California Congressional Democrats Call For Funding HSR

Feb 12th, 2012 | Posted by

According to the LA Times, “virtually all” of California’s Democratic Congressional delegation signed a letter denouncing the Republican “highway bill” that defunds most forms of mass transit, including high speed rail:

As Congress gears up for an unusual fight over a new transportation bill, virtually all of California’s Democratic delegation has come out against the Republican-drafted measure, saying it would cut funding to the state.

The state’s Democrats also say they object to provisions that would bar funding for California’s high-speed rail project, open the Southern California coast to energy exploration and “cripple our transit agencies” by ending the decades-old use of gas tax funds for mass transit. They contend the bill would cut highway funding to the state by nearly $725 million over five years.

“If this bill is enacted into law, it will hurt California’s fragile economy by cutting vital funding, prohibiting new funds from being dispersed to one of California’s largest infrastructure projects and delaying safety measures,” the lawmakers said in a letter to House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio)….

California Democrats also complained about the prohibition on funding high-speed rail in the state.

“Prohibiting funds for high-sped rail in California, when other states are free to move forward with high-speed rail, will prevent California from being able to decide how to best address its capacity constraints and transportation needs,” they wrote.

That’s a strong statement against the flawed bill and for high speed rail. One wonders how State Senator Alan Lowenthal, a Democrat who opposes high speed rail and who wants to join the California Democratic Congressional delegation, feels about this letter. Would he stand by the strong defense of HSR? Or would he choose to undermine Nancy Pelosi, Barack Obama, and the state’s two HSR-supporting US Senators and oppose federal HSR funding?

Last month Lowenthal was joined by two other Democratic State Senators in attacking the high speed rail project, giving cover and support to the House Republicans who have used those criticisms to justify defunding HSR:

ep. Jeff Denham (R-Atwater), who sought to prohibit funding for the project, said in a statement: “Highway bill money should be used on highways.

“This administration and the California legislature want high-speed rail at any cost, they will spend lavishly without a disciplined plan and say anything to get it done, but this amendment will prohibit highway bill money from being used on a project that is going nowhere fast.”

I’m sure there’s someone out there in the California press corps that would be interested in asking Lowenthal, Mark DeSaulnier, or Joe Simitian whether they side with Jeff Denham or whether they side with their fellow Democrats.

We’ll see what happens in Congress with the transportation bill. Or should we call it the “highway bill”?

“It’s a lot harder to win votes when you don’t have goodies to pass out,” Boehner told the Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington. Boehner also said at a news conference the measure would be the first highway bill he’s ever supported. “In the past, highway bills represented everything that was wrong with Washington: earmarks, endless layers of bureaucracy, wasted tax dollars and misplaced priorities,” he said.

That has to be a deliberate word choice on the part of Boehner. Republicans believe that transportation = highways and nothing else, despite the fact that walking, biking, and mass transit are already essential ways that people get around and are even more important during an era of soaring gas prices and global warming.

But once again we see that Republicans are waging war on the 21st century, determined to destroy all alternatives to the automobile and forcing everyone to hand over their wallets to their oil company allies.

Why would any Democrat in Sacramento help them do that?

  1. Emma
    Feb 12th, 2012 at 19:28

    I’m starting to think, if it’s legal, maybe California should keep part of the Transportation funding from the feds for a rainy day fund, in case Republicans take over.

    Once again, thanks for nothing, GOP.

  2. jimsf
    Feb 12th, 2012 at 20:08

    The $260 billion, five-year bill calls for more highways and toll roads to be paid for with offshore drilling. In addition to cutting funding for bike and pedestrian projects, the bill would slash subsidies for Amtrak by 25 percent; privatize food and drink vending on Amtrak trains while guaranteeing such sales with taxpayer money; and substantially increase the size of trucks allowed on roadways, a potential boon for the trucking industry but a change that’s opposed by environmental groups

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    The latter is also highly opposed by the freight RRs. To be honest, I think this is just a pandering to the constituency bill, not a real attempt at a transportation bill

    Joe Reply:

    But the lunatics control the House which only requires a simple majority to pass a bill.

    This is The House Transporation Bill, not the minority opposition’s political counter-proposal.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Did you forget the need to have it pass the Senate? And trust me, the freight RRs are going to have a lot of muscle to knock it down.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And many state DOTs. Heavy trucks beat the roads into gravel.

    Emma Reply:

    Yeah. That’s the good part. It will die there (I hope). Sometimes the Senate does work for us.

