MTC Approves Caltrain Electrification and Blended HSR Plan

Mar 28th, 2012 | Posted by

Today the Bay Area’s Metropolitan Transportation Commission approved the so-called “blended plan” that combines high speed rail service and Caltrain electrification, combining $1.5 billion in local funds, state funds (from the Prop 1A bond) and federal funds:

Calling it a major “milestone” in Caltrain’s long quest to modernize its system, the Metropolitan Transportation Commission board voted to approve a “memorandum of understanding” with the rail authority that includes $1.5 billion for electrification and new train signals. Under the agreement, the rail authority would supply about half of the funds for the long-awaited project, with the rest coming from local and regional agencies….

The agreement was heralded by various Metropolitan Transportation Commission board members, local officials and Caltrain advocates as a huge step toward electrification, a project that the cash-strapped agency is banking on for long-term financial stability. With electrified tracks and a new signal system, Caltrain would be able to operate more trains and, as a result, generate more revenue.

“This really is the foundation for electrification and, really, for the future of Caltrain,” said MTC board Chair Adrienne Tissier, who also chairs Caltrain’s board of directors.

Of course, there’s also been debate about whether this conforms to Prop 1A, which lists requirements for HSR service frequency and travel times that a blended plan will struggle to met. As I’ve argued, the blended plan is not meant to be permanent. A close look at the Memorandum of Understanding shows that while the blended plan is clearly specified as sharing two tracks on the Peninsula, there’s nothing that says that’s all there will ever be. Which is sensible. It would be foolish to promise never to add another terminal at an airport, never to add another lane to a road, and never to add more tracks to a rail corridor.

The blended plan is basically a truce. High speed rail supporters concluded that going to war against the NIMBYs wasn’t going to produce immediate success, so they’ll fight that battle another day down the road when generational replacement has had a chance to thin the ranks of those who are ideologically wedded to the 20th century and unreasonably hostile to the 21st century.

Most HSR systems around the world have been developed in phases, with bullet trains using dedicated tracks between cities and sharing tracks within them, at least initially. California’s HSR system would be no different. As demand and gas prices increase, support will grow for expanding to four tracks. Better to fight the battle when there are fewer NIMBYs and more rail riders.

So today’s news is very good news for passenger rail as a whole and for HSR in particular. It should also help get the Legislature to approve spending the voter-approved bond money later this spring.

  1. Tim
    Mar 28th, 2012 at 21:12
    #1

    Build, baby, Build!

    Jack Reply:

    Has a nice ring to it!

    VBobier Reply:

    Yep, it sure does.

  2. jimsf
    Mar 28th, 2012 at 21:19
    #2

    While this doesn’t get us the full blown hsr system all at once from the start, this does make sense in that, politically its easier for everyone to swallow (compromises) and on the bright side, it does in a sense the get system built faster even though the entire thing won’t be 220 full hsr.

    Instead we’ll have upgraded ends and a high speed center completed sooner, and then, once the north and south mountain crossings are done, it will be time to put the final full hsr updrades on the bookends. But we get service that travels at full speed on certain segments in the meantime which is better than waiting 20 more years for any service at all.

    Isnt this how it was done in europe? high speed portions (new construction) connected to legacy portions in the cities, until full build out was eventually achieved?

    I think this will be fine so long as the momentum doesn’t stall.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Well…no….because the blended system is going to exhaust funding for the “spine” before it can reach Gilroy or Palmdale.

    The real question is if the Authority or “operator” can run a fast diesel service on the spine to raise revenues to finish electrification. If so, then why electrify Cal Train with Prop 1A money? If not, then why electrify Cal Train at the expense of the spine?

    That’s why this is nothing more than political cover for Simitan et al. This is how they get around having to actually having to demonstrate real leadership instead of sticking a finger in the wind.

    This is a marriage of convenience, to the point that the divorce lawyers are already circling….

    J. Wong Reply:

    “exhaust funding”? You’re assuming there will be no further funds from the Federal gov’t or that the state won’t find another way to fund it. We’ll see. With the ICS done and plans in place for the IOS, I think we’ll be getting them (and those Tea Party Republicans resigning in frustration).

    Jon Reply:

    No one is planning to run diesel trains on the high speed track, except as a last resort in the case of abject failure. Nor should they be. A diesel service via existing Altamont or San Joaquin tracks would never have the speed, frequency or reliability to raise revenues.

    On the other hand, a high speed service using electrified Caltrain tracks for the last section would be almost as fast as building two dedicated HSR tracks in the same corridor, and so is a much more acceptable interim stage to full buildout.

