Deal Reached To Combine Caltrain Electrification and HSR

Mar 22nd, 2012 | Posted by

This is big news – the California High Speed Rail Authority, Caltrain, and local governments have reached a deal to split the costs and fund Caltrain electrification and the downtown extension. This would not only provide a major, long-awaited set of improvements to Caltrain, it would help bring high speed rail service to SF and the Peninsula more quickly. And this would not be possible without the high speed rail project.

Hoping to bring the bonanza of California high-speed rail funds to the Bay Area much quicker, local and state leaders on Wednesday unveiled a strategy to split the $1.5 billion cost to electrify the Caltrain line.

The plan would pave the way for quicker commuter trains to zip between San Francisco and San Jose as early as 2018 and for statewide bullet trains to run sooner than expected.

The agreement calls for the state to spend $706 million in available high-speed rail bond funds while local counties would kick in $180 million in sales tax revenues and $500 million in federal grants. The money is there, and the only thing standing in the way is approval from the state Legislature, long divided on the state’s plan to spend $100 billion on high-speed rail.

The idea for the Peninsula is simple: Electrify the popular 52-mile Caltrain diesel line, complete with bigger stations in San Jose, Millbrae and San Francisco. That could allow the financially struggling commuter agency to turn around its fortunes by running more trains at a cheaper cost to taxpayers.

Later, perhaps in the 2020s, the state’s high-speed rail trains could share the two tracks with Caltrain if the state manages to secure the funding to link the Bay Area to the Central Valley and Southern California. Previous plans pegged statewide service to Los Angeles starting at 2034, with four tracks in the Bay Area.

Caltrain needs electrification to survive. That’s the only way it can increase speeds, increase capacity, increase reliability, and therefore increase its revenues. Additionally, electrification eliminates diesel emissions on the corridor, and grade separations dramatically improve safety.

For high speed rail, the benefits are equally significant. The “blended plan” allows bullet trains to serve downtown San Francisco at an earlier date and at a lower cost. That brings an Initial Operating Segment – and revenue service – closer to reality.

Eventually two more tracks may be needed, and that can happen when the demand is there. Presumably by that time the current crop of anti-rail, right-wing NIMBYs will have moved on and a new generation of residents and leaders will understand the need to develop better infrastructure, just as our predecessors did.

This wouldn’t be possible without high speed rail funding. And it won’t happen if the legislature does not vote to authorize spending voter-approved bond money. Will Senator Joe Simitian destroy Caltrain and deny his constituents the chance for better passenger rail service?

The Peninsula NIMBYs certainly hope so. The Community Coalition on High Speed Rail, the Planning and Conservation League-backed anti-rail right-wingers, recently put out an email to their members calling on them to kill Caltrain electrification and to kill high speed rail:

The blended program has many issues and with a four-track option alive and the possibility of a phased implementation, the threat will hang over the heads of the homeowners. In addition, there are unknown consequences for traffic, safety, noise, vibration, and gate down times.

Should the Legislature vote for a high-speed rail program without any funds in sight for the even the first legal section? With every single independent agency having substantial issues? With ridership still challenged? Without an independent review of the numbers recommended by the PRG?

The people voted for the bond money to be used for high-speed rail systems, not local transportation. Caltrain needs modernization and California needs strong regional transportation, but perhaps another way.

None of the transportation infrastructure Californians use on a daily basis would have been built in the last 100 years if NIMBY objections like these had been allowed to win the day. And of course, the passenger rail line on the Peninsula was there long before any of these NIMBYs were born or before any of these Peninsula cities existed.

Still, they are not likely to prevail here. Caltrain electrification is a must-have for the Peninsula’s residents and businesses. It will help bring HSR to San Francisco sooner and for less money. Those two factors alone should help get Bay Area legislators to vote for HSR money later this year – even if Joe Simitian still intends to throw in his lot with the Republicans and the Tea Party.

  1. Big news
    Mar 22nd, 2012 at 17:13
    #1

    You’re right. This is big news. I had not given up hope yet, but this makes so much sense it seems like it will actually happen. What about redwood city? Will all grade crossings be eliminated?

  2. James
    Mar 22nd, 2012 at 17:22
    #2

    Let’s just all get a shovel and start digging and get the High Speed Rail built. Instead of one meeting a month, how about 2 meetings a month. Double Time! Let’s do in six months what would take a year. What takes six months to do, let’s do it in three months.

  3. Tony d.
    Mar 22nd, 2012 at 17:28
    #3

    They WON’T prevail! That’s a guarantee! Peninsula NIMBYS moving on to push Daisy’s one day? Sounds good to me! Let’s get this done; for my generation and future generations.

  4. Matt S.
    Mar 22nd, 2012 at 18:09
    #4

    This is great news. Now we just have to hope state legislators authorize this deal. Do you know if there are similar talks taking place in Southern California with Metrolink?

  5. joe
    Mar 22nd, 2012 at 19:21
    #5

    The people voted for the bond money to be used for high-speed rail systems, not local transportation. Caltrain needs modernization and California needs strong regional transportation, but perhaps another way.

    Perhaps. Yes perhaps CC should have proposed different ways to fix Caltrain now that their asses have been handed to them.

    Thank goodness these NIMBYs opposing HSR are blinded by the narrowest self-interest. They could have advocated hard, loud and strong for electrified Caltrain sans HSR. “Keep HSR outta my Caltrain”

    The chose use to anti-government, defeatism, phoney-frugality, and strawman choices between infrastructure of education. This forced them into a corner – they offer no solutions. No No and more No.

    Thank goodness they were so selfish as to not embrace and extend Caltrain electrification away from the HSR project.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Perhaps. Yes perhaps CC should have proposed different ways to fix Caltrain now that their asses have been handed to them.

    Simitan is not going to vote for the bonds anyway. His comments at the hearing make that pretty clear. This proposal is dumb, because it’s not really feasible. CalTrain can’t break even because SF and the Peninsula are job centers now and need to be connected to somewhere else to get excess workers. You can add as many bells, whistles, glowing lights, to the trains… it doesn’t matter.

    It is a waste of the bond money, and it won’t happen because once it’s clear that Simitan isn’t interested in such a bribe, BART will take the money back and move full speed “ahead” on Ring the Bay and Silicon Valley.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Simitian isn’t God. We are not beholden to what he thinks and what he wants. Sounds like everyone (MTC, CHSRA, SF/SJ pols, most Peninsula pols) is onboard with this plan. But keep on with your wishful (selfish) thinking if you please…

    joe Reply:

    Joe’s downsizing and biding his time for a opening Congressional Seat.

    http://www.mercurynews.com/peninsula/ci_20216578/going-reverse-flow-powerful-politicians-say-downsizing-is

    Some of Simitian’s most ardent supporters are baffled by his desire to return to the Santa Clara County Board of Supervisors after being termed out of the Legislature. They wonder why the brainiac with advanced degrees would want to go from setting policy for the entire state — including sponsoring California’s hands-free cellphone law — to approving storm drain easements.

    “I’ve had a couple of people say, ‘Really, Joe?’ ” acknowledged Simitian, 59, a Democrat from Palo Alto. But, “I’m at a point in my life where the work I do is more important than the title I hold.”

    But downsizing also can involve some big upsides — both political and financial. Politicians who hope to ascend to higher office get to keep their names in the game and continue fundraising while they wait for the next big opportunity. Simitian, for instance, allows that he wouldn’t rule out going to Washington if a congressional seat opens up.

    Still, McPherson and Simitian hope they have the political edge because of what they bring to the table — legislative experience and a Rolodex filled with contacts in Sacramento.

    IMHO, opposing Caltrain electrification will tank his career.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    It’s not baffling at all.

    The guy is trying to build up his pension and retire until the old rules. If he left to run for Congress, or went to Congress and then came back, he would be covered by the new rules that aren’t as generous…..

    Jon Reply:

    It’s interesting how the Altamont folks are now proclaiming that BART ring-the-bay must be imminent because things haven’t turned out how they expected. Turns out that plan A really was plan A, there was no secret scheme to broad gauge the peninsula, and Altamont really is dead. Why would CAHSR pay to electrify 52 miles of Caltrain track and then only use half of it?

