Legislature Appears To Have Votes To Approve HSR Funding

Mar 23rd, 2012 | Posted by

Big news today out of Sacramento, where Bee columnist and high speed rail opponent Dan Walters concedes that the votes appear to be there in the Legislature to approve HSR funding:

Its popularity has declined sharply, many of its details have yet to emerge, and independent authorities have questioned its financial and operational viability, but California’s bullet train project is very likely to get the green light from the Legislature soon.

That’s the consensus of those who have been counting votes among the Legislature’s dominant Democrats, who can give the California High-Speed Rail Authority authorization to sell bonds and begin construction of an initial segment in the San Joaquin Valley.

As you can tell by that first paragraph, Walters isn’t happy about this, and the rest of his column is devoted to a rehash of his usual, debunked criticisms of the project. But it’s the news about the votes that really matters. Walters has good sources inside the Legislature and this is a good sign that Democrats won’t join the Republicans and the Tea Party to kill one of President Barack Obama’s signature initiatives.

No word yet on whether Senators Joe Simitian or Alan Lowenthal are among the yes votes for HSR funding, but if other Democrats are supportive, that’s all that’s needed. Governor Jerry Brown’s strong support for the project, combined with the obvious need for affordable non-oil based transportation within California, have certainly helped. So too has the work of new California High Speed Rail Authority board chairman Dan Richard, who has been working to lower the cost of the project and get more funding to the Bay Area and Southern California for HSR work.

Still, we know that this news will drive the anti-rail zealots crazy, and they will intensify their efforts to kill the project in the Legislature. So HSR supporters need to continue their efforts to lobby legislators to do the right thing and vote to fund high speed rail in California this year.

  1. Neil Shea
    Mar 23rd, 2012 at 17:38

    It is great news, and yes the anti forces will not stop — including many of the technical perfectionists who we know and love on this blog. But this is a testament to the hard work and savvy of Dan Richard and how Gov. Brown realigned the committee.

    And who wants to speculate that they first put out the $98.5B 20-year plan to anchor very low expectations so that now when the faster cheaper plan comes out everything looks so much better?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    A friend of mine has a variation of Ghandi’s description of a fight;

    Ghandi’s original quote is “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then you win.”

    My friend’s variation is “First they think you’re nuts, then they fight and scream at you, then they say ‘We knew it was a good idea all the time.'”

    Do you think this will work out with the anti-rail zealots, or will they still be fighting when the trains start running?

    joe Reply:

    Or for HSR
    “First they ignore you, then they laugh at you, then they fight you, then they ride you.”

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    I’m quite sure Ghandi would have opposed transferring vast amounts of taxpayers dollars to a British conglomerate.

    VBobier Reply:

    Or giving $4 Billion in tax breaks every Year to oil companies who makes Billions in profits every Year like BP, who said the Gulf of Mexico is cleaned up when it isn’t, the News had some Dolphins show up on the Beach recently suffering from ingesting oil(causes problems with breathing and dehydration) or that washed up on shore DEAD…

    Gandhi I think was a Progressive, not a cheapskate who thinks the Earth is to be bent to Human will and arrogance…

    Born and raised in a Hindu Bania community in coastal Gujarat, and trained in law at the Inner Temple in London, Gandhi first employed non-violent civil disobedience as an expatriate lawyer in South Africa, in the resident Indian community’s struggle for civil rights. After his return to India in 1915, he set about organising peasants, farmers, and urban labourers to protest excessive land-tax and discrimination. Assuming leadership of the Indian National Congress in 1921, Gandhi led nationwide campaigns for easing poverty, expanding women’s rights, building religious and ethnic amity, ending untouchability, increasing economic self-reliance, but above all for achieving Swaraj—the independence of India from foreign domination.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    He also opposed mass industrialization on the grounds that “Britain needed the resources of half the world to industrialize; how many worlds will India need?” On those grounds he supported predominantly self-sufficient agrarian communities. Not exactly the kind of person who’d pitch HSR as a development priority.

    VBobier Reply:

    Point taken.

    John Reply:

    Ha ha Dan Walters! Ha ha. Never a more realiable source! You people are fools!!!

  2. BMF from San Diego
    Mar 23rd, 2012 at 19:08

    The anti rail zealots know in their bones that they never had a losing argument and not a real fighting chance of prevailing.

    BMF from San Diego Reply:

    Excuse me…. “…they has a losing argument…”

    VBobier Reply:

    In 2008 they were losers in the election, when Governor Brown was elected for a 3rd term they lost again, If the Bonds are approved by the CA Legislature, then in 2012, the losers will still be losers for a 4th time…

    One can only hope for Good News for HSR.

    VBobier Reply:

    That should be a 3rd time…

  3. Jack
    Mar 23rd, 2012 at 21:19

    Build, Baby Build!

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Now that’s a clever slogan for the Democrats this year…don’t hesitate to use it.

    VBobier Reply:

    Love that slogan, best I’ve heard in a while…

  4. Back in the Saddle
    Mar 23rd, 2012 at 21:39

    Eagerly awaiting the issue of the first RFPs and awarding the first contracts. Get ‘ur going!!!! Don’t let any initiative get off the ground to force a new vote on the project. Putting people to work is the best way to kill any such effort.

  5. J. Wong
    Mar 23rd, 2012 at 23:16

    The ICS is going to get built no matter what. And once it’s started, the funding for the other segments will be found. All the nay-sayers should just give up and call it a day, but I know they won’t. I fully expect @Morris Brown and others to be laying down in front of the bulldozers when they start construction. ;-)

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I wonder if they’ll lay down in front of the trains after the bulldozers get done.

    jimsf Reply:


    John Burrows Reply:

    Laying down in front of a train—How to get a lot of attention at a terrible personal cost—Check out Brian Willson, Concord Naval Weapons Station (Sept1, 1987)

    Neil Shea Reply:

    You’re right @JW. There’s a lot of crying in their cornflakes in my local PAMPA this week. But there’s far more cheering overall as this is a very important step to energy alternatives, greenhouse gas alternatives, and California competitiveness.

    It’s a great testament to the vision of California that Jerry Brown articulated as a place that is growing, is innovative and is a leader. Once again California shows the way. Besides visiting friends in LA and the CV, and business travel, I’m looking forward to going down to even to see events at the Kodak theater, the Staples Center and even a 49ers game at the proposed downtown LA stadium.

    California is a great state with great regions. As was pointed out here, many visitors will conveniently arrive at one of our gateway airports and easily visit Yosemite, Monterey, Orange County, SF & LA (renting cars only on the days they really need them, e.g. not in SF). This is very good news.

