Kopp and Morshed Raise Questions About New Business Plan

Nov 23rd, 2011 | Posted by

Two of the key architects of the California high speed rail project, Quentin Kopp and Mehdi Morshed, are raising some questions about the California High Speed Rail Authority’s new approach to the project. From KQED:

But Kopp and Morshed sound decidedly less enthusiastic these days. They still believe high-speed rail is necessary for the state. They stand by the decision to build the initial leg of the system in the Central Valley — a route critics have derided as the “rail to nowhere.” They say it’s a critical piece of the line, and a good place to test the technology.

But they say the plan they envisioned – and that voters approved in 2008 – is not what’s being described by the High Speed Rail Authority today. They’re critical of the so-called “blended approach” that would force high-speed rail trains to share tracks with existing commuter services, like Caltrain, and, at least initially, require customers to make several transfers along the SF-LA route.

These are good questions to raise. KQED spoke with both Kopp and Morshed about these concerns:

What’s your objection to the “blended plan,” which integrates high-speed rail into existing services, like Metrolink and Caltrain?

Kopp: Real high-speed rail, you get on in one place, you get off in another. Making people transfer from one train to another in my opinion is a sure recipe for discouraging ridership. That’s why I fought to have BART into SFO, not a mile and a half away, and that’s proved to be the most successful part of the entire BART system.

You have to be running, as we’ve always predicated, ten trains per hour, in the peak hours of the morning and afternoon to generate the revenue you need so you can function without a government subsidy. It’s certainly not the project which I had in mind and others had in mind. It’s a different kind of system.

There’s even a legal question as to whether this so-called blended system — in other words, starting off with trains from San Francisco to San Jose at a top speed of 125 mph, or probably less than that if you’re using the same tracks Caltrain uses — whether that can be legally done under the provisions of Prop 1A, which was passed by voters in 2008.

I agree with Kopp here conceptually. Forced transfers aren’t ideal, and the blended system on the Peninsula is at best a short-term stopgap as we wait for generational change to occur.

But I’m not sure that the Authority is necessarily abandoning the kind of project that Kopp is talking about. The project was always going to be built in phases. And if revenue service from, say, San José to LA can be inaugurated more quickly then it generates the money and the demand that will be needed to expand the Peninsula rail corridor.

And I don’t agree that the blended system violates Prop 1A. But I am sure someone will litigate that.

According to the plan, the initial route from Fresno to Bakersfield is going to generate positive cash flows, and also attract $11 billion in private investment, which will help get the rest of the system built. Is that realistic?

Morshed: Fresno to Bakersfield is the key connecting piece that you have to build in order to build the rest of it. You don’t have any choice about it. But you have to recognize that there aren’t that many people going between Bakersfield and Merced. That piece was never going to make any money. It just isn’t logical. Who’s going to ride it? And private investors aren’t going to invest in anything that’s not making money.

Kopp: No way. No way. It was clear that that first leg was not for revenue service. It’s for testing trains, obviously. For revenue, you’ve got to [expand the system] to LA or to San Francisco. I am skeptical about private investment until the very end of the completion of the entire first phase, from SF to Anaheim.

I don’t believe that’s what the plan actually says. Fresno to Bakersfield is indeed an Initial Construction Segment for testing trains, essentially. The Initial Operating Segment, for revenue service, would be an extension of the ICS either west to San José or south to the San Fernando Valley.

So, what do you think is going to happen? Should the project be shelved?

Kopp: Absolutely not. Human beings are creative. They’ll come up with some other sources.

You have to take a long historical view. I-5 wasn’t built all at once. But, of course, the interstate highway system had a specific source of money, namely the federal gasoline tax. High-speed rail has got to get, if it can, a specific source of funding: federal or state. I don’t know how much regional sources can contribute. It’s gonna be a long haul. A much longer haul than I originally thought.

Morshed: I believe the same as I did three years ago or ten years ago, that given the growth of the state and our population, and the realities of our transportation needs, California has to build a high-speed network sooner or later.

I’m convinced it’s going to be built. But in which way, I don’t know. And with how many ups and downs, I don’t know. I intentionally haven’t tried to look at the details and second-guess people. Maybe they know something I didn’t know. I hope they do.

Again, these are good points. And Kopp is absolutely right that what’s needed above all else is a dedicated, federal source of funding.

After reading this, I think the main issue is not with the Business Plan itself. Phasing was always going to happen, and a blended system on the Peninsula is workable as a short-term solution. The issue is whether these interim solutions become the sum total of high speed rail itself. I read Kopp and Morshed as being concerned the core concept of HSR – true bullet train service from San Francisco to Los Angeles – is at risk of being abandoned for short-term expediency.

While I do not believe that is happening right now, they are absolutely right to raise that concern. It would be a disaster if high speed rail gets neutered forever due to conditions in 2011 that are temporary.

(Almost missed this from last Friday; thanks to Reality Check for the link.)

  1. Clem
    Nov 23rd, 2011 at 18:18

    What’s their alternative? It’s conspicuously absent.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    What’s their alternative? It’s the one we’re saddled with.

    Morshed and Kopp were running the show, and systematically and deliberately and mendaciously hiding the massive cost blowouts that they explicitly invited (Los Banos + PBQD = COST IS NO OBJECT, no questions, have at it), colluding with the prime contractor, a one with a long and unbroken record of fraud in public works projects, to spend spend spend ($700 million has disappeared so far into staff and coonsultants’ pockets) while hiding the truth.

    The only question there can be is why both of them aren’t in jail, Kopp’s term on top of his lengthy sentence for enriching PBQD+Bechtel+Tutor-Saliba+co to the tune of $2 billion for the outrageous BART to Millbrae fraud he fronted.

    It’s not like Mehdi and Quentin just appeared on the scene, or that either of them have or will ever have anything remotely honest or remotely honest to say about anything.

  2. Howard
    Nov 23rd, 2011 at 18:44

    A California High Speed Transit District is needed to collect additional guaranteed funding. This district only needs to include the Phase 1 counties, who will receive the most benefit from the train. Potential revenue sources include a CHSR transit impact fee for new development, an oil drilling severance tax and/or a toxic pollution tax. This district can also provide private investors a revenue guarantee, to attract private investors while keeping the rest of the state off the hook. This district only needs the support of the majority in the Phase 1 counties. Phase 2 counties can opt in later to help fund Phase 2 (Alemeda County could opt in to fund ACE upgrades). I think California needs to become more self reliant and not depend so much on federal grants.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    more self reliant and not depend so much on federal grants

    How ’bout if the Federal government becomes less reliant on California taxpayers first?

    VBobier Reply:

    Yer forgetting about CA’s Repug problem, a district is a fine idea, one that I like, It will require an initiative and at least a 2/3rds vote to put It into action.

    wu ming Reply:

    the GOP may fall below 1/3 in the 2012 election.

