“We’ll put up half the money for California HSR” says Japan’s Ambassador to the United States

Jan 15th, 2011 | Posted by

Yesterday I attended the Japanese government sponsored high speed rail seminar in Los Angeles. Led by the Japan International Transport Institute (JITI) and their country’s passenger rail operators and manufactures, the conference was an impressive push for California HSR to utilize Japanese knowledge, equipment, and perhaps most critically, financing.

Japan’s ambassador to the United States, Ichiro Fujisaki, was in Los Angeles from Washington, DC for the conference. Ambassador Fujisaki’s opening remarks to the conference were a forceful call for us to use Japanese know-how and equipment for our high speed rail. Most extraordinarily, the ambassador stated that he believes Japan will pay for up to half of the cost of the California’s HSR.

This is significant of course as we try to find dollars to complete our system. While Fujisaki’s comments of course don’t bind the Japanese government, its railways, or the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC, the likely vehicle for California HSR financing as I’ll explain below) it is nonetheless a significant statement. Japan’s highest ranking diplomat would not make such a statement lightly. Furthermore, there is every reason to believe that such cooperation on HSR between the US and Japan is very much in our bi-lateral national security interests.

The half day conference featured U.S. elected officials as well as Japanese railway and manufacturing companies (see JITI’s website here for the complete program). Congressman Jim Costa, the pioneer that conceived the Prop. 1A bond when he was in the legislature stated memorably that after many false starts for HSR in the U.S. the Japanese clearly believe that this is the real deal. Congresswoman Laura Richardson similarly observed that talking about high speed rail before Prop. 1A and ARRA passed got you strange looks.

Authority CEO Roelof van Ark gave an up to date presentation on where the project stands now with the funds in hand. He projected an opening of the current segment for revenue service as early as 2018 while funds are aggressively being sought for extensions north and south of the Central Valley.

JR East President and Chairman of Japan’s Council for Global Promotion of Railways Satoshi Seino explained that the state owned Japan Bank for International Cooperation has recently been authorized to invest in high-speed rail and urban rail in the U.S. and other developed countries. Their presentation suggested that the loan terms would be long and the interest rate would be set at a quarter percent over the LIBOR rate (an interbank interest rate).

Executives from several of Japan’s Shinkansen operating railway companies and train manufacturer Kawasaki followed. Some highlights from their presentations included:

  • Mixed Use Development – Land use planning and economic development of station areas has been an integral part of HSR development from the beginning in Japan. Examples of both infill and greenfield station developments there were illustrated.  Useful parallels to Los Angeles Union Station and Fresno’s future HSR station were made.
  • Earthquake Design Countermeasures – They are extensive in the Japanese system and we can be confident that being on a California HSR train will be one of the safest places to be when the big one hits.
  • Integration of Conventional Branch Lines into HSR Operations – The Japanese practice of trains uncoupling cars at intermediate stations and having one of the cars proceed down the “conventional” railroad (at conventional speeds) was discussed. This would certainly be possible here. In a way it would be easier since HSR and conventional railroads would use the same gauge (4 ft. 8.5 in.) whereas Shinkansen uses a different gauge than the “legacy” railways in Japan. However, the lack of electrification on American railways would make this harder. Down the San Joaquin corridor and even the LA Metrolink/Surfliner corridors would be candidates for this kind of one-seat operation.
  • Technology Transfer – Kawasaki Heavy Industries (which already has two plants in the US for conventional railcar manufacture) as well as the JR operating companies’ representatives all expressed a strong willingness to transfer their expertise to this country. This would be accomplished through the development of American parts suppliers, final assembly in the U.S., and pre-training of trainset maintenance staff. Kawasaki even expressed a desire to retool American auto parts suppliers to HSR parts suppliers.
  • FRA Compliance – Kawasaki asserts that their efSET (2) proposed train for export will “comply with FRA requirements”. Whether this is the current FRA requirements for inefficient overbuilt HSR trains (Acela) or upcoming sensible regulations remains to be seen.

(All the presentations are supposed to be on JITI’s website soon).

All-in-all a day that could be hardly imagined pre-Nov. 2008 and pre-ARRA funds. Basically our Japanese allies are begging us for the chance to build our train because they know it’s going to profitable. You can look at it this way. Japan is already a large purchaser of America’s sovereign debt. Investing in HSR will, in my analysis, simply be an “earmarking” of money that Japan is already spending on US and state government securities.

Should the federal government be putting more money down? Absolutely. But until the current Congress gets it head out of the sand we need to get busy and build it.

Furthermore, I find that sovereign investment in our HSR system from Japan and also France, for instance, to be in keeping with out national security and foreign policy goals. Chinese investment, in contrast, seems more problematic foreign policy-wise. Japan and Western Europe are our long standing allies in the world and they largely share our values with regards to democracy and civil society.

I “feel good” about a enlisting Japanese help in getting California and this country moving into the 21st century.

  1. D. P. Lubic
    Jan 15th, 2011 at 05:31
    #1

    It is said America is the land of second chances; looks like Japan might be joining us in that somewhat unusual club.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XTV1ij6ST_c

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xDgKYF53y9k

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U8gAaU9NMeg

    To be continued:

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    We blew our first chance; do we have a better one now?

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

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dlA2U_kYomk

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=puwhS2EK44I

    Let’s not blow this one!

  2. tjon
    Jan 15th, 2011 at 08:37
    #2

    How many countries do you think have to offer us substancial money for a HSR system before people realize that this is actually a great idea? :D

    Clem Reply:

    They’re offering a loan, not a donation.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Paid back out of fares.

    Clem Reply:

    Not bloody likely.

    Victor Reply:

    That’s like Your saying that Amtrak is running nearly empty, Some of My relatives left on a trip to Europe, They rode Amtrak to LAX instead of driving there and leaving their car at the airport(No car, No parking space rental or worries about theft), they found Amtrak was almost packed, In Europe they rode the Eurostar and It wasn’t empty either, Not even close, At 160mph It was smooth and fast they said, So I’d say there’s a good reason why the Japanese, Chinese, The French and the Germans all want a piece of the action over here, As there is money to be made, Foreign tourists ride these trains instead of renting cars and they spend money along the way where they stop, Which creates more jobs(Hotels, Motels, Restaurants, etc), From HSR they could climb on light rail to go to Our nearby National Parks/Forests, Or to places like Disneyland or Knotts Berry Farm or to somewhere like Chinatown in San Francisco, Business travelers could leave their cars behind too and ride the rails to the Silicon Valley among other places along the way. This is the New Gold Rush, If We bring HSR into existence, Not a Boondoggle as some short sighted idiots say.

    Joey Reply:

    HSR’s ability to pay its operating costs is relatively independent of how well it is designed and operated. The amount of profit it generates is very dependent on that. And the way that the CHSRA is designing things, it doesn’t look like there will be much money left over to pay back loans, let alone fund phase 2.

    Dan Reply:

    They’re offering a loan at LIBOR+0.25% … LIBOR is currently 0.78% interest. Compare this to the rate we’re paying on CA bonds; it’s night and day. Basically an interest-free loan — there’s not much better to be had anywhere. Using the (rediculous) year-of-expenditure accounting that’s used for the HSR project, this probably represents a ~50% cost savings.
    (BTW: folks who disagree should do their homework b/f flaming me)
    //dan.