    StevieB Reply:

    The truck size increase was removed from the house bill and a 3 year study of the effects of heavier trucks substituted.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Why bother? It’s not like there hasn’t been a lot of data over the years on road wear and impact loads. Engineers should be able to easily give the numbers out. Give me some current data and even I could do it and present it in a form even those dunderheads could read and understand.

    Whether they’d like it or not would be a different story. . .

    VBobier Reply:

    And after reading it or maybe just skimming over it, it would go into a Repugnican controlled shredder, but that’s My opinion and fear…

    The Senate is our only hope at the moment until the Nov 2012 General Election, then It will be showtime, get there and kick all the Repugs out of office that are running and don’t let any Democrats lose their offices…

  3. DingDong
    Feb 12th, 2012 at 20:14

    They know this won’t pass, though, right? Do they think this is good politics? It’s hard for me to believe that it is, but I imagine they must have done some focus-group testing, right?

    Joe Reply:

    The GOP agenda is to piss off liberals. It is that shallow a political movement. They oppose bike paths.

    You have to thank the GOP for making HSR a litmus test. They have basically polarized highway funding with this extereme agenda and made it very hard for DEMs to oppose HSR.

    I am thinking about Lowenthal and his interest in the US House in 2012. The Pol has to figure out how to nuance his opposition to HSR given this attack on CA. The House singled out CA’s project.

  4. datacruncher
    Feb 12th, 2012 at 20:33

    This letter to Boehner and Mica is posted at Metro’s blog:

    Looks like two missing signatures: Nancy Pelosi and Jim Costa.

  5. jimsf
    Feb 12th, 2012 at 21:45

    And while we hear a lot about transbay terminal and downtown fresno and san jose, sacrmamento is quietly moving along with its future high speed rail home

    and like all good americaland(tm) cities, it includes an arena.

    jimsf Reply:

    I guess construction has already started, and I love how the gave the railyards project such a fitting name. “the railyards” nice pic of the site here

    Loren Petrich Reply:

    They’ve built overpasses for the future Railyards extensions of 5th and 6th Sts., but it’s been difficult for me to find out anything more. They are supposed to be relocating the railroad tracks from their current route with its tight curves to something more straight, something that will go under the overpasses.

    jimsf Reply:

    yes there are some nice pics of the overpass and row area here

    Joey Reply:

    Interesting, have they provided a space in the design for future HSR tracks?

    jimsf Reply:

    the row is outlined in the gray shaded area

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    I wonder if the train should continue on to the airport, or somewhere else out of town, once it drops people off downtown. I think most riders at Sacramento are going to be dropped off by cars or trucks. A huge part of California is north of Sacramento, and those people will probably arrive by pickup. It’ll be easier to drop them off in the dropoff lane of an airport, at the high speed rail terminal, than to brave Sacramento’s freeway system to the downtown station. Even people in the Sacramento “suburbs” will probably arrive by car. I don’t think downtown Sacramento can take much more traffic.

    jimsf Reply:

    Having spend a nice chunk of life in sac, I can tell you the drive in from north (70/99/5) isn’t really bad at all. Its the drive from roseville on 80 that’s the killer. There are plans to extend a couple of san joaquin trains north to MRV-CIC-RDD which could feed people in to hsr at sac. The site is practically under the i-5/99 so access is very easy. In a future northen ca extension of hsr, then yes a highway 99 airport adjacent stop would make sense ( on a redding line) to bring northerners quickly from CIC-RDD to the airport for out of state flights.

  6. Brandon from San Diego
    Feb 12th, 2012 at 21:49

    The House GOP transport bill will not pass. It is designed not to pass. Ya see, the GOP’s number one objective is to unseat Obama, at all cost, including sacrificing America and its people. The more discord they sow, they better their chances.

    IMO, the GOP is not the ‘conservative’ party any longer. Mthey have become the ‘radical’ party.

    Andy M. Reply:

    I agree.

    The question though is, if they do unseat him, will they revert on some of their more bizarre policies or will they continue to move down the road of madness they have been advocating?

    Or can we interpret this all as a sign that they no longer believe they can win and are just causing as much damage as possible before their final glorious dusk and passage into oblivion?

    Peter Reply:

    Paul Krugman on why the GOP is so loonie these days: Severely Conservative Syndrome

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    The House GOP transport bill will not pass. It is designed not to pass.

    Just like how the FAA reauthorization last summer was dead in the water too, until the House decided to force a government shutdown over it and the Senate caved. Don’t be surprised if this becomes the “Summer of ’12” strategy.

