A Case Study in LA Times’ Biased Reporting Against HSR

Dec 28th, 2011 | Posted by

I’m not exactly sure why the LA Times has chosen to let Ralph Vartabedian write shockingly biased articles against the HSR project, but his latest hit piece is up, claiming that plans for Amtrak to use the Initial Construction Segment in the Central Valley are flawed. The problem: if you read the article closely, what you see is that the California High Speed Rail Authority and Amtrak have not yet had extensive discussions about track sharing. Vartabedian interprets this to mean that track sharing plans are either dead or unrealistic – which is a completely biased claim that has no basis in his given evidence.

Those requirements are now at the center of an intensifying political battle, waged by critics who say the state’s fallback plan to use a 130-mile stretch of track for slower Amtrak service is a sham because there’s no guarantee the national rail service will ever use it.

Vartabedian is correct that there is “no guarantee.” But what in life is ever guaranteed? More accurately, there has been no Memorandum of Understanding signed, no joint operating plan agreed, and in fact negotiations are if anything in their very early stages. Instead of presenting those facts neutrally, Vartabedian claims this is evidence that the plan is a “sham.”

Like I said: shockingly biased.

Amtrak said it has no agreement to operate on the track and has not analyzed the possible negative effects on one of its most successful rail lines. Still, the California High Speed Rail Authority has estimated 45 minutes could be shaved off Amtrak’s current service between Bakersfield and Merced.

There’s no agreement and no analysis. So? It’s early in the process. Just because that work hasn’t been done does not mean it never will be done. But Vartabedian is never one to let an opportunity to bash HSR pass him by.

Notice how Vartabedian spins the truth – that Amtrak supports the project – into an attack on HSR:

In a letter sent last year to the authority, Amtrak officials said they supported the project and interim use of the high-speed corridor. They cited potential improvements in travel time and reliability but also cautioned that cost issues and a need for faster locomotives would have to be addressed.

But now Amtrak says it has no commitment to use the track and has not been directly involved in the planning of the route. No cost-benefit analysis or detailed studies have assessed how switching to the bullet train track, which may veer around existing stations, would affect current service.

Let’s be very clear here:

1. Amtrak supports HSR.
2. Amtrak supports using the Initial Construction Segment on an interim basis.
3. However, Amtrak has not done any further planning beyond that conceptual support.

In other words, it’s early. To Vartabedian, that means it’s over. This is like Vartabedian reporting that the LA Lakers have lost a game to the San Antonio Spurs because they were behind 20-15 after the first quarter.

Vartabedian’s article is not only flawed because of this misinterpretation of the facts. He misleadingly cites Central Valley opponents of HSR without ever once mentioning its supporters:

Starting construction in the Central Valley is growing more controversial as the project nears a groundbreaking late next year. At least four local governments in the Central Valley are rebelling, fearing the effect on their communities. Also, agricultural interests are gearing up for a major legal battle against the plan, while critics in urban areas question why the project is not starting in a major population center with severe traffic congestion.

OK, but there are more than four local governments still strongly supportive of the project – and they are nowhere mentioned in this article:

City of Fresno
Fresno Mayor Ashley Swearengin
Fresno County
Tulare County
City of Visalia
Merced County
City of Merced

You would think that the San Joaquin Valley’s biggest city and some of its biggest counties would rate a mention. After all, their continued suport challenges Vartabedian’s claim that cities are turning against the project. If anything, Vartabedian is misleading readers by not providing a full picture of the debate over the project in the Valley.

Officials in Hanford, the Kings County seat, say their station is a gateway to downtown, one of the Central Valley’s cultural and historical attractions. They estimate that its loss would cost local businesses tens of millions of dollars a year.

“Plan B would be devastating for the Kings County economy,” said Supervisor Richard Valle of Corcoran, an opponent of the project. “We benefit tremendously from the passengers who come off those trains.”

What Vartabedian also doesn’t mention is that Hanford also bitterly opposes the HSR project, which would include a station for them. They claim to “benefit tremendously” from Amtrak passengers but are actually fighting to prevent more passengers from visiting their city. Isn’t that a rather important contradiction to explore?

Not for Vartabedian. Investigating that might make high speed rail look good, and he will never, ever write such an article, since it would undermine his intent to make the project look bad.

To be clear, I’m not opposed to reasonable criticism of the project. It would actually be useful for someone to write an informed article about track sharing. Here’s what that article could look like (we have to do the LA Times’ work for them, apparently, since Vartabedian refuses to be objective):

• CHSRA and Amtrak agree that track sharing could work in concept
• But nobody has actually worked out what that means in practice
• Track sharing could provide A, B, and C benefits
• But it could also generate X, Y, and Z costs.
• Current ridership on the San Joaquins is #.
• Projected ridership on the HSR is ##.
• Many Valley cities and counties support HSR, for reasons 1, 2, and 3.
• Some Valley cities and counties oppose HSR, for reasons 4, 5, and 6.
• Hanford is upset that they might lose their Amtrak service.
• However, Hanford is also turning down the opportunity for a LOT more passengers by opposing HSR.
• If this issue remains unresolved, the consequences could be good (list them) or they could be bad (list them).

See, it’s really not that hard. But that also assumes a reporter wants to be objective. And we now know, beyond any doubt, that Ralph Vartabedian will not be objective when it comes to the high speed rail project.

The result is that the LA Times is doing a major disservice to its readers by biasing their reporting and leaving out crucial facts. In a democracy, an informed population is key to making good public policy. For Vartabedian, an informed population might continue to support HSR, so he has to bias his reporting to try and produce a different outcome.

It’s shameful.

  1. jimsf
    Dec 28th, 2011 at 20:05
    #1

    I have to go from merced to santa ana next week. In the previous post some idiot went on and on about how flights from fresno would solve the central valley’s problems just fine.

    Really? Sure I have following wonderful options as a californian living in the valley.

    Drive. 6 hours each way and 24 gallons of gas at 3.50 a gallon. ($84)
    Take existing rail service, free, and spend 7+ hours each way getting there.
    or use the fabulous cheap air service from fresno to santa ana at an affordable 467.00 bucks… oh not only is it 467.00 bucks to fly, but its a 4 hour trip with stopover AND its an hour to fresno from merced. So that a good 6 hours with check in time total. THE SAME AS DRIVING.

    Those are great options! Why, the millions of people in the central valley don’t need any help at all!

    MCD-ANA or IRV via HSR….. 2 hours period. no fuss no muss no hassle

    Donk Reply:

    Just curious – When you lived in SF, did you support starting construction in the CV or did you support starting on the ends? Just wondering how ones perspective on HSR changes when moving to the CV…

    jimsf Reply:

    I always supported starting in the central valley to get the bulk of the high speed core done. I have also always supported the route as planned and continue to do so. ITs the right way.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    So fly from MCE to SNA.

    That assumes you actually had to make this trip.

    You choose to live in a small market with little demand for transportation needs, then you pay the price for that lack of demand.

    Jon Reply:

    I live in San Francisco, and I often travel to Fresno. My options are to fly (one-way fare next week starts from $321), rent a car a drive for 3 hrs 30 (over $100 return including gas) or take Amtrak (4 hrs 30, $32 each way). Are you gonna tell me I need to move to a market with higher demand for transportation needs?

    thatbruce Reply:

    You need those $19 turboprop fares that apparently exist between Fresno and SF or LA. I can’t find a major airline offering those even if I go 6 months out.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    As I’ve told you numerous times, yet you remain unable to comprehend, those are connecting fares. Low density markets get high fares. Don’t expect that to ever change unless the market itself grows.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Ah, so you want to say that they are connecting fares.

    So to revisiting your post from yesterday, you’re attempting to compare a connecting flight seat cost of $19 between Fresno and LA/SF, or even tripled to $57 based on future fuel costs increases, with the full non-connecting HSR fare as stated by the CAHSRA. That sort of comparison doesn’t work.

    If you want to compare the non-connecting prices projected by the CAHSRA with any flight costs, you need to use flight costs for non-connecting flights. That sort of comparison puts the costs for present-day non-connecting flights to be much more than the projected future costs for non-connecting HSR trips.

    If you want to compare the costs of connecting flights, then we must look to find some examples of HSR being used in as part of a multi-stop itinerary, and to see, not surprisingly, that the cost of the connecting HSR trip is lower than the cost of the same HSR trip when booked in a non-connecting mode.

    Back to your comment of the moment, with the usual attempt at an insult, there is some useful information, primarily that on non-connecting flights, ‘Low density markets get high (air)fares‘. With the CAHSRA projecting that ticket prices on (non-connecting) HSR services will be mostly based on a per-mile basis, that puts HSR at an advantage for any market viewed as ‘low density’ by the airlines, as HSR services are already passing through that market anyway on their way between the high-density markets.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    You totally missed the point which is that only a very small percentage of passengers on flights out of Fresno to LAX or SFO are O&D. O&D pays the high fare. The notion that short haul seat costs will jump to $57 is not what I said either. I said if fuel costs tripled not seat cost, that’s only about a $10 increase in seat cost.

    Moving on. Read next time.

    Nathanael Reply:

    On the contrary, thatbruce was trying to explain to you exactly what you seem to think you are explaining to him. Please get a clue!

    The O&D costs are the real costs. The prices charged for connecting flights are loss-leader prices.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    The O&D pax costs are not the “real cost”, its a reflection of what the market will support in terms of obtainable yield from the O&D pax. It has nothing to do with “cost”. It coudl be $750 each way if an airline could obstact that kind of yield.

    I don’t know where you get your information on airline revenue management, but consider it complete and utter crap.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Real costs charged to the end-user.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Real cost to the 50 or so pax a day willing to pay it. The actual cost of moving that passenger is no where near the ticket cost. One has to wonder if HSR will have the balls to charge what the market will be willing to pay. Certainly doesn’t appear that way.

    thatbruce Reply:

    You totally missed the point which is that only a very small percentage of passengers on flights out of Fresno to LAX or SFO are O&D. O&D pays the high fare.

    And my point, which to use your phrasing, you’ve totally missed, is that any price comparison between airfare and HSR fare, can only be done using the same type of journey. You persist in attempting to compare the airline seat cost, which is only available to end-users in conjunction with a connecting flight or other special offer, with the projected full HSR fare, and then claim that air travel will always be cheaper than HSR.

    The notion that short haul seat costs will jump to $57 is not what I said either. I said if fuel costs tripled not seat cost, that’s only about a $10 increase in seat cost.

    Actually, you said:

    Even if you tripled the cost of gas the seat cost will be about $10 less than the fares proposed by HSR.

    That would make your revised claim that a tripling of fuel costs would result in a mere $10 increase in the airline seat cost, and that that figure of $29 would be $10 less than the proposed HSR fullprice fares. $39 to travel from Fresno to LA or SF? How about that, you’re an optimist after-all.

    Combined with HSR going from city center to city center and other points along the way, that price point for HSR which you’ve asserted would ensure that there would be no air O&D passengers between Fresno and LA or SF. Since you’ve stated that O&D passengers are only a small percentage of passengers on flights between Fresno and LA/SF, airlines could continue to operate those flights at cost (or less) in order to keep passengers in the airline system, or as evidence from Europe suggests, forgo those flights (as has been seen in Europe with short-haul flights being reduced between destinations that are both on the same HSR corridor) and concentrate on other destinations. That’s really up to the airlines, and as they say in the stock markets, prior performance is no indication of future performance.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    They will continue to run those flights. That’s why the fallacy that HSR will supplant air service and thereby prevent airport expansion is just that, a fallacy. The only flights that have been foregone in Europe are “some” not “all” high density market flights. Small market connectivity, such as that which exists between Fresno and Los Angeles will remain. Hence it is complete and utter BS to say that HSR will magically make the cost of airport expansion go away.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    1. Explain to me again why it’s my responsibility (or anyone else’s) to provide you with transportation to Fresno?
    2. If you travel so much to Fresno, why would you buy a one way fare?
    3. If there was higher demand (more than the current 6 round trip passengers a day), the fares would be lower to begin with.
    4. If you’ve elected not to own a car, then you should have plenty of money laying around to pay for the high fare ($360 round trip). If you can’t afford one, then you should take a mode of transportation commensurate with your ability to pay – like Amtrak.

    Internet Browsing Club Reply:

    It is our mutual responsibility as citizens of California and the United States to make decisions that benefit California, the United States, and the citizens of same. The deal is, we look out after each other.

    A train to (say) Redding, CA would make no sense, because there’s no demand for it and it would not spur any economic activity whatsoever. A train between San Francisco and Fresno makes a lot of sense, because there is demand for it and it would spur economic activity, the value of which far outstrips the cost of the train line. What’s more, bringing the Central Valley more thoroughly within the sphere of the rich coastal economies allows us to recoup our pre-existing generational investment in housing and infrastructure in the Central Valley, housing and infrastructure that will be abandoned and left to rot if your every-man-for-himself, every-region-for-itself philosophy continues to rule California.

    You call yourself “Sobering Reality,” but, well, you’d have to be high to think a society that squelches economic activity through denying the mutual interdependence of the people in it can thrive.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    There might be demand for a train from San Francisco to Fresno, but there isn’t demand for a High Speed from San Francisco to Fresno. That’s were your argument is flawed.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I suggest we can all agree there is enough demand for high speed rail between SF and LA and to connect these two the route has to go thru the San Joaquin Valley. But there are some significant variables that can greatly reduce the cost without gutting the mission statement.

    1. It does not have to go all the way to expensive downtowns to work. I am referring to SF and SJ.

    2. It has to follow the primary and most direct exits out of the two megalopolises. Namely Altamont in the north and Tejon in the south.

    3. 99 vs. I-5 needs to be honestly costed out, which it has not been up to now. In any event I-5 is not the end of the world for the Valley towns and cities. The San Joaquins are always there and so is the possibility of bus bridges. A big wye north of Tejon could send hsr trains originating in the Bay Area shooting east to Bako thence north to Fresno as one option. Ironically that would bolster the case for upgrading Bako to Fresno trackage to high speed.

    While the economic case for hsr Bay Area to Fresno per se is poor but there will definitely be much better rail service between those two destinations no matter what route thru the Valley Norcal-Socal hsr ultimately takes.

    Nathanael Reply:

    (1) There is demand for a high-speed train from SF to LA.
    (2) There is demand for a moderately-high-speed train from SF to Fresno.
    (3) It is easier to get to LA via Fresno than via the Coast.
    (4) Unlike airlines, trains can stop at stations in the middle with relatively little cost.
    Therefore:
    (5) A prudent government builds a high speed train from SF to LA *via* Fresno.

    Further syllogisms may be provided if needed.

    synonymouse Reply:

    A prudent government saves a fortune by utilizing a parallel ROW it already owns and in the process an uber-high speed express route between the 2 deep pockets, profit generating magnet destinations at either end. This is the smartest starter route.

    thatbruce Reply:

    A starter route needs passengers. Expecting passengers to drive or get on a bus across the valley from where they are, near CA-99, to the I-5 racetrack, take a train, and then hire a car or bus to take them back across the valley to the population centers near CA-99 is a good way to have that starter route fail.

