Despite “Train-to-Nowhere” Rhetoric, “Valley First” Approach Moving Forward

Dec 26th, 2011 | Posted by

The following article was published in the December issue of Californians For High Speed Rail’s e-newsletter The High-Speed Rail Advocate. While many of the arguments in the article have been expressed previously, given the continuation of the “train to nowhere” rhetoric, it seems timely to summarize many of the benefits of a “valley first” approach and to add some analysis. The entire newsletter is available on our website.

 

With the generally positive reaction to the Draft 2012 Business Plan by transit agencies such as Caltrain and LA Metro, and from Governor Brown and state lawmakers (including project critic Alan Lowenthal), it appears efforts to shift federal HSR funds from the Central Valley to the Bay Area and Los Angeles region are finally over [update: this conclusion may have been a bit premature as there does still appear to be some efforts from leaders in the Los Angeles region].  However project skeptics are still claiming it is a “train to nowhere” and using this argument in attempts to convince lawmakers to send the federal HSR funds back to Washington. Fortunately, Governor Brown continues to express his strong support publicly for moving forward with construction in the Central Valley first.

Given the continued challenges to get sufficient support from stakeholders and lawmakers to move forward with the project in the Central Valley, below is a summary of CA4HSR’s views on merits of the “Valley First” approach.

Technical merits of starting in the Central Valley:

  • Lowest cost to build, so initial pot of money will be stretched the farthest of anywhere in the state, greatly building momentum for the project.
  • “Train to Nowhere” claim is hogwash – Fresno and Bakersfield metropolitan areas are very large. The Hanford station will also serve the rapidly growing Kings/Tulare Counties. As a whole, the Central Valley is project to have 12 million people living there in coming decades. Twelve million people certainly deserve a $6 billion investment in improved passenger rail service, even if it turns out that it is only to speed up Amtrak in the interim until HSR is finished statewide.
  • If HSR construction is slowed for a period of time due to a slowdown in funding, Amtrak’s San Joaquin trains will still be able to utilize the HSR track and significantly speed up service in the Central Valley. Currently, travel in the Central Valley is problematic. Flying is very expensive and Highway 99 is congested and treacherous. By speeding up San Joaquin trains in the interim, travel within the Central Valley will vastly improve. Furthermore, more train travel in the Central Valley will help to reduce air pollution. Even if HSR is put on hold for an extended period of time, something we feel is unlikely to happen, speeding up Amtrak service by 45 minutes is essential for the Central Valley’s economy, environment, and quality of life.
  • Test track, which needs to be built first, must be constructed in the Central Valley because of its flat and straight terrain..

Political merits of starting in the Central Valley:

The Initial Construction Segment will take approximately five years to construct. During that five-year span, when we are spending over $6 billion, there will be massive political impetus to find additional funds from a variety of sources (including private and public). The reason this impetus will be so strong is precisely the fact that the large urban areas (Bay Area, Los Angeles, San Diego, and Sacramento) desperately want to participate in the HSR project, as they understand the myriad of benefits. The political brilliance in starting in the Central Valley is to drive the search for more funding. Once construction starts, California will find ways to continue to construction unabated. In other words, construction will never stop until the system is complete (extensions will likely make it a 40-year process of non-stop construction).

If we start in the large urban areas, politicians will end up spending the first pot of money on commuter rail upgrades. With these projects complete, the powerful urban interests will likely be happy enough to conclude that we got what we wanted, so what is the point of fighting hard for more HSR money. Parochialism reigns in California and you can bet that Central Valley will just be forgotten once Caltrain and Metrolink are upgraded. Conclusion: HSR money gets spent on so-called “HSR preparation” project, but true HSR never shows up.

The same argument can be made (politically speaking) about filling the gap between Palmdale and Bakersfield first. If we use the $6 billion on that project, Amtrak will be happy and we have an improved Amtrak service. Under this scenario, one can envision great pressure to use future funds to upgrade Amtrak rather than extending HSR track. Again, true HSR never materializes.

The point is, if we start either in the urban areas or fill the gap first, HSR can easily be dropped. But if we start in the Central Valley, HSR can’t be easily abandoned. Starting in the Central Valley gets us over 100 miles of true HSR track. Once that happens, there is no going back.

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  1. synonymouse
    Dec 26th, 2011 at 12:05
    #1

    The Valley First approach is tantamount to constructing the TransContiental Railroad starting at Promontory and proceeding east and west.

    Thoroughly boffo and eccentric therefore quintessentially Moonbeam.

    Honestly you would be better off cutting everybody a welfare check. The money would be more wisely spent.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Even the NdeM had the smarts to start the electrification at Mexico City thence to Queretaro. It was not even orphaned but that did not save it from political change of heart and plan. Borden to Corcoran can be sold to the scrapper just as easily and quickly as the NdeM cantenary and locomotives.

    The class ones won’t touch stilts.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So they started building BART at the Ferry Building and worked their way out to the ‘burbs?

    synonymouse Reply:

    When they did BART they built everywhere, pretty much simultaneously. Too bad they didn’t take 5 to reconsider the stupid gauge decision.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t know what order they opened BART in, but rapid transit usually opens line by line, maybe with short outbound extensions thrown in later. The IRT opened the first subway, then the rest of the network (spread from 1918 to 1920), then edges like extending the Corona Line to Flushing and Times Square. The Tokyo subway is an even cleaner example – most lines take just 2-5 years from the first segment to completion. If I’m not mistaken, BART opened the core network first, and only then worked on the extensions one by one.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    http://www.bart.gov/about/history/history.aspx

    Jon Reply:

    The first BART line to open was Richmond to Fremont. An apt comparison with HSR, if you think of the Transbay Tube as being like one of the mountain crossings between the CV and the Bay Area, or between the CV and the LA basin. But it’s also correct to say that BART construction was greatly accelerated compared to HSR and the wait time for service to SF much lower.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    We should distinguish a situation in which the entire system is built out but some parts open earlier, as was the case with the original BART network or the Dual Contracts or (almost) every individual line of the Tokyo subway, and one in which lines are built in phases.

    Brsk Reply:

    Thank you for your honesty Synonymouse. We now know that:
    1. You hate Gov. Brown, and will probably oppose whatever he endorses, and
    2. Think that welfare checks are a far better investment than passenger rail (unless it fits your particular steam foamer fantasy).

    Knowing that, we can judges everything else you say accordingly.

    FWIW, that’s for the heads up that Promontory was the location of a 500,000 person city with good highway access in the 1860’s. I never knew that! So similar, Fresno and Promontory, so similar.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If the courts require them to wire, they will be lucky to have enough for Borden to Corcoran. 500,000 cons in Corcoran?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t have an opinion about Brown, but I think that unemployment benefits and a guaranteed minimum income are a better investment than infrastructure, yes. I’d rather live in a country without poverty than in one with good infrastructure for people who are lucky enough to not be in penury.

    (Not that it’s either/or – one requires on the order of $250 billion per year when the economy is not in a recession, the other requires on the order of $50 billion a year – but I just want to make that statement of principle.)

    Nathanael Reply:

    Of course I agree with Alon (and I’d note that “conservative” Milton Friedman — who most right-wingers don’t actually pay attention to these days — backed a “guaranteed minimum income”).

    Unfortunately, we seem to be living in a country which is getting neither; no infrastructure, poverty everywhere, no health care, etc…. the problem must be considered political, given that practically *everything* is being done wrong, wrong to the point where the Pharoahs of ancient Egypt would shake their heads at the stupidity of our rulers (Republicans especially but also many Democrats). A large part of it is the US Senate, a larger part is the state of the media.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Everything is done wrong, yet financially strapped California is run completely by Democrats and for a 2 year span the entire legislative and executive branches of the Federal Government where run by Democrats, headed by one from California.

    You’re either a blog antogonist or you live in a freakin box the way you blame conservatives for everything. I’ll bet if everyone spent as much time working as you do complaining about the right, there’d be a lot less for you to complain about.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You should tell the hordes of people who are clamoring for a job that they should just work harder. Go ahead.

    And even the less assholish point you make is wrong, because state politics is much more feudal than national politics, especially in states with a dominant party. I don’t know California specifics, but in New York, people who are progressive firebrands nationally (e.g. Weiner) act like run-of-the-mill power brokers locally. You won’t find people running for NYC mayor or New York Governor on a platform of citywide or statewide universal health care; they run on generic managerial platforms, and are distinguished only in which interest groups they sell the public to.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Maybe you should get out more.

    Loren Petrich Reply:

    Alon Levy seems like he’s already been doing a lot of that, as opposed to following some party line.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Not so sure about that.

    Nathanael Reply:

    California has a 2/3 rule which means that Democrats have never had control of the legislature since Prop 13 passed — the Republican minority has veto power, and uses it.

    The US Senate has a 60-vote rule which means that Democrats only had control for a couple of months — and the US Senate has insane “hold” rules which mean that one Republican can shut down the entire operation. Every single Senator has veto power.

    Learn about the actual nature of your governmental system before talking nonsense, “Drunken Unreality”.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Shut up clown. 2/3 only applies to taxes. They just passed 760 new ways to drive people out of the state sans a tax increase. You learn the “actual nature” of your government system.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Taxes aren’t the problem in California nor is Prop 13.

    Spokker Reply:

    “poverty everywhere”

    http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/nationnow/2011/12/release-of-new-air-jordans-cause-chaos-across-the-country.html

    The group that the shoe is marketed to is experiencing over 50% unemployment yet they seem to have the time money and resources to purchase said $180 shoe. The minimum income (one without restrictions) would go straight to Nike and then we’d have to figure out how to help people pay the light bill all over again.

    Spokker Reply:

    By the way, while Friedman was speaking about a minimum income he also felt that the minimum wage accomplished nothing positive. Thoughts?

    Nathanael Reply:

    I don’t agree with Friedman on everything. Solid empirical studies (look for the cross-border comparisons in cities which cross borders between states with two different minimum wages) show that he’s wrong about the minimum wage.

    The important thing to note is that current politicos pick and choose their Friedman based on their political preconceptions. Now it’s fine to pick and choose based on evidence, but it’s clear that most “supporters” of Milton Friedman pick precisely those policies which funnel money to the 0.1% and ignore those which don’t….

    Nathanael Reply:

    He’s right about incentives, of course; welfare which phases out after a certain income level provides perverse incentives, because working more == less income.

    Spokker Reply:

    In some ways it is better than the old forms of welfare because something like the Earned Income Tax Credit encourages more people to get into the labor force, but after a certain point, yes, the incentives to work become perverse.

    “Solid empirical studies (look for the cross-border comparisons in cities which cross borders between states with two different minimum wages) show that he’s wrong about the minimum wage.”

    Are you talking about the fast food studies? Those studies aren’t perfect. For one, they suffer from measurement error in the survey data. Therefore, the estimates of employment elasticity with respect to the minimum wage is quite noisy. Using more sound data, such as employment data reported by the actual restaurants, produces estimates within the usual ranges of employment elasticities with respect to the minimum wage.

    Second, these studies looked at relatively short-run changes. Other studies that look at a longer time frame show that the effect of minimum wage increases on employment is very small in the short-run but become negative in the long run as firms adjust. In one study of teenage employment between the 1950s and the 1990s showed elasticities of teenage employment ranging from -.3 and -.5.

    Third, the type of firm studied matters. Big chain fast food places may actually benefit from an increase in the minimum wage as the increase hurts mom and pop restaurants that cannot take advantage of economies of scale. So that takes a bite out of the competition. I mean, who can better deal with an increase in the minimum wage, McDonald’s or Al’s Burgers in your local town?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Spokker: first, most of the supposed frivolities that poor people spend money on are really cheap. New $180 shoes are an expense for once every few years. Ditto iPhones and other items of modern communications that the middle class is offended that poorer people have. In 2011, those items are much cheaper than eating every day ($20/week if you’re on food stamps, vs. about $50/week if you’re a frugal lower-middle class student). Poverty is not the same as what it is in the third world or what it was in Dickensian England, with very different relative prices of goods and services.

    Also, minimum income and minimum wage are two different things. The minimum wage is a regulation; it’s like a price cap. Minimum income is welfare spending funded by taxes on the general population.

    Spokker Reply:

    First, the middle-class is not offended that poor people have $180 shoes and iPhones. They only become offended when the poor have $180 shoes and iPhones while their hard-earned money is being transferred to said poor people, all the while certain groups are telling them they are not paying enough taxes to take care of all the poor people who are starving in the streets. When you’ve demonstrated to the state that you are deserving of some kind of need-based assistance, it is probably not surprising when people become resentful when they see you tooling around with a Blackberry and not a basic cell phone.

    There is definitely poverty out there. My girlfriend can attest to this. Her family lived in a car for a period of time because her Vietnam veteran of a father could not successfully wrangle out his disability benefits that he was rightfully owed due to injuries sustained during combat. Even when he secured those benefits and an Agent Orange payday, this was a family that did not quite live the high life. If iPhones existed back then, they wouldn’t be caught dead with one. As someone who has lived that life, if she expressed any discontent over some of the things I am speaking about here, she would likely be labeled a monster who is not doing enough, or something like that. She’s definitely liberal, as many young people are, but she is certainly shifting as she gets older and makes more money (and boy is she making it), and discovers how her tax dollars are spent. She will be a very different person by age 40. I’ve observed those seeds of discontent.

    Also, when Nathanael mentioned that Friedman supported a minimum income as a sort of slam on conservatives (“See, your hero Friedman supports this so why don’t you?”), the first thing I thought was, “Is this just a thinly veiled insult or does Nathanael actually embrace Milton Friedman’s ideas?” Hence, why I mentioned the minimum wage.

    You see, even though Friedman embraced some kind of social safety net, his ideas were probably shaped by his understanding of the concept that people respond to incentives, such as incentives that discourage people not to work. One must exercise caution not to make welfare too comfortable.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Spokker makes many good points, but a too–often unspoken corollary is that work should not be too “uncomfortable.” My own wife wrongfully lost her job 2 1/2 years ago (and has not been able to get another since despite applications to places and taking a course in medical coding), and that was after two years or more of hell from arrogant, ignorant, paranoid, tyranical bosses. My own pay is too low after 30 years on this job, no success so far in getting a better one, plus 30 years of dealing with sometimes ignorant, incompetent clients. (Businessmen provide so many jobs and do so with more efficiency than the government? Do you have any idea of the number of idiots there are who think they can run a business? Do you have an idea of the business failure rate in this country, in which the owners lose everything, including their houses?)

    I mentioned my wife’s boss from the netherworld. My own suffers the handicap of coming from a different audit environment (other state agencies, not the general public), and one of her shortcomings is that she just doesn’t know what it is like to deal with someone who either argues with you from a point of ignorance, or just plain shows up with records for an audit in a bag. It also doesn’t help matters that I’ve been dealing with this sort of thing since she was 10 years old.

    I’ll mention the past couple of years have had higher than normal ratio of idiot clients for me. It’s gotten to the point where I appreciate boredom on an assignment–it means no trouble!

    A common complaint is that “young people have no work ethic.” Between what I’ve seen and what my dad went through and what my wife went through, I can understand why. Not to say that’s a good attitude, but it’s understandable.

    What’s really disturbing is that “bad bosses” seem to be distressingly common these days. Too often I think people get promoted who are aggressive rather than ambitious. The two are not the same! The difference is that between a bully and a leader.

    How many here have seen this as well in your own workplace?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Before I say what I think in general, let me say that my workplace is in academia, which means I get perfect flex-time, colleagues and bosses who are friendly, and intellectually interesting work. Other than the complete lack of job security, it’s good. Most other things I’ll say here do not apply to academia, especially not to me.

    But in general, the way modern workplaces are set up makes the ladder climbing that was common in the 1950s impossible today. For example, you need unpaid internships for many positions, which means you need to have had parents rich enough to have funded you in summers in your college years. Climbing up the ladder by starting out in the mail room may still exist, but is extremely rare.

    Another issue: when Boomers like Hillary Clinton say that young people today have no work ethic, they mainly complain that educated Millennials won’t take low-paying jobs. But what they perceive as laziness or entitlement is actually perfectly rational behavior today. People who take a lower-paying job straight out of college usually do not catch up on income with people who waited a few months for a better initial offer. Since the experience of the national elite, which is mostly 50+, is removed from that of under-30 people, they perceive younger people as stupider than they actually are.

