Jerry Brown Lowers HSR Cost by $30 Billion

Mar 31st, 2012 | Posted by

The details of the revised business plan are starting to come out and they contain some big changes – starting with a dramatic lowering of the project cost. From Dan Smith and David Siders at the Sacramento Bee:

The Brown administration has lowered the projected cost to build California’s high-speed rail line by $30 billion – to $68 billion – as it braces for crucial hearings in the Legislature, according to sources familiar with the plan.

The lower estimate is tied to a series of changes to the project, primarily by relying on existing rail lines in and around Los Angeles and the Bay Area.

That’s in year-of-expenditure dollars, by the way. The new business plan also contains a major change to the way the project will begin construction:

The new plan also will abandon the idea of the so-called “train to nowhere,” the much criticized initiative to begin the project with a line from near Chowchilla to Corcoran, in Kings County, sources said.

The federal government, which is contributing about $3.3 billion to the project, conditioned funding on starting in the Central Valley.

Now construction is planned to begin in Merced and move south to Lancaster and the San Fernando Valley.

The Mercury News has more details on that particular aspect of the new plan:

Under the revised plan, the first segment would connect the Central Valley city of Merced with the San Fernando Valley some 300 miles to the south, bringing the bullet train to the outskirts of downtown Los Angeles within 10 years. Instead of going straight into California’s major cities, the high-speed system would stop short of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area and connect with existing urban commuter rail lines.

What Governor Brown is proposing is a French-style high speed rail solution, where high speed tracks are built to connect metro areas, with trains using upgraded passenger rail tracks within metro areas. Those upgrades can happen in stages and phases. Obviously a single-seat ride would be needed from SF to LA, and other countries have shown that this phased approach can work.

The details matter, of course. How long would travel time be from SF to LA under this blended plan? Would it be a single-seat ride?

Already critics are jumping on this proposal as not meeting what was intended in Prop 1A, although I disagree with that view. More importantly, many of these critics – like Sen. Doug LaMalfa – have never supported high speed rail to begin with, so their claims are completely disingenuous. But I would still expect this to wind up in court.

When the plan is made available to the public – likely on Monday – we will be able to take a closer look at this and geek out over the details. For now, analysis has to be preliminary.

My view is that this is a sensible way to move forward. I would love to build HSR infrastructure from downtown SF to downtown LA in one fell swoop. Politically, that is proving more difficult. The combination of NIMBYism in California and Tea Party control of the US House of Representatives (groups which share common roots) has made it difficult, for the time being, to get that kind of construction schedule done. So a phased approach, resembling how HSR lines have been built in Europe, makes a great deal of sense. As long as the phasing does not permanently compromise the core goals of high speed rail in California, then it is a path worth following.

It’s also worth remembering we don’t exactly have time to wait. Oil prices continue to soar. Unemployment is still sky-high. The globe is only getting hotter. HSR helps to address those challenges. If Governor Brown can get HSR built for a lower price tag on a shorter timeline and in a way that still delivers the kind of bullet train service that we have seen be so effective around the world, then it is worth doing.

  1. Robert Cruickshank
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 14:40
    #1

    Also, my apologies about the lack of posts the last two days. If anyone ever wants to propose writing something, I’m always open to ideas.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Robert, I wrote your next 5 years’ of columns for you.

    CHSRA’s new plan is super awesome!
    Even better than their last plan, which we will never mention again.
    Everybody else is a NIMBY.
    Everything else is discredited. By C4HSR.
    Peak Oil is Bad.
    Old people deny the future, which will be full of trains and iPhones.
    We have always been at war with Eastasia.

    You’re welcome.

    Walter Reply:

    What a shocker. HSR moves closer than ever to construction and Richard has a bad attitude? Or perhaps more accurately: the sun rose this morning and Richard has a bad attitude?

    Rick Rong Reply:

    HSR keeps moving, all right, but in which direction is hard to tell. A lot of the questions people have been asking would be easier to answer if the CHSRA put out a funding plan structured the way the voters intended.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Brown lowers hsr cost by $30 billion, yeah right.

    Must be some new definition of “lower” as the cost is still way higher now than when Brown took office.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    But that seems to be the headline writers distorting what was actually said, since the Mercury News has this quote:

    “We are not sitting here saying that we ‘saved’ $30 billion,” rail authority chairman Dan Richard said Saturday. By using existing railroad rights of way, he said, “We can deliver high-speed rail, as the voters voted for it, for $30 billion less than if we had to build our own system the entire length of the way.”

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Hey Richard, you have enough material to launch your own blog. Let me suggest some more stories:

    No one listens to me
    America effs up all its transportation projects
    Highways aren’t so bad compared to suboptimal transit
    I’m so much smarter than everyone else
    America’s Finest Transportation Professionals still fail to genuflect to me
    I would go back to where I came from but they don’t want me there either

    We’ll be sure to contribute lots of comments for you to keep the discussion lively

    flowmotion Reply:

    I, for one, would love a Mlynarik blog – it would be guaranteed to have an entertaining riposte to the latest news.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Neil, I get what the other points are parodying, but you should read Richard on highways sometimes. He’s against them a lot more than you are.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    I think Richard has a lot to contribute, I just believe the snark has risen to the level of childishness rather than contribution.

    It is so easy to tear down the efforts of others — whether they are hosting a blog or trying to raise funds and get an HSR transportation alternative in place — and it is so hard to actually create anything ourselves. I respect people do things, those who find consensus with others, and those who offer constructive, actionable input. Unconstructive negativity — I think the world has enough of that already.

    What is the justification for insulting Robert for the work he does to host this blog? Why shit on Robert of all people? The context was that Robert invited us to make *contributions* to this forum that quite a few of us find useful enough to participate in actively.

    It takes work to keep a blog like this going after all. You’d think Richard would be one of the folks capable of making such a contribution, framing a topic for broader discussion, but instead apparently all he can do is poke fun and insult. The first time maybe it was funny, but now it’s just gotten old.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Not just old, but mean and bitter, too.

    It’s sad, really. He should feel he is among friends here, but he must have a world of hurt somewhere inside. The question is, how much of it is justified, and how much is nurturing old grudges?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Richard can defend himself, I’m sure, but let me say that tear-down actually has positive value when the infrastructure in question causes so much destruction. Nothing’s going to change if the US builds an HSR network but then keeps building highways to nowhere because “You’ve got to build bypasses.” Transportation’s going to be better on the thickest markets, but a huge fraction of destinations will be unwalkable, local governments will have to pay through the nose for maintenance (as they have since the Interstates were first built), and carbon emissions will keep climbing.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    And insulting people will fix that? Well if we had only realized that earlier think of all the change we could have effected. Wait, Richard has been doing this for 15 years and people listen to him less than ever?

    Jonathan Reply:

    Alon,

    I keep drafting (and once I think even posted) messages which cite Mr. Prosser.
    But no-one seems to understand where “You’ve got to build bypasses” comes from.

    Douglas Adams reprises Santayana…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Dear Neal, do come back after 15 years of positive contributions and many tens of thousands of fungible US dollars wasted and report back on your successes, OK?

    If I thought that there were ways to improve things, I’d still be doing them.

    Pointing out that things are not being improved has exactly as much effect, and takes much less time, and is less painful.
    Pointing out how things elsewhere have been improved might be of interest to some, but clearly has zero effect on the unobservant, uneducable and innumerate. That’s fine, it’s just a hobby.

    Good job with the uninformed innuendo, though. It’s the least we expect hereabouts.

    Jon Reply:

    So 15 years of effort has got you nowhere. Don’t you think that perhaps the reason your arguments are ignored are because of the way you present them rather than because they are bad ideas? Not doubting your technical knowledge, but having read your email correspondent with Bob Doty, I really can’t blame him for dismissing you as a complete nut case.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Dear Jon,

    No.

    Do remember to report back on your all triumphs in policy revolution.

    Nathanael Reply:

    You disagree with Jon. So you believe that your arguments are ignored because they ARE bad ideas?

    Well, maybe you’re right. They’re presented badly, but some of them are really bad ideas too. (Somke of them are good, of course.)

    Look, I’m way better at being rude than you are. Don’t do it if you don’t know how, and more importantly *when* to do it.

    Jon Reply:

    I think your mistake is the narcissistic belief that one technical superhero could cause a policy revolution. In a democracy the way things change, as far as they do, is through popular pressure. If you have dozens of people at a public meeting saying the same thing it’s far more effective than one nut sending abusive messages to transportation officials.

    To achieve that sort of popular pressure you need to educate people who are sympathetic to your position. To educate people they need to be willing to listen to you, and people generally don’t bother listening to people who abuse them. I mean, I think you’re right a lot of the time, but I no longer bother reading what you write because you’re an asshole.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Dear Jon, those are very interesting and scrupulously made observations, bolstering novel and carefully reasoned conclusions. Thank you for your input.

    Meanwhile, good luck with the democracy business and the public meetings: do remember to report back on your triumphs, as but one humble and non-narcissistic cog in a grand and popular people’s movement. ¡Todos somos CHSRA!

    Jonathan Reply:

    Note lack of any response to Nathanael.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Dear Jonathan, sorry to be out instead of “responding to Nathanael.” I’m so afraid if how way much better rude he might be that I was forced to abandon the intertubes, ceding the field to the mighty wrangler victors!

    PS just for you, Dear Jonathan: “Dear Nathanael, those are very interesting and scrupulously made observations, bolstering novel and carefully reasoned conclusions. Thank you for your input.”

    joe Reply:

    Dear Richard

    I’d like to buy you a book.

    http://www.amazon.com/The-Asshole-Rule-Civilized-Workplace/dp/0446526568

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Like you, current occupational duties have rendered the usual fount of creativity worthless….

  2. Robert Chin
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 15:02
    #2

    Does a change like this mean the shovel date gets pushed back? I thought the kings county plan was just about to start getting built in order to qualify for the federal stimulus funds.

    Nathanael Reply:

    If you read carefully, you’ll see that there is no significant change in the Central Valley construction. After the redirection of funds from Florida/Ohio/Wisconsin, there was enough money to build from Merced to Bakersfield, and the Feds approved that. They are still building from Merced to Bakersfield, they’re just doing it in a slightly different order.

    The big news is that Governor Brown is committing to heading south from Bakersfield before heading north to San Jose.

  3. trentbridge
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 15:11
    #3

    Why do we expect anything different? The modern politician is well advised to “kick the can down the road”. Look what happened to Obama when he suggested radical reform of healthcare coverage. This is a “kick the can down the road” approach to HSR. Take the Federal funds and fill in the missing link – passenger rail from the CV to LA. Will we end up with HSR from SF to LA? Who knows but we can only hope that the extremely negative atmosphere about such bold projects will dissipate when the economy improves..

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Kicking some of the “neither cleared or funded to build” segments “down the road” isn’t necessarily an actual kick the can policy ~ deferring approval until y’all are closer to being able to build those segments to make approval of what y’all do have funded more likely seems more likely to keep things on track than otherwise.

    And of course, if the less ambitious approval is gained at this point in time, it means that the follow-up approval of the next phase is nowhere near such a bold project, and the approval of the phase after that an even less bold project.

    joe Reply:

    And of course, if the less ambitious approval is gained at this point in time, it means that the follow-up approval of the next phase is nowhere near such a bold project, and the approval of the phase after that an even less bold project.

    or maybe the initial HSR service is the “camel nose under the tent”.

    The key in the plan is building a HSR 220 mph capacity in the CV now. Once there, the system has the capacity to run faster. The next step to extend the 220 service is about expanding the core capability to urban areas to reduce travel times. Not as hard as rebooting the system to be HSR compliant.

  4. BruceMcF
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 15:38
    #4

    If Oakland/Merced via the San Joaquin is 3hrs, the Metrolink Lancaster/Palmdale local + Palmdale/LA-US Express is 1:42, and the notional Merced/Palmdale is 1:18, then it seems that a “blended” route on the Metrolink corridor through to Merced would be 3hrs or less, connecting to a 3hr San Joaquin – Oakland or a 2:10 San Joaquin – Sacramento.

    One wonders whether the 1:14 of the San Joaquin between Merced and Stockton would be susceptible to improvement on a Rapid Rail basis ~ loco-hauling the HSR to Stockton would turn the San Joaquin into an Oakland/Sacramento service.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It takes two hours for the San Joaquin to get from Oakland to Stockton or two hours for the Capitol Corridor to get from Oakland to Stockton. If you are in Oakland and are going to Sacramento why would you go to Stockton? There’s gotta be lot of upgrades Oakland to Stockton and Stockton to Sacramento for Oakland-Sacramento via Stockton to make sense.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It takes two hours for the San Joaquin to get from Oakland to Stockton or two hours for the Capitol Corridor to get from Oakland to Stockton.