    Meanwhile I encourage all of us who are correctly so concerned about use of public funds to unite on a new Anti-Prisons and Anti-Sprawl blog.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “There’s a lot of crying in their cornflakes in my local PAMPA this week.”–Neil Shea

    Neil, I assume that’s some sort of newspaper comment site. Do you have a link to it? That might be fun reading around here!

    Matthew B Reply:

    “49ers game at the proposed downtown LA stadium”
    I’m surprised nobody has commented on this one yet. I’m not really a football fan, but given the norcal/socal culture wars that have bubbled beneath the surface of these boards I would have thought someone would have something to say :-) I have family in both norcal and socal, which is why I really want HSR built. Please stop wasting my time checking into yet another Southwest flight!

  6. Tom McNamara
    Mar 23rd, 2012 at 23:18

    Just saw this story from earlier today:

    Expo Line Opens April 28th

    In a town used to blockbusters, get ready for ridership records to be smashed… er obliterated…and that’s before USC’s first football game in September.

    Matthew B Reply:

    Look to LA to surpass MUNI’s light rail ridership to become the second highest ridership system in the country: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_United_States_light_rail_systems_by_ridership

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    It could easily surpass the T as well….

    Jamie B Reply:

    To be fair, once LA surpasses SF or Boston in ridership, it will have a system that is multitudes larger (in terms of track length)

    Matthew B Reply:

    It also has a larger population to draw ridership from, but it should help to silence critics who claim that there are no decent public transportation systems for CAHSR to connect to. LA should be applauded for its efforts to expand public transport.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I think the bigger question is why they continue to build light rail instead of heavy rail. I realize there is a cost difference, but I could see the need to retrofit many of these lines to third rail in time.

    Peter Reply:

    Who says you need third rail for heavy rail? It’s already electrified via OCS.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Isn’t there a voltage difference for catenary versus contact wire? I know that issue came up with BART and HSR using the same power source….

    Peter Reply:

    You can have heavy rail vehicles that use the same voltage as light rail vehicles. “Light” vs. “heavy” rail is not “light” vs. “dark”, there’s no real delineation between the two.

    Frankfurt U-Bahn uses OCS, for example. In fact, they use some of the same vehicles for their “heavy rail” U-Bahn as San Diego Trolley uses as “light rail”.

    You need to think outside the box somewhat and look a little further than what goes on in the U.S.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    HSR needs to have high voltage in order to have enough juice. Urban rail, not so much. The Blue Line in Boston in fact runs on catenary outside the central tunneled segment, converted from trolleywire.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    I am not sure whether I understand the question completely. But, if it is a comparison between “trolley wire” elastic lines and “double tensioned catenary”, the rule of thumb is nowadays that if you go beyond 80 km/h, you are at the absolute end with “trolley wire”. The voltage used does not really matter; all you have to do is to use big enough insulators. The SNCF uses “trolley wire” for stub and yard tracks, even under 25 kV, for example. Well, one limiting factor is the current you can transfer via “trolley wire”, and that’s maybe 500 A with regular wire; at 3 kV, you that means 1.5 kW, which is barely enough for an EMU. That means you will need additional wires, be it as feeders or as support wires.

    If I remember correctly, the maximum implemented high speed with 3 kV DC is around 250 km/h in Italy, and France has/had 200 km/h operation under 1.5 kV.

    Peter Reply:

    LA’s light rail does not use “trolley wire”. That’s not a reason preventing them from running “heavy rail” on their existing “light rail” lines.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Max, the question more correctly put is….

    Is there rolling stock available that could carry as many passengers per trainset as a subway does that uses overhead catenary?

    The reason is because the grade separation on many of Metro’s line is incompatible with running a “heavy rail” type system. (Don’t worry Peter, I know the gauge and track itself isn’t the issue).

    Of the top of my head, I couldn’t think of a subway system/elevated track that uses catenary, hence the question.

    Peter Reply:

    Is there rolling stock available that could carry as many passengers per trainset as a subway does that uses overhead catenary?

    Yes, easily. Another example, from the good old U.S. of A.

    You could run these on the existing tracks, if you really wanted to, even with the existing grade crossings (some of them may have to be slightly modified). There’s nothing standing in the way of bigger trains.

    Grade separation is in fact the only thing standing in the way of more frequent service, however. As someone pointed out on here recently, grade separations do nothing for the train service. Without them, however, more frequent service may not be politically palatable (more frequent closures of grade crossings can cause traffic congestion). But you don’t need service every 5 minutes on every line. That’s why LA has “heavy rail” on some lines, and “light rail” on others.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    @Tom McNamara: Within the US: sure, one example has been shown, and the other example coming to my mind is MTA Metro North’s EMUs.

    Worldwide, the most heavily used subway/commuter rail network has mostly overhead: Tokyo.

    Or the rolling stock used for the München S-Bahn, and other S-Bahn networks in Germany.

    Or the rolling stock used on RER lines in Paris.

    Or, or, or.

    Third rail has its advantages in tight tunnels, but even that is getting less an issue with appropriate equipment.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The subway portion of Sydney’s Cityrail system are all operated with bi-level catenary equipment.

    As Alon said, trams (“light rail”) and heavy rail may be different voltages, but need not be. There’s a preference for trams running on a street alignment to prefer the lower voltage power supply, but some of the new tram-trains, like the Citadis-Dualis, are semi-low-floor (all doors in the low floor segment) and offered with made dual power source, with street-tram voltage and also either 1.5kV DC or 25kV AC or diesel generation.

    If the trams are running in a dedicated alignment, using tramline or catenary are both options.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Subway systems that are not integrated with light rail (i.e. subway-surface lines, such as the Frankfurt U-Bahn and Muni Metro) or with mainline rail (e.g. Tokyo, Seoul, any S-Bahn/RER) usually use third rail, but even then there are exceptions. The Shanghai Metro uses catenary, and so does the Northeast Line of Singapore’s MRT.

    In other words, there exists rolling stock that’s identical to a third rail subway in all respects except electricity collection. In fact, there exists a lot of such rolling stock, because the Tokyo rail network uses trains with rapid transit rather than regional rail specs (4 doors per side, preference for low weight and cost over high performance) and for the most part the same is true of the bigger S-Bahn/RER systems.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, the original Sydney City Loop subway/El from Central Station through Town Hall,
    Wynyard, the Y to the Sydney Harbor Bridge & North Sydney, Circular Quay, St. James, Museum and back to Central Station, was an addition that helped form what was originally distinct regional intercity lines (started when “Sydney City” was a distinct city) into an integrated urban system. The subways added since then ~ Martin Place, the Airport, Epping/Chatswood, have been adding to a primarily at-grade system.