    Useless Reply:

    @ Dan

    > They’re offering a loan at LIBOR+0.25% … LIBOR is currently 0.78% interest.

    LIBOR is a variable rate which historically averaged at 6.5%.

    When the economy recovers, then the interest swells and hits you harder than the subprime mortgage.

    California can do better, demand a Japanese government bond interest rate or no deal.

    Dan Reply:

    The last time LIBOR was 6%, the 10-year Treasury was 6.4% ….. Libor is no panacea, but this is still a very good rate — although I’m in complete agreement that this should only be viewed as the start of a negotiation process. Yeah, Japan only pays ~2% for it’s long term gov’t bonds, but if we want that rate we’d need to get in quick; Japan has a debt, budget, & structural defecit that makes ours look tame.

  3. Eric M
    Jan 15th, 2011 at 08:44
    #3

    I don’t see this as coincidence that they made a statement about financing. They know full well China is going to be in Fresno and might be trying to one up China. I dont think we should downplay China and all their assests/money reserves they have to offer. All these companies/foreign states clamoring to help California with the high speed rail project is just plain good competition and will help us finish the project, as well as on time.

    Useless Reply:

    @ Eric M

    Chinese are irrelevant in the CAHSR’s picture.

    Not only is Chinese product illegal in the US, they cannot even comply with FRA standard.

    Donk Reply:

    Let the flood gates open. Who cares if China’s product will or won’t work here. Let the bidding wars begin…

    James Fujita Reply:

    At some point in the bidding, there needs to be a vetting process where we decide once and for all whether a country’s technology is worthy of consideration or not. Cheapest is not necessarily best. Quality counts.

    When that time comes, we will see whether Useless’ objections have any merits to them.

    Peter Reply:

    Useless has also proposed that only Korean or Alstom trains can be used in the US, because they’re stronger. He has also argued that the Korean trains are stronger because their manufacturer also manufactures main battle tanks. I think it’s ok to judge right now whether his arguments have any merit.

    James Fujita Reply:

    I have no problem with Useless babbling. We allow Synonymouse to tilt at Tejon windmills, even though we all know that’s a lost cause (even if TRAC doesn’t).

    All I’m saying is, put all of these claims to the test.

    Useless Reply:

    @ Peter

    > Useless has also proposed that only Korean or Alstom trains can be used in the US, because they’re stronger.

    I have not stated such a thing. I simply listed the strength level of various bullet train models.

    If the US adopts 500 ton head car/200 ton coach standard, then only TGV and KTX-II would qualify. If it is all 200 ton standard, then a bunch of others also qualify.

    It really depends on what FRA considers to be an acceptable strength requirement downgrade.

    > He has also argued that the Korean trains are stronger because their manufacturer also manufactures main battle tanks.

    This is actually a factor. Rotem is a major main battle tank/armored vehicle manufacturer and their expertise in high strength body structure is reflected in KTX-II.

    This maybe the reason why Rotem alone is able to engineer a UIC-compliant bullet train with Shinkansen-level axle load.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It really depends on what FRA considers to be an acceptable strength requirement downgrade.

    They aren’t going to consider anything unless effective PTC is installed. Since PTC prevents trains from crashing into each other how well they crash into each other is less important.

    Useless Reply:

    @ adirondacker12800

    > Since PTC prevents trains from crashing into each other how well they crash into each other is less important.

    Amagasaki disaster has taught otherwise.

    Even Japanese understand the importance of body strength nowadays and are voluntarily increasing them now.

    There is no need to take anything less than UIC, or even go beyond UIC-level even more because there are vendors able to comply.

    Peter Reply:

    From 2 minutes on wikipedia, I was able to determine a number of things that contradict your above.

    a) Amagasaki was a train-on-building-after-derailment, not train-on-train collision.

    b) The PTC was working perfectly fine, it just wasn’t used to enforce speed limits through curves.

    c) The final report on the accident concluded that the retraining system for drivers was the most probable cause of incident. Not a failure of PTC.

    d) Body strength of the cars was not cited as a contributing factor.

    adirondacker12800′s comment was about train-on-train collisions. I doubt that, other than implementing CEM, there’s much you can do to prevent deaths when a train derails and slams into a building at speed.

    Useless Reply:

    @ Peter

    > From 2 minutes on wikipedia, I was able to determine a number of things that contradict your above.

    OK, let’s talk.

    > a) Amagasaki was a train-on-building-after-derailment, not train-on-train collision.

    And a stronger car body protects passengers better than a weaker car body in the event of an accident.

    > b) The PTC was working perfectly fine, it just wasn’t used to enforce speed limits through curves.

    Exactly, you need body strength for unanticipated accidents.

    > c) The final report on the accident concluded that the retraining system for drivers was the most probable cause of incident. Not a failure of PTC.

    And the weak car body did not protect passengers when the accident did happen.

    > d) Body strength of the cars was not cited as a contributing factor.

    Weak body strength did not cause accident, but it did fail to protect passengers when it happened.

    > there’s much you can do to prevent deaths when a train derails and slams into a building at speed.

    Stronger body will reduce fatalities, Japanese learned their lesson.

    How do I know? Because the Japanese news article about the recently introduced follow-up commuter train says it incorporate the lesson learned from the Amagasaki disaster; and it features a stronger body to better protect passengers.

    There is no point in debating about the validity of requiring crashworthiness in CA HSR train models. Japanese gave in and all venders are now at least UIC compliant, save for Chinese who are not even eligible to bid in the US.

    Joey Reply:

    Let’s look at the other side of it – the Chatsworth disaster revealed that even FRA crash standards do not protect passengers.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The signaling standard that’s considered PTC in the US is ATC or ATS, and the Fukuchiyama Line had neither. It had CTC, which is what the main US freight lines have.

    And Japan did not give it – it’s simply offering JR East trains that fit in the US loading gauge. The E6 series is not UIC-compliant.

    swing hanger Reply:

    @Alon- my understanding of the Fukuchiyama crash was the line was equipped with an older version of ATS (ATS-C), which stops trains in SPAD situations, but the train in question had the line clear ahead of it, but approached the curve at too fast a speed. The latest version of ATS, called ATS-P, has overspeed protection. One thing that confuses things is the terminology is different between Japan and other nations- in Japan, ATS is automatic train stop utilizing lineside signals, while ATC is automatic train control, basically ATS with cab signaling.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I didn’t say unimportant I said less important. There still will be accidents. Wrapping people in masses of iron isn’t the way to prevent injuries and deaths.

    Eric M Reply:

    Oh, here we go again Useless, or should I say Samit Basu? Talk about a broken record. I’m sure the Chinese are well aware of the proposed challenges exporting technology to the United States. Probably one of the reasons they partnered up with GE and I bet you they will partner up with another HSR giant in the near future.

    Useless Reply:

    @ Eric M

    > I’m sure the Chinese are well aware of the proposed challenges exporting technology to the United States.

    No they are not. Chinese communist government officials are the most corrupt and incompetent government officials you will meet anywhere, excluding African government officials. If Chinese Railway Ministry officials knew anything about the US HSR project process, then they wouldn’t even bother with their current export drive because of IPR violation issues and the crashworthiness standard issue that dogged Japanese Shinkansen that led Japanese to abandon Shinkansen and switch to efSET as the offered model.