    I expect you would have written two hours for the Capital Corridor to get from Oakland to Sacramento, if the blog had a 15 minute comment editing window. After all, it would take about 4 hours for the Capital Corridor to get from Oakland to Stockton, because after it got to Sacramento it would have to keep running.

    If you are in Oakland and are going to Sacramento why would you go to Stockton

    Because you are going to Fresno, or Bakersfield, or LA. Similar to why if you are in Sacramento why you would get on the train that goes to Oakland via Stockton … to go to Fresno or Bakersfield or LA.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Oakland to Sacramento is about 90 miles and Oakland to Stockton is about 90 miles. For what it’s worth Oakland to Stockton is about 90 miles via Altamont and around 90 miles via Richmond and Martinez. It’s easy to confuse them in my addled brain. Probably a bit less because the old schedules I refer to downplay the fact that getting to San Francisco requires a slow ferry ride and measure distances from the Ferry Building in San Francisco. ( Just like the railroads other than the New York Central measured distances from their Manhattan ferry terminal and not from the New Jersey side of the Hudson ) Sacramento to Stockton is around 50.

    The possibility of Oakland to Stockton or Sacramento to Stockton doesn’t appear if HSR makes it way to someplace in the Central Valley, which is what I read into your post, it already exists. Mostly with bus connections but it’s there.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I was referring to the fact that if the HSR train terminates its route at the northern end of the planned HSR corridor, and the balance of the San Joaquin completes the route, that is:
    * Merced / Stockton – San Joaquin Street / Richmond* / Emeryville
    * Merced / Stockton “downtown” / Sacramento

    … and so running two services down Stockton/Merced to way for the HSR to arrive and then running both Merced/Stockton might strike some as over-provision of Stockton/Merced service, no matter how vital some people may consider Merced/Stockton to be.

    If the HSR train were to find some means of terminating its route in Stockton, that overlap of the two routes goes away and without reversing, the arriving Sacramento train becomes the departing Oakland train and the arriving Oakland train becomes the departing Sacramento train.

    Indeed, except when the Auburn leg is on the Capitol Corridor, the Capitol Corridor at Sacramento seems to be oriented so that the Stockton/Sacramento leg of the San Joaquin could run through onto the Capitol Corridor, so if the Bakersfield/Stockton leg were taken over by the HSR, the Capitol Corridor and the balance of the San Joaquin would form a loop.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Commenters here sure love their digressions. When the last business plan was announced everyone started debating the logistics of HSR to Salt Lake City instead, and now we’re sweating the details of Stockton. (This is why I stick the old HO scale down in the basement.)

    BruceMcF Reply:

    People tend to debate topics other people have raised ~ IMV, SLC is an issue of Rapid Freight Rail, and if the framework for getting Rapid Freight Rail built entails a requirement to make a handfule of rapid passenger freight rail slots available, there’s your upgraded Amtrak to SLC. But its not a bullet train corridor.

    If you look at the Slow Speed Rail system of Northern California, there’s a spot that looks like the middle of nowhere where there is a four way junction of cross region and intercity rail corridors ~ if you zoom in on the map, that would be Stockton. So any approach involving any sort of incremental upgrades to already existing rail corridors is going to end up with an otherwise inexplicable interest in Stockton.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Bruce, check the schedule of the California Zephyr. If I did my arithmetic correctly they already have rapid rail between Salt Lake City and Reno, an average speed of 66 MPH. And it’s one of the last places you;d worry about increasing speed. Goosing the average speed up to 99 mph cuts the travel time from 9 hours to 6 hours which means, unless JetA is 20 bucks a gallon, people will fly.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The travel time is 10 hours, for an average speed of 59 mph. You forgot to account for an hour of time difference.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That someone, not you, would be whining about redundant service between Stockton and Merced on the trains that run between Merced and Oakland versus redundant service between Stockton and Merced on the trains that run between Merced and Sacramento …. never even crossed my mind. For decades my “home” railroad station was Penn Station in Newark. Not at all odd that there are “uptown NY” trains and “downtown NY” trains and a bus that goes to New York. Even odder, decades ago I would stand at a suburban bus stop where I had a choice of two different bus routes that terminated at Penn Station, one of them offering local and express service during rush hour and a third one that went into downtown Newark but on a north-south route instead of of an east-west route. And that the same bus stop had service to New York.

    And I don’t find it at all odd, if I’m standing on 42nd Street between 6th and 7th Ave, that I can walk east to two different trains that go to Coney Island or walk west to two different trains that go to Coney Island. It is a bit odd that four different trains on four different routes all go to Coney Island but it makes a lot of sense considering that’s where the yards are.

    No one complains that the Keystones provide redundant service between Philadelphia and New York or that the regionals provide redundant service between New York and Washington DC. Or that the Keystones, Regionals and Acela provide redundant service between Trenton and New York or that the Trenton Express provides redundant service to all three and the Trenton local to all four…. Though personally, if I was someplace west of Philadelphia and I wanted to go to New York I would complain that stopping the train at 30th Street wastes a lot of my time.

    If they are able to scare up five cars worth of passengers on the Oakland-Merced route and three cars worth of passengers on the Sacramento-Merced route, why wouldn’t they run a train on each?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The run-through approach has some appeal, through, since San Joaquin route between Merced and Stockton has several long straight stretches, and looks like it would be amenable to a rapid rail treatment for conventional HSR cars without requiring substantial investment in dedicated track with Express superelevation. And the Oakland leg of the San Joaquin would share any upgrades to the Capitol Corridor between Martinez and Richmond BART, with a transfer to downtown SF.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The original plan was to have this all done – HSR trains from San Francisco to Anaheim – by 2020. THey then shifted that to 2034. Who knows what the next new plan will be. The section between Fresno and Bakersfield isn’t going to be open until 2017. IF they are going to open San Francisco to Fresno in 2015 how much do they spend on things they are going to abandon in 2025? Money they piss away in California is money they won’t be spending on Cleveland to Pittsburgh….

    BruceMcF Reply:

    On that one possible IOS among several that more or less fit the various tidbits already released … electrify Burbank to Lancaster with a possible passing section or two and some 110mph level crossing upgrades if there’s a section that the speed profile can get up to 110mph, then HSR corridor Lancaster to Merced, then loco-hauled on the SJ route to Oakland with a platform transfer at Stockton to the SJ/Sacramento and the ACE to San Jose …
    … and some of the most cost-effective express and rapid rail treatments along the diesel section …

    … there’s no reason why very much of that would ever be abandoned. A bit of track and switching to connect the initial HSR corridor with the existing rail corridors to be used, but its not clear that anything else would be abandoned.

    If electrification operating segment that is only used by the HSR on an interim basis is funded by California cap&trade funds, that part wouldn’t have anything to do with funds for Cleveland to Pittsburgh … or DC to Boston, for that matter. And electrifying a rail corridor for use by HSR and then for local rail use once the common electric passenger rail corridor Burbank to LA-US is complete would be a quite justified use of cap&trade funds.

    JBaloun Reply:

    BART has redundant service between Oakland and San Francisco. Is anyone complaining?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Wait, what? BART has only one line between Oakland and San Francisco, running as many trains as it can given travel demand.

    James in PA Reply:

    Green, Blue, Yellow, Red lines

    Alon Levy Reply:

    All the same line over there. How they branch farther out in suburbia is irrelevant to West Oakland-SF riders.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    @James in PA: that’s not redundant service: unlike Oakland and downtown SF, Merced to Stockton is itself not a big share of San Joaquin ticket demand in its own right.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    BART has a larger pool of train sets to draw from.

    However, now that its clear that the San Joaquin is going to get to use the ICS, and when the corridor finished through to Lancaster/Palmdale gets to use the Metrolink instead of the Bus to get into the LA Basin, by the time that the Burbank/Merced HSR service is running, the San Joaquin ought to have ample trains to draw from.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Bruce,

    Your sleuthy-ness is commendable, but it’s a little bit easier to explain than that:

    Dropping the HSR route even in Mojave onto Metrolink’s tracks is one way to “link this thing up” as Governor Brown said.

    But the solution on the northern end is where the politics gets involved. Even if routing from Fresno to Pacheco was cheaper than it is, encouraging a Cal Train to HSR to Metrolink hybrid is not what the majority of other players want.

    The first solution was to simply have Altamont be the route (San Jose killed that idea).

    The second solution was to let Cal Train go bankrupt before HSR was built.

    The third solution was to build new track through Manteca and extend the Altamont Corridor express to Merced and build a transfer station to BART in Livermore.

    The fourth solution: (we shall call it “Le Plan DeSaulnier”) is to run some sort of Richmond to Merced commuter/short line service that will connect to BART both in Richmond and around Antioch that will funnel connecting passengers to San Francisco on BART.

    However the fourth one is only possible if you run a bill that creates a joint powers authority that could dismantle the San Joaquin as we know it when the time comes……

    And what do you know—a bill doing just that was voted out of Committee on Thursday:
    http://leginfo.legislature.ca.gov/faces/billNavClient.xhtml?bill_id=201120120AB1779

    “Le Plan DeSaulnier” gets you a 2:40 ride from Merced to Oakland, and a 3 hour ride from Merced to SF, a 75 minute ride from Merced to Palmdale and a 2 hour ride from Palmdale to Union Station in LA. It also

    a) makes money for local transit agencies
    b) encourages their expansion
    c) creates demand in the public to expand HSR all the way.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    sounds great, just keep in the back of your mind that the High Speed Ground Transportation act of 1965 promised sub two hour travel time between New York and Washington DC. They are hoping Acela gets it down to two and half some time in the next decade. Just as fast as the express Metroliners did it 1969.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    There’s a fifth solution, which is to have the IOS start at Merced and transfer to the San Joaquin to get to the Bay and to Sacramento. Build the ICS starting at Merced heading down to where it can have “independent utility” as an alternate San Joaquin route, so that the FRA can squint, nod, and release the federal funds, and start building this year. Have a plan how Phase 1b is going to get finished to Lancaster and how the HST is going to be able to run on the Metrolink so the IOS can start.

    Chowchilla / San Jose remains on the drawing board as Phase 2, the Caltrain electrification promises the connection through to the TBT, but its not in the Phase 1 IOS, so those shadowy players that have all this influence but insufficient pull to actually get an alternative alignment selected as the preferred alignment are happy that they have the interval to change things.

    Then once the IOS gets running, the NIMBY’s along one Bay alignment or the other get over-run by YIMBY’s, one set of YIMBY’s wins the tug of war, and it goes that way.

    jimsf Reply:

    That does sound like a good explanation ( just remember the term “phase two” means merced sac and lax san diego phase one being sf-la)

    I guess with a high speed track from merced to wherever, you could have the sac and okj southbound sjq trains just continue at 110 until they hit the end of the high speed section or something.

    Still. If we werent such a nation of crybabies, the damn thing could have just been funded and built, full hsr start to finish, and been done in 10 years. THAT would have been HSR done RIGHT. Get out of the way and pour the concrete.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yeah, I can’t keep straight which are phases and which are stages and which are segments.

    But if Phase 1 is LA/SF 2:40 and Phase 2 is after that, then Phase 1, Stage 1 could be, for instance, an IOS Merced to Burbank, with cross platform connection to Surfliner and local Metrolink in the South and connection to the balance of the San Joaquin in the north, Phase 1 Stage 2 could be the HSR connection to the Bay, on paper at the moment Chowchilla / San Jose and then running through to SF, either 4th and King or TBT if the tunnel is finished by then, Phase 1, Stage 3 would be improvements toward a morning LA/SF Flyer service 2:40 each way, perhaps completion of the Anaheim leg, etc., and declare victory and move on to Phase 2.

    synonymouse Reply:

    My reading of the Metrolink map does not show any service to Mojave. I am assuming this trackage belongs entirely to the UP. An interchange at Mojave would allow for Amtrak to restore the San Francisco Chief.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Just for you, synonymouse, I’m going to send Robert my post about legacy service on Amtrak. Needless to say, I have no earthen idea why you would want to restore the Chief…I’d rather have the Sunset Limited continue on to SF along the Coast….

    BruceMcF Reply:

    No, no, no, no … bad enough that the Coast Star-Late has to run on the Coast, having those delays keep the Chief from leaving LA eastbound would be too much.

  5. Kenb
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 15:45
    #5

    What kind of travel time would we be looking at when the train starts LA to SF service? Will service begin with this phase one completed, as Gov. Brown has stated? I think it will do well from the start.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    When the Mercury News says

    Under the revised plan, the first segment would connect the Central Valley city of Merced with the San Fernando Valley some 300 miles to the south, bringing the bullet train to the outskirts of downtown Los Angeles within 10 years. Instead of going straight into California’s major cities, the high-speed system would stop short of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area and connect with existing urban commuter rail lines.