    Eric Reply:

    Actually, I believe that until HSR trains are running in the valley, I believe Amtrak is going to be allowed to use the track and stations built, for the San Joaquin line trains. That will allow them to get off of freight tracks and allow higher running speeds than on the freight tracks. Once HSR gets an initial operating segment done, Amtrak will be back to freight tracks, if they’re going to continue running the San Joaquin line.

    Jon Reply:

    Nope. The ICS had to have ‘independent utility’ in the case that nothing else gets built in order to qualify for ARRA funding, so CAHSR put together a backup plan of having the San Joaquins use the track if the project is abandoned following construction of the ICS. If the project is not abandoned, the plan is to build a mountain crossing next and run electric trains on an IOS.

    There has been a lot of speculation/wishful thinking on this blog that an interim service could be operated using diesel trains on the ICS, but that is nowhere in the official CAHSR plan. They know it wouldn’t make money, and would just dilute the image of high-speed rail.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Yes but Electrification is not cheap and the choice may be between leaving the tracks unused (and hearing the predictable ‘white elephant’ comments) or allowing San Jaoquins to save an hour (and cities to stop hearing horns) by avoiding all grade crossings on the ICS.

    After the ICS the next investment is trackage Bakersfield to Palmdale (which apparently costs ~$8B), and then electrify and add PTC to the 250 miles from Merced to Sylmar, and procure rolling stock, which together probably costs upwards of $20B.

    So … white elephant or faster San Jopaquin to LAUS?

    Jon Reply:

    How would the San Joaquin’s get to LAUS?

    Peter Reply:

    Pretty sure PTC will already be installed prior to completing Merced-Sylmar trackage.

    Jim Reply:

    Timing, Neil.

    The ICS won’t be done until 2018. That’s plenty of time to start extending it. It can’t acquire the white elephant label if it’s actively being worked on.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    But there is no reason to build that into the plan, since whether or not there would be a delay between finishing construction of the ICS and starting construction on the next construction segment depends on finance that will be put together at some future date.

    If it turns out that there will be a delay, they can decide at that point whether to run the San Joaquin on the corridor to speed up the Bakersfield / Merced segment.

    But if there is a clear path Merced through to Union Station, its not clear why you wouldn’t franchise out the IOS, truncate the San Joaquin at Merced, and run San Joaquin services to and from Emeryville and Sacramento to and from each run of the IOS.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Good points. My point was that we may be able to find the ~$8B to cross the Techapis with track, but there is then a bigger number to electrify and add PTC (I guesstimated $20B). Not sure what private $$ may be found, and what Monday’s revised business plan will say.

    Clem Reply:

    I think you’ve got the costs backwards. The expensive part is pouring concrete for tunnels, bridges and (yes! now baselined!) slab track.

    The cheap part is adding electrification and signal systems.

    The unit prices used by PB and the regional consultants as of late 2010 were as follows:

    Systems
    Train control – 2 tracks – $1.15M per route mile
    Train control – 4 tracks – $1.69M per route mile
    Communications – $195k per route mile
    Wayside Protection – 2 tracks – $110k per route mile
    Wayside Protection – 4 tracks – $165k per route mile

    Electrification
    Traction power supply – 2 tracks – $2.64M per route mile
    Traction power supply – 4 tracks – $3.96M per route mile
    Traction power distribution – 2 tracks – $2.16M per route mile
    Traction power distribution – 4 tracks – $3.24M per route mile

    These costs are before 15% contingency and all the other overheads for program management and construction management (typically about 8%).

    To boil that down for you, a two-track system including overhead costs will cost:
    $1.8M per route mile for train control and communications and wayside protection systems
    $6.0M per route mile for electrification

    Your guesstimated $20B cost would buy electrification and train control for over 2,500 miles of track, so you can see how ridiculously far off you were.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You can save a cool $2bil off the top with Tejon.

    Slab track – I thought we were worried about seismic? Oh I guess Jerry has decreed that 1952 never happened. And that should guarantee 3X BART’s decibels, especially with corrugation, flatted wheels and when whatever “rubber” resiliency they have engineered into the slabtrack goes.