    You can tell how clueless Chinese officials were during Arnie’s visit, when Chinese officials were surprised to learn that the governor didn’t select the winning bid, and they thought that all they had to do was win over the governor. Chinese ignorance was simply stunning.

    > Probably one of the reasons they partnered up with GE

    Partnering with GE to give an American face doesn’t solve the fundamental problem; the base technology isn’t legal in the US.

    So why is GE doing this? To protect their locomotive interests in China. GE knows better than anyone that CSR’s bids have zero chance in the US, but they are going along with the scheme to please the Chinese government and keep selling hundreds of locomotives in Chinese market.

    > I bet you they will partner up with another HSR giant in the near future.

    Which one?

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Alstom signed an agreement with the Chinese minister of railways on Dec 7.

    Article in English
    It’s a “long-term cooperation agreement to form strategic partnerships for both Chinese and defined international railway markets”.
    This is a bit vague, and the “defined” markets are not defined in the article.
    A French journalist sarcastically remarked all the Chinese want is a license for the Alstom-inside sticker. Since the agreement was signed by top brass, I think it might be a bit more than that.
    If you can’t beat them, join them.

  4. jimsf
    Jan 15th, 2011 at 08:54
    #4

    I like their thinking about integrating conventional and hsr that way too. All row statewide should be integrated and put to use in whatever ways possible.

    Clem Reply:

    This sort of thing is innovative in Japan, where the HSR network has a different track gauge than the conventional rail network. In “Old Europe”, this sort of integrated operation is completely standard and has been taken for granted since 1981.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Shinkansen trains have been running on 1435mm gauge (non-grade separated) tracks shared with commuter trains since 1992, so not much later than the TGV.

    Clem Reply:

    For the European networks the practice is generalized. Not just for one or two lines here or there. EVERYWHERE, ALL THE TIME

    James Fujita Reply:

    Europe doesn’t have a patent on rail integration. Japan integrates as well, although typically on a different scale. Theirs has always been more like “Metrolink enters into the Red Line tunnel and continues into Santa Monica as a subway train”.

    In any case, I’m not certain total integration is such a great thing. Let Caltrain have their own tracks, let Cal HSR zip by Caltrain on the other tracks. This is what the situation is like in downtown Tokyo and in the Kansai area with Shinkansen and commuter trains sharing a ROW, but not tracks.

    In Japan, conventional/ HSR integration is done out of necessity in areas where there isn’t room for both; hence the “Mini-Shinkansen”.

    If California wants integration, Japan is more than capable of doing it.

    Useless Reply:

    @ James Fujita

    Caltrain wants to have express service to boost ridership.

    This is the reason for Caltrain access to all four tracks, since Caltrain express trains and CAHSR trains would run down the same track.

    James Fujita Reply:

    well, semi-express or limited express surely. superexpress ought to be the sole domain of Cal HSR :)

    that said, there’s more than one way to get express trains. easiest way would be a fifth or sixth track, that’s the Tokyo way. assuming that’s not possible, you run Shinkansen E6 or equivalent and go with the [slow/ fast/ fast/ slow ] configuration.

    and if that’s not possible, you could always have CalTrain semi-express run “wrong-way” with really good signaling :)

    Useless Reply:

    @ James Fujita

    > easiest way would be a fifth or sixth track, that’s the Tokyo way.

    California’s broke and doesn’t have cash for that. Extensive track sharing is the rule of game here.

    > and if that’s not possible, you could always have CalTrain semi-express run “wrong-way” with really good signaling :)

    Or the cleanest and the simplest solution is to run UIC-compliant trains on all tracks, whether they are commuters or bullet trains.

    It’s not like UIC-compliant bullet trains are expensive or anything. Heck, two of them go way beyond UIC-regulation yet are the cheapest models around.

    Joey Reply:

    easiest way would be a fifth or sixth track, that’s the Tokyo way

    Absolutely unnecessary and a huge waste of money, even if the planned 19tph was realistic. Just the right-of-way alone required for that would be a huge shitstorm.

    and if that’s not possible, you could always have CalTrain semi-express run “wrong-way” with really good signaling :)

    And this is better than having the regional express weave between the locals and intercities how?

    James Fujita Reply:

    * shrug * letting CalTrain semi-express trains run “wrong-way” wouldn’t be my first choice. But it would eliminate the “OMG Cal HSR Shinkansen trains are incompatible with CalTrain EMUs in the event of an accident what are we going to do” problem.

    Andy M. Reply:

    Let’s not forget that there is an overlap between commuter and intercity travel. In Britain there are many people who commute into London every day on intercity trains over distances of 150 miles or more. Also in Britain there are commuter trains that share the tracks of the Channel Tunnel High Speed rail link. Also in France and Spain there are commuter services on HS infrastructure and going at HS speeds. The two modes blend at some point and it becomes difficult to make a clear distinction. I think its perfectly fair that some Caltrain trains should use HS tracks.

    Evans Reply:

    Express Caltrain don’t need 4 tracks all the way to SF-SJ. Only some station need 4 tracks for express to local transfer in the same platform. Once EMU is introduced with faster train accerelation, local train just wait for express 1~2 min. In such station, there will be total of 6 tracks. (4 Caltrain with 2 island platform and 2 HSR)

    Peter Reply:

    I’m not aware of any plans for 6 tracks anywhere on the Peninsula other than at Diridon and in SF.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People who have seen the magic of a train schedule do it with four tracks and platforms. They the non stopping train to pass through the station when there isn’t another train blocking the tracks.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    On Tours-Bordeaux, the TGV even shares tracks with freight. Time-separated, though.

    Clem Reply:

    No. French freight trains are not required to be separated from TGVs for any reason other than optimal scheduling.

  5. MGimbel
    Jan 15th, 2011 at 10:08
    #5

    While discussing trainsets with representatives from Kawasaki and JR East at the Seminar yesterday, they stated that while the N700 and E5 would be ineligible for the California route (due to shared tracks with Caltrain between SJ and SF), the E6 could be modified to meet FRA requirements just like the efSET.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Yes, I read in a Japanese newspaper some time back that JR East had some intentions of promoting an export version of their E6 model. It has the smaller loading gauge of the mini-shinkansen, so it makes it more compatible with commuter emu’s it may have to share track and platforms with, as opposed to the beamy full-sized shinkansen models.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    American loading gauge is so close to Shinkansen loading gauge that they are almost identical. Platform height too. Unbolt the planks from the edge of platform in Grand Central or Penn Station and a Shinkansen could hauled in. Passengers could board.

    Useless Reply:

    The US loading gauge is 3,200 mm, 200 mm narrower than Shinkansen’s loading gauge and this is not a small difference.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Trains are built to fit the buyer’s loading gauge. For instance, the Pendolino exists in narrow (UK), UIC (Europe), and wide (Finland, Russia) loading gauges.

    Useless Reply:

    @ Andre Peretti

    Japanese don’t have much experience with multi-loading gauge train designs.

    For example, Shinkansen E5 and Shinkansen E6 look pretty much identical save for loading gauges, yet they are considered to be different train models and one coming two years ahead of the other.

    Peter Reply:

    Ah, yes, the trains look alike, therefore they must be the same model.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    it’s a whole 6 inches difference. Pull the rub-boards off an American level boarding platform and a Shinkansen train could pull up to it.