    VBobier Reply:

    That would be welcome News indeed, It would be nice If that were true elsewhere too.

  3. synonymouse
    Nov 23rd, 2011 at 20:46

    At least there still remain some few “experts” who know to make the right call:


  4. synonymouse
    Nov 23rd, 2011 at 20:52

    “the most successful part of the entire BART system.”?

    Say whaaat?!

    Joey Reply:

    Further proof that BART’s only goal is to build overpriced, underperforming extensions.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    The SFO extension has 38,000 weekday riders (compared to Caltrain’s 41,000). What do you consider acceptable?

    Peter Reply:

    An extension that is not an operational nightmare for BART and one that is not a financial nightmare for San Mateo County?

    Nathanael Reply:

    From what I can tell, the problem is Milbrae, not SFO.

    I’d love to go back to the history there and find out why they decided to build in both directions. What was the politics there? I wasn’t paying attention at the time. It would seem to have made more sense to extend BART along the route of what’s now the AirTrain, while building a BART/Caltrain transfer station somewhere north along the line.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Was this another “horse designed by committee”, with one group wanting BART to SFO service, one group wanting the circulator within the airport, one group wanting BART to Milbrae, etc?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    No. All parties were of one mind that that (a) maximizing cost and (b) ensuring that the project budget would be under the thumb of PBQD/Bechtel/Tutor-Saliba were the only goals. The larger and more inefficient and more wasteful the BART line, the better for all the concerned parties. Political front man: Quentin Kopp. Agency fixers: then MTC head Larry Dahms and his “mini me” successor and Quentin’s former staff boy Steve “inexplicably not yet indicted” Heminger.

    Delivering transportation service or delivering value to the public never once entered into the equation. What we got is exactly what they wanted.

    Clem Reply:

    About 18k, not 38k for the BART SFO extension. Caltrain has 45k.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    I got the 41k from Wikipedia (Caltrain article). The 38k came from here:

    Clem Reply:

    You (and SamTrans, who should know better) are mixing apples and oranges. BART counts entries + exits, while Caltrain counts trips. 1 trip = 1 entry + 1 exit.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Nope, it’s exits, not double-counted entries+exits.

    BART per-station total current weekday average quarterly exit data
    San Bruno 2933 (compare 4000
    “predicted” by 2010 by the systematically fraudulent PBQD ridership “study”)
    South SF 3128 (4900 “predicted” for 2010)
    SFIA 6337 (8900 “predicted”)
    Millbrae 5482 (16500 “predicted” by PBQD in order to defraud taxpayers of two billion dollars.)

    Total: 17880 (53% of the ridership prediction made by CHSRA’s prime consultant, PBQD.)

    BART has recently helpfully been publishing O+D data (as Micro$~1 spreadsheets.) Good stuff! One can find month-average weekday, Saturday and Sunday trip volumes for every station pair there.

    Clem Reply:

    I think we are in violent agreement. The figure of 38000 cited above is entries + exits. Happy Thanksgiving (sous-vide with herbs over here)

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    OK. So 6100 weekday BART trips end at SFO, for example, and 6300 trips begin at the airport. So 12,400 of BART’s 350,000 weekly riders are traveling to or from SFO.
    Thanks for explaining that.

    Joey Reply:

    Peter: It’s still rather unimpressive given the rest of the BART system and how much we paid for the SFO extension. It’s also far below what an average BART station gets.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Let me know when they both break 100,000, then I’ll be willing to tell you they are on their way to being a success.

    Peter Reply:

    Based on what standard?

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    Here are a few facts about the BART to SFO/Millbrae extension.

    Projected entries and exits for the FOUR new stations: 68,600
    South San Francisco: 8,000
    San Bruno: 9,800
    SFO: 17,800
    Millbrae: 33,000

    Colma, which would open several years prior to and was originally not part of the SFO extension; was projected to have: 16,200 entries and exits.

    (As projected in the June 1996 Final EIR/EIS)

    BART extension promoters claimed that Daly City would NOT lose ridership when the Colma station was opened. They again claimed the Colma would not lose ridership when the SFO extension was opened. Both of these claims were proved to be completely false once Colma opened and the SFO line opened.

    BART extension promoters swore up and down that the BART extensions would *turn a profit* for Samtrans. This claim was also proved false and in fact the BART extension nearly bankrupted Samtrans.

    Once it was apparent that the ridership on the SFO extension was going to be nowhere near the bogus ridership projections, the unscrupulous BART promoters lumped the (previously opened) Colma ridership into the SFO ridership figures to make it look better than it really was. They concocted numerous reasons for the lower than projected ridership: “Oh we opened the SFO extension at the wrong (or bad) time,” “poor economy,” “The ridership projections were revised to be lower…” The whole thing was pure garbage. Also they use voodoo revenue calculations to make it (the revenue) look better than it actually is, but I’ll save that for another time.

    The ridership numbers in the Samtrans report include entries AND exits for Colma, South SF, San Bruno, SFO, and Millbrae. So the 38,000 is about 55% UNDER the projected (entries and exits) ridership of 84,800 for Colma through Millbrae. Also for some reason the Samtrans data filters out the trips between stations in the SFO extension (SSF, SB, SFO, Millbrae).

    In reality, there are actually about 17,000 trips getting ON the FOUR BART stations of the SFO/Millbrae extension.

    The general assumption is that a rider will get on (enter) at some point during the day and then get off (exit) at another station and that the rider will make a return trip later in the day, therefore each rider make two trips.

    thatbruce Reply:

    When talking about passengers boarding BART at SFO, it’s highly unlikely that all of them will be returning to SFO that day, unless people staying in San Francisco Hotels are all an illusion.

    Joey Reply:

    No, but they will be returning to SFO at some point.

    Donk Reply:

    Kopp = baffoon

    Donk Reply:

    And what is this comment about how the thing has to be built from SF-Anaheim before investors are interested? What the hell does Anaheim have to do with anything? I would might buy his argument if it was SF-LA, but Anaheim was only included in Phase I for political reasons.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If it’s built from San Francisco to Anaheim why would you need investors?

    Howard Reply:

    To build the Phase 2 extensions to Sacramento and San Diego of course

    Donk Reply:

    I think if there is one thing everyone can agree on here, supporters and haters included, is that the CHSRA is better off without Quentin Kopp. Anyone want to argue about this?

    Peter Reply:

    No. Professional clowns are better than amateur clowns.

    Peter Reply:

    Yeah, that one nearly made me spray my drink across the room…

  5. YesonHSR
    Nov 23rd, 2011 at 23:05

    No he helped pass the bond..what did you do for it…or how much did you pay do help it pass???..

  6. YesonHSR
    Nov 23rd, 2011 at 23:09

    Zeroing Out High-Speed Rail

    Well, they did it after all.