    I’ll admit I was also convinced by the conspiracy theories, but I’m glad they didn’t come to pass. And I don’t think BART has any chance of stopping this. They’re only supplying $38m of the funds, and even that doesn’t really belong to them- it’s Prop 1A Connectivity funds whose distribution was previously vetoed by Jerry Brown. With the governor behind CAHSR, if BART don’t play ball they’ll lose the $38m AND the other $150m of Prop 1A Connectivity funds they have earmarked for new railcars. They’re not that stupid.

    Clem Reply:

    Why would CAHSR pay to electrify 52 miles of Caltrain track and then only use half of it?

    Whether they pay for all or half of it is immaterial. The cost of electrification is a rounding error in terms of the HSR budget. The Altamont vs. Pacheco issue will really come to a head when they start talking about where to build those passing tracks and grade separations, in the next phase. From a technical standpoint the Bay Area HSR route question remains wide open, and anyone who takes a serious look at the operational pros and cons will inexorably come to the conclusion that only one solution is correct, the one that begins with ‘A’.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Like I’ve stated before, if an Altamont HSR alignment serves SJ/Diridon directly then I’m cool with this idea. I think its time for Rafael to rise like a Phoenix!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Sounds good if you don’t mind the HSR trip from San Jose to anywhere beginning with “Change from BART to HSR in Fremont”

    Clem Reply:

    You are free to believe that there exists an incredibly strong anti-standard-gauge-rail force field between Fremont and San Jose, that will forever prevent HSR and tri-valley commuter EMUs from using that corridor. The CHSRA evidently didn’t get your memo.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and you continue to argue that with Altamont only two tracks are needed between Dumbarton and San Jose. WHich is true if you ignore the two tracks between San Jose and Fremont. Building two tracks from San Jose to Fremont and two track from San Jose to Redwood city, without getting out my slide rule and maps, is going to cost more than building four tracks from San Jose to Redwood City.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Altamont still lives under this agreement, but Ring the Bay is effectively dead, if the MOU is actually put in place and comes to fruition. What that happens is another story – I’ll take the radical position that the BART Board of Directors will not be at all happy with it, if they do grasp this really means the end of Ring the Bay and all the benefits to BART that go along with it. I do not think they will go quietly into the night after all these years of machinating and scheming.

    Similarly I suggest Tejon still stirs, tho nailed in the coffin. Once the CHSRA realizes just how expensive the Roundabout will be and how depressingly slow. Reneging on the the 2 hour 42 minute pledge will leave a bitter taste in the voters’ collective mouth that won’t go away.

    Pacheco has similar problems as Tehachapi tho not as glaring. Altamont has always been the better route. Minds can and do change over time, as realities set in.

    JFH Reply:

    You call Tehachapi a roundabout that will be expensive and depressingly slow, and yet Altamont doesn’t deserve the same adjectives?

    Given your criteria for what makes a superior crossing in the south, it makes no sense to claim that Altamont is the better choice in the north – it’s quite a roundabout. It’s a ton more direct for a passenger to travel from SF to LA via Pacheco.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    It’s a ton more direct for a passenger to travel from SF to LA via Pacheco.

    Not true. Read the frickin EIR people!

    synonymouse Reply:

    SF is not central Bay Area, but actually peripheral. Oakland is closer to the center.

    Altamont serves Sac much better and would allow for a very fast SJ to Sac service.

    StevieB Reply:

    Dan Walters of the Sacramento Bee reports the bond money will be released soon, “California’s bullet train project is very likely to get the green light from the Legislature soon. That’s the consensus of those who have been counting votes among the Legislature’s dominant Democrats”.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    The math never really adds up.

    If the vote needs a simple majority, the Lowenthal and Simitan were always expendable. If it needs two-thirds… you need bipartisan support. If it needs to go through Lowenthal’s committee… it has to contend with DeSaulnier (D-BART).

    Something is missing here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Robert has no idea what it is. I’m sorry, but MTC doesn’t just whip up $1.5 billion to “save” CalTrain at the drop of a hat.

    joe Reply:

    Sometimes a banana is just a banana.

    The politics just went up a level – the DOT and Gov’s office. MTC is a persistent force and a locally powerful force but not a strong force at the State/DOT level.

    What are they gonna do?
    The snake swallowed and has to digest San Jose and Livermore. Also, replace *original* vehicles, and maintain the core – plus an added bonus – train their police force.

    Meanwhile, Caltrain and HSR share a track. This allows 2 trains per hour. Added HSR capacity comes at the expense of local service – right? So eventually Caltrain ROW will add track or they’ll move in BART and use the Caltrain ROW for HSR.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Interesting thought Joe. I’ve also thought that if they ever connected BART from Millbrae to future Santa Clara terminus they could leave the current Caltrain ROW two-track AND make it strictly HSR. The death of Caltrain post 2030?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Meanwhile, Caltrain and HSR share a track. This allows 2 trains per hour. Added HSR capacity comes at the expense of local service – right? So eventually Caltrain ROW will add track or they’ll move in BART and use the Caltrain ROW for HSR.

    EXACT-LY.

    The sticking point here is that making CBOSS a part of the plan really is a waste of money. That’s a huge problem unless CBOSS magically becomes the FRA’s standard for HSR operation in the US.

    Jon Reply:

    That’s a pretty accurate assessment. BART ring-the-bay is not dead, but the decision has been punted 10-20 years down the line. Getting to San Jose and Livermore is gonna occupy all of BART’s time for the next decade.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Joe, Caltrain two tracks with a four track Express/Local section immediately north of Redwood would allow a local and an express each fifteen minutes, each way. So there’s be capacity for two Caltrain Express services and two HSR service each hour.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Maybe they want to leave some leeway, some wiggle room to alter the routing between northern ans southern California if circumstances require it. Building the bookends does not preclude it. I think they should spend the entire $6bil on the ends and reconsider 99, which could become orphaned, as much as the cheerleaders reject that possibility. That would be a pr disaster for the CHSRA.

  6. Walter
    Mar 22nd, 2012 at 19:47
    #6

    This is what is needed in ALL of California’s urban areas. Clean, fast, modern local transportation that interfaces with the statewide backbone. This announcement is a huge step in the right direction.

    BMF from San Diego Reply:

    Concur in spades. I just wish Metrolink in LA had separated/dedicated ROW and plans to electrify too.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Come again?

    The “Southern California Regional Rail Authority” owns much of the track it uses for Metrolink. What it doesn’t have is a dedicated source of tax revenue, so there’s no money for the type of grade separations needed that you describe. That’s part of the reason that LA is so “insistent” on having HSR serve Palmdale and and Ontario… it’s hoping to shove some of those costs onto the rest of the state to improve its service.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Unfortunately it will also pushing the extra costs associated with the Detour onto the state as well.

    LA’s taking care of number one I can understand but vetoing the requisite study of Tejon that Van Ark and staff had identified as important to the future of the project was beyond over the line. It was inexcusable and needs to be reversed. The people of California are due a fair and accurate cost accounting of both alternatives.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    It’s more than that.

    L.A. is about to lose much of its political heft, not just in California, but nationally. If HSR stretches into the god-forsaken hinterlands, it helps them enlist allies in the cause. But then again, I’ll be the first to tell you LA to Riverside is a waste of money while Palmdale is not.

    I’ll also be the one to tell you that the Peripheral Canal is a waste too, while Ring the Bay with HSR below is not. SFO makes no sense as the region’s primary gateway, and Crenshaw makes a lot of sense in L.A.

    joe Reply:

    I’ll be the first to tell you LA to Riverside

    Riverside pops up as 1) one of the 10 most dangerous places for pedestrians and 2) one of the 10 worst places for public transit. It’s Floridian.

    VBobier Reply:

    All Riverside needs is Alligators and Crocs then to be complete. ;)

    synonymouse Reply:

    As someone embedded in NorCal I see LA’s influence in crescendo not diminuendo. Despite all lthe crime and smog. The Peripheral Canal is a done deal as Jerry has gone Hollywood or shall we say has had a mind-meld with Mayor Antonio. Idiots around here are pushing for tearing down Hetch-Hetchy not realizing that is about all SF will have left after the Canal. What are the numbers? 10 million here and 30 million there? NorCal is screwed. Fat chance we could ever split the state. And I am not sure it would make any difference. AFAIK Muni’s Central Suxway is dumber than anything going down in LA.

    As to Tejon I would be content just to have the damn study performed, properly The voters of the rest of the State deserve that much. I guess you could call it professionalism, democracy, transparency. LA can still ram the Roundabout down our throats but at least its steep price now and for the future will be out in the open.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    You obviously don’t get out much.

