Right-wing Governor Kills Florida HSR Project – Again

Feb 16th, 2011 | Posted by

In case you needed any further evidence that right-wing opposition to high speed rail is purely ideological and not practical, there’s Florida governor Rick Scott, who announced this morning he is killing the state’s HSR project:

My decision to reject the project comes down to three main economic realities:

First – capital cost overruns from the project could put Florida taxpayers on the hook for an additional $3 billion.

Second – ridership and revenue projections are historically overly-optimistic and would likely result in ongoing subsidies that state taxpayers would have to incur. (from $300 million – $575 million over 10 years) – Note: The state subsidizes Tri-Rail $34.6 million a year while passenger revenues covers only $10.4 million of the $64 million annual operating budget.

Finally – if the project becomes too costly for taxpayers and is shut down, the state would have to return the $2.4 billion in federal funds to D.C.

The truth is that this project would be far too costly to taxpayers and I believe the risk far outweighs the benefits.

As you can see, it’s just a bunch of the usual anti-rail talking points put together to justify his ideological stance against rail. Nowhere is it acknowledged that private companies had promised to pay the cost overruns. Nowhere is it acknowledged that HSR systems around the world attract high ridership. Nowhere is the risk of high gas prices considered. Instead Gov. Scott basically says “nobody rides trains in America, so I’m going to protect my oil company buddies and kill this fully-funded project.

Yonah Freemark at The Transport Politic offers his take:

The Governor apparently has no trust in the private companies he claims to laud, failing to give them a chance to demonstrate their interest in the project. He apparently has no interest in offering his citizens the opportunity to pioneer a mode of transportation that has been repeatedly scuttled, in Florida and elsewhere, by the distinctively American ability to ignore the potential benefits of intercity rail.

This reckless decision will cost Floridians dearly – when they do get around to building an HSR system down the road, it will cost much more than it would have now. Of course, this is the second time in 10 years that a right-wing governor has killed a Florida HSR project, as Jeb Bush did the same in the early 2000s.

So what does this mean for California? More money, obviously, probably enough to get to Bakersfield. It won’t be easy, though, as Congressional Republicans will try to block any redirection of Florida’s HSR money to other states. This will may also reinforce Rep. John Mica’s view that all HSR money should go to the Northeast Corridor, which is a very bad idea. Just because some foolish governors in a few states prefer to appease their ideological followers and their oil company donors shouldn’t mean California, which is not afraid of the 21st century, should suffer as a result.

  1. Jack
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 08:24
    #1

    Yay!

  2. Daniel Krause
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 08:34
    #2

    Actually, Mica came out today and said he was deeppy dissappointed. Maybe he is not all NEC afterall.

    http://www.orlandosentinel.com/news/politics/os-scott-rejects-rail-money-20110216,0,2863027.story

    U.S. Rep. John Mica, R-Winter Park, issued a statement saying, “I am deeply disappointed in the decision to not move forward with the Orlando to Tampa passenger rail project. This is a huge setback for the state of Florida, our transportation, economic development, and important tourism industry.” He said he had already asked the governor to reconsider his decision

    datacruncher Reply:

    Mica’s full statement also said he is “disappointed the private sector will not have an opportunity to even offer innovative proposals to help finance the balance of the costs and to construct and operate this system.”
    http://blogs.orlandosentinel.com/news_politics/2011/02/mica-disappointed-in-scotts-high-speed-drop-kick.html

    Mica has been pounding the PPP drum the last few weeks for other projects too so he probably is not happy.

  3. Useless
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 08:35
    #3

    Money will be split in half, with half coming to California and the other half going to Northeast Corridor.

  4. jimsf
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 08:39
    #4

    ot; this months railway age

    includes aticles on railcar standardization and an article on caltrain.

  5. jimsf
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 08:40
    #5
  6. Alex2000
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 08:42
    #6

    Saw this coming a mile away. Unfortunately, HSR is part of the “culture-wars” now.

    Should have giving the money to California before the end of 2010 when the writing was on the wall. Giving the money to other states will be harder now, isn’t that right?

    Ben Reply:

    Unfortunately, you’re correct. It’s too bad that making important transportation investments that will help reduce congestion and help reduce the $300B we spend each year on foreign oil has become a partisan issue.

    New Poll Finds More Americans Against Obama’s High-Speed Rail Plan Than For It

    http://www.sunshinestatenews.com/blog/new-poll-finds-more-americans-against-obamas-high-speed-rail-plan-it

    Donk Reply:

    Well yeah, and the more states there are that kill HSR, the less overall support there will be nationwide for HSR. Most people are selfish, so if they don’t see it benefiting them, they won’t support it.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    This was nothing but an ideological stunt… this SOB needs recalled! This was done so that there will be no support in Congress for high speed rail funding program.. it looks like now it will be up to us and possibly some of Northeast states … Illinois and Washington to somehow get money for high speed rail

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Agreed, but why was the WH caught so flatfooted? One would think that Obama and his aids, being from Chicago, would know how to play hardball. If Scott is going to cut a program Obama wants, I’m sure there are plenty of programs benefiting Florida that Obama could cut.

    For example:
    Hurricane season is coming, and Congressional Teabaggers want to cut $500 million from the NOAA budget. Maybe Florida doesn’t really need hurricane monitoring? Yeah, better to handle that in the private sector.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The basic problem: Rick Scott probably doesn’t think Florida needs hurricane monitoring, either.

    swing hanger Reply:

    tea bagger hurricane monitoring: 1. check clouds by looking out window 2. stick finger in wind after application of spittle 3. gloat about getting rid of another “boondoggle”

    David Reply:

    Rasmussen polls are pretty close to useless.

    Wad Reply:

    Alex2000, the “culture wars” we are witnessing now is a replay of the great social convulsion of the Middle East in the late 1400s.

    Europe had emerged from the Dark Ages and was ascending economically. European powers began to devote less attention to the East and more to the West (Americas) and South (Africa).

    The Middle East, which leveraged the fall of Rome to become a world leader in trade, science and arts, was destabilized. It saw religious and ethnic difference as a sign of weakness, and saw its economic decline as divine wrath for a lack of faith. The solution was to turn inward and emphasize purity and piety.

    The Middle East’s wish came true, but no one there in 8 centuries has been able to figure out how to fix the calendar that got stuck.

    The side that wins the culture war will get front row seats to witness America’s twilight.

    Their offspring won’t even discern night from day.

    joesez Reply:

    Uhhh.

    You underestimate the role of geography and advancements in ship technology which undermined the historical trade routes through the east and Turk monopoly.

    I would credit the fact the Turks consolidated their control over the eastern trade routes which encouraged europe to find more high risk alternatives.

    1400’s saw the Inquisition, Reformation and Counter Reformation. Talk about purity and piety – Europe fought wars over religion.

    Anthony Reply:

    Darn it I knew I should have DVR’ed the Ottoman Empire….

  7. brandon from San Diego
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 08:44
    #7

    Well, if Florida has Federal funds they will no be using, then I suggest California offers to accept them.

  8. Daniel Krause
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 08:44
    #8

    With four massive rail projects killed, look for the Reason Foundation, etc. to go for the jugular and put out a huge attempt to kill the California project. Look for more hit pieces in the media and California Tea Party politicians coming out strongly against the project in coming days. We need to be ready to respond.