    Despite the Senate’s [feeble] attempt to keep high-speed rail funding as a [tiny] part of the 2012 Transportation Appropriations Bill, the nominally Democratic “controlled” but effectively Tea-Party-intimidated Senate has caved entirely to the Tea Party –controlled House, and zeroed out funding for the President’s High-Speed Rail program for 2012.

    Is High-Speed Rail dead?

    Only if democracy is dead.

    The Tea Party is a bought-and-paid for subsidiary of the Koch Brothers multi-billion oil fortune, and of all of its front groups and Astro-turf “Citizens For [fill in the blank]” fake grass roots committees that spring up whenever anything that looks like a good idea for the Middle Class, but a bad idea for the increasingly entrenched American plutocracy, comes along.

    The reason we don’t have High-Speed Rail funding this year is the same reason we don’t have any tax reform that includes repeal of the Reagan-Bush tax cuts for the rich, which over the past 30 years have turned America from a vibrant democracy to a tottering third-world, large scale version of the Banana Republics the right wing in this country used to run in Latin America. To quote Warren Buffet, “The rich are winning.”

    The vote to kill High-Speed Rail funding for 2012 is not, however, the “end of the line” for that program, although the propagandists for the right will inevitably use that cliché.

    What is different this time around, and why there is hope for the future, is that the American people are beginning to wake up to the con job pulled on them during the 2010 elections, when a frightened, angry and ignorant electorate voted in the lackeys of the very people who had screwed them in the first place.

    Ignorant? You bet. Any chance at a fair election in 2010 was shouted down by a well-funded and carefully organized mob — and unlike the Occupy Wall Street kids, a dangerous mob at that — who showed up at Congressional district hearings on the Obama health care plan in the Fall of 2010, and literally shouted down anyone who dared to suggest that we need major health care reform in this country. Screaming at Obama Care was of course just a stalking horse for taking over the electoral debate, and it worked, with the 2010 elections pitching out the “ins,” as an angry electorate will often do.

    2012 is just around the corner, but in elections across the country this month the Tea Party got a taste of what may well be coming its way, as a wised-up electorate begins to recognize that killing health care, or killing High-Speed Rail, or refusing to tax the rich, are all a part of

  7. Peter
    Nov 24th, 2011 at 04:34

    OT: Poll finds support for SMART among voters, but critics wary of results

    People aren’t so stupid to not realize that sacrifices must be made…

    Donk Reply:

    I just read about SMART (on Wikipedia). Wait – so they are not going to connect to the Larkspur Ferry Terminal in the first phase? If not, what is the point of this? You would think they would start at Larkspur and build north from there as far as they can go. Without Larkspur, this thing might beat out the Sprinter for lowest ridership rail line on the west coast (8000 daily riders).

    Peter Reply:

    Their ridership model suggests that the vast majority of riders will be travelling between Santa Rosa and San Rafael, not travelling to San Francisco. Sort of how Caltrain could slash service south of Palo Alto (or was it Redwood City?) and preserve the vast majority of ITS ridership.

    And I believe the record for crappiest ridership on the West Coast goes to the Westside Express Service, with 1610 daily riders.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    And not coincidentally, SMART was (until recently) planned and managed by a WES reject.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Its ridership and span of service may be terrible, but at least it’s fare-integrated with the rest of TriMet.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Having commuted from the Northbay to the City for some 30 years I have a little experience with that run.

    1. A significant segment of the ridership lies to the south of Larkspur. Much of what little employment remains in uberpricey Marin County is situated in Corte Madera and environs. My son-in-law works there and has to drive from Rohnert Park as the express bus is yanked.

    2. Larkspur is not at all happy with being the terminus and Santa Rosa is deeply paranoid about trains blocking heavily congested 2nd, 3rd, and 4th streets.

    4. This route was laid out in the 1870’s and is rife with curves and very busy grade crossings.

    5. A handful of insiders has dominated the planning of SMART. They subscribe to two tenets: the NWP and freight must survive above all and doodlebugs rule. Any other talk is just spinning.

    6. Very connected Doug Bosco has a stealth plan to mine gravel in an environmentally contested area. In general there is strong “tree-hugger” opposition to re-opening to Eureka, which is a geological nightmare anyway.

    7. A cadre of hardcore railfans is dedicated to the revival of the NWP. Mike Pechner is a particularly eloguent advocate of retaining freight.

    8. GGT, which has the means to run SMART, has been aced out.

    So there is only one scenario to play out: Way Worse WES. I favor shedding a tear of nostalgia, turning the page on freight, and converting the whole remaining NWP to 750vdc, OCS, standard gauge light rail, aka modern streetcars, all the way to Marin City and to Willits in the north.

    Fat chance in my kids’ lifetime.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sorry, should have read San Rafael not Sucka Rosa.

    Peter Reply:

    “converting the whole remaining NWP to 750vdc, OCS, standard gauge light rail, aka modern streetcars, all the way to Marin City and to Willits in the north.”

    A 120 mile electrified street car line. Right. WHY!?!?!

    synonymouse Reply:

    It would be something like those Swiss mountain interurbans. Articulateds with all the comforts of home, namely toilets on board, etc. Streetcars can climb ramps, such as would be needed for a new non-moving high bridge across the Petaluma River and viaducts in downtown San Rafael.

    If steam fans can pine for a revived NWP traction fans can dream of a new C&LE or Crandic in the Northbay.

    Peter Reply:

    You mean like the toilets that will be on the SMART trains?

    synonymouse Reply:

    yep, but no low-slung diesel prime mover, no mechanical direct drive. Pantographs, ac motors
    and sparks. Lots of power, swift acceleration and quiet as the proverbial church mouse.

    Peter Reply:

    Wow, you are SUCH a railfan.

    synonymouse Reply:

    guilty as charged

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “Wow, you are SUCH a railfan.”–Peter

    I must confess to the same condition.

    At the same time, though, I do wish Synonymouse wasn’t quite the downer he often comes off as.

    I can’t say I know that much about California geography (that’s why I haven’t made any comments about Altamont-Pacheco or other things), but I do think we really, really need a rail revival in this country. I worry that the criticisms of Synonymouse and Richard undermine this project. I know they have concerns about excessive costs (as does Alon Levy), but at the same time, I fear even this is dwarfed by the costs–financial and in blood–of not building this system, and others, too, including light rail lines and an expanded intercity rail system.

    And of course, the highway system doesn’t face this scrutiny. . .

    Peter Reply:

    Uhh, synonymouse doesn’t have concerns about costs. He WANTS things that are unaffordable and unnecessary, like a 120 mile long electrified streetcar line or both an I-5 HSR alignment PLUS upgrades to the San Joaquins.

    Peter Reply:

    That was meant to be a reply to D.P. Lubic.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART will be only too happy to build a 120 mile long line replete with Indian broad gauge, 1000vdc third rail, aluminum beer can cars and, de rigeur, nothing but stilts all the way to Willits

    synonymouse Reply:

    missed the second u in de rigueur. sorry

    synonymouse Reply:

    uh, but sorry no toilets. homeland security, ya know.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Why go so far east for a revived C&LE or a CRANDIC? Why not a nice, long (183 miles) Sacramento Northern?