  7. D. P. Lubic
    Mar 23rd, 2012 at 23:19

    In other news, comments from Capt’n Transit on passenger trains and their potential profitability:


  8. Alon Levy
    Mar 24th, 2012 at 00:17

    The FRA is proposing a new set of regulations allowing lighter trains than the current Tier I-compatible crop, the FEC is proposing a privately funded intercity service, CAHSR is about to commit to funding…

    Joseph E Reply:

    I’m still trying to wrap my head around the privately-funded passenger trains in Florida. I wonder if the freight railroad expects to get some public help, at least in low-interest-rate loans, to make the $1 billion investment worthwhile. Do they need the upgrade to increase freight speeds and capacity as well? With a $1 billion dollar investment and private financing, they would need to make a $50 million dollar profit a year. There are 50 million trips between Orlando and South Florida, they claim, so that is possible but no sure thing. I would love to hear some insider info.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The Panama Canal is having work on bottleneck locks, adding a new, larger, Third Lock Lane, so the new Panamax will be 25% longer, 50% wider in beam and 25% deeper in draft, which expands capacity by roughly 130%, and is expected to mean more multi-modal container traffic to Florida ports.

    So its entirely plausible that a freight railroad connecting southern to central Florida does expect to require an increase in capacity, and of course if that focused on containers, an increase in maximum speed and in reliability of higher speed paths is an important part in ensuring that the new traffic will end up using the container ports that you service.

    So, yes, it would not be surprising if there is some form of tax advantage to having the work formally done to allow to allow operation of passenger service that is more than enough to justify allocating some of the new capacity to that passenger service.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    It’s interesting to note that the FEC was originally built largely as a passenger carrier (peak traffic in the “classic era,” both freight and passenger, was during the Florida land boom of the 1920s), and was double-tracked for its entire length. Single tracking occurred after the infamous strike of the 1960s, and of course, with Florida’s relatively flat terrain and a relatively late construction date (completion to Key West in 1912), the road would have a nice, straight, and fairly level alignment.

    It’s founder, Henry Flagler, was a Rockefeller associate, and partially because of this, the FEC was one of the few railroads in the East to have steam locomotives fired with oil.

    The railroad is already equipped with PTC.




    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    One of the funny things about the FEC was that its station at Miami was one of the older structures on the line, a rambling wooden building that the management may have thought looked disappointing in the streamliner era. How else do you explain that FEC publicity photos of passenger trains in Miami give you the impression that the nearby Dade County Courthouse is the FEC’s Miami station?

    The FEC station is to the lower left, behind some passenger cars:


    A little sleight of hand with a camera:


    VBobier Reply:

    I’ll tell Ya possibly why the Bait and Switch, The FEC might not have had enough land or maybe money or even interest in building a New station for Miami, those are only My guesses…

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Ho, ho, ho, I can tell you the FEC didn’t want to spend the money on the station. I just checked a book on the history of the FEC from the local library, and apparently there was some contention between Miami and the railroad about the structure. Miami thought the building old and outdated for the city, particularly in the postwar era, when things were booming. The station itself was younger than I thought, having been completed in 1912, but that would look outdated among all the modern construction that had taken place in Miami since the 1930s, and the it would have “looked” even more outdated in as the postwar era went on.

    The end of passenger service following the strike in 1964 lead to the building’s demolition the following year. The court-ordered resumption of passenger service forced Miami passengers to use a modern (1950s vintage) suburban station instead. This extended service ended in 1968.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Some videos on the line:




    synonymouse Reply:

    The FEC has a special contract with the UTU:


    Peter Reply:

    You do know that no one else here shares your unbelievably irrational level of hatred towards unions, right?


    VBobier Reply:

    Agreed, We just don’t care Syno, We really don’t & that’s final, so be a good little boy & go toddle off…

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Out of curiosity, are there any parallels that might be drawn, an similarities that might be observed in Florida that would be similar to or have counterparts to in California? I’m thinking the FEC’s primary route is sea-level, water-level and straight, and it seems to me there is a route in California that looks like that (part of the way to San Diego?). There is even a Hollywood in Florida (and it’s on the FEC), and of course there is the warm weather and the palm trees. Beyond that. . .what?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Look at the UP ROW along State Route 99….

    Tom McNamara Reply:


    I looked around and I think this is a shell game by CSX. By upgrading the FEC and putting Amtrak on that route (and Tri Rail) then CSX gets the upgrades as well as unfettered use between Orlando and the ports for its Juice Trains.

    Also, it’s possible that Amtrak woiuld have to pay a higher price to use the FEC and therefore might end their services in Orlando instead of Miami. That would shift passengers to using Orlando which is another huge priority of Mr. Mica.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    How its helping out container freight rail from Miami ~ that I have no idea. But that’s the most obvious driver.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Here’s the pertinent info:

    Amtrak between Orlando and Miami run on CSX’s tracks. The State of Florida and Amtrak approached the FCR in the 90s or so about using their ROW and were told, no, no, no.

    So as I understand it, CSX shares its ROW from Palm Beach County to Orlando with Amtrak. Then south of there, Tri Rail owns the tracks and the State has been putting in improvements for grade separations. But Gov. Scott apparently wants to privatize Tri Rail and pull all state subsidies.

    Then, if you run passenger rail on the FECR track, that encourages Amtrak to switch to FECR’s track. Suddenly, CSX (one of John Mica’s best pals, along with United Airlines) has exactly what it wants: a nearly grade separated railroad to containerized ports that have no passenger traffic.

    Oh and then, of course if Amtrak abandons Orlando or Miami as a result, then you get more passenger traffic to Orlando International on United to connect to South Florida. That’s more money in the bag.

    Brian Reply:

    Well, the CSX route south of auburndale to Miami is lightly trafficked. A few years ago, CSX even floated the idea of selling this line to a shortline operator. cSX does not have rail access to south Florida ports. FEC does. CSX is focused on developing its Polk county (near auburndale, between Tampa and orlando) logistics hub. This will allow CSX to focus freight on its inland route via wildwood. and to also transload containers onto and off trucks – IMO I think CSX wants to get out of south florida. This idea by FEC is independent of CSX or John mica. FEC is taking advantage of the void left by gov scotts canceling HSR. Florida democrats are already lining up to support FEC. Check out this statement by Corrine brown. http://corrinebrown.house.gov/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=636:congresswoman-corrine-brown-thrilled-with-florida-east-coast-railways-all-aboard-florida-initiative&catid=3:press-releases&Itemid=35

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Corrine Brown is the product of minority-minority gerrymander. She is trying to cultivate corporate allies because her district won’t survive another round of redistricting and she has to get a constituency to vote for her for reasons other than she’s black and they too are black.

