealth, or any of the dozens of other things people like to pump it up into.

    It just measures business activity in the production of new goods and services. And that is just as much the money that the kids dump into their cell phones (some of them complaining all the while that they can’t “afford” all manner of more urgent payments, like rent or traffic fines) … and money dumped at your “butt huts” … as it is making stuff that does stuff.

    Looking on GDP as the be-all and end-all is like taking someone’s temperature in the emergency room and if its in the normal range sending them home, ignoring the minor point of the fractured radius.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Thank you! After some of the battles I have faced with people on some of these subjects, including some of my screwy relatives, it’s nice to hear from someone who sees what I do.

    Of course, you probably already knew about this; wonder how it’s coming along?

    He does look like a happy man. . .

    Conservatives here would hate it, even if we have a right to “the pursuit of happiness;” to actually work for it and have a real chance to achieve it is a French idea! Bad, bad!

    Of course, not everybody agrees. . .

    Me, I say I would like the idea of a reduced workweek; it would be worth working harder to get the extra time. After all, who cares whether or not you win a contest to be “slave,” er, “employee of the month?”

  14. Derek
    Nov 25th, 2010 at 19:37

    “What kind of ridership figures does the Authority expect to see with trains running between Corcoran and Borden?”

    That’s a trick question, because this is just preparatory work to satisfy “independent utility” requirements even if HSR doesn’t actually get built.

    peninsula Reply:

    that’s a trick answer – because AB3034 doesn’t require ‘independent utility’, it requires a usable segment of High Speed Rail.

    StevieB Reply:

    Do ARRA funds require Independent Utility?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes. Either completion of the target system in its own right or independent utility if completing only a part of the target system.

  15. Peter
    Nov 25th, 2010 at 21:13

    I would not be surprised if the next section to be funded (note the word “funded”, not “constructed” or “completed”) is completing the segment to Bakersfield, followed by Fresno-Merced. Given the outrage from Merced at this selection, I would not be surprised if Castle got the maintenance facility in order to quell the discontent.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I would not be surprised if the discontent is aimed in part at exactly that outcome.

    Peter Reply:

    Totally agreed.

  16. tony d.
    Nov 25th, 2010 at 22:44

    Could someone please tell me why all of a sudden HSR serving Merced is way more important than serving Northern Californias largest city?
    You know, all this bull shit about “well, if they picked Altamont over Pacheco than Merced would be part of Phase 1.”
    HSR will serve SJ-SF via Pacheco and Merced will eventually get its station/line for Phase 2 to Sac; get over it already!

    BruceMcF Reply:

    No change so dramatic as that has been decided. All that has been decided is which stretch of the original Stage 1 is to be constructed first.

  17. Eric M
    Nov 25th, 2010 at 22:56

    I don’t know why Mecerd is upset. They were not in the Phase I anyways as a PLANNED STOP, just a possible maintenance facility. The trains were not going to come from SF, go up the wye to Merced, reverse direction, then back down to LA. A little logic would have told you that. Don’t get mad about something you just hoped for, which didn’t happen (YET), that you thought was true. Keep tapping those glass slippers!!

    As others have said, construction has to start somewhere. It could have been Fresno to Bakersfield. Not everyone is going to be happy all at once.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    In the notional Stage 1 timetable, they where the origin/terminus of some SF services … not every service ran from SF to LA.

    However, with the alignment up in the air the way it is, there is no guarantee that the Merced to the Wye corridor HAS any independent utility as the seed corridor … if the San Joaquin cannot be linked into the corridor, it’s score on that criteria cannot conceivably be very high. So its just the luck of the alignment that its going to slot in to some later phase of Stage 1.

    Victor Reply:

    Can You say Merced is having a Temper Tantrum? It’s like their trying to go Yosemite Sam on the CHSRA…

  18. D. P. Lubic
    Nov 26th, 2010 at 06:55

    Doing a little background study on Merced.,_California

    One thing Merced was famous for to us railfans is that it was one end of the beautiful little Yosemite Valley Railroad, which ran from Merced to El Portal:

    To be continued:

    James Fujita Reply:

    The National Park Service, as part of its environmental preservation efforts, has been trying to get people to change the way they visit all of the parks. This has ranged from encouraging the Grand Canyon Railway (a light rail plan was allowed to die) to the Sequoia Shuttle which roams around the park and buses people up from Visalia.

    With several Central Valley HSR stations within reasonable distance of Sequoia, Kings Canyon and Yosemite, it is not unreasonable to suppose that some sort of national park transit would meet trains at the station. Because of smog concerns in Yosemite Valley, it ought to be either electric or a “clean” fuel. Cleaner than steam, sorry :D

    ( I have long suspected that Cal HSR will be a catalyst for improving Central Valley transit… either in the form of increased buses, commuter rail or light rail, depending on the location and local politics… adding the national parks to the list of commuter/ tourist destinations would seem to be a natural… )

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “Because of smog concerns in Yosemite Valley, it ought to be either electric or a “clean” fuel. Cleaner than steam, sorry :D”–James Fujita

    Darn it! :-)

    Actually, if it’s electric rail, I won’t complain; my next favorite type of rail equipment to steam would be those classic interurbans as built by Niles, Jewett, and Brill. And it’s a close second, too. . .

    And there is some steam in the area:

    We have a standard gauge road like this in West Virginia, the Cass Scenic Railroad. That road averages a 5% grade, has multiple sections of 8% (and regularly starts trains from a water stop on one of them), has two stretches of 11%, and once had a section of 13%. In addition to that, it also has curves as sharp as 40 degrees and two switchbacks. It’s one wild railroad, but I’ve got to admit it’s anything but high speed; those geared engines are flying if they are going 12 mph!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Yosemite Mountain Sugar Pine in action:

    Operation with geared steam engines is inherently liesurely. Of course, they were built to run on temporary logging track, which wouldn’t support fast operation anyway. I am reminded of a railroad writer who commented about the main-line Virginian Railway’s slow operation with very long coal trains (the road’s primary traffic), which in that case was partially about economy. As he put it, the coal had kept in the ground for millions of years; a few more hours for a train ride wouldn’t hurt it.

    Have fun. And I have to ask, has anyone here been to this outfit?

  19. D. P. Lubic
    Nov 26th, 2010 at 07:01

    Movie clips from the last year of operation, in 1945:

    How much do we wish some of this was still around? I sure do. . .

  20. Paulus Magnus
    Nov 26th, 2010 at 10:27

    Building a high-speed future: 220 mph, and no pat-downs

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Interesting read, thanks for posting.

  21. political_incorrectness
    Nov 26th, 2010 at 12:33

    Everyone likes to jump the gun. This is only 1 segment! It does not mean you’ll be left out, all it means is that you will be added on later.

  22. Emma
    Nov 26th, 2010 at 14:41

    The worst thing that can happen is whne cities start to fight over which section gets built first. They tend to forget that everything has to be up and running by 2019. Whether your sections gets built in 2011, 12 or 13.

  23. Tony D.
    Nov 26th, 2010 at 18:13

    It’s amazing, simply amazing, that because a Central Valley town of 80,000 might not be included in Phase 1 that all this nonsense about Altamont has been resurrected. It’s got Clem and others all hard up about succesful NIMBY lawsuits on the Peninsula (even if the frivolous has already been shot down previously) and changing an entire routing from the CV to Bay Area…all because of one small Central Valley town.