    … that could fit a range of options, including an Initial Operating Service from Merced to LA-Union Station via some form of upgraded Antalope Valley line, and a second stage adding Chowchilla to San Jose (or, for advocates of the Super-ACE, Merced/Redwood) and then via the Caltrain corridor to downtown SF. Phase 3 would then be the HSR to Sylmar.

    By the time Phase 3 comes into the immediate planning horizon, California will have realized (because (to complete the blog post headline started by RM, Peak Oil is Bad for Economies Gambling Their Future On Cheap Oil) that it needs genuine passenger express electric rail corridors into its major intercity destination stations, the obstacles to building genuine passenger express electric rail corridors into major intercity destination centers will be overcome and the HSR can use those … to anything after Phase 3 is notional preliminary planning which will be overtaken by events.

    Jerry Reply:

    Does the Mercury News article mean that, “the first segment would connect..Merced with..” Sylmar??

    Kenb Reply:

    First segment connects Merced with Lancaster.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The other article says the HSR corridor would extend to Lancaster, which is the northern terminus of the Antelope Valley Metrolink line. The Mercury News says it would “connect” Merced with the San Fernando Valley, which an HSR train running from the HSR corridor onto the Antelope Valley line would do if it gets the train as far as Burbank.

    Burbank (not “Beautiful Downtown Burbank”, but close) is where the the Metrolink Antelope Valley line junctions with the Amtrak Surfliner corridor (and Metrolink Ventura County line) south to San Diego and north to Santa Barbara.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t get this – what’s the point of building to Burbank rather than just Sylmar? If they run through to LAUS, the difference is just a few minutes, and the same money would be better spent elsewhere – either pushing the IOS farther north, or electrifying LOSSAN for through-service to SD.

    And if the plan is not to run through to LAUS, then they should spend this extra money on electrifying LA-Sylmar first and running through anyway.

    joe Reply:

    The BUR Airport? One HSR objective is to connect to CA airports.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-burbank-airport-20120312,0,741648.story

    Airport spokesman Victor Gill said the transit center is needed to integrate the airfield with the region’s public transportation system and improve convenience for rental-car customers. The current car rental offices are also too close to a runway, according to FAA standards.

    FWIW, I use the BUR because the rental cars are walkable close to the airfield.

    Maybe HSR can link up to this Transit center/rental car/Bus station.

    http://www.burbankairport.com/airportauthority/news/initiatives.html
    Bob Hope Airport is moving forward with the development of a Regional Intermodal Transportation Center (RITC) to be located along Empire Avenue, across from the Bob Hope Airport Train Station. The RITC will be a three-level structure housing a consolidated rental car facility and rental car customer service building and will include a bus transit station on the ground level. An elevated moving walkway will convey rental car customers and rail and bus passengers between the airport passenger terminal and the RITC, making Bob Hope Airport uniquely convenient and accessible via multiple transportation modes.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Burbank is where the Antelope Valley line links up with the line that carries the Surfliner / Coast Starlight / Metrolink Ventura. If there’s something in the staging of the connection to LA-US that prevents it running to LA-US at the outset, Burbank is the place where you can link to single seat ride south of LA in addition to the two Metrolink corridors.

    Hopefully we’ll have more details in less than 24 hours.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I believe there is also trouble with the alignment of the HSR Palmdale – San Fernando Valley line which has caused consideration of plans where it would meet the Metrolink line south of Sylmar station. That came out some time back. Everyone’s sure it will merge into the Metrolink corridor somewhere north or Burbank, though.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If the corridor upgrade through LA-US and on to Anaheim is finished when the HSR corridor reaches Burbank, it can. Because of the merging of the Coast freight corridor and the Antelope Valley line at Burbank, Burbank / LA-US is a distinctive segment for the Blended Approach improvements. Burbank/Merced unhooks the IOS from completion of the corridor segment from the junction through LA-US.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    “Connect with existing commuter lines” or use existing tracks at lower speeds. With the latter you might actually sell some tickets, but the former guarantees empty seats.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Or connect with existing intercity lines … that’s intermediate between the two, more empty seats than running through, fewer empty seats than relying on people riding to the outer terminus of a commuter rail line.

    Paul H. Reply:

    I think what we are going to see is high-speed infrastructure built Merced-to-Burbank, then electrified metro liner tracks to an expanded LA Union. I think running trains Merced-to-Palmdale would be a mistake. We need high-speed trains running INTO LA Union for this thing to bring in enough ridership to be successful. Merced likely could become Northern California’s “Super Intermodal” station with the San Joaquin’s and ACE feeding into it with a BNSF spur to the new HSR station (that is already being engineered). This is the first Initial Operation Segment by my estimation.

    What this new plan does do is leave the possibility for Altamont being the actual HSR corridor into the Bay Area. If the economy trends in a ‘no-growth’ way (see: Peak Oil), there simply might not be the capital to build Pacheco. Though, I could see the state government going to whatever private company wants to have this system and tell them that if they want to have SF-to-LA service, they have to pony up the funds for Pacheco. I can easily see China doing this. So it’s probably still Pacheco’s to lose, but Altamont has a serious chance of becoming the HSR corridor for the Bay-Area.

    Kenb Reply:

    HSR will most likely end at Palmdale for phase one due to the expense of building through mountains. Ending at Burbank wouldn’t save that much money, because its almost to LAUS. There are three mountain ranges to cross on the entire SF to LA route. The revised plan, postpones building through two of them (Tehachapis the exception). A train could be run through the entire route at this point, but it would be initially about a 6 hr trip. I don’t think it would be as bad as it seems. That is significantly better than the current two train options, and is very competitive with driving time, since the fastest time by car is 6 hrs on I-5 with no traffic and no stopping.

    Paul H. Reply:

    Ending at Burbank and using existing lines into LA Union would allow for only one transfer between the Bay Area and the LA Basin (in Merced). If they were to stop it in Palmdale, that would be two transfers which would significantly reduce the ridership. I think we’ll see tomorrow that the plan is to build the full HSR infrastructure into the Basin (Burbank) at a cost just north of $30 billion (that includes the $6 billion for the ICS).

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And ending in Burbank after joining the line that carries the Surfliner allows for only one transfer from Bakersfield or Fresno to San Diego.

    Kenb Reply:

    I’m not talking about any transfer. High speed portion may end in Palmdale, but same train continues south on electrified legacy tracks.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That may occur, but the Business Plan is that it runs on HSR corridor through to Burbank.

    joe Reply:

    What this new plan does do is leave the possibility for Altamont being the actual HSR corridor into the Bay Area. If the economy trends in a ‘no-growth’ way (see: Peak Oil), there simply might not be the capital to build Pacheco.

    I don’t see the link between peak oil and short changing electric powered HSR.

    CA needs an estimated 387 Billion for road repair and maintenance.

    So one argument is we are broke (we aren’t and the state GDP proves we are not broke) and can’t change so let’s pile more money into highways and die a slow death. I doubt 51% of CA thinks this is right.

    A second argument is we need to shift investments off roads and therefore will build HSR as planned, we have a GDP that can support the investment and our GDP should be robust with a shift off oil based transportation.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Construction isn’t capital-constrained. We have enough labour, and we can direct our energy resoucres into construction if we so choose.

  6. David
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 16:22
    #6

    “Instead of going straight into California’s major cities, the high-speed system would stop short of Los Angeles and the San Francisco Bay area and connect with existing urban commuter rail lines.”

    Is this the complete project or simply the first phase? Because it seems to me they left out the combined 11 million population that makes up Sacramento, SD, OC and Riverside.

    Kenb Reply:

    This is first phase.

  7. Joe
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 17:38
    #7

    Letter to editor re HSR in Texas.

    http://www.chron.com/opinion/letters/article/Letters-High-speed-rail-and-Texas-3448548.php

    I only wish everyone could share the experience of walking into the magnificent Beijing South Station, boarding a train that runs every 15 minutes and zipping along at 220 mph in comfort and quiet, arriving in Tianjin, 71 miles away, in 30 minutes. Or take the HSR train from the same station and ride to Shanghai, nearly 820 miles distant, in about four hours. In Taiwan, its 214-mile HSR line reportedly even manages to eke out a profit without government subsidy.

  8. jimsf
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 17:51
    #8

    May I have your attention please. Before eveyone start computing all kinds of crazy travel times and wierd connection scenarios….. please remember that they are changing the IOS, they are chaing the ICS. There was never any revenue operation planned for borden to corcoran, and there isn’t any revenue operation planned yet for merced palmdale.

    They have only moved the end points for initial construction. Before any revenue service begins, they would probaly decide to either complete pacheco or complete PMD-LA

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Note that any alignment that assumes that the newspaper reporter that wrote the article knows what they are talking about is a 50:50 coin toss at best.

    If the one newspaper article is correct that they are going for an ICS of Merced to Lancaster and the other that they are bringing the train somewhere that could be described as the “outskirts” of “downtown LA” … an IOS of the Antelope Valley line from Burbank to Lancaster and the HSR corridor from Lancaster to Merced would fit that.

    But there are other IOS’s that fit those vague descriptions as well ~ such loose phrasing creates (1) an envelope that holds a variety of possibilities and (2) an even wider envelope if some of the facts in the articles are wrong.

    jimsf Reply:

    and suddenly its all about lancaster instead of neighborhing palmdale. (essentially the same place to everyone except those who live there I guess) Its just funny that all of a sudden Lancaster is the new buzz.

    Maybe Im just getting old but for the last decade or so i can’t shake the image from my mind that today’s media people are a bunch of bimbos.

    flowmotion Reply:

    It’s not the really the media, jimsf, it’s the political spin from Sacramento. The Governor would love it if people forgot they’d ever even heard of Chowchilla or Corcoran. They’re killing the “train to nowhere” image and replacing it with something more politically palatable.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    We saw in the last round of brouhaha over Palmdale station that the choice of alignment through Palmdale depends in part on the alignment for an Express HSR corridor from the Antelope Valley to the San Fernando Valley, while Lancaster would seem to allows a second segment to be approved without committing to that alignment.

    Meanwhile, if they decided to make some use of the Antelope Valley line to bridge the gap for the IOS, then what is lost by staying on the Antelope Valley line until Lancaster is gained back by continuing the Express HSR corridor through to Merced, and committing to Merced on the ICS gets Merced back onside with the plan. Pushing a political fight off to a next round while eliminating a fight with YIMBY’s worried about not getting the corridor … that seems like a good political calculus.

  9. jimsf
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 17:52
    #9

    Meanwhile, staring in merced is cool since I live here now so I will get to see construction begin right down the street!!!

    J. Wong Reply:

    Under the new plan, construction still will start with the 130-mile Central Valley stretch, then continue north to Merced and south to Palmdale, crossing the Tehachapis with a series of tunnels and viaducts.

    Nope, their building north to Merced but will include it in the ICS.

    jimsf Reply:

    but thats the opposite of what it says up above in the blog post Now construction is planned to begin in Merced and move south to Lancaster and the San Fernando Valley

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Reading the business plan, seems like a confused reporter: INITIAL OPERATING SERVICE will commence once corridor construction is completed from Merced through Lancaster and into the San Fernando Valley. That is, a verbal picture of the corridor layout when its ready for the Initial Operating Service confused with the Initial Construction Segment.

    In any event, the tirst HSR service either departs from or arrives at Merced.

    Wdobner Reply:

    It would seem to be highly inefficient to apply all the manpower employed on a project as large as this at a single head end point chewing through the countryside, as though we’re working with a TBM. Instead we’re more than likely going to see construction begin simultaneously at multiple points along the line.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Especially with the earliest part of construction: earthmoving can be done massively in parallel.

  10. flowmotion
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 19:13
    #10

    Is it just me, or is sanity finally prevailing? Maybe this thing will actually get built :)

    BruceMcF Reply:

    1. Build the financially safest Initial Operating Service first: check

    2. Share tracks with local rail, upgraded to Rapid Rail speed limits, instead of building all new Rapid Rail corridor through urban areas, check.

    3. Run the San Joaquin on the Initial Construction Segment and start getting benefit as soon as possible, check.

    … it could be. Though given the intervention of the Governor’s office, it would perhaps be more accurate to say that sanity prevailed upon the Authority.

  11. Alon Levy
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 19:16
    #11

    Robert, can you help me with something? You say,

    What Governor Brown is proposing is a French-style high speed rail solution, where high speed tracks are built to connect metro areas, with trains using upgraded passenger rail tracks within metro areas.