    Donk Reply:

    Yeah exactly, FL sort of served as a buffer between the loonies and CA. Now we are the next target for the loonies.

    Donk Reply:

    We need to start spending money in CA asap.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Reason foundation’s headquarters are right there in West LA… they’re Californians and if they try and screw up this project for rest of us .. then I highly think of a few protest outside their door to show the rest of the state what they’re up to is called for.

    tony d. Reply:

    No worries all! The California people and voters are more powerful than the “Idiots” Foundation.
    We have spoken loud and clearly, and we want our high-speed rail!

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Well Tony they’re well-funded idiots I will say that.. they have enough money to buy media space and constantly put out slanted opinions on high-speed rail..

    joesez Reply:

    How will TV ads undermine the 4$ gasoline and congestion on HW 5? How will it help reduce unemployment?

    I mean the fact we have a Gov, President and majority of State reps behind HSR gives us a fighting chance. Even Arnold openly mocked the OH and WI Governors for their refusal to spend HSR money.

    Who is to say Gov Scott in FL isn’t going to get is butt fried by the GOP reps including everyone in the Orlando-Tampa Area? What will be the political benefit to his cutting infrastructure in a State where the Shuttle is being retired and tourism is totally dependent on rental cars/gasoline.

    Then there’s WI killing HSR and probably losing a rail manufacturer to HSR friendly IL.

    “Speculation about Talgo moving its train manufacturing plant from Milwaukee arose in late 2010 as then Gov.-elect Scott Walker proceeded with plans to cancel Wisconsin’s high-speed rail projects. The Chicago Tribune today is quoting Ray LaHood, secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation, saying that Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn has attracted Talgo to Illinois.

    Quinn in November sent Talgo officials a letter offering help to move the company’s manufacturing plant.

    Talgo officials said in December that a move from Milwaukee is likely if Wisconsin will not buy more trains. However, no final decisions have been made, said Nora Friend, Talgo vice president of public affairs and business development.

    “We remain interested and we look forward to looking at all possibilities, and nothing has been decided,” she said.

    Friend said Talgo is interested in Illinois because it has many potential suppliers and state lawmakers support high-speed rail projects. State and city officials in Illinois continue to court Talgo to move there, but company officials have not committed to moving there, Friend said. She said it will probably be a year before the company could formalize a move out of Milwaukee.”

    Anthony Reply:

    And just how many of those “California Tea Partiers” are in a position to do ANYTHING? They sure kept Brown out of office….

  9. Daniel Krause
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 08:47
    #9

    Rick Scott made his decision prior to release of the study he said he would base his decision on. He also didn’t even bother to see what private companies were willing to fund. These two points reveal the ideological nature of the decision. He even went against his own commitment to the study.

    http://myemail.constantcontact.com/USHSR-Responds-to-Florida-Governor-s-Announcement.html?soid=1102837461714&aid=hQAreaxJKNQ

    Ted Crocker Reply:

    What ever happened to Richard Branson? I thought he was interested in both FL and the Desert Express. Did his interest fizzle?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7bEf4XKfrpU

    Peter Reply:

    It could be he’s still interested in DX (or has fronted funding for it already, but not announced it). I still haven’t heard who’s funding DX, but given that they’ve said they will break ground the moment the EIS is certified, I presume they have their ducks lined up already.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    It has nothing to do with private interest fizzling. It is all about anti-Obama and the ideology of the past. The depth of the resistence to the future this country has right now is deep.

    Victor Reply:

    That’s cause President Obama is a Black Man in the White House and some Whites hate that, they have no way to impeach or remove Him and/or VP Biden to install an illegitimate Boehner Administration, So they try to Make the President look bad to the voters, Problem is, So far He’s looking good and the Republicans in power hate that. Republicans in power decry the National Debt and the Deficit when It’s convenient to do so and want to reduce spending on the backs of those Who receive benefits that they need to survive with out of spite, Then they want to increase Defense Spending regardless of the National Debt and the Deficit, They are so much the Paranoid Hypocrites.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “That’s cause President Obama is a Black Man in the White House and some Whites hate that, they have no way to impeach or remove him and/or VP Biden to install an illegitimate Boehner Administration. . .”–Victor

    I think there is a lot of truth to this, especially as Obama hasn’t really given them anything to work with. Sexy affairs with interns? Looks like a good family man from what we have seen so far. Solid evidence of bribery? There is reason to believe the Obama administration had some input into getting rid of that Democratic governor with the awful haircut in Illinois when he tried to sell Obama’s Senate seat. Fixing military assignments (that’s a big part of what brought McCarthy down in the 1950s)? Nothing there. Drug addictions? He smokes, and I wonder if Michelle is part of the reason he goes outside to puff; certainly not a drug user, or a booze hound, like some other presidents in both long and recent memory. Actual evidence of being a Muslim plant? Hell, that church he was a member of for so long in Chicago may have had a controversial preacher, but there was no way it was one of Islamic faith–and would that really matter, anymore than a Jewish or Catholic politician, who must appeal to all Americans to win office?

    And to top it off, that controversial preacher in Chicago is a former US Marine! I seem to recall he had White House service of some sort; not something you would give to anybody with any hint of disloyalty. Maybe the “conservatives” don’t like him because he spoke the truth!

    And all this applies to Biden, too.

    All this must be terribly frustrating to the opposition; they don’t really have a case. Unfortunately, they are taking their frustrations out on our best future options, and locking us, including themselves, into serfdom to the oil business and the foreign governments that control most of it.

    ant6n Reply:

    He’s a muslim, I mean his name is Hussein Obama. And he’s not even an American citizen. 51% of Americans believe it, so it must be true. Also, he’s a socialist, who wants death panels! Basically, he’s Hitler.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Branson’s Virgin was part of a potential Florida consortium that included Alstom and others including US and Spanish companies. It was a different group than the SNCF group looking at Florida.

    StevieB Reply:

    Adam Sorensen at Time confirms the decision was political and not financial.

    LaHood also worked out a deal to make sure that private businesses competing to build and run the line would assume responsibility for cost overruns and operating expenses.

    But Scott ran as a tea-party candidate, and he’s sticking to his tea-party convictions. He’s also delivering a brutal setback to one of Obama’s signature initiatives, halting high-speed rail’s momentum just days after the president proposed to spend an additional $53 billion over the next six years.

  10. Paulus Magnus
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 08:53
    #10

    I thought we were already funded sufficient to get to Bakersfield?

    Peter Reply:

    Only enough to get to the edge of Bakersfield. This should cover the aerial into Bakersfield proper.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    If it’s not enough to actually build the Bakersfield station /segment .. I say head north with it as far as possible to the Y. and then up to Merced

    joesez Reply:

    No – Not Merced, then build East to Gilroy.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    Also, we need to build a new HSR station in Bakersfield as well.

  11. Peter
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 09:09
    #11

    Would this be enough money to additionally electrify Fresno-Bakersfield? I know they weren’t planning on doing so, but I think it might be worth it. Bring in some HHP-8s from the NEC as they’re replaced, and do a switch at Fresno…

    Useless Reply:

    @ Peter

    No, the money is better spent on getting the track extended to downtown Bakersfield, becuase the track approaches, but not arrive at, downtown Bakersfield.