  7. John
    Feb 13th, 2012 at 06:33

    The Chronicle has learned that officials with Bay Area transportation agencies are in negotiations with each other, and with the California High-Speed Rail Authority, to craft an agreement that would fund an advanced train-control system, electrify the rails on the Peninsula and eliminate some of the rail crossings – perhaps as soon as 2016, five to 10 years earlier than previous estimates.

    jim Reply:

    So $5.3B drops to $2B, presumably by eliminating the more egregious viaducting. Half of that comes out of the Prop 1A money, the other half is found locally. Looks doable.

    This makes IOS-North the more likely choice (providing the judge will allow the Program EIR to be certified). With this, an IOS-North can provide a single seat ride from downtown San Francisco to Bakersfield in approximately three hours (compared to schlepping over to Emeryville to get a six hour ride). And IOS-North is several billion cheaper than Merced-Sylmar, which would be needed to connect to the SoCal equivalent.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    And IOS-North is several billion cheaper than Merced-Sylmar, which would be needed to connect to the SoCal equivalent.

    What in the world are you smoking?

    Tom McNamara Reply:


    This is Jerry cleverly pitting Metro and MTC against each other for the 1 billion in local money attached to Prop 1A. This is downright evil genius by the Governor.

    First, tell MTC and Metro that the 995 million in Prop 1A local money is for sale, in exchange for future monetary support for the system.

    Second, have both sides craft wish lists for the entire billion which can be used to cover shortfalls in existing or anticipated local transportation funding.

    Third, award money to both MTC and Metro in exchange for specific consideration later including but not limited to Measure R funding and BATA revenue.

    Fourth, build Merced to Palmdale with connections on ACE and Metrolink at the end.

    Fifth, offer concessionaire right to operate on IOS and get windfall of cash.

    Six, use concessionaire cash to hire lawyers to ensure that regional transportation authorities don’t try to walk away from earlier promises….

    synonymouse Reply:

    No concessionaire is going to take on the TWU, which will demand government operation in short order, enforced thru strikes and connections to the patronage machine.

    Tom McNamara Reply:


    That’s because you don’t realize the most obvious concessionaire (an airline) already deals with TWU and would gain leverage by consolidating its grip across transit modes.

    Loren Petrich Reply:

    So it’s a sort of IOS Central? I’d imagine an IOS Central being half of IOS North + half of IOS South: Gilroy – Merced – Bakersfield – Palmdale.

    neville snark Reply:

    Fantastic. A detail: I think it is completely under-appreciated, by the hoi-polloi who haven’t seen them, how quiet electric trains are (eg Pampas-Nimbys). I live in a city crawling with ’em, and in the daytime they’re virtually silent.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    You know, I thought the same thing as you once.

    But it’s a given that every train on the Caltrain line will be required to blast its horns and ring the fuckinbg idiot ding ding ding ding ding ding bells every time it stops at or passes by a station.

    The idiots in charge will do anything to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

    You’re not going to see a modern, efficient, quiet, customer-friendly train service on the peninsula. You’re going to get Olde Tyme Commuter Railroading With Wires Attached And Higher Cost.

    Neville Snark Reply:

    Gad, you might be right.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Thank goodness the greater good trumps how you personally feel about this RM. let’s make this happen! And for syno: throw some BART livery on some new peninsula EMU’s and BAM! You have BART ringing the Bay!

    Peter Reply:

    What is the “greater good” of opportunities having been squandered to make it better? And no attempt being made to improve the situation?

    Tony d. Reply:


    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Something must be done!
    This is something.
    Therefore this must be done!

    CBOSS, brought to you by Parsons Transportation Group, is truly something.
    Decade-obsolete sole-vendor rolling stock from Alstom is something.
    LTK Engineering Services designing the rolling stock is something.
    40% too many electrification masts is something.
    No service plan is something.
    No way to ever allow coordinated local/express Caltrain service is certainly something.
    No way to ever operate frequent predictable clockface service is something alright.
    Conductors and assistant conductors being hauled around all day on every train doing nothing is something.
    Building all stations with outside platforms is something.
    No level boarding is a truly special something.
    No shared HSR/Caltrain platforms or stations is something.

    Therefore, throw a billion dollars at the sub-cretins at Caltrain. They’ll do something with it.

    Mike Reply:

    Hey, what’s up with this curious Dan Richard quote from that Chronicle article:

    “If we’re going to come up the Peninsula on those lines, and use that right-of-way, then this would be advancing our investment in high-speed rail.”