    Useless Reply:

    @ adirondacker12800

    This issue is a moot point since Shinkansen is not coming to California

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The point is that everyone seems to think Shinkansen are as wide as aircraft carriers. Unless you get out tape measure they are the same size as standard American passenger cars.

    Peter Reply:

    “due to shared tracks with Caltrain between SJ and SF”

    This despite the fact that Caltrain will be running light, European-style commuter EMUs by the time HSR runs on the Peninsula?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    When promoting the flexibility of your gear, saying, “we can run on that assuming, of course, that this widely expected change is made” is a lot weaker than, “we can run on that pretty much however you decide that will work out.”

    MGimbel Reply:

    According to the representatives, their current fleet (excluding the E6 and future efSET) is designed to run on tracks shared only with other Shinkansen trains, not commuter trains (even if they are lightweight EMUs).

    Joey Reply:

    That’s rather vague. What sort of incompatibility are we looking at? The only thing I can think of is that CalTrain’s waiver might require UIC crash standards.

    MGimbel Reply:

    As in, excluding the E6 and efSET, Shinkansen trains are designed to only operate on the same tracks as other Shinkansen models. Although Caltrain will be using lightweight EMU equipment, they’ll still be far heavier than such trains as the E5 and N700. In summary, the N700 and E5 series are not designed to mingle with regular commuter train equipment, even if they are lightweight EMUs.

    Given this is what representatives from both JR East and Kawasaki said, I’d take their word.

    Useless Reply:

    And that automatically eliminates China’s Shinkansen E2 based CRH380A.

    I have been telling you this for ages.

    Joey Reply:

    With PTC, the relative weights of trains is not that important. What specifically makes Shinkansen trains incompatible with slightly heavier EMUs? And what terrible consequence could possibly happen if they were mixed?

    Though as Clem confirms below, CalTrain’s waiver may rule out all Japanese and Chinese trains.

    Useless Reply:

    @ Joey

    > What specifically makes Shinkansen trains incompatible with slightly heavier EMUs? And what terrible consequence could possibly happen if they were mixed?

    Shinkansen trains crumble like tin can when collided with heavier UIC-complaint trains.

    > CalTrain’s waiver may rule out all Japanese and Chinese trains.

    This is why Kawasaki is now pushing efSET, a UIC-compliant train. Whether efSET could be completed in time for bidding and be competitive against European and Korean UIC trains is another story.

    Joey Reply:

    Modern practice is to avoid collisions, rather than prepare for them. Even UIC trains are more designed for collisions with things like trucks at grade crossings than with other trains. Remember Chatsworth?

    Useless Reply:

    @ Joey

    > Modern practice is to avoid collisions, rather than prepare for them.

    Of course you should try to avoid collision. But what do you do when the collision does happen?

    Joey Reply:

    But what do you do when the collision does happen?

    You’re fucked, because even FRA crash standards won’t save you if two trains hit each other.

    Clem Reply:

    Not “may” rule out. Does rule out, period. The waiver states as the first condition that The EMUs that are the subject of this waiver meet or exceed the performance levels identified and presented in the petition. That is a reference to European standards EN12663 (structural requirements) and EN15227 (crashworthiness requirements).

    Shinkansens have the crashworthiness of an airplane, i.e. not much, the point being to reduce the risk of a crash to infinitesimal levels (like commercial air travel). That’s kind of hard to do in an environment with grade crossings, “oops I derailed again” freight operations, and the sort of foreign policy that attracts terrorists like bees to honey.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But there won’t be any grade crossings. Terrorists, even if the trains are railroad Sherman Tanks or as lightly constructed as planes, will do lots of damage if they set their minds to it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Japan doesn’t need an aggressive foreign policy to attract terrorists.

    And level crossings by themselves aren’t a huge deal, with proper protections. The Mini-Shinkansen lines have them; so does the Chuo Line west of Mitaka.

    Clem Reply:

    Not “it might” require UIC crash standards. Caltrain’s waiver most assuredly does. And a full-scale crash test at Pueblo, CO.

    Useless Reply:

    @ Peter

    > This despite the fact that Caltrain will be running light, European-style commuter EMUs by the time HSR runs on the Peninsula?

    Those European EMUs have twice the body strength of Shinkansen.

    nobody important Reply:

    Wait a minute, the caltrain corridor is going to be 4 tracks, with 2 for caltrain and 2 for HSR. That’s not sharing track, that’s just running trains next to each other. I don’t think they really understand this project well.

    Useless Reply:

    Caltrain wants the ability to run its EMUs on all four tracks.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “Caltrain” wants to maximize profits for its vendors and consultants.
    Be careful of that revolving door doesn’t on your way out!

    Flexible cost-effective (hell, even just “effective”) transportation in the publicly-owned transportation corridor has absolutely noting to do with those aims. So no, Caltrain doesn’t want what you’re hallucinating some alternate-reality public agency that served the public might be pursuing.

    MGimbel Reply:

    I’d assume it still counts as a single line since it’s 4 interchangeable tracks, not two sets of completely separated tracks.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That’s up in the air ~ the way its described by CAHSR, it often seems like two segregated two-track lines.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I’d assume it still counts as a single line since it’s 4 interchangeable tracks, not two sets of completely separated tracks.

    You assume incorrectly.

    Now we all know that you don’t know. Thanks for sharing!

    MGimbel Reply:

    And what if one Caltrain track goes out of service? Does that mean Caltrain’s trains will magically fly over CAHSR’s tracks to get to the other side?

    http://caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/search?updated-max=2010-08-04T21%3A07%3A00-07%3A00&max-results=5

    Useless Reply:

    If Caltrain goes out of service, then CAHSR bullet trains could run over Caltrain tracks and save billions in construction cost.

    James Fujita Reply:

    instead of running [ Caltrain/ CalHSR/ CalHSR/ Caltrain ], maybe we should run [Caltrain/ Caltrain/ CalHSR/ CalHSR ].

    MGimbel Reply:

    The problem with Caltrain/ Caltrain/ CAHSR/ CAHSR is that it would require additional ROW, which equals more eminent domain, higher cost, and more NIMBY opposition.

    James Fujita Reply:

    how much more are we talking about? it will be four tracks one way or another, so I suppose the difference would be an extra platform at a few stations. or rather, a middle platform rather than side platforms. CalHSR won’t stop at all CalTrain stations, so it can’t be that large.

    and the NIMBYs are stirred up already.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I don’t see that it will cost any more ROW. To support semi-limiteds, there’d have to be a cutover between the two, but there are enough grade separations to build that a handful of cut-overs shouldn’t be hard, and most of the ROW has ample space for the extra footprint.

    MGimbel Reply:

    See “Discussion of Track Configuration Changes in the Supplemental AA Report” in Daniel Krause’s post from August 2010:
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2010/08/progress-made-along-the-peninsula/

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Sane rational people the world over come up with everything/everything/everything/everything

    Joey Reply:

    The optimal solution is express-local-local-express, with no particular designation (local/intercity) for either.

    James Fujita Reply:

    whichever solution we end up with, dispatchers are still going to guide express trains away from platform tracks.
    the trains will be de facto segregated, even if the CalTrain baby bullet ends up occassionally on the Cal HSR “passing track” while the CalTrain local stops in NIMBYville. and Cal HSR zips through NIMBYville on its way to Transbay.