    Peter Reply:

    Yes, that’s why I said “additionally electrify”. I was assuming that the money would first go towards building the aerial into Bako.

    Donk Reply:

    Anyone know what the estimate is to get into Bakersfield? What about into and out of Bakersfield?

    There is $2.4B available, plus CA matching funds. So this could potentially be as much as ~$3.5B. Are we still only talking about Bakersfield? Maybe could get all the way out of Bakersfield to where the mainline will go AND extend the line north a bit?

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Not all of Florida’s money is ARRA.. some of it is from the 2010 high-speed rail appropriation.. that may have to be put out again for applications.. not sure

    Alan F Reply:

    Or Amtrak California could buy some Siemens ACS-64 electric locomotives made at the Siemens facility in Sacramento. If the HSR tracks and tunnels from Bakersfield to Palmdale to LA are built to be able to accommodate the bi-level Amtrak cars, they might to be able once the HSR system is in place to run some San Joaquin trains at 110 to 125 mph from LA to Bakersfield, where they would switch to diesel and then run on the current San Joaquin route northward to provide local service.

    Of course, this would probably interfere too much with the 220 mph service. But figuring the long tunnels through the mountains between Sylmar and Bakersfield will be ventilated for electric locos only, they may want to get some electric locos for non-HSR equipment moves over the new route.

    Anthony Reply:

    What the F is this? You rather have more federal money to go from the edge of town to downtown on the US’ dime with high unemployment, a political right that has no answers (and knows it) and two wars?

    I think Robert posted a few months ago about the interest from the Chinese and the Germans. There’s plenty of money to get the entire thing done, I don’t think it matters much who actually owns it as much who builds and runs a 1st class system, that should be all your concerned with.

    Knowing its not going to happen with a bunch of regional Right Wing A** hats is no big deal.

  12. datacruncher
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 09:16
    #12

    California’s REFI is due March 16. It included a request for answers to questions about a willingness to help finance CAHSR.
    http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/rfei.aspx

    I wonder if we will now gain interest from some of the consortium groups that were looking at Florida.

    Useless Reply:

    @ datacruncher

    All the bidders in Florida HSR are also bidders in California HSR.

    Smaller European consortiums may drop out because of their inability to raise tens of billions in private financing.

    Only the consortiums backed by foreign government financing will stand in California, meaning three Asian bidders + possibly France.

    Peter Reply:

    You doubt that DB and Siemens will make a bid? Why wouldn’t Bombardier make a bid, either?

    Useless Reply:

    @ Peter

    France is the only European country whose government is willing to/able to provide government financing to secure mega infrastructure projects like HSR and nuclear power plants for their comapnies.

    On the other hand, East Asian countries liberally used state financing to back their company’s bids in mega infrastructure projects.

    This is why you can expect to see the usual CJK crowd + France bidding in California, but not Talgo(Spain’s bankrupt), Bombardier(Canadian government has no money), Siemens(Germany won’t finance), etc.

    But even then, it’s really down to CJK, as they have lower cost than the French and are willing to lose money for the prestige of building a mega US HSR project.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Florida had 8 consortiums expressing interest including Japan, China, and Korea.

    I would not be surprised at this early stage in California to now see the various European consortiums also respond to California RFEI.

    And which France connected group do you see? I believe 3 of the Florida groups had French members: SNCF/Bechtel, Veolia/Siemens, and Alstom/Virgin.

    Useless Reply:

    @ datacruncher

    > SNCF/Bechtel, Veolia/Siemens, and Alstom/Virgin.

    Both SNCF and Alstom could obtain French government loan offer.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    The big California project is the true goal of all these companies… no matter what all the haters say about California or about this project the state still leads the nation in trends .we will see just a few short years after the project opens and everybody sees what it looks like and the ridership and economic growth engine it is…Then you’ll see other true high-speed rail projects getting started in the United States.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s not high speed but we’ve had grade separated electric railroad running at speeds faster than driving, on the NEC south of New Haven, since the 30s.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Yes of course… I mean brand-new from the ground up type of system ..And yes the Northeast is perfect for new high-speed rail or totally rebuilt Pennsylvania Railroad since that’s what we’re still using!!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s parts of it that will still be around in a millennium or so. The masonry viaduct between Newark and Rahway for instance.

    J. Wong Reply:

    I agree that HSR in California is going to make the other states slavering for it when California’s economy is booming even with gas at $5/gallon and their economies are gridlocked by their transportation. But they will be too late.

  13. Brandi
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 09:20
    #13

    I’m not sure why so many people here are excited about the canceling of America’s only other true high speed rail project. I think this will be the end of HSR nationwide for the most part. It has become a red/blue issue now. Every time a republican is elected they will cancel any transit or rail projects claiming it will save money. Since most projects will span more than one administration this makes it unlikely outside of any solidly blue states. This means that it will become difficult to every get enough money to finish a project. We really should be supporting other real high speed rail projects as well. At least this shines a light on the true color of Republicans. Republicans really don’t understand the benefits that a cost/benefit analysis show. At least this reveals the sham that Republicans support PPPs. There was many companies interested in taking over the state’s share and guaranteeing the state no need for subsidies. The fact that Governor Scott didn’t even wait for these responses to come in really shows what a farce Republicans liking PPPs is. I think the Obama administration should anti-up clarify what a sham this rejection is.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    CA4HSR actually supports the Florida project because we understand the importance of building support for HSR nationwide. We are bitterly dissappointed by this announcement. However, we will work to get funds to California if Gov. Scott does not reconsider his decision, as John Mica is urging him to do.

    Ben Reply:

    If you want to see red/purple states build this and bipartisan support for high speed rail, give some of these funds VA and NC to improve passenger rail service from DC to Richmond and Charlotte. Virginia’s governor, Bob McDonnell, a Republican elected in 2009, is borrowing billions to improve and expand roads and highways in Virgina. I’d like to see a better balance between roads and transit but this is still a very un-Republican thing to do these days. Virginia was award some of the Recovery Act funds to improve rail service, and I think complaints against these projects have been minimal.

    Brandi Reply:

    I understand that most people support other projects. I just meant that sometimes it seems as if we are all over-excited to be getting money for California’s system and not thinking about the broader political implications.

    Anthony Reply:

    Broader my foot. I run into this “don’t group me in with the so-and-so’s stuff all over the net. The point is you chose to live where you do. I’m a Native California and as long as this State runs to my benefit I will remain one, but the minute some Right Wing nut jobs ass hits the Governor’s seat I’m gone, I know what “The Duke” and Peter Wilson have done to this State not to mention one Ronald Regan, who CSPAC loves so much whats to celebrate his 100th birthday.

    No Brandi, if you live in a “Red” State or “Purple” state I suggest you move. I have a feeling this is not a replay of the Ottoman Empire as one poster put it, but a replay of the Civil War.

    I never doubted for a min the CalHSR wouldn’t get built, once the people approved it, other countries that don’t do “Nation Building” would be helping us get not only from LA to San Fran, but from Sacramento to San Diego and from Orange to Las Vegas. It just takes time to sort all this out.

    PeakVT Reply:

    I think CAHSR supporters are happy to get the money, not see the other systems die. Since the SF-LA line isn’t fully funded, every dollop of funding translates into a segment of track that can be laid.