    Part of the line survives today, and with electric equipment, too:


    This is one I would like to see.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Problem is, modern equipment, possibly even the Swiss stuff, wouldn’t look or feel this good, but the run up to Willits on what I recall was the route of a train called the Redwood would be grand:



    Off topic, but it looks good–Acela in the snow at 150 mph:


    Alon Levy Reply:

    If there’s enough demand to electrify 120 miles of mainline, what’s the point of doing it with 750 V DC and not 25 kV AC so that it can run the same trains as Caltrain (or for that matter a modern operator)?

    synonymouse Reply:

    compatibility with SF Muni on Geary or in the Marina

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If there’s the political will to run it on the GG, there’s the political will to find the money to run it underground under Geary to the east.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Hemminger and PB will insist on abominable Indian broad gauge and 1000vdc third rail. A plague on both their houses.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Why? They don’t mind standard gauge in the Central Subway.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I only wish that were locked in on Geary. BART and MTC will never repudiate the Bechtel legacy of error upon error. They would rather keep on trying to convert the know universe to broad gauge and 1000vdc 3rd rail.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The New Haven Railroad figured out how to run the trains on high voltage AC in the suburbs and low voltage DC in the city in 1907. The solutions nowadays are bit more sophisticated than what the New Haven did, it’s quite easy to run trains on differing voltages and frequencies nowadays.

    synonymouse Reply:

    So hsr and BART could share operations?

    I like it. “Move over little[gray] dog cause the big dog’s movin’ in”

    Joey Reply:

    Syn: nope, too much else is different. Other than the obvious (track gauge and power supply/voltage) you’ve also got loading gauge (HSR trains won’t physically fit down BART tunnels), platform height (regardless of what is chosen for HSR BART’s is 100% unique), signaling, and fare collection.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Joey, all problems that have technical fixes – no reason why the new BART line has to be compatible with the old BART line. Easiest fix is to make the new BART line compatible with HSR like Metrolink and Caltrain will hopefully be compatible with HSR. Why you would want to mix high frequency close stationed BART with suburban trains and HSR is different set of questions.

  8. Alon Levy
    Nov 24th, 2011 at 05:22

    So far the only people I’ve seen propose transfers under the blended plan are end-it-in-San-Jose NIMBYs – certainly not actual supporters of having HSR run on the Caltrain line at reduced speed.

    My guess is that the blended equals transfers bit comes from the same place from which Kopp pulled the part about the SFO extension being the most successful part of BART.

    Donk Reply:

    Yeah, it sounds like Kopp has only read the news articles that made incorrect conclusions about the report and not the actual report.

    Morshed basically said he didn’t read the report carefully. But at least he isn’t a baffoon.

    Donk Reply:

    I just realized that it is spelled buffoon, not baffoon. So I guess I am the baffoon.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Buffoon buffoon Buffoon buffoon buffoon buffoon Buffoon buffoon.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It may require changing pluralization and naming a city Buffoon, though.

    joe Reply:

    “Buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo Buffalo buffalo.”

    joe Reply:


    At the 2011 Menlo Park press event on HSR, Eschoo and Simitian describe blended HSR as a transfer in San Jose. They do pretend their position hasn’t changed but it has changed.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    To be honest I’ve only followed this issue through this blog, but there they were self-contradictory over whether there should be a transfer or not. (And that was while engaging in a fair bit of anti-el NIMBYism.)

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    They’re just repeating what they’re told. Garbage in, garbage out.

    I don’t imagine that anybody could still imagine that anybody feeding them this jive from at Caltrain or PTG (the World Class consultants who came up with the “blended” plan, and by amazing coincidence the World Class Signalling Experts who will “implement” CBOSS) or CHSRA knows what they’re talking about or can keep a straight and consistent story.

    But who needs a straight story and frankly who cares?

    All that matters is to make some sort of noises in public and keeping handing over blank checks to the consultants. Don’t nit-pick! Less analysis, less talk, more “whatever you say!”. Follow C4HSR’s lead.

    joe Reply:

    I doubt any of them consulted with an “engineering” organization or had deep knowledge of the consequences of their split-the-baby position. They were not fed as much as feeding. Typically, the details are worked out after the VIPs make up their mind on how to politically solve a problem.

    joe Reply:

    What matters is to publicly define “blended” in a way that allows HSR to use the Caltrain ROW and reach SF.

    IMHO, the Pols locked in on their most vocal constituents and tried to split the baby.

    They were schooled by their peers and notably, the Minority Speaker, Ms. Nancy Pelosi and changed their position where blended doesn’t stop in San Jose and isn’t a transfer.

  9. James M. in Irvine
    Nov 25th, 2011 at 09:19

    Can someone point me in the right direction? I thought the “blended” system was having CAHSR travel over legacy tracks to reach Union Station and San Francisco, is it not? Now these guys are talking about transfers at BOTH end points? I know that will be a short term solution (hopefully), but a one seat ride will definitely encourage more train ridership over the more transfers scenario.

    Peter Reply:

    Don’t feel bad, “blended” means different things when coming from different people. Sometimes it means using legacy tracks, sometimes it means transfers.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:


    Everywhere else in the world, without exception “blended” would mean that scarce, valuable, and extremely costly public rail infrastructure on public rights of way on public land would, by organizational and technical measures, have its utility to the public maximized.

    So in the approaches to the urban stations in the LA Basin and the SF Bay Area — where space for new tracks (either new and redundant, or new and would be nice to have if only …) is least available and most costly, and where construction costs are many times higher than in the boonies, one would expect to see tracks and station platforms and other facilities used by both regional (Caltrain/Metrolink/etc) and by inter-regional (SF-SJ HSR as well as intermediate-distance traffic) trains in a coordinated fashion, one that sees the largest number of humans served and the largest number of trains run with the least amount of overhead that is consistent with reliability and realistic expansion needs.

    In particular, the things you would see are the things that anybody who has spent a minute in central Europe would see: efficient and co-ordinated timetabling, with Caltrain/Metrolink and HS trains blended together on the same tracks at the same platforms at the same stations in a well-oiled and well-planned dance of synchronisation, efficiency, and ease of use.

    What you wouldn’t see are the sort of things that the sub-cretininous rent-seeking fifth-rate know-nothings at CHSRA and Caltrain and their consultants propose under the rubric of “blended” service.
    (Blended like oil and water.)

    What this class of unprofessional, unethical and systematically fraudulent people seek is a world in which HSR runs in its own little world, independent of anything else. (One of the key features of this world, of course, is that nobody from outside the retarded US consultancies and agencies has any in into it. Very small pond with very backwards and very small fish controlling it.)