    I notice that you didn’t refute my point about Mr. Scott. The FECR would compete with any private operator of Tri-Rail. Given the economics of passenger rail, one service would die, and the other one can only survive if Amtrak is a tenant and subsidizes operations.

    The other thing is that you have to realize that the four major railroads are quietly adjusting their operations to focus on exports. A combination of a weaker dollar and a dying Baby Boom generation is going to turn the US into a period of export-lead industrialization (ELI) and rail is a large component of that. CSX might think it wants to get out of South Florida now, but that’s before you realize that many parts of Latin America are going to be importing their orange and other tropical juices as they mature economically.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Florida’s population grew 17.6 percent between 2000 and 2010. I suspect Congresswoman Brown’s district will shrink geographically – when they rearrange the districts for the additional seats in congress and it will remain safely hers.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Why wouldn’t it survive ~ if its a majority-minority district, wouldn’t it be a Democratic vote sink? Why would they want to eliminate a Democratic vote sink and make elections more competitive?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Because minority majority districts were a convention used to offset Supreme Court decision that required states to apportion their congressional and legislative districts only by population. However, that’s created over the years districts that are so overwhelmingly black that with normal population growth and Asian and Hispanic growth they aren’t sustainable. Brown’s district is such an incredible gerrymander, it has to be seen to be believed….

    BruceMcF Reply:

    But if there are more seats to allocate, and the GIS tools are at least as sophisticated as they were in 2000, ensuring that the district remains a Democratic vote sink should be a cakewalk.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s easy to see a Congressional district, look at the representative’s page maintained by Congress. Mr Gerrymander would be proud. Democratic voter sink is what I see. I also see “lets carve up Jackosnville and Orlando so they don’t have as much power” going on. Slicing Gainesville in half was a bonus.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Tell me, what is it like living in a world where you must constantly wear tinfoil lest the aliens suck out your brains?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I wouldn’t know. I don’t vote Republican.

    VBobier Reply:

    Me neither, only the conspiracy nuts do that.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Why would FEC do CSX that favor? They’re competitors. The Class I that has trackage rights over FEC is Norfolk Southern.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Thanks for that.

    One scenario that would make obvious financial sense is if because of one advantage or another (tax concessions available for “passenger rail” improvements, lower interest financing available for “passenger rail” improvements, quite valuable alignment access made available because of the passenger rail) is if, for instance, the “passenger rail” improvements provides 50% more capacity at the regular cost of 25% more capacity ~ and more than 25% of the new capacity is in fact available to freight.

    If the FEC has the access to the Miami ports, which have quite a lot of Panamax traffic because of their location, and the more than doubling of the size of Panamax taking means that they need more freight capacity … that could well bring a scenario along the above lines into play.

    As I said, I don’t know whether that scenario is in point of fact in play or not ~ either now, or under the Senate transpo bill if it should happen to go through ~ but the timing would be about right on the freight side.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Dig deeper, Alon

    Apparently FEC is owned by Fortress Investments a venture capital firm that has abandoned a bunch of short line railroads. Obviously, the end game for any VC firm is to sell it off, which would make me think perhaps BuffetNSF would buy it.

    Secondly, while the FEC has all this great access to ports between Jacksonville and Miami, there’s the issue of grade crossing because of population distribution. From Palm Beach to Orlando, the CSX route has very few. The FEC route runs through every beach town on the coast, by extension.

    Third, Port Canaveral and Port Everglades are huge cruise ports, and direct access to them is valuable for passenger rail. However, without the new, to-be-built Orlando to Cocoa Beach route, that doesn’t align with United’s expansion at OIA.

    Fourth, as long as Rick Scott runs Florida, we won’t see Amtrak state-supported service there. Hence, BNSF could step in and offer passenger rail as an entry into the market for other services.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Stop digging, Tom.

    FEC is run as an independent short line. Yes, the owner is a VC firm. So what? RailAmerica used to be owned by Fortress, and the sky did not fall on its track in e.g. New England.

    It’s insane to think BNSF has an interest in buying a railroad in Florida. Over decades of mergers, the eastern and western railroads remained separate, for a very good reasons: it gives them more flexibility about who to transship with. Mergers have happened between railroads that had no reason to transship to each other’s competitors – e.g. BN only needed SP on one line, and it had trackage rights there that have survived through its merger with ATSF. The only Class I that has any reason to buy FEC is Norfolk Southern.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The FEC route runs through every beach town on the coast

    That was the point of it. To get rich Midwesterners and Northeasterners to the resorts.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    What Tom is blithely oblivious to is that the owners of FECR, FEC Industries, hold quite a bit of real estate along the lines; regular and reliable passenger rail service makes these properties more valuable. It’s a return to the origins of FEC. This, of course, is far too sensible to feature in any of his conspiracy theories.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Again, that presumes that FECR is acting in a vacuum.

    They aren’t, they are part of some venture capital’s plan to spin them off at an inflated value. If the State scuttles Tri Rail, then the purported value of that property plus the promise to have this new service would be enough to get the sale in at an inflated price.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    This is the other shoe dropping after Florida’s cancellation of the Tampa – Orlando high speed line. The built-out system proposed by FEC (which includes Tampa-Orlando in a later phase) will parallel the built-out high speed system that had been proposed. It’s now unlikely that a true high-speed system will be built in Florida involving public funds and not involving FEC, since it would compete with a private business.

    The announcement by FEC is probably confirmation that the high-speed rail project in Florida was very viable and potentially very profitable, and that industry insiders were aware of that fact. The path forward now is for a high-speed operator to partner with FEC and Florida to further develop the FEC system. The public will have some say in how the branch to Orlando and eventually Tampa is built.

    Peter Reply:

    Personally, I’d guess that the Orlando-Tampa branch would use the reserved ROW that FHSR was going to use. Why would you build anything else?

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    I’d be suprised if Florida’s DOT isn’t already making plans to add freeway lines in the ROW. That would be the final nail in the coffin for true HSR in Florida.

    Peter Reply:

    But this ROW had been reserved since the 1990’s. Including throughout the Jeb Bush years when FHSR was supposedly dead.