    A third issue is that wages are stagnating. In a literal sense, real household income in the US peaked in 2000, and GDP growth is positive but anemic. In a less literal sense, today’s 25-year-olds have less discretionary income than their parents had when they were 25, and this fosters dependence on parents. The Boomer generation is partly complicit: the only persistently good jobs not requiring college education are various union jobs and those increasingly have two-tiered pay structures, in which the Boomer leadership decides to screw over its own children in order to maintain its personal comfort and identity for longer. College jobs are different, but those are for people who can live off of their parents until age 22 or 23; some places used to provide free public universities, but not any longer, and nowadays tuition hikes are the rule.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    First, I wouldn’t be caught dead with an iPhone. Not my culture, for rather different reasons from your girlfriend’s father*. That doesn’t make it a major or frivolous expense; for a small amount of money, a person who has to ride the bus to work 1.5 hours each way can have some entertainment and Internet access while commuting.

    More to the point, there are two issues with your comment that bug me. First, the notion that welfare should be uncomfortable. In reality, nobody likes being unemployed; there’s no need to make it more humiliating. In fact the reason many people on the right opposed AFDC and the other 1960s-era measures is that those measures were paternalistic in the extreme, starting from the concept of a traditional family and then substituting the state for the man of the house, complete with state decisions about what to spend money on. For example, food stamps tell people to spend income on food, to the exclusion of toilet paper and other higher-margin goods; grocery stores then find it harder to operate in poor neighborhoods profitably, and this helps make them into food deserts.

    Alas, by the 1990s the original welfare critics came to advocate for welfare reforms that have made the situation even worse, with mandatory paternity tests, responsible fatherhood classes, etc. In contrast, countries that have guaranteed minimum income, people still get jobs when they can, but they’re not treated like idiot children incapable of caring for themselves.

    The other issue is the institutionalization of poor people, again related to the idea that they don’t know what to spend money on. The government is only treating them the way it wants to treat everyone, but that way is extremely authoritarian – just look at the emphasis on discipline over learning in inner-city schools, complete with barbed wire and 7 am classes.

    In a society, everyone depends on good social outcomes. The middle class gets health insurance, public education, roads, and social security, to say nothing of the benefits of the rule of law. Even the rich benefit – or, should I say, especially the rich, since they have the highest standards of living relative to those of pre-industrial society. But those are never considered welfare. And the expenditures of people who are in the mainstream are never scrutinized. Do people really need houses and cars as big as Americans usually buy? No. So why complain about tax hikes as a deficit-cutting measure, or about rollbacks of subsidies for roads and mortgages?

    * I hate Apple, on general principle. I also am not sufficiently addicted to Angry Birds to have any reason to bundle a gaming console with my cellphone. I’m happy with the BlackBerry I got due to parental pressure, and before then I was happy with my Razr.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “She will be a very different person by age 40″

    Probably more liberal in some sense. :-)

    I started out personally conservative, socially liberal, mildly cynical, and with a positive view of human intelligence; now I am personally conservative, socially liberal and pragmatic, deeply, deeply cynical, and with an extremely low view of human intelligence.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Well don’t let us mere mortals get it the way of your ego.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I think I did not make my most subtle and crucial point clear, so I will explain it in detail.

    The Pharoahs of ancient Egypt knew that they had two major things they had to accomplish in order to stay in power:
    (1) Feed everyone.
    (2) Keep everyone busy.

    Regarding job 1, a Pharoah who presided over a drought, and who had not saved up enough grain, would be overthrown. There’s even stories in the Bible about how crucial this job was…

    Regarding job 2, most of the year everyone was working in the fields. But during the flood, there wasn’t any work to do. Holidays were a fine and important thing to keep people busy (Egypt had them an average of once every ten days, though not at even intervals), but when you had months with no work you had to keep people busy so that they didn’t start thinking about revolution.

    Hence their employment in the construction of pyramids and giant monuments.

    FDR essentially applied the same principles in the New Deal, with the WPA. It works for democrats and for tyrants.

    But here and now, we have people in power who are willing to let large numbers of people go hungry and without work. (You can get away with a small percentage hungry and without work indefinitely, but they don’t seem concerned about keeping the percentage small, either.) From what I’ve read, 9% unemployment was considered a *governmental stability crisis* by the governments of the early industrial period, something which must be dealt with imediately to avert riot and the overthrow of the government. Not here!

    To complete my historical theory, I will note that you can sustain a large portion of the population in poverty and unemployment for a long time if you have a fairly large military elite (say, 10% of the population) who are treated very *well*, and consider themselves apart from the rest of the people. They don’t think there’s a problem, and they are capable of slaughtering any peasants who disagree. It lasts until outside invasion, or the elite start being mistreated too, or the elite start to sympathize with the populace in large numbers. Burma seems to be following this system right now.

    But our elites aren’t doing that *either*. Even the security forces are being hammered with calls for “austerity”; the percent who are cut in on the winnings is far less than 10%.

    Putting it together, we are currently seeing behavior — unconcern about high levels of hunger and unemployment, while squeezing even the security forces — which is not reasonable behavior for any government, good or evil, which wants to stay in power. I suppose I can consider this good news in a sense, because it means that this situation *will not* last, the government *will* be changed — but such changes are usually nasty and bloody, and I prefer a quiet life, being personally conservative.

    Loren Petrich Reply:

    Not just some Pharaohs, but also many Roman-Empire leaders. They build roads and aqueducts that still survive. Even more recently, Nazi Germany was known for building lots of highways, something that greatly impressed one of their conquerors, General Dwight David Eisenhower. That was one of the inspirations for the Interstate highway program.

    He was a Republican, but a Republican in the tradition of Abraham Lincoln, who supported western railroad building, and of Theodore Roosevelt, who set up many National Parks. Not the sort of Republicans that we see all too many of today.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    One what I think is a wonderful thing about this site, and with Railway Preservation News (a heritage railway site I also follow and post on) is the combination of historical knowledge of and passion for this subject that is present from people in both places. It’s also fascinating to read comments that are educated and enthusiastic not only about trains, but history in general, and the lessons the past can teach us.

    Of course, this site, and also the Infrastructurist, have a number of people who are willfully, strongly ignorant, and disrespectful besides. . .I wonder how they got along or get along where they work. I wonder if some are or were the “bad bosses” I alluded to above. Oh, well. . .it takes all kinds. . .

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Grr, no edit function, “One thing I think is wonderful about this site. . .”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Transportation blogs tend to be like this – the comments are an integral part of the blog. It’s especially true here with the length of the comment threads, but it’s also true on Human Transit, Second Avenue Sagas, and The Transport Politic, and at my place.

    The Infrastructurist used to have interesting comments, but then came the trolls, and then most everyone else left. Even Get Real has left, leaving behind Paris Palin and Reggie McPhee. I still check the place out occasionally, and it gets relatively few comments, and almost none on posts that aren’t about mode wars and don’t mention climate change.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Syn, look at the history of the railroads in England, which all started in the countryside and worked their way TOWARDS London. Or you could look at railroad access to New York City, which worked exactly the same way.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Um, what? Most of the first railroads connecting to London all started from London and developed out. See chronological timeline here and ignore everything not colored orange.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Well, sort of. Look at where those original London “termini” actually were on the orange lines, and then start looking up the details.

    The first few main lines started in what were then the London suburbs, to be fully accurate.

    The analogy would probably be to start at Sylmar and go north, or to start at Gilroy and go south.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Complete with 1830s NIMBYs.

  2. Jack
    Dec 26th, 2011 at 12:24
    #2

    While I strongly supported the LA-Bako section as the first start I understood the EIR was not near being complete. Syn you fail to take into account pressing factors such as the federal gov’t deadline. If your going to build it, you have to start somewhere why not the CV. You bring desperately needed jobs, the lowest amount of opposition (despite was Morris & Pals pay for).

    synonymouse Reply:

    Political decisions can be changed by politicians. That’s their job.

    StevieB Reply:

    In an absolute monarchy political decisions can be changed on the whim of one man in seconds. In our ideologically divided representative democracy political decisions take months, years or even generations. The Central Valley is necessary for a complete system and is the first ready for construction therefore build while politicians decide where and when to fund additional construction.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Who’s going to operate and maintain and secure the orphan trackage? And pay for it?

    And you really don’t think Borden to Corcoran cannot be scrapped, just like the Milwaukee Road, electrification and all?

    And of course will the lackey judiciary bend over so far as to allow no overhead and still be compliant?

    The default presumption is that bids will come in artificially low. What if it goes the other way.

    It is naive to think public opinion can’t turn sour on transit. When they laid Key System tracks on the Bay Bridge did they imagine it would only survive a lousy 20 years>

    It is possible to refocus on the mountain link, CHSRA willing and motivated.

    VBobier Reply:

    Well I guess You’ll be out there with Morris & two pickaxes, all by Yourselves then. When the 1st section of track in the CV is laid, yer both finished, cause nothing will stop HSR then, not even dynamite.

    StevieB Reply:

    In four years when plans for connecting to Southern California are ready then the Central Valley will be completed and ready for testing trains. If the Central Valley segment is not built now then it will be four years of waiting for construction in the Tehachapis with necessary construction north to follow several years later. Your plan is certainly one of years more waiting while nothing to show for it.

    Howard Reply:

    Why can we not all agree that Bakersfield to Los Angeles should be the second construction segment and get to work building the first section between Bakersfield and Merced now, before we lose our funding. If the entire California and Northeast Corridor political leadership and congressional delegations united behind getting more High Speed Rail funding for both corridors, the money could be found for a second segment from Bakersfield to Los Angeles. A Initial Operating Segment between Merced and Los Angeles would be profitable by filling in “the gap” and serving Northern California with a transfer to San Joaquin’s and Altemont Commuter Express in Merced (with trains to Sacramento, Oakland and San Jose).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What you’re missing is that the money that’s going to Fresno-Merced could make the difference between having enough money to get to Sylmar and not having enough money. At the original budget, before the 2012 Business Plan, the project was missing about $4-5 billion in federal money to get to Sylmar, assuming all north-of-Fresno money could be reprogrammed to go south. This happened to be exactly the amount of money in question in one of the failed Obama jobs bill proposals. Of course, with the overrun $5 billion is no longer enough, but then again with the prospective Democratic takeover of the House in 2012 the possible federal funding is higher as well. In other words, being able to cut Merced out of Phase 0, and now also being able to move to Tejon, could make the difference between IOS and no IOS.

    Jon Reply:

    Right now, construction is only funded up to Avenue 17 (I think) in Madera. The section from Avenue 17 to north of Chowchilla cannot be constructed until the San Jose – Central Valley EIR/EIS is complete as the wye decision will be made in that document, and the choice of wye affects the north-south alignment through Chowchilla. You could build from Merced to just north of Chowchillia, but why would you build two disconnected lengths of track? So whether the next construction section is north or south of the current ICS will likely depend on whether the San Jose – Central Valley or the Bakersfield – Palmdale (or Bakersfield – Symlar) EIR/EIS is completed first.

  3. Roger Christensen
    Dec 26th, 2011 at 13:31
    #3

    A very welcome post. Daniel. Attended a family Christmas function in Fresno yesterday that got so heated that I was nearly expelled from the table. My cousin is a right wing trucker who just bought a massive home near the row in Madera Rancho area and it was hard to cool the rhetoric.

    Last week, Daniel, you were seen in a local Fox news clip interspersed between Kevin McCarthy and shots of derailing trains. Pretty gaudy.
    Can’t wait for groundbreaking!

    StevieB Reply:

    How do you make international flights if you live in Fresno?

    JJJ Reply:

    Fresno has an international airport.

    StevieB Reply:

    Fresno (FAT) is an international airport if you are flying to Guadalahara. Suppose you wanted to fly to Europe or Japan.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You can shop around. You can take HSR to Millbrae, hop on a BART shuttle to SFO, and fly from there. You can take HSR to Ontario. Or you can take HSR to LAUS and hop on a timed express regional train to LAX.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    You see, this is where your agument fails:

    All one has to do it hop on a turboprop to LAX or SFO. The ticket counter and security lines at FAT are no where near what you will encounter at LAX or SFO. Your bags are checked through so you don’t have to drag them onto the train, then onto ligt rail then into a busy LAX or SFO terminal where 1,000 other poeple are standing in line just to check in. Oh yeah, and then there is the security line as I mentioned.

    Fresno already has better international service than Ontario, so that argument is a bust. Don’t expect Ontario to get more international service because of high speed rail either. International traffic will continue to concentrate at LAX. Fresno in its own right will continue to have expanded service that will within 20 years be equal to or better than what Ontario has today.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Ontario’s decline is probably the single biggest reason to abandon HSR in the Inland Empire and have it stick to the LOSSAN corridor from LA to San Diego. There’s nothing out there.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Except for the 2 million people in San Bernandino County and the 2 million people in Riverside County.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Ontario will continue to flow with the economy as an airport. It’s a secondary airport for LAX. In good times, airlines will add service to meet demand. In the down times it will get shattered like it has since 2008.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Those turboprop flights are going to get fantastically more expensive. If they even continue. Airlines have been cutting them all over the place, and where they remain they’re single-provider monopolies. The fuel costs alone mean they’re not economical for the airlines most of the time; and the fuel costs are going UP.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Actually, they will not get “fantastically more expensive”. The seat cost is about $19 now. Even if you tripled the cost of gas the seat cost will be about $10 less than the fares proposed by HSR. HSR is estimating their fares will be 70% of the “average fare”, but connecting pax don’t pay anything that is anywhere near the “average fare” because the “average fare” is what someone pays when they fly from FAT to LAX or SFO.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The average fare HSR uses for the estimate is for LA-SF. The fare for LA-Fresno and Fresno-SF is not based on airfare (why would it be, when trains’ primary competition there would be cars), but no a fraction of the cost of LA-SF.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Got it. Lose an argument, then move the goal post.

    thatbruce Reply:

    You’ve described your own posting technique rather nicely there Sob. Well done son.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Nice try Bruce.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Was it you or Nate that declared airlines didn’t want to fly short hops? I can’t recall which of you was more ignorant.

    thatbruce Reply:

    If I’ve made any assertion on the likelihood of airlines flying short hops, it would have been in conjunction with the observed instances of airlines cutting back on short flights in corridors where there is a competing HSR service. You are of course free to look back through the history of posts made to this blog.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I’ve been watching short hop airline service get cut all my life. No, it doesn’t apply to megalopolises.

    Maybe Fresno’s large enough to avoid having its Fresno-SF and Fresno-LA puddlejumpers cut. Maybe it isn’t.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @ Nathanial: Must be why there is more service to more destinations then ever before.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “Last week, Daniel, you were seen in a local Fox news clip interspersed between Kevin McCarthy and shots of derailing trains. Pretty gaudy.
    Can’t wait for groundbreaking!”

    Sounds like something to see, and good for a laugh! do you have a link?

    morris brown Reply:

    @D. P. Lubic

    “Sounds like something to see, and good for a laugh! do you have a link?”

    Glad to accommodate you

    See:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7oqOGvONTY

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Just as I thought–good for a laugh, with the crazy leaning train sequence from “Unstoppable!”

    I don’t bother watching TV (am too poor and too cheap to pay for cable, and can’t get any signal where I am at all), and if this Fox News sequence is any indication, it’s no wonder those who watch this service know less about the world than those who watch no news at all!

    A wag on some website said watching Fox News made you dumb. I didn’t really believe it until I saw this. Maybe the Surgeon General needs to shut the operation down as a public health hazard.

    Seriously, where does Fox News get off calling itself news? Where do they get the gall to call themselves “fair and balanced?” And that nonsense about “killing it in the crib, or keeping it on life support forever?” That’s pure editorializing, doesn’t belong in the news broadcast as such.

    And egads, even Amtrak manages an operating surplus on the Acela, which many people, including some here, suggest is the worst example you could have of high speed service in the world.

    If I were an employee of this service, I’d be embarrassed to admit it.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Rx to Morris Brown:

    Complete termination of ingestion of Fox News, to be exchanged for a National Public Radio supplement; primary diet to be technical literature and history on railroads, and a heavy diet of history in general. Recommend also a true study of economics, with heavy seasoning of cost accounting and cash flow, with a strong transportation component. This exercise needed to arrest further brain deterioration.

    VBobier Reply:

    Are ya sure that He won’t have an allergic reaction to this? ;)

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Sheesh, it gets worse the more I look. . .