    I hope that this is true, but it’s unclear to me whether trains will run through from Sylmar to LA on upgraded legacy track, or stop at Sylmar with a transfer. The former solution is perfect, and if it’s done, giving HSR dedicated tracks from Sylmar to LA is probably the last part of the system that should be built. But the latter is troubling – it’s be the LA-area equivalent of end-it-in-SJ.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It would be as popular as the Royal Blue. Hey! they can call the one that goes to Sacramento the Crusader.

    JBaloun Reply:

    ‘Crusader’ is not a warm-fuzzy term for some people.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I didn’t name the Jersey City-DC express the Royal Blue and the Jersey City-Philadelphia express the Crusader.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crusader_(train)

    CComMack Reply:

    I suppose the Californian version would be the “Crucadero”? /s

    Don’t worry, no lawyer is going to want any part of sorting out intellectual property belonging to the RDG. The current best guess is that most of it ended up with a chain of Australian movie theaters…

    jimsf Reply:

    So doesn’t this mean they still need to electrify the bookends if the hsr trains are going to run through on the legacy tracks?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It does, but electrification and signaling costs are peanuts. The cost of electrifying a few tens of kilometers from LA to Sylmar is, at non-Caltrain first-world rates, about $100 million, give or take. Bakersfield-Sylmar is $15.5 billion through Palmdale, or $1-4 billion less through Tejon.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I believe the LA-US delay involves a corridor upgrade and the new through route out of LA-US. Hence terminating the first HSR service in a new San Fernando interchange station, plausibly on the opposite side of Burbank Airport with a people mover connecting to the Terminal and the Surfliner Burbank Airport station.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If the intention is to save money, then there’s no point in a people mover. (There’s also no point in a new station, instead of serving Downtown Burbank, which at least has a moderate amount of existing walkable development.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They can walk across the platform to the Metrolink train if they want to go to downtown Burbank, just like they can walk across the platform to the Caltrain train to get to downtown Mountain View when the train stops in San Jose.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    if the wire runs out electric trains slow down and eventually come to a stop. So the only place they do that, let the wire run out, is at terminal stations.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Actually, the French discovered that the wheels of electric trains don’t actually seize up if the power goes out, so that if you provide a means to haul the train, the electric train can continue past the end of the wires.

    However, a High Speed Train operating on electric along the Antelope Valley line seems like it would have a better speed profile than if you did that with a diesel locomotive, so if there was a means of funding that outside of the Prop1a envelope, it would be a more attractive interim solution.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    You do NOT want to use the AV line as is, certainly not between Vincent and Sylmar. Those that remember crawling through the south London suburbs on Phase One Eurostar will think that was high speed compared to the drag through Soledad Canyon. Best solution is to use the funds available to start at Sylmar with a new alignment and keep building north, which is what I suggested over a year ago. That way if DesertXpress happens you already have the connection in place, plus you can start revenue service as soon as you get to Palmdale. Revenue is a good thing, as is showing the electorate that you have built something useful with the money.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    But with Prop 1A money?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You do NOT want to use the AV line as is, certainly not between Vincent and Sylmar. Those that remember crawling through the south London suburbs on Phase One Eurostar will think that was high speed compared to the drag through Soledad Canyon.

    Except your way, the construction gets from LA to the Antelope Valley with no actual high speed track to use to test and certify trains.

    Sure it’d be a crawl, but electrified it’d be a faster crawl than the current Metrolink takes, and a faster crawl than the Metrolink implies LA/SF in under six hours. That’s a lot quicker trip than LA/SF in never got there.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Total waste of money to electrify a 30mph railroad and through a single bore tunnel. You won;t have a high speed route anywhere so use Talgos or conventional trains until you have a speedway in the CV. Cascade the Talgos to the Coast and other routes when you are ready to run high speed.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The Speedway in the CV is being built first, because that was the only Federal Funding on offer. Once it is completed and put to use by the San Joaquin, construction corridors will proceed from Bakersfield to Lancaster/Palmdale, and then Burbank.

    The “Palmdale Transfer” turns out to be using the Antelope Valley Metrolink as a replacement for the present Bakersfield to LA-US bus … the HSR service commences once there is HSR corridor from Burbank to Merced.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Why do trains need to be certified for Bako-Fresno with a test on American track before being allowed to run on just LA-Palmdale?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You mean, what is the technical need or what is the practical need?

    There is no need for bullet trains to be certified to run just LA-Palmdale since, after all, there is no need for bullet trains at all for just LA-Palmdale. A 125mph Rapid Rail set is fine if the intent is to flout Prop1a, divert Prop1a funds for a different purpose, and never build an HSR system.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, I mean both. The trains are going to be high-speed sets. They need to be tested on each segment of track they run on, but the chance that they’ll have a good track record on LA-Palmdale and then critically flounder on Bako-Fresno (requiring new sets – we’re talking pre-service testing) is no higher than the chance that the reverse may happen.

    Nathanael Reply:

    And yet Phase I Eurostar was very popular.

    Go ahead, build Merced-Bakersfield-Lancaster; run trains Oakland-Merced normal speed, Merced-Lancaster fast, Lancaster-Sylmar dirt slow, Sylmar-LA normal speed. People will ride it (it’s still quicker than the Coast Starlight), and people will start clamoring for the Lancaster-Sylmar tunnels.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Instead of making that the main IOS in the business plan, they have Burbank to Merced all-HSR, which is a lead pipe cinch to be an operating surplus service, and have language that if it turns out that it is viable to launch a service even earlier, that will be considered at an appropriate time.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Does the AV line run to Vincent? When I looked on Google Maps, I saw a different Metrolink service listed at the Vincent Metrolink station.

    jimsf Reply:

    I can’t keep up with these changes…. so are they talking about using the existing metrolink track from pmd-syl-laus or building hsr track from pmd to syl then legacy track from syl to laus?

    Kenb Reply:

    I think its hsr from Merced to Palmdale, connecting to legacy rail Palmdale to LA, and some legacy route to Bay Area. Legacy parts would be upgraded and electrified in order to run trains straight through. This would be the full phase 1. , meaning the full ten yr. project, as opposed to the original all high speed LA to SF in ten years. I’m assuming this point will have a single train traveling the entire route, or else why would it be called a “blended” system, or considered the French model.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    There’s the reason why we can’t expect news accounts to be fully informative ~ if some existing segments are to be used on an interim basis and other existing segments are to be upgraded to provide a permanent part of the system, there’s no reason to expect that distinction to either be volunteered by the sources for the story or followed up on by the reporter taking dictation.

    The mention of Lancaster suggests that they may possibly be talking about using the Metrolink Antelope Valley line as an interim connection, but that’s only a suggestion and if its an interim connection, it says nothing about what the design for the finished Phase 1 is supposed to look like.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    No, they are talking about 2nd Construction Segment Bakerfield Palmdale, 3rd Construction Segment Palmdale to Burbank, start running the HSR Burbank to Merced.

    According to the picture in the business plan, Merced proper is not in the ICS, rather the ICS is the Initial Construction segment for the initial Merced to Burbank service. The promise to Merced is that it gets the first HSR train to go into service.

    jimsf Reply:

    And while Im all for whatever gets the thing moving forward… If we didn’t have the money yet to built bfd-pmd-syl before, in the ICS how do we have it now. I thought that initial we only have enough money for about 130 miles worth?

    Something doesn’t add up.

    jimsf Reply:

    I mean just a while ago there was only money to build an initial constuction segment from borden to corcoran, and that was it. Now the ICS is merced to san fernando valley? plus we are giving moeny to caltrain and metrolink?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The newspaper accounts make it sound like Merced to Lancaster “connecting to” the San Fernando Valley is an Initial Operating Segment, so there could be a decision on what the Initial Operating Service will be, and then a change of focus from the Initial Construction Segment to the Initial Operating Service.

    Bear in mind the attention grabbing character of lines on a map compared to text discussion ~ if they draw a line on the map of one color between Merced and Lancaster and then of a different color to the end of the service route and then dotted lines to show where it will go when the first Phase is finished, newspapers will print that. That picture undermines years of investment in the “train to nowhere” talking point.

    As far as the HSR part of the IOS ~ like Alon says, its not fully funded yet, but it could well be that another $4b Federal funding plus a bit of state match would be enough to extend the ICS from Merced through to Lancaster.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The ICS was extended to Merced and Bakersfield with Ohio/Wisconsin/Florida’s rejected money.

    Bakersfield-Lancaster is still unfunded. Jerry Brown has just declared that that is the next part to be constructed — it will get any forthcoming round of funding — and that service (“initial operating service”) will start when that is constructed.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The plan is out … the ICS is the same, and will be used by the San Jaoquin when complete. First next priority is to Palmdale, with complementary improvements on Antelope Valley Metrolink, which will convert the present bus transfer into a rail transfer.

    Then Burbank to Palmdale and complete the ICS to Merced, and that’s the first HSR service.

    Then the Pacheco Pass alignment to San Jose, and completion of works through to LA-US, to allow LA-US to downtown SF, that is “Bay to Basin”.

    Then finish the Rapid Rail improvements on the bookends, the DTX and TBT train station, complete through to Anaheim, and that’s the 2:40 LA/SF Phase 1 finished.

    Then on to Phase 2.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why is there a transfer. the train can just keep going…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You only have enough money for the ICS, yes. The new plan is basically assuming Obama will win and give them a few more billion to complete the IOS.

    jimsf Reply:

    and the ICS still being now, merced to where …. bakersfield?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The ICS starts halfway between Fresno and Merced and ends just short of Bakersfield.

    jimsf Reply:

    But the post just said they are going to start construction in merced instead.

    Kenb Reply:

    I think “Phase 1″ and ICS mean two different things. ICS is the first segment that can be build with the existing funds, and “Phase 1″ reffers to the 10 yr. project. Phase one being LA SF and phase two being extensions to Sacramento and San Diego. Building hsr from Merced to Palmdale and connecting to legacy is the revised plan over HSR entirely between LA and SF. This supposedly will save 30 bill.

    jimsf Reply:

    The new plan also will abandon the idea of the so-called “train to nowhere,” the much criticized initiative to begin the project with a line from near Chowchilla to Corcoran, in Kings County, sources said. The federal government, which is contributing about $3.3 billion to the project, conditioned funding on starting in the Central Valley.Now construction is planned to begin in Merced and move south to Lancaster and the San Fernando Valley

    You can’t have an ICS from Merced to Lancaster because there is no money to build the tunnels from BFD to LCS/PMD through the mountains.

    You know what I think. I think the reporters who write these stories in the papers have no earthly idea what they are talking about. I don’t think they understand the difference between ICS and IOS and I think think they are using them interchangeable leading vagueness and confusion in the general public.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The general public is vague and confused without the help of clueless reporters.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    Is Roelof van Ark still around? I get the feeling that the engineers have been pushed aside, and politicians are calling the shots. It was obvious that they needed a smoothie as the public face of CaHSR – having a crusty engineer in that position was just riling up the farmers and homeowners and local politicians. But I was hoping they’d keep the engineer around, if only to keep the project based in reality.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Haha. Van Ark and his merry band of engineers came up with $50 billion dollars of viaducts and a $2 billion dollar tunnel underneath a parking garage. The politicians had to come in and pull HSR out of the abyss.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Chandlers had van Ark whacked, virtually, for having the chutzpah to reveal the truth about Tejon: manifestly superior in every respect.

    So they are going to deviate onto a freight corridor, paralleling the ancient UP line, and the
    extraordinarily expensive line will be totally unsuitable for freight.

    Sobering Reality had a point. There is a chance, some scientists insist a great chance, that synthetic or biofuels will emerge and aircraft tech will substantially improve which will blow the hsr phenom out of the water. After all, absent airports, maintenance facilities and government fees, the airspace is a free ROW. No maintenance required.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There is a chance, some scientists insist a great chance, that synthetic or biofuels will emerge

    They can just use those carburetors that let you run your car on water.

    William Reply:

    @flowmotion

    Engineers were given a set of constraints and were tasked to design a system that fit these constraints. If some constraint resulted in an expensive solution, it is up to the project managers, i.e. the political leaders, to remove the constraint.

    Don’t blame engineers for doing their job.

    flowmotion Reply:

    @William

    I’m sure the engineer who priced out that $2 billion tunnel did an admirable job, but the idea that CAHSR’s engineering was keeping the project based in “reality” is still laughable. Engineers are no different than lawyers or anyone else … they like to run up the billable hours.

    synonymouse Reply:

    In Van Ark’s defense I assume he was trying to achieve the 2 hour 42 minute stipulation in the face of having to make up for the extra 50 route miles of Tehachapi over Tejon.

    Hey, Jerry wants slabtrack in the mountains? A little subsidence or washout, not even seismic, and it should be very interesting indeed.