    They deliberately seek to prevent any other trains from stopping at the same station platforms as their own unique HSR train playset. This means that city stations — located by definition in the places where real estate is at the highest premium — end up being doubled or more in size, because nothing is “blended” except as a slogan. And with entirely separate stations, this directly implies extremely expensive and entirely redundant parallel separate tracks approaching them — unnecessary redundancy in exactly the places where construction costs and real estate costs are highest.

    Depending on the minute of the hour, this form of separate-and-unequal “blending” of theirs can take either of the forms which perplex you. It’s not your fault — the characters in charge simply don’t have a clue, a plan, any qualifications, any skill, or any consistent stories.

    They might mean “from Sylmar to LAUS (or LAUS to Anaheim, or Gilroy to SF, or SJ or SF, etc) we will run HS trains briefly on freight railroad tracks, the same 19th century tracks used by 19th century style US commuter railroading trains, until we reach the 100% separate HS-only station LAUS/SF/SJ/Anaheim/etc while the 19th century style never-upgraded olde tyme commuter railroading trains go to their old tyme commuter railroad station adjacent/underneath.”

    In this case, all they’re “saving”, temporarily, is the cost of building 100% redundant HS-only no-commuter-trains-ever parallel tracks the last few miles — with the clear plan to filling this “gap” ASAP. The truly massive costs of building entirely separate stations are never even considered. Remember: for these people maximum cost and minimum public benefit is the sole reason for their existence and employment.

    The other “blending” might be, depending on the phase of the moon, the terminate-and-transfer model. In this case, entirely separate and entirely redundant HSR-only stations are still constructed (in SJ or Sylmar or whereever), and passengers transfer there to olde tyme unmodernized 19th century style commuter railroading trains for the last few dozen miles to SF/LAUS. This transfer would NOT, under any circumstance, be the step-across-the-platform fashion that anybody else in the world would expect and demand, but would require leaving their separate HS-only station (with monopoly Cubic-profiting faregates and barriers and other rent-seeking cost additions) and then walking some distance to the crappy old commuter railroad station, to await a crappy old commuter train lurching on freight tracks the rest of the way.

    Again, they regard this only as a camel’s-nose interim step: the real goal always being to have 100% redundant tracks all the way and 100% redundant separate and unequal stations.

    Clem Tillier’s Caltrain-HSR Compatibility Blog is all about the rest-of-the-world, customer-first, taxpayer-first, best-technical-practices sense of “blending” HSR and regional traffic. You’ll find scores of well-researched and practical solutions that enable realistic numbers of different trains to use the same tracks and the same stations to serve as many people as possible at reasonable cost.

    By simple no-infrastructure-required negative-cost, organizational means such as co-ordinating schedules and ticketing, many billions of dollars of public money can be saved right of the bat.

    By simply obvious technical sharing of signalling and station platform standards, additional billions can be saved.

    By sharing tracks and stations and electrification with a modern world-standard HS system, the regional trains could readily be upgraded to modern world-class attractive levels — NOT olde tyme crappy US commuter railroads forever — which SAVING cost.

    None of these issues — NONE of them — are being addressed by CHSRA, by Caltrain, by Metrolink or by the corrupt self-serving consultancies that control them. For these only-in-America (no foreign ideas allowed, no foreign competition permitted, ever) clowns, “blending” means separate stations, separate platforms, separate schedules, separate tickets, separate tracks, incompatible signals, incompatible trains, incompatible everything.

    So blending, “blending” or “blending”, Take your pick. Except CHSRA and their very very very very special friends will only allow you the choice of “blending” or “blending”, not blending.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    “Blended” is a nonsensical term anyway, not found in any of the technical literature. Unless the consultants were talking about whiskeys….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    … the characters in charge simply don’t have a clue, a plan, any qualifications, any skill, or any consistent stories.

    They have skills, bilking the public out of money is hard work that takes much skill….. and a variety of them..

    Reality Check Reply:

    So, Richard, is unfortunately for everyone, clearly correct. There’s little doubt or dispute on that point, for anyone who’s been paying the slightest bit of attention.

    Given that, the interesting question, I think, is why, despite all the (well-deserved) intense ongoing scrutiny the HSRA has been getting from the peanut gallery, NIMBYs (most of which — the half-way clever ones, anyway — have learned to couch their objections from the perspective of ultra-concerned citizens fretting over ridership models and costs and feasibility and the like, despite the purely coincidental and rarely highlighted fact that this is the only major public works project they’ve actively taken an interest in watchdoggging, and which just also happens to pass by or near their homes, etc.), and elected officials such as Lowenthal, Simitian, Gordon, Eshoo, Peninsula cities and new solely HSR-focused groups such as CARRD, CCHSR, etc. … why is there not more focus or scrutiny or emphasis on the precise on-point issues raised by Clem and Richard regarding system design?

    How and why are HSRA and its consultants not called on the carpet regarding the very interoperability and massively cost-saving points raised about how such system design and integration issues are dealt with and solved by the rest of the world? Surely the electeds are aware of the points raised in these blogs, and how and why do they seemingly blow off/ignore them and allow these ridiculously overbuilt, overpriced, sub-optimal designs with insane quantities of waste and dis-utility to continue to be advanced and treated as the way we need to do it here?

    In short, what will it take to get us (the grand “us”) to pursue HSR system design solutions which follow the best practices of the world’s HSR pioneers/leaders? Why is it that allows such mediocre dysfunctional and obscenely overpriced system design guidelines and solutions persist here in California, where we like to think (I think!) of ourselves as enlightened and intelligent and sane?

    Many here and on Clem’s blog have, I think, very convincingly made the case that things with CA HSR designs are all fucked up. I think that case has been made (over and over again) … It would be more productive now, I think, to figure out why can’t we get world class system design here, and what would it take for us to get there? Clearly continuing to point out how inefficient and brain dead and eye-wateringly and unnecessarily expensive the “solutions” and designs being proposed doesn’t seem to be moving the needle much — if at all. So what’s are realistic/workable path(s) to fix the system?

    swing hanger Reply:

    A modest proposal- purge the HSRA of its current staff, and have a requirement that those involved with planning and design be non-native speakers of English- kind of like NASA (?) in its early years. Let the Umerikuns handle the PR, outreach, and lawyering.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Building railroads ain’t rocket science.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Based on observations in recent history, it seems to be the case for building world class level passenger service in North America. It doesn’t have to be, of course, but cultural, political, and institutional inertia are hard to overcome.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    “Once the trains go up, who cares where they come down? That’s not my department,” says Wernher von Braun.

    James M. in Irvine Reply:

    Oh, if it were ONLY that easy…


    synonymouse Reply:

    I guess Jerry Brown was your last, best hope but it would appear that a Jesuit formation is more reputation than reality. He did not even kick the tires or peak under of the hood of this lemon before sending it out on the road.

    I don’t think you can get much worse than the abysmal Central Subway. Hopeless.