    Many of the City’s most connected politicians are about to hit the unemployment line thanks to redistricting. The economy in Southern California is shrinking, to the point that it’s the only place in the US where Latino births have flatlined. Oh, and I did I mention there’s no water for all those people?

    L.A.’s not going to be blown of the map… but a more evenly split state population wise between north and south is a very strong possibility. With that split comes political influence and more patrons for the Machinists of Market Street….

    synonymouse Reply:

    Hey, LA could be a paradise, but as the song says they paved it for a parking lot. Not my fault.

    But why continue the sad litany of dumb decisions, like killing the PE, LARy, etc. with the truly dumb Roundabout. Think of it this way: the $2bil you save at Tejon you can spend on Metrolink to Palmdale. The most efficient way pays back the most. More productive.

    One way to help the local economy in LA is to build casinos for the locals to keep the money local. Forget Desert Xpress, it’s corrosive to California’s best interest. If Wynn and Adelson want to bankroll it themselves that’s their prerogative. But any California money going to it is just criminal.

    It’s unfortunate they had to come up with the Indian gaming ruse to sneak in legal gambling in the Golden State because they are going to have to somehow accommodate the Indian casinos when the state legalizes and regulates. Unless the state is directly overseeing and ensuring its cut the gambling revenues will not be up to snuff.

    Increasing taxes as a reflex to red ink will just shrink the economy even more.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    How about “you come again”?

    Metrolink shares a lot of track with other railroads and is essentially a renter of their infrastructure.

    What does electrifying have to do with grade separations? We are not talking 3rd rail. We are talking overhead catenary.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    You just contradicted yourself. Are they tenants and unable to put catenary above the track, or is the problem having to pay the cost of these upgrades without anyone’s help?

    Metrolink was built on the cheap by design. That’s why it doesn’t have many options now, other than to use the track it owns as leverage against everyone else this side of the Mississippi.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    You just contradicted yourself. Are they tenants and unable to put catenary above the track, or is the problem having to pay the cost of these upgrades without anyone’s help?

    Air rights over BNSF and UP trackage, of which there is quite a bit, would need to be acquired. As with any other passenger rail system, state and federal funding assistance is required for major capital projects. Currently there are no electrification plans because the original plans were extremely expensive and not worth the investment and currently it does not offer an improvement on service compared to other options. Once the economy improves and certain projects, such as LA-Fullerton triple tracking, are completed and we start seeing OCTA’s plan of Amtrak or Metrolink from OC to LA every 30 minutes, we are likely to see a renewed investigation of electrification. Until then, it is of less priority than doing simple basic things such as double tracking.

    There’s also, of course, the fact that Metrolink’s #1 priority the past few years has been safer rail cars and PTC.

    That’s why it doesn’t have many options now, other than to use the track it owns as leverage against everyone else this side of the Mississippi.

    And once again we see you go off into some very random tinfoil hat land.

  7. jimsf
    Mar 22nd, 2012 at 20:04
    #7

    i knew this would happen awesome so is there a timeframe for this yet?

    Tony d. Reply:

    I concur Jim!

    JBaloun Reply:

    Timeframe? When you consider what happened between Dec. 7 1941 and Aug 15, 1945 and we cannot build a railroad until 2034?! Let’s go!

    Also electrification raises the questions of: aging Caltrain equipment, level boarding, common platform, any train any platform, grade separation, freight ops,…pretty much Clem’s entire blog.

    And is giving Caltrain “bigger stations” like giving a couch potato a bigger couch?

    Peter Reply:

    Caltrain’s portion is projected (hoped!) to running by 2018.

    jimsf Reply:

    well thats great because if the stuff in the mou (electrification dtx etc,) can be done by 2018 – the tbt is scheduled for completion in 2017. Which means high speed trains could be departing from tbt by the end of 2018 headed south.

    Peter Reply:

    Unlikely, as they would still have to have some way to connect them to the south. And THAT won’t be done until into the 20’s (mountain crossings take a while to build.

    jimsf Reply:

    is there a timeline for how long it will take to build the pacheco crossing?

    Peter Reply:

    Not sure. But don’t forget the amount of time it would take to construct Diridon Pan-Galactic, either. That will take years, too.

    jimsf Reply:

    well diridon has to be operational while it is rebuilt and theres nothing to keep from adding a high platform to and existing track to use in the meantime.

    I have a feeling diridon will be scaled back anyway.

    Peter Reply:

    Hopefully. The San Jose City Council’s eyes appear to have glazed over when they saw what was going to be built at Diridon. I have a feeling that an at-grade solution plus a 3-track alignment through Gardner will be coming back to the table soon.

    joe Reply:

    Hey HSR can build to Gilroy and connect to the Central Coast. San Jose’s Coyote Valley to Gilroy is undeveloped open space. That could trigger Montery rail service along the UP ROW, Castroville HW/1 is would be a good station for drawing riders/commuters from the Peninsula. I could see most Gilroy boardings for Caltrain and many drivers could opt for the ride to the San Jose station and transfer to Caltrain.

  8. Donk
    Mar 22nd, 2012 at 20:22
    #8

    Funny, I just linked to the original article on Mercury News and scrolled down to the comments section. The overwhelming opinion of Bay Areans is SCREW HSR AND CALTRAIN. RING THE BAY WITH BART!!!!

    jimsf Reply:

    bart is very popular here no way around that im in okj this week and bart is working great toto get around hotel to class to rockridge for pizza and back to the railyards and such its really a breeeze and apleasure

    flowmotion Reply:

    Totally agreed, jimsf. BART is on-time, reasonably clean, takes you right downtown & has great parking facilities. Most people love it.

    If CalTrain could get half as good as BART perhaps it would have more political support.

    joe Reply:

    Caltrain will get better because it is now getting support from HSR and funds for Electrification.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Quite ~ electrification is the linchpin for Caltrain improving service, and the shortened trip times part of it means more train miles in the same train service hours.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Didnt realize the Merc’s comment section was representative of the entire Bay Area population. (Sarcasm)

    Andy Chow Reply:

    Most of the people who say this don’t really know what good rail transit is besides some brief experiences on BART.

    Not saying that BART is bad, but that BART isn’t the only option, and that cities with good rail transit have more than one types of trains serving that city. And if someday we want to have a single rail system, the likely scenario is that BART would merge with Caltrain, and keep Caltrain more or less like it is now except with BART logos, just like what has been done in cities like New York.

    What disappoints me is that plenty of commenters here like to spread this ignorance.

    jimsf Reply:

    s0 the 300k folks who ride bart daily are ignorant and just dont know any better huh. or maybe they have a sytem that works for them and its simple as that. ive been using bat to get around the bay area for work and errends and fun since it opened in the 70and its alwys got the job done it goes were people want to go. its reliable and quick and frequent theonly beef that bay areans have is that the cars are dirty which is the fault of the public who doesnt have the manners we had in the 70s and the bay areans dont like that it does run till the bars close as this is a popuation that that loves its parties

    jimsf Reply:

    doesnt run till bra close is what that should have read sorry teying to post from a crappy cell phone

    blankslate Reply:

    He didn’t say there was anything wrong with bart or that bart riders are ignorant… bart is great, the question is whether shelling out the $$$ to build 32 more miles of track to “ring the bay” makes more sense than simply improving caltrain to offer bart-quality service and integrating the two systems into a single system.

    Jonathan Reply:

    if electrified Caltrain offers only BART-quality service then it’s an abject failure.

    Caltrain should be better, faster, cheaper.

    blankslate Reply:

    Just extend the caltrain tracks to downtown SF and increase the frequency to a clockface 20-minute (or better) schedule from 4AM to Midnight, and coordinate the schedule with BART. How can this possibly be more expensive than building 32 more miles of BART wide gauge track from Millbrae to SC?

    Clem Reply:

    Since when was cost minimization an objective?

    Jonathan Reply:

    Since the public made it clear that $100bn-plus (in YOE dollar, but sitll ~2x the previous cost, apples-to-appels) was not going to fly??

    Like BART, the transport-industrial complex can see that they’re better off getting their share of a smaller pie, than getting nothing at all.