    But let me play with you for awhile. It will never happen, but let’s just dream Clem’s dream for a moment and say the Peninsula NIMBY’s get their way and halt HSR completely from SF to SJ. That means that HSR must now go through the Altamont vs. the now superior Pacheco Pass choice of yesterday…right? No, not really. If you really think about it and take your rose-colored Altamont glasses off, you’ll see that the HSR route from SJ south to Pacheco Pass and east towards Fresno is relatively easy (comparatively speaking); UPRR issue can be avoided (if necessary) from SJ to Gilroy with usage of the Monterey Hwy and 101 corridors, while going east into the Pacheco presents NO rail lines to conflict with. So in reality, a succesful NIMBY lawsuit on the Peninsula will most likely mean that the HSR line from the Pacheco Pass will end in SJ, much to the chagrin of SF, with future HSR passengers forced to take either Caltrain or East Bay BART from SJ to SF.

    SF not getting HSR? Like I said, the frivolous lawsuits will go nowhere, despite Clem’s cheerleading, and Altamont will ONLY one day act as an HSR commuter overlay, not the primary route into the Bay Area.

    Again, all this bull shit because a small Central Valley town won’t get HSR at the outset. Unbelievable!

    Clem Reply:

    While I’m flattered that you think I have enough pull on these issues to warrant a detailed rebuttal, I really don’t. I’m just another guy on a soap box.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What Clem said, plus, he actually supports HSR. The various technical suggestions he makes are all about making it cheaper (fewer aerials, lower fare collection costs) and work more seamlessly with commuter rail.

    And to top it all, lives north of Redwood City, so that from his parochial perspective Altamont and Pacheco are the same. In fact, regardless of where they live, all people in this forum who’re interested in the technical side of HSR think Altamont is better, even ones who live in places like Berkeley and San Francisco.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Technical side of HSR think (s) Altamont is better? Having knowledge on Caltrain and compatibility with HSR doesn’t necessarily mean you’re more in the know on HSR routing. Clem might live in PAMPA or own real estate at Mountain House/Tracy for all we know. Heck, in this case being highly “technical” is equal to clouding commen sense, and common sense dictates that Phase 1 of the HSR system should serve California’s population/economic centers DIRECTLY; LA to SJ (Silicon Valley)/SF. Later routes can then be constructed to serve commuters, ala ACE HSR. The “technical” folk at CHSRA get it! They chose Pacheco Pass two years ago; case closed!

    Caelestor Reply:

    Calm down, Clem lives in San Mateo IIRC.
    Altamont would serve these cities directly, there would be a station along SF, SJ, the peninsula, plus Fremont/East Bay, Amador Valley, and Tracy.

    My current desire is to determine whether switching alignments (if that’s even possible) is worth the delay the project would incur. At least Clem is assuming the Pacheco Pass Route to offer constructive criticism for an integrated Caltrain-HSR system along the peninsula.

    Clem Reply:

    I live in San Carlos and work in Palo Alto, and ride Caltrain frequently. Those are my only qualifications. Look, if Pacheco is such a sure thing why is anybody getting their knickers in a twist?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Because its the Internet and for some people, it just wouldn’t have the same interest without twisted undergarments?

    Just a guess, mind.

    Though in particular:

    Altamont was raised because a few people in Merced, including some who are in positions of authority and should behave more responsibly, threw a hissy fit and to get the maximum attention for it tried to turn being left out of Build Segment One into being left out of Phase 1.

    The topic of Merced getting left out of Phase One leads to, “it wouldn’t have been at risk with Altamont”, which attracts bitter enders on the Altamont alignment, Peninsula NIMBY’s south of Redwood City, and those who just enjoy playing with alternative versions of reality.

    And re-hashing a long discussed alignment debate is a lot easier than thinking through new information, so the re-hash can proceed much more rapidly than discussion that requires going out and finding new info.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    because the people on the Peninsula who don’t want ….anything at all to change ever…. would just love it if HSR was in somebody else’s backyard. The people in the East Bay who see that they are being shoved off onto a regional line that may or may not get upgrades hate that the Peninsula is getting HSR.
    They all should have been this interested when the alignment was being selected. Oh well.

    jimsf Reply:

    rest assured the eastbay people will raise just as much fuss or more, if you propose to run hsr near them.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah. People are forgetting that one of the reasons the authority chose Pacheco is that a bunch of East Bay towns threw a hissy fit, including potential station locations like Pleasanton. PAMPA ignored the plans until after Pacheco had been finally selected and Prop 1A had passed.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And the wonderful Loopy version of the Altamont alignment, besides seeming to use an alignment that is not available to use, means getting the NIMBY’s of the Peninsula and the NIMBY’s of the East Bay both at once.

    With the Pacheco alignment, there’s one set of NIMBY’s, and by the time some Express HSR trains are running somewhere, overcoming the NIMBY objections to the Altamont mid-HSR overlay becomes much easier.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Again, all this bull shit because a small Central Valley town won’t get HSR at the outset. ” This is confusing matters. Not “won’t get HSR at the outset”, but rather, “won’t be the first location where ground is broken on an HSR segment”.

    That much is clear ~ if the board overturned the recommendation, it would have to be in favor of not-quite-Fresno / not-quite-Bakersfield. That’s the status of things until the Wye alignment is determined, which certainly won’t be happening in time to accept the grant.

    On this: “say the Peninsula NIMBY’s get their way and halt HSR completely from SF to SJ. That means that HSR must now go through the Altamont vs. the now superior Pacheco Pass choice of yesterday…right? No, not really.
    What it could well mean is that the corridor is pushed through to LAUS, and an LA/CV starter service is launched while Stage 1 is still in construction. Once trains are running, the bargaining position of the Peninsula shifts dramatically.

    So the phony “build it right” Peninsula NIMBY’s would be well advised to listen to Clem on how to actually build it right, and get actual real world benefit out of their current position, since postponing it too long can easily see their bargaining position collapse on them.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “So the phony “build it right” Peninsula NIMBY’s would be well advised to listen to Clem on how to actually build it right, and get actual real world benefit out of their current position, since postponing it too long can easily see their bargaining position collapse on them.”–Bruce McF

    I strongly agree.

    Now, how do we get Robert, Clem, you, and me on the HSR board of directors?:-)

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Bloody hell, not me … I’m not even a Californian. But Clem ought to be in someone’s HSR kitchen cabinet if he’s not on the board.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Well we will have a new Governer soon!! It will be interesting what Gov. Brown will do with the authority and who he will replace Katz and possibly Pringle.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes you do, and be thankful for it. Our new governor spent his time since he was last in politics using his political pull to sell dud investments to suckers instate and make millions for his casino of an investment bank and himself. Y’all definitely win on a comparison of new governors.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Yes we are all thankful to be Californians…A magnificent state , I’m sorry Ohio is ruled by such backward mindset what a tragedy not to have a high-speed rail system a real one between Columbus and Cincinnati and Cleveland….. move here with us.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Your comments about governors (and, by inference, low expectations) reminds me of a story about a politician in West Virginia, who claimed he could get rid of half the corruption in the capitol city of Charleston. Someone asked him, “Why don’t you say you can get rid of all the corruption?”