    The biofuel research on grasses apparently is serious and promising enough to get some environmentalists’ underwear all bunched up and trying to scuttle the program.

    flowmotion Reply:

    @synonymouse –

    It doesn’t even require any form of speculative “warp drive”. Within 10 years we could have automated electric cars which will whisk you from door-to-door to Fresno @ 90 MPH while you play with your iPad. This is all existing technology which is on the drawing boards today.

    Once you consider transfer costs (e.g. riding the shitty SF Muni only to walk 2 blocks and go through the HSR security theater), the automated electric car comes out as a pure win over trains for many commutes.

    HSR will still be faster for certain distances, but it’s proponents are revealing their twenty-century roots by calling it twenty-first century technology.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Photosynthesis is low yield.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    GM’s Futurama exhibit at the 1939 Worlds Fair promised self driving cars on 100 MPH freeways byt the world of tomorrow – 1960! The exhibit was such a success that they did a similar one at the 1964 World’s Fair where we would be whisking around in self driving cars on 100 MPH expressways by 2000….

    Kenb Reply:

    Eventually everyone will fly around with jet packs, as soon as the government gets over the fear of people flying into trees.

    William Reply:

    @flowmotion

    Engineers usually don’t work by the hour. They have deadlines.

    All I am saying the expensive designs have their roots at the design constraints, not how engineer design them. It is mostly likely engineers didn’t propose tearing down some building to save cost because they can’t or it is outside of their design scope.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    For historic reference–1939 movie on the Futurama:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LtDVsabOzp8

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

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Ford was in the highway lobby business, too:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=94YLbdwPKBo&feature=related

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    !!@#$%^&*!!! No edit function!! Pardon the double post in the last one above.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    All I am saying the expensive designs have their roots at the design constraints

    Yeah, right. This is how PB planners interpret design constraints.

    flowmotion Reply:

    @adirondacker – AT&T spent 50 years demonstrating Video Phones too, and now we’ve all got one in our pocket.

    The biggest issue with autonomous automobiles is our wonderful legal & regulatory system. That’s why I suspect a system will be implemented in China first.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Your video phone doesn’t weigh 2000 pounds and hurtle down the street at 40 MPH either.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    @flowmotion – I don’t doubt that smartphones could be modified to provide videophone capability, but as they are now they’re used exclusively for voice conversations. Even now when there are machines that could do that, people just don’t use them that way.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Alon Levy: Between Skype and FaceTime, there is no modification needed with iPhones at least, they come that way standard. But yes, limited utility to videophones.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Flowmotion, the biggest problem with “autonomous cars” is when they run over pedestrians, run off the road and crash, etc.

    Yes, I know they will do this far *less* often than human drivers. But it doesn’t *matter*. Nobody will allow an automated train with grade crossings to be implemented, even though it is *safer* than a train with a human driver and grade crossings — the collision identification systems are a solved problem for trains.

    Human psychology will prevent adoption of automated cars for a very, very long time. If human psychology wasn’t like this, we’d have automated trains everywhere already.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Nathanael – I agree with you – automated cars will be implemented only in existing freeway lanes which have been converted. It’s very unlikely they will ever be allowed in urban areas or mixed traffic.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “I think the reporters who write these stories in the papers have no earthly idea what they are talking about.”–Jim SF

    I’ve been saying that for years. . .

    Round sided covered hoppers being called tank cars. . .electric GG1s “chugging” into stations. . .a Chicago elevated train that was “steered” into a rear end collision. . .oil burning steam engines (excursion service) that were converted to diesel. . .Amtrak being spelled Amtrack. . .a “fireman” (apprentice engineer) being called a “firefighter” in an article on the Long Island Rail Road. . .a derailment of an “express cargo train” that fortunately didn’t involve the “engine cars” on a local shortline railroad on track that was, at the time, limited to 10 mph. . .I wonder what other silliness is out there that I don’t know about.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    it may have been the short line’s express train. what makes express trains express is that they don’t make local stops. just because it’s running over exempt track doesn’t make it a local, it makes it slow.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If you read that, it doesn’t say that the ICS will get to Lancaster. It reads like that phrasing is taking dictation from the governor’s office, and the governor’s office has a strong incentive to shift the focus of the debate from the Initial Construction Segment to the Initial Operating Service. Only geeks get excited about construction segments, so getting the advocates talking about how the service will start out and then how it will get better and better in stages while the opponents start talking impenetrable construction segment details is smart politics.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Bingo— and there in lies the problem.

    If you electrify the bookends using state money, Metrolink gets a lot of upgrades for free. As long as you aren’t using Prop 1A money (see Cal Train, supra) it’s not particularly challenging for HSR’s viability.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Metrolink gets a lot of upgrades for free.

    Last time I checked people in Los Angeles pay state and federal taxes. So they aren’t “free” it’s their government providing services they have paid taxes for.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The Federal Funds are deficit spending, which is mostly mobilizing resources that would otherwise just sit idle, so in real terms it not far off from “free” ~ there is certainly no need to raise Federal taxes to destroy that newly created purchasing power, since the risk of demand-driven inflation right now is close to zero, so there’s no sense in which “extra” Federal taxes have to be paid to “pay for” that deficit spending under current economic conditions.

    However a State Government is not spending currency it issues, it is spending currency someone else issues, so state public finance has to evaluate its state spending as an investment that costs money up front and yields economic benefits down the track.

    joe Reply:

    Not *all* federal spending is deficit spending, some fraction of our budget is borrowed and it applies to every dollar spent outside of social security which has a large surplus in federal bonds.

    One could calculate the tax revenue this spending produces for the Feds and State. It generates salary, indirect benefits like enhanced transportation and related economic productivity.

    Paul Krugman did a hypothetical on 100B of domestic spending for domestic construction-like investments. He estimated 50% of that investment would be returned in tax revenue from the economic stimulus it generated.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The current unemployment rate in the industries which would be employed — these are crucial numbers in determining whether something is truly “free” in the broader economic sense.

    If you’re deploying people who would otherwise have no work, it’s basically free. To the extent that you have to drag rare experts off of other jobs, it has an opportunity cost.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Hands up all US-employed experts in electrification for HSR.

    Hands up all experts in signalling systems compatible with the identified requirements for CAHSR signalling (which boiled down to: ETCS Level 2).

    Opportunity cost here isn’t with _doing_ the work; its in finding people who know how to set the scope and requirements of the required work.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Either that or diesel loco-hauled. I noticed that there is a vague reference to funding from a cap and trade fund, and rail electrification would be one thing that could reasonably be funded by a GHG reduction fund. So one could imagine electrification of conventional rail from outside of the Prop1a envelope.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Oh my yes, that is correct.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, Sylmar is another possibility “in the San Fernando Valley”. However, I think a terminus where it can have a cross platform transfer with the through Surfliner would score higher on a ridership model.

  12. jimsf
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 19:36
    #12

    So if they start in Merced, they should start at castle. Merced is building some kind of connecting expressway and supposedly making room to include space for hsr to transition from castle to the UP row withing the new expressway row… that would get us high speed tracks even further north in phase one.

  13. Tony d.
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 20:12
    #13

    The critics and naysayers are slowing becoming irrelevant with the latest onslaught of good news for HSR. I mean come on! They’d be critical of this project even if the rails were gold and the price tag was zero! Let’s see “the blended approach is illegal…its still to expensive…this isn’t what Californians voted for…trip times are being compromised…” etc etc. REALLY? For the rest of us… REJOICE!

  14. Reedman
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 20:19
    #14

    The “blended approach” will not meet the 2hr/42min LA-to-SF time which is legally required by Prop 1A. I don’t see how this proposal will not be killed by a dozen lawyers once it is fomally announced.

    Or am I missing something?

    jimsf Reply:

    the 2:40 time doesn’t have to be met until the full build out of phase one. The blended approach simple allows some service to being operating prior to full high speed build out of phase one – service that can operate while the bookends are fully upgraded- which eventually allows for the 2:40 goal to be met.

    flowmotion Reply:

    I am looking at Prop 1A right now, and contrary to popular belief, it does not seem to require any technical specs for bond funding. It only states that funds can’t be spent if it “would not have an adverse impact on the construction of Phase 1″.

    It also suggests that the Authority prioritize based on “the utility … for passenger train services other than the high-speed train service” …. such as the blended approach, perhaps.

    IANAL, but the idea that 1A requires a “big bang” construction project may have been misinformation misinformation. (Partially put out there by this blog.)

    http://voterguide.sos.ca.gov/past/2008/general/pdf-guide/suppl-complete-guide.pdf#prop1a

    Responsible_Thought Reply:

    OMG, right on. Just looking at the language of AB 3034 that you cite, it’s clear that the Governor’s revised plan will prove to be fully legally supportable. (See CA Streets and Highways Code, Sections 2704.01 and 2704.08.)

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    But how does this factor in:

    (f) For each corridor described in subdivision (b), passengers shall have
    the capability of traveling from any station on that corridor to any other
    station on that corridor without being required to change trains.

    (b) Maximum nonstop service travel times for each corridor that shall not
    exceed the following:
    (1) San Francisco-Los Angeles Union Station: two hours, 40 minutes.
    (2) Oakland-Los Angeles Union Station: two hours, 40 minutes.
    (3) San Francisco-San Jose: 30 minutes.
    (4) San Jose-Los Angeles: two hours, 10 minutes.
    (5) San Diego-Los Angeles: one hour, 20 minutes.
    (6) Inland Empire-Los Angeles: 30 minutes.
    (7) Sacramento-Los Angeles: two hours, 20 minutes.

    It would seem like Prop 1A requires a one-seat ride.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    It sure seems that way.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Only when the corridor is “completed”.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Bingo. An “initial construction segment” can be used to provide 6:30hrs Oakland Jack London Square to LA-US with one transfer … an “initial operating service” can be used to provide 5hrs Oakland JLS to Burbank ~ a “Bay to Basin” service can be used to provide 3:30 SF 4th & King to LA-US … but the money appropriated out of the main $9b “HSR” funding should be on stuff that the finished 2:40 system will be using.

    Other stuff which will be used some other way when the finished 2:40 system is in use can be funded out of the formula-allocated $700m+ out of the $900m+ “complementary transport” bond authorization, or it can be funded in some other way, eg, Cap&Trade funds.

    Jonathan Reply:

    will be using

    Yes indeed. and a finished 2:40 SFTTC-LAUS will not be using Caltrain EMU sets.
    And if it’s using Caltrain-unique CBOSS signalling, it will do so at significant cost.

    I personally don’t see how the SFBA “blended” proposal can pass even elementary scrutiny, never mind an actual court challenge. The proposal simply doesn’t come anywhere near matching Prop 1A expenditure, not when you count (as is required) only the HSR-enabling “matching” expenditure.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Yes, but 1A talks extensively about “usable segments” so if the completed segment only goes to Merced then there is no requirement of a one seat ride for segments not completed yet.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    so does that means people in Berkeley, even when there’s an HSR station in Oakland, can’t use HSR because they will take a bus or BART to the HSR station in Oakland? If HSR is only complete to Merced and only people in Merced can take, it there won’t be many trains running.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Tom – that is the definition of the “high speed rail system”. If you look at section 2704.0 (3) it allows any bond spending “which would advance the construction of the system” along certain corridors. It does not actually require high speed rail be constructed!

    Nathanael Reply:

    Interesting point. Cool.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    2:42 is the requirement to declare Phase 1 complete and allow revenues from HSR service to be used for Phase2 projects ~ eg, San Diego and Sacramento.

    It never was a requirement on all SF/LA service, nor a requirement on the initial operating service. Rather, the requirement on the initial operating service is no operating subsidy.

    A first service could be 5:30 Burbank/Oakland, with a diesel locomotive hauling the train from Merced to Oakland on the San Joaquin alignment, the first upgrade 3:30 LA-US to TBT, and then they could allocate any net earnings from the second to upgrades toward 2:42, and that would comply with that part.

    Some things seem like they need to be tested in court to nail down the meaning of some Prop1a language ~ what is a partial segment, what does 5min headways mean in the context of a shared corridor ~ which will determine what can be funded by Prop1a funds, and what requires some other funding mechanism. Hopefully the test case will nail some of those down.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Reduce the arguments about whether or not spending X on Y meets the requirement of Prop 1A, they can’t spend any money until they have all of the funding for everything everywhere in place and they find a contractor, who one bright morning, snaps his fingers and the completed system erupts from the ground simultaneously from San Francisco to Ananheim as a train full of revenue paying passengers glides in from the sky. Judges are going to understand that the legislature didn’t have that in mind and that somethings get build first and somethings get built later.

    Nathanael Reply:

    So the binding constraint is that San Diego and Sacramento don’t get their extensions until the 2:40 LA-SF time is reached (or prop 1a is amended).

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Not out of Prop1a money ~ directly or indirectly, so until Phase 1 hits LA/SF 2:40, that rules out using operating surpluses from the Prop1a funded corridor being used for revenue bonding to finance Phase 2 works.