    Perhaps one way to make sense of it all is to think of California as one big movie set. Everything right out of central casting. Am I the only who thinks the current Speaker of the Assembly reminds one of the Sydney Greenstreet character in Casablanca? He isn’t the one who said it but still the best advice.

    “Round up the usual suspects.”

  10. synonymouse
    Nov 25th, 2011 at 11:12

    Here is a challenge to PB-CHSRA cheerleaders: come up with a functional management model for hsr as the BART model is impossible:


    Here you have the truth about business and super-rich interest in being taxed. Put simply, they don’t want to pay any taxes at all for anything. It gives the lie to bull-shit artists like Warren Buffett and his tax me more nonsense. What is the difference between the happy warriors of the Pelosi patronage machine and Mega-meg? None.

    The ordinary people will have to bear the entire burden of subsidizing the PB-CHSRA scheme. And don’t think for a moment it will make money. No way – it is three BART’s connected by the weakest links in the boonies. Palmdale will insist on subsidized low-fares to LA, for instance, perfectly exemplifying why regional mass transit is always a money loser.

    Here is another relevant link from today:


    The gist is that the world is hung-over from a dolce vita of wretched excess, of which Stilt-A-Rail is the poster boy. Rather than being value-engineered it is a public celebration of gratuitous hollow-core.

    The BART model cannot work as it will hopelessly politicized and dominated by militant unions. Over-compensation to the likes of Amalgamated and TWU is just welfare payed for by the Joe Paychecks of the state. Wunderman and his crowd don’t care if the hsr operators get 8 weeks of vacation because the inner sanctum writes its own tax laws. Think on the fact that all the luminaries of the patronage machine are stone one-percenters.

    Peter Reply:

    You need to add a few more steps to your analysis to convince anyone that you are right, let alone permit anyone to understand WHAT THE HELL YOU ARE TALKING ABOUT.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Government operation with an elected board of directors and the TWU mean a very large taxpayer subsidy. Unacceptable.

    The unions will not permit a franchised operator, say Veolia, for long.

    The current scheme, with the Detour, CV podunks, and Pacheco, too long, too circtuitous, too slow to be competitive with airlines. Certain to lose money and unattractive to a Richard Branson type entrpreneur.

    Peter Reply:

    That’s a good start. Now some facts to back up your claim, please.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Was it Mort Sahl or Lenny Bruce who used to say: “It’s factual, not actual.”?

    Can’t remember which.

    Peter Reply:

    That’s what I thought.

  11. Elizabeth
    Nov 25th, 2011 at 13:48

    OT Weekend reading

    The foreign operators offered some comments on CHSRA’s plans

    See chapter 6

    Some recurring themes:

    1) The operators were confused by CHSRA’s plans for “local” HSR schedules.
    2) The assumed recovery and intermediate station stopping times were too short.
    3) The heavy maintenance facility should not be in the Central Valley – it should be as close as possible to terminus to minimize deadheading.

    Nathanael Reply:

    #3 is a non-starter, and not even terribly well thought-out. Nobody will place a heavy maintenance facility in San Francisco. Placement in Los Angeles is possible but quite difficult.

    In practice, what will happen is that certain runs will run between the ends of the line and the CV, rather than from SF-LA. This isn’t a tragedy — there is the demand — and it’s not deadheading.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    There are several very feasible and blindingly obvious locations available in the Bay Area.

    The CHSRA consultant’s maximally inefficient proposed siting, on the other hand, is bat shit insane. Just as you’d expect from that crew of cost maximizing technical ignoramuses.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I didn’t read all of the comments. The few I read emphasizes placing the light maintenance facilities near the terminus or terminii. Near the storage yards. Starting a few trains a day in Fresno ( or wherever ) or terminating a few a day in Fresno makes it a revenue move. If you are talking about moving disabled trains to the heavy maintenance facility it’s going to be a deadhead move from wherever it became disabled. Put it in Los Angeles when the train breaks down in San Francisco it has to travel the whole route. Or vice versa…. six of one half a dozen of the other and if it’s in the middle you average it out…
    I didn’t see any confusion about local service. There was even mention of local, limited and express service. Maybe they should have called them Nozomi, Hikari and Kodama. YouTube is filled with videos of the high speed train, whatever it’s brand name is, making a station stop in under two minutes – from the time the train stops until the time it starts to move again.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    A broken down train requiring heavy maintenance is not going to be traveling at 200 miles per hour and the five hour window will not suffice for towing a train set several hundred miles.

    swing hanger Reply:

    EMUs rarely “break down” inducing immobility- they are far more reliable than diesel powered trains with regards their running gear. A competent maintenance facility and overhaul interval will prevent any serious breakdowns. Air conditioning or other secondary/tertiary systems may fail, but this merely requires passengers to be left off at the nearest station, and running at normal speed to the nearest maintenance facility.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Mechanical failures are practically unknown but signalling failures do happen. They are generally false alarms but oblige the driver to stop or slow down until the problem is solved.
    Last year, the TGV had several failures due to theft of signalling cable. Rising copper prices have rendered these incidents more and more frequent. Thieves are getting very professional and know where and when to operate. Stolen cables are then trucked to Romania which has a no-questions-asked copper resale market.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    When they steal the signal cable where the heavy maintenance facility or for that matter tghe light maintenance facility is located doesn’t matter much…..

    swing hanger Reply:

    “Or vice versa…. six of one half a dozen of the other and if it’s in the middle you average it out…”
    Exactly, the placing of a heavy maintenance facility in the middle makes sense, as a (however rare) breakdown will require the trainset to traverse at the most half the length of the route. JR Tokai has their heavy maintenance facility in Hamamatsu, which is roughly halfway on the Tokaido Shinkansen between Tokyo and Shin-Osaka. It also helps that these mid point locations have more options in terms of sites and lower real estate costs. As heavy maintenance is a scheduled activity, it doesn’t matter the location, as the trainset in question will have its pathing determined beforehand, revenue run or not. In JR Tokai’s case, a trainset is due for a complete overhaul (complete dis assembly/re-assembly) every three years or 900,000km, whichever comes first.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    “Close to” a city doesn’t mean “in” the city.
    Building the maintenance facility in the Central Valley will win local political support that CHSRA can’t do without. It will also create less than ideal operating conditions. It’s a trade-off and I suppose CHSRA know what they are doing.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Trains aren’t operating when they are in the maintenance facility.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Interesting. Let’s expand on #2 here, since it’s more interesting than #3 (if they can’t get Brisbane, they can’t get Brisbane, nothing to do about it). The Belgians say that 75-90-second dwells are unrealistically low, and do not provide numbers but say that the mixture of different train types and the short headway is likely to lead to some schedule delay. The French say that the recovery time budgeted is 1%, and propose 3.5% as more realistic; the Koreans propose 2-3%. For the record, the Swiss pad 7%, and I’ve read somewhere in the bowels of JR East’s site that the Shinkansen is padded 4%.