    The politician replied, “If I told them I could get rid of all the corruption, they wouldn’t believe me and I wouldn’t stand a chance to get elected. I figure they figure that half the corruption is believeable.”

    This is West Virginia; I’ll not say much more!

  24. jimsf
    Nov 26th, 2010 at 18:41

    I don’t recall Merced ever being part of phase one anyway… I seem to recall the conversation around here in previous months being along the lines of “If they choose merced for the HMF, then that would be good because it would mean constructing some track to the north and get it closer to sac sooner.” That was it. It was never, “merced is part of phase one” was it? So nothing has actually changed. They are building phase one from sf to ana, and if merced happens to get the hmf, then we get a jump start on phase two as part of the end of phase one. That was the conversation here. That still remains the case. BAsically, nothing has happened. Why is everyone freaking out, switching sides, re routing the train, and in a general tizzy? Very weird .

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, actually, it was. Merced has always been part of phase 1; check any of the sample schedules and operating plans linked from Clem’s blog or the official website.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    The answer is politics. This is not a set back for Merced per se. This is about the volatility at the federal level over high speed rail and that impact on federal funding for the project. This is about the fact that Jim Costa and Dennis Cardoza are facing redistricting, and HSR gives Costa an advantage over Cardoza in fundraising and endorsements for 2012.

    Jack In Fresno Reply:

    I think you hit the nail on the head here. Costa brought home the bacon, Cardoza didn’t. This could be a huge liability for Cardoza when he comes up for re-election.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    And of course next up ..the base site which of course you have no tracks running near it if they’re all down south of Fresno

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Keep in mind that the bigger threat isn’t re-election for Cardoza or Costa…it’s that the independent redistricting commission will redraw the district so that both of them have a primary battle in 2012 against each other. The recommendation would put Cardoza at a big disadvantage with base Democratic constituencies.

    jimsf Reply:

    or mabye they just chose to begin construction south of an area and north of an area that hasn’t been nailed down yet. They start with the part where they know for sure what they are doing. Its probably just that simple.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Not quite. They probably realized that they needed two stations to tap the bond money and they needed a stretch that was “independent” for the federal cash. So they scribble out the cost of Fresno to Hanford and then use as little state match as possible. Then the they figured how far north and south they could use the remaining federal dough and they came up with somewhere pretty close to Madera and Corcoran.

    But the benefit is that they can tinker a lot on the Fresno – Hanford alignment because it will include a new station and ROW that isn’t adjacent to existing rail lines. Also, they get to practice the art of urban renewal in Fresno and learn the ropes with a very friendly mayor.

    jimsf Reply:

    and get a lot of real infrastructure built though fresno. While some argue the need for an aerial etc, one good thing about them is that coming into any city on elevated freeways and trains gives you a great overview of the city/skyline. Approaching SF from the 280x for instance, and riding bart through el cerrito, for instance, is really nice for the passengers on board and showcases the area. Fresno could use such a showcasing. Once they put up a couple more tall buildings, and maybe do some uplighting on their downtown, itll start to look like something. I watched this happen to SAC over the last 25 years. From sleepy cow town with nary a skyline, to what is a fairly impressive nighttime look from the 80 over the sac river on the west side.

    jimsf Reply:

    Easily imagine fresno going from this to this in a decade or so.

    James Fujita Reply:

    There’s a lot of untapped potential in Fresno. Yes, Fresno. The HSR station will be downtown (near the ballpark), and Fresno’s downtown is sorely in need of repairs.
    But it could be walkable if you fixed it up. They already removed cars from Fulton, for example, but there’s no “there” there.
    I don’t know if “tall” is needed until you fill the buildings they already have. Add some apartments, maybe.
    Heck, Fresno is large enough for a streetcar, even. HSR would encourage these kinds of changes.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Unfortunately, the change that would have the biggest impact from Fresno is clearing up the Valley haze so that you could see the Sierra behind the skyline. That would really help them.

    jimsf Reply:

    well itll take a lot more than high speed rail to do that though. with all the local driving, plus the ag smog, crop dusting, field burning, and the frequent inversion layers that would make it hazy even if there were zero cars around… that haze in the sac and san joa valleys is never gonna go away.

    James Fujita Reply:

    It’ll never go away, but the situation can be made better. Buy more organic and less crop dusting.

    The Central Valley has talked about streetcars, BRT, light rail, buses, commuter rail, etc. but it’s always been just talk. HSR can change that, but it will take convincing. It hasn’t quite sunk in yet that Fresno will have this huge, shiny new station and a completely inadequate mass transit system linking to it.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Electric cars ought to be part of that too.

    jimsf Reply:

    not everyone can afford to buy organic. most people buy whats on sale.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sometimes they have organic stuff on sale.

    jimsf Reply:

    yeh but overall its mostly the urban hipsters who buy that stuff, not regular people. Its not the solution to valley smog. ( frankly I prefer my fruits and veggies sprayed, as I prefer eating a little pesticide over finding pests in my food. but thats just me)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Organic food doesn’t have pests – it’s actually healthier, usually. The reason it’s expensive is that to keep it pest-free they need more labor and land.

    jimsf Reply:

    This is how we did our trash when I lived in the valley

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Not how you kept warm? j/k

    jimsf Reply:

    no we had one of these for that.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Ho, ho, ho, ho! And I remember both, though that stove was in our garage.

    We did have central heat in the house, but I’m not so sure the Californians would have approved; it burned coal.

    Funny thing, one of the fonder memories I have of winter in northern West Virginia was the combination of snow crunching under your feet, and the smell of that coal smoke in the air. And I’ll mention as well, that coal could keep a house pretty warm. Maybe the fondness comes from being just young enough not to be involved in the work coal had; putting the fire (coal) in the furnace daily and sometimes more often, (lighting a coal fire was a slow process, so once you lit it, you generally kept it going all winter, usually at a nice, slow rate), and also cleaning the fire (shaking out the ashes and pulling the clinkers–hardened, fused ash and other non-combustibles, not present in wood fires), and of course taking the ashes out of the furnace.

    Most people went in for gas heat as soon as they could, and that included my family!

  25. D. P. Lubic
    Nov 27th, 2010 at 11:25

    Some interesting reading in the current NARP news column:

  26. morris brown
    Nov 27th, 2010 at 14:35

    Nobody seems to be at all willing to comment that the new proposal doesn’t meet Prop 1A requirements for bond funds to be used for construction.

    At the Nov 4th, meeting, there was plenty of objections to the 1 station proposal of Fresno to Shafter, because there was only 1 station included and Prop 1A says a usable segment must have at least 2 stations. That would seem to have dictated the Merced to Fresno alternative be chosen.

    van Ark, kept on saying, this is only the beginning and that all the requirements for 2 stations (and other omissions) will be met when further funding is found as the project goes forward, and thus (in his mind), 2 stations don’t have to be present to start construction.

    But that is not what Prop 1A says. Prop 1A says funding must be in place to construct a usable segment. Prop 1A says a usable segment must have 2 stations. Prop 1A also says the system must have a power source. Thus a usable segment must be built with a power source.