    If they shake up some other funding source, that’d be OK.

  15. Responsible_Thought
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 20:59
    #15

    Can anyone explain the meaning of the Year-of-Expenditure (“YOE”) measure in transit planning? Does it include the inflation? (I.e., increasingly inflated costs of construction and other project development over life of the project?)

    Also, how does the YOE projection of $68 Billion compare with the $45 Billion projection that was cited in the 2008 Voter Pamphlet for Prop 1A (page 5, Leg. Analyst report)? The Pamphlet analysis said that the $45 Billion was based on a HSR Authority projections from 2006, btw.

    Responsible_Thought Reply:

    What I mean is, was the $45 billion also a YOE projection?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    (1) It includes a guesstimate of inflation of construction costs. Since that guesstimate is dominated by construction cost inflation during the Bubble economy, it may well be high.

    (2) YOE numbers are because legal authorizations are current dollar amounts, not corrected for inflation.

    (3) Anything that pushes the project timeline back increases the YOE numbers for the same constant dollar costs. So each expected additional year’s delay in getting start increases the YOE cost.

    (4) AFAIR, the Phase 1 constant dollar cost was in the $30b’s, so I think a Phase 1 cost of $45b would be the translation into YOE dollars. No way telling how much of the $68b is changing timelines and how much is increases in expected constant dollar costs.

    Even worse, they interact, because if finding out that a particular segment is costlier than you expected makes you push it off the Initial Operating Service, then that part is both higher cost in constant dollars and budgeted to be paid in dollars with substantially less value.

    So sorting any of that out before details based on the dictation given to reporters and printed in a newspaper is basically impossible.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Nobody should ever use YOE — because it’s dominated by a guesstimate of inflation — but some Republicans in the US House snuck in a provision of a law requiring it to be used for HSR project numbers.

    I think this was a deliberate attack on HSR, an attempt to make the numbers look bigger.

    Peter Reply:

    Yes, it was YOE, but it also assumed a much faster build than is now being envisioned, so less time for inflation to take its toll.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    YOE includes predicted inflation, yes. The $45 billion projection from 2006, I’m not sure what it was. It was the projected YOE cost of Phase 1, and also the projected constant-dollar cost of the full system.

  16. William
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 21:11
    #16

    Judging from words in Mercury News’ article, I think the only thing that’s new from the original $98B YOE estimate, is a price-tag was defined and advertised for the first time, on a “intern” HSR system between SF-LA: full HSR between San Jose and Palmdale with track-sharing between SF-SJ and Palmdale-LA. Let’s call this “Phase 0″ HSR.

    I think this is an “acceptable” plan to get SF-LA connected quickly. I fully expected a true HSR route between Palmdale and LA, more bypass tracks between SF and SJ, are still being planned.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Yes!

    Nathanael Reply:

    The other new thing is that Governor Brown has committed to making the LA mountain crossing before making the SF mountain crossing.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    No, the plan to upgrade existing urban rail corridors already in public ownership to 125mph capacity and share them between local and HSR trains saves substantial corridor acquisition and civil engineering costs. That would have ended up being a Viaduct pretty much from Burbank into LA-US, and a big stretch of Viaduct on the way to Anaheim, that now is no longer needed.

  17. D. P. Lubic
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 22:39
    #17

    Off topic, but on a lighter note that seems needed here to relieve tension, are a couple of YouTube links that may reveal some interesting plans for railroads in both France and the US to bring their images up to date for an new clientele and a new world.

    The first is what appears to be a proposed promotional film from the Lackawanna. It looks like they were attempting to bring Phoebe Snow up to date for the rock generation, complete with an attractive young woman in a white dress, and at the same time also taking note of the success of the steam rambles then running on the nearby Reading Company, as may be seen at 1:18 in the clip below.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ohWd7S_pp84

    It also appears that the French railway system, SNCF, (Société Nationale des Chemins de fer Français), may have had a very similar idea:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qlVD3L1JtHs

    Sadly, it seems that overly conservative managements of both systems failed to take advantage of the combination of beautiful machinery and beautiful women, a combination that would be used with devastating effect by their rivals in the automobile industry and the aviation service. . .

    (4/01/12 @ 1:39 Eastern Time)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …but Little Eva is wearing pants…..

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Well, if Miss Phoebe were in style for 1962, I guess that would apply. . .

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    The Lackawanna was also apparently looking at a group version as well at some point. . .

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XcyiQ5mbJ-Y

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Wasn’t it the EL by 1962?

    Penn Central gave it a shot

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8FVxkAWGo6k

    though it may have been just something the Grand Funk Railroad wanted to do all by themselves.

    as did Conrail

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KddVaiE-J3Q

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    You’re right, it was EL by then; put that down to force of habit from a steam man. . .

    Where was Grand Funk Railroad from? For some reason, I keep thinking they were from Chicago.

    In any event, I can see the Grand Trunk Western may have used that version to promote its commuter rail services out of Detroit, which ran into the 1970s.

    Could that last variant by Kylie Minogue be something to be used for the California system? It certainly ties in as stylish, and a golden hit. . .

    Nathanael Reply:

    Grand Funk Railroad was from Flint, Michigan (served *heavily* by the Grand Trunk Railroad and later Canadian National).

    Jonathan Reply:

    Sylvie Vartan has a superb French accent. Is that Mick Jones playing guitar on on the train?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    There’s a good reason Sylvie Vartan has a superb French accent–she’s French!

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

    http://www.google.com/search?q=silvie+vartan&hl=en&prmd=imvnso&tbm=isch&tbo=u&source=univ&sa=X&ei=7W56T8GOIfSO0QGP04y7Bg&ved=0CC0QsAQ&biw=1024&bih=677

    http://www.sylvie-vartan.com/

    Actually, Bulgarian by birth, but living in France since she was seven, so I’d say she’s still very French.

  18. James
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 23:00
    #18

    I take it this is not an April Fool’s joke. I believe the route from Bakersfield through Lancaster and stopping in Palmdale would be the easiest route for them to build. I have said all along the Metrolink could be utilized by High Speed Rail passengers until the CA High Speed train route is constructed further to reach Los Angeles Union Station.
    As of right now, the CA High Speed Rail Authority only has 3 years of funding and assume more is on the way, perhaps through Obama’s administration. Unless the 113th U.S. Congress is mostly Democrats or Mitt Romney (I assume will become the next President) supports the High Speed Rail. It doesn’t look good for the CA High Speed Rail.
    I see the importance of building this bullet train and they should start construction this year. The sooner ridership can begin, the sooner the revenues.

    synonymouse Reply:

    To have revenues the proceeds from fares have to exceed the cost of operation and maintenance. We’ll forget about the cost of construction and financing. What a disappointment is in store. See BART privatization plan.

    Oh, that’s right – there isn’t any. I wonder what could be awry?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    BART is local mass transit ~ if its revenues exceeded its operating cost, that would indicate it was massively under-providing service and should have services expanded to obtain the non-revenue economic benefit that the Bay area is missing out on.

    A sufficiently large share of the economic benefit of HSR is captured by passenger fares to cover its relatively modest per-mile operating costs, and so it makes sense to restrict subsidies to capital subsidies in view of expected full economic benefit and cost, and insist that it generate its operating costs from its farebox revenues.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    But if you can run wires between Lancaster and Burbank, the HSR train can get there appreciably faster than a diesel Metrolink can.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Not really, the track is too curvy, steep or otherwise not suitable for higher speeds until they build the HSR tracks.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Well, electrification *does* help with curvy and steep track, by providing better acceleration when getting out of the slow zones in curves, and up hills.

    But it doesn’t help that much in this case. The Antelope Valley Line route is pretty much nonstop curves, giving you no chance to accelerate.

    Peter Reply:

    The only way to appreciably speed up Lancaster-Burbank is with a completely new alignment. As Metro (or is it MTC?) finally concluded.

    Peter Reply:

    Sorry, MTA, not MTC.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Now that the draft Business Plan is out:

    (1) The role of the Antelope Valley line in the finished system is as a collector/distributor from Burbank and from Palmdale.

    (2) The first service operating on the ICS will not be the IOS, it will be the San Joaquin, operating Rapid Rail mode.

    (3) The “Palmdale Transfer” is onto the San Joaquin running 110mph to Merced then through.

    (4) There is no “Metrolink to HSR Palmdale Transfer” as a terminal-to-terminal transfer, that will be a through-HSR transfer to Metrolink Palmdale to serve the Antelope Valley and upper San Fernado Valley.

    (5) The HSR IOS is from the San Fernando Interchange along the HSR corridor to Merced. That is “Burbank to Merced”.

    (6) The Business Plan does not rule out starting HSR services earlier if it turns out to be possible to do with without risk of an operating loss.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The first HSR service is slated from the “San Fernando” interchange station to Merced. Prior service on the corridor is planned to be provided by San Joaquin service operating as a Rapid Rail service from Merced. So the transfer from Metrolink at Palmdale is replacing the current San Jaoquin bus to Bakersfield: there is no “Palmdale Transfer” for the first Express HSR trains running out of the “San Fernando” interchange station.

  19. Neil Shea
    Apr 1st, 2012 at 04:30
    #19


    Longer article in SF Gate

    “We believe we have a funding plan that allows us to start construction of the nation’s first operable, self-sustaining high-speed rail system connecting the Central Valley with the Los Angeles Basin,” said Dan Richard, the authority’s chairman.

    Financial plan includes more federal funding, selling development rights near station and track, and backstopped by Calif. Cap-and-Trade revenue. The article doesn’t mention an operator paying for the trains themselves, but that’s probably not a big stretch.

    In addition to spending about $2 billion for regional commuter rail improvements at the urban ends of the system, the updated plan also calls for the authority to invest in improvements that include advanced signaling systems and elimination of street-level railroad crossings on the Altamont Commuter Express and Amtrak San Joaquin trains, which would allow them to increase speeds and haul passengers to Merced faster.

    Altamont wins – at least for this Phase 0 – and they are dangling PTC and some grade seps, but not electrification, for ACE and the SJs. This would entail extending ACE trains to (suddenly somewhere) Merced. As part of getting HSR revenue service launched I think this makes sense. Could this mean ‘loco hauling’ HSR cars for a one seat ride, or a cross-platform transfer in Merced?

    Gritty Richmond is of course the San Joaquin-BART transfer point, about a 2:40 trip from Merced on the Amtrak schedules, currently running 4x/day each way. ACE currently runs 2:10 Stockton-San Jose, 3x/day each way.

    Assuming that this Phase 0 lasts 5+ years, Livermore could step up and welcome the creation of a multimodal BART-ACE station. (I’m not holding my breath for that.) But this may be an opportunity for the MTC and the region to reconsider Dumbarton Rail, including the proposed Union City ACE-BART-DB Rail station. The HSR mainline will still go Pacheco when funding is found, but maybe we could even start sending some ACE trains up to SF (and continue this service even with Pacheco in place).

    Overall this does seem like the right IOS to shoot for, and the most practical way to get revenue service started. (Obviously you’ll never please everyone.)

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Here’s the link: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/01/MN2F1NT19T.DTL

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    There’s a new fun phrase that is appearing in the Chronicle article and even highlighted on a map.
    Merced to Burbank.
    Tim Sheehan’s Fresno Bee article says it four times.
    Merced to Burbank.
    Merced to Burbank.
    Merced to Burbank.
    Merced to Burbank.
    Last weeks Metro item discussing Metrolink upgrades talked of a new station on the Antelope Valley line that served Bob Hope Airport.
    Merced to Burbank.
    So much more appealing than pondering Sylmar vs Palmdale.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    As Chairman of the Burbank City Transportation Commission I have no doubt that the wonderful interchange station you all envisage will in due course bear my name…

    Donk Reply:

    LA Times has a much more negative spin on this

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0401-rail-budget-20120401,0,2256846.story

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Even though it’s April 1st, I am still over my monthly allowance of articles from Sam Zell’s LA Times. Therefore, I have no way to read their standard order tripe…

    synonymouse Reply:

    An even more negative tack is taken in an article in today’s SF Chron, unfortunately blocked out:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/01/INQN1NRP66.DTL

    What differs in this article from others is the hint that some liberals worry that the high and ongoing cost of a non-profit infrastructure megaproject like the CHSRA will soak up funds they want to direct to welfare-social services spending.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Thankfully, any paper which paywalls their news is merely cutting their readership, influence, and advertising revenue.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It could be both loco-hauled and transfer ~ for instance, running the ACE from Stockton – San Joaquin Street and terminating the Sacramento leg of the San Joaquin at Stockton – San Joaquin street would allow a cross platform transfer with a loco-hauled HST on the San Joaquin route from Merced to Oakland.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Livermore could step up and welcome the creation of a multimodal BART-ACE station.