    Pecos Reply:

    If BART got rid of their timetables, like most “subway” type operations, they’d always be on time. Run trains every 5-10 minutes or so and it’ll be that much more useful and probably more popular. MUNI should do the same. You get rid of schedules for popular local transportation systems and just run frequent trains and buses, that’s one less thing riders have to complain about thus making it that much more popular. Is that unreasonable? Switching trains ect isn’t a big deal if they run frequently enough.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Muni has schedules?

    (The drivers have a printout on their dashboard, but the only thing published is “every X minutes” …. which might be true if you’re lucky.)

    synonymouse Reply:

    Muni drivers are too busy texting to notice any schedule printouts. Sorry, I just couldn’t resist.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, it’s unreasonable. BART is not a subway; it’s an RER-style system, in which medium-frequency suburban branches combine to form a high-intensity urban trunk line. Because the branches aren’t frequent enough for a headway management-based timetable, and moreover wrong ordering of trains on the trunk line could seriously mess up a branch’s headways, they have to run on a fixed schedule. Even the RER does, and this is in a country with poor timetable adherence.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The NYC subway trains have schedules. Nobody looks at them but there are schedules.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    True, but the MTA has a second punctuality measure, based on headway consistency, recognizing that nobody looks at the schedules. Mind you, with all the branching, the subway needs schedules more than the self-contained lines in Paris or Moscow. (Moscow has no schedules – it works purely by headway maintenance.)

    ComradeFrana Reply:

    Also, fixed scheduling allows for a cross-platform timed transfer in Oakland.

  9. Kenb
    Mar 22nd, 2012 at 20:28
    #9

    Do any Metrolink routes overlap with eventual hsr La to SD segment?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Nope, unless you want to count Anaheim-LA or they change plans for a coastal route using LOSSAN. Right now they’re planning to essentially tunnel the whole way to Riverside from Los Angeles and then put it on viaducts all the way down to San Diego from Riverside via Temecula.

    Andy M. Reply:

    But there would still be potential for Metrolink to share those tracks? So Metrolink should be getting involved and picking up some share of costs?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Not really, it’d be Riverside-LA only. Anaheim-LA Metrolink is already contributing as part of their MOU.

    Matthew B Reply:

    The ROW will be separate and routes haven’t been determined. There are three lines into the Inland Empire on the Metrolink network, the 91 line, the Riverside line and the San Bernardino line. There’s also an extension of the 91 line to Perris that should open in a year or two that will parallel CAHSR part way towards Temecula from Riverside. The city of Riverside wants to put the HSR station on this latter extension (my preference would be for a Downtown Riverside HSR station). The entire Metrolink network has total daily ridership in the low tens of thousands, and they barely have money to upgrade single track legacy lines. Some targeted grade separations, the Purple line to Westwood, and the downtown connector in LA could increase ridership substantially. LA county has dedicated a reasonable amount of sales tax money to transit improvements, but Metrolink spans several counties, and HSR will go through San Bernardino, Riverside, and San Diego counties on its way to Riverside, Temecula, Escondido, and San Diego.

    _Frozen Reply:

    “essentially tunnel the whole way to Riverside from LA and then put it on viaducts all the way down to San Diego”

    What, where did you read that? Thats complete hogwash.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Technically LA-SD is completely overlayed by both Amtrak and commuter rail. If you took Metrolink to Coaster (the service in San Diego) you have to transfer in Oceanside. In most cases, the agencies get around this by offering a Rail2Rail service that allows Metrolink passengers to ride on the Surfliner instead.

    Peter Reply:

    And they’re looking at folding LOSSAN passenger service into one organization, offering increased service between LA and SD.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Including a few commuter trains between LA and SD.

    Emma Reply:

    Unfortunately, no. THat would require that CHSRA comes to grips and adopts LOSSAN over that pipe-dream in the Inland Empire. I love how 90% of the LA-IE-SD track is above grade despite the fact that there is no good reason to do so in the middle of nowhere.

    jimsf Reply:

    once again we have people referring to those who don’t live in their premier extra special urban “somewhere’s” as people who live in the middle of “nowhere”

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Dude, there is no one out there. Look at the maps and EIRS

    Matthew B Reply:

    Only over 4 million people: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Riverside-San_Bernardino-Ontario,_CA_MSA

    Matthew B Reply:

    More than Sacramento, and we’re building a huge spur to go there.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Please learn to read contextually. That way, when people refer to giant viaducts through deserts, you don’t look like an idiot.

    Matthew B Reply:

    I don’t think it’s an idiotic thing to point out that there’s an area of 4 million people, about twice as many as the Sacramento area, that people are referring to as nowhere while not questioning a much longer spur to get to Sacramento. In fact, it’s really not a problem to build both. The approximate route chosen by the HSR Authority hits all the major population centers, and someone who argues that a network shouldn’t in principle do so sounds to me like an idiot. Another idiotic thing is to not realize when there are areas that have higher populations than either Orange County or Sacramento, that it is a sensible infrastructure investment to connect those areas.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Matthew, go back and read what they were talking about. Seriously. It’s about the fact that from Riverside to Escondido, it’s entirely viaduct and tunnel in areas where nobody lives at all. It’s not a slam on the population of the area, it’s literally areas with nobody in them.

    Furthermore, the approximate route, while hitting major population centers, does so poorly. It has high speed intercity rail to locations where commuter rail is what is called for and the dog leg through the IE means that it will provide no speed advantage, and likely a disadvantage in travel time, for OC and south LA travelers heading to San Diego. Accordingly, it does not serve major intercity travel markets and necessitates retaining the current Surfliner system, with attendant infrastructure requirements in the shared corridor from LA to Irvine.

    Additionally, the routing is fantastically expensive, with almost no at grade track, and much of it in rather expensive tunnels. For a significantly lower cost, LOSSAN could have been upgraded to 125+ standards, removing the need for the Surfliner south of Los Angeles (and thus lowering Phase 1 costs), as well as paid for improvements to the IE-OC or Riverside Lines to allow for reasonably fast connections to HSR stations.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    It may be possible to improve this routing and design. Obviously the local residents, counties and transportation agencies should have full input.

    jimsf Reply:

    except you are overlooking the most desirable aspect of a statewide hsr network. The advantage of having a single system that serves the greatest number of regions. Maybe there aren’t that many people in the -15 corridor, but when I am a potential hsr passenger in fresno, or sf, or sac and I need to get somewhere in california, and I pull of the current map of planned hsr, I see that a single ticket and single seat trip gives me access to almost every region of the state. If Im sitting here in fresno I can see the map and say, gee tis liekly that hsr is going to get me close to anywhere in california I want to go, and do it more quickly, than any other mode I could choose.

    Peter Reply:

    If funding was unlimited, then the IE alignment would make sense. It’s not. In fact, it’s extremely constrained, and better spent on improving the existing, highly successful, LOSSAN corridor. The IE alignment will not be constructed anytime within the next three decades barring extreme “value engineering”.

    A double-tracked and electrified LOSSAN would be INCREDIBLY successful and popular for a mere fraction of the cost of building the IE alignment.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    I’ve noticed that one side of this discussion seems to rely heavily on ad hominem attacks, which is almost always a sign that they know that the facts are not on their side. @Paulus: If the shoe fits…

    Meanwhile it’s good to also consider rates of growth in addition to current population. For example the CV will grow ~50% in the next 20 years, double the growth rate of the state as a while. Inland Empire growth is likely similar.

    joe Reply:

    The 2010 census means Congressional districts are shifting with asymmetrical population growth – Bay Area’s five consolidate to four. Since bay area NIMBYS have a strangle-hold on housing supply/development, expect the peninsula to lose additional representation in 2020.

    jimsf Reply:

    I’ve driven the 215,15, 91, 60 and the 10 many times. Rest assured there are people out there. Many many people

    Riverside co pop 2.2 million. San Bernadino co pop. 2m

    SAc co pop. 1.4 million el dorado 181k san joaquin co 685k placer 384k

    ComradeFrana Reply:

    I think “middle of nowhere” is a bad descriptor, IMHO “suburban hell” would be more appropriate.

    Matthew B Reply:

    That may be, but there are still millions of potential riders, businesses, etc. People understandably think of infrastructure in terms of “would I personally use that portion of it” and anything else is “the middle of nowhere.” However, that doesn’t necessarily translate into actual usage and average utility across the entire population. Furthermore, it’s their tax dollars and ticket fares paying for the system, too. The system will work best when as much of the state as possible is connected. 4 million people and $100 Billion GDP for not very much track milage is an awful good deal.

    jimsf Reply:

    and not everyone wants to live in west hollywood.