    This alternative does not include electrification, thus no power source, thus as outlined, even with its 2 stations, it doesn’t meet the requirements of Prop 1A. All the hoops that must be traversed should keep the legislature from appropriating funds from Prop 1A to build the segment as presently outlined.

    The Authority is willing to challenge the legislature and apparently feels the legislators will yield to whatever demands they make. A prime example of this was the Governor’s veto of the strings attached to about $50 million of the present appropriations. Senator Simitian and others thought this veto was illegal. Senator Simitian stated on Nov 4th, he now had an opinion from the legislative legal dept, that indeed the veto was illegal. Yet, so far as I know, nothing is being done to take back this $50 million or prevent it from being spent.

    A lot of ill will being created in the legislature for sure, but as yet no concrete actions being taken to bring the Authority into line.

    Its not over until its over. Indeed the Dec 2sd meeting should be very interesting.

    Steven Reply:

    To be fair, this proposal *does* include two stations, and the relevant power source is diesel. Besides, I would rather sink the whole project than to have billions of dollars of taxpayer money “dictated” entirely by semantics. If Madera-Fresno-Corcoran is not applicable under the letter of the law, that does not mean that we are now “dictated” into investing in Fresno-Merced; DC could just cancel the whole thing.

    The Madera-Corcoran segment, including the entire Fresno section, is the only part of the alignment that was common to both Pass options. There are no imminent controversies over that stretch of the route, and it must be built no matter what. Therefore, it’s a reasonable first start.

    No one who supports the Altamont Pass (and HSR) should want the Authority to commit to the Fresno-Merced section right now. Why? Because that section would include the Pachecho wye! Once we start construction on that section of the alignment, the Altamont option will be officially DOA.

    If the Authority were to focus on the Fresno-Merced section only to find themselves locked in childish lawsuits with UP, PAMPAnians (and now Mercedinistas) for years to come, or if (G-d forbid) they start construction on Pachecho wye flyovers only to switch to Altamont after the concrete is hard, those of us who live back east (I live in the NEC) will gladly defund CAHSR, and move that money back to where even teabaggers know that HSR will work (i.e. DC-NYC).

    If, on the other hand, we start construction on Madera-Corcoran soon, the feds will then have some skin in the game, and will be more likely to support Corcoran-Bakersfield-Palmdale-LAUS, not to mention Fresno-Merced-SAC, regardless of the debates in the Bay Area.

    For the record, I *tend* to support Altamont, with about half of the trains traveling from LA to SF via the Dumbarton Bridge, the rest traveling from LA to SJ via ACE (more or less), and beefed up Caltrain running between SF and SJ. I think running HSR from the CV to San Jose via Altamont, only to reverse trains at Diridon and up PAMPA to the TBT, would only piss *everybody* off! Pachecho is a reasonable alternative by comparison.

    Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Nothing in prop1A demands that the HST operation that you are able to run on the independent segment be the same trains and the same system as the ones you plant to use for the run from SF/LA.

    Though its natural for the CHSRA to wish to not put a tremendous amount of time and effort into pro forma planning when they have ample real world planning to get on with, either Alstom or Bombadier should have the experience to be able to confirm that they could produce a turbine train capable of 200mph revenue service … the speed limit of the Bombardier turbine is due to the design target of operating in corridor designed for lower speed operation, rather than technical limits, and the French were hitting speeds of 186mph on a regular basis back in the 1970’s.

    If you were going to put that kind of operation into service, you’d go ahead an electrify, and instead of turbine for high speed power and a separate power source for head end power and lower speed operation, you’d use the overhead for high speed operation and a separate power source for head end power and lower speed operation when running out from under the wires.

    morris brown Reply:

    The criteria seem to be all centered on the Federal ARRA requirements, and although noted that to use Prop 1A funds, requirements laid down in Prop 1A must also be met.

    from Prop 1A

    (e) “High-speed train system” means a system with high-speed trains and
    includes, but is not limited to, the following components: right-of-way, track,
    power system, rolling stock, stations, and associated facilities.

    Note the requirement for a power system; this then is a requirement for a usable segment of this project, and under Prop 1A, the project must be built from usable segments, which have full funding in place before Prop 1A bond funds can be expended on construction.

    As outlined, van Ark’s proposal doesn’t meet Prop 1A requirements. Whether the board is going to reject it on that basis I don’t know, but it sure wold leave the legislature, the Director of Finance or the peer review committee, with an option to reject funding what the Authority is now presenting.

    So while you may be right, that HST operation could be run on these tracks by trains powered by other than electricity, Prop 1A said the tracks must be able to produce a power source, and as now shown, a power source is not present.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Diesel engines are a power source.

    Victor Reply:

    And Amtrak has plenty I hear.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Doesn’t mean they have any extra ones.

    Victor Reply:

    True, But of course on the Fresno to Hanford segment as It’s pitched, Plus maybe Bakersfield with the returned $1.2 Billion in DOT Grants should they come to CA, The CHSRA has reserved $150 Million to connect both ends to the BNSF for independent utility, Amtrak could use the 65 miles and the 2 stations for the Amtrak San Joaquin, If the worst came true(God Forbid), Just in case.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And regarding 200mph, so are turbines, which is what the French put in their first test TGV before they switched to electrification, and regularly ran at and above speeds of 186mph in the 1970’s.

    Turbines are lighter than diesels, though you don’t want to be idling turbines ~ they are massive fuel hogs when idling. So a turbine version of a more modern HST might require a separate power car for lower speed operation and head end power.

    John Burrows Reply:

    From Wikipedia———-

    Rolling stock—comprises all the vehicles that move on a railway. It usually includes both powered and unpowered vehicles, for example locomotives, railroad cars, coaches and wagons. However, the term is sometimes used to refer only to non-powered vehicles; specifically, excluding locomotives referred to as running stock or MOTIVE POWER.

    So isn’t motive power a form of power system?

    Victor Reply:

    HST? Isn’t It HSR? Just curious.

    Peter Reply:

    HST = High Speed Train vs. HSR = High Speed Rail

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    HST–High Speed Train. The British use (or used) that term for their Intercity 125 trainsets. Power was diesel, and regularly operated at 125 mph (hence the monicer Intercity 125).

    Some interesting information here:

    Looks like you could have some fun exploring all the links in these links. Go to it!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Intercity 125 footage, including a promotional film from when the sets were very new.

    This is just a tiny sampling of what is available; I’ll let you explore yourself (part of it is that I have to run for now), and experience your own thrill of discovery!


    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I did have to include these advertisements–they’re too good to leave out!

    Victor Reply:

    Fresno and Holden will have stations, So It’s legal, And unless You have hard evidence to the contrary I’d advise You to shut up, As It makes You look like a Troll.

    Victor Reply:

    @ morris brown: Oh and the facts below don’t seem to support what You said on Power Source, If You have a source of information to back up this claim with, Ok, If not, Then please do not make such outlandish claims.


    The following below came from a pdf file Here and Power is mentioned quite a bit as is Source, But not once is Power Source mentioned.