    Brian Reply:

    There are no plans to widen I-4 between Tampa and the area near Disney world on the southwest side of Orlando that I know of. Closer to downtown Orlando I-4 will be widened and re-built in the next 5 years I have read. The way the press release reads, FEC has yet to do a complete investment grade study, but no doubt they are aware of the studies that FDOT did for the proposed HSR line. Since it mentions connecting to the Orlando airport and the new sun rail service, I would assume FEC plans to use the same route or very closeby as the FLHSR proposal. And to be profitable, you don’t stop 5 miles short of Disney. If you look closely at their route to Tampa it is the path of I-4. It would not surprise me if they build this to a HSR lite standard with possibility of using the new lighter train sets mentioned previously. Also, on the Trains magazine website FEC said they are looking at using diesel locomotives as power and top speed will be125mph on the new route from Cocoa to Orlando with 90-110 mph on the line down to ft lauderdale and 79 mph in miami-dade county. Regardless of the governors of Florida, FDOT has always supported HSR since the 1980’s. This will be interesting to watch. Finally a rail system the tea party can’t defeat!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Progressive Railroading article on the FEC announcement, linked through the page Synonymouse has above:


    The process is still early, but the management is looking at top speeds in the 100 to 110 mph range, which suggests the 3-hour time is to really be 3 hours. Of the 240 miles that make up the route, 200 already exist and are owned by the FEC, but an additional 40 miles will be new construction.

    Interesting that there is controversy on this even on the comments page of Progressive Railroading–and to a certain extent, they accuse the FEC of being too timid!

    “If we take this proposal for what it is-a glorified, diesel hauled commuter service- its a GOOD thing. And Florida, like the rest of the U S, needs more travel options. However. It is hard to see how 70 year old technology running at 40 years ago speeds (Brit HST, anyone) is a cause for much celebration. Why so timid? A PPP similar to the HSR proposal killed by radical Governor Scott, running on dedicated track adjacent to a dedicated freight line would represent the future. FEC has the ROW in all the right places. Best scenario is to throw Scott and his Reason Foundation oil men out and resume TRUE HSR development. America’s freight rails need to wake up to the fact that HSR is NOT going away. And they can participate or get out of the way. Italy will soon host the first ever PRIVATE TGV service running on Italian State ROW with it’s own trains, crews, maintenance facilities. Something like that WOULD be remarkable!”–Malcolm636

    “Flagler is saluting the management? No! I live in St. Augustine and I’ll tell you the old boy is sitting up in his grave and rubbing his eyes. Florida HSR failed because enthusiasm has never built a successful railroad. There was even a line item in the application where a question; ‘why build’ and the answer was; ‘because it’s fun.’ HSR, was too short, had too many stops, made an insane 110 degree turn at Cocoa (which meant anyone driving direct from Tampa to Miami on a moped could beat the train), it missed any connection with Amtrak, missed Tampa Union Station which was rebuilt for this purpose, ended at an airport 23 miles (average from the metro) from anywhere. Allowing for parking at OIA, check-in, an average 30 minute wait for hourly trains, that same moped could beat this one too on I-4. This is exactly the type of passenger rail needed in great quantities in Florida. But it just might be the start of Scott’s next campaign in election 2014. “See folks, I built your railroad after all.” Or “Hey we tried, but it was just too ……. fill in the blank.” However it turns out leaving Jacksonville off the map, then perhaps someday/somehow Atlanta, would be a grave error. These trains should ‘replace’ I-95, otherwise known as the worlds longest parking facility.”–Robert W. Mann

    Max Wyss Reply:

    I guess this discussion represents the “as fast as possible” vs the “as fast as necessary” discussion.

    However, from an operational point of view, a travel time of 2h50 would be another quantum leap, allowing a round trip within 6 hours, also allowing to use a train set to do up to 3 round trips per day, also meaning that a hourly interval can be maintained with 5 (plus 1 reserve) trainsets, whereas 3 hours or a little bit more requires 7 (plus 1 reserve) trainsets. However, 2h50 would require 125 mph maximum speed and pretty high-powered vehicles (hmmm the DB may have a bunch of Class 605 sets on sale…, but it might more be something for Talgo).

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The transport demand threshold is conventionally stated as 3hrs, which allows a passenger rail service to enter into same-day trips markets ~ but of course that is not a discrete step, its a zone, as sliding below 3hrs allows more and more leeway for connecting trip time.

    However, as per below, if the name of the game is “making passenger rail improvements to benefit freight rail”, 110mph max passenger speed is just exactly as fast as necessary … any faster and the freight capacity starts dropping because of transit-speed mismatch.

    If that *is* the name of the game, then at +0300, you could just get four trainsets and one reserve and have a mix of one hour and hour and a half intervals, with a +0330 turn and a trainset alternative between two turns a day and three, depending on whether its the early morning peak arrival or the late morning peak arrival that day:

    0500~0800, 0600~0900, 0830~1030, 0930~1130
    1100~1300, 1200~1400, 1330~1630, 1430~1730
    1700~2000, 1800~2100, 2030~2330

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t understand the schedule. Should I just think of the four two-hour tildes as typos?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Computos, its …

    T1 South/T2 North: 0500~0800, T3 South/T4 North: 0600~0900
    T1 North/T2 South: 0830~1130, T3 North/T4 South: 0930~1230
    T1 South/T2 North: 1200~1500, T3 South/T4 North: 1300~1600
    T1 North/T2 South: 1530~1830, T3 North/T4 South: 1630~1930
    T1 South/T2 North: 1900~2200, T3 South/T4 North: 2000~2300

    Alon Levy Reply:

    First of all, if you want to do it this way, have T3/4 offset from T1/2 by 1:30 or 2 hours, not 1 hour – it would make the train spacing more even.

    Second, there’s really no point in having such an arbitrary schedule. The point of a travel time like 2:50 or 3:20 is that you can maintain an hourly takt with an integer number of trains (even a two-hourly takt, if it’s 2:50).

    Max Wyss Reply:

    However, for a two-hourly takt, you won’t need 2.50; you can go with 3:00 or 3:20, and still have an uneconomically long default layover. A train standing still does not make any money; therefore make it move…

    Anyway, arbitrary schedules may make sense with few trains per day, but then the question comes up whether you are making good use of your infrastructure.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Alon: Is even train spacing a high priority design goal if there are not enough trains for hourly service?

    Looking at where it lies on the clock, morning and mid-day is good, but evening departures ought to be an hour earlier, so a +0015 turn looks like it would be much better:

    T1 South/T2 North: 0500~0800, T3 South/T4 North: 0600~0900
    T1 North/T2 South: 0815~1115, T3 North/T4 South: 0915~1215
    T1 South/T2 North: 1130~1430, T3 South/T4 North: 1230~1530
    T1 North/T2 South: 1445~1745, T3 North/T4 South: 1545~1845
    T1 South/T2 North: 1800~2100, T3 South/T4 North: 1900~2300
    T1 North/T2 South: 2115~0015

    Max: For a dedicated passenger rail corridor, no. If the passenger rail service is running on a corridor where the bulk of the business is freight, a +0100 interval that’s available for faster container trains and a +0215 interval to run the 60mph freight could be nice.