    The I-5 racktrack only makes sense in conjunction with a full system buildout at the same time. Not as a starter route disconnected from the existing rail network at one or both ends.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Initially the hsr I-5 line would connect with BART at Altamont and of course the Sac extension would be reincorporated into the first stage. There’s your Valley traffic.

    SFO would be the objective in the Bay Area, the collector terminus. In Socal it appears to be a matter of some very serious money and attitude adjustment over OCS as to how far once can proceed.. No matter what, the rule of thumb: stilts suck; ocs rules.

    Le chienlit, c’est BART.

    Jon Reply:

    1. It’s not your responsibility, but it is the responsibility of the state and federal governments, unless you think it’s okay for us to pay a shitload of tax and get a third world transportation system in return. There are no options for medium distance trips such as SF-Fresno which are not either slow or expensive- and yes, driving 200 miles is unacceptably slow.

    2. I don’t. The return airfare is also ruinously expensive.

    3. Fares are so high for that route because short distance flights are inherently uneconomical to operate. High fares result in low passengers, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a latent demand on the route for faster-than-driving transportation at reasonable prices.

    4. The former applies, and whilst I could fork over $360 for a return flight to Fresno, I can think of a million better things to spend my money on. What you’re implying is that an individual has to spend a shitload of money on transportation, whether they chose to own a car or take flights, or else live life at Amtrak and Greyhound speeds. Believe it or not, it is possible to have a transportation system which is both fast and affordable. Some of us have even lived in places which have such a system.

    Essentially what I am demanding is a higher quality of life for tax dollars, and if that offends you do feel free to resume the position and continue getting screwed without complaint.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    1. It’s not the responsibility of the government to provide you with transportation.
    2. The round trip ticket is less than what you quoted for a one-way.
    3. Short distance flights are not uneconomical. If they were, they would not exist. The airline industry is not required to fly somewhere for the sake of flying. They charge what the market is willing to pay and that is reflected in your ticket price. It only costs the airline about $19 to get you from Fresno to Los Angeles in turboprop, it is a lack of demand and the desire of the airline to use those seats to connect passengers at LAX or SFO that drives up the cost. It’s not that they don’t want to fly the route, they just don’t want to fly you to LAX.
    4. See #2. You dont’ want to pay it, then that’s on you.

    You don’t get to demand anything.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Keebler elves built all those roads that automobiles drive over?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    No, but it’s not the governments responsibility to provide you with a car or bicycle to use that road is it? If you are going to rely on the government to provide you a way to get around then you get what is economically viable and what the taxpayer is willing to pay. We were willing at $50 billion, this project will now eclipse $120 billion (assuming Sacramento and San Diego construction). The majority of taxpayers is no longer willing.

    Peter Reply:

    So you’re ok with the government building the tracks then, as long as private industry provides the trains?

    Jon Reply:

    I’m not asking the government to pay for the cost of the ‘car’ (in this case a train.) I’m asking for them to pay for the cost of the ‘road’ (in this case the track.) As with air travel, once the government has paid for the cost of the infratructure, a private company will pay to operate the vehicles and charge a ticket price sufficient to make a profit. The difference is that this ticket price will be much lower than airfares over distances such as SF-Fresno because the operating costs will be lower.

    The point you consistantly fail to grasp is that you as well as me, and everyone else, on government infrastructure expenditure for their transportatipn needs. And how come you are suddenly authorized to speak for every Californian to payer? This Californian taxpayer says it’s a worthy investment and one long overdue.

    Jon Reply:

    Goddamit… “you as well as me rely on government infrastructure spending…”

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Some of it, but not all of it and not to a project that shoudl cost about half of what it does. Let suse airports for a comparison. At $98 billion, you can actually get 16 Runways and over 900 gates. That provides capacity for 370 million passengers a year. Not that this state would ever need that kind of capacity anyway. Just another flaw in the argument.

    The California taxpayer didn’t vote for a $100 billion project. That’s what you don’t seem to get.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If you live or work in a city, then the parking spot, which is provided to you for free or at least for cheap by government regulation, costs about as much as a new midscale car. A new parking garage in Hicksville, built for LIRR commuters, cost $25,000 per space; that cost is never figured into any cost recovery ratios, letting Long Islanders think that they don’t get government subsidies.

    The road is an ongoing expense to the government as well, and I don’t even know how much all roads cost in the US; the ones that are eligible for gas tax funding are just under $190 billion per year (i.e. about $800 per car per year), versus only $120 billion in gas tax receipts even counting gas taxes diverted to non-highway uses (link). In round figures, the main eligible roads – Interstates plus rural roads – are about half of all passenger-miles in the US.

    The entire transportation infrastructure system in the US is communist. Individual components may be salvageable – a few Eastern turnpikes, the NEC, the busier air routes – but the system as a whole loses money. It’s run for the benefit of construction workers, trucking companies, the TSA, and politicians who love to build megaprojects, rather than for the benefit of users.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @ Alon: So that means we spend at will on something? Be damned the cost and not do anythign to hold people accountable? Completely absurd.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @Alon: Don’t work or live in the city either. Last time I went into the city is cost me $14 to park for the day, so the notion that it’s free is a bunch of bunk as well.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No. It means we avoid making self-righteous “I’m self-reliant, you take subsidies” arguments, and switch to talking about efficiency. The solution to communism is capitalism.

    And for the record, here’s me on the costs of CAHSR:

    [Link] Unless they cut the costs, I don’t see how I can continue to support the project. The initial construction segment, useless as it is on its own, is fine; the question is whether it stakes the territory for a very expensive future extension, or for one with reasonable cost. Since I doubt they’ll be able to get any additional money until they connect to the LA Basin except from the federal government and even then it will be a small number of billions, I think it’s the latter option. But the rest should be scrapped and restarted unless the construction costs drop dramatically. I would peg the maximum that the project can cost before it should be canceled, on the outside, at $60 billion or so in today’s money. This assumes timely construction – waiting decades with rapidly depreciating track hosting limited service makes the situation worse. The only consolation I have is that no matter what, the other projects they could spend the money on if CAHSR is canceled are even worse. And this says more about those other projects than about CAHSR.

    That said, the cost problems are about political problems that crop up everywhere, not just for rail. The practices that discourage honest, competent contractors from dealing with the government are a problem everywhere: they affect the Big Dig as well as Second Avenue Subway, and the I-405 lane adding as well as BART to San Jose. Politicians love ribbon cuttings everywhere. And agency turf battles are a problem everywhere: turf battles forced the Tappan Zee Bridge’s current alignment, crossing the Hudson at its widest point; turf battles are leading to nearly the entire HSR cost overrun in the Bay Area; turf battles are making connecting from an international to a domestic flight in the US much more painful than it has to be. Some are caused by federal incompetence, especially with air travel, but most are about local politics, which makes a lot of sense since local politics in the US is much more feudal and less democratic than national politics.

    Jon Reply:

    It’s not going to cost $98B.

    The costs for the central valley section started low, shot up as the contractors started throwing in stilts all over the place, then came back down to close to the original segment as the grown-ups took charge and zeroed out the stilts through ‘value engineering’. I’m sure the same thing will happen with the other segments as the time to start construction approaches and officials are faced with the prospect of writing large checks to construction firms. You could easily save $5B on the SF to SJ section on it’s own.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    You’re right Jon, when all is said and done it will be about $150 billion when you bring in San Diego and Sacramento then factor in issues yet to be considered, like further construction delays borne out of poor credit ratings of the CAHSRA that make funding cost prohibitive. You realize this think is already facing a junk bond rating status right?

    Nathanael Reply:

    “At $98 billion, you can actually get 16 Runways and over 900 gates.”

    No, you just can’t. First of all, that’s “inflated year of construction” money you’re talking about, so you have to inflate the price of the runways and gates by the same amount. (In real dollars, the current quote for CAHSR was, IIRC, 58 billion. Or was it 60?)

    Second, for an airport expansion, price out the land and the cost of legal battles over eminent domain *alone*…. you’re lowballing costs.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “a project that shoudl cost about half of what it does”

    Ha! It actually does cost half what you think it does! You think it costs $98 bn., it’s really about $60 bn.! So you’re for the project then? Didn’t think so.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @ Nathanial: Its clear you have no idea how much a runway or terminal actually costs, or what my cost included which was a 100% contingency over a 30 year build out.

    Also, stop lowballing with $60 billion and this bunch of crap about year of expenditure, you sound liek a petulant child. There are unknown costs associated with HSR at this point that will continue to increase costs. Finally, its at least another $40 Billion to complete San Diego and Sacramento so you can tack that on to your $60 billion and you might be close to what this is going to cost.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In real dollars, the quote was $65 billion.

    And for the record, there’s so much patently useless stuff included in the $65 billion (try, um, two thirds of the budget for the Bay Area) that going under is if anything likelier than going over. This project is probably not going to be built at $65 billion; a world in which it’s built is one in which they’ve found significant cost savings, and those exist a-plenty.

    Jon Reply:

    If governments did not pay for transportation infrastructure, economic activity would be close to zero. You think all those roads and airports just built themselves?

    You just quoted the return fare as $360. In what universe is that less than $319? And if the airlines can fly me to Fresno for $19, what’s stopping them from charging $50 a ticket and cleaning up the market?

    You do briefly touch on the real reason for SF-Fresno flights- they are loss leaders for profitable long distance flights. By themselves they are not profitable, unless you charge $319 a seat. Those flights would not exist without connecting passengers as no one would pay the sort of fares they are asking for the flight on it’s own.

    It constantly amazes how some Americans seem to enjoy paying getting screwed out of the sort of basic infrastructure that people in civilized countries take for granted.

    I can demand whatever the hell I want. If enough people agree with me, maybe it will happen.

    Jon Reply:

    Appologies for the typos- stupid iPhone

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Only welfare queens have iPhOnes. Don’t let Spokker know! Hide it in you Air Jordans, quick!

    Jon Reply:

    Huh. Stupid thing was a waste of a welfare check anyway…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Welfare queens don’t have iPhones, the Caddy came with OnStar.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Still lost on how airports are paid for Jon?

    Wrong on the short haul flights as well. You have zero understanding of the economics behind those flights.

    StevieB Reply:

    Do you think the annual $3.5 billion FAA Grants-in-Aid for Airports is not a government subsidy to airlines?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    FAA grant money comes from the trust fund which gets its money from airline ticket taxes, so no. But more to your point, should airline passengers no longer pay a ticket tax, airlines no longer pay a fuel tax and all of that cost be passed to the taxpayer? Because that is the equivalent argument you are making.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @Jon: One can only assume then that to make all things equal you’ll be good with taxpayers taking over all of the following expenses for car owners and airlines placing them on the taxpayer:

    For Autos:

    No more gasoline sales tax.
    No more license and registration fees.
    No more toll roads.
    No fees for vehicle inspections (smog checks etc…)

    (We’ll buy our cars and maintain them)

    For Air Transportation:

    No aircraft certification fees for aircraft manufacturers
    No airline certification, airline maintenance certification or pilot certification fees
    No more aircraft registration fees
    No more airline ticket taxes
    No more aviation fuel taxes
    No more cargo waybill taxes
    No more landing fees
    No more passenger facility charges
    No more pilot check ride fees
    No taxes for security
    No taxes on airline profits
    No taxes on international operations processing
    No terminal rental, hangar or tie down fees

    (Airlines will continue to buy aircraft and operate and maintain them)

    Time to buck up.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    No takers then. Got it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Plenty of takers, just elsewhere this thread. Get over yourself.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Like I said, no takers. You must hate it when its in your face like that.

    Loren Petrich Reply:

    I reread Article I, Section 8 of the US Constitution, and it states that Congress will be able “To establish Post Offices and Post Roads;” Yes, socialist roads for people who are too lazy to build roads for themselves.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    I’m pretty sure they didn’t have cars and they sure weren’t talking about trains either.

    Loren Petrich Reply:

    That sort of argument would make the Air Force unconstitutional. It may also make unconstitutional government support for any road with paving more advanced than what was available in 1789. No concrete paving, no reinforced-concrete or steel-girder bridges, etc.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    The Air Force is covered here:

    … to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States…

    jimsf Reply:

    The flight from merced to santa ana costs 368.00 rt, and takes 7 hours.

    As for making the choice to live in the valley, millions of people live in the valley, and millions more will be living here in the coming decades. We don’t say, “too bad” to them. What we do is we say how can we accomodate them so we can bring some economic balance to the state.
    Its a quality of life issue for all the regions involved because californians do not live in exlcusive bubbles ( hollywood excepted) Californians, travel, vacation, have friends and family, and do business across several regions, quite often. Californians are highly mobile and intend to stay that way.

    You should move out of the state. That would make you and the rest of californians happier. You obvisouly arent’ one of us. Did you take a wrong turn on your way to arizona?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    My family has been in the state since 1893. Maybe you should be the one to move out.

    Again, you chose to live somewhere. You accept those choices and the costs (or cost savings) that come with that choice. Or are you one of those who blames everyone for your lot in life?

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is not that easy to predict future conditions. To wit, how many of us foresaw the Panic of 2007?

    It is conceivable that the troubled economy we experience now is the default, the norm we should get accustomed to and that any “boom” will invariably be of the bubble variety. Would you rather live in the doldrums or go thru another burst, with a great many losing their shirt, pretty much permanently?

    One academic study had the focus of the California economy moving back to the coastal regions. That certainly seems to be the drift and historically the areas close to the coast have fared much better in economic downturns. The San Joaquin Valley could very well experience much less growth than the demographic “experts” predict and visions of swinging loads from Bakersfield to Fresno will prove PB projection pipe dreams.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Myself, I saw the Panic of 2007 coming, just couldn’t call the timing.

    This is actually really common. It’s often relatively easy (if you’re studying the right things intensely) to see an economic change coming, but hard to pin it down to within a year or two. In cases of larger changes, it’s hard to pin it down to within a decade or two.

    Regarding California population, it’s going to be all about water. I haven’t studied the details of California water politics quite enough to figure out what will happen.

    Peter Reply:

    Ha, I had no investments, so it made no difference to me.

    jimsf Reply:

    Oh please. Stop it.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    No argument then. You leave.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Interesting – the Panic of 2007 came exactly a century after the Panic of 1907. I am calling our crapout a panic for want of a better term. Suggestions, anyone?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Panic is a good term. I’ve also been trying to revive the terms “boom” and “bust”.

    This is a *BIG* bust. Those were also known as “depressions” in the 19th century.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    The regional carrier Great Lakes operates daily from Visalia to LA. The 1-way fare next week is $100, with 55 minute flight time.

    aw Reply:

    Either they’re thinking of a different Great Lakes than I am, or they’re lost. If the latter, I don’t think I’d trust them to get me to LA.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Would you fly Delta? Great Lakes is held to the same safety standard.