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KBpZisdm5bo&feature=related

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9GowSyF0G-o&feature=related

    I used to think the talk of Rupert Murdock being dangerous was overly dramatic or something; my opinion has been greatly changed, he is at least as bad as his critics have claimed. . .no honor, no honesty at all, not with this stuff. . .

    VBobier Reply:

    Some videos, Now If only I could get My relatives to look at these and open their eyes, their being lied to and then they spout It’s about Obamas policies ruining, yada, yada, yada…

    3 of them like HSR and 1 does not, the 3 who do like HSR are female, the 1 who doesn’t is male(My Nephew), Their all Republicans, just not informed or willing to think for themselves. I think they take Fox News as gospel for the most part, outside of HSR, which they rode on in Europe, My Nephews a Truck Driver, He’s never been outside of the US, Unlike His 2 Sisters and His Mom.

    Of course right now I’m sick with a cold that My Youngest Niece gave to Me for XMAS, lovely.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Ah, that’s bad, but you love her anyway. . .get well.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Maybe point out to them that Fox News lied to them about one thing… and that they should start thinking about whether it’s lying to them about other things too.

    (Because it is.)

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Kind of like the people that wrote and backed Prop 1A?

    VBobier Reply:

    Only My deceased Brother changed His mind, His Ex tried to have Me left out of the will, that She was writing for Him, He told Her You do that and He’d die before signing It. In any case She did as She was told, at the time I was out here about where I live now, couldn’t visit more than 1 time per month, I live about 45 miles one way from Her house, He was in a hospital bed in Her living room, so much for TriCare, that and a Nurse coming by once or twice a week was all that TriCare would pay for. I last saw Him alive on May 1st 2005, He died on May 12th 2005 of Lung Cancer that went to His head, plus emphysema which made a lung transplant impossible, then the Veterans department and SSA took back any unspent money in His checking account. He was a 20 Year Navy Vet, a Master Chief(E9) w/gold hash marks and stripes for good conduct, He never wore anything other than red of course, as He just wanted to fit in He said.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I hate the business where the government takes any money you have left over if they feel that you’ve used “too much” government medical care.

    They don’t do that in any other country, to my knowledge. I believe this was a right-wing scheme.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Recommend also a true study of economics, with heavy seasoning of cost accounting and cash flow, with a strong transportation component. This exercise needed to arrest further brain deterioration
    ***********

    Sounds like you should heed your own advice.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “A wag on some website said watching Fox News made you dumb. ”

    There are actually scientific studies proving that watching Fox News is correlated with being more ignorant than not watching any news. Two such studies, I believe. You can find them if you Google.

    Not surprising given that Fox News is actually a disinformation outlet serving the interests of a few 1%ers. (The repeated lies of Fox News are even easier to Google; Media Matters is but one of many places cataloging them.)

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Sigh…

    http://mediamatters.org/search/tag/msnbc

    Matthew B Reply:

    Hmmm, that link gives 83 pages of results. This link gives 471 pages of results: http://mediamatters.org/search/tag/foxnewschannel

    I’m not arguing for MSNBC, just saying that Fox News is in something of a class of its own when it comes to misinformation.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Media Matters is run by a liberal think tank. What did you think you would find?

    joe Reply:

    Fox Lies.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    So does MSNBC. What’s your point?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Did you actually think that was a counterargument, or are you just playing for Team Republican?

    MSNBC is crap too. Fox is just *worse*. I don’t watch US TV news at *all* any more.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Yet you always use a liberal site to support your arguments. The crap you spout would lead one to believe you’re out of touch a bit.

    Spokker Reply:

    While it is true that Daily Show viewers are smarter than Fox News viewers as a whole, O’Reilly viewers did much better than Fox News viewers as a whole. Rush Limbaugh viewers also did well.

    The worse were morning news programs, local TV news and Fox News in general.

    Spokker Reply:

    That should be Rush Limbaugh listeners, though you can watch him jiggle around on Internet streaming I think.

    morris brown Reply:

    @Roger Christensen

    Daniel’s 10 seconds on Fox news:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G7oqOGvONTY

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    LOL. Straight to HSR homerville.

  4. Alon Levy
    Dec 26th, 2011 at 15:20
    #4

    What you’re missing with your list of advantages is that the purpose of infrastructure is not to build the maximum length of lines on a map (why build CAHSR, anyway, when for the same money we could build in West Texas?). Bakersfield-Merced is a test track for the technology, but it’s not too useful for people who don’t live in Bakersfield, Fresno, or Merced; this is why the administration wanted Orlando Airport-Tampa as the first segment, since it would be used by tourists and showcase the technology to a larger swath of the country.

    Lacking anything with the ratio of tourists-to-population of Florida or Vegas*, California needs to orient its first segment around ridership. And this means LA-Bakersfield, the missing piece in California’s rail network as well as the first intercity segment connecting to California’s biggest city.

    It’s too late to have made the EIR for that go faster than the EIR for the other segments, and the 2012 deadline really is an issue, but California can still plan around LA-Fresno. This means breaking ground on Bakersfield-Fresno, doing the EIR to LA as soon as possible, and then reprogramming money to filling in the gap.

    *Of course there are plenty of tourists in San Francisco and Los Angeles, but also plenty of residents.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    California needs to orient its first segment around ridership. And this means LA-Bakersfield, the missing piece in California’s rail network as well as the first intercity segment connecting to California’s biggest city.

    .

    No, for a couple of reasons:

    1) There is already service on Amtrak from Oakland to Los Angeles on the Coast Starlight. Although there might be demand on a L.A. to Bakersfield link it would still be very slow and not help the ridership argument. Fresno and Bakersfield are not next door… A hypothetical one hour ride to Bakersfield from to L.A. still would be be preceded by a two to three hour ride to Fresno. Add in the four hours it takes to reach Oakland and you still have a seven hour journey or so from “Bay to Basin”. Obviously that can be incrementally improved, but the damage to public perception would be huge. Promising high speed rail and giving something akin to the Soviet Union would deflate a lot of enthusiasm.

    2) The earliest track (where designers will make the most mistakes) needs to the easiest to fix. Hence the flat terrain of the CV is nearly perfect for designers because in the event that they do something wrong, they aren’t boring a new hole into the mountain. If anything, the most complicated sections should be done last so that there is enough institutional memory to help reduce costs in those sections….

    Jack Reply:

    I’d like to think that 100B buy us enough research to avoid mistakes during constructions…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Giving the engineers lotsa money did not help BART, probably helped to engender broad gauge.

    Adult supervision required.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Adult supervision is always required when you give engineers lotsa money.

    Joey Reply:

    1) The San Joaquin, even with the transfer to a bus in Bakersfield, saves about 4 hours compared to the Coast Starlight (for Bay Area-LA). Plus more than one train per day is much better than just one. Plus there is probably enough of a market for LA-CV that you could start running high-speed trains immediately, rather than having the tracks sit mostly dormant for half a decade.

    2) Building high speed track is a well understood practice if you bother to stick your nose across either ocean. Such “mistakes”don’t happen with minimal competence.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes.

    1. The Coast Starlight takes 12 hours to get to Oakland. 7 hours Bay to Basin, with much better frequency and reliability, is a big improvement – it’s roughly the same average speed as the Regional, or the French express trains that the TGV replaced. It’s better than what you’d get cutting off Bako-Merced, too, since it would eliminate the need for a connecting bus from LA to Bakersfield. On top of that, showing people the difference between high speed (LA-Fresno) and low speed (Fresno-Bay) on the same ride could help create momentum for completing the project, as was the case with the LGV Sud-Est.

    2. The earliest track needs to have the least depreciation. Tunnels are actually better for that than flat track, because they have proportionally less depreciation – civil infrastructure lasts approximately forever, whereas trackbeds, trackage, and system elements depreciate faster. For what it’s worth, the oldest infrastructure on the Tokaido Shinkansen is a few WW2-era tunnels. They didn’t make mistakes then, when the technology was new, and the engineers on CAHSR shouldn’t make mistakes now, when the technology’s been built 40 or so times.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    1. You can’t upgrade LA to Fresno for the amount programmed to Merced – Bakersfield. You might get Bakersfield to Palmdale and complete the missing link…but again that is a waste of money if you trying to showcase speed.

    2. Although I understand the point about depreciation, I would counter that it’s important to have the ability to increase capacity. In that regard, Merced – Fresno is the ideal place to start because you have no idea what ultimate demand will be and when you complete it, you can pretty easily add capacity to match demand on the total system in say 2050.

    I’ll keep on saying it: if you look at BART’s biggest problem it’s that it can’t expand capacity easily because the whole system funnels underneath Oakland. At least in this case, if we keep the “stilts” to a minimum it should be easier to expand as demand warrants.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    1. You can’t build anything useful for the amount programmed to Merced-Bakersfield. If your belief about the world is that there won’t be more money in 2013, you might as well throw in the towel.

    2. I don’t understand. How is a two-track line from LA to Bakersfield a capacity problem? If what you’re saying is that four tracks will be needed, then ask yourself how come every single HSR line in the world is two-tracked, and only about one and a half have a problem with it.

    BART is neither here nor there. There are plenty of multi-track regional lines, because regional travel sometimes needs all that capacity.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    1. Total speculation on your part. Even if bids come in widely over budget, Fresno can chip in a lot of money through indirect means like paying for grade separations.

    2. You are focusing too much on the track and not enough on technical enhancements. The reason not to build the tunnels and viaducts en masse first is that you learn not only cheaper and more efficient ways to do things over time but also because the design of said tunnel may be obsolete in future years. It’s much cheaper to fix something on open track than inside a tunnel.

    3. Every other country that has HSR has a unitar— just kidding — different population distribution than the US: Taiwan, Japan, Korea, UK, France…Spain…. all have their capital at the head of the transportation network both for political and demographic regions. The US isn’t like that, so high speed rail networks will have more redundancy than what you might see outside the US because travel demand patterns will change over time. Plus, once there is service to Vegas, HSR traffic from the Bay Area will surge through Tehachapi.

    Now I know, you are going to say… you forgot Switzerland and Germany, and China. Given the state of Chinese HSR, I’ll just say that Germany and Switzerland are hybrid systems where HSR shares common track. I don’t think every route HSR uses in those nations is only double tracked.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    1. What am I totally speculating about? If you interpreted “you can’t build anything useful for the amount” as my suggestion that costs will run over, then try again. I’m not saying that costs will run over, only that the ICS by itself is not a useful train service, and that’s why the IOS is larger.

    2. You misunderstand just how future-proof HSR tunnels can be. Japan’s HSR tunnels need trains with especially modified noses, but that’s purely due to speed increases since the 1960s. The limiting factor to speed on LA-Bakersfield is the grade, not the tunnel profile or the train’s top speed.

    As for cost, generally real costs increase over time rather than decrease. Far from learning to do things better, cities are now spending $250 million per kilometer on simpler subway tunnels than those they built for $150 million per kilometer in the 1970s.

    3. Don’t think of the US as a country; think of it as more like the EU, within which there are multiple countries or blocs of countries. California is more analogous to a country, and is a lot like Japan in that it has a single dominant city, a strong second city, and a population distribution that’s fairly linear. (If you’re uncomfortable admitting LA’s dominance, then think of California as Italy.)

    What you’re trying to say about multi-track legacy routes hosting HSR is neither here nor there. The only person who believes that LA-Bakersfield can be used by non-HSR traffic is Synon, and he too will admit that special construction for that is needed. The studied Tejon alternatives have grades too steep for freight, in order to reduce tunnel length. In its brand-new form and higher speed, LA-Bakersfield is like the German HSR tracks, which are double-tracked just like HSR tracks in other countries.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    1. The ICS is useful for what it will become… a way to leverage BART & ACE expansion.

    2. Yeah, and you don’t think that we will have other adjustments for speed and motion in due time?

    3. You are just making my point more. In France and Japan “all roads lead to Rome” because Tokyo and Paris run the show in every regard. In California, Los Angeles has political heft, but it’s been steadily losing its economic muscle. By 2050, San Francisco will be the undisputed political, economic, and cultural of California again. And this is coming from a born and raised Southern California who lived for nearly a decade in the City of L.A.

    Joey Reply:

    1) BART and ACE? How many commuters do you expect to board at Bakersfield and ride the train for 4 hours to reach SF?

    The ICS has almost zero value by itself. Running a number of otherwise slow FRA runs that could be counted on your fingers is like hammering a nail with a pile driver – the fact remains that the ICS will remain 95% dormant until one of the endpoints is reached.

    2) We are rapidly approaching the upper limit of what is economical with steel-wheel-on-steel-rail technology (and don’t take Chinese concept trains with >200% the power draw of anything else to mean otherwise). Future speed increases are unlikely barring conversion to maglev.

    In any case, where did the idea that we would need to modify this infrastructure at any point in the foreseeable future come from? Is there any precedent whatsoever for this? If there is determined to be some actual chance that speed will increase in the future (which as above I seriously doubt) then all that needs to happen is a minor increase in curve radius – a tunnel is still a tunnel regardless of how fast a train is traveling through it (of course with a sufficient aerodynamic profile).

    3) LA will continue to be the bigger region for quite a while even if trends are changing (and I have no confirmation that they are). If we are looking at where to build first, we are only looking 15 years into the future not 50. That doesn’t change the fact that connecting to either end point would make the infrastructure an order of magnitude more useful until the rest is finished.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The trends aren’t changing; LA is outgrowing the Bay Area. Of course most of the growth is in the Inland Empire sprawl, but it’s still more than the Bay Area is seeing.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    1) BART does not want ACE to go to Bakersfield. That is just hyperbole on your part, Joey. It probably does want to serve Merced and Modesto by cutting off Stockton and using a new ROW through the 120 freeway to link up with Livermore, Fremont, and Santa Clara. The underlying concept is that BART wants more riders and to do that it needs to leverage ACE into something that will drop more riders from there onto its system.

    The ICS will allow a trial run of traffic between Merced and Bakersfield. What it doesn’t do is impinge on Metro or BART’s ability to get more customers. If the line stops in Merced and Bakersfield for a little while, then Metro and the MTC can divy up the rest of the map in the mean time and finish Bay to Basin once their conquest is complete.

    3) The single biggest driver of population growth in the 2010 Census was Hispanic births. Curiously, the one place where that did not occur was Los Angeles. It’s not hard to figure out why: as we get further away from 1986 the number of families enabled by political amnesty decreases. Once it peters out, that’s it for population growth. Los Angeles has nothing other than this to sustain its growth. It’s biggest employers are moving away, and international trade can’t soak up the excess. Don’t get me wrong, L.A.’s not going to blow off the map… but it’s no New York City.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Also, my guess is that BART wants San Mateo, Santa Clara, and San Joaquins Counties to join… but only wants Stanislaus and Merced to partner existing members of ACE….

    Joey Reply:

    1) I never meant that BART wanted ACE to Bakersfield. My point was that it’s intercity distance, not regional/commuter (though ACE already carries people way too far for it’s peak only schedule).

    Also what’s this “trial run” business? If all you’ve got to start with is the Central Valley segment, all the service you can justify is a few Amtrak (etc) runs. And if that’s all you can run, then the infrastructure is vastly underutilized and depreciating (not to mention having to carry obese FRA locomotives). If you connect to LA to begin with, you have the demand to run semi-frequent electrified regional services at 200-250 km/h (I agree with Richard – buying very high speed trains should be done as late as possible, and regional trains are useful elsewhere/have high resale value). Leeching ridership off of Metrolink is only a problem if you consider agency turf to be absolute (and this type of turf battle is a problem that needs to be fixed sooner rather than later if we’re ever going to have decent transit).

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Joey,

    Though it would not have been my first preference, I get the impression from the Business Plan that even the ICS is some hideous chimera like “Borden to Corcoran” that the Authority has realized they need trains running ASAP to get private investment. So I won’t be surprised if the IOS becomes Merced to Fresno or Merced to Fresno… because even then there will be more interest from other parties than if we held off and only ran trains when we were sure we needed them.

    I think we are headed for a Shakespearean type of history here:

    Act I: Construction in the Central Valley
    Act II Service in the Valley, while Metro and MTC get their acts together
    Act III: HSR is connected Bay to Basin
    Act IV: MTC and Metro realize that the State has no use for them any more, and adopts statewide planning….
    Act V: San Diego and Sacramento mourn the MTC and Metro whilst riding aboard their new HSR extensions….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The HSRA has said that the private partners it talked to were uninterested in anything smaller than CV-Bay or CV-Basin.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    You give a bunch of reasons for “no” yet the real reason is to build something in the middle of nowhere then declare “we can’t let all this money go to waste”.