    There are three main corridors running north of Orlando, two CSX lines and the FEC itself, and two running out of Miami. Increasing the capacity of the FEC line south of Orlando and providing a connection to the CSX line at Orlando to complement the FEC line itself through to Jax seems like one way to make sure that the FEC gets the bulk of the new container business that is going to be available.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    Does the $1 Billion price estimate sound right? The Chicago-St. Louis upgrade is roughly the same distance and speed, and is costing well over $1 Billion for a single track upgrade, plus new train sets, signaling, etc. Adding a second track will cost more. Plus, the initial Florida line will have 40 miles of new right of way. By the Illinois yardstick, this is a $3 Billion project.

    Peter Reply:

    Well, everything seems to be in place though for FEC except for the new 40 miles of track, trainsets, and possibly new stations. They already have PTC in place, for example.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    What class is their existing track, Class 5 or Class 6? I can see that if they normally run 60mph and run to strict schedules, a 79mph speed limit could be of some use.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That 100mph~110mph reinforces the suspicion that the main game may be freight capacity expansion and passenger rail just happens to be a means to an end. If you want to crank up the speed of your freight above 80mph, you need PTC, you need 110mph standard level crossings, you need Class 6 track … except for the platforms, you’re building a corridor capable of 110mph max speed passenger trains.

    An extra 15mph top speed passenger service 125mph you’d want to electrify, you’d need more grade separation or “hard” protection level crossings (whatever they turn out to be if anyone ever applies to the FRA for approval for some), and the freight capacity drops … “build an express freight corridor and let passenger trains run on it to help {something*}” wouldn’t go there, even though for that distance, and especially in light of an eventual cross-Central Florida corridor, a 125mph max top speed might itself be under-ambitious.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Doesn’t FEC already have PTC installed on its line?

    Peter Reply:

    Yes, according to wikipedia.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The same wikipedia machine article says it operates to strict schedules and its business is dominated by limestone quarry freight and container freight. A practice of operating to strict schedules already reduces a substantial conflict between passenger rail hosted on freight rail corridors, in addition to already having PTC in place.

    If Panamax size expansion means a heavier dominance of container traffic, then there is some consideration of how that will affect their freight, both in terms of capacity and in
    destinations. That suggests a consideration of what the new track they propose looks like in terms of freight ~ and the most obvious freight role is connecting to the CSX line in Orlando.


    Andy M. Reply:

    It depends how you define a “strict schedule”.

    What may be vey strict for freight may still not be strict enough to be perceived as punctual by passengers.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    However you define “a strict schedule”, a freight railroad that does not stick to a strict schedule has more conflict with a passenger train service sharing the corridor than a freight railroad that does.

    The stricter, the better, of course ~ which goes into the question of whether its an Express HSR hourly-or-better interval or a MRRS style three to six trains per day schedule. If the freight improvement pays for the new track, a multiple train per day type schedule between Miamai and Orlando in 3hrs would certainly pay for the trainsets and their operation.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You can’t run 220 MPH trains on the same tracks as 60 or even 90 MPH freight. Unless the frequency of both is so low that they don’t get in each other’s way. If the frequency is low it’s not worth it to upgrade to 220 MPH.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    But they are supposed to be 100mph~110mph trains. When I referred to the Express HSR interval of an hour or better, I was referring to the interval, not the speed.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then it’s the same interval as the Northeast Regional with the sameish speeds Or the same interval as the Keystone Corridor with the same speeds. Or the same interval as the southern Empire Corridor. ….
    The same interval as the 3C corridor was supposed to have once it got up to those kind of speeds.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yeah, “like the interval of the Northeast Regional” (or better) if the reference to the normal interval for Express HSR rather than the speed of Express HSR is just too incredibly confusing a thing.

    Except not the 3C corridor, which was supposed to be 8tpd when it was fully rolled out ~ pdf of Ohio Hub frequencies ~ since its a mix of dedicated single track in more heavily used freight corridors and 10:50 passing track in more lightly used freight corridors, it would likely require additional upgrade to support hourly service each way or better. Except one place where two service from Columbus head to Toledo or Chicago, 10tpd is the highest frequency in the system as originally planned.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    yes it’s too incredibly confusing to someone who lived someplace where there’s passenger railroads that don’t have “tourist” or “historical” in their name.

  9. Jamie B
    Mar 24th, 2012 at 10:06

    Would it be fair to say that if Simitian votes for this, that he has done a great public service by slowing the HSR approval process? Hear me out: a year ago, there was zero chance of the Legis passing HSR funding since the Peninsula was still all up in arms about the new “Berlin wall.” Simitian, Eshoo and Gordon proposed the blended solution to mitigate these concerns (obviously because they DO want HSR built eventually), and now the CHSRA has adopted that as the centerpiece for the Peninsula section/

    And, with additional pressure from Simitian (and maybe Lowenthal), the CHSRA adopted the phased approach and recently revised it so that Caltrain electrification would be expedited. As a frequent Caltrain rider, I can’t tell you how happy I am over this.

    So sure, on the surface, Simitian has been a “tea party obstructionist,” but I think at the core, Simitian has helped California plan a much, much better HSR system.

    Donk Reply:

    Why isn’t anyone calling it as it is – that Jerry Brown saved CHSR? They should rename the San Jose Diridon station to the San Jose Brown station in his honor.

    Maybe they will call the Palo Alto station that Palo Alto Simitian station. And the Norwalk station the Norwalk/Lowenthal station. And why stop there? The Palmdale Synonymouse station, Fresno Alexis station, Gilroy Cruickshank station.

    joe Reply:

    And the Richard Mlynarik Tunnel cutting through the Pacheco Pass. With a statue of him pointing – like Farther Junipero Serra.

    Tom McNamara Reply:


    synonymouse Reply:

    A monumental gilded equestrian statute of Jerry Brown in medieval armor at Lebec.

    Chandler lawn jockey.

    jimsf Reply:

    Ill take merced.

    synonymouse Reply:


    Here’s a model for BART dual-gauge operation. Outside rails are 5’6″.


    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Even in Democratic circles, there’s not that much love for Jerry.

    He’s a Jesuit-educated contrarian, and he’s also the son of a very popular governor who effectively built post-war California.