    You are right that it’s a red-blue issue, but it has been from the start. The vast majority of Republicans oppose all passenger rail on principle. Mica and La Hood – especially La Hood, since he is also pro-cycling – are oddballs in the current Republican Party.

    TomW Reply:

    … and to think we all thought LaHood would just be some token Republican who wouldn’t actually do anything proactive as Transportation Secretary. Being wrong is nice sometimes :-)

    TomW Reply:

    Republican reps are often anti-transit because they tend to be from low density areas without transit services. See http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2011/01/25/understanding-the-republican-partys-reluctance-to-invest-in-transit-infrastructure/ for details.

    [sorry for double-post]

    PeakVT Reply:

    That explains some of the opposition to urban transit, but commuter and intercity rail serves suburban and rural areas as well as downtowns. For instance, killing the ARC project will inconvenience a lot of people who don’t live in Hackensack or Bayonne or the like. And the problem lately is not Congress. Instead, it has been Republican governors killing projects that already have large amounts of federal funding. (Yes, the ARC sucked, but Christie could have chosen to fix it instead of kill it.)

    PeakVT Reply:

    A visual amendment to the preceding.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I suspect the people in Hackensack, who care, are really really …. lets say annoyed… ARC would have given them a one seat ride to Manhattan on a train. It wouldn’t have affected people in Bayonne much. Or almost anyone in Hudson County. They take the bus into Manhattan or PATH trains. The people really really …. annoyed… are the ones who get on standing room only trains out in the far reaches of Union and Middlesex counties. Or the ones almost any place in Essex County.

    Dan S. Reply:

    I was thinking about that article in relation to this discussion too. I think it helps to explain their national political strategy, which Republicans have always been good at sticking too. Democrats might as well, if they had the same problem of trying to win political power with overall less support among the electorate for their positions. But Republicans need to figure out how to stay in power even though most Americans like their government services, so they have to stick to the game plan out of necessity, and they use this technique occasionally to impressive results.

    Oppose transit, oppose regulation, oppose gun limits, oppose urban issues. It plays well among the center states with low populations. It does not foster national unity, purpose, or amity, however. And it certainly doesn’t foster a healthy middle class. But that’s not the purpose.

    Brandi Reply:

    Don’t get me wrong though I’m excited to get the money. I actually think it is better to put more money in fewer projects. I’m just concerned that a nationwide push for HSR might be at risk.

    I actually thought Mica might just be a tea party drone at first but his more recent statements he is showing he is much more level-headed and intelligent than expected. I mean him issuing a disapproving statement on Scott was pretty surprising.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yeah, well, you can pretty much give up on any hope for any nationwide HSR. States like California that have the vision will have HSR, but the rest of the country will be crying in their beer when they realize what they’ve given up.

    I feel sorry for any of the human misery that comes out of this, but I won’t feel sorry for the voters that ended up shooting themselves in the foot by electing Republicans. When their states are in the economic doldrums because their transportation seizes up because of high oil prices, they’ll have no one to blame but themselves.

    jim Reply:

    I think this will be the end of HSR nationwide for the most part. It has become a red/blue issue now. Every time a republican is elected they will cancel any transit or rail projects claiming it will save money. Since most projects will span more than one administration this makes it unlikely outside of any solidly blue states.

    I think Brandi’s half right. When there is money for HSR again (it may not be for the next two years, but it will be eventually), the Administration will be very uncomfortable allocating it to states which are likely to cancel their projects. Now that Lucie has pulled the football away twice in Florida, I can’t envisage anyone funding their rail projects in future. California and the Northwest start looking very good. In the NEC, the money can be channeled to Amtrak and Chris Christie or anyone tempted to copy him won’t get to say whether the project gets built. The Midwest will suffer as a result of Walker and Kasich. Virgina and North Carolina have a bistate compact to build Washington-Charlotte, which will make it a little harder (though certainly not impossible) for either individual governor to stop it.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Not exactly. There’s a good chance that some of the Florida money winds up in the hands of Nevada and Washington State. It’s true that now HSR is becoming more politicized, but that’s really not a positive situation for even the GOP as a whole. Stuff like this is going to ensure the Tea Party wears out its welcome in DC kinda fast.

    Peter Reply:

    None of the money can go to Nevada. Nevada did not put up an application for HSR funds originally, and they therefore are ineligible to receive any of this money.

    Washington is a different story, of course. NC and VA may benefit too, but I hope the lion’s share is awarded to CA.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Actually that’s not true. Nevada did apply for some funds, but they were for a “State Rail Plan”. Keep in mind however, that the last time the funds were returned…FRA allowed states to amend their applications. I would be surprised if Nevada didn’t ask for some money this time around…or if CalTrans didn’t ask for some in Barstow for DX.

    StevieB Reply:

    The Senator from New York has already issued a statement asking the money be directed to projects in Upstate NY.

  14. Back in the Saddle
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 09:27
    #14

    Robert– As I was channel surfing yesterday, I happened to hear Colin Cowherd, ESPN Radio, give a big time thumbs up to high speed rail. He noted the time involved in traveling to an airport, going through security, flying to his destination, and then the time waiting for baggage and travel into the city and to his hotel. He noted that he could show up four minutes prior to departure, get on the train, and be delivered to the center of a city’s commerce and close to his hotel. I was totally amazed that he would comment on high speed in such a manner. This message needs to be heard by businesses far and wide across the U.S. High speed rail is good for business and our economy. Rick Scott doesn’t have a clue on the needs of businesses or their employees or the State of Florida. The efficiencies of high speed rail are significant…

  15. TomW
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 10:05
    #15

    “This will may also reinforce Rep. John Mica’s view that all HSR money should go to the Northeast Corridor, which is a very bad idea.”
    Robert, do you think it is bad idea that *all* HSR money goes to the NEC, or a bad idea that *any* money does to the NEC? I’d agree with the former, but not the latter.

  16. Al-Fakh Yugoudh
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 10:38
    #16

    This is good news for HSR.
    First because more money might be diverted to Cal.
    Second, because I don’t have confidence that Tampa to Orlando will have a lot of passengers (too short, not congested area, and too spread out cities), and any failings of that line might jeopardize public support for HSR elsewhere where it makes more sense (like NEC and CA).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It was the first phase of a larger system. Florida has population centers at the right distances for HSR to make sense.

  17. Joseph E
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 11:11
    #17

    I can’t believe Rick Scott actually did this. 90% of the money would have been Federal dollars, and the private builder / operator of the system would have certainly kicked in the other 10%. 2.4 billion was plenty to build this (Even in Europe most HSR systems are built at a lower cost per mile than that), without any cost over-runs.

    This decision was clearly meant to hurt the president politically, even though it hurts the people of Florida, who will be missing out on a huge transportation improvement, and thousands of construction jobs (and later operations jobs) that would have been 100% paid for by Other People’s Money.

    They only good might be some of this money getting directed to California, but personally I feel we need more than 1 (or 2, with the NEC) HSR projects underway to get nation-wide support, and Florida could have provided passenger service first, as a demonstration. Even if the initial route, from Tampa to Orlando, was not the most important in the nation, it was relatively cheap, and could be extended to a very useful Tampa-Orlando-Miami route, which would have been very profitable and well-used as an alternative to long drives or short-haul flights.