    SEC. 9. Chapter 20 (commencing with Section 2704) is added to
    Division 3 of the Streets and Highways Code, to read:
    Article 1. General Provisions
    2704. This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Safe, Reliable
    High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century.
    2704.01. As used in this chapter, the following terms have the following
    (a) “Committee” means the High-Speed Passenger Train Finance
    Committee created pursuant to Section 2704.12.
    (b) “Authority” means the High-Speed Rail Authority created pursuant to
    Section 185020 of the Public Utilities Code, or its successor.
    (c) “Fund” means the High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Fund created
    pursuant to Section 2704.05.
    (d) “High-speed train” means a passenger train capable of sustained
    revenue operating speeds of at least 200 miles per hour where conditions
    permit those speeds.
    (e) “High-speed train system” means a system with high-speed trains and
    includes, but is not limited to, the following components: right-of-way, track,
    power system, rolling stock, stations, and associated facilities.
    (f) “Corridor” means a portion of the high-speed train system as described
    in Section 2704.04.
    (g) “Usable segment” means a portion of a corridor that includes at least
    two stations.

    Victor Reply:

    Let Me try again as one link seems to have been done wrong:

    Hey Robert, We could really use an edit function in here.

    jimsf Reply:

    I didnt realize this part… doesn’t this give a lot of flexibility?
    Phase I of the train project is the corridor between San�Francisco Transbay Terminal and Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim. If the authority finds that there would be no negative impact on the construction of Phase I of the project, bond funds may be used on any of the following corridors:

    Sacramento to Stockton to Fresno
    San Francisco Transbay Terminal to San Jose to Fresno
    Oakland to San Jose
    Fresno to Bakersfield to Palmdale to Los Angeles Union Station
    Los Angeles Union Station to Riverside to San Diego
    Los Angeles Union Station to Anaheim to Irvine
    Merced to Stockton to Oakland and San Francisco via the Altamont Corridor

    Peter Reply:

    But SF-LA must be prioritized. According to Prop 1A, anything else can only be built if it doesn’t delay the completion of SF-LA.

    jimsf Reply:

    all it says about phase one, the corridors within it and any useable segment within any corridor, is that a “useable segment” is (g) “Usable segment” means a portion of a corridor that includes at least two stations.

    (H) The corridor or usable segment thereof would be suitable and ready for high-speed train operation.
    (I) One or more passenger service providers can begin using the tracks or stations for passenger train service

    so it sounds like one- the useable segment only has to be “ready” for “high speed operation” it doesn’t say it has to be electric and it doesn’t say what speed. The references to electric trains, speed and travel times are listed separately in a different part of the text. That leaves an opening to construct this segment as planned. a useable segment need only have two stations and be ready for some type of high speed operation, whether or not that operation actually occurs. Thats how it reads.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, the “suitable and ready for high-speed train operation” is the entire hook that Morris is hanging his argument on, arguing that without catenary it can’t be ready for “high-speed train operation”.

    Its a slender reed to use to try to kill the project at this point.

    Peter Reply:

    Actually, Morris is correct about the requirement of the implementation of a “power source”. I’m not sure though whether the Legislature and the peer review committee will agree with him that the bond funding shouldn’t be released for this segment.

    Clem Reply:

    Heh. There’s only $3 billion federal dollars riding on the answer…

    Peter Reply:

    Which makes it VERY unlikely that those entities will decide against releasing the bond funds. Unless they’re against the HSR on a more general level.

    jimsf Reply:

    Where is the power source text for the useable segment I didn’t find it in there anywhere.

    Peter Reply:

    Actually, it doesn’t say “power source”, my bad. It just says “power system”.

    jimsf Reply:

    All it says is the hsr system must use electric trains – in reference to the goals of the completed system but it does in terms of only a “useable segment” of a given corridor, of phase one, it just has to be capable of high speed service ( doesn’t say you have to actually operate high speed service) and it says it can be used by conventional rail, and that it should when possible, connect to existing rail as well. So really the prosed starting segment is exactly in line with the text of the law. I just read the whole thing.

    Peter Reply:

    It actually doesn’t even mention “electric”.

    jimsf Reply:

    it does on the next page of the text, but its in reference to the hsr system as a completed whole.
    AND it also says right at the beginning the nothing in this section puts limits on use or expenditure when it comes to spending money on various aspects as follows. Lots of leeway here.
    (g) Nothing in this section shall limit use or expenditure of proceeds of bonds described in paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 2704.04 up to an amount equal to 7.5 percent of the aggregate principal amount of bonds described in that paragraph for environmental studies, planning, and preliminary engineering activities, and for (1) acquisition of interests in real property and right-of-way and improvement thereof (A) for preservation for high-speed rail uses, (B) to add to third-party improvements to make them compatible with high-speed rail uses, or (C) to avoid or to mitigate incompatible improvements or uses; (2) mitigation of any direct or indirect environmental impacts resulting from the foregoing; and (3) relocation assistance for property owners and occupants who are displaced as a result of the foregoing.
    (h) Not more than 2.5 percent of the proceeds of bonds described in paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) of Section 2704.04 shall be used for administrative purposes. The amount of bond proceeds available for administrative purposes shall be appropriated in the annual Budget Act. The Legislature may, by statute, adjust the percentage set forth in this subdivision, except that the Legislature shall not increase that percentage to more than 5 percent.
    (i) No failure to comply with this section shall affect the validity of the bonds issued under this chapter.
    2704.09. The high-speed train system to be constructed pursuant to this chapter shall be designed to achieve the following characteristics:
    (a) Electric trains that are capable of sustained maximum revenue operating speeds of no less than 200 miles per hour.
    (b) Maximum nonstop service travel times for each corridor that shall not exceed the following:
    (1) San Francisco-Los Angeles Union Station: two hours, 40 minutes. (2) Oakland-Los Angeles Union Station: two hours, 40 minutes. (3) San Francisco-San Jose: 30 minutes. (4) San Jose-Los Angeles: two hours, 10 minutes.
    (5) San Diego-Los Angeles: one hour, 20 minutes. (6) Inland Empire-Los Angeles: 30 minutes. (7) Sacramento-Los Angeles: two hours, 20 minutes. (c) Achievable operating headway (time between successive trains) shall be
    five minutes or less.

    James Fujita Reply:

    Could there be such a thing as too much flexibility?

    I don’t have a problem if the first train to run on the new tracks isn’t electric powered. Diesels have run on the NEC when necessary, underneath the electric catenary lines.

    But I do think it needs to be made perfectly and absolutely clear that this is a high-speed rail network that we are building, not just a turbotrain turbine version of the San Joaquin.

    If we can find the funds to buy 125-200 mph turbine trains, we can find the money to put up power poles.

    jimsf Reply:

    yes, no one is suggesting otherwise. This is just a matter of whether this segment can be challenged as qualifying for construction at this time. which it does. There is no way anyone is going to build a system other than what we are all planning on having. I can’t believe how little faith people have around here. My god, its gonna get built ok? It really is and, its gonna look just like the map and the plan that weve all been looking at for the past two years. Yes there will be obstacles, and yes there will be misinformation, and there will be delays and etc etc and lawsuites, but mark my words in the end we will have the system as planned. WAtch and see and don’t worry.