    In some sense, HSR is Jerry Brown coming to terms with Pat Brown. And California coming to terms with it’s own pardoxical desires to be everything to everyone at and at the same, preserving what is important.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I don’t see in Jerry neither the hands-on nor the contrarian that others see.

    He certainly didn’t have the moxie to contrary the Tejon Ranch syndicate, instead turning on Van Ark, one of the few smart guys in the CHSRA room, and killed any hope of rationalizing and revitalizing this scheme. His creation is born to lose and he is strangely oblivious to its blatant flaws.

    GoGregorio Reply:

    I didn’t exist the first time he was governor, but I grew up in a household in which he was very popular. And he’s still very popular among my family. I love him.

    joe Reply:

    Joe’s plan was not HSR-blended it was HSR-ended. Joe Simitian wanted to stop HSR in San Jose and transfer on Caltrain.

    That plan stated at the Menlo Park Caltrain Press Conference with Gordon and Congresswomen Eshoo. It was quickly walked back after Nancy Pelosi (D-SF/CA) called Eshoo’s office.

    The progress since then has been the initial push back from Pelosi, the Gov and his appointees to CAHSRA. You’ll notice, since, NIMBY opposition has not won-over the Congressional delegation.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If you electrify Caltrain the only reason to have passengers change to Caltrain in San Jose is to annoy them. There’s no technical reason why the HSR train couldn’t go all the way to San Francisco.

    joe Reply:

    there are two reasons, annoy and placate NIMBYs.

    The Eshoo, Gordon & Simitian blended plan had HSr stop in San Jose and transfer on to Caltrain – 100% NIMBY approved.

    Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), as documented by this blog, had them walk that proposal it back that next day. It became the current blended plan we know now. If you did not attend the event, you’d think the San Jose terminus never existed.

    Adina Reply:

    You actually have evidence that the original intent of the Eshoo Simitian Gordon proposal was to stop in San Jose?

    As far as I know (and according to what Simitian explained) the press release was mis-read and that misreading was corrected. You have evidence that he is not telling the truth there?

    joe Reply:


    I didn’t tape the event but I asked a co-worker who attended the event and he verified that’s exactly what he heard.

    So maybe attendees mis-hear, the press release was mis-read and Robert made a mis-take when he wrote about Pelsoi’s reaction and their re-interpretation.

    Adina Reply:

    There was also a scenario in the very recent presentations by Marian Lee of Caltrain where the trains stop in San Jose and passengers switch as in initial step before final changes are made to accommodate the high speed trains. That was not intended to be an end result.

    Simitian and Gordon’s explanations seem plausible to me. There are a lot of games of telephone between San Francisco and the Peninsula where people mishear and misunderstand. Robert’s article had several interpretations of the initial press release that Simitian clarified – not going to look it up right now.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The best policy proposal walk backs are crafted to raise doubt that the ordinary meaning of what was said was indeed what the person intended to say. You are only stuck with the “I mispoke” line of walk back if you cannot come up with some (strained) parsing of the original statement to fit the modified policy proposal.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    They openly stated that stopping at SJ and transferring was the option they recommended.

  10. D. P. Lubic
    Mar 24th, 2012 at 14:48
  11. D. P. Lubic
    Mar 24th, 2012 at 16:02

    This is just for fun, and to an extent is aimed at Jim SF, who likes to check out train paint schemes.

    The FEC and other roads all funneled into Florida through Jacksonville Union Terminal, which is now a convention center. In the steam era everything was black (which was typical), but Southern Railway had passenger engines in a beautiful Virginia green paint scheme. One example survives–Ps-4 No. 1401, enshrined in the Smithsonian:



    Wasn’t this a beautiful machine?


    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Things got more colorful in the diesel era; quite a rainbow of paint scheme showed up at Jacksonville, and to a certain extent, at Washington, too, where the same trains, after running on their own routes north of Jacksonville, would be gathered again to be forwarded to New York on the Pennsylvania:

    Florida East Coast (locomotives in through service north of Jacksonvile):


    The Seaboard Air Line (SAL) used a what was called the “citrus” paint scheme; this was meant to blend with both stainless steel streamliners and the standard green standard cars of the day:


    An unusual locomotive–the Baldwin Centipede, as used by SAL:


    Peter Reply:

    I guess that’s one way to lower axle weight…

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    That would be true, but the monsters still weighed 269 tons, which works out to a 27-ton axle load; still too heavy for HSR.




    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    One advantage of that running gear was that the units supposedly rode very well at even the highest speeds:




    D. P. Lubic Reply:


    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    The Atlantic Coast Line used an unusual combination of purple and silver on its passenger power:




    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Richmond, Fredericksburg & Potomac was a relatively short railroad (just over 100 miles) running from Richmond,Va. to Washington, DC, and just about everything coming into Washington from the south, including Southern Railway and Chesapeake & Ohio trains had to use its tracks. Running in territory with a strong association with the Civil War, the RF&P went in for blue and grey:


    An interesting bit of history: from 1939 to about 1947, the through Florida streamlined trains had run over the RF&P with their assigned diesels. In 1947, the RF&P bought the last of its steam locomotives, the third version of its beautiful Baldwin 4-8-4s. These engines, like their two earlier versions carried names as well as numbers, and were named for Virginia statesmen (the earlier engines had been named for Confederate generals and Virginia governors). These engines bumped the through-running diesels off their trains! I suspect this may have more to do with RF&P paying for rent or mileage on those diesels than anything else, but it’s still nice to see what they came up with for coal-burning power, and nicely trimmed with gold stripes and a colorful emblem on the tender, too:


    I wouldn’t normally post model photos here, but this was the best I could find to illustrate the colorful striping used by RF&P on its steam power, in this case on the “Governor” class:


    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Southern Railway, as might be expected, stayed with its green paint in the diesel era:


    Of all roads, the Illinois Central got down there, too, with a train called the City of Miami. IC used an unusual combination of chocolate brown and orange, illustrated here by the road’s Panama Limited (Chicago-New Orleans train):


    All this would disappear with discontinuances, mergers, and Amtrak.

    I wonder which of all these paint schemes tickles Jim SF the most. . .

    Have fun.

    Donk Reply:

    Is there one person here who reads these posts from DP Lubic? Just wondering…

    Kenb Reply:

    I just did.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Thanks, and I hope you liked ’em.

    VBobier Reply:

    Me too and I do enjoy them.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I read most of the My Progressive Railroading links. Eventually the Dallas-centric posts wore me down, though – I just don’t know enough about Dallas’s rail history. (The digs at DART are more than welcome, though. Chances are Houston will overtake its rail ridership when it opens its second light rail line.)