    We get it. Nice try with the lie.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Alon

    Mostly concur but you are going to need that Fresno-Bako money for the mountain crossing.

    Redirecting and “repurposeing” the money is possible if there is the desire.

    VBobier Reply:

    That Won’t happen & You know It syno, Hell would have to freeze over 1st5 & I don’t see that happening, so dream on buddy boy, dream on, cause It ain’t gonna happen.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, you’re right. But in light of stimulus deadlines and other political immovable objects, something shovel-ready needs to be built while we’re waiting for further funding in 2013. On top of that, Fresno is much bigger than Merced, so it’s not so bad to connect LA (or even just Santa Clarita) to Fresno in one go.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Alon, the LA-Bakersfield EIS simply wasn’t even close to ready. That’s all there is to it. Fresno-Bakersfield was pretty close to ready.

    Pacheco might have been close enough to ready, but it doesn’t have the utility of Fresno-Bakersfield, honestly. Altamont was nowhere close to ready. Sylmar-LA is not close to ready even now. Anaheim wouldn’t qualify as high speed. And we all know about the Peninsula.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m not really talking about decisions made in 2008 right now. That’s why I said it’s too late to have made the EIR ready by 2012. But LA-Bako has been the missing piece since Amtrak California became popular; they should’ve planned to start with it in 2000. Even now they can partially plan around it, which means spending the stimulus money on the shovel-ready Bako-Fresno segment, but then go for LA-Bako as soon as the EIR can be finished.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Agreed.

    As far as I can tell, the CHSRA started out working on EIRs for every segment of Phase I simultaneously. They accelerated Bakersfield-Sylmar a bit, actually, with extra technical research.

    It just seems to be a lot more difficult to finish the EIR on it than on the Valley. Hope it’s done soon.

  5. Carthel Stephens
    Dec 26th, 2011 at 18:26
    #5

    All this bull about the benefits to the central valley is just that. BULL! Your planned route will require most valley residents to travel over 50 miles on these congested surface roads just to go to a station that is using the high speed train. Speeding up Amtrak will not change this. Communities on the train route may reap some increase in income, but as the trains do not spend much time in the station, we will just be funneling the cash travelers may spend to communities at the ends of the routes.

  6. morris brown
    Dec 26th, 2011 at 19:53
    #6

    Gilroy council tried of spending funds on HSR.

    http://www.gilroydispatch.com/news/san_martin_county/article_12e38e88-3030-11e1-935e-0019bb30f31a.html

    Joey Reply:

    It’s understandable that communities are tired of spending their own money to plan things correctly in light of the Authority’s incompetence.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Which of course means we should reward incompitence and continue to spend at will on this incompitence because it means jobs and economic expansion and a cool train.

    What an epic fail.

  7. elportonative77
    Dec 26th, 2011 at 20:04
    #7

    Forty years for one state high speed rail project. Nice, I’ll be in my 60s by the time this is done. Is there any way to speed up construction?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    LOL. You’re kidding right?

    Matthew B Reply:

    Move to Europe, that’s what I did :-)

    Nathanael Reply:

    Most infrastructure projects take forever. :-( At least until the first operable segment gets built… then they go faster.

    So that’s the way to speed up construction… get some trains running.

    Look at how long the Channel Tunnel took…. *starting from the initial abortive dig*….

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Wow. Using a financial trainwreck to justify another financial trainwreck.

    Brsk Reply:

    The Chunnel was very profitable, for the banks that made the high interest loans. :o It cost the British taxpayers nothing and costs the investors almost everything they put in. Capitalism baby! Banksters win again, and always!

    The Channel Tunnel Rail Link and HS1 did cost more than they should, because they tried to be 100% privately financed and failed.

    Britain learned and now HS2 is planned, like CA HSR, to be mostly government funded infrastructure with a private operator/minority investor. Government puts the money in early, gets it back in increased property taxes franchisee fees MANY times over, over the course of the next 100 years. O & M costs taken care of by the operators that pay for the privilege of being able to make money running their trains on it. Proven business model, in over a dozen countries, over the last thirty+ years.

    Now the road in from of your house? 0% cost recovery from user fees! Maintenance is probably 10-20% funded by your property taxes (if we used 100% of your property tax for roads, who needs police or fire services?) the rest is “a financial trainwreck!” The city better shed it to gravel and abandon it this summer!

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    LOL.. Chunnel and Profitable in the same post.

    The road in front of my house was built by the developers of my community, not the city (or the state for that matter). When I bought my home (along with everyone else), those developers made money to pay for it. It is maintained by my property taxes, and because my local government has been wise to contract services, it’s maintained – very well I might add – by a private company. The primary roads leading up to it are also well maintained and we just got a new fire station, four new grade schools, two middle school and three high schools (2 public and 1 Charter). All paid for by the community developers, or shoudl I say me because we paid the developers for them – not the city.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The Chunnel is an example of what I call “sucker financing”. Given the number of suckers in the world, I think that perhaps this is a good model for government financing of other valuable public works.

    *sigh*. Did I say I was cynical?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Please do look up “initial abortive dig”. It was in the 19th century, if I remember correctly?

    StevieB Reply:

    The speed of construction depends entirely on the rapidity of funding.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    And if your bond rating is crap, you won’t get much done.

  8. morris brown
    Dec 26th, 2011 at 21:24
    #8

    Just out in the LA Times — Apparently Amtrak doesn’t want to use the ICS tracks. A change in their position. If they don’t want them, where is the “independent utility”?

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bullet-train-20111227,0,2904247.story

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    Amtrak is just expressing some concerns. Sky is not falling and plenty of time to work out details.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Seems more like an ongoing agency turf battle.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Amtrak is probably frustrated that the Authority is giving them the cold shoulder as far as being the operator of the system. But equally so, I don’t think anyone wants CHSRA to tie their hands so early in the project.

    Still, the attitude toward CalTrans is mystifying. Schwarzenegger was very concerned about the influence of unions, but if CAHSR becomes BART 2.0… then it will be “worse” in that regard than if CalTrans ran it.

    One idea might be to have a “Rail Commission of California” (RCC) that has a board and a President (like the UC system) but individual “chancellors” to run high speed rail, Amtrak California, and cross-county systems like Metrolink and BART).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Arguably, it’s a good thing Amtrak doesn’t want the ICS; if it did, it might try to pull some strings to make sure the rest of the project stalls, since an IOS wouldn’t be open to it.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Good point, Alon. I hadn’t thought of that. Once the “IOS” were built and put into operation, Amtrak would have to go back to its current line. But I think it is the potential for use that matters, not whether Amtrak would actually use it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And, after having put some effort and at least some cash into California’s truncated iteration of hsr Amtrak would understandably want to be in the running for any future full scale operations. This brings up once again the conundrum of the CHSRA’s ultimate management model. Amalgamated and/or TWU want it a big BART belonging to them, not the BLE. They would not like the Caltrain model at all, which was an Amtrak concession until recently.

    I’d really like to see the CHSRA claim one of the class ones would buy the orphaned trackage. But that would just draw more attention to this one huge pr gaffe.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Once the IOS opens Amtrak will be abandon it’s route south of the northern terminus and concentrate it’s efforts on hauling people to the northern terminus from points north of there.

    Nathanael Reply:

    If Amtrak is still short of rolling stock, Amtrak might be happy to do that. If Amtrak has plenty of rolling stock, it may run a parallel “local”.

    Joey Reply:

    I am as critical of starting in the CV as the next person, but this proves that, once again, Amtrak has no clue, if they’re really suggesting that faster service, at the expense of stations with less than 100 boardings per day, would actually harm ridership.

    JJJ Reply:

    Ive mentioned this a few times. Amtrak cant use the HSR tracks because they do NOT have stops at places like Wasco and Madera. And if the line is on stills, you cant just do what Amtrak does in Stockton and stop in the middle of the street.

    What I can see, best case scenario, is Amtrak offering the current 6 trains a day via BNSF tracks + new express trains a day, but theres no way theyre abandoning half the stops on the San Joaquin. Those new express trains would have to be funded elsewhere.

    Some of you, like Joey, seem to forget that Amtrak California is about providing inter-city transit to as many places as possible, and that includes servicing 100 riders a day in small towns where Greyhound won’t stop.

    And remember, every 100 people you abandon in Wasco is 100 people not getting on at Emeryville (example) for their return trip.

    We’re talking about a train here, not an airplane. It’s not all about terminus-terminus travel.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    You mean CalTrans.

    I would guess all this means is that Fresno to Bakersfield will be a separate rail service and that the San Joaquins will append at Merced until Phase 1 is complete.

    Once we get HSR from LA Union Station to SD I see a similar fate for the Surfliner. It will run from SF to LA along the coast but most trains will turn around before making the full journey: Monterey for SF and Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo for LA….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Wasco got 18,044 boardings and alightings last year. That’s a bit under 50 a day. 25 people arriving and 25 people departing. Run a 12 passenger bus three times a day to the Bakersfield HSR station and you have more than enough seats to serve the demand. If you want to do it with a train that’s half a car once a day. But but but you’ll sputter it not just for Wasco it’s for places like Madera that won’t have an HSR stop either. Madera had 20,031 boardings and alightings last year. That’s a bit under 55 a day. Since you can’t board half a passenger lets call it 56. Or 28 passengers arriving and 28 departing. Or dAnother 12 passenger bus to the nearest HSR station takes care of the demand. Add up all the low use stops that won’t have HSR, how many trains a day get filled? Or does the two car train run once a day, half empty?

    JJJ Reply:

    Again, you forget that fact that trains serve local service. Someone going from Wasco to Madera does not want to ride a bus to Bakersfield, a train to Fresno, and then another bus.

    And for those that do want long distance travel, the local San Joaquin allows people from Madera and such to access the HSR they need to reach SF, SD and LA.

    The San Joaquin is not going away.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I thought they were going to Oakland or Sacramento

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Given the already prevalent nature of Amtrak busses in CA, why not simply switch those lower ridership stations to buses? The ridership gains of making San Joaquin service faster than cars, plus the possibility of increased frequency, far outweigh any losses that such a transition would have.

    JJJ Reply:

    Amtrak California is not allowed to run a bus network.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Then run buses not as part of Amtrak California.

    JJJ Reply:

    Can’t do that either. The big bus lobbyists made sure a law was passed banning the state from taking on customers just wanting to use the bus. Cant have the government competing with the always amazing private sector.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Then either let the private operators run buses, or run buses that connect to HSR.

    Serious question: how many of those potential riders in Wasco and Corcoran are traveling to other minor stations, and how many are traveling to points for which HSR will be a serious option, such as the Bay Area?

    JJJ Reply:

    Station pair ridership is important, but always hard to come by online. I don’t know. However, from personal experience, theres a lot of intra-valley travel, as people around here don’t go very far. For some, going to las vegas is the big “leaving California!” trip.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Merry X – Mas

    Station to station data in excel format (second tab is count of those on bus to LA)
    http://www.calhsr.com/?attachment_id=1941

    Station to station data in comma delimited CSV format
    http://www.calhsr.com/?attachment_id=1940

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Happy New Year. Thanks for the data, Elizabeth.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Important notes: the station to station numbers give annual ridership numbers per train. last column sums them. None of them include people taking train from Bakersfield. The next tab has bus riders from Bakersfield to LA. This gives you rough percentage of people who look like they are going to Bakersfield but are really going to LA.

    Jon Reply:

    Hmm. Wasco to Corcoran has 118 passengers/year; the reverse (Corcoran to Wasco) is unlisted. The same is true of many other city pairs. Given that a sizable amount of people make return journeys, this makes me suspicious that the dataset is not complete.

    Jon Reply:

    I guess they could be going one-way to the prison!

    Ben Pease Reply:

    Re Wasco-Corcoran, I recall a few years ago on the San Joaquin to Bakersfield and bus to Barstow (rented a car there to join a group camping trip in the East Mohave desert). The population of the bar car in the northern Central Valley was sorta kinda normal, with a fair number of blue-haired seniors; after Corcoran/Hanford normal shifted suddenly to include a large number of short-haired guys in un-hemmed khakis heading home to LA after doing their time, telling prison stories. Best wishes to them all.

    For added weirdness, on the Orange Belt Stage bus the driver showed Poseidon Adventure on the video screen, unasked, as we sped eastward through the Joshua trees towards Barstow.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    It adds up to 900k (data is from 2008) I think it is complete.

    Jon Reply:

    I love how you just hand-waved away an obvious data discrepancy, having made a career out of taking the authority to task for doing the same thing.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Looks like some 40% of ridership is headed to Bakersfield from before Hanford. However, Merced to Bakersfield is only 30% of the total ridership. Still that is something…

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Jon,

    All the data is for the city pairs, not specifically one city to another, e.g. Fresno-Bakersfield is both Fresno to Bakersfield and Bakersfield to Fresno

    Jon Reply:

    In that case, your columns labled ‘orig’ and ‘dest’ are rather misleading.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Jon,
    Not my columns (except for one to indicate Oakland trips). Just passing along data that was passed along to me.

    Jon Reply:

    Okay, leaving that aside. If you switched the San Joaquins to use the ICS, the only stations that would close are Wasco and Corcoran. Fresno and Hanford would both be replaced by new stations. So, if you added in a feeder bus which ran Hanford Downtown – Hanford HSR – Corcoran – Wasco (and reverse), the only people who would not be able to make their trip would be those whose trip was by motorcoach only. Those would be:

    Hanford – Wasco (640)
    Hanford – Corcoran (10340)
    Wasco – Corcoran (118)
    Wasco – Bakersfield (10071)
    Corcoran – Bakersfield (6843)

    Equals 28012 annual riders, or just over 3% or annual ridership. Those people could be accommodated just by modifying the stupid law that prevents Amtrak passengers from making bus only journeys (in this case you would want to extend the feeder bus to Bakersfield.)

    blankslate Reply:

    You can get around that stupid law by buying a train-bus ticket from the nearest station. For example, to use the Amtrak bus from San Jose to Santa Barbara, I buy a ticket from Santa Clara to Santa Barbara: 10 minute train portion (unused) followed by 6 hour bus ride (used)

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Is this really true? Do you remember name or number or anything salient about legislation so I could find it?

    paul dyson Reply:

    Perata bill, backed by greyhound

    thatbruce Reply:

    (b) To the extent permitted by federal law, the department shall
    encourage Amtrak and motor carriers of passengers to do both of the
    following:
    (1) Combine or package their respective services and facilities to
    the public as a means of improving services to the public.
    (2) Coordinate schedules, routes, rates, reservations, and
    ticketing to provide for enhanced intermodal surface transportation.

    @jimsf (or should that be jimCV now? ;) ):
    Is there the coordination described between services offered by Amtrak, Amtrak California and non-contracted bus carriers? Can you sell me tickets for Greyhound services that connect with trains?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    I meant as connecting to HSR stations, like Amtrak already does in CA.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If there’s enough room (and friendly regulations) to run regional service, then by all means they can keep local trains on the BNSF line. There’s just no point in running intercity service.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And enough demand. No point in running empty trains around.
    http://www.amtrak.com/pdf/factsheets/CALIFORNIA10.pdf

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    11.2 million “boardings + alightings” per year statewide = 5.6m million passengers a year = ~15k passengers/day = fewer people than use just any half way useful single urban bus line daily.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Intercity routes are always less popular than urban commuter routes. This means, simply, that most people don’t go to other cities daily. Why do you even mention it?

    Joey Reply:

    Because Amtrak’s ridership is so poor as to be considered not even a factor when designing HSR.

    Nathanael Reply:

    OK, I’ll buy that.

    Howard Reply:

    ACE could run a limited stop express service on the IOS to Bakersfield from San Jose. The extended ACE service would only have new stops in Modesto, Merced, Fresno and Bakersfield. Stanislaus, Merced, Fresno and Kern counties could join the Altemont Commuter Express Joint Powers Authority.

    Joey Reply:

    ACE is funded only by San Joaquin, Alameda, and Santa Clara counties. Running over the Altamont Pass might not be a bad idea, but you picked the wrong organization to run it.