    Joey Reply:

    Having trains pass platforms without stopping is common practice all over the world. Heck, CalTrain even does it. It’s not a huge safety risk.

    And yes, most of the scenarios I’ve looked at involve the CalTrain express only using the express track when it needs to overtake a local, but that still doesn’t mean that a major distinction should be made – after all, we have only a vague picture of what services are going to be in demand in 2040.

    As it is though, the CHSRA is planning almost entirely exclusive tracks, meaning that we get no CalTrain express whatsoever.

    James Fujita Reply:

    Sure, it’s not a safety risk, but will it be necessary?

    Many of the stations will be CalTrain ONLY (asuming that CalTrain survives) and really ought to have a limited number of platforms. In a case like that, the express trains would zip through the middle or whichever track ends up without the platform. Especially if an express is overtaking a local at the station.

    Local/ express/ express/ local or express/ local/ local/ express — either way, exclusive tracks, and less of a headache for the dispatcher.

    Joey Reply:

    the express trains would zip through the middle or whichever track ends up without the platform. Especially if an express is overtaking a local at the station.

    That’s assuming there’s not a HSR train in the vicinity.

    …and less of a headache for the dispatcher.

    There is relatively little headache if all trains are running on a schedule, i.e. it is entirely predictable what train will be on what track at what time. A lot of the dispatch can be computerized anyway.

    James Fujita Reply:

    > That’s assuming there’s not a HSR train in the vicinity.

    I don’t get your point. Let’s say Track #1 is occupied with CalTrain local southbound, Track #4 has a CalTrain local northbound. Tracks #2 and #3 have Cal HSR on them, zipping through the station because Cal HSR doesn’t stop here. No platforms.

    This isn’t likely if the scheduling is done correctly, but let’s call this the worst-case scenario for Mr. Express CalTrain.

    If the Express doesn’t stop at the station, rather than bring the Express in behind the Local, I’d have the Express wait until Cal HSR got out of the way (which shouldn’t take long if Cal HSR is moving at a faster clip than the CalTrain Express). THEN the Express can pass the Local and continue on its way.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Why wouldn’t the Caltrain Express be going as fast as the Cal HSR? Whichever one is in front runs through in front and whichever one is behind runs through behind and then in an open slot before an Express stop, the Express switches over.

    James Fujita Reply:

    all else being equal, one would except a Cal HSR train, even a Cal HSR local, to have fewer stops than a CalTrain train, even a CalTrain Express. There’d be little need for CalTrain to compete with Cal HSR. And the train with the fewest stops should be moving faster.

    That’s assuming that CalTrain buys trains capable of keeping pace with the Cal HSR.

    incidentally, electrifying the Peninsula would speed up all of CalTrain, locals and expresses; but I fail to see why CalTrain would need a train rated faster than the Yamanote Line or a Narita Express train.

    Joey Reply:

    Between SF and San José, HSR has 0-2 stops, CalTrain expresses should have 6 stops, and locals of course stop at all stations. What matters here is average speed, which is different for all three services.

    And James, the scenario you described two posts ago would never happen if the schedule is done properly.

  6. Ronnie Johnson
    Jan 15th, 2011 at 10:58
    #6

    I had planned to attend the conference yesterday but missed it, if i had attended and heard the offer from the japanese ambassador about financing half of the cost of building HSR in this state I would have probably fallen out of my seat. This is so exciting

  7. Useless
    Jan 15th, 2011 at 12:46
    #7

    I am kinda disappointed. Japanese were willing to put up 75% of Vietnam’s HSR project funding(Which was rejected by Vietnam’s Parliament because of high cost. Japanese bid was twice as expensive as Chinese bid, but Vietnam picked Japanese bid because of their hatred for China), yet they would go for only the half in California?

    Another thing with efSET is that it is uncompetitive against proven UIC compliant models. Not only is efSET Kawasaki’s first UIC compliant bullet train model, Kawasaki cannot even test it in Japan because efSET cannot run on Shinkansen lines.

    By the time 17-ton axle load efSET(Japan’s 1st gen UIC train) is ready, 13-ton axle load HEMU-400X(Korea’s 2nd gen UIC train) capable of 370 km/hr revenue service speed would be ready too, and extensively tested at home unlike efSET.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    I rather imagine that the 50% of CAHSR is more money than 75% of VHSR.

    Useless Reply:

    @ Paulus Magnus

    No, Japan’s Vietnam HSR project bid was $50 billion, 75% of which is to be paid as development aid.

    Dan Reply:

    Could you post some “good” links to educate on Vietnam HSR? Google has quite a few, but most seem to be 3rd party reporting.
    //Thanks.

  8. Useless
    Jan 15th, 2011 at 12:52
    #8

    California will be a repeat of Brazil HSR bidding contest.

    After having taken preliminary bids from France, China, Japan, and Korea, Brazil downselected Japanese and Korean bids and Brazil’s newly elected president had close-door final presentation from both Japanese and Korean officials early in January.

    Elimination of Chinese bid was shocking because IPR issue didn’t matter in Brazil unlike in the US, but Chinese could not compete in terms of operating cost against Japanese and Koreans, and were eliminated. France was eliminated first because of their high construction and operating cost.

    swing hanger Reply:

    That’s news to me. I thought most bidders (including the Japanese firms) pulled out because the terms set by the Brazilian government were too onerous:
    http://www.reuters.com/article/idUSTOE6AO08I20101126

    And then there were reports of a Brazilian billionaire looking for a Korean partner for building it:
    http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2010/12/21/batista-seeks-south-korean-partner-brazil-bullet-train-report/

    Then again, with Brazil, you can never be sure what’s really happening…

    Useless Reply:

    @ swing hanger

    > Then again, with Brazil, you can never be sure what’s really happening…

    Reports are coming in that Rotem is setting up a Brazilian production base by March. The formal announcement will be in April, but Rotem believes that they have the deal in the bag and can’t wait anymore, as they must have the system operational before 2016 Olympics in Brazil.

  9. D. P. Lubic
    Jan 15th, 2011 at 16:48
    #9

    Off topic; reference material:

    Current American crashworthiness standard, and logic leading to it:

    http://www.volpe.dot.gov/sdd/docs/2002/rail_cw_2002_3.pdf

    1940s train wreck that lead to current 79 mph maximum speed without cab signals and/or automatic train stop:

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

    US rail speed limits:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_limits_in_the_United_States_(rail)

  10. D. P. Lubic
    Jan 15th, 2011 at 21:07
    #10

    Off topic, special to Alon Levy:

    Hello, Alon,

    I assume you have been following the parking cost debate on the Infrastructurist. It seems to be taking an interesting pattern, most notably with Dillon continuing on and on about “cost per mile,” saying the Europeans drive as much as we do, etc., etc., all of which you know about from dealing with this guy before. For whatever reason, he’s not going silent after you brought up his Mixner identity.

    This suggests two things to me. One is that Mixner/Dillon is particularly motivated at this time, possibly to the point of desperation, and the other is that based on his argumentive style, specifically his focus on cost-per-mile, references to having been to Europe, claims of the benefits of cars, understating or ignoring real driving costs, and most notably his cherry-picking of economic data, suggests the poster may well be Wendell Cox himself.

    I bring this up here because it doesn’t seem Mixner/Dillon/(maybe) Cox doesn’t seem to be reading this weblog, and thought, despite the open nature of this place, that we could take note of what is going on, at least for now.