  12. StevieB
    Mar 25th, 2012 at 06:06

    Governor Gerry Brown gives his longest explanation ever on his support of California High Speed Rail in this interview at the Wall Street Journals Marketwatch.

    California Gov. Jerry Brown talks at WSJ’s 2012 ECO:nomics conference about plans to construct a high speed rail, which the Governor says will be less costly than other transportation alternatives to support California’s projected population growth.

  13. jimsf
    Mar 25th, 2012 at 13:04

    I think for opening week publicity, they should hand out $5 tickets to passenger at airport terminals the month prior ( regular shuttle fliers) and also have a statewide drawing and give out a few thousand free tickets. On opening day they could run one full train per hour in each direction ( including some nonstops for speed) This would create buzz and introduce a lot of people to the experience.

    BrianR Reply:

    and also give out free tickets to out of state visitors from Florida and other states with Teabagger governor’s that rejected HSR funding. Just as a token of appreciation for their kind donations!

  14. D. P. Lubic
    Mar 25th, 2012 at 15:44

    Off topic, but maybe a little bit of fun, even if it is dark humor:


    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Also off topic but definitely of interest here, Yonah Freemark weighs in on the Los Angeles subway extension:


  15. joe
    Mar 25th, 2012 at 15:47

    Another “train to nowhere” DesertXpress.

    Privately held DesertXpress is on the verge of landing a $4.9 billion loan from the Obama administration to build the 150 mph train, which could be a lifeline for a region devastated by the housing crash or a crap shoot for taxpayers weary of Washington spending.

    The vast park-and-ride project hinges on the untested idea that car-loving Californians will drive about 100 miles from the Los Angeles area, pull off busy Interstate 15 and board a train for the final leg to the famous Strip.

    “It’s insanity,” says Thomas Finkbiner of the Intermodal Transportation Institute at the University of Denver. “People won’t drive to a train to go someplace. If you are going to drive, why not drive all the way and leave when you want?”

    Far from being a train from nowhere, company planners see the struggling city of 115,000, once a stop on storied Route 66, as a collection point for millions of drivers heading north to Las Vegas. Bringing the line deeper into the populous Los Angeles area would raise formidable challenges, Mack said, from crossing numerous freeways to finding space for track.

    Read more: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2012/03/25/national/a094636D22.DTL#ixzz1qAfFuCZ8

    Thomas Finkbiner’s quote caught my eye. His experience with passenger service isn’t clear from his bio.

    joe Reply:

    How would DesertExpress connect to, and influence construction timing for the CAHSR project?

    Although Desert Xpress is intended to serve passengers from Los Angeles, the route does not extend into that city due to the high cost of building rail in urban areas. A future 50-mile (80 km) extension to the city of Palmdale, where Desert Xpress would join the proposed California High-Speed Rail system in order to connect with Los Angeles, is a possibility.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    It begs the question: Why can’t CaHSR ask for a $4.9 Billion loan from the Obama administration? The interest rate will be a lot lower than whatever they’re going to sell those bonds for.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Interesting. Good question.

    Gianny Reply:

    I was going to ask the same question. Why doesn’t the Administration approve a loan to Los Angeles on its 10/30 plan? If Solar or Alternative energy companies can get huge loans, why can’t LA or CAHSR?

    Donk Reply:

    Agree, this is complete garbage. At least LA has guaranteed tax revenue coming in. What does DesertExpress have? This is going to be $4.9B down the crapper.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The version of the Transport Bill that passed the Senate includes sufficient expansion of transport loan authority to lend to LA on its 10/30 plan. The version that passed the House, among other things, would have stripped the tiny lending authority that already exists.

    So turn the focus where it belongs: if the House of Representatives passes the Senate Bill, in some form, and it retains the lending authority, LA can get the loan they want.

    After all, the reason solar companies could get loans (only huge in the imagination of Fox News and the rest of the radical right wing echo chamber) was because there was a lending program put in place under Bush, with many dutiful Republican Congressmen dutifully supporting their Republican President. If they show the same support for investment in transport, things can go ahead.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Anyone who has driven LA-Vegas on the weekend, creeping along through 15-20 mph traffic each way, could easily be open to going 10x as fast while enjoying some stiff drinks. And I’m sure video slot machines will start working as soon as the train crosses into NV (an additional revenue stream). If there are 16m LA-LV trips per year now and their plan is to get 2.5m or 15% of them, that may not be so crazy. If their investors put up $1.6B (25%), it sounds interesting. Heck, when they connect it to HSR I’ll definitely enjoy a <4 hour train trip to LV.

    Donk Reply:

    Yes, that’s the exact problem. People will only use it if they travel with the Fri afternoon/Sunday morning crowd. Any other times/days, the train will be empty.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Well, most people go on weekends. But at other times it can be half price. Remember gas is still going past $5 to $6-7-8-9. So at 25 mpg if you only save 7 gals each way, that’s still $70 savings today and who knows how much later. Plus no speeding tickets, and the ability to drink and be online instead of driving. But the biggest benefit clearly comes when it is hooked into the Calif. statewide HSR system.

    Elchu Reply:

    Someone doesn’t know their own job!

    “It’s insanity,” says Thomas Finkbiner of the Intermodal Transportation Institute at the University of Denver. “People won’t drive to a train to go someplace. If you are going to drive, why not drive all the way and leave when you want?”

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “Intermodal” as in putting containers on ships and trains and trucks, oh my? A specialist on intermodal container freight from Denver sounds like exactly the kind of guy to go to for a slam quote against an intercity passenger rail proposal.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The park-n-ride lots in and around Denver must all be a mirage…..

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The park-n-ride lots are real, its just that when Thomas drives by them in the morning early enough to beat the rush, and in the evening late enough to do the same, they are always mostly empty.

    joel Reply:

    Mr. Finkbiner is the chairman of the Intermodial Transportation Institute at the University of Denver, but he is listed under “Freight Transportation” not “Passenger Transportation” further down on the page.

    (sorry I don’t know how to make fancy links here)

    I disagree with his statement, and if he doesn’t have the expertise to speak about passenger rail, his comment makes him (and by extension, my beloved University) look foolish.

    I think plenty of people would be willing to ditch the car mid-trip especially if it means that they can save money on fuel, and start the boozing and gambling earlier. I also think he’s forgetting about convention-goers, who would love the productive time each direction to get some work done.

  16. Gianny
    Mar 25th, 2012 at 19:14

    Any change to build a new water tunnel from No-Cal to So Cal using HSR ROW? Need more water.

    Peter Reply:

    Stop watering drought-intolerant lawns. You’ll have more than enough water, then.

Comments are closed.