    Also for the record, Shinkansen dwells are 50 seconds, in principle. In practice, Kodama dwells are in the 7 minute range, because the trains wait to get overtaken by Nozomi. But TGV dwells are on the order of 2 minutes, and that may be what the Belgians were referring to.

    joe Reply:

    The Belgians say that 75-90-second dwells >/b>are unrealistically low, and do not provide numbers but say that the mixture of different train types and the short headway is likely to lead to some schedule delay.
    But TGV dwells are on the order of
    2 minutes, and that may be what the Belgians were referring to.

    So add 30 seconds.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The 1% pad is a much bigger problem. Sub-minute dwells exist; 1% pads, not so much. If you increase the pad from 1% to 4% then you add nearly 5 minutes to the LA-SF nonstop runtime.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Um a non stop from LA to SF won’t be making any stops to require padding will it? If it’s going to be the bravura performance at the beginning of the service day, to meet the requirements of Prop 1A.. they only have to do it once a day….and they don’t have to do it every time they run it. Once all of the bonds have been sold that sword of Damocles isn’t hanging over their heads anymore…. what are they gonna do repossess the tracks?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Well, the first train of the day requires little or no padding, yeah, but the rest require some, even the express runs. Compare the schedule of the first Nozomi of the day (2:25 from Tokyo to Shin-Osaka) with that of subsequent Nozomi (2:32). Maybe the local ahead is encountering unusually slow passengers and the overtake is all messed up.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The rest of them don’t have to make it in 2:40.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m not talking about legal 1A requirements (1A says nothing about punctuality…), but about good operations.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    after a month or two of bad OTP numbers they can pull a Shirley DiLibero – who made NJTransit’s OTP improve greatly by lengthening schedules – and make the midday super express take 2:51. If they have a midday express.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sure. But at the risk of being repetitive, let me just say I doubt they’ll actually run those super-expresses, except maybe in the first month for show. The timetable difference between LA-SF nonstop and LA-SJ-SF is trivial, and that between LA-SJ-SF and LA-Burbank-(Sylmar)-SJ-RWC-(Millbrae)-SF is small. They’ll probably just go for higher frequency for each service pattern, especially early on when the entire line can’t support more than 3-4 tph.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    All of CHSRA’s timings have always been “guaranteed not to be exceeded” values. Nothing’s changed.

    It was actively misleading when they were pushing that snake oil back in the day for political reasons (plug in best possible track profile, highest possible track speeds, a nice train’s performance data, and a pedal-to-the-metal at all times energy-has-no-cost driving style into a simulator, trumpet resulting numbers), but the evidence that the “planners” involved (America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals, to a man!) are apparently still using this sort of alternate-universe “methodology” this late in the game as they use the Finest Professional American Timetable Planning Tools points out again what that there is such a toxic brew of mendacity of incompetence that it’s difficult to try to understand how or from where any of their don’t-pass-the-giggle-test prognostications come about.

    Complete losers. Guaranteed, proven losers gambling with tens of billions of your tax dollars.

    Clem Reply:

    Someone should do a shadow calculation of train performance. It’s not rocket science. The hard part is building the track database (grades, curves, speed restrictions, etc.)– then it’s plug and chug.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    Studies carried out in Germany show dwell times are highly dependent on quality of information and car interior design. For instance, aisles less than 60cm wide + luggage racks at car ends will increase dwell time by 75% as people don’t want to lose eye contact with their baggage and will keep it in the aisle, causing congestion that slows boarding.
    Higher dwell times are costly because they oblige trains to run at higher than optimal speed in order to catch up with their schedule.
    Hiring more staff has also proved to reduce dwell times but the added labor cost has to be balanced with efficiency gains.
    All that might not be rocket science but predicting dwell times is not as simple as it looks and getting it wrong costs money.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Well, Shinkansen trains have no luggage racks at the ends. It helps that they are single-deck, since the interior height is enough for overhead luggage. On the TGV Duplex, or on the NJT and MBTA bilevels, the overhead luggage space is big enough for a bookbag but not a carry-on suitcase.

    JJJ Reply:

    Starting and ending service in Fresno is considered “dead heading” now? I can this is the new attempt to brand the CV as “nowhere”.

    Amtrak, on their magic wish list, places facilities in Fresno to allow the San Joaquin to begin and terminate in Fresno. Currently, an early morning and late evening trip is provided via bus, due to “gasp” demand from Fresno.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I can this is the new attempt to brand the CV as “nowhere”.

    It doesn’t really matter how you see it. Look at the numbers.

    Amtrak, on their magic wish list, places facilities in Fresno to …

    Excellent rule of thumb: if Amtrak wants something, it’s wrong.

    VBobier Reply:

    The CV is not No where, Death Valley or even the Mojave Desert is No where, as in the middle of No where.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    It doesn’t really matter how you see it. Look at the numbers.

    joe Reply:

    “You may end up with a different math, but you’re entitled to your math,” Rove said. “I’m entitled to ‘the’ math.”

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Look, Fresno simply wouldn’t be served if it wasn’t on the way from SF to LA.
    That’s not an insult to you or an insult to Fresno or an insult to the subducton of the Farallon plate.
    It’s objective demographic and economic reality.
    Feel free to imagine otherwise, but good luck lining up anybody (other than state welfare agencies) to volunteer to finance or run a rail line from Fresno to anywhere that isn’t part of SF to LA.
    Grow up!
    The nice things about well-conceived, well-planned, well-built well-operated rail service is that these secondary markets can be picked up at little marginal cost, making the world a better place for everybody. Add enough secondary markets and you’re talking real numbers, but each in isolation is unviable.

    jim Reply:

    But that doesn’t mean that the first train into LA in the morning can’t originate in Fresno and the last train out of LA at night can’t terminate there.

    Joey Reply:

    That’s justification for one 400m (if that) long siding, not an entire facility.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They have to put the facility, there will be only one, someplace. They can put it halfway between all the trains where real estate is cheap and wages are low or they can put it where most of the trains away and where real estate is expensive and wages are high.

    jim Reply:

    If you put the facility where even one frequency originates/terminates, then you can rotate all your rolling stock through that frequency and swap it into/out of the maintenance facility without deadheading.

    Joey Reply:

    jim: It’s still much less operationally desirable than having it near one of the termini.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    For Maintenance facilities, it does not really matter where they are. Trains will not be there on a daily basis, but maybe every two weeks or so, but remain there for a day or longer. Depending on how smart the contracts with the rolling stoch manufacturers are, it could even be that the rolling stock manufacturer will build and operate the maintenance facilities (for a given time).

    For daily maintenance (would we call that “servicing”), facilities at the place(s) where the trains start the morning services makes most sense. Assuming that the trains will start operating from the end points, having some facillities at the stabling place is required (cleaning, restocking, inspecting etc. of the trains will be done there).