  10. Clem
    Mar 22nd, 2012 at 20:42
    #10

    See also the text of the MOU for the Bay Area bookend, similar to the LA MOU discussed a few weeks back. This will be voted on by MTC next Wednesday, and presumably by all the other parties over the next few weeks.

    I noticed that one of the clauses of the MOU is that the Caltrain electrification EIR will be re-circulated one more time.

    Clem Reply:

    Link to the MOU

    jimsf Reply:

    looks like there could be hsr trains headed south from tbt by 2020 the question is how far south will they be able to go? will so cal keep up

    blankslate Reply:

    Where do you see anything about TBT in that document? It talks about electrifying the corridor but I don’t see anything about actually extending the tracks past 4th&king.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Second bullet point, page 1:

    Identified the Inter-related Program of Projects as the Corridor Electrification Infrastructure Project, Advance Signal System (also known as Positive Train Control or PTC), an extension of the service to the Transbay Transit Center, which is the Proposition 1A designated northern terminus of high-speed rail, new high-speed rail stations at Diridon Station in San Jose and a Millbrae Station at San Francisco International Airport, and a Core Capacity project of needed upgrades to stations, tunnels, bridges, passing tracks, and other track modifications such as selected grade separations.

    ( PDFs which are scans of printed material are great for meeting the letter of the law re dissemination of information, but horrible for ease of quoting material )

    synonymouse Reply:

    I will be truly surprised if they get a unanimous vote on this out of the BART Board of Directors. And where did they get that butt-ugly railcar? Almost as degueulasse as the SMART doodlebugs.

    ericmarseille Reply:

    I knew already that “sans” is now fashionable in american english, but how in the world has “dégueulasse” crawled its way into it? Wow! simply wow!

    Peter Reply:

    Meh, synonymouse is simply forcing us to participate in his endeavors to learn new languages. Unfortunately, he often misspells or misapplies the words he uses.

    Not as bad as his intentional (?) misinterpretations of history.

    ericmarseille Reply:

    (laugh)
    Well thumbs up anyway synonymouse, you had to dig deep to pull this one up!
    I love this forum.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ ericmarseille

    I would put this in French but I have been too lazy to figure out to set up the proper accent marks on my querty keyboard.

    To wit I did not know until recently there was an English equivalent for degueulasse, which is one reason I have been using it, apart from the fact that it sounds cool. That English word is vomitous. And it certainly applies to the “slopey-dopey” front end railcar design that seems to be in vogue. I was going to call it a doorknob front end look but I think door knobs look better.

    Very sorry about recent events – I have been watching France 2 jt. And in a region I thought was mostly spared urban conflict.

    ericmarseille Reply:

    ooh you know it’s just like high speed rail ; you’d guess, looking from outside France, that HSR is totally accepted by the entire population, but when it’s been confirmed that the projected PACA line would run through the village I live in, La Cadière d’Azur (the highway already runs through it), all of a sudden you could believe you were in the central valley ; NIMBYs sprouting like mushrooms after an autumn shower, “no to LGV” on every bumper sticker…If I had editing software I would post very interesting pictures and videos!

    Similarly, when it comes to racial tensions, the authorities do everything to calm down the game (well, that’s not true, but at least they do everything to ensure that law-abiding Arabs, Blacks and Rroma are not vilified), and they’re right, but underneath the surface, alas, passions boil…I hope that the cool factor of been a fundamentalist fades away before tempers erupt.

    There’s a palpable exasperation here for everything muslim but not only, in fact for everything too foreign to our core set of values, for as Anatole France wonderfully said : “a country with bad laws but good morses is a very livable country indeed” ; the problem with all those newcoming foreigners is that generally they don’t respect neither. It’s not simple, it’s not funny…Sigh.

    Anyway : in ten days I’ll take that good old TGV Duplex from Marseille to Paris and back for less than 120 euros, to help my daughter in finishing her home installation (hello IKEA), during a three-day easter week-end…To all the people criticizing HSR, just imagine yourself driving from
    SF to LA and back in a three day timeframe and still being able to take two full days for IKEA furniture assembling…That is a concrete example of the benefits of HSR! ;)

    Michael Reply:

    How do you figure the BART Board of Directors has any vote to take?

    synonymouse Reply:

    I don’t figure – I am not sure how this will proceed. There will need to be a legally binding signing-off on a complex, multi-agency-authority arrangement such as this. Otherwise you can expect litigation. I would have to assume MTC would solicit official co-operation from BART and that means the Board of Directors to have any standing in court, it it came to that.

    Remember BART is already heavy into San Mateo County and soon into Santa Clara so it is a bonafide stakeholder. Not to mention there are many BART partisans on the Peninsula.

  11. Andy Chow
    Mar 23rd, 2012 at 00:51
    #11

    BayRail Alliance is fully supporting this MOU.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    What about BART Vader?

  12. Donk
    Mar 23rd, 2012 at 08:52
    #12

    So I guess this means the tunnel under Milbrae is dead.

    J. Wong Reply:

    From what’s been said here, it sounds like their going to rebuild Millbrae station, so yes, the tunnel is dead. Maybe their going to force BART to give up one of their tail tracks.

    political_incorrectness Reply:

    Thank goodness, that would have been a giant boondoggle.

    Clem Reply:

    I don’t read it that way at all. The monumental stations are just left for the next phase, after what’s (mostly) already cleared has been built.

    There will be a lawsuit on this particular issue: under CEQA you can’t morsel up a project into phases in order to slip it through the environmental review process.

    It’s going to get ugly.

  13. Donk
    Mar 23rd, 2012 at 08:53
    #13

    Hey where is Rafael on this? Its time to bring Firebird back to the table.

    Peter Reply:

    Ummm, no.

    Donk Reply:

    I don’t remember the details of that proposal, but wasn’t it all about having 2 main lines and a few passing tracks?

    Peter Reply:

    Yes, while also closing a number of otherwise busy stations. Menlo Park, for example. It was a stupid suggestion.

    Tony d. Reply:

    No it wasn’t.

    Peter Reply:

    It’s stupid now for the same reasons it was stupid then.

    Heheh, amusing to read what we were all saying two years ago…

    Clem Reply:

    It was operationally unworkable, and amounted to a gutting of commuter service on the peninsula.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Wait, where did Rafael propose to close Menlo Park?

    Firebird is bad, but not because of Menlo Park. Rather, because of some more closures than necessary, especially in inner suburbs of SF where there’s the most ridership potential out of real urban service, and because of much more four-tracking than required by any service plan.

    Peter Reply:

    You’re right, Menlo Park was not planned for closure. Don’t know where I got that from. Think I combined Firebird with some other discussion.

  14. Emma
    Mar 23rd, 2012 at 12:22
    #14

    So HSR will share only two tracks with Caltrain in an urban area? Oh, that’s gonna be fun…

    In other news. A Wind Energy tax break failed to pass the Senate.
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/14/wind-energy-tax-break-senate_n_1344596.html?ref=renewable-energy#comments

    BruceMcF Reply:

    At the normal operating frequency to LAUNCH an inter-regional HSR service of one for each hour or two, and a reasonable tick-tock Caltrain timetable, it just means the HSR running at the average transit speed of a prospective Caltrain EMU Express service, San Jose through San Francisco.

    It OUGHT to be launched with a four track local/express passing section north of Redwood, as described in Point 3 in Clem’s “Bookend Approach”: http://caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/2012/01/bookend-approach.html

    … but while four tracks all the way through are likely to be required as the system matures, two tracks with appropriately placed four track Express bypass sections have quite a bit of capacity.

  15. Neil Shea
    Mar 23rd, 2012 at 12:56
    #15

    It’s probably a moot topic now, but I have never understood why the Altamont proponents were advocating so strongly to route the mainline away from the 1.9m residents of Santa Clara County + Menlo Park/EPA (totaling 2.3m with direct connections to the 400k residents of Monterey County) and instead to serve the ~500k residents of Tri Valley + Fremont + Tracy. I know we all have friends out there and most of them have BART, but since the chosen Santa Clara County route serves ~4x as many folks on the main line, I don’t get all the re-litigating.