    Perhaps the Feds can go all-in and guarantee that the state will not have to spend anything on operations to get this built? It would be a small risk to the federal budget (since the whole system will certainly be profitable, and even the initial Orland-Tampa line should pay operating costs), and perhaps in return the administration could get oversight to make sure the line is built well.

    But if this is just bad politics, it may not matter, unless people in Florida are as outraged as we are.

    dave Reply:

    Construction overruns and operating losses where in the contracts to the Florida system already and bidders where still lining up. Florida Taxpayers where never on the hook for these losses and even then their bonehead of a Governor does this.

    StevieB Reply:

    Gov. Scott takes advise from highly biased sources. The L.A. Times reports:

    Scott did find support from Robert Poole, a member of his transition team and a rail expert employed by the Reason Foundation, a libertarian think tank.

    Poole said he was skeptical that a business would be willing to cover possible construction overruns or operating deficits, meaning the state could have been forced to bear those expenses. “I think this is a responsible decision,” Poole said.

  18. synonymouse
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 12:14
    #18

    You fellows are making too much out of this as a strictly GOP right-wing issue. HSR has some serious inherent problems which you are ignoring.

    1. Boondoggling. The consultant-contractor-supplier-union complex cannot control it knee-jerk predilection to big dig. Ergo you wind up PB and end up with Stilt-A-Rail.

    2. Political corruption. A public project is sandbagged by political considerations. Ergo catering to Palmdale developers against the best interests of the State overall.

    3. Job creation overblown. Many of the jobs will be high compensation, highly trained union jobs like heavy equipment operators. Temporary and not that many. And how many of the manual labor jobs will be going to illegals under the counter via the contractors?

    4. Profitability a fantasy. Just the exorbitant compensation packages alone of the union employees under government operation is a profit killer. Bonafide private operation is simply not going to happen.

    5. The hsr project will of necessity be of a highly internationalized nature, very hard to flack to the average taxpayer and Joe Paycheck. You are not talking about big, ongoing undertakings like Honda assembly lines in the South – a whole lot of taxpayer dollars are going to be shipped overseas.

    6. Technology either retro or not ready for prime time. Steel on steel is noisy, top speed limited, requires constant maintenance. Maintenance is not a US forte – see BART. Maglev holds real promise but you have to ask why no demo project up to now in the US? Dumb Disneyland holds on to dippy monorail(essentially a captive trolley bus train) and casino moguls keep talking up an exotic high speed to a Sin City on the skids but where are the Japanese or the Germans with the money for a US pilot that could capture the imagination of politicians of all stripes?

    7. An unwillingness to compromise or do incremental. The TRAC-Tolmach approach, emphasizing homing in the worst bottlenecks or the most pressing needs is summarily rejected. This hardline, “we are the champions”, face to the world has pulled the carpet of public support out from under the CHSRA.

    Alex M. Reply:

    Synon, you need to realize that HSR is coming to California and there’s really nothing you can do about it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That’s exactly what I mean by the “We are the champions, my friends” mindset.

    Paul H. Reply:

    Syn I have to give you credit for sticking around with your nonsense. But clearly, you’re just a troll. Nobody respects what you have to say because you are unwilling to see your own inconsistencies in your argument. TRAC’s plan isn’t for a good system, its a plan that would probably kill the project with cost overruns, and you know it. Again, good job being persistent, but your fantasy route and predictions will never happen, because they are terrible ideas. Sorry to have to break it to you.

    Marcus Reply:

    “And how many of the manual labor jobs will be going to illegals under the counter via the contractors?”

    Apparently you’ve never heard of prevailing wage laws?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Palmdale developers against the best interests of the State overall.

    Palmdale is in the State. In nice round numbers one out of 60 Californians lives in greater Palmdale.

    Maglev holds real promise but you have to ask why no demo project up to now in the US?

    Promise is the operative word. It’s too expensive and has no record to speak of. It’s the railroad equivalent of the SST.

    casino moguls keep talking up an exotic high speed to a Sin City

    If I remember correctly there are 4 proposals. Three of them are for steel wheel on steel rail.

    Ken Reply:

    Yeah, we’ve heard all the stories and horrors of HSR, but the “facts” and are just speculative figures at best which have no hard real live data to back up with. It’s like crying out that the Moon, the Sun, and the stars revolve around the Earth based on just plain observation.

    OTOH, HSR proponents have the data that it has worked all over the globe, just like we have the data that proves that it’s the Earth that revolves around the Sun. And no, comparing Amtrak to say the JR Shinkansen or the TGV is like comparing a Pinto to a Ferrari so that ain’t a proper analogy.

  19. elfling
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 13:21
    #19

    I’m surprised The Mouse hasn’t gone to the governor and said, “Ahem.”

    synonymouse Reply:

    I wish Tolmach could have Jerry’s ear for about 5 minutes.

    Peter Reply:

    *snort*

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Me too. He’d be hauled off to an insane asylum within 3 minutes and stop bothering the rest of the state. Will Jerry Brown not bite this bullet, for the good of California?

    Spokker Reply:

    Tolmach and crew basically sit around and bitch about what they feel should be. They don’t have any real power.

    One of the guys on the TRAC board of directors goes to the Transit Coalition meetings in LA every so often. This guy may have years of experience and might know a thing or two, but he’s intolerable because he’s always yelling and screaming about high speed rail. That’s all well and good when you are hanging out with friends, but you’ll see him screaming at people who came to speak to the group from the CHSRA. You see the veins popping out of his forehead and his face becomes red. It’s insane.

    Now if I am yelled at like that I’ll yell right back, I don’t care. But he’s yelling at some guy and a sweet woman from the CHRSA who are just making a presentation. They are not even in charge of anything and they’re getting the business from this asshole.

    This isn’t meant to reflect poorly on The Transit Coalition, which does some good work in Southern California. Bart Reed has his head on straight. It’s just that some members are too insane or too cocky and you cringe watching them. I stopped going to those meetings entirely.

  20. Andrew
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 13:31
    #20

    Send the money to CA, Illinois, and Virginia. Then send FL a list of how many jobs were created in other states with their money.

  21. synonymouse
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 13:46
    #21

    Trying to divert this money to California will absolutely harden the Repub’s vision of the hsr thing as a Pelosi-Feinstein-Boxer machine ripoff of the national taxpayer. Obama would be undermining his outreach to the GOP and LaHood would become public enemy #1 to the right.

  22. Peter
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 14:00
    #22

    LA Times: State bullet train angles for share of $2.4 billion in federal funds

    StevieB Reply:

    “The $2 billion that Florida rejected are more than welcome here,” California Gov. Jerry Brown said.

    California. Sens. Dianne Feinstein and Barbara Boxer, both Democrats, wrote to Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood asking that all the Florida money be sent here. “It is now clear that California will lead the way in demonstrating the viability of high-speed rail to the rest of the country,” they wrote.

  23. Peter
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 14:03
    #23

    Would $2.4 billion plus significant state bonds fund matching be enough to make significant headway towards San Jose? I presume that would enable a connection to Gilroy, at the very least.