    Peter Reply:

    Yes, they are. But with pilots with a lot less experience. Though that may be changing with less and less pilots moving up into the majors.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    That’s not true either. They are all tested to the same standard and the equipement operated by Great Lakes is substantially less complex.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Most of the most confounding decisions in aviation history leading to accidents have been made by the most seasoned pilots. Its only incidents like the recent US Airways landing in the Hudson that make headlines. If he’d have rolled that plane (as is more often the case than not in a water landing) no one would be talking about how Sullenbergers experience saved the day. What you don’t hear about is the 10,000+ hours the PIC had on American 1420.

  2. jimsf
    Dec 28th, 2011 at 20:11
    #2

    As far as aruguing over segments. The valley is getting the first segment. no discussion needed. that’s just how it is. lets move on to something else.

    VBobier Reply:

    Some are too stupid to do so, but I as well wish they’d stop bitchin, It will get built in the CV 1st and no the DOT money won’t be diverted, the DOT has a firm position on this, they will not divert no matter how much some want the DOT to do.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    And then what?

    Nathanael Reply:

    And then California, either with or without the Federal government, and either with or without private investors, funds construction from Bakersfield to the San Fernando Valley.

    Or perhaps the US collapses in a civil war, take your pick.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    There is no money beyond what is funded. None. No Federal Money, No State Money, and No Private Money. Hence, no HSR system anywhere in California. Just some new track in the Central Valley (which by the way – won’t get you to Orange County any faster or cheaper).

    Why you are so hell bent on this is beyond me.

    Walter Reply:

    So no infrastructure project should ever be built until/unless all of the funding is allocated?

    VBobier Reply:

    According to some Yes & then If It was all of a sudden in 2013 fully funded, they’d change their tune to some other anti-HSR attack. Outside of whining and bitchin, the anti-HSR gang is largely impotent, they’ve no balls for anything beyond whining and bitchin…

    Eric M Reply:

    It’s that they lack vision

    VBobier Reply:

    They be crazy Dark side users…

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    At $98 billion for the Bay Area to Los Angeles, continuing to support the project run by incompetents isn’t being ballsy, it’s being stupid.

    Do you really think this thing is coming in at $98 Billion?

    Internet Browsing Club Reply:

    How much money will that $98 billion dollar investment bring into the state? How expensive will it be to build the necessary infrastructure, highway infrastructure and air infrastructure, to meet demand for travel between SF, the Central Valley, and LA in the absence of high speed rail? Would investment in that infrastructure bring more or less money into the state?

    Congratulations; you’ve discovered exactly one half of a balance sheet. Once you figure out how that half relates to the other one, then you have an outside shot at understanding “Sobering Reality.” Until then, you should probably post under the name “Libertarian Fever Dream” or something equivalent.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    HSR will do nothing to reduce demand for airport capacity. There are only 12 million intrastate passengers to all destinations that will be serviced by HSR. Thats the equivalent of less than 5 years growth. So spare us with the “it’ll stop airport demand”. It’s already been calculated.

    Jonathan Reply:

    seems like you’re comparing incommensurate numbers: 12 million people served by HSR, versus a growth in *something* which is not specified. Annual passenger trips, perhaps?
    Comparing trips per year, to persons in the catchment area, would be innumerate.
    So what did you mean?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    How much money will that $98 billion dollar investment bring into the state?

    Given that it would be a circa $40 billion project — and might have a snowball’s chance of functioning, what with not being designed by America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals — it isn’t a bad bet that $60 billion is budgeted for Bolivian marching powder. Most of such “invested” cash leaves the State of California, however.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Again, it’s not $98 billion (a number measured in phony dollars), it’s $58-60 billion in real dollars. Support the project now?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    No, because the cost will continue to increase and it doesn’t include the entire system and it does not have a financialy sound business plan or responsible leadership.

    The larger wuestion is are you going to do when they get horrible bond ratings and can’t sell the bonds or have to pay so much interest on the bonds that they have to stop construction? Stomp your feet? Demand taxpayers pay more?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Not one this financially upside down.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    If rail was serious about it’s future it would take a que from the airline/airport business. Charge a 10% sales tax on tickets to fund infrastructure and charge a $3 fee for using the train station. Do something to ensure that taxpayers don’t have to foot 100% of the bill, which is exactly what is taking place with CA HSR. I see no indication that HSR has any intention of setting up such a system that passes the vast majority of the cost of HSR on to the actual users of the system such as has been done in the airline indusrty.

    If they are unwilling to do this and continue with this insane project in lieu of showing some ounce of willingess to be financially responsible in any way, shape or form then they can kiss my ass.

    Airports got funds in the begining too, but that was before the jet age and all the expansion to support the jet age was done through user fees. Rail got massive subsidies too on initial build. You want to go further and faster, find a better way to pay for it. You got your $9 billion plus whatever you’ve got from the Fed on top of the initial investment. That’s plenty for one route in one state.

    Joey Reply:

    Relying heavily on private investment and then trying to pay it back is a dangerous strategy, as Taiwan discovered (they were able to cover their operating expenses but not pay back debt), and there’s only so much you can do by trying to jack up ticket prices. Once you have a well-designed line (which the current CHSRA design is not) up and operating (and assuming it doesn’t have to worry about paying back its own expenses) then operating surpluses can contribute heavily toward the construction of new lines, but profitable rail up and running will almost certainly take a lot of government help.

    Keep in mind, I firmly believe that it is possible, and not altogether difficult, to build CAHSR well for under $50 billion.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Then you don’t build it. But consider this.: Had there been a $3 terminal fee and a 10% ticket tax on Amtrak passengers alone last year, they would have had $86.1 million to invest in stations and another $250 million in a trust fund for long term infrastructure needs. That’s just from Amtrak.

    You are completely insane if you think it’s financially respnsible to fully fund the core infrastructure of HSR with taxpayer money. Its this kind of thinking that is exactly what is wrong with this project.

    Joey Reply:

    You yourself said that airports would never have been able to get off the ground (no pun intended) without a government boost. Rail has not yet received enough investment to reach the level where it can be even remotely self-sustaining.

    And re:additional fees on Amtrak, Alon correct that nearly all Amtrak routes are subsidized so increasing ticket prices is really equivalent to just decreasing subsidies. Your accounting also doesn’t take into account the decrease in ticket sales resulting from higher prices (unless you did take it into account and just didn’t bother to mention it), though this effect probably wouldn’t be huge.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Thats a lie. Rail has recived massive government investement since its inception. What’s not getting a lot of investment is high speed rail. When airlines wanted jets, the airports that were built using federal dollars in the 30′s and 40′s to support prop and turbo-prop aircraft with 3,000 and 4,000 foot runways, a user fee system was established to make those runway ready for the jet age.

    As to Amtrak, is that an excuse for not raising fares? My point is to establish an infrastructure revenue source for rail for which none existis. Aviation has it and so do highways when the money isn’t being raided fo other things, like rail.

    Like I said, you have the investment to go a given speed. You want to go faster, find a better way to fund it adn ensure it’s long term viability.

    Joey Reply:

    When exactly did rail in the USA receive enough funding that it should have become self-sufficient? If you think it has, then why is it that nearly all of our intercity routes loose money?

    As for funding, if you think raising Amtrak ticket prices is a good idea then fine, just acknowledge that whatever you spend is coming from money saved on subsidies, not additional revenue.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @joey: So then you’re good with rail passengers being taxes liek airline passengers are?

    Joey Reply:

    Is this in a world that there aren’t any less-than-profitable routes that need to be cross-subsidized?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Airline route subsidies come from the trust fund. It’s aviation subsidising aviation. Not sure your what your point is or if you actually know what you’re talking about.

    Joey Reply:

    I was referring to rail travel and the fact that fore the foreseeable future most routes in the US will not be self-sustaining. Are you proposing that fares simply be raised (through taxes or otherwise) until there is a surplus of money that can be spend on new rail infrastructure? (and again, I’m highly skeptical that we have reached the level of initial investment where that is even remotely possible).

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @Joey: If it will never be selfsustaining, then why bother with high speed? More reliable service is what is essential, not speed.

    Joey Reply:

    Typically cost recovery goes up with speed. In France, for instance, SNCF takes operating surpluses from the TGV and used them to pay for the operations of slower lines. I don’t remember whether they break even or not but IIRC it’s pretty close.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Joey, SNCF is profitable. If you’ve heard otherwise, it’s probably by someone who thinks SNCF should be liable for operating losses of regional trains it operates under contract with regional money.

    For the record: no, unlike with the paper profitability of some American roads, SNCF doesn’t take the ticket revenues of those money-losing regional lines and count them as additional revenue to offset intercity train expenses.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You are completely insane if you think it’s financially respnsible to fully fund the core infrastructure of roads with taxpayer money. Its this kind of thinking that is exactly what is wrong with this project.

    You are completely insane if you think it’s financially respnsible to fully fund the core infrastructure of canals with taxpayer money. Its this kind of thinking that is exactly what is wrong with this project.

    You are completely insane if you think it’s financially respnsible to fully fund the core infrastructure of airports with taxpayer money. Its this kind of thinking that is exactly what is wrong with this project.

    You are completely insane if you think it’s financially respnsible to fully fund the core infrastructure of docks and ports with taxpayer money. Its this kind of thinking that is exactly what is wrong with this project.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    The highway trust funds ran a surplus until the 1980′s when the money began to be used for things like mass transit. Hasn’t run a surplus since.

    Is the use of a canal free to it’s users?

    Airports, again, funded through user fees. Initial investment was nothing in comparison to what is proposed for a single HSR line in California.

    Docks, also funded through user fees.

    Rail? Take money from the Highway Trsust fund, try to swindle politicians to raid the Airport and Airway Trust Fund because it will allegedly reduce demand on airports (yes, this was done as ealry as 2007), then when I don’e have enough money demand that taxpayers write me a blank check.

    A collosal gap between what you mention and what is being proposed here.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The highway trust funds ran a surplus until the 1980′s …

    There’s no reason before or after the 1980s that sales taxes on gasoline should be dedicated to building roads, any more than sales taxes on snacks should go to building potato chip factories.

    It’s all a convenient fiction. Taxes on fuels are not user fees on roads, and are no more so than taxes on cigarettes or computer equipment or furniture.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The highway trust fund had money from gas taxes charged to all drivers, including on roads that are ineligible for gas tax funding. If you deed all bus fares nationwide to Amtrak, Amtrak’s going to start running surpluses, too.

    If instead you want to compare the total gas tax and toll revenues coming from a particular road segment to the cost of building and maintaining the road, the gas taxes and tolls cover at most half the cost. Some highways cover 16%. TXDOT studied this issue and wrote this in a Keep Texas Moving e-newsletter, which was scrubbed from the main site and only exists in various archives; Google “Asset Value Index” and “Keep Texas Moving.”

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @ Richard: Really? How the roads in your town doing? I drive on some pretty shitty roads around certain parts of town, and think roads can’t use all that gas tax money?

    Can the arguments get any dumber around here?

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Here is a link that may help explain how various taxes and fees assessed in connection with motor vehicle fuels get distributed:

    http://www.californiacityfinance.com/HUTAupdate110622.pdf

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @ Rick: And Federal?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    @ Saboering Reality: do you own bloody homework, just once.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Federal funding is based on a heap of standards for road construction. In the critical period, before the Interstates, urban roads were completely ineligible (until 1939) and then only eligible for a small portion of the money (35% from 1939, with “urban” defined as “5,000 people or more”). Roads also had to meet ever-escalating standards for width, minimum design speed, etc. Roads that met the standards got 50% federal funding.

    The reference for this is the intro of Owen Gutfreund’s 20th Century Sprawl, but you can probably read this in any history of US road construction.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @Richard: For once, what are you on mars? More people in here need to do their own homework and stop spreading a bunch of bullshit.

    Joey Reply:

    The people here are prepared to link to relevant data if their argument is questioned. I have trouble remembering you linking to anything but a JetTrain video.

    As for Richard, I’m not sure how he is on matters of funding and finance, but when it comes to railway engineering, he is probably better researched than anyone else on this blog. I’d trust him to do his homework.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Here’s a link. Go get your data. It’s $50k a year:

    http://www.oagaviation.com/

    Joey Reply:

    Just out of interest, do you believe we should stop putting money into local roads because they will never be self-sustaining?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Don’t knwo about your neighborhood, but I paid for mine an dmy property tax does actually cover the cost. Maybe you need a tax increase.

    Joey Reply:

    So how do you differentiate the methods by which roads are paid for in taxes and those by which rail is funded through taxes?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    When wass the last time a person paid a tax on a train ticket to fund an infrastructure bank and where is such a tax proposed in the future?

    This isn’t rocket science.

    Joey Reply:

    So if I don’t own a car I can opt out of the fees that pay for local roads?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The tax on train travel is called a fare.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @ Alon: LOL. So it should be a free ride?

    @Joey: I don’t know, do you eat food? How does it get to the store?

    Joey Reply:

    My point is that everyone pays the same fees regardless of how much they use the infrastructure in question. Why should rail be any different?

    And as for your conversation with Alon, rail is owned and operated publicly (though low level operations are often contracted out). Taxing transactions that are going into public pots anyway is completely redundant (contrast to aviation where tickets are sold by private entities).

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Exactly my pooint. Why shouldn’t rail have the same fees?

    Joey Reply:

    Because the market doesn’t always know what’s best and sometimes it makes sense to shift money in order to encourage people to do one thing even if they would do another by default.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You LOL too much. Yes, there are people who believe transit should be free as an essential public service. I’m not one of them. It doesn’t mean that fares to a publicly-owned transit company are any different from taxes on publicly-owned roads, except in their history. If you try to compare fares to operating costs (incl. depreciation on construction) and gas taxes and tolls to road maintenance costs (incl. depreciation on construction, again), there are more similarities than differences.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @Joey: The market always doesn’t know best so it needs to be encouraged? What the F?
    Exactly how weak of a person are you that such a thought process makes any sense to you at all?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Exactly how weak of a person are you…

    Ia, ia, Ayn Rand fhtagn! Ph’nglui mglw’nafh Ayn Rand R’lyeh wgah’nagl fhtagn!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Got it.

    You’re both socially impared.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Lovecraft > Tolkien.

    And for the record, I’m almost as bitter that At the Mountains of Madness got canceled as that the CAHSR project probably won’t be completed. No way does it make more sense to fund an elf played by Orlando Bloom than to fund a grad student who goes insane at the sight of Yog-Sothoth while trying to escape from a shoggoth.

    Joey Reply:

    How do you respond when people actually vote to fund transit (construction or operations) out of other pots of money (sales taxes, bridge tolls, etc). Should that not be allowed?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Ugh. America 2050 had the same proposal to charge a fee on top of Amtrak tickets. It’s stupid. Passenger rail in the US gets subsidies; charging fees on it is transferring money from one pocket to the other. If you want to reduce government contribution to rail, why not just cut the middleman and reduce the subsidies? (Or, better yet, deregulate certain aspects like rolling stock and staffing so that trains can run profitably…)

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Fine, if its stupid then you have no problem eliminating fees on air travel or vehicle operation.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Vehicles aren’t owned by the government.