    IF? Is Altamont back on the table?

    Peter Reply:

    I think you’re reading too much into that one word.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Both Altamont and Pacheco would necessitate coming up the Peninsula to get to SF the only difference being how much of the Peninsula, all of it in the latter case, but only 2/3 in the former case.

    Tony d. Reply:

    This assumes a new Dumbarton rail tunnel or bridge is included in the current HSR budget or in the revised business plan. Current plans for Altamont HSR calls for the line to be constructed from Diridon/SJ to Stockton.

    Brian Reply:

    from the CHSRA studies I have seen on the Altamont Corridor Rail Project the line north of Diridon/SJ would actually be backtracking a little bit along the Caltrain line and split from the line immediately north of Santa Clara. If the Altamont route is chosen over Pacheco I am guessing they would follow that same general alignment for the branch serving San Jose. To increase the catchment area of the San Jose branch I would think it would make sense to have all HSR trains using it make a stop in Santa Clara as well. It would also provide access to San Jose Airport. It might just be a shuttle bus connection but it works.

    Hypothetically, if the Pacheco line is built and the Altamont Corridor Rail Project too, and finally the Dumbarton rail crossing as well, will that not meet the same or similar operational efficiencies of getting from San Francisco to Sacramento as compared to the Altamont HSR route? I imagine one thru train could operate between endpoints despite the separate systems. The Altamont rail project studies say it is planning for 150 mph operation (slower in some areas) but although not true HSR I wouldn’t exactly call that slow. If the times are comparable would that not work for the SF to LA traffic as well? If San Jose can be sold on the idea that an Altamont alignment will also serve them better for San Jose to Sacramento traffic then maybe the Pacheco route can be proposed as the last phase, to be built only if necessary.

    Clem Reply:

    Yes if everything is built, it will meet everybody’s needs. But the hundred billion dollar point that was recently made is that everything can’t be built. We have to pick and choose. If Altamont is built, Pacheco will not be built– it’s that simple.

    joe Reply:

    The Pacheco line will be built and so too will CA build the Altamont Corridor Rail Project.

    Joey Reply:

    Good luck funding all that in the next two decades…

    Clem Reply:

    Both will not be built. I am sure of that.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Here’s the branch between San Jose and Fremont

    Tony d. Reply:

    I like this! Now this is what I’m talking about! ICS AND urban bookends! Now I’m starting to get excited about this project again. And quite frankly, I could care less which region gets connected to IOS first, NorCal or SoCal. Just get Caltrain up to speed (pun intended) sooner rather than later. Perhaps diesels could be used to enhance service to Gilroy/MH in the interim.
    RE 43 grade crossings on Peninsula, Richard M won’t like this, but I still say cul de sac lightly travelled roads and perhaps build pedestrian bridges or underpasses, as to not completely cut off Peninsula humans from the rest of the world. ;)

    Peter Reply:

    Gilroy service won’t increase until ridership starts goes up. Running more practically empty trains is not a good use of resources.

    joe Reply:

    Three trains is not enough.

    The 168 VTA bus out of San Jose’s Caltrain station is full because the Caltrain service to south county is shitty.

    I can’t depend on Caltrain to get me home for my kid at 6PM. Only two make it to Palo Alto.

    We use Caltrain but only if one of the two of us can get home reliably. So one might take the train in and car pool home or ride the 168 since the Caltrain service is so sparse.

    So add a train and see how many 168 bus riders stay on the train and ride it to the last three caltrain stations in south County

    Clem Reply:

    Add a train, when the south county load factor is less than 15%? I think not.

    Tony d. Reply:

    I think what Joe is implying is that the load factor is low because the service is shitty. Kind of like a self-fullfilling prophecy. Lot of folks claim modernizing Caltrain will take loads of folks off 101 between SJ-SF; I agree. Why can’t the same happen in South County? And I’m not even talking about electrification. I’d love to have midday, evening and weekend service down here. I guarantee you people will ride (ie increased load factors) if the service isn’t shitty and unreliable.

    Joey Reply:

    Increased south county service might not be a bad idea, but for the foreseeable future is’s a much better idea to allocate limited resources (capital funding, operating subsidies) elsewhere.

    Clem Reply:

    Census data (recently presented on my blog) shows that service may be viable at Capitol and Blossom Hill. The stops south of there simply do not have enough people or jobs to justify increased train service. The numbers are quite clear.

    William Reply:

    The agreement should put CASHRA in charge of selecting the PTC systems for all corridors that would share with HSR, instead of letting each local agencies to pick their own, potentially incompatible systems.