    Winston Reply:

    San Jose to Merced is projected to cost around $5.4 billion, so the federal money plus a 100% state match should get you to Gilroy or so. Of course, we’ll know better what the costs really look like when some bids start coming in for the first segment. The real problem with this section is that the engineering isn’t too far along and the state might not be able to complete it in time.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    I say any amount of money we receive will go towards extending the current spine North and South as it’s the only one able to meet ARRA timeline at this point… and most of Florida’s money is that funding

    Tony D. Reply:

    Private funding could get the rest of the line to San Jose. Bakersfield to SJ? Now you’re talking about serious interest in private investment (foreign, CalPers, Virgin America, etc, etc).

    Peter Reply:

    What about using the portion of the federal funding that doesn’t require a match to extend the line to Merced, and the balance to electrify Merced-Bakersfield? That way we wouldn’t run afoul of the “independent utility” requirements as existing Amtrak services could run on the tracks immediately, we wouldn’t have to worry about the AB 3034 mandate of prioritizing SF-LA, and we could more easily meet the requirement of a “useable segment” “ready for high speed service”.

    Switch to HHP-8s at Merced, and Bob’s your uncle.

    Peter Reply:

    Or even purchase some of Bombardier’s ALP-45DP electro-diesel locomotives. Then they wouldn’t even have the delay of changing locomotives.

    Joey Reply:

    They’re incredibly heavy, coming in at about 32 tonnes per axel. That’s almost double the generally accepted limit for high-speed railways.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    but they aren’t high speed. They are 100 MPH in diesel mode and 125 in electric.

    Joey Reply:

    I got the impression that Peter was proposing this as a way of running Amtrak trains on the high-speed tracks in the interim.

    Peter Reply:

    Yes. It has to be ready for high speed trains, not run them.

    James Fujita Reply:

    If we build a double-tracked, no freight, no grade crossings and electrified express line from Merced to Bakersfield, how much of a wait would it be to switch from diesel to electric at Merced?

    alternatively, if we do electrify the line, we should be able to do it where you run 125 mph trains on a regular basis and the occasional high-speed test train as well.

    unless Wikipedia is lying, the HHP-8 is capable of handling 25,000 V AC power. that’s what the Shinkansen uses.

    Joey Reply:

    There’s no point in running any actual high-speed trains until there is a segment which will generate major ridership to do so on.

    James Fujita Reply:

    I’m not saying run high-speed trains in regular revenue service. I’m saying, DEMONSTRATE to federal regulators how high speed rail works. Demonstrate to NIMBYS, naysayers and the media. Allow Japan, China, Germany, France and whoever else to show off their technology.

    If you’re going to electrify, which is what Peter suggests, you can run slower speed trains in regular service, and clear the tracks once in a while for a REAL HSR test.

    Jerry Reply:

    Hybrids sound OK.

    Joey Reply:

    FRA compliant hybrids are not something you want on delicate high-speed track. Amtrak single-modes are bad enough to begin with.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Bakersfield to SJ? Now you’re talking about serious interest in private investment

    Have any of you actually ever visited San Jose?

    I’m there right now. And I was at the downtown multi-dimensional hyper-galactic inter-super-relational mega-galactic Diridon Memorial train station last night (as for each evening of the last week or two) at the peak of rush hour and … I could have rolled a bowling ball down any train or light rail platform and never hit anybody.

    Really. The only people who are going to “invest” in such a dead-end are those who are investing your tax dollars directly their own swelling obese flatulent porcine bottom lines.

    tony d. Reply:

    Uh, Richard, this thing is being built and designed with the future in mind.
    Roll a bowling ball down a platform at Diridon in 2020 and you’re bound to get a face full of fist.
    Can you say future meeting point of HSR mainline, HSR ACE, BART, and current VTA, Amtrak CC (notice I didn’t mention Caltrain).

    Spokker Reply:

    San Jose is relatively empty to begin with. I’ve been there on weekdays (non-holidays) during rush hour and I thought I was in a ghost town. Even Los Angeles has more activity than Downtown San Jose. It’s insane.

    VTA light rail is empty and it’s not a “nobody rides it” criticism. Literally, there are many times nobody is on the goddamn train, for several stations. I rode on an empty train during rush hour for a few stops and I was fucking floored by this.

    Even reverse commute trains in Los Angeles have *some* people on them during rush hour. Downtown San Jose is not a happening place.

    Spokker Reply:

    As of Q32010 VTA light rail’s ridership is 777 riders per mile, haha. Even Salt Lake City’s light rail system pushes 2,500 riders per mile with less population density.

    VTA and Sprinter are the worst in California.

    joesez Reply:

    HSR isn’t about night-life, it’s about taking riders off the LAX / SJC routes which are heavily used and reprogramming the planes and gate space to longer haul/cost routes.

    Airlines want HSR to take the short haul flight traffic and connect them to their longer haul flights.

    HSR isn’t a pizza parlor that has to open near foot traffic, it is infrastructure and it will pass very close to the city and business.

    I look forward to taking it and bypassing the SJC/BUR and LAX cattle car flights..

    Spokker Reply:

    Wasn’t talking about night-life, but any life at all. Downtown San Jose does not have it.

    Peter Reply:

    San Jose (and VTA) can blame themselves and the FTA for the shitty-ass zoning they implemented/failed to change in preparation for building light rail. Instead of insisting that San Jose or the County zone for TOD around stations, they all said “Hey! Let’s build park-and-rides everywhere! Because people really use them!”

    Joey Reply:

    Diridon Station is definitely being overbuilt. The current plan calls for, IIRC, 8 platform tracks for CalTrain, ACE and CC as well as 4 dedicated HSR tracks above (two being bypass tracks with no platform). As Richard has stated in the past, a total of 6 platform tracks shared by HSR + CalTrain and two for Amtrak and any other FRA relics would be sufficient given reasonable operating characteristics. In truth, San José lags behind as far as CalTrain stations are concerned (one of the smallest served by the Baby Bullet), suggesting that it is in fact not that much of a major destination.

    Now, back to the original matter of initial operable segments, I really don’t think there’s enough travel demand between the Central Valley and the Bay Area (much less San José) to sustain high-speed service. It couldn’t serve that many long-distance commute trips — as noted earlier, Diridon Station is not that popular a place to commute to by Train and transferring would attract only a very small market, so all you could serve would be intercity demand, which would inevitably be limited.

    If you wanted a segment that could support high-speed service from the onset and possibly even cover its operating costs, I’d go with Bakersfield-LA. This segment has a good number of intraregional and commute trips which it could serve. It would also bridge the gap between the San Joaquín service and LA, though cutting an hour off of the 8 hour trip would probably still not be incredibly popular. But if you start with that and build northward, you start with a strong base and then add the less ridership-heavy segments onto it, not the other way around.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That is exactly what TRAC is proposing, only over Tejon instead of stupid Tehachapi.

    Insight of the day: “Without sun LA is just Fresno with bigger boobs.” – Craig Ferguson last nite.

    PeakVT Reply:

    Did you ever make that map showing how your lousy route would serve people in the Central Valley?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The TRAC proposal would simply connect Bakersfield and Sylmar via Tejon. Check it out.

    PeakVT Reply:

    Great. Make us a map.