    James Fujita Reply:

    I’m glad to hear it. Because failure is definitely not an option :)

    “Trust, but verify”

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It is made absolutely clear that the system under construction is intended to be a 200mph+ Express HSR system powered by electricity.

    I think Morris Brown’s argument is a big wheelbarrow full of rose fertilizer, since I do not think it was the intent of the legislature to make it inordinately difficult to actually build the system laid out in Prop1A(2008).

    Is it a portion of a corridor designed as specified? yes. Does it have two stations? yes.

    That only leaves whether it is “usable”. Is the segment usable? Evidently: it will either be used by the Express HSR system they set out to build, or else it will be used by the San Joaquin.

    If the objection is made that the “or else” needs to be a HSR system ~ (a) I think that’s silly, but I Aint A Lawyer, so (b) sure, it could be.

    But, standard grade track, with signals and stations and (in the contingency) connected to the mainline system … in what bizarro world would that not be considered to be “usable”?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You skipped the key part of the chain, since a usable segment is a part of a corridor, and a corridor is a portion of a HSR system.

    (a) It is the intent of the Legislature by enacting this chapter and of the people of California by approving the bond measure pursuant to this chapter to initiate the construction of a high-speed train system that connects the San Francisco Transbay Terminal to Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim, and links the state’s major population centers, including Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Central Valley, Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, Orange County, and San Diego consistent with the authority’s certified environmental impact reports of November 2005 and July 9, 2008.


    (b) (2) As adopted by the authority in May 2007, Phase 1 of the high-speed train project is the corridor of the high-speed train system between San Francisco Transbay Terminal and Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim.


    (c) Capital costs payable or reimbursable from proceeds of bonds described in paragraph (1) of subdivision (b) include, with respect to the high-speed train system or any portion thereof, all activities necessary for acquisition of interests in real property and rights-of-way and improvement thereof; acquisition and construction of tracks, structures, power systems, and stations; acquisition of rolling stock and related equipment; mitigation of any direct or indirect environmental impacts of activities authorized by this chapter; relocation assistance for displaced property owners and occupants; other related capital facilities and equipment; and such other purposes related to the foregoing, for the procurement thereof, and for the financing or refinancing thereof, as may be set forth in a statute hereafter enacted. The method of acquisition of any of the foregoing may also be set forth in a statute hereafter enacted


    (d) Proceeds of bonds authorized pursuant to this chapter shall
    not be used for any operating or maintenance costs of trains or


    IANL, but it seems to be “a portion of the corridor” as described in 2704.04.

    There is nothing in AB3034 that says that the usable segment must be a complete free standing HSR system in its own right, what is says is that it must be a usable PORTION OF a complete free standing HSR system that includes at least two stations.

    And this would clearly be a usable portion of a free standing HSR system that includes at least two stations.

    It never defined what a “high speed passenger train service” is, but it defined what a high speed train system is, and if there is intent of the legislature (eg, legislative debate) in support of the high speed passenger train service complying with the definition of a high speed train, that can be provided for on this segment. Obviously the provision on this segment alone would amount to a back up plan to a back up plan, since the intent is to continue building.

    morris brown Reply:

    If you will at least agree that the trains must be powered by electricity (see my comments below), then surely you must be willing to agree that a usable segment must be able to power these trains, and as currently proposed for this segment, there is no provision for electrical power. The proposed segment can’t therefore be considered usable.

    jimsf Reply:

    no thats not what it says at all morris. useable segment has a different definition than “hsr system” the hsr system must use electric trains but the useable segment as defined by the text of the law only requires that it be able to be used for high speed operation – but it does not require high speed operation from the start nor does it require electric operation.

    jimsf Reply:

    I wish I had read the text a long time ago, its surprising simple to read, and structured in a way that clearly defines things. It is nowhere near as restrictive as some would make it out to be.

    James Fujita Reply:

    We’re splitting hairs here. The law says that doesn’t have to be electric, but we all know that eventually, we want it to be electric. What’s wrong with doing that work sooner rather than later?

    jimsf Reply:

    There’s nothing wrong with doing it sooner, if the money is available. What we are arguing is if there isn’t enough money for electrification at this point – per the construction of this initial “useable segment” does it still qualify to be built and the answer according to 1a is yes. It still qualifies under the definition.

    Peter Reply:

    Nothing wrong with it, if we have the money to electrify. Right now, with the money we have available, we could either build a shorter stretch that is electrified, but without any trains to run on it, or a longer stretch that isn’t electrified, but could be used by diesel trains from the day it’s completed, and electrify it later.

    James Fujita Reply:

    Not a bad idea. Still, I’d still want some guarantee that we won’t 1) build tracks 2) run diesel and then 3) rest on our laurels and say “mission accomplished”.

    And switching to turbine trains would cost money, too.

    Peter Reply:

    The “guarantee” you’re looking for would have to come in the form of major funding from the deferal government (unlikely over the next two years), or from foreign private investors (much more likely).

    That’s the best you would get in terms of a “guarantee”.

    If we don’t build anything now, we’re never going to build anything, EVER.

    That’s what many people are hoping for, consequences be damned. Morris Brown included. I doubt he would deny it.

    Peter Reply:


    Wow, I need some sleep. “Federal” is what I meant to write.

    jimsf Reply:

    right, its a toss up really – do the upgrades, secure row, lay slab track, and get as much track distance laid as possible up front, then put in catenary and power systems, or build completed segments that are much shorter and not as beneficial in the interim. Two different approaches. What is clear is that there is a lot of work to be done and the clock is ticking towards 2020. So god forbid people quit bickering and start building.

    The transcontinental railroad was construction in 5 years from 1863 to 69. Nearly 1800 miles of track over two mountain ranges and built entirely BY HAND using only hand tools and dynamite.

    That was america in the 1800s. Today we can’t do anything at all except complain.

    James Fujita Reply:

    The federal government defers to the states whenever possible. Not a typo :)

    I do want this built. I want it built now.

    And I know we’re defending the first segment against the likes of Morris Brown, but statements like “it doesn’t mention electric” sound wavering. Avoiding one trap hole by falling into another.

    Can’t afford power poles? I want some concrete anchors, then. Spaced the proper distance for HSR running >:-)

    jimsf Reply:

    you’re just reading more than you need to into it. There is no question whatsoever that it will be an electric system and it will either be a french or german version or an asian version, but theres no question. As for putting up the wires, I don’t know much about construction but I would tend to think that power and signaling would come more towards the end once the train control system has been chosen and maybe when they have a better idea of what trainsets they are going to use. I mean first you secure row, and do grade separations, and lay track and design stations and a whole host of things before you need to run catenary and install signaling. Signaling and catenary doesn’t have to go in with initial track laying. It can, but doesn’thave to right?

    James Fujita Reply:

    Well, if light rail construction is any indication, obviously you don’t build catenary poles and wiring first. But you do include it in planning documents, station designs, blueprints and so forth.

    And there’s stuff like the concrete bases and even electrical outlets which can be put in well ahead of the poles. No juice, of course. But it’s all there during the initial construction.

    And even diesel trains will need signaling. So, there’s a little bit of electrical work to be done anyways….