    Anyway, I plan to repost (Again! Ugh!) my material on the true cost of driving you and some others have seen, perhaps to the point of nausea, and let it go at that. No one else seems to really bring it up there (Omri and Chad are the two fighting Mixner/Dillon at the moment), so I figure my stuff gets lost in the old posts (easy to happen when you get a lot of material running in, same as here).

    An interesting point could be the comment above that Mixner/Dillon/(maybe) Cox may be desperate. How else do you explain the tenacity he is currently displaying, which sounds a bit different from what you observed in the past? Could he be getting some information, perhaps from his backers whose money he wastes, that support for rail transit is building? Could it also be his backers are beginning to realize they are wasting their money on him? What would be the implications of any of this?

    There was an allegation, by a contact I have in Chicago, who claimed he thought Cox had “lost it” (his words) in the logic department ever since a certain light rail line was extended into Cox’s neighborhood in St. Louis. I will say nothing more, other than to note that if true (and how would we really prove it?), it could also help explain the stronger fight that seems to be coming from this quarter.

    It certainly seems some of his postings are looking more and more bizarre; the one below is just the first thing I took a look at:

    http://www.newgeography.com/content/001087-go-middle-america-young-men-women

    Sure, your money goes further in the Middle West than in some other places–provided you can get a job!

    It’s also interesting that he (and as far as I know, Randall O’Toole, and perhaps other outfits like Reason and Cato) has mentioned nothing, nothing at all, about the generational shift which was written up in Advertising Age, nor about the shrinkage of the auto fleet for the past two years (data on that last one is still hard to find, but it has been mentioned in new car sales commentary, in the form of observations that new car sales are still below the scrappage rate).

    Anyway, take care of yourself and have fun, too,

    D. P. Lubic

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How else do you explain the tenacity he is currently displaying

    Megalomania? Severe OCD? He gets paid by the word? All of the above and agoraphobia? Wets his pants at the though of having to share a vehicle with someone?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    For what it’s worth, I’ve never seen him comment on a blog that’s explicitly region-specific – either this one or the New York-sphere blogs. Though he did completely drop out of Human Transit, to the point of not trolling the cars-are-subsidized posts there, for reasons I don’t know (the blogger seemed not to mind the shapeshifting, so I doubt he was banned).

    The tenacity is just rage. He used to be able to be more on-topic. He can’t do it anymore. I stopped caring a long while ago, realizing that paid shills who don’t have better forums to troll than blog comments are pathetic. Rest assured that this guy’s job is to spread FUD against transit, and yet tax hikes for transit routinely pass referendums 2-to-1 regardless of cost-effectiveness.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Pathetic is right; supposedly he couldn’t keep a light rail line out of his own neighborhood. I have to wonder what his neighbors think of him, and his profession, as they ride the light rail train. . .

    We’ll never, ever convince him, of course, but I hope we have some effect on the fence-sitters. . .

    Thanks,

    D. P. Lubic

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If you want hilarity, mention the bit about the LRT line driving Cox crazy early in the next thread. (Don’t do it in this one – it’s so long I stopped reading, and I imagine so have other people.) Just make sure you wear something flame-retardant.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Because voters actually get out from behind their keyboards once in a while and experience the real world….. One where trains get them to their destinations faster than driving…. or at least get them there “better” than driving, however they define “better”.

  11. jimsf
    Jan 15th, 2011 at 22:35
    #11

    while im ready to take just anything at this point, that train is just so god awful ugly. Is that really what we want to see zipping across our landscape? Im trying to keep an open mind but…. no. Please find a different one. please.

    James Fujita Reply:

    so sorry it doesn’t have a French nose.

    jimsf Reply:

    and whats with the small windows. why not nice picture windows?

    James Fujita Reply:

    Oh, don’t get started on that again or I’ll sic Shinkansen Girl and her bento boxes on you.

    I haven’t had the pleasure of riding an E5 or an E6, but I know that the windows on the previous Shinkansen models are a lot bigger on the inside than they are on the outside. Big enough to get panoramic views of Mt. Fuji. And you’re not sharing the window with the seat in front of you.

    jimsf Reply:

    but are they this big?

    James Fujita Reply:

    ha, you found a picture of one of my pet peeves, which is tables on a train. the San Joaquin wastes more floor space on those things, and then people don’t even use them properly.

    and they don’t have to be table width. each and every row of seats on the Shinkansen gets its own window.

    and I can tell you from personal experience that they are plenty wide enough.

    jimsf Reply:

    but are they like this

    James Fujita Reply:

    I want my train to be fast enough that I won’t need a stiff drink to enjoy it, thanks :)

    and the Cascades don’t have stewardesses to help you, greet you and generally be nice to you. what’s your point?

    Spokker Reply:

    I heard on the shinkansen they have at-seat service and they’ll give you a handy for 500 yen.

    Helps the salarymen, you know, let off some steam.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    5,000. What do you think those people are, exactly?

    jimsf Reply:

    oh but those tables are very popular! everyone says ” oooooh look, lets get a table seat!”

    James Fujita Reply:

    oh please. and then they dump their dirty backpacks on the tables. and sometimes there’s only one or two people traveling together. then the other two seats at the table get wasted. the tables are a waste of space

    jimsf Reply:

    but people like them. if thats what they want, you have to give it to them. and its not like theres a shortage of space. plenty of seats.

    James Fujita Reply:

    I want Amtrak to hand out gold coins for every loyal passenger. But it’s not going to happen, even if I started a campaign for it. And free refills on every drink! And a zoo on board! Give the people what they want!

    I’ve taken the train plenty of times when it was crowded, especially before and after holidays, and the tables were a nuisance.

    jimsf Reply:

    well. maybe not a zoo. but what about groups who want to sit together. I see bus. folks gather at the tables with laptops, and the groups of older gals who travel from fresno to the city to shop for the weekend, etc. Its more social. people like it. ( I dont but people do) There doesn’t need to be a lot of them but at least some. I mean if you want to take away the group table seats, and you also don’t want to have a lounge car, you have a very anti social train experience, where everyone has to be a single person facing forward at the back of the next persons head, no eating, no talking, If they can’t have fun on the train they wont ride it.

    James Fujita Reply:

    okay, so nix the zoo. but every train should be required to have a live chicken on board to provide fresh eggs for the omelet station in the dining car. that needs to be a requirement. you can’t tell me that wouldn’t be entertaining. and feeding people at the same time.

    ****

    the thing is, the bullet train ride is only going to be about two hours long for most people. airline rides that are two hours are lucky to have pretzels. no movie, no fun, no nothing.

    for a longer train journey, you might want to have a lounge car. or even a dining car. even the Shinkansen had a family play room area, but only for certain longer runs.

    for a short ride, I can read without a table or a lounge car. I don’t need the person next to me telling me about her grandchildren. I can mess about on my computer.

    and food tastes just as good if delivered to your seat by a bento box girl.

    James Fujita Reply:

    also, I want my train to be sponsored by http://tokyo5.files.wordpress.com/2009/07/pokemon01.jpg“>anime characters

    oyasumi nasai minasan!

    jimsf Reply:

    the reason train travel is better that air travel, in spite of longer travel times, is the difference in comfart an amenities. Im just sayig what I see / hear on a dialy basis. Passengers tell me stuff. (lots of stuff) I know what they want. I know because they tell me. They ask me stuff too, “why dont you have this ” and “why don’t they have that” and “you should…” and “when are they gonna…”

    They want more and more and more amenities, and the reason they ride is because they can get more stuff than on the airplane. to say it shouldnt be offered because the airlines dont offer it ( food, comfort, amenities entertainment, etcetc) is exactly what we shouldn’t do.