    Jonathan Reply:

    ooo, that’d be *far* too sensible. And possibly too late, in the case of Metrolink.

    synonymouse Reply:

    This plan would force BART to abandon Ring-the-Bay. Possible but not probable.

    The drift of Brown-Richard policy is clearly towards a collection of regional quasi-BART’s under government operation and with substantial and perennial public subsidy.

    The Grand DeTour has a worse cost-benefit ratio than the TBT Tunnel, panned by MTC. There would be no buyers for it at a privatization auction. With a 2/3 lock on the Legislature looming, I guess the Machine plans on tax increases to pay for this much larger version of the San Joaquin.

    We will just have to see who wins the ongoing austerity vs. public employees wars in the PIIG’s. IMHO welcome to Moonbeam’s version of Greece.

    Mike Reply:

    The drift of Brown-Richard policy is clearly towards a collection of regional quasi-BART’s under government operation and with substantial and perennial public subsidy.

    Well, we’ve already got that, right? Metrolink, Coaster, BART, Caltrain, ACE — government control and public subsidy (also proven ridership demand). What I’m hearing from Brown/Richard is to improve those systems at the same time that HSR tracks are built in the Central Valley. Sounds good to me.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Large subsidies to expensive feather-bedded unions require an unstable bubble economy or a government-run centralized economy, in which case the unions in time wind up with much lower pay. See Cuba.

    The Brown-Richard Peninsula plan is mostly a replay of past schemes, sans the TBT Tunnel. Jerry could only browbeat the meagerest lip service to this Caltrain electrification idea out of the likes of Kopp, Willie Brown, Heminger & co., who have always favored Ring the Bay and torpedoed Caltrain.

    missiondweller Reply:

    I wonder how Peninsula NIMBY’s will react to this? Ground level will still require crossings but they can’t point to “blight”.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Don’t trifle over “Peninsula NIMBY’s”.

    The smart money is always on BART Vader.

    Neville Snark Reply:

    I note that sfgate comments on this idea are very positive.

    Jonathan Reply:


    so Caltrain is going to throw money at CBOSS money-pit faster? I don’t wish to sound like RIchard, How can that mean anything but even higher overruns on the custom, saftey-critical, software project otherwise known as CBOSS?

    How is that a good thing for anyone (with the possible exception of the CBOSS contractors)?
    The only _sane_ things would be to go with ETCS, which is what HSR is going to run natively; or with UP/BNSF’s automatic train protection system (which USAians call PTC for NIH reasons. Well, equally likely to hide the fact that such technology is over a hundred years old!)

    joe Reply:

    CBOSS is paid for – Congress earmarked and allocated the money.

    So is the sane thing is to stop it and lose the money and start over and find new funding?

    Jonathan Reply:

    For CHSRA, yes, it would be cheaper to do that than to pay for integrating a 3rd, custom, like-nothing-else-on-Earth safety-critical software system into eventual CSHRA trainsets.

    CBOSS may be “paid for” (moneys appropriated) but it’s essentially vaporware. Unless you want to go on the track-record of ITCS in Michigan, which wasn’t functioning properly in 2007 and is only _barely_ qualified for test operations at 110mph — 18 years after contract.

    Jonathan Reply:

    More to the point: moneys were found to pay for an Automatic Train Protection System. There’s nothing in the _funding_ which says that money has to be used for CBOSS. It’d be cheaper to cancel the CBOSS contract, pay for any work done to date, and use the remaining money for an ATP system which *exists* and *is known to work* and *is compatible with what HSR will use*. CAHSR has found that ETCS is the only system which meets their criteria — quite reasonable criteria, for a change.

    joe Reply:

    It’s vaporware.

    You cancel the project and the money is gone – it was earmarked.

    Any cheaper solution requires new funding which means it i snot cheaper as far as funding the project. The gov’t isn’t personal finance. The appropriated funding is not re-programmable.

    If one subscribes to Mister Mxyzptlk’s newsletter, Caltrain would screw up anything so there is no solution,

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    So, if da gubmint gives you $10k that you must use to demolish you house you’ll be better off for it?

    Investment in the future!

    Just remember, we’re going to get something far worse than everybody else and over pay twice as much as anybody else does. But that’s all OK, because it’s earmarked! Investment in the future!

    joe Reply:

    Calm down.

    If da gubberment earmarked ARRA funding for a system and it cancels the contract, the money is not freed to spend elsewhere – the earmark is gone. CBOSS is paid for, end it and money gone.