    Howard Reply:

    “Stanislaus, Merced, Fresno and Kern counties could join the Altemont Commuter Express Joint Powers Authority” and fund the extension. Next time please read the entire comment before responding. ACE could also run express Oakland to Bakersfield trains through the Altemont Pass.

    Howard Reply:

    ACE could also run express Sacramento to Bakersfield trains on the IOS. ACE has been wanting to expand to Sacramento and Modesto for a while.

    Joey Reply:

    Sorry about that, but bringing that many counties into a commuter rail JPB to run one intercity run per day just seems like the wrong solution. Especially considering that ACE doesn’t even own any of the tracks it operates on.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    True, but I would be surprised if VTA, BART, Stanislaus, and Merced Counties join ACE.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    wouldn’t

    Peter Reply:

    Umm, if Santa Clara County is part of ACE, then VTA is, too.

    Jon Reply:

    Current CAHSR plans call for regional Super-ACE service for SJ-Sac and SJ-Merced. This indeed implies that Stanislaus, Merced, San Joaquin and Sacramento counties will join ACE.

    Check out this doc, especially slides 12, 16 and 19. Blue stations are potential HSR stations, orange dots are potential ACE stations.

    StevieB Reply:

    The important feature of the Amtrak article is in the last paragraph.

    Michael Murray, a spokesman for the federal agency that insisted on a backup plan for the high-speed track, said the state’s proposal meets the requirement.

    Independent utility was required by the federal grant and it has been met. No one wants to run Amtrak on the high speed rail track.

    Alan Reply:

    Another hack job by the Times’ Ralph Vartabedian…obviously Morris’ BFF, but one of the least competent reporters I’ve seen in years.

    The article fails to mention a key point: It’s not Amtrak’s call about whether or not to operate on the ICS. They’re just the contract operator. Caltrans calls the shots.

    It also fails to mention that Fresno and Bakersfield will still be served directly, the Hanford station will be just out of town (and closer to Visalia) and the only station which could lose service–Corcoran–might be accommodated with a temporary station on the ICS.

    jim Reply:

    It’s not Amtrak’s call about whether or not to operate on the ICS. … Caltrans calls the shots.

    And is presumably the ventriloquist.

    synonymouse Reply:

    So you are implying that Caltrans should dump Amtrak in favor of, say, Veolia, if Amtrak won’t shut up and play nice with the LaHood-Brown orphan mini-hsr layout?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Maybe they could take up a collection amongst the Fresno faithful to lease some SMART doodlebugs and run them back and forth between Borden and Corcoran a couple times a day

    Nathanael Reply:

    Anything but Veolia. Keolis? Virgin?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m not that sure Veolia is worse than Amtrak.

    Nathanael Reply:

    More crashes with fatalities. Veolia has a bad safety record worldwide.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What’s Veolia’s record outside Chatsworth? (The German accident was ruled the fault of the other operator).

    synonymouse Reply:

    Public opinion has turned against the CHSRA and hsr has become a laughing stock. Vartabedian is simply cranking out copy that appeals and agrees with the majority readership.

    The CHSRA is its owns worst enemy; it has repeatedly made some exceedingly poor decisions and Borden to Corcoran ranks right up there at the top. They just gifted the opposition with the “nowhere to nowhere” label.

    The mountain crossing is an entirely new rail service. It does not modify or conflict with any existing operations. The hang-up is the CHSRA’s inertia – it needs to get serious and call in our DC congressionals to repurpose the $6bil to Tejon. And certainly look into the possibility of using the tunnels to secure private loans to bolster the funding.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    The more I think about it, the more I think completing the Bakersfield-LA link should have come first. It might not have produced the test track that seems essential if there ever is hsr service in California, but it would certainly have independent utility. It would allow the San Joaquins to run through to LA.

    In fact, it could allow running the Coast Starlight through the valley to LA and possibly shortening that train’s running time considerably. (As for the coastal communities, they could be served by a resurrected Daylight, maybe one with a northern terminus in Emeryville rather than S.F.)

    I suppose there are a lot of obstacles to doing what I describe, but it may be worth considering.

    As for San Francisco, I think the Prop 1A money will run out before the line makes it to Fourth and King, so TBT or TTC will most likely be the Grand Central Bus Station of the West. Once the bond money is spent, there is no longer any priority for Phase 1. If there are any scarce federal dollars available after that, or private funds, there may be a reluctance to spend or invest them in an expensive extension from 4th and King to TTC.

    Of course, if politics drives the decision-making, anything could happen.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Peninsula is rich and can well afford to tax itself to pay for an upgraded and electrified Caltrain if it is so motivated.

    BTW watched a CSPAN interview with Eric Schmidt last nite which taught me something new:
    Google keeps a record of Internet travel by ip address for about a year. fascinating

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Excuse me, but what about LA-Bakersfield makes it an inadequate test track? Why do trains have to be tested on dead-straight full-speed at-grade track but not in a tunnel?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Speed.

    Foreign conglomerate does not want to demonstrate how great train is by navigating close turns and tight spaces. Instead, they want to show how FAST they are. That’s what developing nations want who are the ultimate market for HSR.

    Saudis, Canadians, Brazil, Russia, Australia, South Africa, etc. These guys want the train that will keep them in the running with the competition. Why did Airbus build the A380 and Boeing respond with the 787????

    Joey Reply:

    Perhaps you’re forgetting that the ICS will not be electrified. Nothing high-speed is going to run until one of the end points is reached.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I don’t think so. I think it will be per the business plan.

    Arthur Dent Reply:

    Yes, and the business plan says no electrification. The technical team – possibly back in Tony Daniels’ time – brought up the (late) timing of HS operations at a board meeting.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Boeing didn’t respond to the A380 with the 787. Boeing responded to the A330 with the 787. Beoign hasn’t responded to the A380 because it doesn’t have to. Sure, it built the 747-8, but that’s not so much a response as it is offering a passenger variant to the 747-8 freighter to boost orders and defray costs.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    To Alon, I said “‘seems’ essential.” Maybe it isn’t. Anyway, if the emphasis moves towards the bookends, by the time hsr is ready for the Central Valley maybe they’ll be ready to replace the rolling stock with something newer and faster that arguably is more in need of testing.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What makes you think they aren’t going to test them in the tunnels? There’s minute by minute updates on the tests of ALP45s over on Railroad.net. They are gonna plotz if someone manages to get a picture of it at Penn Station New York.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “The more I think about it, the more I think completing the Bakersfield-LA link should have come first.”

    EIS not close enough to ready. That’s all there is to it.

    Joey Reply:

    Well yes, at this point there’s little to be done but we need to make sure that the sort of ridership-insensitive political moves that went into pushing the CV EIRs before others don’t happen again.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I actually think they were just easier to finish. The CHSRA seems to have started all of them simultaneously.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    I believe the San Joaquin service is a joint venture between Amtrak and the State of California. It is not equivalent to Caltrain where Amtrak was the operator.

    Peter Reply:

    I actually think that Alan has a point. Look at the Capitol Corridor for example. The rolling stock is owned by Caltrans, and administration is provided by BART, of all organizations. The only things Amtrak are the name and the operator.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But this is not the Capitol Corridor, but a much longer haul. I believe Caltrain is a better analogy for the orphan trackage as Caltrain is under government ownership not UP or Santa Fe.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But BART running the Capitol Corridor trains tells a lot about its imperial pretensions. You guy consistently underestimate invidious BART.

    Peter Reply:

    BART doesn’t run the Capitol Corridor. The CCJPA does (forgot to mention that level before). BART simply provides administrative support.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    BART is a member agency of the CCJPA, so it doesn’t just “simply” provide administrative services.

    Peter Reply:

    True, but BART staff DO provide administrative support.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    The San Joaquins is a state-sponsored service. You can ask JimSF about this. CalTrans even owns the rolling stock with some exceptions.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But the State owns neither the real estate nor the improvements of the San Joaquins route, but Caltrain does own its physical plant.

    Joey Reply:

    This is how the entirety of Amtrak California is set up.

    jim Reply:

    Right now, it’s joint. Roughly speaking Caltrans covers about half the losses on the three corridors and Amtrak covers the rest. But post-2015, Caltrans will be responsible for covering the entire loss on any California corridor service. Amtrak will offer only the services that Caltrans is willing to pay for. If Caltrans isn’t willing to pay for an express San Joaquin along the orphan CHSRA trackage, then Amtrak won’t provide it.

    Alan Reply:

    Right. So if Caltrans says, “We want the San Joaquins rerouted to the ICS”, Amtrak is not going to say no.

    jim Reply:

    True. So if Amtrak is suggesting there are issues it must be because Caltrans thinks there are. That raises the question why Caltrans is telling Amtrak there are issues with using the ICS two or three weeks before the legislature is to vote on funding the ICS. There are interagency turf battles and then there’s hardball. This is hardball.

    Alan Reply:

    And if you read my comment, you would have noted that I said *Caltrans*, not *Caltrain*. I’m well aware of the difference, thank you.

  9. paul dyson
    Dec 27th, 2011 at 10:35
    #9

    With the PRIAA legislation taking effect in ’12 California has to find another $20 million per year operating funds for the state corridors. The State budget next year will propose more or less eliminating the Caltrans Division of Rail. Rail planning will go to the highway department. By the time the ICS is built there may not be any Amtrak California to run over it, and almost certainly no funds available to operate additional trains or buses.
    From the high hopes of 2008 it’s hard to see a worse outcome for passenger rail. The policy missteps and fiascos keep following one on another. The best policy that the CHSRA and its supporters can come up with is “build a track to nowhere” (there’s no money for trains) and hope we can blackmail the feds into giving us the money to finish the job. That’s the gist of Dan Krause’s commentary. Fortunately there are still some folks willing to take on LaHood and his puppet Szabo and even at the eleventh hour try and rescue something from this wreckage.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It will be even worse if and when house republicans get an audit of the CHSRA up and running. It will be a circus and “nowhere to nowhere” will be featured in the big ring. Amtrak is actually doing the CHSRA a favor if it can smother Borden to Corcoran in the crib.

    And at least one of hsr’s “friends” is certainly celebrating the fiasco. What a coup for BART if both hsr and Caltrain go down in flames. It gets the Peninsula as a trophy and remains at the top of the Bay Area funding food chain.

    Peter Reply:

    I don’t think there ever was a threat to BART’s funding supremacy.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The CHSRA is a direct competitor for operating subsidies and capital improvement grants, for which both entities have a virtually insatiable appetite.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    Paul, what is there to rescue if we sent the money back as you hope to do? Nothing. If we return the money, the feds, being burned, will give up on California for years and years and all incremental improvement will grind to halt. HSR funding has brought more funding to incremental Amtrak improvements in CA than in recent memory. Can’t you see that HSR has already helped in bring new capital money to incremental improvements? Your position is one of total pessimism. You act like the Tea-Party will dominate congress forever and that $6 billion is all we will ever get for the next 100 years. Please. Action is rewarded. California has received a bulk of the HSR funds because we took a bold step to endorse HSR while other states did not. Pessimism will never bring any funding to Amtrak, HSR or otherwise. Your comment about blackmailing the feds is ridiculous. Why is lobbying for additional rail funds in th future blackmail, when we do the same for highways, airports, etc. all the time? Also, I find your characterization of the Central Valley and its millions of people as nowhere troublesome (you know that train service will either connect or run through beyond the ICS). That rhetoric is not only wrong, it is same rhetoric as the Reason Foundation and other anti-rail zealots (and TRAC, which actually does advocate for a train where there are very few people – the I-5 corridor).

    synonymouse Reply:

    Believe it the three crones in DC can rescue these funds for the mountain crossing if they put their minds and backs to it. They have no sense of emergency as yet.

    Nowhere to nowhere is a pr disaster – only the Valley will see it as anything else. They are too close to the scandal to appreciate its full impact in the eyes of auslanders who will be paying for it.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    Lobbying to swtich funds to BAK-LA (or Palmdale) is highly unlikely but I suppose possible. Still much environmental/engineering work to do. More likely scenario is the Mica and a bunch of politicians along the NEC will be chomping at the bit and will be successful in getting funds for various NEC upgarde projects labeled “HSR-Ready.” Or the House will just eliminate much the funds and override Mica’s desire for any HSR-Ready projects.

    Unfortunately you are probably right – many urban-coast dwellers simply view the millions of people in the CV as irrelevant, and it is offensive.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Have you considered the possibility that they are right?

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    I think you can read my arguments for while I strongly believe a “valley-first” approach makes sense. That is why I posted the article. You don’t have to agree my conclusions, but I spend hours and hours everyday considering these issues.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Have you considered the tactic of thinking fewer hours per day but having higher quality thoughts?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Man that was harsh. Awesome, but harsh.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    It would mean he is wrong so don’t bet on it. You can’t challenge the conventional wisdom in here without being called a right winger totally opposed to HSR. When you challenge their preconceived notions about rail (or any other form of transportation for that matter) you usually wind up with massive backlash.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Somehow, Richard, Drunk Engineer, and others survive here. It helps to not be completely wrong about everything outside a narrow issue of expertise like American aviation data. It also helps to not make assholish remarks about other people’s unemployment.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Wrong again Alon. I have international carrier data as well. All of it more accurate than the DOT data because it’s 100% data vs. a 10% sample. Sorry to dissapoint you.

    I wasn’t making remaks about others unemployment either. I was talking about a culture of “I want” and “I need”. Don’t be such a hypersensitive twit.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m not just talking about DOT data. I’m talking about everything you’ve said about air-rail competition in Europe, or about the way you dismiss tables like this out of hand without ever citing a reference.

    As for the culture of “I want” vs. “I need,” when you understand why you need rule of law, you’ll understand why other people need social security.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Or Mr. SR could read my comment on the practices of Egyptian Pharoahs, the Burmese Junta, and the 18th century industrial governments, to understand what social security is needed for from the cynical viewpoint of a heartless robber baron.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    I’m not interested in a useless chart from CAPA Alon. I’m not talkgin about DOT data either. You of course get that there is other data not available for your viewing right? Or do you really think that in a competitive environment such as aviation that all the data is just out there?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Don’t jump from your ego to your level of clue. You’d die.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Don’t worry Alon. I’ll be here to comfort you when your ridership doesn’t pan out (Assuming we’re not so old we’ve forgotten or so much time has passed that we just don’t give a shit anymore).

    It’s not ego when you’re right. Its confidence.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Oh and please, for the love of God, quit it with that CAPA website. A foreign company cannot have access to the restricted DOT data and a site that allows you to buy an open membership isn’t providing you will all the data available. My God Alon, bring a knife to a gunfight.

    Joey Reply:

    Come on, do you really expect us to take it on faith that what you say is vaild? On the internet, no less?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The Sober One has access to higher truths. And a list a list of over two hundred Communist infiltrators in the State Department. Your DOT so-called “data”? Hah, but a bagatelle to flummox the naive and amuse the enlightened! Question the veracity of the sekrit data of the elevated masters at your mortal peril, human.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @Joey: I don’t expect you to take anything on faith Joey. But that’s what you’re doing with the CAHSRA dara. You can either buy the crap the HSR Authority is using to pimp it’s ride to you or you can accept the notion that there is more accurate information from people less interested in PR and project spin.

    @Richard: And yes Richard, I do have access to “higher truths” – as you call it – when it comes to air transportation data. Thsoe who buy into the CAHSRA’s overstated data are in for a shock.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Let me remind everyone that Sobering Reality’s dismissal of CAPA was about its Tokyo-Sapporo air traffic data.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    SR, I don’t know how long you’ve been reading things here, but some of us–myself included–have run into cranky, right-wing, social-issue, so-called “conservatives” who have accused us of being “socialists,” “Communists,” of “wanting to take people’s cars away,” and of wanting to “bring back the horse and buggy.” This hasn’t been just on weblogs and in e-mails, but in the real world, in public meetings on road expansion and the like.

    One of the interesting things about this “conservative” criticism is that much of it–perhaps most of it–is generational. I won’t go into details about it, as I’ve done so before, but if you’ve missed that, I’ll fill you in. Others here have noticed that aspect as well.