    In what way is taxing each train ticket $3 different from cutting Amtrak funding by $3 times its number of passengers?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    So basically, your afraid having user fees on rail tickets makes it more unsustainable than it already is.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Your ability to twist what other people say is astounding. You should consider a career change – lobbyist firms and PR firms probably pay way better than airline traffic management firms.

    No, I’m not afraid of Amtrak funding cuts, and if you look at posts on my blog tagged Amtrak, you’ll see a few in which I attack Amtrak for needing operating subsidies at all. I just think it’s stupid to pretend that a tax on fares is different from a subsidy cut.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Its a certainty that Lobby and PR firms do not pay more. And I don’t work for a ailine traffic management firm, whatever the hell that is.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “Charge a 10% sales tax on tickets to fund infrastructure and charge a $3 fee for using the train station.”

    Tried that in the 19th century. The money got diverted to build airports in the 20th century, penalizing the trains.

    I’m sort of pleased to see the (very recently established) airport taxes, now reproducing the same cycle which hurt the railroads in the 19th century; it is another sign which means airlines are doomed and will be driven out of existence.

    thatbruce Reply:

    There’s a reason behind the joke ‘How do you make a small fortune in the airline business?’ and punchline ‘By starting with a large fortune’.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Teh way to make money in the airline industry is two fold:

    1. Have a CEO that actually knows how to run an airline because he’she came from within.
    2. Have that same CEO be more interested in the airline than his/her wallet.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Probaganda and lies won’t get you anywhere Nathanael.

    Check your history. You look like a fool.

    Joey Reply:

    Maybe instead of name calling you could provide links to data that proves what you’re arguing.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    He’s the one with the lie. Its on him.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The primary reason certain parties are “so hell bent on this ” is that their associates will receive great financial benefit.

    There is a perverse pattern to California planning. The more outrageously dumb a scheme the more likely it will rise to the top of the pile; morph into a holy war of propaganda, pr, and spin; and be implemented. Think Prohibition or just about anything BART.

    But all regimes run down, even the Pelosi “sistema” – picture Jerry Brown as a senescent Vladimir Putin.

    Nathanael Reply:

    You have no idea about perverse planning. SF is sort of bad, but it’s NOTHING compared to what you see in Bangkok, for instance.

    Research the Hopewell project in Bangkok if you want to understand how really bad planning works. Hell, Cincinnati’s unfinished subway is another interesting example.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    So that’s an excuse for more perverse planning?

  3. jimsf
    Dec 28th, 2011 at 20:25
    #3

    As for amtrak’s use of the ics. no one I have asked seems to know anything about it. amtrak is very slow to come around to things. Oh I can see it happening no doubt, but first we will go through a lot of “well you can’t do that because that just isn’t how its done”

    StevieB Reply:

    Amtrak would use the Initial Construction Segment tracks if they get built and then the project ends without further construction. Until that happens it is not in the best interest of Amtrak to spend money on a cost-benefit analysis on a highly speculative outcome.

  4. jimsf
    Dec 28th, 2011 at 20:35
    #4

    my guess is that amtrak’s concern as always is going to be “who will pay” as in who will pay for new rolling stock or new locos, or whatever else is needed in order to make the amtrak trains go on the high speed track. As long as somebody else will pay for it, amtrak will probably be willing to use the new line. (nothing against my employer, but, thats just how things are around here, there’s never any money for anything. its always about “the lack of funding” no matter how good or bad the idea.) You also have to consider that everyone involved with such a switch to use the new line, and or new equipment, will take exception, from clerks like me who may work in a station thats bypassed or relocated, to conductors, to engineers, to road foremen, not to mention the cities who maintain stations and parking facilities. Oh rest assured its going to be a logistical nightmare, and a political fustercluck when everyone whos anyone gets wind that things may … gasp!….. change!!!
    again though thats not to say it won’t work. We just have to wait and see who coughs up enough cash to soothe the process.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    they are going to be building standard gauge track. You could put the trains that are running today on them. You might not want to for a variety of reasons but they could run on the new tracks.

    aw Reply:

    Isn’t California getting some NextGen bilevel cars and locomotives? Those are supposed to be capable of 125 mph.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Yeha, but if your track can’t support it, then it’s useless.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m not sure what you mean by “can’t support it.” Do you mean financially? Because physically, the ICS is built to support the weight of FRA locos. (I think it’s idiotic, but most US rail advocates do not share my views about Amtrak-plus lines.)

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    I wasn’t refering to the ICS. I was talking about existing lines. It’s like buying a porche when you live on Catalina Island.

    Peter Reply:

    Why should existing lines not be able to support 125 mph trains? Especially after PTC is implemented in a few years?

    Joey Reply:

    Curves, mostly. That and the fact that freight railroads probably wouldn’t want it (keeping in mind that the Capital Corridor and San Joaquin run on 100% privately owned track). Bits of LOSSAN could support higher speeds, but it would be quite limited by current cant deficiency rules as well as physical cant being optimized for freight trains rather than passenger trains.

    Peter Reply:

    True. However, doesn’t the FRA have a proposed rule out revising the cant deficiency rules? Wasn’t that supposed to be finalized and published this past September or so?

    Joey Reply:

    It offered some improvement. Not a huge amount though. In order to get real speed on LOSSAN though you’d have to realign a bunch of curves and rebuild even more with higher superelevation.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It does. The limit is 9″ (vs. about 11″ in practice in Europe, with 12″ possible at the cost of more maintenance problems), it requires extensive testing in Pueblo, and it’s based on the performance of the Acela and FRA-Talgos.

    At least it’s not like with the buff strength rule, where the FRA stonewalled.

    thatbruce Reply:

    LOSSAN between Chatsworth and LAUS, and Fullerton to San Diego is all semi-govt owned (Metrolink/Coaster), and has progressive upgrades planned for it that would gradually support higher operating speeds during the expected lifetime of the cars (40 years?).

    Personally, if I’d waited two decades for a car, I might buy something fancy, but a better analogy would be buying a Porsche when you first heard that an autobahn was to be built near you, several years before it was opened.

    Joey Reply:

    Minor correction – Metrolink owns all the track to Moorpark, not Chatsworth.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    No, it’s like having a Porsche on Catalina. There are some streets where you could get some speed, but most of the time you’re accelerating and decelerating.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    That’s like the FAA claiming GPS will solve the world’s airport capacity problems. It’s government crackpot that has no application in the real world. Can GPS deliver? Yes. In a perfect world. The world ain’t perfect. One FAA study actually showed that GPS would allow a single independent runway would be able to support 70 hourly operations and a close parallel over 120 (i.e… LAX with dual pairs could theoretically support 240 operations an hour up from the 180 it can now). Does anyone really believe that’s reasonable by any stretch of the imagination when the best observed rate for a single runway has never exceeded 48 in real world? Does anyone beielve LAX can support a 130% increase in hourly operations?

    Peter Reply:

    Agreed on the GPS solution to aviation capacity. One commenter, Rafael, was arguing precisely that on here a couple years ago. I had to explain to him the issues involved with traffic separation when aircraft. can’t see one another. He just essentially kept on saying “Then they should just develop the technology to safely increase capacity.”

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Oye. We get that all the time with airports. They think NextGen is goign to perform some kind of magic. Most of them are too stupid to get the fact that wwhen it comes to landing cabability, the aircraft avionics have alreayd surpased the ability provided by WAAS. Don’t even get me started on LAAS, suffice it to say the FAA ordered up new localizers and GS’s three years ago for the top 30 airports to buy them another 20 years.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    It’s not so much a visibility issue so much as it is a wake turbulence issue. As aircraft manufacturers reach for better fuel efficiency wingspans will continue to increase. Wingspan increases and increased chord results in higher incidence of wake turbulence requiring increased arrival/departure separation, particularly in the final approach segment. Forward looking infrared will likely eliminate much of the visibility delay in the next 10 years. Of course, with all the “green” movement airports are starting to switch to LED airfield lighting which don’t give off enough heat to see using infrared. High intensity runway lighting will remain, but it won’t do you much good if the taxiway lights don’t’ give off enough head to get you to the ramp area.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Hmmm… is there any way to use LEDs for visibility but at the same time use LEDs or fluorescent lights that emit in the same infrared spectrum that the forward-looking devices see?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Looks like

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @Alon: Not in the forseable future. Its a concern given the investment already made. What will happen is they’ll use it on CAT I runways. CAT II/III will likely require a higher output closeley spaced LED system with no use of the HUD. The upside is green and blue LED taxiway lights are more visible than incandecent. White and Red for runways not so much. Siemens has a product for runways. I’ve seen it and it’s basically crap. You might use it at a GA airport.

    @Paulus: LOL. Radio Shack.

    thatbruce Reply:

    NextGen/ADS-B isn’t ‘just’ GPS. But back to the rail subject at hand instead of veering off into the sky, why do you think that the 125mph-capable cars and locos can’t be supported by the existing track?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Already explained why. Having the ability and using it are two different things.

    Now you’re going to pretend you know something about NextGen… I mean LastGen…Oh and ADS-B has nothing to do with runway throughput. But you wouldn’t know that because wikipedia doesn’t tell you that.

    aw Reply:

    UP and BNSF are not likely to allow it on their tracks. 125 mph operation requires class 7 track, and if I’m not mistaken, no grade crossings.

    Tim Reply:

    Yes on UP and BNSF not allowing it on their tracks (BNSF could possibly be bought for the right price), but class 7 track is allowed to have grade crossings, but with some sort of vehicle stopping barriers (don’t know what that constitutes…)

    Joey Reply:

    American rules allow grade crossings up to 125 mph but that’s quite high by international standards. At that point you really want to grade separate anyway.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Unless you like road kill…

    Clem Reply:

    It’s all academic anyway since high speed absolutely kill track capacity for freight trains, something the owners of the tracks are unlikely to allow no matter how pristine the track.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Alon:

    I’m of the view that the first segment needs to be capable of handling FRA equipment on the off chance that its the only segment built, but additional segments which connect to it do not need such over-build treatment.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If it’s the only segment built, it’s a white elephant, with or without FRA trains.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Then it’s our job to make it a more pleasing color, and join it with others of its herd ;)

    paul dyson Reply:

    The “next gen” is going to look depressingly like the existing fleet with the same lardo weight per pax. They’re also looking at dinosaur upgraded freight locos. Of course you can wond these up to 125 eventually but you won’t gain much compared to 90mph for the short distance involved.

    paul dyson Reply:

    wind not wond!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    90 vs. 125 between Fresno and Bakersfield is roughly 15 minutes. Or can make 3 trips in 4 hours or you can make 4 trips in 4 hours. The crew gets paid by the hour. The passengers pay by the mile.

    paul dyson Reply:

    You’re joking of course. You’d never make that end to end time with heavy diesels and superliner type cars, especially with the slow approach to the terminals. Maybe save 10 minutes with 60 miles at top speed. I don’t know where the 45 minute savings number came from. More CHSRA fiction.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    45 minutes by increasing speeds from 35 to 125.

    paul dyson Reply:

    You’re comparing average speed to top speed. Doesn’t work like that.

    Peter Reply:

    If you raise average speed between Fresno and Bakersfield from the current 52 mph to 81 mph you get the 45 minutes time saving.

    paul dyson Reply:

    I don’t think you’ll make 81mph average with diesel acceleration, an intermediate stop at “Hanford Parkway”, slow movement in and out of the terminals and heavy bi-level cars.

    Peter Reply:

    The only terminal you’d have slow movement in and out of would be Bakersfield. From Madera to just outside Bakersfield you would have a fully grade-separated 220 mph alignment. No reason to not be able to gun it the entire way.

  5. jimsf
    Dec 28th, 2011 at 20:39
    #5

    btw for the used wetnap who blathered on about the virtues of flying out fresno as the end all be all for valley folks’ transport needs…. in fairness, I looked up my trip 14 days out, non holiday period, with a sat night stay just to get the “low’ fare…. much better at 280.00 round trip to santa ana. ( oh yeah its still a 6 hour trip from merced…you know, same as driving.. but at 3 or 4 times the cost. what a deal!)

    synonymouse Reply:

    If it favors your position it’s informed.

    If it opposes, it is biased.

    I guess everyone’s self-righteous and self-serving. Human nature and end of story.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Please..Syn..you A voice of self virtue and Knowledge ..whinning.. after Robert gives you freedom on this board for some of your insane rants…

  6. jimsf
    Dec 28th, 2011 at 21:03
    #6

    synonymouse Reply:
    December 28th, 2011 at 8:42 pm
    If it favors your position it’s informed.
    If it opposes, it is biased.

    What are you talking about. In the last post, someone tried to make the point that the valley doesn’t need hsr because flights from fresno are cheap and hassle free.

    the FACTS however don’t support that conclusion as all I did was look up fares, short notice, and to be fair, advanced notice and compared the costs and travel times.

    It is what it is, and has nothing to do with bias.

    I know I know, im sure its all barts fault right?

    synonymouse Reply:

    I was referring to the primary theme of the thread, which is that Vartabedian is biased because he has the audacity to break cheerleader ranks.

    thatbruce Reply:

    I’ve read some of his non-HSR articles in the LA Times, and the style is much the same. I would guess he picked up his journalistic style by reading articles from the Times’ yellow period (which is to say, more than half of their history) and as a result tends to write articles that are sensationalistic in nature, paints any centralized authority as evil and/or incompetent, and omits or downplays information that is at odds with these aims. It sells papers.

  7. jimsf
    Dec 28th, 2011 at 21:16
    #7

    clearly he is biased, not because he disaagrees but because the arguments he makes are disengenuous. (in fact blatant and obvious disingenuousness has become de rigueur on the right to the point that its boring as hell to listen to them argue a point)

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah, Yer right Jim, they are boring. Hey maybe We could use them to bore tunnels… ;)

    Nathanael Reply:

    Note that we don’t consider Clem biased, because Clem’s arguments are generally *very* well-founded.

  8. Sobering Reality
    Dec 29th, 2011 at 08:37
    #8

    Why do you keep starting new threads?

    jimsf Reply:

    the other computer I use will not let me use the “reply”

  9. Sobering Reality
    Dec 29th, 2011 at 08:38
    #9

    Nevermind, its this damn forum again.

    Spokker Reply:

    The Internet is hard work. Please leave the trolling to the professionals. I’ve been trained in the best trolling academies of the land.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not sure where you trained, but I trained on feminist blogs.

    Spokker Reply:

    That’s called posting on “easy mode.” I trained on Ron Paul message boards. That’s black belt tier right there.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Double black belt is freerepublic.com based in lovely Fresno.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I yield the floor to you. I’ve only trained with Paulistas briefly, on a few errant Facebook threads.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    You must like torture.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I trained on Usenet, where the truly skilled trolls with the longest experience started. People would write single troll comments which spawned flamewars among *other* people (no further commentary by original troll needed), without the trolls being identified as trolls for months (by anyone!).