    BruceMcF Reply:

    They have to install signaling, but that is for the Federal portion of the money ~ that is implied by the independent utility.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Also, after the rolling stock, the electrification will be the easiest part to get private funding or revenue bond funding for, since once the track has been laid, the project risk of not being able to install the catenary is nil or negligible. It is therefore prudent to focus on laying track with Federal and Prop1A(2008) funding.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, I agree that the system has to be designed to be used by electric trains. Of course, this segment is so designed, so adding it to the checklist only adds another check.

  27. jimsf
    Nov 27th, 2010 at 20:40

    If you read the text of the law as written, there is tons of flexibility written into it. The restrictions so often cited by people seem to pertain more to the finished system, but not to any given segment of a corridor of a phase. Like I said a “useable segment thereof” is very simply and clearly defined. Unless they added amendments after the law passed??

    morris brown Reply:

    The legislature can’t just add amendments to a voter approved proposition. If they want to chance it, they must come back to the voters for a change.

    jimsf Reply:

    well then its clear as day, that this choice of corcoran to madera qualifies as a useable segment as defined by the text of the law. So there you go.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Reading with interest here…

    I suppose if there was any question if the recommended 1st segment for construction met applicable criteria, that the CHSRA general counsel or LAO’s office would have been consulted. So, either there was no question of applicability, or they in fact were consulted. Bottom-line, we have a recommendation for the first constructable segment.

  28. morris brown
    Nov 27th, 2010 at 21:53

    @Peter and others…

    No mention of electric… !!!

    From Prop 1A bond measure…

    Analysis by the legislative analyst

    Over the past 12 years, the authority has spent about
    $60 million for pre-construction activities, such as
    environmental studies and planning, related to the
    development of a high-speed train system. The proposed
    system would use electric trains and connect the major
    metropolitan areas of San Francisco, Sacramento, through
    the Central Valley, into Los Angeles, Orange County, the
    Inland Empire (San Bernardino and Riverside Counties),
    and San Diego. The authority estimated in 2006 that
    the total cost to develop and construct the entire highspeed
    train system would be about $45 billion. While the
    authority plans to fund the construction of the proposed
    system with a combination of federal, private, local, …

    From Arguments in favor of Prop 1A.

    California will be the first state in the country to benefit from
    environmentally preferred High-Speed Trains common today in
    Europe and Asia. Proposition 1A will bring California:
    Electric-powered High-Speed Trains running up to 220 •
    miles an hour on modern track, safely separated from
    other traffic generally along existing rail corridors….

    Electric-powered High-Speed Trains will remove over 12 billion
    pounds of CO2 and greenhouse gases, equal to the pollution of
    nearly 1 million cars. And High-Speed Trains require one-third
    the energy of air travel and one-fifth the energy of auto travel.

    From Rebuttals against Prop 1A

    Electric High-Speed Trains will give Californians a real
    alternative to skyrocketing gasoline prices and dependence on
    foreign oil while reducing greenhouse gases. Building high-speed
    rail is cheaper than expanding highways

    From Prop 1A text

    2704.09. The high-speed train system to be constructed pursuant to this
    chapter shall be designed to achieve the following characteristics:
    (a) Electric trains that are capable of sustained maximum revenue operating
    speeds of no less than 200 miles per hour.
    (b) Maximum nonstop service travel times

    Is that enough?

    Peter Reply:

    Hmmm, there must be something wrong with Firefox’s search function. Yes, you are right, my apologies.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Can we increase the track with to 200 feet an 6 tracks so we can bulldoze your front lawn?

    jimsf Reply:

    morris = thats electric hsr system not electric useable segment. you are coming to conclusions that don’t exist.

    thatbruce Reply:

    A strict reading of AB3034, 2704.01, in particular points e, f and g, does imply that in order to consider any ‘Usable Segment’ using Prop 1A funds to be complete, there must be at least two stations, and all the associated support equipment in order to run High Speed Trains at at least 200 mph over that segment.

    The announcement from the CAHSRA does not specify that this will result in a ‘Usable Segment’ according to AB3034, but rather that it will meet the federal ‘Independent Utility’ requirement.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The segment is indeed “designed to achieve”. That is, after all, what you are objecting to ~ that the segment will break ground and get things rolling, after which point it will get increasingly harder to stop the construction of an electric high speed train system between San Francisco and Los Angeles.

    While you quibble over how much constitutes “a portion” and what level of usability constitutes “usable”, the clear intent is not to object to bad faith on the CHRSA’s part, but rather to itry to find a pretext to block good faith efforts to proceed with the task for which they were established.

    morris brown Reply:

    The clear intent was to make sure that Prop 1A bond funds would be spent to build a HSR system. They were not to be spent in some way that would result in some kind of infrastructure that might not result in a true HSR system. As an example, Rep. Anna Eshoo in my district, is on record as now saying that HSR funds can be used to electrify CalTrain. I don’t know how she comes to that conclusion but she is of a mind that this can be done. Lots of restrictions in the ARRA funding and as pointed out here lots of restrictions in using Prop 1A funds to match such a proposal.

    I don’t mean to imply here, that I am necessarily against electrifying CalTrain, but I am certainly against using Prop 1A funds for that purpose, since that is not what was approved by the voters of California.

    So again the project here demands the tracks provide power; as proposed this segment doesn’t not provide power. It should not be built unless changed such that all the ingredients to make the segment usable for HSR service are included and until funding for such a segment is in place.

    jimsf Reply:

    some of the prop 1a funds are availe to caltrain, from the 950 million. and if it can be shown to be for hsr use later, then the rest should be avail too.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    HSR funds can certainly be used to help electrify Caltrain. If the HSR pays the base cost of electrifying the Express tracks, the incremental cost of electrifying the balance is much lower. And indeed, on a commercial basis, HSR probably should, since an electrified Caltrain will be a more effective patronage recruiter.

    Paying more than that … that would have to come out of Caltrain’s increment of the $950m complementary rail funding, as jimsf says.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Note that what you are objecting to is building the HSR system in the real world, and insisting that it be built in some fantasy world. The proposed segment is a portion of a corridor, it is designed to comply with all of the features demanded in Prop1A(2008).

    Since it is, you are looking to up the ante and shift all the requirements of the system that is being built to the first segment of the system to be built.

    Which means, in practice, you are insisting that California do a Wisconsin and hand the money back to the Federal Government and wait for another, bigger, round of HSR funding to get started. But doing that would not be making “sure that Prop 1A bond funds would be spent to build a HSR system”, but rather making sure that Prop 1A bond funds are NOT spent to build an HSR system.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Morris Brown: So again the project here demands the tracks provide power; as proposed this segment doesn’t not provide power. It should not be built unless changed such that all the ingredients to make the segment usable for HSR service are included and until funding for such a segment is in place.

    While I agree with you that a ‘Usable Segment’ under AB3034 does require a full build-out of electrification, signaling and so forth in order to support High Speed Trains running at over 200 mph, the recent announcement is not about completing an AB3034 ‘Usable Segment’. Its about meeting the federal government’s ‘Independent Utility’ requirements for their portion of the funding, and in my opinion, a valid step on the way towards an AB3034 ‘Usable Segment’. Full electrification not required at this stage.