    Meanwhile the Altamont corridor as studied always ended at San Jose and never tried to cross the Bay at the Don Edwards national wildlife preserve. So it seems like it takes a lot of stretching to make a case for it — for example this idea that HSR should end in Livermore (!).

    Santa Clara County is arguably the strongest economic engine of the entire state, SF will be one of the most popular destinations — why would you not want both of these on the one-seat-ride mainline? All because some entitled Atherton landowner doesn’t yet know that electric trains are quieter than diesel?

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    I have never understood why the Altamont proponents were advocating so strongly to route the mainline away from the 1.9m residents of Santa Clara County + Menlo Park/EPA

    Perhaps it is because you aren’t familiar with the Altamont alignment, or just lack map-reading skills.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    @Drunk: Care to educate me? My map shows these cities and populations: Pleasanton 70k, Livermore 81k, Dublin 46k, San Ramon 72k, Tracy 83k, Fremont 214k, Newark 43k. That’s ~600k residents, mostly in bedroom communities and largely served by BART.

    By contrast the selected route goes through the middle of most of Santa Clara County’s main cities with several times the population (including San Jose 959k, Sunnyvale 140k, Santa Clara 116k, Mtn View/PA, etc.) and home to a who’s who of many of our state’s largest and most valuable businesses (HP, Intel, Cisco, Google, Apple, Facebook, eBay, Symantec, Applied Materials, Adobe, Intuit, etc.) plus several universities and colleges.

    I was really just asking — to me it seems like a very parochial view of the Bay Area that would try to shunt Santa Clara County off the main line in favor of some bedroom communities.

    Peter Reply:

    One of the pro-Altamont arguments is that it gets Sacramento hooked up to the system a lot quicker, and avoids having to upgrade ACE in addition to building HSR (ACE upgrade is included with Altamont). That saves overall.

    Not to mention that it allows the avoidance of having to build Diridon-Pan-Galactic.

    GoGregorio Reply:

    You can still connect to San Jose via Altamont. You’d just be leaving off the booming metropolis of Gilroy.

    With Altamont, you’d just have one service running to San Francisco and another to San Jose. You’re still building much less track in a full build-out.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    @Drunk: Care to educate me?

    There is an EIR that compares the two alignments, why not just read it first?

    Note that Altamont alignment (as studied in the EIR) would have had stations at both San Jose and Redwood City, so that invalidates your population counts.

    joe Reply:

    I’d start with the Pacheco decision and stop there.

    Stick with reality.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Thanks, I see that MTC made its recommendation for the Pacheco alignment back in 1999 so that that all trains go through the largest city in our region, San Jose, and to avoid requiring a new bay crossing. I see that Fremont supported the Pacheco route along with SF, San Mateo, Santa Clara and Monterey counties, while Pleasanton and Livermore opposed HSR in their communities.

    When you look at the picture of lights at night what stands out is the brightness of San Jose and Santa Clara County, so it is right that it get full service (the 49ers and A’s came to that conclusion as well). The Caltrain corridor already has frequent service and will benefit from the upgrades. Meanwhile a major new bay crossing probably just never was going to happen.

    Stockton, Modesto and Manteca will still get service, and we will still need more trains including the improved ACE (e.g. the CHSRA Altamont feeder line) and an improved Capitol Corridor (not to mention improvements to the Surfliner). So this is the right decision — the process worked :)

    jimsf Reply:

    (there is a weird anti san jose vibe here for some reason. a lot of the people look down on san jose. makes no sense)

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Despite that catchy Dionne Warwick / Burt Bacharach song

    joe Reply:

    What makes no sense is those who dislike San Jose are hot for Sacramento.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sac lacks the ‘tude of San Jose, the LA of the North in its own mind.

    Matthew B Reply:

    So you’re admitting that all the BS about Altamont vs. Pacheco has nothing to with technological, financial, or ridership arguments, and is just your own little culture war?

    Clem Reply:

    In 1999, BART to San Jose needed to be protected. Transit zealots back then were advocating a blended East Bay system with commuter EMUs and HSR between Fremont and San Jose. The Altamont choice would have undermined all the arguments in favor of BART, so had to be discarded (the baseline under the CHSR Commission–pre CHSRA–had been Altamont, before mysteriously morphing to Pacheco…)

    Things are different now, the BART extension has passed the point of no return, and that turf no longer needs defending. That’s why I think BART, MTC and CHSRA are going to become a whole lot more agnostic on the Pacheco question once HSR shovels are in the ground.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    I recall then that standard gauge rail from San Jose to Fremont and everywhere else made a heckuva lot of sense. But we also know that BART goes a lot of good places, and taking it to the South Bay hub has some merit, so I think reasonable people could come to different conclusions. BART remains what is proven in the minds of most Bay Area residents, so we didn’t have the broad support for the network of standard gauge that we really do need.

    However now the EMU Caltrain will provide an example of current standard-gauge trains. As people see this I think the bloom will come off the BART rose — those custom orders really do cost much more for what you get. I predict that the appetite for BART extensions will rapidly diminish. It would be ironic to end BART at Berryessa but there will likely be some rethinking about the value of the $4B+ tunnel through DT SJ — is there a less expensive, acceptable way to get it to Diridon only? (Maybe not)

    Meanwhile, assuming that the focus of the next HSR phase is closing the Bakersfield-Sylmar gap, what bone will they throw to the Bay Area? Will they try to negotiate some trackage rights and build some connectors to extend diesel ACE trains from San Jose to Merced and/or diesel San Joaquins from Merced to Oakland?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The bone to be thrown to the Bay Area(and all the other State taxpayers)is to get that engineering study of Tejon back on track.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Clem

    Indeed Altamont might provide BART with some new riders connecting to hsr in the East Bay. I can’t see any obvious reason why BART would regard Pacheco as dogma if the Altamont option were seriously broached again.

    Andy Chow Reply:

    Rod Diridon was the central part of the scheme to keep what now we called “blended” approach from being considered for the Altamont Corridor. I don’t think that Diridon ever thought highly of the “blended” approach. A few years ago, he told the Pleasanton folks that if the Altamont Corridor is chosen, there would be a 6 track railroad through their town. Of course not too long ago he told the folks on the Peninsula that it has to be 4 tracks.

    The problem with Altamont now is that there’s no easily identifiable alignment between Fremont and San Jose. Although one of the three corridors is now under public ownership, it is used by a system that can’t be blended with HSR. On the other hand, with the BART issue “settled” (I think voters generally want BART in the county but not necessarily in downtown San Jose per se), there might be an opportunity for a logical discussion about the Altamont corridor.

    Voters have a slight preference for BART but are supportive of almost any rail project that hasn’t been “tainted”. Often the rail system got tainted because of poor ridership/performance.

    Clem Reply:

    Once EMUs are running on the peninsula the public will sing a different tune.

    jimsf Reply:

    altamont supporters, ten to ignore the reality of just how many decades, switching to altamont, would delay service into sf and sj. The also ignore san jose’s being in the top five largest california cities. ( some of them actually have some kind of personal vendetta towards the city of san jose)

    I sometimes wonder if some of these folks are shills who just want to encourage ways to further delay the project.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You don’t need direct service to either SF or SJ to have a viable hsr. So delays necessary for an overall healthier system are justified.

    Besides SF is hopeless – best to let the nuttiness run its course. They are building a dysfunctional subway – when they had a vastly better and cheaper route a block away – and now they’ll blown their wad only to be stuck in a deep hole at Washington Square. Where in the hell can they go from there? Proceed in deep tunnel to the Wharf-Pier 39? I suspect the topology is probably pretty sketchy before you even get to Bay St. and from there it’s fill. No place to ramp up to connect to the Embarcadero line.

    To go towards the Marina you’d have to mine under Russian Hill all the while accommodating 90 degrees of curvature to the west. I’d assume a station at Washington Square, Van Ness & Lombard(mediocre location)and Fillmore and Lombard. You’d have to mine Lombard Street; I don’t see how you could get away with cut and cover with that much traffic.

    If they had used 3rd & Kearny they could have curved onto Broadway and dug out one side of the Broadway Tunnel to a station at Van Ness & Broadway then deep tunneled to Fillmore & Lombard. cheaper, more direct, better station locations.

    SF – the city that knew how – no ‘mo.

    jimsf Reply:

    im sure they know more about how to do things than you do. Ill put my money on sf thanks.

    synonymouse Reply:

    such a surfeit of “progressives” they can go cannibal. (Mirkarimi)

    joe Reply:

    Altamont is delaying HSR and trying to re-argue settled local and interregional transportation debates.