    Out of curiosity, have you noticed anything like this in your field of air service, say in regard to airport expansion?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Yes, airport projects do have cost issues like this. Where airports benefit (in terms of cost controls) is the cost fo a project is directly tied to the airline cost. So when a projects hits crackpot cost levels, the airlines push back and bring the project under control. ORD is a good example of this. The Chicago machine got behind O’Hare Modernization, soaked up all the AATF money (for about a three year span, the vast majotiy of all airline ticket taxes sold in the US went to O’Hare). The airlines rebuffed and the project slowed down and it’s costs came back into line.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The Chicago machine is quite something. Corrupt, wasteful, dishonest, inequitable, unfair….

    ….and yet the masters of the Chicago machine remember the rules of staying in power, from ancient times onward; they know just how much they must do to keep enough people happy enough. Which makes them smarter than most of our elites.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Yet they were effectively bitch slapped by two airlines.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    … many urban-coast dwellers simply view the millions of people in the CV as irrelevant, and it is offensive.

    Damn straight. Sounds exactly like the viewpoint of HITLER would have.

    PS What’s the combined population of the LA basin, SF Bay Area and San Diego region again? The only person I could imagine ignoring DEMOCRACY and MAJORITIES would also be … HITLER.

    synonymouse Reply:

    This is where California has to throw its weight around as a net contributor to the Federal budget. Besides the need for the mountain crossing is clearcut, especially if a case for dual-purpose, passenger and freight can be made. Besides the tunnels have independent utility and inherent value and the existing rail route is thoroughly inadequate and not responsive to an easy upgrade. Otherwise the class ones would have improved it years ago.

    There are numerous solid arguments in support of the mountain crossing that even a conservative repub can recognize.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And this could be a first for the US, not only an innovation in terms of hsr but a genuine base tunnel.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “There are numerous solid arguments in support of the mountain crossing that even a conservative repub can recognize.”–Synonymouse

    How I wish I could believe that–but I’ve seen too many examples to suggest that is too much to ask of the Repugnant Ones.

    P.S.: Let it be known the Disappointing Cats aren’t so great, either. The Repugnant Ones consider them to be wimpy, and not really willing to fight, but think they can appease their way with negotiations. Usually you hear about this in reference to national defense, but the Disappointing Cats show it more in their unwillingness to call the truth on their opposition here at home.

    We need a few more Harry Trumans, but like so many other good things, they have always been in short supply.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Heh. I like that term — “Disappointing Cats”.

    paul dyson Reply:

    Dan: It’s not that the CV is irrelevant, there is simply not a large enough population base to support a self-contained service that will cover operating costs. There is no value in spending all the money constructing a non operating railroad. I am not supporting sending funds back except as a last resort. I AM supporting redirecting funds to projects that give value to the taxpayer. I have no doubt that, given the will, we can find 100 yards of “shovel ready” project between LA and Sylmar that we can claim as ground breaking while we play catch up with EIRs and engineering. A few years ago we had a completed EIR for the LAUS run through tracks, but no money. It should not take too long to resurrect that.
    I am pessimistic if the best that HSR supporters can come up with is cheerleading for the ridiculous policies of CHSRA. The world has changed since 1A passed, just try raising private capital for any type of long term investment when the banks are pooping their pants every day worrying about Italy and Spain. “The dogmas of the quiet past are inadequate for the stormy present”. Even if the dems come back they will be dems that are far more cautious about printing money. You have to figure out what will work, what kind of program can be “sold” in this new environment. Just asking for a blank check won’t work. “The occasion is piled high with difficulty, and we must rise with the occasion”. (Quotes from Abe Lincoln, who had something to do with building railroads). Or as Ernest Rutherford said, more or less: “We have no money, so we have to think”.
    And enough of the implied name calling. I’ve been a socialist all my life.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is no doubt but what, with the size and seniority of the California delegation, the funding can be saved for our State. But everything about Borden to Corcoran is redolent of stop-gap and off the cuff. Not the way to proceed.

    It is really up to Van Ark to do damage control and put the revised plan on Brown’s desk for rubber-stamping. Far from being a hands-on type at this age he seems to have not take any interest in the gruesome details f the hsr project.

    synonymouse Reply:

    he being Moonbeam

    VBobier Reply:

    And the state of CA has a place on a Satellite today. I think It’s an emergency channel.

    Smokey Behr Reply:

    It’s not just a channel, but an entire network linking the 58 counties and >10 other agencies. It’s all satellite-based, and works just like a PBX.

    VBobier Reply:

    Thanks Smokey Behr, I knew CA had something up there, just not quite what. This was our Governor Brown’s idea brought to life, moonbeam indeed, Yeah He was called derisively Governor Moonbeam by the Luddites back then, The guys a Genius, a rarity among politicians, someone who can think.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    Central Valley has more people than most states and the population will grow to over 12 million.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’re pulling a bait-and-switch on three fronts. First, 12 million is a figure for the entire CV, from Bakersfield to Sacramento; we’re not talking about Sacramento’s travel needs here. Second, the ICS is about now, not about 2040, unless you believe that nothing else will be built. And third, most states don’t need HSR, certainly not as much as LA (only the second biggest city in the US, no big deal if it’s served last).

    Outside HSRA flak brochures, Bakersfield and Fresno are small, sprawly cities. They’re large enough to be intermediate cities on an HSR line anchored by larger metro areas, but by themselves they don’t justify HSR. And if you don’t believe me, think whether France would’ve built the LGV Nord so early if it could only connect to Lille and not also to Brussels and London.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    Yes we are talking about Sacramento’s travel needs and this is the crux of the mistake that is being made when judging the utility of an IOS and/or an interim Amtrak service. People traveling from/to Sac will feel receive a 45-minute shorter travel time within the CV, a large difference (shortening the Sac-Bak trip by approx 15% and shortening the Fresno Bak trip by approx 40%). Whether it is through-service of Amtrak trains traveling on legacy tracks an then on HSR track or an IOS with transfer in Merced, the rider will benefit greatly and ridership will increase significantly, especially since flying is not really an option. And that is why the 12 million number is relevant. And are you saying IOS is not until 2040? Come on, that is an extreme assumption. Fresno has over 1/2 million people within the city limits right now (million in metro area) and it is growing fast. Lyon in France has under 1/2 million while the metro area is about 50% larger than Fresno’s at 1.5M. With Fresno’s growth rate, it is quite fair to compare Fresno to Lyon. Yes Bakersfield is less, but still over 300,000 in city limits and growing. Most states don’t need HSR. Maybe. And that is becaue they have less people (and less density) than the Central Valley. I really don’t get all this resistance to starting in the CV amongst rail-advocates. It is really perplexing given short-term provisions along with the fact that it is going to be a significant chunk of the statewide HSR infrastructure.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Is this the day when people take everything I say to mean the opposite of what it says? No, I’m not saying the IOS is not until 2040; I’m saying that the ICS is for 2016 and needs to be justified based on the population distribution of 2016, and by 2040 the entire Phase 1 system will be there. The IOS is not the ICS – it’s only for when the CV is connected to either the Bay Area or the LA Basin.

    The Amtrak usage subtracts more value than it adds. FRA trains are not going to give you much improvement. You’d get the level of improvement of the Empire Corridor since the New York Central days, rather than that of the TGV, Shinkansen, and other gamechangers. Bako-Fresno shuttles are a better option, but even they are not up to the task; do you really want to prioritize connecting a small string of CV cities over connecting to Los Angeles?

    Also, I’ve never been to Lyon, but I frequently travel to Nice, which is a smaller city with much less transit. Its single tram line gets 90,000 daily users, and there are more under construction; its local TER line gets about 40,000 daily users, the same as Caltrain. Its downtown street layout reminds me of San Francisco: its tram runs in a transit mall, traffic speeds are low, and the many shops are oriented toward pedestrian travelers. My parents say there’s easily available underground parking, but walking around, I did not see the parking garages and striped parking stops that characterize American cities. Many downtown streets are pedestrianized, with cops patrolling on Segways rather than driving their cars over pedestrians. Any comparison between that and the Fresno depicted in JJJ’s blog is insulting.

    Normally I tend to be dovish on connecting transit, but that’s for competition with air and long-distance driving. When you’re connecting two cities that are 200 km apart, it absolutely matters whether the cities look like San Francisco or like, well, Fresno. (And no, TOD isn’t going to change that, not by 2016.)

    JJJ Reply:

    Alon said:
    “do you really want to prioritize connecting a small string of CV cities over connecting to Los Angeles?”

    Of course not, bit that doesnt mean you want to ignore the small string of CV cities. Places like Madera, Corcoran, Wasco etc arent modern sprawl, theyre essential communities needed to house the agricultural employees that are necessary to keep this country fed. Bypassing them won’t do anyone a favor.

    Could these small communities, on their own, sustain transit? No. But we still need people to live there to till the fields…and the folks doing this kind of farmwork are generally very poor, ie, the kind that most need transit.

    Also note that for all these small cities, the people talk about “going shopping in the city” and that means Fresno. It may be sprawl, but its the only place in the region (besides bakersfield) to find most major chains.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    it absolutely matters whether the cities look like San Francisco or like, well, Fresno.

    It’s California where every adult knows how to drive. Zipcar or cheap cabs solve the lack of mass tranist problem.

    Joey Reply:

    JJJ: since when was anyone talking about bypassing the CV cities? Isn’t the discussion at hand about where to start construction?

    paul dyson Reply:

    Dan, There are currently two trains a day between Sacto and Bakersfield. There is no rolling stock available for additional frequencies and you would have to negotiate with the class ones (and pay them) for addtl slots. There are no funds to operate additional trains and they will need subsidy. Yes there will be time saving benefits, which will help a few dozen, maybe a few hundred a day. To spend $6 billion on them is a waste of resources.

    JJJ Reply:

    Joey, its about bypassing the CV cities if the only train service is via the IOS, which would be Bakersfield-Fresno non-stop.

    paul dyson, from what I understand, AmCa has the right to run a 7th (and maybe 8th?) train at any point, no negotiation needed. Funding is the problem, the 7th daily was scheduled to begin service in 2012, using old passenger estimates. Currently, passenger numbers are well above estimates, meaning the demand exists.

    Joey Reply:

    JJJ: Madera I can see the case for – it’s got almost 60 000 residents and even more around it. But Cocoran? Wasco? Does 16 000 or even 22 000 residents justify a stop?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    12 million? Are you sure you didn’t post this at 4:20pm? We’ll be lucky to see 25 million north of the San Joaquin River and 25 million south this century.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Assuming the numbers in Wikipedia are correct it’s already 6 million between Sacramento and Bakersfield.

    Clem Reply:

    Of which 3 million are in the Sacramento area, which isn’t even on the HSR map.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    … so using Altamont doesn’t get you Sacramento too?….
    Someday Sacramento is going to have HSR service.

    Clem Reply:

    Nobody except crazy people in the blogosphere advocate for Altamont. And yes, it would get you Sacramento service sooner and better. But don’t listen to the crazy folk.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sacramento will get service someday, but not in Phase 0, or for that matter Phase 1.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Phase 1 ends when the bond money has been spent. Does anyone believe that the bond money will last until all of SF to Anaheim is built?

    Peter Reply:

    Using foreign languages in your posts would be more effective if you spelled them correctly.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    You realize this argument is somewhat of a paradox, right? If you are worried that PRIIA standards will make the San Joaquins and other Amtrak California services insolvent, why wouldn’t you support a Central Valley approach that would generate much more revenue and cover its costs?

    It would seem that this would dovetail nicely with using more existing resources to shore up the Surfliner and Capitol Corridor and attract more financing to the CV. Sure the immediate future looks bleak because of several reasons, but that does not diminish the need of government to look long term….

    paul dyson Reply:

    Who says it would cover it’s costs? What will the track charges be to use the ICS? It’s supposed to be self supporting according to 1A. Amtrak currently has a sweetheart deal for track charges based on the 1970 legislation. Why would they switch from BNSF to a more expensive option? In any event public money has already been spent on upgrading the BNSF tracks. More stranded investment? Would a notional 45 minute time saving, much of which may evaporate transiting to and from BNSF tracks, generate so much more revenue when the trains are already well loaded? Of course not.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why would the track charges be higher? They can have Amtrak pay to use them or they can sit gathering rust and no revenue.

    paul dyson Reply:

    If Amtrak pays historic RR access charges the ICS will lose money, which I believe it is not permitted to do. If the San Joaquin Amtrak California trains start to use the ICS there will be a need for signalling and dispatching for which again there is no money unless it comes from track access charges or an empty state treasury.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    if Amtrak doesn’t use it the ICS will lose even more money. Some rent coming in is better than no rent coming in.

    VBobier Reply:

    Who says It won’t? Where are Yer facts? The State of CA has facts to back them up that are accepted by everyone who is in the Rail Biz and such, except a few nimbys who think they can stop the project and/or redirect Federal Money from the DOT which has said No to any and all such redirection, period.

    paul dyson Reply:

    All of the state corridors are heavily subsidized. Best farebox recovery is about 80%. See the State’s own reports.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Look if the Surfliner, state subsidy, and Capital Corridor as a whole can break even, why wouldn’t you jettison the San Joaquin and replace it with HSR when the time comes?

    It will ensure better, more frequent service, and won’t be reliant on federal funding to keep it running…yet you are trying to tell me that because we let ARRA money go to a long term project we have screwed the pooch when it’s not as if redirecting this money would solve the structural deficit….

    paul dyson Reply:

    Surfliner and Cap Cor lose money, deficit made up by state and feds. Read their reports. Fed subsidy is disappearing under PRIAA, so state funds stretched even further and certainly no money for addtl services. I’m only concerned with the next 20 years before HSR is built (if that ever happens).

    Nathanael Reply:

    “The State budget next year will propose more or less eliminating the Caltrans Division of Rail. Rail planning will go to the highway department. ”

    Citation please. This would be a dumb move by Jerry Brown. Amtrak California is POPULAR, and nobody believes the highway department can plan rail. The Surfliner corridor agencies would be the angriest.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Oh, FYI, the PRIIA date for state support to increase is 2013. This error makes me suspect that you’re wrong about everything else you said, too, so again, citation please.

    paul dyson Reply:

    You’ll see when the budget is published next month.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Some people need a sledgehammer.

    Nathanael Reply:

    In other words, you have no citation except your own brain.

    If it’s inside information, I understand, and you should tell your boss: don’t do it, it’s inviting trouble. (Brown may well make a dumb move — I never expect anyone to be smart any more.)

    If it’s not inside information, you’re talking out your ass.

  10. Paulus Magnus
    Dec 27th, 2011 at 10:37
    #10

    Question: Given that Phase 1 won’t be completed until 2033 and even Bay to Basin won’t exist until 2026, what, exactly, is the utility of the CV as a testing track?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Also, the effect of passenger rail on air emissions is pretty negligible. Freight rail and emissions regulations are how you clean the air.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    what, exactly, is the utility of the CV as a testing track

    It’s an carefully controlled multi-decadal experimental program to determine the exact rate at which Fine American Concrete depreciates under Unique California Conditions.

    StevieB Reply:

    A test of the trains is necessary before any operations. The Central Valley is where the test track will be built. Therefore the Central Valley segment is of necessity.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    It’s a decade before you have any need for trains or for their testing. Furthermore, there is absolutely no need for a California test track. Or do Siemens, Alstom, Mitsubishi, etc. not test their trains at all in development, hmm?

    Seriously, assuming any degree of sanity on the part of those purchasing (yes, yes, we know Richard), the train sets will be off the shelf with some minor interior changes and the like. There is no need for us to have a dedicated test fifteen years in advance.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Actually, I’m the one advocating quasi-unique trains. Srsly. Remember procurement of high speed trains is at least 15 to 20 years away, and all of today’s “proven”, “state of the art” trains will be obsolete and in the process of being replaced.

    The high speed fleet ought to be low floor boarding double deck EMUs from day one. Souped-up versions of the basic configuration of competing designs for the Swiss 200kmh intercity (yes, I know 200 is less than 350, and that’s largely irrelevant) contract are clearly the way to go for a “green field” new start rail system like CHSR.

    You get level boarding, good passenger circulation (ignore TJPA’s and PBQD’s insane station “designs” for the sake of argument), low dwell times via adequate and evenly spaced doors, high passenger capacity, good maintainability (minimal under-floor or roof-mounted equipment, ready access to technical bays), and lower operating cost per seat. Inter-car connection is via a continuous upper level (like, gasp, Amtrak double deck coaches.)

    There’s no downside at all, other than the fact that legacy rail systems made the mistake of building their platforms too high. and tons of upsides.