    Check which phrase appears in the CAHSRA’s announcement and/or contact the CAHSRA (there’s a nifty mailto in that link).

    observer Reply:

    In which case they will not qualify for AB3034 funding, in which case they will not have the total amount of matching funds they committed to the feds, nor the total amount required to complete the segment.

    Peter Reply:

    You’re assuming that the Legislature is going to insist on a very strict interpretation of AB 3034 in order to release the funds for this first segment.

    Given the amount of federal (free to CA!!) money at stake, I find that highly unlikely.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Peter: If the CAHSR project is to continue to completion, they do need to be strictly within the bounds of the relevant enabling legislation (AB3034) in their actions and funding requests. To do so otherwise risks tainting the project politically and give further opportunities for naysayers to derail the project in the future.

    Peter Reply:

    I agree that they need to stay strictly within the bounds of the enabling legislation. Otherwise, any of the Board’s actions would be illegal.

    I also agree with your statement just below regarding the interpretation of AB 3034’s “usable segment” requirement for the release of bond funds. That’s kind of what I was getting at. You just put it better in type.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @observer: The CAHSRA would only not qualify for AB3034 funding for this segment if they were saying that the end of this particular construction, sans electrification, signaling (etc), would result in a ‘Usable Segment’. As long as the request to release AB3034 funding makes it clear that this particular construction would result in progress towards a ‘Usable Segment’, and that other, later, construction would result in a ‘Usable Segment’, then there should be no reason that AB3034 funding could not be used for this particular construction.

    In the end, we (the group of armchair lawyers who post and/or read in this forum) do need to trust in that the CAHSRA’s recommended construction does ‘meet all state and federal legal requirements’, including AB3034. Some clarification from the CAHSRA regarding how these requirements have been met would be good however.

  29. synonymouse
    Nov 28th, 2010 at 10:13

    All due respect to Morris, I do not have a problem with spending the money on Caltrain electrification, based on the general premise that the hsr is just another public mass transit system and that whatever paltry funds available should be allocated to the most useful and needy projects. The hsr has already been hopelessly dumbed down and politicized so if Eshoo or Pringle or any other pol wants to pick on the hsr’s bones to benefit a local project, go for it.

    The Corcoran track from nowhere to nowhere is the height of folly. It would be wiser to build out your precious Tehachapi detour, laying out and designing the tunnels to accommodate diesels. Amtrak and the Santa Fe could reintroduce the San Francisco Chief and freight could be handled to help defray the inevitable passenger operating deficits. That would be a beneficial upgrade unlike triple tracking the Santa Fe in the most remote and least populated part of the route.

  30. James Fujita
    Nov 29th, 2010 at 00:39

    BTW, if I sound a bit like a jerk on this electrification issue, I do apologize. It’s only because I’m fully committed to 220 mph HSR.

    This project is opposed by NIMBYs and budget-cutting anti-rail naysayers, but it’s also important to remember that is it opposed, to a certain degree, by a subset of rail transit enthusiasts who see Cal HSR as sucking funds from Caltrain, Metrolink, Metro Rail, etc.

    I’m not interested in “incrementalist HSR” and I’m certainly not interested in starting over.
    I doubt very highly that anyone can successfully “rules lawyer” this project out of existence.

    At the same time, I want to make sure that we don’t leave any openings for those who would subvert the purpose of Prop. 1A.

    So… full speed ahead on Fresno to Hanford (plus a little extra on the edges), but do always watch for those hidden icebergs….

    James Fujita Reply:

    p.s. Homes will often come “cable ready” or with the hook-ups for a washer/dryer installed, but not the actual appliances. This keeps the price down, while allowing the homeowner to add these things later without tearing apart a wall…

    Hypothetically speaking, if something similar could be done with Cal HSR, it might be worth looking into.

  31. Elizabeth
    Nov 29th, 2010 at 12:56

    We have posted a “preview” for this Thursday’s board meeting in Sacramento:

    Should be an interesting meeting…

    thatbruce Reply:

    And now for the cliff notes on the preview:

    @Elizabeth: The figure of 4.15 doesn’t square with the CAHSRA’s (higher) figure of 4.3 in their announcement. Neither figure mentions which year those dollars are in, so they could be the same amount. As for the price increase, you’ve cited an increase of a billion since August, without noting that previous recommendations covered different portions of the overall route.

    Point 2 needs the supporting documentation to be accessible from CARRD’s website (404s currently) in order to properly comment on ‘Plan B’, the overbuilding required on the proposed initial construction in order to support FRA-weight locomotives as used by possible Amtrak service in this ends up being the only construction.

    Point 3 initially is a rehash of point 1 (ie, price increase), followed by what comes across as complaining about efforts to keep the costs down, particularly in the face of overbuilding mentioned in point 2 as part of plan B.

    Point 4 continues from point 3, and amounts to Merced supporters making a valid push to get the maintenance facility built there and corresponding tracks to the area.

    Point 5 is about whether this initial construction would meet the requirements mentioned in AB3034 if it is to be considered a ‘Usable Segment’. CARRD is correct in that the CAHSRA needs to provide clarification on this issue.

    Point 6 is about there being noooooooo committee meetings since September. I’d missed this little gem, and suspect that this may be due to the conflict of interest scandal, which brings us to..

    Point 7 is a shot at Pringle hanging in there, Katz having resigned his post on the CAHSRA board in order to focus on LA transit.

    Peter Reply:

    Point 6: Would they be able to make a quorum on each committee if Katz and Pringle’s votes didn’t count?

    Point 7: What is CARRD going to complain about once Pringle is either gone or, after being reappointed, is no longer on the OCTA Board and no longer Mayor?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Point 6 yes. katz and pringle were on different committees

    Point 7. Seriously?

    Peter Reply:

    I was being a bit sarcastic on Point 7.

    Pringle will either a) cease to be relevant by the end of the year (doesn’t his term expire then?), or b) be reappointed and no longer be conflicted.

    In that light, why is CARRD continuing to harp on this?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They complain that the color of the paper in the photocopiers isn’t exactly right or that people have been using No.3 Pencils to take telephone messages instead of No. 2 pencils or that the budget for staples is too low and the budget for paper clips is too high and why hasn’t anyone investigated using binder clips instead…..

    thatbruce Reply:

    Easy on them there. A project like this needs to have entities like CARRD around to do things like make sure that all the ‘i’s are dotted and ‘t’s crossed, as people caught up in an enthused headlong rush can sometimes miss critical things. Sometimes they focus on seemingly inconsequential items, or have the appearance of a negative bias. Other times they do catch valid items requiring broader attention, for instance the lack of committee meetings since September, or that the CAHSRA needs to provide clarification on certain issues.

    While we may (and at times, should) disagree on how a self-appointed watchdog should handle themselves, their role isn’t as pointless as you make it out to be. Its certainly better than spurious lawsuits.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    The $4.15 is in the press release. I think the difference between the $4.3 and $4.15 is a reserve for rail to connect to BNSF.

    Fixed the links- thanks.

    Point 3. We are not unhappy, but don’t think the general public has necessarily picked up on this. We want to make sure everyone understands what is going on.

    Point 4. We are just commenting that Merced people are unhappy. We can debate whether they were fooling themselves or were fooled. It is relevant that they feel fooled.

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