  24. Peter
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 14:28
    #24

    I would expect an announcement tomorrow or even later today on how the DOT wants to redistribute Florida’s funds. They MUST have already drawn up contingency plans for this…

    jim Reply:

    But before they can announce, they’ll need to reconfirm with the recipients that they can make the deadlines. This is money that must be obligated by a drop-dead date. So, for example, if they want to give money to NC for the S-line, they’ll need to reconfirm that NC will select a locally preferred alternative in time for a FEIS to be certified and contracts let before the obligation deadline. This has to be the last redistribution.

    Alan F Reply:

    Good point. Of course, FL is returning 2 different grants of funding – the stimulus and FY2010. What the deadlines are for the FY2010 funds, don’t know. I would think that LaHood will wait several weeks to give Walker a chance to change his decision because Walker is likely to get an earful from the business community and other politicians in Florida who are appalled at the idea of rejecting $2.4 BILLION dollars of federal money.

    Would be interesting if a chunk of the returned money went to the Richmond to Raleigh section of the Southeast Corridor because the SE HSR has the potential to become an extension of the NEC, eventually running all the way to Atlanta for an Eastern Corridor. Question is whether the NC original applications were structured in a way to allow it and, yes, whether ground could be broken in time for the Stimulus funding.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    I would bet they do have plans already semi-ready on who will get what

    JJJ Reply:

    Nope, Id say 2 weeks. There will be time spent so Florida can “reconsider”, time wasted as the tea-party tries to take the money back, time wasted as Florida tried to spend it on roads etc. Once that show is done, then the money can be handed out.

    Dan S. Reply:

    From the Sentinel article:

    The aide to LaHood said the money would not be sent elsewhere while Scott’s opponents try to figure out a way to save the train.

    Risenmessiah Reply:

    Two weeks is probably about right.

    Next week, members of Congress are on recess in their districts. The following week of course, is the deadline to fund government operations without a shut down.

    I disagree though. I think the Administration really didn’t think Scott would take the fight to him so directly and quickly. This was the Tea Party’s Rubicon. They can’t go back now.

    The catch is, there’s no state that is more politically valuable than Florida to Obama left to spend the money in. They are picking up two new seats in the House from redistricting, they have a tough Senate race brewing, and oh yeah, Obama was able to carry Florida in 2008 in large part because of his success in …wait for it… Central Florida, especially Tampa and St. Petersburg. (Incidentially Scott didn’t win either Orlando or Tampa).

    North Carolina would seem to be an obvious choice, except they aren’t as far along as Florida, there’s no Senate race in 2012, It’s House seats are also heavily gerrymandered. New York is losing seats, is going to vote for Obama no matter what, and just lost scores of Democratic Congressmen. Given the strong labor roots of upstate New York, getting the shaft serves the President more than not.

    That leaves Washington and Nevada. Both are due to pick up one seat, but both had Democrat incumbents get eaten alive as well. Both have tough Senate contests, and both states went for Obama in 2008. Thus it seems pretty easy to fight fire with fire.

    The only critique is that even if CA gets some money (and it probably will), Washington, Nevada, and California are all Western states. Even if money is appropriated for the NEC, HSR looks like a regional program, not a national one.

    joe Reply:

    Politically, the Admin relishes Scott’s boneheaded move to kill HSR and jobs.

    It’s nice to see the GOP Gov step up and single handedly take the heat for no job creation in central Florida.

    Scott doesn’t have the support of the lead GOP Rep from FL, Mica, who wanted the project for the State – badly.

    Scott’s economic analysis isn’t correct, nor defensible and will not withstand any scrutiny. He opposes HSr and job creation on ideological grounds.

  25. Ken
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 15:28
    #25

    As soon as gas starts hitting $5/gal, every hardliner GOP in Ohio, Wisconsin and now Florida will be booted off for killing off a plan that could’ve given them an alternative to driving.

    Oh well, if these guys don’t want it, more federal money for us! Hooray!

    tony d. Reply:

    But people like synonomouse want to pay $5 a gallon to drive freely on “non-socialist” roads and highways forever! LOL.
    We all know the “business plan” for I-5 and gas stations has worked out to a tee.

    joesez Reply:

    Also Laugh at the drivel that emanates from conservative DC think tanks whose authors use public funded Metro infrastructure to get to and from their libertarian HQs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    sorta like the small government protesters who showed on the Mall in DC with their “Keep the Government out of my Medicare” signs and then whined that Metro wasn’t running enough trains.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Oh no no if gas goes to five dollars a gallon in those states they will simply blame Obama and the environmentalists for not allowing drilling on the coasts.. and then call for some kind of gas tax relief or writing off gas from your taxes… so much for NO-socialist points of view.

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    …plus lots of drill baby drill…

  26. Daniel Krause
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 16:36
    #26

    I noticed Rick Scott is interesed in widening Highway 4 in leiu of HSR. I wonder if the widening would inlclude ROW that was to be devoted to the HSR project. I suppose from Scott’s radical piont of veiw, it makes sense to snuff the project out for good by taking the ROW and making it 10X harder to build in the future.

    MGimbel Reply:

    And how much would widening I-4 cost?

  27. political_incorrectness
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 19:14
    #27

    I am becoming sick of this liability rhetoric without looking at the giant boondoggle and money pit called the automobile. We really need an HSR PAC to push these projects around the country.

    Ken Reply:

    I’ve been saying that for years. We need a HSR lobby that is stronger and more vocal than those backed by the oil cos.

    So which industry in the private sector have the money and the power to sway elected officials to HSR? Electric companies? Steel manufacturers? Recent US Supreme Court legislation allowing foreign companies to lobby in Congress (read: foreign HSR companies)? Heck, maybe even the airlines who are feeling the effects of higher jet fuel who’d rather see some of their feeder routes to be taken over by HSR?

  28. Spokker
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 21:38
    #28

    Local news coverage in Florida.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vOFBWAzYx1E

    They dedicated 9 minutes to the story. Is the project that important or is this a trend in news? When I used to watch local news stories were no longer than 2 or 3 minutes, 4 tops.

  29. Castle Expert
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 22:43
    #29

    FYI to all interested parties.

    Freshman Congressman Jeff Denham has just offered an amendment that would provide no funds for High Speed Rail in California.
    Offered By Congressman Denham of California:
    the end of the bill before the title insert the following new sections:
    1. SEC.402 None of the funds made available by this act maybe used for High Speed
    2. rail in the state of California, for the High Speed Rail authority, or for
    3. projects designed to further High Speed Rail in California.

    Congressman Cardoza says there is language in the Continuing resolution that would rescind HSR funds that have been granted but not yet obligated. FRA told Congressman Cardoza that the first round of funds ($ 2.86 bil) have been obligated but that the second round (715 mil) has not. Moreover the effect of this resolution if passed would also cancel all planned funding for stations and additional track to Bakersfield also leading to quesions about the route no longer having indepentent utiltiy.

    FYI
    Congressman Cardoza is against Congressman Denhams amendment.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    This needs to be stopped immediately. This anti-HSR fever is extremely troubling. Cali still has a democrat majority in the SA right?

    Either way, CAL4HSR needs to be getting the word out to stop this legislation before it gets out of committee.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    What I find troubling is that this “mood,” for lack of a better term, suggests we as a country have lost our collective nerve. I am beginning to wonder if we can ever build anything great again, yet at the same time we have people yelling (at least until recently) that the USA was the “best” or “greatest” country in the world. All that is sounding so hollow to me, like whistling past a graveyard.