    The “Cat among the pigeons” style of trolling — by far the most elegant. It requires spotting a pre-existing fracture line in the community and using it while playing dumb.

    Though I have to say, Spokker, you’re actually quite good at subtle trolling, so those Ron Paul messageboards must be good practice.

    Nathanael Reply:

    By the way, I believe it is impossible to successfully troll alt.swedish.chef.bork.bork.bork.

    Jonathan Reply:

    or sci.physics.fusion.edward. teller.boom.boom.boom….

  10. Sobering Reality
    Dec 29th, 2011 at 09:23
    #10

    LOL.

  11. Ben
    Dec 29th, 2011 at 11:59
    #11

    Once again, passenger rail and transit are held to completely different standards than highways. There is no clamoring that this highway has a failed business model or that it is a boondoggle. The San Joaquin Hills Corridor tollroad also needed a billion dollar bailout in 2005 (http://articles.latimes.com/2005/nov/11/local/me-bailout11).

    South Bay Expressway: Bankrupted Toll Road Tests Transportation Department Program

    Huffington Post
    12/27/2011
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/27/transportation-department-south-bay-expressway_n_1171842.html?ref=mostpopular

    “When federal officials finalized a loan to a consortium building a toll road through open country in San Diego County near the Mexican border in 2003, they had high hopes for the project: the South Bay Expressway. Taking advantage of the Transportation Infrastructure Finance and Innovation Act, the investors behind the four-lane highway sought to prove that the private sector had a role to play in America’s transportation infrastructure.

    Unlike other so-called “brownfield” acquisitions of existing toll roads like the Chicago Skyway, the South Bay Expressway was supposed to serve as evidence that private industry could build “greenfield” highways with a little help from the feds…”

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    So private investors built it and lost money because it cost too much so they had to charge too much and the local government (whose environmental policies drove up costs and delayed construction) gets the road for a song.

    You’re complaining because?

    Ben Reply:

    Come on, we hear all the time from the teabagger critics of this that if there was demand for high speed rail (or any transit, for that matter) the private sector would provide it. Similarly, we also hear from these uninformed critics that roads are profitable (flatly false) and high speed rail will be a boondoggle. From the limited experience of private firms tolling California’s roads, these appear to be the boondoggles, although I doubt you’ll ever see Reason Foundation, Inc. or Cato/Koch Industries admit that.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    My problem isn’t HSR or even some government funding. My problem is the inept leadership of the CAHSRA, the exploding costs and what I view as a bullshit passenger forecast. In the end, this is what makes it a boondoggle, yet some peopel in here want to run around as if everything is just hunky doory. It’s not. This thing is an f-ing mess.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I don’t blame you for having problems with the authority and the costs (although some would suggest the costs and the passenger counts might be conservative, i.e., the costs include what may be a high inflationary factor). But what is the alternative? Do we proceed with what is available now and get something out of it that performs at least halfway decently (and turns out to be essential in spite of its flaws when oil goes up again), or do we kill the project and get nothing and get stuck up the creek when oil goes up again or even becomes unavailable?

    Do you know how long it has taken to get to even this point?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    The alternative is simply to provide a statewide rail system by connecting the open dots in the system. It doesn’t have to be “high speed”, but it should be double tracked, have frequent service and run at higher speed. This mix match of controlling agencies has to go as well. People have to start thinking longer term, meaning, this project isn’t going to prove nay sayers wrong. It’s done nothing but prove them right. It won’t matter if we get high speed rail, because no one else will. The claim that we are “boldly moving ahead” is horseshit. We’re foolishly driving a stake into HSR in the US.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    What you propose is a reasonable suggestion, but if you take a look at the comments by some anti-rail people below, that still won’t fly with that crowd; nothing will.

    To do what you suggest will also require more than a little new construction, as others here have argued in statements about different routings. If you are going to have to build a new line, you might as well build it to the highest standard you can afford. To not do so would be like building a new Interstate highway with only two lanes (one in each direction) and to the curvature and grade standards of the pre-Interstate era–with the restrictions in operation inherent in old roads like the famous Route 66 and Lincoln Highway of the past. . .fun roads, by the way, but not what you would build today.

    Nathanael Reply:

    OMG. That reminds me. There’s an expressway in Connecticut built to the curvature and grade standards of the old non-limited-access roads. And half the exits are on each side.

    It is the most painful road I have ever driven on.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Merritt a.k.a. Route 15? It’s supposed to be winding twisting etc. so you can better appreciate your Sunday drive in the country. It’s not an expressway, it’s a Parkway

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Try Australia where differnet rail guage between neighboring states. Talk about an epic fail.

    Joey Reply:

    If I’m not mistaken, a lot of gauging issues were the result of lines being build by different private entities that had little interest in interoperability.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Australia’s gauge issues are because the lines were built by different colonies, each using a different rail planner who recommended a different gauge. Britain tried, but couldn’t, impose uniformity. Australia as a unified country didn’t exist until 1901.

    Joey Reply:

    The issue is that such a system would have to conform to ridiculous FRA crash standards, which jack up capital costs as well as operating costs, cut performance, and overall would severely hamper the success of any system you try to build.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @DP: The alternative is to simply build rail vs. high speed rail. You do so by filling the gaps. It costs a lot less and for those who want to take the train, they have a vaiable service. The idea that it must at all cost be high speed is simply absurd. A 90 MPH express train will beat a car from Fresno to San Francisco. Its not going to beat a plane, but is it worth that much more just to grab those 10 passengers a day from the airlines? Or 50 per day to LA? The answer is clearly no.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Just in case you don’t believe me and others when we say we have a LOT of ideological opposition, I’ll let you take a look at this quote from someone who thinks rail is no good for America in any way, shape, or form; he’s commenting on the prospect of a lack of funding at the Federal level for HSR on a website called the Infrastructurist:

    “Common sense has triumphed in America. The “Amtrak on Steroids” money loser that would have been American High-Speed Rail is dead, hopefully for good. Kudos to the Republicans for being forward-looking and stopping the “train to nowhere”. Although I’m sure the environ-weenies, overpaid union workers, train lobby, railfans, and urbanist hipsters are upset, few others will lament the loss of this centralized big-government boondoggle.

    “America is too spread out for rail travel to work. Most of us live in suburban/exurban/rural areas and aren’t packed into dense city centers like sardines in a can, the way that Europeans and Asians tend to be. Americans don’t like trains. For short trips, we’ll drive—for long ones, we’ll fly with our excellent, profitable, free-market airline system that will get you where you want to go cheaper and quicker than any train. Driving provides point-to-point travel in your own safe, comfortable, private vehicle. We like our convenience and privacy here in the States and traveling by rail doesn’t hold the same appeal that it does in collectivist areas of the world like Europe or Asia. When you drive, you’re in control—not some government bureaucrat in Washington. Americans value our freedom and independence, something liberals fail to understand.

    Quite simply, the already overburdened taxpayer would have had to had paid through the nose for this project—first to build this socialist monstrosity, and then to subsidize its empty trains running from one Democrat Party-controlled decaying urban hellhole to another, year after year. If that’s not the definition of insanity, I don’t know what is.

    “Choo-choo fans for some reason can’t understand that the car and later the airplane made rail travel obsolete by the mid-50′s. For “progressives”, they’re really stuck in the past!!

    “If we need to spend money on infrastructure, let’s spend it on a proven model—the highway. We need more highways, wider highways, and more limited-access roads to better connect our suburbs to one another. Suburbs, which are not served well by railroads, are when people actually want to live and are models of efficiency and economic self-sufficiency. Read Joel Kotkin, Wendell Cox, and Randal O’Toole for more information on why the edge city and personal transportation via the auto will be the continuing development model of the 21st century.”

    Here is the same person referring to another comment by a “horseless carriage enthusiast” (description of the pro-highway crowd by another poster at the Infrastructurist) and also to my comments on that page about the generational factor:

    “— —- is right. The bus operators and airlines turn a profit because they exist in response to free-market demand, and aren’t the pipe-dream utopian creations of some overpaid central planner flying a desk in Washington, or some latte-sipping liberal policy guru making cute light-rail schemes in his downtown office on the taxpayer’s dime. These industries/modes support themselves and aren’t moochers from the productive taxpayer. Get Real, Colin Prime, and Eric F. are generally the only voices of reason I hear around here.

    “And yes, D. P. Lubic, I am a member of the older generation (though not the Greatest Generation that saved the world from fascism and made the world safe for democracy and free markets) and remember the end of the choo-choo era before planes and the car put this outmoded technology out to pasture for good…or would have if it hadn’t been for RINO turncoat Nixon and his silly Amtrak scheme. Travel was slower, less comfortable, more cumbersome, more expensive, and more centralized. And more centered on major cities instead of even distributed the way the road network is (that is to say, it was biased to urban areas at the expense of people who preferred not to live in filthy, crime-ridden, high-tax hellholes). But as Rick Perry has been able to gut the unconstitutional EPA in Texas (also started by Nixon), maybe the next president (which we will have in 2012) will be able to gut Amtrak and re-allocate its funding to projects that would actually help most Americans (highways) or just give the money back to the people in the form of lower taxes.

    “If trains turned a profit they wouldn’t need massive subsidies. That’s an irrefutable fact. Liberals/socialists/statists are always looking overseas for “what works” there (single-payer healthcare, man-made “global warming”, the safety net, high-speed rail, etc.). We conservatives are different. Even if there are aspects of other nations that are positive, we readily accept that what works in one nation may not work in another. Indeed, we’re proud of the fact that America is not Europe or Canada and is not going to be. We have a different heritage, a different history (the U.S. saved Europe four times in the last 100 years), a different culture, a different Constitution, and a different role to play in the world. That’s because real conservatives accept the uniqueness of the American way of life. We accept it and we’re proud of it. Just because an expensive, centralized, coercive, collectivist solution works in a country where concepts like freedom, individuality, and prosperity are not held in high regard is no reason to try to change the U.S. to be more like those places.”

    For the record, part of one of my responses there, addressed to another poster and rail promoter:

    “. . .He forgets, or never learned, that then and NOW the freight rail industry is still profitable–and pays property taxes on all that real property it still owns. He forgets, and will not learn, that his road system does not cover full costs, and never has. He forgets, and never learned, that railroads, operating both freight and passenger service, were what made victory in WW II possible, and that that victory would have been impossible without them–and in a big fight again today, that would still hold. He apparently never learned, and will not learn, that rail travel can be a grand experience–and you don’t always need a first-class ticket to enjoy it. He and Get Real both choose to ignore the limitations of auto travel, with which I am acutely aware of by virtue of all the driving I do on my job, despite having a pretty decent car.

    “My experiences, by the way, are strictly American; I’ve never been to Europe or Japan. I have, however, ridden trolleys in Pittsburgh and Baltimore, a subway in Washington, DC, Amtrak and commuter trains between Martinsburg, W.Va. and Washington. Best of all have been the excursion trains, most behind steam power, running up the beautiful New River in West Virginia, down the Southern Railway (now Norfolk Southern) line from Washington, DC to Charlottseville, Va. (the latter home to Thomas Jefferson and his University of Virginia and his beloved Monticello), and a diesel trip down the Shenandoah Valley to Luray, Va. There were also heritage short line rail trips, including a road from Cumberland to Frostburg, a mountain-climbing road from Cass, W. Va. to Bald Know (from which you can see five states), the pleasant little Strasburg Rail Road that really does run from Strasburg to Paradise, and the finest of all (at least for me), the wonderful time machine that is the East Broad Top Railroad and Coal Company.

    “When I say we need trains here, it isn’t from looking at what was in Europe–it comes from looking at what we had here, in America, and what we can still get a glimpse of.”

    Should you be interested, the whole exchange can be read at the link below:

    http://www.infrastructurist.com/2011/11/18/the-daily-dig-death-to-high-speed-rail-maybe/

    Just to let you know, yes, we do get some insanely wild criticisms. . .

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Just for fun, an even wilder comment by a member of the pro-car crowd, talking in this case about renovations being proposed for the historic Union Station in Washington, DC:

    “I propose that Democrats show a little good will this Holiday season and save American taxpayer dollars by tearing down the old station and building a more cost reductive UNSUBSIDIZED Greyhound station next to a Walmart that would occupy the site. The property tax revenues would pay for any extra costs of severing union contracts with the choo choo station.

    “It costs less focus on two forms of transpiration (air and road) than three. Our forefathers saw that trains were a bad idea and redundant. That’s why they property taxed the tracks and not the airports and streets. Because they saw that trains were a costly drain that didn’t create jobs. If Obama cares so much about creating jobs, why not remove regulations and let the market build as many Walmarts and freeway lanes as the public demands? Construction companies have rights too, not just train unions.”

    The whole exchange:

    http://www.infrastructurist.com/2011/12/13/the-daily-dig-why-washington-dcs-union-station-needs-an-upgrade/#comments

    I actually think this person may really be a rail supporter working too hard at spoofing the pro-car crowd–but also I’ve heard and seen enough comments not too far off from this that I can’t claim this person is a total spoof with absolute certainty.

    jimsf Reply:

    I’m always intrugued by modern folks, who generally can’t even find their own state on a map, but who seem to br intimately familiar with what the “forefathers” ( and ususally god) said, thought, and inteneded.

    Loren Petrich Reply:

    D.P. Lubic: I actually think this person may really be a rail supporter working too hard at spoofing the pro-car crowd–but also I’ve heard and seen enough comments not too far off from this that I can’t claim this person is a total spoof with absolute certainty.

    Welcome to Poe’s Law, which states that it can be difficult to distinguish various sorts of crackpottery from parodies of it.

    Loren Petrich Reply:

    I was quoting D. P. Lubic in my previous post.

  12. Emma
    Dec 29th, 2011 at 12:38
    #12

    You know what? The arguments brought here and looking at the horrible LA-IE-SD 2011 plan, convinced me to support HSR through LOSSAN.

    There are more populous cities in that area, it is along the coast, travelling time would be even shorter, and very simple said: all we need on that track is an “upgrade”: Some viaducts here, resolving ROW there. I think there would be more political will to go through an EIR for LOSSAN section anyway.

    Emma Reply:

    I only know very little about EIRs, but couldn’t we speed up the EIR for LA-SD by “simply” borrowing some of Amtrak’s rail improvement plans for the same section?

    I am still in favor of starting construction on LA-SD at the same time as SF-LA and I have already listed the reasons. But I can’t say it enough. 2/3 of the California population live in SoCal. The only argument in favor of beginning construction North of LA is because it is cheaper. But it also provides the least revenue.

    If we built the LA-SD section, San Diego Coaster, Pacific Surfliner, Metrolink and freight rail could make use of portions of the track long before CHSR uses it. And even if CHSR would run out of funds, any upgrade on this section would benefit railways in California by reducing traveling times or heck, finally electrifying that ridiculous system of ours.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Both Metrolink and Coaster have plans in place for upgrading LOSSAN between LA to SD, ‘as funding permits’. A small subset of cities have separate plans for adding road/rail grade separations along the corridor, again ‘as funding permits’.