    Starting over means finding more funding and starting over. That would be a waste.

    The world does not work the way you want it to work – it never has.

    Now say your name backwards.

    Clem Reply:

    It’s not that cut and dry. The specs for CBOSS could be changed for valid technical reasons. Remember, level 1 of ERTMS is a Communications-Based Overlay Signal System. If that’s too much of a mouthfull, call it CBOSS and keep the earmark money.

    Jonathan Reply:

    yes, and the FRA grant says:

    The Grantee intends to carry out the Project through an agreement with PCJPB to complete the
    design development necessary for the Project. PCJPB will manage the Project and provide direct
    oversight over the contractor; however, the Grantee is responsible for completing the Project.
    CHSRA and PCJPB contemplate that the Caltrain corridor CBOSS/PTC system would be
    provided on all main tracks between San Francisco (milepost [MP] 0.1) and CP Lick (MP 51.6)
    along the San Francisco to San Jose corridor of the CAHST System. As a result of this Project,
    the Grantee will have the information necessary to determine the design solution that prioritizes
    the statutory PTC functionality: a vital overlay system that satisfies the requirement of the RSIA
    but may also provide improved schedule management, station stop enforcement, crossing safety
    improvements, and optimized operating performance.

    The Project will produce a detailed design development plan for implementing PTC in the
    Caltrain corridor, which when constructed would provide a safer and more functional work
    environment while reducing costs during construction of the San Francisco to San Jose section of
    the CAHST System. Moreover, the development of the CBOSS/PTC product supports the
    CAHST schedule because the solution will be implemented in advance of currently planned
    CAHST implementation in the corridor.

    The work funded by this grant/cooperative agreement will identify the necessary interoperable
    interfaces that CHSRA must specify for its Automatic Train Control system procurement. This
    will reduce technical risk for CHSRA and reduce project cost contingencies for the shared
    corridor design and implementation.

    So CSHRA is ultimately responsible, and the contract must, amongst other things, specify the interfaces for interoperating with CSHRA’s ATP system. Legally, one might be able to decide that the requirements for a communications-based overlay signalling system are, from a whole-system perspective, better met by using the communications-based, overlay signalling system called, ahem, ERTMS :)
    Go ask a laywer.


    Jonathan Reply:

    damn. sorry, the cut-and-paste mucked up the lnke-breaks and HTML quotation.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Go ask a laywer.

    Wouldn’t it be better to ask an engineer? Oh right, this is America.

    Mike Reply:

    Can I ask a dumb question about CBOSS/ERTMS? Caltrain says that CBOSS will have some functionality that’s tailored to grade crossings (which, it is true, Caltrain does have and will likely have for quite a few more decades). I think I’ve read that ERTMS doesn’t deal with grade crossings at all. This doesn’t really make sense to me; there must be a few grade crossings in Europe! Anyways, I guess my question is: can ERTMS do what Caltrain says CBOSS will do, with respect to grade crossings?

    Clem Reply:

    Short answer is no. What CBOSS is supposed to do is allow gates on the far side of a station stop to stay up. This is a small benefit to motorists, and does absolutely zilch for train passengers. ERTMS can and does interface with grade crossing controllers, just without this special keep-the-gates-up feature. Given enough money, I’m sure this “problem” could be “solved”.

    Jonathan Reply:

    It’s not a dumb question.

    ERTMS can deal with grade crossings, though they’d be referred to as “level crossings” (British English).

    What Caltrain wants is a very specific feature. Think of the Menlo Park statoin. A train stops at the station; the train is within the block which closes the crossing-gate just past the station platform. Caltrain, understandably, wants a signalling system which can allow that crossing gate to open, provided the train which would normally cause the gate to close is stopped at the station, and provided that there are no other trains (for example, a train approaching the crossing from the other direction).

    Typical US freight railroad ATP systems don’t provide that functionality. The freight railroads balked at the cost of an ETCS-like system, with all the implied balises on low-utilizatoin routes. That’s why they went with the Wabtec system and GPS/differnetial-GPS-derived train positions. ERMTS Regional, for similarly low-utilization lines like those in Sweded, came up with a smilar solution)
    I n ERTMS Regional, grade-crossings are connected via “object controllers”, which is more-or-less what US ATP (aka PTC) vendors call a Wayside Interface Unit, or WIU.