    While the total travel time may match, 3 hours 3hours, the planes 3 hours only involve one hour of being kooked up, the other two hours are out and about, but the train’s 3 hours are entirely on the train and thats a longer time to be kooked up, so to counter that you offer all that stuff they like. and this is what I hear:

    “yeh it takes longer but it so much nice blah blah blah”

    Ive heard first timers board california cars and go on and on about how nice and fancy they are (??? yes my jaw dropped too) but you get my point, and finally, the thing is , the system is going to take years to build up 80- 90 100 percent capacity ridership and in the meantime there is plenty of room to offer these amenities. Everything in trains is fairly modular and seats and such can eventually be reconfigured. But in the beginning, to win them over you have to really wow them. so do it.

    James Fujita Reply:

    you’re still ignoring the fact that Cal HSR will be much faster than the San Joaquin.

    People won’t even notice the lack of a lounge car any more than they notice the lack of magicians performing onboard the San Joaquin while they’re busy watching movies solo on their laptops.

    And yes, the train is nicer. I can stand up, move around at my leisure, and I’m not passing through X-ray machines on the way to being hurled through the atmosphere.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …all of that and ADA compliant restrooms too.

    jimsf Reply:

    whats the point of getting up if there’s nowhere to go? That just makes you look silly. lol. And yes its faster than 79mph, but the fact remains, 1-2-3 horus is still a long time to sit. If im stuck sitting, facing forward, with nothing to do but look at the seatback in front of me, id rather do it for one hour on a plane than 3 hours on a train. And you may find it hard to believe but from what Ive seen, only a tiny percent of people have laptops with them when they board, like 1 or 2 percent maybe. Most of them already have too much other stuff to carry and or can’t afford laptops. This just is just a different culture.

    James Fujita Reply:

    read a book. cheaper than a laptop and better for you. or read manga. or a newspaper. or a magazine. sleep. rest.

    “oh no, I’m going to be stuck for an hour with nothing to do” is not an excuse. make your own entertainment.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Indeed, I was on two hour plus flights between Northeast Ohio and Denver for the annual economics conference, and I was basically trapped in my seat both ways, because I was in a windows seat, and you can’t get out without asking the people in the middle and aisle seats to get up first. Any food other than a hot cookie was pay to play, but it was of course coming through in a cart instead of being able to get up and get it when I wanted to. There was DirecTV for $6 and movies for $8.

    So obviously, have a car with a snack / bistro section. Letting people decide when they want to get up and get something is a massive amenity compared to being sardined in an aluminum can up in the air.

    To get the 20 to 30 crowd ~ which by the time this is finished will be the 20 to 40 crowd ~ you offer free wifi and free hardwired net access on USB plugs. Right away a big chunk of them have audio and video entertainment on their phone or iPod or whatever (laptops too, but that’s further down the list, and probably below tablets which are more convenient to just pass the time unless the person is a internet comment thread junkie). With wifi or USB net access, with the gear I had with me, I could have downloaded a couple of podcasts with my netbook and listened to it on my mp3 player / flash drive / FM radio on my keyring ~ and of course, could have watched streaming video that I wanted to watch that I’ve already paid for, instead of a $6 for under 3 hours subscription to DirecTV.

    The amenities do not get people on board if the trip on offer does not meet their needs. But as more and more trip needs are met by rail, the rail still has to compete for market share in those submarkets, and those kinds of amenities are an excellent way to expand market share in those submarkets.

    jimsf Reply:

    @ bruce-

    exactly what you said, better than I could. Its going to be a while before “x” number of 10 ( or whatever) ca trainsets are packed to the gils with 500 or 1000 people (double sets) standing room only. Itll take a good decade and full build out to reach that kind of business. About the time the original sets will be due for some interior refurbishing anyway, (carpet seats etx) at which point you can modify for space if need be. And once people are dependent on a regular basis, you can start pulling some amenities here and there. But in the beginning. Plenty of room for everything and Im telling you, you have to have that lounge car. People love that. They just do. Even though the food isn’t that great. EVen though its only a couple hours, the very first thing the do is run to that lounge car because one, americans can’t sit still without eating for two hours, ever, and two, there is some huge novelty about eating while you’re on the train. I can’t explain but its very real and if you don’t put one in, the very first thing out of their mouths is going to be either ” you guys should put….” or the more irritable sounding “how come there isn’t…….. the other trains have……..” etc.

    And I dont read books or have a laptop. I want cable tv and cheesebugers and potato chips and pepsi. Not a little box of fish food wrapped in plankton or whatever.

    Youre just going to have to trust me. This is what they will want. I know. ( maybe with the exception of some college trendies or yuppie uppities) the regular people will want regular food.

    Do you have any idea how many of those processed frozen microwavable pizzas we have to stock on board for every san joaquin trip! Do you know that we had to add a second microwave to all the galleys on all the trains, in order to be able to heat the pizzas up fast enough to keep up the demand!
    I wouldn’t lie to you about a think like that. Its amazing.Youll see.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …other trains have….

    You should hear the whines moans and protests when people find out the trains between Albnay and New York don’t have food service. They don’t have food service because the people who ride the trains didn’t use it.

    …cable TV…

    The way things are going you aren’t going to have cable TV at home in a few years.
    Seatback entertainment is so 90s. You can buy personal DVD systems for 49 bucks. Which mean you have it on the bus getting to the train and in your hotel room once you get there and in the waiting room at the station etc.

    jimsf Reply:

    but I want comedy central and msnbc, and, if its weeknight trip in february, american idol.

    jimsf Reply:

    seatback I can live without. lounge car is mandatory. I aint riding with no cafe. At least at the airport theres tons of goodies right up to the gate and the flight is quick. Oh and cocktails. If Im kooked up like that, the plane is two bloody marys from sf to long beach, the train would be 4 from SF to FUL.

    Are they gonna make bloody marys seatside? if yes, Ill reconsider. But still there has to be somplace to get up and go to. there just does.

    James Fujita Reply:

    > At least at the airport theres tons of goodies right up to the gate

    You’ve never visited the Famima!! at Union Station, then

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The TGV Duplex has little table-ettes.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    CAHSR is going to have big windows. The windows have to be big enough to fit a stretcher through. Ones that trapped passengers can remove or at least some of them. They have to be removable so there isn’t a repeat of other accidents where people who survived the accident died when they couldn’t get out of the burning car.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    I’m not aware of any significant fire fatalities with passenger train crashes in the steel car, diesel/electric engine era, care to cite?