    While the magic HSR fairy could wave its monetary wand at this corridor and speed up the existing plans, the politics of the situation has resulted in the EIR focus being on the Central Valley.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Last I heard they just got the funding to upgrade the remaining sections from San Diego to Los Angeles. That said, hadn’t been to San Diego in nearly two years. Drove down the other day and they were still working on the same damn bridge about midway through Camp Pendleton. They were driving piles two years ago. Talk about a WTF moment.

    Peter Reply:

    I believe they got funding for a couple of the remaining sections. There are still major bottlenecks that have yet to be resolved.

    paul dyson Reply:

    Quite so. And these upgrades will bring it up to mid 20th century standards. The LOSSAN corridor is just not suitable for sustained high speed running but can be upgraded to be a half way decent regional line. It’s amazing that we still have sections of single track on the corridor that connects the second and eighth largest cities in the country. But of course the FRA says that Bakersfield – Fresno is more important! And Arnie notoriously pulled the LOSSAN funding application for $1billion stimulus “shovel ready” projects as he was advised that we should only apply for HSR funds. And these truly were shovel ready.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Don’t blame the Bako-Fresno bit on the FRA. The requirement to start in the Valley was put there by USDOT, which most likely did it by van Ark’s request, in order to keep the money away from the Peninsula. Before the feds mandated that construction start in the CV, the Bay Area power brokers wanted to start with SF-SJ.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Did California apply for anything other than the Central Valley? I don’t remember. ( or care ) The 8 Billion dollars was appropriated with the intention that it be spent quickly. At the rate the Californians are goni they will still be selecting concrete colors in 2033.

    Joey Reply:

    In the first round SF-SJ and LA-Anaheim were included and the feds didn’t express any preference. In the second round everything was about the Central Valley.

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    “And Arnie notoriously pulled the LOSSAN funding application for $1billion stimulus “shovel ready” projects as he was advised that we should only apply for HSR funds.”

    Yeah, that was a fiasco. How many jobs do you suppose the HSR project has cost us so far?

    StevieB Reply:

    SANDAG is double tracking a little bit of LOSSAN now that will improve 5 miles of track.

    The project includes the construction of a 1.9-mile second main track from Carlsbad Village Drive southward past Cannon Road and the construction of a second rail bridge over Agua Hedionda lagoon. When completed, the project will result in the creation of a five-mile stretch of continuous double track in Carlsbad.

    Over $20 million of federal money was recently provided to plan upgrades on another 10 miles of the 128 mile corridor but no funding for construction is in place.

    Peter Reply:

    If you’re referring to the Trestles Bridge, they have to stop construction between February and September in order to “accommodate the nesting season of the California Gnatcatcher and the Least Bell’s Vireo.”

    Nathanael Reply:

    Due to the historic pattern of construction in those areas, the railroad goes through what are now extremely ecologically sensitive areas. (There used to be lots more areas hosting such species, but people built houses on all of ‘em.)

    Another reason to go inland.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    So they can pave over the endangered species known as central valley dwellers?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Environmental bullshit aside, over two years is far too long.

    Peter Reply:

    And it would have taken less time if the environmental issues hadn’t existed. I guess you don’t like the Endangered Species Act?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Not stupid crap like this.

    Peter Reply:

    What isn’t “stupid crap” for you when it comes to the ESA?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Oh my God you must be kidding? For such an endangered species both have stopped more projects than I care to count in the last decade. Endangered my ass.

    StevieB Reply:

    LOSSAN sections are owned by five separate entities. Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway (BNSF), Orange County Transportation Authority (OCTA), North County Transit District (NCTD), and the San Diego Metropolitan Transportation Development Board (MTDB). Each separately would be tasked with planning project EIR for upgrades within their sections.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Another waste of money. Do we really need that many agencies insidefo one region to get from point a to point b on a flippin’ train?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    NCTD, OCTA, MTA, and MTDB own it on behalf of SCRRA if memory serves. However, the various LOSSAN groups are in the process of forming a joint powers authority for LOSSAN to have it controlled by just one agency.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many Dept. of Public Works or whatever they want to call it are there in each county in California? And there’s the county level one and then Caltrans. Merge ‘em all. what dya need all those agencies for?

    paul dyson Reply:

    About 3 years ago I wrote in the RailPAC Review “So many agencies, so little service”, also published in the on line edition of the LA Times. I also wrote about the Berlin Wall at Oceanside where NCTD and Metrolink “interface”. No coordination, no cooperation. Taxpayer pays and pays for duplicate facilities. NCTD is making it worse by contracting its own dispatching, (used to be done by Metrolink). Also remember that the LOSSAN corridor stretches to San Luis Obispo and so UP is involved north of LA.
    I could have written the same piece about Northern CA with ACE, Caltrain, San Joaquins and Cap Cor. Ridership goes up by 3% and they all congratulate themselves. Still can’t buy a ticket from Davis to Palo Alto!

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    I take it then you’re rather encouraged by the new JPA and the LA-SD commuter trains coming in 2012?

    paul dyson Reply:

    The JPA does not go nearly far enough. It’s a replica of CapCor. We need to abolish NCTD as a train operator, and form a southern CA JPA to include Riverside, San Bernardino and Imperial counties as well as the existing LOSSAN members. One passenger train operator for the whole region, one equipment type, one schedule, one administration, one procurement etc.
    And before I hear a complaint about equipment, the passenger car hulls can be compatible but we can have commuter and “intercity” versions depending on the route.

    Donk Reply:

    This is logical, but I bet it as as simple as San Diego not wanting its big brother (LA) running its rail service. People in San Diego simply don’t want to be associated with the whole LA-Ventura-Orange-Riverside-San Bernardino thing.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Seems like you’d rather have, oh, I don’t know, a single nationally funded agency (we could call it “Amtrak”) which got enough money to provide all this service?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Didn’t say that.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    With close to 60% of the budget being spent in some areas on employee costs…. Not a bad idea. The level of duplication at this point is bordering on the absurd. Everyone ought to pay melo-roos too beforfe our schools completely crap out.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Ooh, so Mr. SR, you would support nationalization of the railroads, along the line of Clement Atlee’s British Rail — get everything under one agency?

    If so, you have been giving a very different impression of your political views!

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Merging control of a single type of transportation system is a practical decision, not a political one. You can have local control of a station (ie – each city determines the type of station it woudl want and funds it in a way suitable for their market – much like an airport), but singular control of the rail and it’s corridors makes sense (much like airspace).

    Don’t pretend that you know anything about me politically.

    William Reply:

    LOSSAN corridor was the preferred LA-SD HSR alignment before coastal communities made a big deal of not wanting their view and access to the beach blocked by elevated ROW and electrified centenary structures.

    So, if one wants LA-SD preferred alignment to go back to LOSSAN corridor, please convince the coastal communities to drop their opposition to HSR structures.

    Joey Reply:

    I’ve looked at the corridor, and it looks like the areas where this would be an issue (San Clemente and Del Mar) would have to be realigned away from the beach anyway.

    William Reply:

    Good to know, but wouldn’t that requires long tunnels on a more inland route?

    StevieB Reply:

    Three tunnel sections are recommended in the LOSSAN program EIR. San Clemente, Del Mar and I-5/805 Split To Hwy 52.

    Joey Reply:

    San Clemente wouldn’t have to be 100% tunneled. There’s enough room along some parts of I-5 to build at-grade. Other sections could be cut-and-cover.

    Donk Reply:

    Yeah, but the beach communities all along the route from San Clemente to Del Mar are also opposed to having OCS blocking their beach views.

    Joey Reply:

    If I’m not mistaken, the cutoff sections (San Clemente and Del Mar) account for nearly all of the territory where there is actually a risk of blocking views. There’s a short section from Encinitas to Cardiff-by-the-Sea that might be an issue, but other than that there’s a development buffer pretty much everywhere, meaning that people to the East of the tracks don’t have ocean views anyway.

    StevieB Reply:

    The LOSSAN Record of Decision rejected HSR with the following statement.

    The FRA and the California High-Speed Rail Authority
    (Authority), in conjunction with the Department, initially investigated the potential of utilizing
    the LOSSAN corridor for a dedicated, high-speed train (HST) system. Based on that work,
    the Department concluded that a dedicated HST corridor with separate tracks for HST and
    conventional rail service was impracticable in the severely constrained LOSSAN corridor.
    The HST alternative would create significant operational conflicts with existing, conventional
    passenger and freight rail in the corridor, and significant environmental impacts in the
    narrow LOSSAN right-of-way which traverses sensitive natural areas along the southern
    California coast. Separately, FRA and the Authority selected a corridor from Los Angeles to
    Ontario and then along the I-15 to San Diego for the dedicated statewide HST system.
    Conventional rail was therefore determined to be the only practicable rail technology within
    the LOSSAN corridor south of Irvine.

    Peter Reply:

    So, in other words, this ROD is out-of-date in light of the fact that the Authority is no longer insisting on dedicated HSR tracks at all costs?

    Donk Reply:

    Seriously, was this the problem? I thought the opposition was just to OCS and grade separations. If they were talking about a quadruple tracked, elevated corridor along the whole LOSSAN route, no wonder why people were pissed. Seems like they should go back to “value engineering” on this route as well.

    Man, the people in charge of CHSRA under the Arnie administration were morons.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Seriously, was this the problem? I thought the opposition was just to OCS and grade separations. If they were talking about a quadruple tracked, elevated corridor along the whole LOSSAN route, no wonder why people were pissed. Seems like they should go back to “value engineering” on this route as well.

    Man, the people in charge of CHSRA under the Arnie administration were morons.

    To be fair, there are some idiot NIMBYs as well (there’s some old news stories about the plans for tunneling Del Mar having opposition from folks for environmental reasons, even though the alternative would be to let the bluffs collapse from train activity) and some plans were just plain stupid (the “cut and cover through downtown San Juan Capistrano” tunnel plan died a deserving death in favor of a bored tunnel elsewhere), but yeah. There were basically just two proposed ideas: high speed diesels interoperating with the corridor traffic and 220mph on dedicated tracks. HSDiesels were rejected for one seat reasons and the dedicated tracks got rejected for being stupid.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Actually, IIRC, capacity computations said they were gonna need more than two tracks between SD and LA in the long run. It seemed to make sense to use the coastal route for the locals and the inland route for the expresses.

    I’m not sure I believe the capacity computations, they should be revisited.

    Joey Reply:

    Just because you need more capacity than two tracks can deliver doesn’t mean you need to have more than two tracks for the whole way, particularly if your capacity problems are caused more by differing speeds than saturation with a single service pattern (which is probably the case because LOSSAN isn’t going to get 20 tph any time in the next 50 years). And some sections are quite easy to quad-track.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Pretty much. To be honest, I really don’t see the logic behind insisting on one seat rides between San Diego and the rest of the state, it’s not that critical of a market for the ridership losses from transferring to be all that bad. A few express one seat rides from Irvine north gets the southern end of the LA region for air travel diversion and then you save billions by not building a tunnel and bridgegasm through the IE.

    paul dyson Reply:

    Don’t agree. It’s hard enough to get people out of their cars without forcing a change of train. This is not Europe or Asia. We need to resolve compatibility issues so that we could run e.g. a push pull diesel train from San Diego to L.A. via LOSSAN composed of HSR coaches that then couple to a LAUS – San Jose train. At San Jose you do something similar and run sections up the peninsula and east bay. And remember that San Diego is the eighth largest city in the country, and well connected with their light rail system. “Not that critical of a market”? I hardly think so. Especially as, being at the extreme end of the system, will generate highest fare revenue.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    HSR takes too long San Diego-SF/SAC for it to have a very major impact on air travel. Given the cost, you’re better off doing a timed transfer and spending the money on improving northern LOSSAN. My own personal preference is to electrify the whole of LOSSAN and use FRA waivers to allow a one seat ride, but if I had to choose between a one seat with all the added expense of running in the IE or having any through passengers transfer at LAUS, I’d take the transfer.

    As for coupling coaches, get real. It may work fine and dandy for the 19th century and Amtrak long distance, but it’s a stupid method of doing things with HSR.

    paul dyson Reply:

    Coupling and decoupling sets can be quite a slick operation. Not ideal, but then again we cannot afford ideal all at once, we have to build in stages. As for the SD market, it’s not only air, and not all air travel is equally time sensitive.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Yes, one can couple an HSR set to another HSR set, and run a double-length HSR trainset.

    No, you CANNOT couple HSR train-sets, to an FRA-compatible locomotive, and run the resulting train on FRA tracks with other FRA trains. Why? Because the HSR set is, by definition, not FRA-compliant. (If you make it FRA-compliant, it’s no longer HSR. See Acela.)

    Also: no, you CANNOT couple individual HSR cars to an FRA-compliant locomotive.
    If it’s a TGV-technology trainset, the coaches *share* a truck at each end with the adjacent coach at that end. Coupling/uncoupling can be done only at a heavy maintenance fail facility, and requires substitution to make up a functional trainset.
    If it’s an ICE/VElaro-technology trainset, then each coach in the trainset has bogies at each end; but DBAG and Siemens found that, in order to adequately seal the cars together, to avoid unacceptable aerodynamic effects; thus the train-sets have to be operated as semi-permanently-coupled units in any case.

    I can’t speak to the Shinkansen; but those would also fail to meet FRA standards.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Nobody couples individual cars. SNCF used to couple TGV sets to a diesel locomotive, and the Tohoku Shinkansen runs two trainsets coupled, one built specifically to stay on the main line and one to branch out to the Mini-Shinkansen lines.

    Peter Reply:

    Agree with the electrification of LOSSAN and running HSR trains on a waiver. It seems to be the only thing that makes financial sense for SD-LA.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The Swiss can and do efficiently handle trains splitting and joining, but US regulations seem to make it a tedious process fraught with delay….

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    There’s very little in-revenue make/break on the standard gauge Swiss network as far as I recall.

    Pieces are joined and broken to lengthen some trains for peak service hours, but I can’t think of much en-route action. (I’m sure I’m wrong, but the exceptions aren’t numerous.)

    You need the run to be long enough and the crew cost savings to be high enough or the stretch of track so absolute saturated with traffic that these factors can make up for the time and space (station tracks and yard tracks) and risk of all that faffing about. And remember, Switzerland has the densest traffic (trains/track/day) network in the world: they generally seem to find that better timetabling, signalling, maintenance and risk management comes out ahead.

    One first needs a bigger country (eg Germany) and also more under-used over-sized steam legacy stations than CH has.

    About the only place in-service make/break makes sense is a combination of long distance trains (hour plus runs) with over-sized junction stations at the approach to over-subscibed terminal stretches.

    It’s all a bit of a red herring and an exercise in nostalgia.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    As Richard says, there is essentially no splitting/joining trains in Switzerland. What exists, is lengthening/shortening, but that happens primarily at the end points of the service, or where the train gets reversed.