    .. the other part of the rationale for CBOSS, at least as I’ve understood it from Clem’s blog, is to preserve Caltrains’ existing investment in CTC and signalling. Now, suppose that we’re electrifying Caltrain as part of the very same effort which is going to provide funding for PTC. In that case, most of the signalling and control machinery will have to be replaced anyway, as it isn’t designed to handle the noise and interference caused by 25KV electrification.

    At which point, someone should stand back and ask: does it _really_ make sense to spend a quarter-billion on an “Overlay” signalling system, to preserve the existing signalling system which is being replaced as part of electrification?

    Peter Reply:


    What are they going to do when incompetent Caltrain engineers overshoot the platform at Menlo Park and roll into the grade crossing with gates that are now up and smacks into an SUV filled with a soccer mom and her spawn?

    I used to rarely ride Caltrain (maybe once, one way, every few weeks). Even then I witnessed a number of overshoots.

    Clem Reply:

    CBOSS is not even remotely paid for.

    Congress earmarked $16 million, and the whole thing will cost more than ten times that much (north of $200 million), before the inevitable delays and overruns. CBOSS can and should be re-tailored to use ERTMS as the underlying technology rather than ITCS.

    joe Reply:

    yes, I was mistaken the funding is only the design development phase.

    “Steps to completion of the CBOSS/PTC system include design development, final design and
    acceptance, material equipment manufacturing and procurement, field installation and testing,
    commissioning, and safety certification of an interoperable vital train control system. This Grant
    will contribute funding toward the design development of the CBOSS/PTC system and
    associated project administration that is necessary for the Critical Design Review (Project).”

  8. jimsf
    Feb 13th, 2012 at 10:28

    Obama Directs Congress to Spend More on Transport
    Mark Szakonyi, Daily Content Editor | Feb 13, 2012 6:06PM GMT
    The Journal of Commerce Online – News Story
    Washington | Domestic Air | Infrastructure | Air + Expedited | Government + Regulation | United States
    President’s 2013 budget calls for nearly $30 billion more in annual spending
    President Obama’s 2013 budget calls for nearly $30 billion more on transportation infrastructure annually than the roughly $50 billion sought through the House and Senate’s competing surface transportation plans, according to reports.
    Under a $3.8 trillion budget released Monday, Obama directs Congress to spend $476 billion over the next six years, or roughly $80 billion annually, according to The Hill. Obama is also restarting his push to spend $50 billion immediately, a key element of the president’s failed jobs.
    The House’s five-year transport plan would spend about about $52 billion annually, while the Senate’s two-year transport bill calls for about $54.5 billion annually in transportation infrastructure spending.
    Obama’s budget proposal also calls for hiking pre-takeoff fees on flights by as much as $100 and raising security taxes to $7.50 for each way. The proposed fees, which the airline industry opposes, could generate between $7.4 billion to $25.5 billion over the next decade, according to the White House.

    VBobier Reply:

    Sounds good, now We need funding for HSR, Transit and yes, AMTRAK in the bill otherwise the bill should die, line in the sand as it were…

    Mike Reply:

    I guess I should just chalk this up to inept journalism, but the idea that any President can “direct” Congress to do anything is just comical. Especially this President in this political climate. Especially this transportation spending plan, which Congress has already ignored several times over.

    JJJ Reply:

    The senate was happy to listen to Obama when he asked that he allocate LESS money to HSr than what they were planning.

    Thanks Obama!

  9. StevieB
    Feb 13th, 2012 at 13:46

    President Obama’s budget provides $2.5 billion in 2013 as part of a $47 billion six-year investment to continue construction of our national high-speed rail network. House republicans will demand zero funding but the presidents budget is a starting point for negotiations.

    JJJ Reply:

    And it’s Obama, so not only will he accept the zero as a starting point, but he will offer amtrak pay to build a highway or something.

    StevieB Reply:

    Despite the Miami Herald and Secretary LaHood description of $2.5 billion for high speed rail that is the entire budget of the Federal Railroad Administration for 2013. $1.5 billion goes to Amtrak in the System Preservation and Renewal account and $1 billion goes to the Network Development account of which the High-Speed rail corridor development ($850 million) program will provide three t i e r s o f h i g h – s p e e d r a i l s e r v i c e : c o r e express (125-250+ mph), regional (90-125 mph), and emerging corridors (up to 90 mph).

    If the budget is implemented several hundred thousand dollars could come to California for high speed rail.

  10. Roger Christensen
    Feb 13th, 2012 at 15:57

    Attended the Fresno COG High Speed Rail workshop in downtown Fresno today.
    Heard these remarks from Dan Richards:

    -he embraced the “new notion” of a blended implementation.