    Actually, when I had more or less regular trips to München (from Zürich), I did profit from the “remote” maintenance facitlities. The ICE-T trains used between Zürich and Stuttgart had their maintenance base in München for some years (that’s about 300 km away). The last train from Zürich was used as the last train from Stuttgart to München (arriving sometime around 1 am). And that gave me a comfortable 1 seat ride, with electric power at the seat for the whole distance. And it allowed me a full day with the client… and I could get a nice bit of work done.

    This proves to me that maintenance facilities do not need to be near a terminal.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If it’s nowhere where are the thundering herds of commuters filling the ACE trains going to come from?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Amtrak’s NEC maintenance facility is near Washington.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Heavy maintenance facility, in Washington DC itself, Ivy City to be more precise. Along with the ones in Beech Grove and Bear. Beech Grove is in suburban Indianapolis and Bear is in suburban Wilmington. They do light maintenance in Sunnyside and Boston. Probably something around Philadelphia because they were running the Keystones to Philadelphia with diesels for a while.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Please tell me that “suburban Indianapolis” is just a joke, that it’s really in Chicago or Los Angeles and you’re just jokingly pretending that all places west of the Susquehanna are the same.


    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It where the Big Four decided to build a railroad town in 1908.


    Indianapolis has an downtown where people do central business district kinda things. Surrounded by acres of parking lots but a CBD. Just for fun I looked at the Google Street view of where the E/W N/S street grid originates. There’s actual pedestrians. Walking in between buildings tall enough to need elevators

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It even has a skyline with a list of tall buildings in Wikipedia.


    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t mind that Amtrak is maintaining its equipment in a small city. I mind that it’s maintaining equipment in a small city that’s far from most of its routes; Indy gets a single daily train from Chicago, extended to Washington 3 days a week. The advantage of Chicago or LA (or San Diego, or Detroit, or Milwaukee, or St. Louis, or Santa Barbara) is that it’s near to where a lot of corridor trains go, so there’s less need to either deadhead ($$$) or plan train rotation well in advance (hard given Amtrak’s punctuality).

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    It’s worthwhile to mention that Beech Grove, Bear, and Ivy City are all “legacy” repair shops that long predated Amtrak. Ivy City was famous in steam days for its twin turntables and roundhouses that serviced passenger locomotives from the seven roads roads that served Washington, plus the switchers of the Washington Terminal Company (freight power was serviced in Potomac Yard, which was owned by Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac, or in individually owned freight yards in the area; Southern Railway had a small facility in Alexandria). One of the turntables at Ivy City was unusual in having wires over it just in case something electric needed turning. Ivy City also had a huge Pullman commissary and the second-largest passenger car yard in the country. Bear was established by the PRR as a true electric equipment repair shop from the beginning if my memory is right, and Beech Grove overhauled steam engines in New York Central days.

    This has probably been covered before, but it would make sense to me to see if a former freight yard or repair shop property is available somewhere on the route. Most likely locations would be at either end, but at the same time, it’s probable the local idiots that seem to pass for politicians these days have their eyes on such large, flat parcels for redevelopment, so it may be necessary to find another location. Low property costs and ease of construction in open country has driven the location of such facilities in the past, and such considerations are part of a freight railroad’s thoughts in locating a new freight yard today (which is often an intermodal facility of some kind). Such a green-field site could also be beneficial from that job-creation angle the pols like to espouse, as such locations often have limited job opportunities.

    jim Reply:

    The viewliner equipment is maintained in Hialeah. It requires careful rotation.

    thatbruce Reply:

    The foreign operators offered some comments on CHSRA’s plans
    . . .
    3) The heavy maintenance facility should not be in the Central Valley – it should be as close as possible to terminus to minimize deadheading.

    Please do not conflate the single Heavy Maintenance Facility with the (near) per-terminus storage tracks and Light Maintenance Facilities.

    After quickly reading through all of the peer review documents listed (excluding the FOB one and the one where someone set the text color the same as the background color), I cannot find a one which states that the Heavy Maintenance Facility should be located next to a terminus station. They do all agree on the need for storage tracks and associated routine maintenance facilities to be located near the terminus stations.

  12. Jesse D.
    Nov 27th, 2011 at 22:04

    To be quite frank, I think the project is ass-backwards.

    ACE should have been streamlined first, as it’s already got tried-and-true train service, 3 times a day each way, and ACE itself could add sort of a seed fund into the project in exchange for being a “tryout” or “preview” for the HSR project, seeing as it needs special grade of track to function (if I remember correctly)

    It would also keep focus on the last leg of the project — the new Altamont Corridor Express that’s been touted so highly. It’d be good to keep that project on track (pun intended).

    Plus it’d show the people in the CV and Bay exactly how the trains would work — and isn’t that 2/3 of the clientele already? (the other third being SoCal et al)

    Please feel free to criticize me, tell me how I’m wrong, because I know there are some dissenting opinions out there. But the bottom line of my argument is: less talk, more action. Otherwise HSR will be red-taped to death.

    swing hanger Reply:

    ACE is to the Ford Model T as HSR is to the Mercedes Benz SLS.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Model T was dirt cheap. The ACE is more like the Trabbi.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That’s insulting to Trabants

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    As I see it, some of these priorities were decided by outsiders. The Feds had some input on the Central Valley segment, NIMBYs have put up enough delay to slow down the Peninsula portion of the route, and the whole works was passed by voters who said they wanted a true HSR system, not an upgraded commuter line.

    This isn’t to say there aren’t problems and some questionable decisions, but not all of them can be laid at the feet of the authority, despite some people’s attempts to do so.

    Now, if we could just get the politicians to be a bit more tech-savy, and if we could get a better organizational scheme than relying on designs by the builder. . .which such better organizational scheme could have been available if the politicians had properly staffed the authority. . .and if everybody wasn’t so car oriented, even now. . .

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The first CHSRA phase (or first northern Californian phase; there would have needed to have been a comparable southern project for political reasons) should have been San Jose-Tracy. Politically useful (Capital of Silicon Valley!), immediately utile (SJ-Fremont “gap” filled), not redundant with anything, aligned with both regional (580 freeway widening, 680 freeway widening, Sj to Tri-Valley transit, etc, etc) and state-wide needs, independent utility, visible to a large urban region, high political visibility, not a “stilts from nowhere to nowhere”, etc.

    Unfortunately, limitless corrupt PBQD and allies were far more interested in defrauding the public out of $10 billion or moreby way of building a 100% a redundant BART boondoggle, screwing not just the entire country, not just then entire state, but San José, the Capital of Silicon Valley most thoroughly of all. I hope they all die in a fire.

    And so it goes.

  13. D. P. Lubic
    Nov 27th, 2011 at 22:14

    Destination Freedom (National Corridors Initiative) has several interesting items, including a wire theft story (featuring countermeasures), and a lead editorial that will have Richard and Syn nodding. . .


Comments are closed.