    James Fujita Reply:

    I’m curious to know about this as well. Is this just another useless steam-era FRA regulation?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    There was a collision between an Amtrak train and a MARC commuter train some years back that involved fire, and some passengers died of smoke inhalation; both ends of the car with the vestibules were crushed and they couldn’t ge out. There was some awful footage of people pounding at the windows from inside and firemen who could not break out the extremely strong glass used. It lead to changes on MARC in regard to a lot of new pop-out windows and a lot more of labeling of same. I’ll try to look it up later, I’ve had a doozy of a sinus headache today, and am still fighting it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Didn’t need the regulation in the steam era. Until the 60s windows on trains and buses were operable. At best they were made out of “safety glass” which is relatively easy to break. 60s brought us air conditioning and Lexan. Deadly combination, the windows are sealed and they are nearly impossible to break by hand. I can’t find references to the accident DP refers to. It was the one where the NTSB found that the windows needed to be changed. It’s why there’s that red handle in the gasket of the window on the bus or train… so you can get out of the vehicle once the doors are crushed. They have since found that the windows are too small for someone on a stretcher, so bigger windows are required. A finding that DB ignored. They had to retrofit their fleet with windows that have a breaking point and a tool mounted nearby to do it.

    DP I don’t know if there are pictures of the fire. The description of the man, who was injured trying to break windows as he watched the trapped passengers succumb, was graphic enough.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In Israel there was recently a fire on a train, and the windows didn’t open until soldiers on the train shot at them.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Grim, but here we go:

    http://www.ntsb.gov/Publictn/1997/RAR9702.pdf

    http://tech.mit.edu/V116/N5/traincrash.5w.html

    There is other material, should you wish to look for it.

    The film footage of the train and subsequent fire, with only hands visible pushing against glass through billowing clouds of smoke inside the car, was later used in the opening sequence of a horrible made-for-television movie called “Atomic Train,” a disaster flick with all sorts of awful things in it. I believe it originally ran on NBC, and the network was greatly criticized for using this footage of real, dying people in an entertainment venue. A clip of this on YouTube no longer has this particular segment in it, making me wonder if I remember it correctly or if it was cut or edited out later.

    “Unstoppable,” for all its Hollywood added thrills and “Perils of Pauline” material, was Academy Award material by comparison.

    jimsf Reply:

    Oh that’s right. Safety. Those windows have to pop out ( removing them is part of our training) and be large enough for even super sized americans to get through as well as equipment as you mentioned. Ok that puts that worry to rest then.

  12. Roger Christensen
    Jan 15th, 2011 at 23:00
    #12

    Nice to see Fresno television media give gushy coverage to the Chinese visit to the downtown Fresno station site. Great to hear “high speed rail” not preceded by “controversial”.

  13. Risenmessiah
    Jan 16th, 2011 at 09:18
    #13

    I haven’t seen the presentation, but I will argue fairly steadfastly that the CAHSR and state should not turn over operation of the actual HSR service to an international firm. That isn’t because I have some sort of nativist fear, but because that’s simply too sweet a deal for the parties involved.

    I welcome a loan from Japan and competitive financing for whatever models are legal in the US. But the loan should be leveraged instead by a Mello-Roos or similar style assessment district around HSR stations. This way, the onus is on building and designing urban spaces which are ultimately going to attract the revenue needed to justify the loan.

    The argument will be that such a district cannot be used to fund construction outside of it. But again, if the proceeds of construction are funded through a loan, this should pass muster.

  14. Emma
    Jan 16th, 2011 at 10:26
    #14

    Help me out on this one. If we take out a loan from the Japanese, does that mean we have to accept and adopt their technology?

    Peter Reply:

    Yes. That’s pretty much the deal with taking a loan from anyone with HSR technology.

    William Reply:

    Japanese Shinkansen companies had demonstrated the ability to build to international or European standards, as in the case of Taiwan HSR. I wander if Japanese would accept the infrastructure be built to international standard, but with the promise of using Japanese suppliers, or the promise of buying the first 40~50 trainsets from Japan?

    Useless Reply:

    @ William

    > Japanese Shinkansen companies had demonstrated the ability to build to international or European standards,

    Not to European HSR standard. In fact, Javelin stability fiasco in UK shows Japanese inexperience with European railway system.

    > as in the case of Taiwan HSR.

    Taiwan HSR trains are physically Shinkansen 700s, but with European signaling system as the legacy of original European contractors who won the initial bidding.

    > I wander if Japanese would accept the infrastructure be built to international standard, but with the promise of using Japanese suppliers

    Japanese already abandoned Shinkansen standard and are going with UIC for California.

    > or the promise of buying the first 40~50 trainsets from Japan?

    That would be the violation of “Buy American” law. All train sets must be constructed in the US.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That would be the violation of “Buy American” law. All train sets must be constructed in the US.

    If they are cheap enough. Buy American laws aren’t limitless wells of money. The American assembled vehicles have to nearly the same price as the imports. I seem to remember “no more than 25% more” for the one specifically titled “Buy American”. Government gets that 25% back in taxes from the workers and the economic activity building here supports.

    Useless Reply:

    @ adirondacker12800

    > The American assembled vehicles have to nearly the same price as the imports.

    Well, that’s just not possible.

    Buy American law stands and all trains bought will carry an artificially inflated price, there is nothing you can do about this.

    The only way to avoid “Buy American” is to build the tracks with 100% private money. Then “Buy American” is thrown out the window and this is why DesertXpress train sets are imports.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That is, actually, possible. Look up how little money New York paid for the R160.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Alstom’s R160 bodyshells were made in Lapa, Brazil. Bodyshells were supposed to represent 25% of the cost.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But Alstom only had 60% of the contract. Where’d Kawasaki get their shells from? If there is no source for the part in the US, ( effectively within the NAFTA area ) they can be imported.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It was federally-funded, so it had to clear Buy American somehow.

    William Reply:

    @Useless
    Thanks for the point-by-point reply, but my intention was to find a way for California to accept Japanese or Chinese loans without being locked to some specific country’s technology or standard.

    Useless Reply:

    @ William

    > my intention was to find a way for California to accept Japanese or Chinese loans without being locked to some specific country’s technology or standard.

    There isn’t one, so stop looking.

    James Fujita Reply:

    there must be a loophole. those first Rotem Metrolink trains were offloaded at the harbor.

    and Kawasaki does have a factory in the U.S. Retool for bullet trains!

    Peter Reply:

    It depends on who the funds are coming from for the Buy American Act to apply.

    If the funds are from the feds, it applies. I’m not sure where the funds came from for the Metrolink purchase.

    A way around the Buy American Act is for a major portion of the assembly to happen in the U.S., even though the shells of the train cars were built abroad.

    Spokker Reply:

    The new Metrolink cars were assembled at the Eastern Maintenance Facility in the Inland Empire.

    http://metrolinktrains.blogspot.com/2010/05/metrolink-previews-new-state-of-art.html

    “Speaking from Metrolink’s new Inland Empire Eastern Maintenance Facility (EMF) – where most of the work for final assembly will be done in accordance with the “Buy America” program…”

  15. D. P. Lubic
    Jan 16th, 2011 at 12:58
    #15

    Off topic, but perhaps of interest, a bit more on that generational shift:

    http://autos.aol.com/article/baby-boomers-and-car-marketing/?icid=main%7Chp-laptop%7Cdl4%7Csec1_lnk1%7C195370

  16. Greg Gross
    Jan 17th, 2011 at 09:36
    #16

    I was wondering when Tokyo was going to get in the game. Looks like they have, and bigtime. I couldn’t believe that Japan was going to concede potentially the largest and most lucrative HSR market on the planet to China. It’s a buyer’s market. Washington and Sacramento need to work together to make sure CAHSR gets the best possible deal.

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