    Plus Altamont is supposed to the alignment disfavored by the prime contractors planning HSR for CA.

    What strikes me after 20 years of living here, is the shit is getting real. There is money on the table and a real plan to do something.

    The public knows gasoline costs will continue to climb and congestion is forever.

    Clem Reply:

    And we should accommodate the prime contractor’s preferences for what reason exactly? That they get to set their own scope, on the taxpayer’s tab?

    joe Reply:

    The Contractor does not get to set their own scope. We do not accommodate the Contractor nor do we have to accept Contractor’s preferences.

    We do need to hire skill as State Employees, we do need project oversight and we need to do more review in house. It is no different than road construction, CA is going to be building rail.

    Peter Reply:

    Uhh, who do you think has been setting the planning scope for HSR in CA? The Authority? No, PB has been laying out all the basic specs, which guide every single decision.

  16. Roger Christensen
    Mar 23rd, 2012 at 14:14
    #16

    Yesterday’s Metro Board Meeting is also packed with goodies.

    The Metrolink Antelope Valley resolution passed. It openly discusses Desert Express connection at Palmdale. A new Bob Hope Airport connection on the Antelope Valley line in addition to current one on the Ventura Line.(!) Grade separations and other fun ways to invest a $1b HSR funds.

    Plus Expo light rail opens April 28 to La Cienega and this summer to Culver City.

    jimsf Reply:

    but at teh expense of delays to the san jose and san francisco segments. and to the long term detriment of have more total service as in the long run with pacheco you get altamont service and direct sj service, and you serve the south county and central coast. look at the long term build out, not just what gets the end of the line in the vicinty of.

    besides. the plan is already what it is and isn’t going to change so its a waste of time to discuss it.

    jimsf Reply:

    (that was suppose to be response to peter above)

    Peter Reply:

    What delays?

    besides. the plan is already what it is and isn’t going to change so its a waste of time to discuss it.

    True, but nothing is ever “decided” until the shovels start digging.

    jimsf Reply:

    theres a plan for pacheco but to change now you’d have to start the process all over.
    You’d open a a whole new can of worms with eastbay nimbys, new lawsuits, not to mention how long it would take to get a newdumbarton crossing approved and built. remember how long it took to get agreement and construction for the bay bridge. to think the process would go smoothly is naive. I have no doubt it would add a 10 year delay to getting into sf at least.

    And politically its just not going to happen.

    Peter Reply:

    Ah, you were referring to planning and construction delays. I wasn’t sure if you were referring to operational delays from splitting the route.

    jimsf Reply:

    right, no not the travel times. Im not that concerned about 5 or 10 minutes here or there. but I KNOW that changing plans now, and trying to get across the bay… is going to be a political nightmare to get completed by the time you add together the nimby lawsuites, the environmental lawsuites (whether or not any group mentioned support in the past,) plus construction delays, and being the bay area, don’t forget the call for a signature span that will ensue.. bet on that… and then once you get into menlo park youll have to fight with the nimbys along that row instead of the nimbys along the other row. itd be a whole can of worms. the fights on the peninsual now are about over and done with. we should count our blessings. and with gliroy in cooperation mode, it would be madness to drop it all and start over.

    you know what this project is like… its like when you are ready to throw away your old tube tv and take the leap into plasma.lcd/led….. and new products and improvements come out every year and so you keep waiting for just the right time and just the right tech with just the right features… well at some point you just have to bite the bullet and make your move or you’ll be waiting forever the perfect one. ( kind of like dating huh)

    Think of hsr as a date, maybe not the prettiest, but in the end she’ll get the job done.

    Clem Reply:

    New lawsuits? The lawsuits against the current plan haven’t even begun!!

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I assume that comment hinges on a fine definition of “the current plan”, but since “the previous version of the current plan” already had a range of objections ruled on, the general point stands that at this point there is more legal brushwood to be cleared for Altamont than for Pacheco.

    And Altamont competes again the BART/Livermore extension, when surely BART would be happy to have that extension anchored on the HSR San Joaquin valley corridor up to Sacramento, which unlike a spur gives westbound connections both northbound to Sacramento and southbound to the Central Valley, LA and points south.

  17. jimsf
    Mar 23rd, 2012 at 17:32
    #17

    SO it looks like even with the 2 track blended caltrain plan, the vast majority of the row is in fact wide enough for tracks with only a few miles total of exception.

    Does the railroad, (any railroad) have the right to do what they want within their row regardless of what any nearby community may say?

    Because it would seem that with the exception of a couple of narrow spots, they can go ahead and four track everything that doesn’t require a property taking scenario

  18. BruceMcF
    Mar 23rd, 2012 at 20:59
    #18

    If Empire Building is in BART’s basic DNA, when does BART decide that the “Altamont commuter overlay” should be BART through Livermore to Tracy and an HSR/BART transfer station there?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Stockton, first Stockton, then the world.
    …. no matter that Stockton is as far from San Francisco as Philadelphia is from New York….

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    There’s no one to stop us this time!!!!!

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Stockton, Modesto, Manteca ~ whatevers ~ an HSR through station and BART transfer with a single seat ride into Oakland and downtown San Francisco anywhere along that stretch of HSR corridor would dominate either Stockton or Modesto or both as outer suburban stations as entirely car-fed stations. And the corridor has to run through there in any event to get to Sacramento, so wherever is easiest for BART/Livermore to get to would be fine.

    jimsf Reply:

    Since BART is going to use conventional rail for the east coco ext. and since bart is already involved in running ccjpa. There’s nothing to stop bart from operating an upgraded caltrain and upgraded ace, bringing the greater (greater greater) bay area under one rail agency.
    anythings possible I guess. you know bart wants stockton.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “upgraded Caltrain” is critical to that ~ folding upgraded Caltrain into BART would seem likelier to have a positive outcome than folding the current teetering on the brink version of Caltrain into BART.

    Indeed, conventional BART Livermore/Stockton-HSR and eBART Stockton-HSR/Tracy is an alignment that would have some appeal if feasible.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    You are looking at it the wrong way….

    Regional planning entities are supposed to consider scenarios when BART would be necessary to deal with the population growth between Livermore and Reno; that’s their job.

    In that sense, BART already came to the conclusion decades ago about Altamont…and more specifically, BART was supposed to include all the counties but Marin, San Mateo, and Santa Clara pulled out of the deal.

    In that sense, it’s not about conquering territory… it’s about reunification, about bringing down the wall, etc….etc…. not nuking Alderaan.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Its handy to note here that the Empire in Star Wars is not only NOT the only Empire in recorded history … its not AMONG the Empires in recorded history.

    The Romans may have been brutal thugs, for instance, but they did build good roads. Ditto for the English and railroads.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Alderaan was not nuked. Neither is the Death Star a moon.

    Please get these things right. These are basic facts – these aren’t things that we can quibble about, such as “Is there any way we can reedit The Phantom Menace so that it doesn’t suck?”.

    joe Reply:

    And Han Solo shot first.

  19. egk
    Mar 23rd, 2012 at 21:43
    #19

    There are three large intercity markets within California: bay area la basin, San Diego la basin, Sacramento bay area. Pacheco serves the smallest of these first (bay area la) and doesn’t serve the second largest really at all (sacramento bay area). Altamont would serve all three – in particular it would give sj dierct fast service to both sacramento and the rest of the state. Pacheco is worse for sj.

    joe Reply:

    Alas, Prop1A.

    Ignoring the current service from the Bay Area to Sacramento, what if Prop1A was not written to explicitly service these intercity markets and focused on connecting SF to LA.

    And can a Altamont proponent notfixate on Sacramento service? It is getting creepy.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Dunno if I understand your posting, but for sure Sac is a much more important destination and market than Fresno and Palmdale put together. State capital versus car theft capital and trailer park capital.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The most important link is LA to SF, and Fresno with respect to the LA/SF corridor since it lies along the terrain that allows the HSR to travel full speed and is a substantial potential source of supplementary patronage due to the shorter trip times to either end and the current underprovision of regional transportation services.

    The obvious point that an LA/SF alignment that includes Fresno dominates an LA/SF alignment that avoids Fresno does not rest on Fresno’s importance sui generis, but on its importance in the context of an HSR corridor linking SF/LA.