    You mean in addition to the $500 million Alameda County is going to spend on BART-Livremore?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    I mean they could let the location of BART be next to the train tracks instead of in the middle of 580. But we can all predict they will break the hearts of so many Altamont advocates here and insist that their $500m BART station be located impossibly far from the train tracks.

    Jon Reply:

    How are they going to get the ACE trains to Stockton? Seems like the only feasible routes are joining the BNSF line at Stockton (slow) or joining the UP line at Lathrop (requires UP cooperation.) Unless they have some sort of deal worked out with UP I’m skeptical that ACE will be much use as a feeder.

    As for the San Joaquin, it would be easy enough to build a short connector track to a temporary station under the new HSR station. But it’s still pretty slow travel time from most of the Bay Area, and it will force a lot of people to transfer at the world’s worst train station in Richmond, which due to it’s crappy design already gets overcrowded.

    Strongly think that BART intermodal ACE station in Livermore will be required if this plan is to be workable, along with major increases in frequency on the San Joaquins and ACE.

    Jon Reply:

    I meant, how are they going to get ACE to Merced…

    Clem Reply:

    Once you connect BART to standard gauge commuter rail in Livermore, how long will it take for someone to realize that it’s far cheaper to extend HSR from Merced to Livermore than to Gilroy?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many years after full fat HSR between LA and SF is running is it going to take BART to get to Livermore? Should BART even go to Livermore.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    BART’s going to Stockton. What Clem is in denial about is that the real antagonist to Altamont is the Union Pacific because that’s a valuable freight route for them. They don’t want competition in any way, shape, or form.

    BART, as the grade separated, broad gauge option is precisely the eunuch sought to watch the harem.

    But the essence of your question would be answered this way: west of the Mississippi, nearly all urban development is a product of artificial land use management. In other words, cities in the “East” grew up along natural phenomenon like the fall line of a river, or the shore of a lake.

    In the “West”, our settlements all chart the pathways humans created, be them trails, railroads of highways. For California to succeed in the 21st century, you need there to be effective rail linkages between different settlements because that’s how the state was laid out 150 years ago. The debate is really over “what” not “if”. Thus in the Bay Area you have the “BART Doctrine” shall we say… but in the rest of the state there’s competing visions and in the end it will take almost another century to settle it once and for all.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then PATH trains should go to Philadelphia and DC Metro trains to Baltimore or Richmond. And the T should go to Providence or Portland. And the L to Milwaukee.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The T does go to Providence, occasionally (not nearly as frequently as it should).

    It took me a while to get the hang of it, but in Boston the T is just the MBTA, including not just the subway but also everything else. The subway is the subway.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Um, that’s totally nonsensical.

    NJ Transit goes from Penn Station almost to Philadelphia.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    NJT goes from Penn Station to Trenton. If what you mean is that there’s a separate line that goes from Trenton to Camden then sure, but that’s not a line that’s ever meant to have anything to do with the New York-based rail system. It’s one of the Philly-based lines, operated by NJT because NJT is a state agency rather than a metro area agency.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    PATCO is run by the Delaware River Port Authority which is Philadelphia’s bridge authority like the PA of NY&NJ is for Manhattan. NJTransit does run trains to Lindenwold, the terminus of the PATCO trains, so you can change to the trains going to Atlantic City….
    So there’s another example, PATCO runs to Lindenwold and NJTransit runs to AC.

    For the past few summers there was direct service from New York to Atlantic City. No one though diverting PATCO trains to New York would be a good idea. Lay enough third rail and it could be done, PATCO from Atlantic City to New York. Since the line between 30th Street and Atlantic City is standard North American passenger line you could run trains from Miami or Los Angeles or Seattle to Atlantic City.

    …and no one has a problem that the DRPA runs the PATCO trains, SEPTA runs the Broad Street Subway and NJTransit runs the line to Atlantic City. And no one has a problem that SEPTA runs two different kinds of trains to two different stations in Norristown…. Tell PATCO riders that SEPTIC is going to take over there’d be rioting.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    …and no one has a problem that Greater Philadelphia’s transit mode share is 10%.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The mode share for people who are actually near a SEPTA station is higher. Philly (a) sprawled away from the rails, and then (b) a whole bunch of the best lines and stations were ripped out (particularly the trolleys). Results: predictable.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s too easy to drive and too easy to park in Philadelphia. Metro Philadelphia is the country’s 5th biggiest metro area. Right between Houston and Dallas-Fort Worth. The transit geeks are all agog over Houston’s light rail and Dallas’s light rail and somewhat confused by Denton County’s light rail. What the mode share in DFW or Houston?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I want to say 2-3% for both.

    But why go to Texas? San Francisco, sans San Jose, has a 14% mode share. Washington has a 15% share.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    PATH goes to Newark a whole ten miles away from Penn Station or the World Trade Center.
    The E, J and Z trains go to Jamaica as does the LIRR. If you want to go to Ronkonkoma you get on an LIRR train and if it’s rush hour an express train that doesn’t make many stops in Nassau County and Queens. The 2 and the 5 trains go to Woodlawn. If you want to go to New Haven you take Metro North or Amtrak.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Okay but I don’t think you quite get it–

    In California, we have two types of transit agencies. Ones which are confined to a particular county (like Muni) and ones that are cross-jurisidictional like BART and Metrolink.

    In New York, you have the Subway which is the equivalent of the county-confined transit agencies in California. And you also have three separate commuter rail entities as you note.

    In the end, would it make more sense to have ONE agency run all commuter trains in and out of Penn Station/Grand Central? Would it be groovy to have a U-Bahn/RER/BART train that has one New Jersey trunk, one Upstate trunk, and one Long Island trunk split off over time? Sure.

    But the key difference again is that settlement patterns in the East are far more checkerboard than in the West, where the railroad (or highway or trail) basically determined settlement patterns. So you can use commuter rail to serve it, or HSR, or Richard’s underwater subway…but the pattern doesn’t change.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Okay but I don’t think you quite get it

    I get that you think just because transit agencies in the Bay Area are dysfunctional all transit agencies are.

    In California, we have two types of transit agencies. Ones which are confined to a particular county (like Muni) and ones that are cross-jurisidictional like BART and Metrolink.

    And like ACTransit and SamTrans? I’m not clear on whether they are county constrained or cross jurisdictional. I dunno where you put the buses that run between BART stations and Marin County.

    In New York, you have the Subway which is the equivalent of the county-confined transit agencies in California. And you also have three separate commuter rail entities as you note.

    The New York City subway collects 5 million fares on an average weekday. And that one line, the Lexington Ave line carries three times as many people as BART does. Or that more people use the Times Square complex everyday than use BART. Or that PATH, obscure shy humble little old PATH carries almost as many. And that PATH not only crosses county boundaries but state boundaries. And replaced it’s fleet at an average cost of just under 1.5 million a car. And that that since the Port Authority can find a billion dollars under it’s couch pillows, it’s a good thing that the PA runs PATH and not some uberagency that has a multitude of priorities.

    In the end, would it make more sense to have ONE agency run all commuter trains in and out of Penn Station/Grand Central?

    One agency runs all the trains into Grand Central. Before the PRR went bankrupt one agency ran all the trains into Penn Station. For a short while one agency ran all of the trains into Penn Station and Grand Central. There was even a brief attempt to have people call the station on 7th Ave and 32nd Street Penn Central Station but after New Yorkers stopped giggling, it was quietly dropped.

    Would it be groovy to have a U-Bahn/RER/BART train that has one New Jersey trunk, one Upstate trunk, and one Long Island trunk split off over time? Sure.

    No. The people in Stamford have very little pull in Albany and even less in Trenton. The people in Short Hills have very little pull in Albany and almost none in Hartford. The people in Great Neck have little pull in Albany and none in Trenton or Hartford. An uber agency would make the state level even less responsible. Just what we need, another Port Authority.

    But the key difference again is that settlement patterns in the East are far more checkerboard than in the West, where the railroad (or highway or trail) basically determined settlement patterns.

    Old Maids Never Wed And Have Babies

    Overbrook, Merion, Narberth, Wynnewood, Ardmore, Haverford and Bryn Mawr

    ..though I’ve always thought that old maids having babies was rather scandalous and very atypical for the Main Line.

    The Northeast and Midwest are littered with suburbs that grew up around the railroad station. Most of them exist because of the railroad station. The railroad suburbs in California are frightening similar to railroad suburbs all over the world. The faux architecture varies as do the plants in the well tended landscaping but they are all more or less the same… Almost all of them will have a few Tudorbethans complete with English garden landscaping.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    The railroad suburbs in California are frightening similar to railroad suburbs all over the world.

    … hmm, they sure don’t look anything like the railroad suburbs around here…

    http://g.co/maps/5tj2r

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Miles that could be anywhere within a few blocks of Flushing Main Street on the LIRR. Though I don’t think Flushing has ever been that tidy.

    Jonathan Reply:

    @tom:

    Would it be groovy to have a U-Bahn/RER/BART train that has one New Jersey trunk, one Upstate trunk, and one Long Island trunk split off over time? Sure.

    Yes, but read for comprehension. U-bahn is underground. What you mean is:
    Would it be groovy to have a U-Bahn/RER/BART train that has one New Jersey trunk, one Upstate trunk, and one Long Island trunk split off over time? Sure.

    Except, read for comprenension again: the reason and RER work so well, is that they interconnect with, interoperate with, and even partly run over the national rail _network_.

    The only way you can get that with a BART is to nuke the BART from orbit, and replace it from the ground up. (“It’s the only way to be sure.”)

    swing hanger Reply:

    To be fair to Adirondacker, the example Miles gives is a rather densely settled inner suburb in Kohoku Ward in Yokohama on the venerable Toyoko Line. There are rather more spread out (and recently established) railroad suburbs in Japan also, such as Nagareyama in Chiba Pref:
    http://g.co/maps/6xemt
    There are rather pleasant railroad-created suburbs along the lines of the garden city concept from many years back, such as Denenchofu, which was developed by the Tokyo Yokohama Electric Express Railway (Tokyu) back in the early 20th century:
    http://g.co/maps/gfx2g

    Alon Levy Reply:

    S-Bahn. U-Bahn is a subway that’s separate from all other traffic (in the largest cities), or integrated with light rail (in the smaller cities).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Denenchofu, which was developed by the Tokyo Yokohama Electric Express Railway (Tokyu) back in the early 20th century:

    Except for the Japanese on the Wendy’s sign I’d say it’s along the Port Washington Branch of the LIRR that’s not Flushing. The station-house is vaguely reminiscent of the Dutch Colonial Revival that the LIRR was fond of. The KFC is indistinguishable from a KFC anywhere in rich suburban North America or Europe. Well except in Quebec where it’s Poulet Frit Kentucky

    S-Bahn. U-Bahn is a subway that’s separate from all other traffic
    Easy for an Anglophone, probably anyone who speaks a Germanic language, U-bahn is short for Untergrundbahn. Things that are untergrund are underground….

    Now if we could just get them to change their logo…
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Underground.svg

    Stadtschnellbahn isn’t so easy but S-bahns are the ones that aren’t untergrund….

    Though like the subway in NY, U-bahns can run above ground or the L in Chicago S-bahns can run underground, can’t they?

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Denenchofu is completely atypical though. In fact it’s a pretty weird place…

    swing hanger Reply:

    “Denenchofu is completely atypical though”
    Yes, its full of rich people, and its actually located on the inside edge of bluecollarish Ota Ward, rather than Setagaya Ward, as many people mistakenly believe.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Er, anyway, if somebody says “show me a Japanese suburban station!” and you show them Denenchofu, you’d be misleading them. The vast majority of Japanese suburban stations are absolutely nothing like that.

    flowmotion Reply:

    adirondacker – Perhaps you’re being sarcastic, but regional transportation in the East Coast megalopolis has always been a mess due to the political boundaries. California doesn’t have these problems.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Sorry but in most places there was the railroad and the trolley company. If you live near an Erie station it doesn’t really matter that the station 30 miles away is run by the DL&W. And both of them are served by a PSCoordinated Transport bus. and the bus running along Northern Blvd in Queens is nearly irrelevant.

    Jonathan Reply:

    call 911, I’m not only ROTFL, I’m choking.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Which Bart is going to get to Stockton, eBART or real BART?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Real BART.

    Eventually there will be enough population growth to support the Pleasanton and Pittsburg trains being extended and meeting in Tracy, where they can extend the track into downtown Stockton.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Stop BART before they expand again!