    More splitting/joining action can be found in Germany, however. One example is one of the S-Bahn lines in München, where the train is split into one section going to the airport, and the other section going further out to the countryside. If I remember correctly, the time allowed for the joining is around 3 minutes. And it happens three times an hour…

    Another spllitting/joining action (at least used to be) happens with ICE trains between Berlin and the wider Ruhr area.

    In general, spitting/joining is advisable when the line capacity is limited (such as in the city tunnel in München with at least 24 tph per direction).

    Jonathan Reply:

    From the 1950s through to the late 80s, SBB used to split the Rheingold at SBB Basel.
    The history of the Rheingold is off-topic here, but with the SBB/DB locomotive change and reversing at SBB Basel, through-coaches to or from Milano, Chur, Zurich, Luzern and Chiasso (depending on decade) were cut on or off.

    Part of the reason SBB doesn’t cut through-carriages on or off is that the long-distance international trains where that used to happen, are now trainsets. And it’s more efficient to do timed platform-to-platform transfers.

    In Germany, the ICE-2 and ICE-3 trainsets often run coupled in pairs for part of the run, then split into individual trainsets. On the reverse trip, the trainsets couple. With the automatic Scharfenbert couplers with auto-retracting aerodynamic doors, coupling takes some tens of seconds. (ICE-1s don’t run coupled, because an ICE-1 consist is the length of 2 coupled ICE-2 or ICE-3 consists, and the ICE-1 power cars don’t have nose couplers.)

    jimsf Reply:

    THe IE plan is not horrible. It gives travlers from other parts of the state more access to more places. Thats what I want. Not a faster trip to san diego, but more fast access to as many places

    Peter Reply:

    I have to agree with Emma that it’s crap. It’s extraordinarily expensive, while we could get MUCH more bang for the buck by putting the money into the LOSSAN corridor.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Here’s how ‘bang for the buck” always, always, works with Amtrak and with “sharing” investments with FRA freight:

    Step 1. Dig a hole.
    Step 2. Fill with money.
    Step 3. Repeat.

    Peter Reply:

    So, instead build a completely new and astronomically expensive alignment through the IE, or build dedicated HSR tracks along LOSSAN? Because, other than track-sharing on LOSSAN, those are the only two other options on the table.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Yes. With FRA rail failure is guaranteed. No question. No exceptions possible.

    With a separate system, failure is only extremely likely.

    Amtrak/FRA/Metrolink/freight business as usual is extraordinarily expensive, for regulatory and cultural and procurement capture reasons, and the outcomes are dismal. There’s no way it can change.

    You get all the disadvantages of the corrupt, incompetent, insular and ignorant American Transportation Planners and engineering consultants in either case, but in the “shared” scenario you also borrow infinite trouble by always playing by somebody else’s rules (arbitrary and frequently changing ones), always being on the hook for somebody else’s “costs” and “impacts” (mostly imaginary, where the sky’s the limit), and always being a cash-cow tenant on somebody else’s property.

    The whole system is rigged perfectly for financial catastrophe, and that’s what it delivers every time. Check out the sunk costs of the “successful” railfanboy orgasm Capitol Corridor sometime. Or try to spot the “investments” made in Caltrain over two decades of the public throwing money at FRA railroading. Ask yourself how many decades — if ever — and how many tens of billions of dollars it would take Metrolink to offer “commuter railroading” frequencies at 19th century speeds. It really is a black hole.

    I hate duplicative effort and recognise and applaud smart engineering and smart public efforts more than the rest of you put together, but it became blindingly obvious to me 20 or more years ago that it was never going to work to try to play nicely with “partners” who aspire only to failure.

    If you want any sort of success for any kind of passenger rail in the US, by definition you have to be working outside of and separate from the FRA/freight/Amtrak/commuter railroading cesspool. No choice, no question.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Temecula is pretty much the only place getting new rail access. And quite frankly, there are more people wanting to go to or from the coastal line than there are the IE.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    Riverside (also close to San Bernardino) and the rapidly growing northern SD County/Escondido would get much faster access than today to larger employment centers. The IE alignment provides a huge upgrade to travel within the LA region and to a lesser extend the SD region. The point is, HSR is very useful along the IE corridor, especially the portion from LAUS out to Riverside.

    I also think they should consider a station in Mission Valley if they can figure out a way to get down I-8 toward the downtown, which woud provide access right in the middle of SD county, tying the region together further.

    LOSSAN should also be improved of course. One thing to keep in mind is hydrogen fuel cells are being developed for trains and tend to work much better at that scale v. automobiles. This may be solution for the LOSSAN, rather than standard electrification/OCS (given the NIMBY/cost issues).

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Riverside (also close to San Bernardino) and the rapidly growing northern SD County/Escondido would get much faster access than today to larger employment centers. The IE alignment provides a huge upgrade to travel within the LA region and to a lesser extend the SD region. The point is, HSR is very useful along the IE corridor, especially the portion from LAUS out to Riverside.

    Riverside and San Bernadino traffic is going to be commuter traffic. Seventy miles of tunnel and 220mph trains is a piss poor way of serving them. Riverside and San Bernadino lines need to have commuter relevant upgrades, not high speed intercity trains. The same goes for upgrading Escondido, which luckily comes hand in hand with upgrading LOSSAN.

    LOSSAN should also be improved of course. One thing to keep in mind is hydrogen fuel cells are being developed for trains and tend to work much better at that scale v. automobiles. This may be solution for the LOSSAN, rather than standard electrification/OCS (given the NIMBY/cost issues).

    People don’t propose electrification for passenger trains because of “herp derp green,” but because they allow a train to accelerate like a bat out of hell, which fuel cells will not (also, hydrogen creating centers are incredibly polluting). And electrification is cheap if you have someone remotely competent (i.e., not someone in America) handling it. At European rates, it’d be about 200-250 million to electrify Los Angeles to San Diego.

    Donk Reply:

    HYDROGEN RAILWAYS!!!!

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Mission valley is the wrong spot. Miramar is the geographic center of San Diego’s economy. Its why an airport at Miramar makes the most sense.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Are you Richards alter ego??

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    One thing to keep in mind is hydrogen fuel cells are being developed for trains and tend to work much better at that scale v. automobiles

    And to think we only used to have Rafael on call for technical expertise.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    If what I read about him today on aviation NextGen is true, then he doesn’t know much.

    Joey Reply:

    You missed the sarcasm.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Good then beer night is going well.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Rafael used to be a very prolific commenter here, and a co-blogger. He said a lot of interesting things, interspersed among factoids like “Airlines regenerate fuel as they descend.” The final straw was when he proposed a blended Caltrain-HSR plan that was unworkable and got a heap of scorn from Clem and Richard.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The tunnel through Oakland that connected Emeryville to the street running tracks was quite good too.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Wait, what tunnel? I feel like I’m missing out.

    (Then again, I also didn’t remember the bit about airlines regenerating fuel even though I was in that thread too.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Tunnel under some semi wide blvd. to get to the West Oakland BART station instead of just putting a BART station at the place BART crosses over the tracks. Insisted quite vehemently that passenger trains in California don’t run in the street until someone decided to post links to the videos on YouTube. Of Trains running in the street in Oakland. Something baroque to get to the BART station in Union City too.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Airlines regenerate fuel as they descend.”

    *****

    What the f?

    Peter Reply:

    Oh, you guys are forgetting the Gadgetbahn of aviation, the ekranoplan, which Rafael was always so excited about as a replacement for airliners between LA and SF.

    Donk Reply:

    Do you still want this at 10x the cost? We are probably talking about $10B for an improved LOSSAN vs $100B for a new IE route. Based on the cost increases on the LA-SF route, I don’t see the IE thing ever happening.

    But I do think they should pay what it takes to preserve the ROW asap, especially now with IE real estate values in the crapper.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Where did you pull $100 billion from?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Even at 2040 dollars, it shouldn’t exceed $20 billion for the inland empire. Maybe if it includes out to Prim, but that’s still steep.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    100 billion is probably wrong, but given that almost the entire thing is tunnel or viaduct, 30-40 billion dollars isn’t an unreasonable estimate.

    Nathanael Reply:

    For that matter, where did he pull $10 billion from?

    Donk Reply:

    It was an extrapolation, ala CARRD. If you figure that LOSSAN needs run-thru tracks and 3 tunnels, plus numerous grade separations and additional second track, it can easily exceed $10B. The Wilshire Subway alone will cost around $5B.

    For the IE route, the whole thing will be a viaduct, plus some tunneling thru the hills. And figure that construction runs from 2030-2050. So in 2050 dollars, we are probably nearing $200B.

    In other words, I pulled the numbers out of my ass.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You shouldn’t use urban transit lines as a basis for comparison for intercity lines. Urban construction has its own complications – and the Subway to the Sea has a problem with unfavorable geology, to boot (tar, methane).

    I want to say something cheeky about how the only way you can spend $200 billion on LA-IE-SD is if it’s a maglev subway. But after Amtrak’s $117 billion bombshell, I don’t want to ever say “It can’t cost this much.”

    StevieB Reply:

    Extrapolate Amtrak’s $117 for the NEC into year of expenditure dollars over 30 years and what do you get?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It depends on what you think the inflation rate will be. At 2%, it’s $157 billion.

    And it’s completely ridiculous that we’re comparing LA-SD to Boston-NY-DC. LA-SD is 270 km; Boston-NY-DC is 700. And LA-SD does not include complex urban tunneling, whereas a tenth of the Vision’s budget is for tunneling under Philadelphia and another ninth is for tunneling from Penn Station to Jersey. Diridon Intergalactic looks downright reasonable compared to what Amtrak’s proposing.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I seem to remember that the 117 billion was YOE dollars.
    I prefer not to think about it.
    It was everybody’s wish list – I vaguely remember that there was a tunnel across Baltimore too – the one that the preliminary study to replace the existing tunnel threw out as not cost effective and that nets few riders.
    …..if there is such overwhelming demand from Market East and Suburban, today, there’s no reason whey they couldn’t start running trains tomorrow….. they ran them until recently, they were called Clockers and there wasn’t much demand south of Trenton….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I thought so too, but then reread the Vision PDF on Amtrak’s site and saw it’s $117 billion in 2010 dollars.

    And yes, it’s a combination of wishlists, and things that Amtrak thinks are wishlists. (Do Philly’s power brokers want the new tunnel to Market East at all?)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Philadelphians would probably wonder why, after all Penn Station doesn’t get you to Wall Street, Rockefeller Center or Union Square does it? I f I remember correctly the Market East Tunnel only stop at Market East. Great for people at Market East but not so great for people at Suburban or 30th Street.
    Everything doesn’t have to stop everywhere. 2025-ish and they’ve gotten Acela’s replacement down to 2:15 on the hourly superexpress that goes from New York to DC only stopping in Philadelphia. ( Fixing Balitmore and the Hudson gets you ten minutes so that means they have to squeeze another 15, 2:15 is not improbable ) Much more useful to originate at Temple, stop at Market East, Suburban, 30th Street, University City, Wilmington, Baltimore. New Carrollton and DC. 2035 it originates in Jamaica stops at Brooklyn, Wall Street, Jersey City, Newark, Newark Airport, Plainfield, Bridgewater maybe West Trenton, Yardley or Landsdowne, Fern Rock or Wayne Junction then Temple….. The other train every hour is more express, Mineola, Jamaica, Wall Street, Newark Airport, Bridgewater, Wayne Junciton, Market East, Suburban, 30th Street, Wilmington, Baltimore and DC.

    Donk Reply:

    Yeah, but a lot of the construction on LOSSAN IS urban.

    Donk Reply:

    …and by 2030, many segments of LA-IE-SD will be too. Plus by 2030-2050, materials costs will significantly increase in price.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s semi-urban – more than the Central Valley, less than Manhattan and Center City.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    I’ve done some back of the envelope calculations for LOSSAN, mainly just going off what is programmed in San Diego, plus San Juan and San Clemente tunnels, triple tracking to Anaheim, electrification, and rolling stock plus some fudge factors. $8-10 billion is about that figure actually.

    StevieB Reply:

    The LOSSAN EIR envisions three tunnels on the corridor. San Clemente short or long tunnel. Del Mar where unstable bluffs have been stabilized three times in the last ten years could prove expensive to tunnel. Another in the I-5/805 Split To Hwy 52 area where the options are double-tracking via a tunnel through Miramar Hill, or double-tracking via a tunnel under Interstate 5.

    None of these areas have a project EIR in place. Is your estimate for year of expenditure dollars given the probable 10 years before construction could start if financing is available?

    Donk Reply:

    All 3 tunnels sound like money pits to me. I don’t see how this doesn’t exceed $10B.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    We have an outstanding public request to get latest cost estimate for the San Diego IE route. We think that figure would help with the LOSSAN vs IE discussion.

    Donk Reply:

    Once that estimate comes out, it will put the LOSSAN vs IE discussion to rest. People in the IE are going to be pissed. All we need are the 909ers to join the anti-HSR bandwagon. Hopefully they hold off on the numbers until construction starts.

    paul dyson Reply:

    @jimsf, for once I agree with you. With careful planning we could upgrade LOSSAN and build an IE route as an extension of existing Metrolink as a medium speed regional route that provides access to the IE market at much lower cost. We could then (see comment above) run HSR equipment between SD and LAUS on both routes at up to 110mph and put the sections together for the fast run to San Jose. Single seat rides for everyone!

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    LOL.. Like where? Bakersfield?

    YesonHSR Reply:

    somewhere near arrogant Palo alto

    paul dyson Reply:

    Merle Haggard concerts a big draw.

  13. morris brown
    Dec 29th, 2011 at 13:43
    #13

    Robert writes:

    “The result is that the LA Times is doing a major disservice to its readers by biasing their reporting and leaving out crucial facts.”

    I don’t agree with his assessment — they reported what Amtrak as said previously and now later.

    However, much more to the point is how this pales in comparison to what the Authority has used to promote this project both before the Nov 2008 election and ongoing for the last three years.

    People like Madoff go to jail for using such tactics to promote their objectives. I have as yet not heard that kind of punishment being suggested for the messengers.

    It has taken most of three years to get enough of the public to realize how they have been swindled so that now 2/3 want a rejection of the project or at least a re-vote. Yet our Governor. remains solidly in back of the project, most likely to appease his supporters in the construction and land development areas.

    jimsf Reply:

    construction and land development gasp! oh no. jobs progress and growth in the california economy? how dare he!!!

    synonymouse Reply:

    A relatively small number of jobs, many only temporary, for friends of the regime; meantime cap and trade will oversee an exodus of manufacturing from the Golden State.

    Anyway there is a point where environmental restrictions and nannying lose their effect in the face of unlimited population growth, urbanization, and depleted resources, most notably water.