    Peter Reply:

    Not quite sure what your point is, because planning on serving a city because it is ALONG the route is a little different than serving a city because it is the terminus of the route.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It does focus on connecting SF to LA ~ that’s got to be in place before funds directly or indirectly allocated by Prop1a can start flowing to the Sacramento corridor.

    As far as the fixation on Sacramento, that’s easy ~ the Altamont alignment gets more of its westward traverse toward the Bay accomplished along the San Jaoquin Valley trunk alignment, and so “gets closer to Sacramento” is an argument that can be deployed for the Altamont alignment, and since raising Altamont can get alignment purists in fights, that makes it a useful argument to deploy for anyone hoping to use FUD to delay or derail the project.

    In any event, if the IOS is Merced to LA-Union Station, then whichever alignment can get to San Francisco TBT at the earliest date on the calendar will have be a strong attractor, since not only will it get a strong push from those communities that gain direct or connecting service as a consequence ~ whether that is the eastern East Bay, or San Jose and the northern Central Coast ~ but also those cities in Stage 2 will have a strong bias toward supporting whatever system brings them into the frame to fight for the next extension.

    joe Reply:

    If Prop1A funds are spent to electrify Caltrain to SJ and the Alignment is changed to Altamont, does MTC, Caltrain or Santa Clara County have to pay back Prop1A funding? If I were an opponent of HSR I’d make that demand, if I were a HSR advocate, I would also demand the funding be replaced.

    There might be reasons to move HSR to Altamont – San Jose sues HSR to stop any capacity upgrades or holds the project up demanding a (geologically impractical) trench for any development beyond electrification.

    If there is uncertainty about the alignment, and San Jose is on board, I’d push the Build from the Tans Bay Center past San Jose to Gilroy.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Joe, you do realize that HSR trains will go to San Jose under Altamont as well, right? Because you’re entire argument is pretty nonsensical given that reality.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s nice lines on the maps but as costs escalate and BART to San Jose is finished everyone who thinks BART from Oakland to an HSR station is good enough is going to be asking why BART or Caltrain from San Jose to an HSR station isn’t good enough.

    Tony d. Reply:

    As a former Pacheco Pass-only supporter, I now favor a hypothetical Altamont HSR alignment because it would serve all those commuters coming from the CV on 580/680 to San Jose/Silicon Valley. But since I see absolutely nothing official in terms of changing the current plan, no need to get worked up over it. I’ll gladly take Pacheco or Altamont HSR at this point in time. In the meantime, rejoicing over the Caltrain news of the week!

    joe Reply:

    I would have been somewhat disappointed if Altamont were selected but I’d still support HSR.

    What irks me is a regional bias. I see it here:

    As a former Pacheco Pass-only supporter, I now favor a hypothetical Altamont HSR alignment because it would serve all those commuters coming from the CV on 580/680 to San Jose/Silicon Valley.

    And MTC already approved and funded BART extensions on 580 and an extension to San Jose.

    So the added benefit of HSR is to re-purpose the system as a commuter line for drivers beyond Livermore (who could park and ride from Livermore) and redundantly add rail service to San Jose since BART is already headed there – I like choice but what about cost recovery on that leg given the route will compete with BART?

    Meanwhile this adjustment takes Prop1a funding away from electrifying Caltrain and re-boots the whole upgrade of that system.

    So it seems that service to Tracy is more important than San Jose.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Joe,
    Again, nothing indicates that the current plan will be changed. Relax, its still looking like Pacheco.

    jimsf Reply:

    agreed

    BruceMcF Reply:

    An HSR corridor is for inter-regional transport, not intra-regional transit. If its possible to supplement revenue by filling seats ot passengers detraining before terminus by selling short trips toward the terminus, sure, do that, but if there is a serious commuter passenger market that would get substantial benefit from rail service, then go ahead and provide a commuter rail service for that.

    For one thing, an effective commuter rail corridor will often have more frequent stops, so the absolute top speed becomes less critical than how well it decelerates to a stop and accelerates from stop.

    Joey Reply:

    Regional and intercity trains share tracks all over the world. There’s no reason why they shouldn’t, given that there is demand for both along the same corridor.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    IMV, no, since either the Altamont corridor will go to San Jose to get to SF or the Altamont corridor will get to Redwood to get to SF and in either case, all or most of the electrification will be relied upon by the HSR. So the Caltrain corridor either SF/Redwood or SF/SJ is part of the alignment whether its Pacheco or Altamont.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    The best route for Bay Area to Sac travel is certainly not Altamont, it’s the Capitol Corridor. We clearly need to improve that route, to 125 mph or faster. It should be and will be faster than driving, well under one hour.

    Why in the world would we want to shortchange this important route with a dog leg to Stockton that increases the distance by more than 50% (81 vs. 123 miles from Oakland to Sac per Google maps)?

    Capitol Corridor route is only ~80 miles, we can and will improve this direct route. Anyone who advocates adding 50% distance to the route to Sac almost certainly has sone other agenda.

    Joey Reply:

    Don’t be so sure. Altamont is physically longer (that is if you ignore everyone south of the San Mateo Bridge), but much higher speeds can be achieved for much more of the journey. Even assuming major upgrades, the CC has a lot of trouble competing with Altamont for SF-Sac travel time. That is also at zero additional cost compared to Phase 2 CAHSR in the Altamont scenario, compared with billions even to cut half an hour off the CC.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    @Joey: There is not zero additional cost because there is no viable bay crossing and no true Altamont HSR alternative to serve the SF TBT. MTC came to this conclusion in 1999. You know, national wildlife preserve, lawsuits, and the desire to actually get something built. And of course a Y in the line means that half the trains won’t go where any given passenger is going — not so great.

    But are you really suggesting that we don’t want to improve the Capitol Corridor, that instead we want to decommission it in favor of sending everyone on a route through Stockton, and that 40 miles longer will somehow be faster?

    HSR Phase 1 is of course not the last fast train line we will build in this state. Why would we not want a fast Capitol Corridor AND a fast train to LA that does not require passengers on half the trains to transfer?

    Clem Reply:

    MTC was protecting BART to San Jose back in 1999. Mission accomplished. The Dumbarton crossing can be in a tunnel, along the same route as the water tunnel currently under construction in the same priceless National Wildlife Refuge that the Sierra Club advocated as the best HSR route. That tunnel is going extremely well, so well that the TBM may reach the exit shaft across the Bay before the latter is completed (requiring the TBM to wait).

    SF to Sacramento via Altamont HSR will be faster than anything you can do with the CC, especially for the cost (essentially free, as a result of connecting LA to Sacramento). It is simply no contest, and the technical FUD thrown up against this just that–FUD.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Neil:
    Do share with us your secret plan to get Capitol Corridor trains from SAC into downtown SF in less than 1 hr. For less than $6 billion total cost.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    @Drunk: It’s easier than you may think. Step one is to actually begin construction on HSR ready lines in Calif, and to demonstrate fast, quiet, clean EMU service on the Peninsula. So it involves relaxing our perfectionism and building something on standard gauge rail with technology from no more than 30 years ago, that people will like.

    If we can electrify and add PTC to 52 miles of Caltrain and procure rolling stock for 60+ trains per day for $1.45B then we could do the same for 10-15 tpd over 80 miles for <$2B. That will get us close to 1 hour. Later we may need to make selected investments to straighten curves and add grade seps.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Your “plan” lacks specifics. For example: how do the trains get to San Francisco? How do you deal with UP ownership of the ROW? How much Bay fill would it take to “Straighten” curves (let’s conveniently ignore the unstable geography and UP issues). And after all that, what would be the overall trip time? It’s clear you haven’t thought about any of this.

    joe Reply:

    Indeed, it lacks specifics and there are issues but your alternatives also lack specifics.

    CC across the bay is hard, HSR across the bay is easy. Maybe.

    I do enjoy the 6 B cap – amazingly the HSR project can’t cost accurately but the data for altamont with tunnels and land acquisition is a cool 6 B.

    CC runs along bayfill – HSR crossing on the bay – no problem-o.

    Clem Reply:

    Neil, your target is 66 minutes from SF Transbay to Sacramento HSR station. That is the performance for Altamont, from Bay Area Central Valley Final EIR, 2008, Volume 1, Chapter 7.

    Hint: you won’t be able to do it via the CC route.

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