    Seriously, BART is a cancer, everything is non-standard, no standard rolling stock, everything costs 5-10x what standard rail should cost. All the cars need to be replaced but the funding is not in place to do that. It doesn’t support express service, skipping stations or ‘blended’ operation. It should only be extended brief distances to make major connections to other systems, and no further.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    A cancer? Isn’t that a bit harsh?

    synonymouse Reply:

    I certainly agree BART is a disappointment and I am glad I don’t have to ride it.

    The question of the day is whether the blend sticks and Ring the Bay is indeed sealed in the crypt. Remains to be seen.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    At $200m per mile to construct, tracks not interoperable with other systems, cars not interoperable, no ability for express service, no ability for blended service, and sucking transit dollars away from much more cost-effective, interoperable projects — yes, that is why I called it a cancer.

    I know people like it because it is grade separated and it goes places people want to go and it runs often. I do agree with using the ‘BART’ brand name for a unified Bay Area transit system that relies on standard gauge rail for all new lines (and eventually has to address replacing the legacy wide gauge BART lines with standard gauge someday).

    Jonathan Reply:

    A cancer? Isn’t that a bit harsh?

    No, I don’t think it is. Look at mega$/mile, or mega$-per-two-car-set; and look at how MTC has been crippling non-BART transit for a generation.

    Jon Reply:

    Why do you think BART will get to Stockton? Not even the MTC are stupid enough to waste that sort of money, and BART will want to complete extensions to Livermore, Brentwood, Hercules and ring-the-bay before they think about crossing marshland and mountains to serve a city outside of their district.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Exactly. But that’s all I am saying. Once Ring the Bay is done, and you have lines almost touching each other outside of Tracy, then building one more track from Tracy to Stockton isn’t that far a leap….

    Jon Reply:

    Maybe, but then we’re talking so far in the future as to have zero effect on phase 0 HSR.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Clem, you think that Livermore is going to let the BART get anywhere near the ACE tracks? They will not having that big city BART interloper anywhere near their downtown, it must be safely sequestered in the 580 median.

    I do think there will be pushes to extend HSR north from Merced early. I think they could probably get it up to Stockton before someone successfully sues for building Phase 2 before Phase 1 is finished. I bet it will cost much less than Pacheco full build and I would not be opposed to that.

    But it cannot turn West to Livermore since it has nowhere to go from there. If it can’t make it to SF TBT then we can’t wate money building a premium priced ‘train to nowhere’.

    Clem Reply:

    Who said anything about downtown? Whenever Livermore or Pleasanton come up for discussion, the same obsession for downtown alignments always comes up as when the CHSRA was drumming up opposition in 2007. Keep BART on 580 and keep HSR to the South.

    Who can sue if it’s part of phase 1 ?

    joe Reply:

    Anyone can sue. PAMPA sued the EIR over for HSR outreach in South Santa Clara County and Monterey County.

    Any group wanting to “protect” the Bay from any crossing would sue HSR in Livermore over whatever they can find – and they’d drum up opposition along proposed extensions.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    This map is the proposal, really? Wow, you’re not serious! The two main systems come together in a field outside of Livermore? TOD in the vineyards? Build a huge new suburban job park there? Grand Central Station of the Boonies with busses to where exactly…?

    Move the development greenline out to the far reaches of the region, OR have the two systems link in an empty field? And then the end of line HSR station in the middle of Fremont miles any BART station (with a big BART-style parking garage)?

    Clem, you’re right about so many things I don’t believe you’re even suggesting this. America’s Finest Transit Advocates have got to be much better than THIS!

    jimsf Reply:

    The only way altamont would make sense is for hsr to follow 580 into oakland then across to sf. which won’t happen for decades.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It won’t happen ever because San Francisco, in it’s infinite wisdom, decided that building iconic signature skyscrapers was more important than building a train station that would allow that to happen.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s not TOD, it’s a transfer station. And even as TOD, it’s no worse than BART’s past track record.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    All of Livermore is a “field outside of Livermore”. Ever been there? (I have, hundreds of times. Not that facts matter to you.)

    Downtown Livermore is, quite literally, a parking lot and barren demolished site behind the back of a strip mall.

    TOD-tastic!

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Hmmm, Downtown Ollie’s Saloon, or Good Time Tavern…. choices, choices…

    Nathanael Reply:

    Ahem. Lawrence Livermore Labs?

    Jonathan Reply:

    LLNL? And some people complain about the prospect of HSR security theater! ;)

    LLNL is nowhere near “downtown” Livermore. You have to drive a long way past housing and gated developments. And _then_ you reach the real security theater.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Well, it makes perfect sense then that you as America’s Finest Transit Advocate would nominate it as the major hub node in the regional rail system, excellent choice of location! Remind me again why no one listens to you Richard?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Certainly! it’s only a block and half from the Livermore station where 4 sometimes even 5 trains a day wander through on their 35 MPH adventure.

    Clem Reply:

    Totally 100% serious.

    It needs to be in a field outside Livermore because trains will be blasting through there at 200 mph. That’s not something you necessarily want to live near, no matter what you may hear coming out of half-informed community workshops in Gilroy.

    Take a look at a map of France sometime. The common practice there is to put the HSR station on the outskirts of towns, what you call the boonies. Examples: Reims, Metz, Valence, Avignon, Aix-en-Provence, Vendome, and the much-reviled Haute-Picardie station.

    Whatever, you might say… what do the French know about HSR anyway?

    The SETEC alignment ends in Fremont on my map, but you can see where it might continue along the water corridor, diving into a twin bore tunnel under the Dumbarton along nearly the same alignment and depth as the water tunnel being built there today. Read up here about the SETEC proposal.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Spain. Just a couple choices from dozens of examples:
    Cuenca
    Requena
    Elche
    Villena
    Medina del Campo

    Evidence (evidence!) does seem to suggest that 300+kmh trains mix with urbanist fantasy “TOD” only in the minds of the dimmer residents of California.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Jon,

    There are plans (notice I say plans) to build a right of way along Route 120 in Manteca that would link the line that ACE uses to serve Stockton and the BNSF track that the San Joaquins use. However, if that doesn’t materialize it’s not really an advantage to use the blended plan.

    That’s why, in the end Pacheco will get built because UP doesn’t really need the line for freight whereas it’s exactly the opposite for the route ACE uses through Altamont.

    And why, instead of using ACE, they are going to have the Central California Railroad Authority append the San Joaquins in Merced.

  20. Emma
    Apr 1st, 2012 at 12:10
    #20

    You know what’s funny? We will be back to the moon long before we will see Californians riding High Speed Rail. Hmm…. Maybe California should invest in space travel. I mean, it’s the future and it would come at a lower price tag. In exchange, all California tax payers are guaranteed subsidized fares for roundtrips to the moon. Now that’s a deal.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Actually, we’re never going back to the moon.

    Why? Because there’s nothing there.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Love it: “Saturn V to Nowhere.”

    (there *is* He_3, which gives you aneutronic fusion; but practical fusion is 40 years away, and has been so for 50 years.)

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    You can get it with boron anyhow, no need for silly He-3 stunts and eating the entire lunar regolith to power a handful of reactors.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Space-X is based in SoCal…

  21. Emma
    Apr 1st, 2012 at 12:18
    #21

    That being said I’m glad that Brown beat some sense into this plan. Now $20 billion more to go and we’re back to the original proposal.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You could save a cool $2bil at Tejon for starters.

    I wonder how long it will take for the pols to grasp what a pr disaster the startup of the hybrid mini-hsr will be. Really poor passenger counts and mounting red ink. Most of the traffic will be Palmdale to LA and LaLa will demand a below market subsidized commute fare. What an embarrassment, but Jerry will be out of office by then. His political descendants will have to cope with the fiasco.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It’ll be just as much of a PR disaster as the Channel Tunnel!

    Which sparked a movement to build MORE high speed rail in the UK.

    Nathanael Reply:

    (Note that I’m not kidding, the Chunnel *was* a PR disaster on opening day, but it ended up helping the cause of rail in the UK anyway).

    Andy M. Reply:

    exactly.

    It was not long ago that Bristish governments were saying, we don’t need HSR because our Victorian railway system is so much better than what the French and Japanese are doing. That tune has changed somewhat. But I wouldn’t say the Chunnel was the only contributory factor. The other was the botched upgrade of the WCML, ie, the belief that you can buy a world-class rail system for cheap came to a rude and unpleasant awakening as costs spiralled and specs scaled back.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The CTRL fiasco put back UK rail by a couple decades.

    But that’s OK, because a couple decades later they’re maybe sort of perhaps going to partially recover! Building on the spectacular Anglophone follow-on “success” of WCML modernization!

    With successes like that and friends like these …

    Useless Reply:

    The 2 hour 40 minute mandate could be met by running one non-stop train from SF to LA daily. The high speed train would make up for lost time running through shared tracks by increasing the speed to 230 mph.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    For one (or three or four) Flyers each way each day, there is no reason for there to be any time lost running on shared, 110mph~125mph track. After all, even when it was going to be exclusive HSR track, it was still going to be 110mph~125mph track.

    Instead, the big cost saving of the blended plan is right of way acquisition and civil engineering costs in running a separate closed HSR corridor. Operating on shared Rapid Rail track on existing Rail Corridor right of way, there’s plenty of scope to upgrade existing corridors so that they can serve as required.

    Bear in mind that when the morning Flyer leaves LA and SF, its the early morning hours and the full peak hour local service frequency hasn’t built up yet. So for a morning flyer, you only need to organize the a single inbound run so that the way is clear ahead of it … for instance, ensure that the closest local ahead of it will be arriving in station before the HSR is, and do timed overtakes of local Expresses operating on what is usually Local rail capacity, and have the next Local trail the HSR down the line … and you’ve got a clear full speed path,

    The key “deal” in the Blended Plan is, HSR: “we’ll invest in stuff that you can use as extra capacity, but we have to be able to use it in a way that meets our needs”. Local Rail: “Yes, we’ll take the extra capacity and we promise you can make use of it the way you need to”.

    The flip side is that the station skipper kind of schedule that was in the EIR which only Operations Research specialists really like might give way to a more capacity-efficient hierarchical Local / Semi-Express / Express / Flyer approach. If the Authority is clever, they’ll have service minimum benchmarks in their solicitation for bids and leave it up to the bidder how to organize a schedule that makes the franchisee money while meeting all service commitments.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    In constant dollars its $53b~$64b, depending on where it lands between the low cost and high cost options … if you have a $33b system that delivers 2:40 LA-US to SF-TBT, I’m sure the governor’s office would love to have it.

  22. Neville Snark
    Apr 1st, 2012 at 14:57
    #22
  23. nobody_important
    Apr 2nd, 2012 at 06:50
    #23

    So everything’s still going to be grade separated right?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Everything in the finished SF-TBT to LA-US plan? Seems like it.

    “Everything” in the intermediate Bay to Basin step? Not necessarily, that does not require the shared operation at the ends to operate at full speed.

    “Everything” in the HSR Initial Operating Service? It seems like it, that is on HSR corridor for beginning to end.

    “Everything” in the Amtrak running onto the Initial Construction Segment? Only on the ICS.

  24. Useless
    Apr 2nd, 2012 at 10:23
    #24

    The business plan is posted here. The IOC segment stops at Palmdale, and you have to transfer to Metrolink from there.
    http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/uploadedFiles/Document_Repository/Business_Plans/Draft%20Revised%202012%20Business%20Plan.pdf

    BruceMcF Reply:

    What does “IOC segment” mean. Page ES-13, the Initial Operating Service will run from Merced to the San Fernando Valley on HSR corridor.

    Also:

    Currently, the IOS is defined as extending from Merced to the San Fernando Valley, and high-speed revenue service would only start once the full IOS is built and operable. Should ridership and revenue forecasts and financial projections demonstrate that revenue service compliant with Proposition 1A could begin earlier, with a shorter IOS, appropriate reviews would occur to consider and implement earlier service, if appropriate. (2-11)

    NCUS, Northern California Unified Service, slated for 2018 (ES-14), runs on the Initial Construction Segment, ICS, through to Bakersfield. But that is the San Joaquin, which would be “Rapid Rail” when freed of the limits of freight rail corridors, but is definitely not Express HSR. (2-10,11)

    Regarding whether the link at Palmdale is a San Joaquin or an Express HSR … well, see above, its a San Joaquin unless ridership and revenue forecasts and financial projections demonstrate that a Prop1a compliant service can begin earlier, in which case it can be HSR.

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    At the Fresno press conference today I asked Dan Richard about the IOC. Palmdale? Sylmar? Burbank? He took a jovial tone, said yes to all three, and quipped that “we’ve been talking Burbank recently because no one knows where Sylmar is!”

  25. Matthew
    Apr 2nd, 2012 at 19:07
    #25

    I wonder how much ad revenue they could squeeze out of Jamba Juice by agreeing to a cross-promotion for their “blended” plans…

Comments are closed.