    So I don’ think California should purchase “off the shelf” trains for its highest speed trains, because, for legacy historical reasons, nobody else is operating the best HS train configuration. SNCF comes closest with TGV duplex, but the door capacity is inadequate.

    Besides the initial tranche of train purchase will be for lower top speed (circa 200 to 250kmh, not 300+) trains for regional service for whatever initial operating system is built. Those can be existing designs or relatives of such (Bombardier Swiss intercity double decker EMU derivative, Bombardier Regina single deck EMU derivative, Stadler regional/intercity double EMU, Siemens or Stadler’s unchosen Swiss intercity offering, Talgo’s very promising but unbuilt “Talgo 22″ concept, Talgo’s single deckers, any of CAF’s several regional EMU offerings, Alstom TGV Duplex, etc, etc, etc.)

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I think think the T700 from Taiwan is about as close to off-the-shelf as we could get. But there’s no reason we can’t improve on others’ ideas. Boeing and Airbus are so busy selling planes that Europe and Asia want they have neglected the US. It’s pretty much the same I think for Alstom and Kawasaki….

    Tim Reply:

    I couldn’t agree more about pursuing bilevel HSR trainsets… capacity benefits aside we need to create a rail system in California that is accessible by all passenger trains (which are almost universally in this country, aside from the NEC and Chicago, bilevel). When the new “fast” diesel locomotives and Superliner II (125 mph) coaches come into service in the next few years, it is important that they don’t get shut out of the new HSR stations / converted legacy stations. This also has the bonus of doing away with the ridiculous differing platform height nonsense on Caltain.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Who needs the overweight Superliners and the even more overeweight locos hauling them on high-speed track?

    Joey Reply:

    If you want to mess up schedules for trains with a non-trivial number of riders, by all means, mix in a few FRA-compliant once-a-day lucky-to-arrive-on-scheduled-calendar-day Amtrak runs.

    Tim Reply:

    Remember the fun “Blended” segments on Caltrain and Metrolink tracks that are a part of the current plans (or in the minds of peninsula politicians) for the initial service plans. That coupled with the fact that the ICS will probably serve as an express route for Amtrak California for at least a couple of years = more advantages to low platform boarding. As for in the future, yes it would be stupid to have Amtrak and CAHSR share tracks in the high speed segments, but is still makes sense, at least operationally, to have all trains have access to all platforms.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    It will in any case be a customization for California, as it is everywhere; Siemens Velaro exist in various incarnations, all slightly different (for Spain, for Germany domestic, for Germany international, for Eurostar, for RZD, etc.). But if there is a well-proven platform, chances for really bad developments are small.

    The Swiss Twindexx trains do have double-wide doors (around 1.20 m wide or so), allowing two persons passing at the same time. The number and width of doors per car in the TGV Duplex is adequate, considering that the length of the carbody is way shorter.

    What is important with bi-level cars and efficient passenger flow is to have sufficient vestibule space, allowing the passengers to spread out a bit, and also, if the entrance is at the lower level, have sufficiently wide stairs to the upper deck. Assuming that the California loading gauge will be bigger than the standard UIC, that should be achievable.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Everything I’ve read — and my anecdotal evidence of riding — says that TGV Duplex circulation, including doorway capacity, is a bottleneck for station dwell time.

    7 single-flow doors for 545 seats results in congestion and extended dwell times. (At 18.7m, the TGV Duplex passenger coaches are only a slightly shorter than a typical two-door 23-25m coach. One door isn’t enough.) This plays into my overall perception of SNCF as a “hurry up and wait” operation, with heroic TGV speeds on the grandes lignes more than compensated by crazy schedules, bad connections, and poor local service.

    Good systems engineering — and this is why I admire the “Twindexx” configuration, which basically came out of SBB — cares as much about less glamorous issues that are far more important than top speed, like getting trains into and out of stations quickly, getting passengers on and off the train, getting passengers and on and off the platform, getting to and from connecting transportation.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Well, even the SNCF is improving (slowly, but they are…).

    FWIW, the TWINDEXX configuration is based on the SBB IC-2000 design, which was co-developped by the SBB and Schindler Pratteln (which ended up in the Bombardier empire and got closed after the last IC-2000 car was delivered). These cars are 26.5 m long and used in more or less fixed push-pull sets.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Over here in the Riviera, we got a half-hourly takt (“horaire cadencé) in 2008, have a surge in TER ridership, and will soon get three tracks between Nice and Cannes, allowing for local and express trains every half hour all day, each.

    Alas, the TGV and TER are still timed to just miss each other.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Not everybody has the urge to rush about looking busy. From your point of view they just miss other. From another perspective they allow a leisurely but not terribly long use of the station for a pleasant layover.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s a 29-minute connection. The arriving TGV pulls into Nice a minute after an eastbound TER leaves. The departing TGV then leaves a minute before a westbound TER arrives.

    In addition, there’s nothing leisurely about Nice-Ville. The station consists of a few platforms, a narrow underpass connecting to them, and a small station house. It’s basically a glorified subway station, except elevated. The retail consists of a convenience store and a tiny cafe inside the station (great for getting change, since the TVMs don’t accept bills or American credit cards) and cafes located outside the station.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    This must have occurred to other people if it’s so awful. Maybe they go across the street.

    VBobier Reply:

    I dispute that, CA does indeed need a test track for HSR, As HSR Trains are custom made to match the terrain/altitude of where their intended to run at for Maximum performance, without a test track there You would have no guarantee that the train will run as specified in the contract.

    Joey Reply:

    You don’t need to buy high speed trains until you have a segment of high speed track connecting to one of the endpoints to run them on. At which point you can test them on that track.

    Clem Reply:

    Just like my car is custom made to match the terrain / altitude where I live. The process of tuning and acceptance testing alone ate up 6000 miles! I finally have it dialed in to Maximum performance now.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I actually have chatted with people who have their cars custom tuned to terrain and altitude.

    paul dyson Reply:

    Then you had better build the test track in the mountains, just about any dog can run fast on the flat.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Kind of like the Bombardier JetTrain running in Pueblo…

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

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    TGV-01 was an EMU whose turbines were fueled with aviation kerosene. It didn’t survive the first oil crisis. Bombardier’s jet train is cleaner since it has gas turbines, but it’s still fossil fuel.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    TGv-01 used gas turbines too…. as opposed to water turbines or steam turbines or wind turbines or … . The Union Pacific locomotives that burned bunker fuel were gas turbines.

    Clem Reply:

    That’s exactly right, and by the same token when you buy a Lamborghini you have to buy a race track with it. A test of the car is necessary before any operations. The mortgage on the race track is a real bummer, though.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yep, they are just going to have the train roll off the RORO ship at the port take the keys and start selling tickets.

    Clem Reply:

    No, they’ll take it to Pueblo, CO and run it in circles for months upon months. If a 220 mph test track is even needed, that’s where it belongs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then just plop it down on the tracks and start selling tickets even though they haven’t checked to see if the super duper totally tubular ERTMS version 2.6.47a is working or that the brakes survived the trip back from Pueblo. What’s a crash here or there

    Joey Reply:

    Apparently they don’t test trains and tracks in non-revenue service before putting letting passengers ride on them on the east coast.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Actually, they do. Practically every new-build track gets a month of non-revenue service before going into revenue service; practically every train car gets a week or two of non-revenue testing before going into revenue service.

    Joey Reply:

    That was sarcasm.

    Andre Peretti Reply:

    You don’t test only a train, you test a system. That means signalling, catenaries, substations, and employees.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Sorry, sarcasm detectors failed in 2000 when Bush said “I’ll be a uniter, not a divider” and I haven’t managed to repair them since.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    How’s all that BS about Hope and Change? Talk about a divider.

    Clem Reply:

    Reductio ad absurdum: the Central Valley track must be built because it must be acceptance tested.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    But is the test track to test the trains or is it to test how well the contractors can build track?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That test could (and should) be done anywhere. There’s nothing special about 350 km/h track there.

    Joey Reply:

    If your contractors are so unreliable that you can’t trust them to build functional track without first pricing it than you’re doomed from the start.

  11. morris brown
    Dec 27th, 2011 at 16:31
    #11


    Democrat Nelson to retire from Senate

    http://news.yahoo.com/democrat-nelson-retire-u-senate-203953867.html

    Control of the Senate after next years election is very much in doubt. Here we see a Demo seat being vacated and most likely falling to the GOP.

    Robert keeps pitching the current lack of any further funding for Calfiornia’s HSR project is short lived and that next years elelction will change all of that. Not likely … not likely at all.

    Tony d. Reply:

    You really think folks are going to vote GOP after all the bull shit they’ve put our country through? Yeah, keep protecting the rich, stonewalling Obama and raise my middle-class taxes..but don’t worry, I’m stupid and will still vote for yah! (Sarcasm)

    Tony d. Reply:

    By the way, what about the House and those radical, insane assholes known as the Tea Party? Can you say “Nanci Pelosi, Speaker of the House!”

    synonymouse Reply:

    But a Ron Paul victory in Iowa will bolster the hard line on federal budget cuts.

    Nathanael Reply:

    If Ron Paul actually gets anywhere (and remember, most of the corporate-owned Republican Party hates him), he’ll push for military budget cuts first and foremost.

    Which will leave lots and lots of room for expansion of anything and everything else.

    Nathanael Reply:

    (For those who don’t understand why, look up how freaking ridiculously enormous the US military budget is.)

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    George Soros.

    No go back to your troll hole.

    By the way, the military is less than 25% of the budget. The one thing the government is supposed to provide, a national defense to protect our freedoms, is less than a quarter of the budget. Only the sick, twisted and ignorant beleive it is the function of government to provide for all.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Some think the Iraq War was a better use of money than making sure people don’t starve. Others are human beings.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Better to leave people at the hands of a ruthless dictator then I see.

    Yes, others are human beings.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    I guess you must believe there are two kinds of dictators: those installed or supported by the US (e.g., the Shah of Iran, General Pinochet, the Junta in Greece), who apparently are not “ruthless”, and those whom the US installed or supported but later ceased to support, who apparently are “ruthless.” I guess it explains how well off and happy are the majority of the populations in places like Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

    But certainly the Iraq war has brought so many advantages to so many people. Think about the Sunnis and the Shia who got to change neighborhoods, or the Iraqi Christians who got the opportunity to travel to other countries on one-way tickets, not to mention the contribution to Iraqui’s multiculturalism resulting from establishment of Al Quaida in Iraq.

    And as a special bonus, think about how, after a brutal and bloody war between them, Iraq and Iran are now becoming close and cozy friends.

    Yes, it was certainly a wise use of money.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @Rick. Do you really want to pretend to be that ignorant of post WWII middle eastern history?

    Rick Rong Reply:

    @Sobering Reality, maybe you took what I wrote at face value, particularly the second paragraph, but why don’t you point out to me precisely where I reveal my supposed ignorance. You know, just set me straight, lead me to the path of enlightenment. Was it my comment about Iraq and Iran, in the third paragraph? Was it the statement concerning the Shah or Pinochet or the Junta? Please, tell me, so that I can be led out of whatever darkness you seem to think I inhabit.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Haven’t been to Iraq in the last decade then have you Rick?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    You know people like you thought the same about getting involved in WWII. One has to wonder if we hadn’t sat on our collective asses while Germany rasied up a tirant how different the world would be today.

    So yeah, others are human beings.

    Spokker Reply:

    World War II was fine and dandy because we declared war, finished it and got out. Nazi Germany was a direct threat to the world. This is not so in the Middle East, where we should not belong and arrived under false pretenses.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Out of curiosity, in 2003, did you believe Saddam was building a WMD program?

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Alon, allow me to add a follow up question to your question to “Sobering” Reality: “Out of curiosity, in 2011, do you still believe Saddam was building a WMD program?”

    Oh, and “Sobering Reality,” I’m sure you must have overlooked it, but I did ask you to point out where I was wrong in my earlier reply to one of your posts. Maybe you could respond to it now?

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Spokker, we sat on our collective asses in WWII. Again, check history.

    Rick and Alon, let me know when you’ve actually been to Iraq to see the devistation. Oh wait, you wouldn’t have been there in 2004. You were too busy finding reasons for us not to go.

    Feel free to commence with the baby killer crap, it will only futher demonstrate your ignorance.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Iraq is not Germany.

    Spokker Reply:

    Sobering Reality, when we were attacked during World War II the Congress formally declared war and we accomplished our goals in the European and Pacific Theaters.

    And then being the lone superpower went to our collective heads, but that’s another story.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Depends how you measure the budget.

    Roughly 1/4 is Social Security, paid for by dedicated Social Security tax. Roughly 1/4 is government medical spending, mostly Medicare. A significant chunk is interest payments.

    The military budget is more than the entire rest of the budget — more than the *entire* so-called “discretionary domestic budget”.

    More importantly, the US military budget is *larger than the sum total of all other military budgets in the entire world*. This is not reasonable; we don’t need to fight a war with the entire world at once. It’s also at least ten times larger than the next largest military budget (I think it was actually 100 times larger, but I’m not finding the chart).

    You seem to be totally brainwashed. The government has numerous purposes other than the military. Try reading the US Constitution for a list.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not a hundred times – not even close. Try six times.

    synonymouse Reply:

    On the contrary, where Paul and the corporates, say the Wall Street Journal, profoundly agree is the need to deeply cut the federal budget. Military cuts will get nowhere as both parties favor a big military budget. In fact our involvement in the middle east may even get bigger, intervening in arab springs all over the place. Not to mention the Ayatollahs who are cruising for a bruising plus Barack wants to play brinksmanship with China over the Spratlys, etc. etc.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Paul is quite explicitly an isolationist, unlike the other Republicans, and really genuinely wants to cut the massively bloated military budget, much of which goes to “connected” military contractors.

    Nathanael Reply:

    That’s not to say I support Ron Paul, but on this one topic….

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Ron Paul is a complete idiot.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Sobering Reality, why don’t you explain why you think he is a “complete idiot”? Or is this another question you will duck.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    If you need an explaination for this, then you have much larger problems.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    We’ve been down his non-interventionist past before. It got our ass handed to us in Honolulu.

    What were you blabbering about in the other thread while I was doing something other than wasting my time with you? Oh yeah, you were crying about WMD stockpiles. I guess a half million dead people isn’t enough for you.

    There are people who will fight for others, and there are those who won’t. Those in the prior will take a bullet for those in the later without a thought. Those in the later will always whine about actions of the prior until the later lies dead in front of the prior allowing the later to continue to live. No one is asking you to pick up a gun, but those of us willing to pick up the gun to defend you and others who are unable to defend themselves against the atrocities of a few don’t want to hear any of your petty bullshit whining.

    Now what were you whining about again?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Half a million dead people wouldn’t be the Iraqis killed between 2003 and 2006, would they?

    Spokker Reply:

    The American taxpayer has a say in military spending whether they have served or not. Speaking of those who have taken up arms to defend this country, some of the most vehement anti-war folk are active duty military and military veterans. As an aside, Ron Paul gets more contributions from active duty military than all other GOP candidates combined.

    There is a difference between 1) a president articulating the threat, convincing Congress to formally declare war and accomplishing the stated goals and 2) misleading the American people to go to war under false pretenses.

    We may also play a role in planting those seeds of discontent around the world, but Ron Paul gets a lot of shit for knowing the enemy and how they think. I happen to think they hate our freedoms, but that’s not why the evil-doers attacked us. You don’t attack a country just because “fuck you and your hamburgers and french fries and porn and freedom!!!” They aren’t that stupid. They told us why are we still can’t figure it out.

    Of course, if they do hate our freedoms they won’t have much reason to hate us in the future as Obama extends the Patriot Act, supports the NDAA that further erodes the constitution and will in all likelihood sign SOPA if it passes Congress. So much for freedom.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @Alon: You really are a dumb ass. I mean that in the most pleasing way.

    VBobier Reply:

    @Sobering Reality: Ron Paul, Yep agreed, plus a few other disgusting qualities.

    @Spokker: My family has had 5 people in the Military, 4 in the Army & 1 in the Navy, None of the 5 were drafted, all stepped up and did their time without being asked. Yes Death comes with the territory, and no one wants a War, cause it means Diplomacy has failed & soon people will die, maybe. America does not need an adventuristic President, The Bush Policy of war on terror has outlived It’s time and It needs to just go away.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    To Alon Levy, Maybe the half million dead refers to the children who reportedly died as a result of sanctions against Iraq, the deaths which Madelyn Albright said was a price worth paying. Still, I wouldn’t want to attribute to Sobering Reality such a vile perspective.