    Michael Mahoney Reply:

    Robert was formerly a member of the evidence-based community, but has taken the draft of Lethe and now sounds like a dittohead. One example: “He says it’s a sham.” But what Vartabedian said was that critics call it a sham, which they manifestly do.

    The sad thing is that when this project bites the dust there will be no reviving it for years. If we could have had more thoughtful engaged journalism before the election, instead of Chamber of Commerce tub-thumping, we might have rescued it.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    The good thing is when this project bites the dust there will be no reviving it.

    There. Fixed it for you.

  14. Howard
    Dec 29th, 2011 at 15:37
    #14

    I think the Bay Area Council business leaders still support CHSR. I think other California business leaders still support the California High Speed Rail project because I have not heard the opponents of the project quote California business leaders turning against the project (besides big farmers who might lose land). I would like to hear what the Bay Area Council business leaders and other California business leaders think about the current plans for High Speed Rail in California.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The Bay Area Council supports public to private wealth transfers. That’s all there is to it.

    As long as taxation and the capitals markets feature, as they do, a net transfer from the general population into the pockets of the Titans of Industry they’ll continue to pay the finest politicians money can buy to keep things humming along.

  15. JJJ
    Dec 29th, 2011 at 16:13
    #15

    Is my memory leaky, or did Amtrak also pussy-foot around taking up residence in the restored train station in downtown Fresno? I believe the city restored the depot, and Amtrak didn’t want to use it, although the eventually did.

    Like always, bureaucratic bs eventually gives way to “hm, maybe this is sort of a good idea for us and our customers”

    datacruncher Reply:

    There was a money dispute. The City of Fresno said Amtrak owed it about 1/2 to 3/4 million dollars for some of the remodeling work.

    JJJ Reply:

    Any idea of how it was resolved? Back then I didnt really pay attention to this kind of stuff. I just remember an article about the beautiful restoration being finished but Amtrak refusing to move in.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Amtrak still refuses to stop trains at the Berkeley station. Reason: they demand more parking — because nobody would ever dream of walking/biking/busing to a train station.

    (BTW, Capitol Corridor does stop at Berkeley. It isn’t administered by Amtrak.)

  16. Keith Saggers
    Dec 29th, 2011 at 20:25
    #16

    growth
    29 December 2011

    SIEMENS: Hailing the €3·7bn order from Deutsche Bahn for ICx inter-city trainsets as ‘the biggest order in the company’s history’, Siemens AG reported a 24% year-on-year increase in orders at its Industry Sector during the financial year to September 30 2011. Revenue grew 9% to €32·9bn, contributing to a sector profit of €3·6bn.

    Presenting the group’s annual results in November, CEO Peter Löscher said strong performance at the Industry and Energy sectors had helped Siemens end its financial year with ‘record operating results’. Total sector profit rose by 26% to €9·1bn, whilst revenues and new orders also increased. ‘We are well positioned for moderate revenue growth in fiscal 2012′, continued Löscher, predicting that annual revenues could break the €100bn threshold ‘in the medium term’.

    keith saggers Reply:

    I should of credited Railway Gazette International.

  17. Reality Check
    Dec 30th, 2011 at 23:52
    #17

    O/T: China pushes ahead with high-speed rail

    By Simon Rabinovitch in Beijing

    China has unveiled its fastest train, capable of hitting 500km/h (311mph), a reminder that the country’s high-speed rail plans have only been partially checked by a fatal accident earlier this year.

    The train, a test version that is not yet ready to enter commercial service, is a marker of China’s ambitions to lead the world in ultra-fast train technology. It was built entirely by domestic companies without any foreign input, according to state media, a contrast to the country’s earlier generations of high-speed trains, which were developed through partnerships with global manufacturers.

    But it also comes as the government scales back its rail investment plans amid concerns that it has moved too hastily to build up its high-speed train network, valuing speed over safety. That tension was present in the announcement of the new train model.

    With an elongated nose like that of a fighter jet, it was clearly designed with speed in mind. Some state media reports said that the manufacturer, China South Locomotive, would push the train to run at 600km/h (373mph) in tests, allowing it to set a record for the fastest train, currently held by France’s TGV. But Zhao Xiaogang, chairman of China South Locomotive, said that when the train goes into service, it will run more slowly than its potential. “We will scientifically explore through tests what the margin of safety is for the train,” he said.

    The new train was approved for development by the rail and technology ministries in January, when China was still bursting with pride at its high-speed rail network, the world’s biggest, that it had built up in a few years. The government has built almost 10,000km (6,214mi) of high-speed rail tracks since 2007. That pride was punctured by the collision of two bullet trains in July that killed 40 people. Investigators have yet to announce the cause, though preliminary reports said it was a signalling failure.

    The government slammed the brakes on its rail investment after that accident, suspending work on high-speed lines over safety concerns. It also lowered the operating speed of its existing bullet trains.

    But rail density remains low in China and the government has never wavered from its objective of building a more extensive high-speed network. Over the past two months, it has gradually shifted its plans back into gear. Along with the announcement of the new bullet train, service also started on Tuesday on a high-speed link between Shenzhen and Guangzhou in the country’s south.

    Nevertheless, the railway planners will remain constrained as the government gives them less money to work with. Sheng Guangzu, railway minister, said last week that Beijing would allocate Rmb400bn ($64b) for building railway infrastructure next year — down from Rmb469bn ($75b) this year and Rmb700bn ($111b) last year.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    They really are determined to kill people.

    Peter Reply:

    Agreed. Utterly insane.

    StevieB Reply:

    China announced the final report of the crash investigation last week.

    The crash investigators found sloppy development of the signaling equipment, bidding irregularities in the contract to provide it and lapses by safety inspectors who were supposed to ensure its quality. When lightning struck the Wenzhou line, the wrong signals appeared, sending one high speed train smashing into the rear end of another on a viaduct.

    The report also had harsh words for the China Railway Signal and Communication Corp, a government-owned company, saying it lacked appropriate technical expertise.

    Construction has restarted on high speed rail lines and China will continue to expand the world’s largest high-speed rail system. Service on the new 102-km high-speed railway between Shenzhen and Guangzhou, in South China’s Guangdong province, is scheduled to start on Monday.

  18. Donk
    Dec 31st, 2011 at 00:49
    #18

    I am confused, is Sobering Reality what happens to a Drunk Engineer after he gets a Reality Check?

    Joey Reply:

    No. DE and Reality Check are technical critics who support rail generally, Sobering Reality is something else entirely.

    Spokker Reply:

    If you haven’t woken up to the reality that high speed rail is in big trouble in California then I would question your sobriety.

    Robert’s cheerleader attitude might have been helpful in 2008 just to get the damn ballot measure passed, but now people across the state are pissed off, rail supporters and critics alike, at how this has been handled.

    Even if some people around here won’t admit it publicly, I have to imagine you understand internally that there is a significant chance this thing will be canceled in some way or another.

    Jack Reply:

    Funny; your posts have indicated the project has had “one-foot-in-the-grave” or “the-final-nail-in-the-coffin” for the past three years.

    The hysteria right now is all about one upcoming decision. Will the legislature authorize funds for the project, from voter approved bonds? Once funds are authorized and real money is spent, there is no going back. Were doing this project come hell or high water.

    Here’s the rub, the voters, who run this state and this country despite all you think, have told their elected leaders in California they want a high speed train. You can argue that it was designed poorly, they voters were lied to, we should have a re-vote all you want. We took a vote, and the majority said; “Yes, let’s spend this money on high speed mass transit.”

    The real tragedy that everyone on here should be upset over is that this vote was FOUR years ago…

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Here’s the rub. Voters told the State they wanted HSR, but it wasn’t a blank check. It was sold to those voters on a lie, and lies have ramifications. If the legislature doesn’t stop it the courts will.

    J. Wong Reply:

    “If the legislature doesn’t stop it then the courts will”. Sounds like wishful thinking on your part. The money for the ICS will be allocated and the courts won’t stop it.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Shocking the “go ahead at all cost” mentality of some people.

    What won’t be wishful thinking is the logn term bond rating reality. Maybe that will knock some sense into people.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yes, California is not the U.S. gov’t, but pessimists have been predicting that U.S. bond rates are going to skyrocket because of the debt while the reality is that rates have fallen. I don’t think California’s bond rates are going to go up.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s not the same. The US can self-stimulate; California can’t. The rates are very low for entities that control their own currency – the US, the UK, Sweden, Japan, Switzerland, Germany – but not so much for ones that do not, such as the Eurozone* countries ex-Germany or US states.

    *The Euro should be referred to as the Twomark.

    J. Wong Reply:

    I did say that California is not the U.S. gov’t, but I really don’t see any reason for bond rates to spike for California because it isn’t anywhere close to defaulting. Also, the voters are recognizing the need for taxing the rich, which may finally break the veto the Republicans have in the state’s legislature.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    @ J Wong, hasn’t even the chairman of the peer review group raised questions about whether the funding plan complies with the law? Maybe the funding will be allocated, as you say, but there could be a court challenge. 2012 is going to be a challenging year for the CHSRA.

    J. Wong Reply:

    @ Rick Rong

    I don’t doubt that there will be a court challenge, but I am confident that it won’t succeed.

    Donk Reply:

    The legislature will authorize the funds for the project for one simple reason: Jobs.

    As I have said before many times here, creating jobs is one of the worst reasons to support this project. But the legislature isn’t smart enough to think analytically beyond that. When they realize that not authorizing the money means that the feds will pull their money back, they will chant in unison “they’re takin our jaaabs!” and will approve the funds.

    Donk Reply:

    BTW, when is the authorization of funds supposed to be? Before the election?

    Spokker Reply:

    I don’t think the voters were lied to. Many have simply changed their minds.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There’s seems to be an abysmal lack of awareness, at least as far as the public can determine, that the planning at CHSRA was totally botched. They allowed a handful of insiders to impose their personal preferences on the scheme, while simultaneously allowing themselves to be corrupted for a relative fistful of dollars by special interests like Palmdale real estate developers.

    Now Jerry Brown is apparently taking this scabbed-together scheme as holy writ chiseled on stone tablets down from Mt. Sinai. Perhaps Van Ark & co. recognize the situation as hopeless and in desperation came up with nowhere to nowhere as the best device, the in your face conceit, the coup de grace to put the CHSRA out of its misery. “Stop me before I boondoggle again!”

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Synonymouse, Whether what you say about the project is true or not, don’t expect the CHSRA’s executive director to request a coup de grace. His job is to try to get the project built.

    As for Jerry Brown taking things “as holy writ,” you may be right, but you may also be wrong; It is possible that Brown will insist on changes that will appear to make the project more palatable to the same voters from whom he hopes to obtain support, at the ballot box, for tax increases. Keep in mind that Brown and the legislature face another budget challenge, and the sale of rail bonds will generate general fund expenditures to cover bond interest payments.

    Whether such changes would be good for the project, in the long term, would depend on what they were. But consider what happened after Brown made his two appointments to the CHSRA board. The CHSRA came out with what appeared to be a very significant cost estimate and what was a significant increase in the time it would take for construction.

    Whether those changes came about due to the efforts of his appointees, as has been reported, or due to van Ark’s efforts, as has also been suggested, they were viewed as positive changes, in terms of credibility, but have also led to a politically more challenging environment for the project. Who knows, something like that may happen again. Maybe it will consist of following through on Tejon; isn’t that in play again, even though both Palmdale and Tejon Ranch would oppose it?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Thus far I see no indication that Brown has deigned to examine the details of the hsr megaproject. The clock is ticking.

    I am suggesting that Borden to Corcoran, perhaps even at the unconscious level, is an attempt on the part of Van Ark(assuming he was in on the Valley First nonsense)to force the issue. Bring the whole project to a quick and merciful culmination.

    Most of the posters on this blog are much more knowledgeable than yours truly, especially in the technical aspects, and probably on the whole much smarter. That’s why it amazes me they cannot see the obvious gross problem with nowhere to nowhere. That problem is relevancy. The public will put up with mistakes, failures, crappy service, stinky and noisy cars, overpaid loutish employees if the service is in their face essential, ie when it provides an absolutely essential service. See BART in spades. But when something is irrelevant, thoroughly peripheral, “a l’ecart”, it will be subjected to to absolute calumny. An old term is “pilloried in the press”. So when Borden to Corcoran has any failings or incidents, wrecks, vandalism, etc. it will be mercilessly critiqued, lambasted.

    Not so with the mountain crossing, which is very much needed and a game changing improvement.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I should have said a service to which there is no real available alternative.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    To Synonymouse:

    You say there is “no indication that Brown has deigned to examine the details of the hsr megaproject.” Well, that depends on whether the new draft business plan reflects the scrutiny of Brown’s two appointees. See, for example, http://www.camajorityreport.com/index.php?module=articles&func=display&ptid=9&aid=4738, which states, “There’s a reason for the new direction: Governor Brown’s appointment to the commission of two key figures to reshape the California High Speed Rail Authority.”

    I agree that if Borden to Corcoran has failings or incidents, etc., it will be critiqued, but that alone does not mean that it was the wrong choice as part of a larger usable segment.

    You mention the mountain crossing, but Borden to Corcoran presumably would be part of the usable segment if the decision is made to go south rather than north. From what I’ve read, there are two potential usable segments, one going north to the Bay, the other going south to the “Basin.” The “ICS” presumably would be a part of either of those.

    Could the mountain crossing itself have been the “ICS”? Possibly, although it would have raised the following challenges: It would have been in effect a decision that the first “usable segment” would connect to the LA Basin and not to the Bay Area, it probably would have cost more to build because of the tunnels, and it probably would have required an earlier decision on whether to go via Tejon (which neither Palmdale nor Tejon Ranch want) or Palmdale. But I happen to agree with you, all other things being more or less equal, it would be nice to complete that link no matter who ends up using it.

    StevieB Reply:

    The Tehachapi mountains should be the next segment built. Fortunately the ongoing study of the Grapevine crossing should be ready in 2012. If Grapevine proves to be preferable a new set of EIR will need to be prepared. Whichever route is selected the environmental reports should be ready just about the time that the Initial Construction Segment in the Central Valley is completed.

    BMF from San Diego Reply:

    The next section built should be two sections at the same time. One to the north or San Francisco. The other to the south. Two at teh same time… that is the best strategy to assure the greatest statewide politcal support.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Don’t be so sure. Because LA-Fresno is a solid IOS, it would be expanded north to the Bay Area once complete unless it completely flopped.

    As long as there’s a reasonable guarantee that the next phase will happen, people are willing to be put on the next phase in order to guarantee a stronger project. For example, in New York, the biggest backer of Second Avenue Subway was Sheldon Silver, who represents the Lower East Side and said he’s okay with starting on the Upper East Side as long as the entire line is eventually built. Thus he batted for funding for phase 1 in Albany, even though his district straddles phases 3 and 4 and even phase 2 doesn’t have funding yet.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …. more time for the LES to gentrify making the “Teacup” plan more viable.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    I’m a realist Joey. You want to live in Fantasyland all your life that’s your choice. Not a bright one, but it’s a choice.

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