    We were the greatest, and we lived it without boasting about it, but I fear we have slipped since then.

    Australia and New Zealand are looking attractive, despite reversed seasons.

    Ken Reply:

    This is why it’s soooo much easier it is to build HSR in China than the US; they have NIMBYs, they just mysteriously disappear never to be heard from again. Oppresive government yes, but it sure keeps projects moving at a faster pace for the benefit of the whole instead of some selfish NIMBYs who only think about themselves.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Devin Nunes is introducing a bill that would allow diversion of federal HSR funding to improving Highway 99 “if the state can’t meet the federal deadlines” according to Nunes. Jeff Denham and Kevin McCarthy will be cosponsors. Fresno’s Mayor Swearengin says “I don’t think we should take our eye off the ball of pursuing high-speed rail with everything we’ve got.”
    http://www.fresnobee.com/2011/02/16/2275990/bill-would-use-rail-funds-for.html

    I just looked and did not see Nunes’ bill posted yet. Wording nuance will be interesting, is it truely just worded as a fallback position if California misses deadlines (although a veiled move) or a full attempt to divert the money. Nunes has been a critic of HSR so it is some kind of move against HSR, it will be important to see how far the bill wording goes.

  30. dave
    Feb 16th, 2011 at 23:09
    #30

    Japan pursuing 310mph Maglev project.

    http://www.iol.co.za/news/world/japan-to-build-310mph-bullet-train-1.1027605

    James Fujita Reply:

    This is old news.

    Japan can do maglev because they already have a spiderweb of successful commuter trains, a huge amount of private investment and they are beginning to reach the upper limits of high-speed rail. The Shinkansen is crowded and there are only so many markets left to build. (Getting bullet trains into snowy Sapporo will be interesting).

    In other words, what do you get the rail transit system which has everything?

    synonymouse Reply:

    You don’t do anything – you deploy the maglev in California where it would be competitive with airlines and make money.

    PeakVT Reply:

    No. It would be a stupid idea for the Japanese to try to deploy an unproven technology in a foreign country with a different language. Much smarter for them would be to deploy proven and profitable technology, such as the Shinkansen series trains.

    Oddly enough, that’s what they are offering to do.

    synonymouse Reply:

    SF to LA via maglev has vastly more profit potential than maglev, etc. from LA to an LV obsoleted by California gaming. Every vice(and probably more)is just as available in the Golden State than in Nevada. Besides the green solution to $5.00 gas(apart from a myriad of technical advances)is not to need to move around as much. The political establishment has even passed laws to this effect.

    Wouldn’t be surprized if private interests(maybe Branson in time)will propose maglev in the US. To some extent it depends on costs and environmental problems associated with air transport.

    Useless Reply:

    @ synonymouse

    Maglev costs four times the cost of steel rail HSR track. There is no money for Maglev in the US.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Do you have a source for this? The only cost estimate I’ve seen for maglev is about $200 million/km in Japan, but it’s 60% in tunnel and at any rate everything is expensive in Japan.

    Ken Reply:

    And the funding for maglev which costs ridiculously more will come from where????

    Japan’s even considering to kill the maglev project because it’s just too darn costly and too many NIMBYs are opposing it while other cities want their fair share of money appropiated to their places even though it means more curved lines that doesn’t make sense.

    Right now only the Chinese can build maglevs because they have cheap labor and practically a government that says “we’re building it, sucks to be you if happen to be in the way because you have no rights to say over-topple our decision.”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Chinese built an amusement park ride that happens to be shaped like an airport shuttle. They aren’t building them anyplace else.

    Spokker Reply:

    I have a masters in Internet Studies and synonymouse is a really talented troll (trolling was the subject of my thesis).

    His opinion of HSR doesn’t make him a troll. After all, plenty of smart people believe that the CHSRA chose the wrong route and that the construction mafia is milking taxpayers dry. What makes him a troll, and one that keeps getting hits (you people keep replying to him) is his inconsistency. He decries that the CHSRA is building the most expensive route to line the pockets of the well-connected, but then advocates for maglev, which is even more expensive and impractical than anything else we can think of.

    For an inconsequential blog about trains, it is quite an accomplishment. And it’s not a bad thing. People do derive enjoyment from replying to trolls. It makes them feel superior and it’s fun.

    Joey Reply:

    this

    Spokker Reply:

    The funny part is that the troll knows he’s wrong. It’s a kind of performance art.

    And people keep saying, “Don’t feed the troll. Don’t respond.” 90% of the time that rule is broken. So I must conclude that without trolls, the Internet wouldn’t be as entertaining to most users.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Feeding the trolls is like the prisoner’s dilemma. On some blogs, the admins decide to short-circuit the game. On others, they don’t.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    He’s an amateur by the standards of Mixner. Discussions happen no matter what when he’s around, since people just tune him out. Doing discussions in threads hijacked by Mixner’s nom du jour was possible, but rare.

    Ken Reply:

    And do you know that maglev needs to be on a practically straight line with no curves right? So point to point straight line between SF to LA; gee I wonder how many homes and businesses needs to be bulldozed with your idea. Let the litigations run wild!!

    Peter Reply:

    I’ve actually been schooled myself on this one: maglev has the advantage of being able to run at higher cant deficiencies, ergo, at the same speed, it can make tighter turns.

    What you’re thinking of may be the ueber-Gadgethan “Tuberail.”

    Michael Reply:

    Maglev can, but what happens to the humans in the maglev? There’s gravity involved, not just being able to stay on the guideway.

    Peter Reply:

    They feel a slight increase in weight, and maybe some sidewards force?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and coffee sloshing out of the cup and running down their leg….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Transrapid can tilt 16 degrees. I’ve been on the line in Shanghai, which takes a curve of about 4 km radius at 431 km/h (=517 mm equivalent cant), and it’s quite comfortable. I was more annoyed about the high seating density and the lack of convenient room for luggage than about the lateral forces.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If maglev technology were hopeless as the skeptics insist the Japanese Central Railway would not be deploying it. If PB can sell Prop 1A to California, Japan, Inc. can sell maglev to the Japanese public.

    Obviously the costs for maglev are a moving target. But we don’t have a solid figure for Stilt-A-Rail either. The concrete meter just keeps on running.

    PB insists on a bloated infrastructure equal to that required for monorail. It is clear that cost is no object for the functionaries pimping hsr(Pelosi, Boxer, Feinstein, Brown). So why not go for something that would actually perform and succeed? Look at BART – steel on steel wears out fast and requires constant and expensive maintenance directly proportional to the speed. That’s why freight rr’s basically hover around 79 mph. Faster is not worth the higher cost of maintenance. This is not Japan or Switzerland – these are California unions we are talking about here. Think SF Muni maintenance. Out of round wheels and corrugated rails. Not much money left for maintenance after the porked-out payroll.

    The hsr is quickly accumulating a lot of enemies who will be waiting to pounce on the first demand for an operating subsidy.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Chuo Shinkansen isn’t even Transrapid technology. I have no idea what JR-Maglev’s minimum curve radius is. It accelerates way better than Transrapid, though.

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