    As for US non-intervention somehow causing the attack on Pearl Harbor, as “Sobering (but evidently not yet completely Sober) Reality” suggests, let’s consider the world situation at that time, particularly in the western rim of the Pacific Ocean. Were the US and other western powers trying to limit Japanese access to raw materials? Did the US have colonies in the region?

    This is not to excuse Japanese militarism or Japan’s expansionist policies, but the fact is that the US was heavily involved in that part of the world in a way that caused conflicts with Japanese ambitions. In other words, there were reasons why Japan viewed the US with some hostility, and considered that the US was hostile to Japanese intentions in the Far East.

    To suggest that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor because the US had not been “intervening” in matters in the western Pacific is to display a stunning ignorance of what was going on at that time in that part of the world.

    Putting aside what may have brought on the attack on Pearl Harbor, defending against an attack and going to war against a state that has attacked is much more sensible than conducting a foreign policy that is characterized by the initiation of one war after another.

    As for who will take a bullet for whom, and the other elements in SR’s last paragraph, what can one say? Actually, maybe there is no reason to respond. His words speak for themselves, although certainly not in the way he intended. Of course, he continues to avoid the issue of Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, etc., and apparently wants to remind us instead of Saddam Hussein’s wMD and balsa wood “drones” that the tyrant was preparing to use to unleash his nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons against the “homeland.”

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    @Rick Wrong: Wow. Its all our fault. Just wow.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    BTW. That is the most fucked up revisionist history I have ever read in my life. It must just eat alive that you have to live in such a horrible and unjust country. How pathetic.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Rick: no, the sanctions did not kill half a million people, Albright’s idiocy notwithstanding. The Nation traced the figure and it turns out to come from Saddam’s propaganda. It’s just like the factoid that the Dresden firebombing killed 150,000 people (thanks, Vonnegut), which comes from Nazi propaganda, where the correct number was about 40,000.

    However, the Iraq war really did kill 600,000 people by the middle of 2006, and this comes from a cluster-based study published in the Lancet.

    And Japan is neither here nor there when, based on the size of its economy and military, Saddam’s Iraq was not even the equivalent of Bulgaria. There’s a reason everybody knows about Hitler and Mussolini but nobody ever hears about the fascist governments that sprouted all over Eastern Europe in the 1930s: they were too weak for anyone to give a crap.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Hey we gave a crap back in the 70s

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

    Alon Levy Reply:

    An earlier draft of the comment said there were 2.5 fascist rulers people cared about, Franco being the half. Sigh.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Alon, thanks for the information. I assumed that Albright accepted the numbers because they were accurate, but even if they weren’t, it was a stunning thing for her to say.

    To “Sobering Reality,” apparently you really do move the goal posts, as someone else has suggested, which evidently includes misconstruing and distorting what people say so that you can make a point that only you can appreciate.

    Explain to me, if you can, in what way did I say “Its all our fault,” as you suggest I said. What I did say, if you didn’t pay attention the first time, is this: “This is not to excuse Japanese militarism or Japan’s expansionist policies, but the fact is that the US was heavily involved in that part of the world in a way that caused conflicts with Japanese ambitions. In other words, there were reasons why Japan viewed the US with some hostility, and considered that the US was hostile to Japanese intentions in the Far East.”

    As for my allegedly revising history, in what way exactly did I do that? Was I wrong to suggest that the US had colonies in the western Pacific? Was Guam not an American colony? (The indigenous population seems to think so.) Were the Philippine Islands not essentially an American colony? What about some of the other islands in that region that were under US control?

    And while you’re at it, explain to me in what way did I suggest that the US is a “horrible and unjust country.”

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    By excluding Japans expansionist and military policies, which is why were involved there in the first place, you made it appear that you were blaming us for Pearl Harbor. You were either demostrating ignorance or trying to sound like an anti-war/anti-american clown that blames America for all the worlds ills. You also don’t seem understand that our passive stance with Europe made us look weak and vulnerable.

    But hey, peace, love and rainbows right?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Rick, people frequently defend things they didn’t say or do. Ahmadinejad did not say that Israel should be wiped off the map. But he never denies having said what he didn’t say, instead weaseling around when he’s asked about it. And Andrea Dworkin never said that all sex is rape, but when asked if she really said that, her denial was that she didn’t, but still “Penetrative sex is an inherently violent act.”

    Also, Japan didn’t do what it did* because the US was an imperial power, any more than the US intervened in Latin America because of Spain. Japan wanted an empire to exploit; the US was a rival imperial power, one that Japan thought it could overwhelm if it seized East Asia’s resources fast enough. It didn’t work. Totalitarian dictatorships promote the kind of paranoia and delusion that leads the people in charge to be over-optimistic about their winning prospects. It comes from the same place that led Gaddafi to fight to the death and refuse to surrender in exchange for safe exile.

    *By which I mean what Japan did to China and Southeast Asia and secondarily to Korea, not the fact that it, God forbid, dared attack the US military. In similar vein, in Europe, Hitler’s main crime is the Holocaust, not the fact that he dared invade Mother Russia.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Alon, thank you for an intelligent and thoughtful response. The essence of my point was that the US did not have a “non-intervention” policy prior to WWII. I think you agree with that. As you acknowledge, the US was an imperial power. This is evidenced by its territorial acquisitions after defeating Spain, and, as you point out, in its involvement in Latin America.

    As for another poster on this blog, I note a consistency throughout his postings as reflected by the terms he throws around: “complete idiot” “you have much larger problems” “wasting my time with you” “what were you whining about” “a dumb ass” “How pathetic” “anti-war/anti-american clown,” just to mention some from this particular thread.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Ron Paul is NOT an “isolationist.” Not having military bases in other countries and not using huge amounts of aid or threats to buy the support or acquiescence of other countries, does not constitute isolationism. There may be reasons to criticize Ron Paul, but the “isolationist” tag is really unfair and untrue.

    Spokker Reply:

    Ron Paul wants to trade with Cuba and be friends with Israel. He just doesn’t want us all up in their business.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t know what Ron Paul himself thinks, but here’s another von Mises Institute person on WW2:

    http://delong.typepad.com/sdj/2011/12/hoisted-from-the-archives-yes-some-people-at-the-ludwig-von-mises-institute-think-churchill-was-a-war-criminal-for-not-maki.html

    In contrast with that view, the socialists warned about Hitler, early. The FBI tagged them as dangerous radicals after the world. The term for them was “premature anti-fascists.”

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Interesting. Never have liked the guy. Always reminded me of Jim Stockdale in a weird kind of way.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    By that I mean, a bit lost in the moment and saying things that often don’t make a lot of sense. Of course that applies to Bachman as well who sounds like that annoying cheerleader in the back of the classroom that you want to slap the ever living crap out of back in High School.

    synonymouse Reply:

    A Paul victory might goose house republicans to told out for removing the Valley’s sacred cow $6bil. You would not have to worry about where it is going to be spent.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    A Paul victory will only demonstrate the irrelevance of the Iowa Caucus.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    That or continue the trend of Iowa Caucus winners not getting the nomination.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Nelson was not exactly a friend to the Democratic agenda.

  12. William
    Dec 28th, 2011 at 01:14
    #12

    There is a simple reason on building Central Valley segment first: CV segment has the fewest number of alternatives and cities served will not change from one alternative to another.

    Also, building CV segment first can help CAHSRA build up some political capitals in resisting extra cost items in both Bay Area-CV and CV-LA segments. For example, a CV segment can force SJ to drop the tunnel, and even 87-280 viaduct alternatives, by threatening to switch to Altamont if cost cannot be reduced, unless SJ is willing to pay for these extras.

    It can also force LA to drop its insistence in CAHSR serving Palmdale, unless LA is willing to pay for the extra cost.

    SJ and LA had been CAHSR supporters since the beginning, but this also makes these supporters’ demand of expensive options to be paid by CAHSRA harder to resist unless CAHSRA has some political capital of its own. A CV segment will provide this political capital.

  13. morris brown
    Dec 28th, 2011 at 05:17
    #13


    China blames 54 officials for bullet train crash
    Chinese government says design flaws caused bullet train crash, blames 54 officials

    The rail ministry’s reported debt is 2 trillion yuan ($300 billion). Analysts say its revenues are insufficient to repay that. That has prompted concern the ministry might need to be bailed out by Chinese taxpayers.

    Yes, yes indeed all HSR projects pay their own way.

    This be what CA taxpayers will be asked to do, if we continue to build the HSR project.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What percentage of that debt is HSR construction, versus past operating losses? In Japan, more than 80% of the JNR debt was operating losses rather than Shinkansen construction, and the Shinkansen portion of the debt was transferred to the JRs rather than wiped by the government. In France, too, RFF is saddled with past operating debt, and although the government has avoided a write-down so far, it’s probably not going to keep paying for operating losses from the 1970s with operating profits from today.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Accounting entries don’t mean the same thing in China. It’s a communist country with a controlled currency. There is no “bailed out by Chinese taxpayers” — there is merely a decision relating to letting the currency appreciate relative to foreign currency. (I say merely, it’s actually a huge economic decision).

    Actually, accounting entries don’t mean the same thing for the federal government either — any entity which can print its own money is not subject to the same constraints as your average household. It seems impossible to get most people to understand this, however.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    If they can’t make it work financially in China where labor is cheap and expendible and population density is four fold, then we are most certainly screwed.

    Useless Reply:

    @ Sobering Reality

    High speed rail didn’t work in China because the ticket prices were too high relative to Chinese income level and most Chinese travelers stuck with slow rail and buses.

    High speed rail is profitable in Japan and Korea, where the ticket price is kept to 2% of average monthly wage.

    Spokker Reply:

    High speed rail in China is a pretty bad example for high speed rail supporters and critics alike. It was simply a by-product of China’s infrastructure rush. The country wasn’t really ready for it because of the reason you just gave.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yep. China used HSR as a massive stimulus program. China has a real aversion to social spending, or any other thing that might raise domestic consumption. If you go to a Chinese hospital and run out of money, you’re out on the street. It’s even worse than Korea was in the bad old days of General Park.

    Thus, stimulus for China doesn’t mean unemployment insurance or anything that helps those who most need it. It means rather accelerating prior plans for infrastructure investment, which were shovel-ready but were previously planned to be done further in the future because of funding constraints.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    According to my Chinese co-workers, China gave vouchers to every citizen as a form of stimulus.

    Note: Vouchers, not cash and not tax breaks. Direct cash handouts that are deposited in the bank provide no stimulus.

    And as far as throwing bankrupt hospital patients out on the streets, that sounds more like the USA than Korea….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    “We’re only about as bad as the US with health care” isn’t a slogan I’d propose to anyone, except in jest. And China is actually worse than the US there – the US will let you go to the ER if you can’t pay.

    I don’t know what percentage of Chinese people have health insurance, though my understanding is that mass health insurance does not exist in China as in developed countries.

    P.S. To clarify about Korea, I don’t know if it threw hospital patients out. What I’m referring to is that it suppressed any and all domestic consumption and kept wages low for as long as possible in order to give exporters a bonanza.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The guy in charge of the Chinese economy seems to know his Keynes.

    Sobering Reality Reply:

    Yeah, expendable labor is genius.

    Useless Reply:

    http://blogs.voanews.com/breaking-news/2011/12/28/china-design-flaws-lax-safety-standards-to-blame-for-july-train-crash/

    “The investigation confirmed earlier reports that a design flaw in the signaling equipment prevented a green light from turning to red after a lightning strike halted a train on a high-speed line south of Shanghai. That flaw, along with mistakes by signal operators, caused a second train to smash into the first, toppling several carriages off a bridge.”

    Peter Reply:

    What “green” or “red” light? There’s no such thing with ETCS Level 2.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Why don’t you ring them up and correct this terrible misleading reporting? (I’d be surprised if the Koch Brothers weren’t behind it, or at least the satanic LA Times.) Don’t forget to send us a carbon copy of your correspondence, hot off the press. And no back pedalling once you get up a full head of steam, but don’t telegraph your intentions prematurely or strike before your iron is hot.

    Peter Reply:

    What the fuck are you talking about?

    Useless Reply:

    @ Peter

    > ETCS Level 2.

    Chinese HSR system isn’t using ETCS, but something that Chinese cooked-up.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Are you moving to Palm Springs soon Morris?

  14. Peter
    Dec 30th, 2011 at 16:03
    #14

    From the January 12, 2012 Board Agenda:

    4. Central Valley – Los Angeles Basin Mountain Crossing (I-5 Grapevine alignment)

    Staff will present the outcome of the conceptual study of the Grapevine alternative requesting the board to approve the future actions necessary

    Umm, finally? How does one beg/borrow/steal an advance copy?

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    Do we have to wait for the Jan 13 meeting for it to appear on the website?
    Will there be a press release or leak in advance?
    A temporary reprieve from Valley bashing soon?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    It should be up the week of. The progress reports we have seen indicate that they are going to recommend a full study of a grapevine alternative in the EIR. Things may have changed but this is an agenda item that has been deferred since September. From the September report (we haven’t posted yet):

    RC has largely completed the I-5 (Grapevine) Study, indicating that feasible alignments meet
    the Project criteria (gradient, crossing active fault zones at-grade; no worse environmental
    impacts than the Antelope Valley (AV) alignments, etc.) exist. Presentation to the Authority
    Board is planned for November, where the proposal will Significant outreach and stakeholder
    involvement continues with a number of the stakeholder agencies and communities (e.g.,
    Tejon Ranch, Cities of Palmdale, Lancaster, Santa Clarita and Rosamond, Acton and Agua
    Dulce communities and others.
     The RC has drafted a scope of work, budget and schedule for addition of the Grapevine (I-5)
    alignment to the Alternatives Analysis process. This scope is being discussed with the RC to
    conclude negotiations in advance of the Board Meeting, to minimize any downtime for
    mobilization of the additional work, if a decision to include the Grapevine is made

    Environmental Milestone Schedule (EMS): The RC’s EMS deliverable dates continue to slip
    and the PMT is working with the RC to mitigate affects and recover time where possible.
    o Presentation of Grapevine Conceptual Studies has moved to the November Board
    Meeting, delaying the Supplemental AA for the Palmdale to Sylmar section of
    the alignment. With engineering resources being focused on Grapevine studies
    and no formal agreement on alignments for the EIR/EIS studies, which has
    pushed back the 15% PE deliverable date has also slipped.
    o Should the Board approve the proposal to continue studies of the Grapevine
    alternatives to the same level of engineering and environmental detail as the
    Antelope Valley (AV) alignments allow overall comparison of options in an allencompassing
    Alternatives Analysis document, this action is likely to add 9 to 11
    months to the overall schedule. This will need to be incorporated in the overall
    Project Master Schedule and the FY 11/12 AWP scopes for both P-LA and B-P
    will need to be revisited.
     There remains strong opposition to the Project alignment alternatives in the Acton/Agua
    Dulce area. The Antelope Valley cities remain opposed to the I-5 (Grapevine) studies. The
    Authority has asked these cities to provide economic viability data for alignments through the
    AV to support the Authority in resolving issues with the Acton/Agua Dulce communities.
    PMT is working with the RC and others to develop a strategy to address community concerns
    and reduce opposition to the planned alignments. The city of Santa Clarita remains “on the
    fence” and non-committal with respect to its support of the I-5 (Grapevine) Study, even
    though it has been briefed on the potential alignments and possible station locations. The
    PMT and RC continue to meet with the City of Santa Clarita about this issue

    Other info is on our site search: site:calhsr.com grapevine

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    Thanks!

  15. Alon Levy
    Dec 30th, 2011 at 16:22
    #15

    Is this the longest thread we’ve had that’s not about Altamont vs. Pacheco?

    VBobier Reply:

    Could be, Maybe Robert would know.

  16. guest
    Dec 30th, 2011 at 17:36
    #16

    http://blogs.kqed.org/capitalnotes/2011/12/20/the-2012-battle-over-high-speed-rail/
    in that article there’s a link that has a voting record about prop 1a bond being delayed twice in 04 and 06. Here’s the link and gotta make sure to read the whole thing.
    http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/05-06/bill/asm/ab_0701-0750/ab_713_cfa_20060626_205218_asm_floor.html

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