    -compared the 98.5b number to a mortgage loan when include the interest paid

    -said that he “personnally preferred” the IOS to be Merced-Sylmar

    -on government private partnerships he said that was an American tradition dating back to the Eerie Canal

    -Google didn’t invent the Internet, fed investment did

    -private investment will come after IOS runs 2 years

    -to which Fresno Mayor Swearingen added that it means that the magic number is not 98b but 33b to Sylmar

    -Dan said he was unhappy with how farmers were treated, didn’t like the Kings County diagonals, was attracted to the Spanish approach of land swaps

    -Fresno mayor noted that in the last 20 years in the City Limits of Fresno, over 50,000 acres of farmland has been lost.

    -someone else noted that the Bakersfield growth line has doubled

    Inside the meeting was cordial. Public comment had to be submitted to in writing and would be answered only if there was time. There wasn’t.
    Outside teabaggers held a large banner proclaimer stating No $ for High Speed Rail.

    Mike Reply:

    Did he describe what sort of expanded/improved intercity rail service the Authority is thinking that might be operated over some combination of the ICS plus upgraded freight tracks?

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    No. He did not speak in specifics and referred to himself as a “newcomer that just parachuted in”.
    I had to leave at the conclusion and didn’t have time to nose around.

    jimsf Reply:

    mercedstation plans>/a>

    Peter Reply:

    That’s a year and a half out of date. They’ve since moved the Merced station to just south of MLK Jr. Way.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    the same little worms that are working with the Burlingame NIMBYS

  11. rootingforbartdowngeary
    Feb 13th, 2012 at 16:07

    Man all this extra talk we all as hsr supporters need to step up to these bastards. They don’t wamt it now cause by the time its fully built most of those bastards will be dead and gone so why should we wait till their death to build hsr? If we wait that long they’ll be dead an we’ll be left with the burden of paying for it dearly because of “inflation” the cost of the project will sky-rocket I don’t give a damn what all those Republicans say or what Google news says about hsr it works!!! How long will our country sit with poor transit? Does the Republicans not know that not everybody wants to hop on a bus or drive a car and what theor forgetting is not everyone have a far and lots of people love taking transit. In conclusion my opinion would be to get signatures of supporter to sign a petition or have all the supporters voice out their thoughts to cause after all we’ll be riding the damn thing our opinion counts to!!! P.S. to the peninsula cities get the hell over it Caltrain comes through theur blaring its horn especially in redwood city and Menlo park not to mention all the deaths on the crossings now would you a). Have loud a diesel train rumbling through with the horn non-stop or b). Quiet high speed rail with no horns and a quicker more sleek Caltrain that’s electrified?

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Thank you..someone with clue

  12. rootingforbartdowngeary
    Feb 13th, 2012 at 16:10

    And as far as bart ringing the bay I think it shouldn’t be parallel to Caltrain it should run through the cities

    Jonathan Reply:

    But… Caltrain on the Peninsula *does* run through the cities!
    Those cities — and their downtowns — are where they are, precisely because they grew up around the SP’s rail corridor.

    Welll, okay, with the exception of Daly City, which grew out of former farmland (Mr’ Daly’s farm) as refugees fled San Francisco after the 1906 quake.

  13. D. P. Lubic
    Feb 13th, 2012 at 16:43

    In other news, Virginia and North Carolina are working on “high speed” projects, although the routings and other things actually suggest regional “higher speed rail”, or HrSR, as an editor of Railway Age suggested it be called:

    swing hanger Reply:

    Apparently 110mph top speed, diesel trains. Similar to the upgraded line in western Michigan.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Ah. they’re talking about 1960s-speed passenger rail. :)

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    How many recall David Gunn saying he wished he had trains running at 100 mph as they did a century ago, referring of course to the Empire State Express and NYC No. 999 in 1893, and the first run of the Broadway Limited and No. 7002?

    YesonHSR Reply:

    I would take a 16hour overnight PRR “Broadway” any day over air..and at this point in time so would alot of others. I think 79-90MPH was standard

  14. D. P. Lubic
    Feb 13th, 2012 at 17:02

    For the political junkies:

    A bit dated:

    Opinion on toll roads:

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    A bit more:

    Santorum thinks gas prices caused the housing and loan crisis–which I think is partially right, but only in that it was a breeze that blew down a house of cards that was housing:

    Those “socialist” Muppets have revealed their true colors–they aren’t really socialist because Fox isn’t really news:

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