    Quel crock.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Thanks Clem, that sounds better. I was guesstimating based on the high cost of electrifying the Caltrain corridor. In this case I agree that there will likely not be a need to run diesel trains on the IOS.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The guesstimate to electrify from Albany to Rouses Point ( the US-Canadian border on the way to Montreal ) was a billion dollars. 200 miles give or take… or 5 million a route mile…. New Haven to Boston cost 4 million a route mile, in the late 90s. I’m not sure how much of that included other things like signals, track upgrades, new switches, cleaning up contamination etc.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Sables d’Olonnes electrification cost about €1 million per kilometer, on a single-track line.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Sables d’Olonnes electrification cost about €1 million per kilometer, on a single-track line.</em.

    So roughly 2 million dollars a route mile? I'm sure there were a few places where they found some really nasty stuff the railroad used in 1925, to solve a problem, that had to be cleaned up.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    France considers €1 million/km to be the normal cost of electrification, without making it clear whether it’s referring to route- or track-km.

    And isn’t Britain’s cost the same with the new electrification machine they’re using for the GWML?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The British have been talking about electrifying the whole country since 1908 or so. Believe it when you see it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They actually ordered an electrification train for it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    IIRC back in the 60s, while they weren’t going to electrify everything, they were going to electrify one main line at a time until they were done in the 80s, even bought equipment to start on it. IIRC. Then they decided that the Beeching Plan was better. Believe it when you see it, just like you should beleive it when you see it, four hours Boston to DC.

    ComradeFrana Reply:

    somewhere from the bowels of the RFF web-page:

    electrification Bourges-Saincaize: 58 km of double-track, €77.3 million
    => €1.333 million per route-km

    electrification Tours-Vierzon: 103 km of double-track, €107 million
    => €1.039 million per route-km

    though, don’t quote me on that, I’ve lost the source and I’m not sure I’ll be able to find it again.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Numbers? Some things are hard to completely quantify, but budgeting is not one of those things.

    Indeed, they can’t “exhaust funding” without additional funds from somewhere, because the bulk of the bonds require 50% or more funding from another source ~ and the budget available changes dramatically depending on whether the bonds are financing a 50% match, or a 20% match, or a 10% match.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Bruce, that’s your first mistake. Public sector budgeting isn’t about money, it’s about priorities.

    Even in the original business plan, you would have needed a 4 to 1 federal match with Prop 1A to build the system without other funding. Even Arnold knew that was so improbable that he included private and local dollars to cover the shortfall.

    This might not be what people want to hear, but HSR supporters need to accept the following facts:

    1) There is not going to be another bond election for HSR that will succeed. The public will not understand why, if additional bonds were needed, that the amount was not part of Prop 1A. Those dollars are precious and should be only used when there are no other options.

    2) Republicans are going to control the House of Representatives for at least another six years. The upshot is that the majority of new federal dollars for infrastructure will be in the form of loans, not grants. The reason for this is simple: why would you use the same funding system for a transportation system that can actual cover its costs (HSR) with one that can’t?

    The Administration is already proposing a similar strategy for air travel relying heavily on higher user fees and excise taxes to fund air traffic control improvements, for example.

    Secondly, there lots of untapped local revenue to put toward transportation projects in California. Trying to make the argument to the rest of the US that they should subsidize Prop 13 is a losing battle.

    And third…given that there’s ALREADY A FEDERAL PROGRAM THAT LOANS MONEY OUT TO RAILROADS FOR REHABILITATION AND IMPROVEMENTS … why on earth do you blow $1.5 billion in Prop 1A money when there’s already ANOTHER POTENTIAL FUNDING SOURCE for it???????

    Prop 1A is only going to buy us 20-30 billion in track. I don’t even know if we can get Merced to Palmdale for that much. Every dollar dropped in the “bookends” increases the chance that Gilroy to Palmdale won’t make it, in which case the system is in real jeopardy…..

    joe Reply:

    1) There is not going to be another bond election for HSR that will succeed.

    2) Republicans are going to control the House of Representatives for at least another six years. T

    Interesting opinons.

    The Public, I doubt, ever thought HSR was a one shot, 9B bond. Prop1A even discussed how any HSR revenue or an operating segment was NOT to pay back bonds but to PAY for maintenance and EXPANSION.

    GOP controlling the House for 6 years. … Based on what method can you project that far ahead?
    I’ll defer to Nate Silver and his stochastic simulation methods calculating election probabilities.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Joe,

    1) The reason HSR won’t gain additional funding through bond election has nothing to do with high speed rail, but because of the issues surrounding how California ballot measures. It would be very difficult to craft an effective retail campaign to support MORE funding for HSR through the ballot when generally what wins are temporary, project oriented measures….

    2) Actually it’s pretty easy Joe…though Nate is very good at predicting specific races. Until 2014/5.. the majority of the voting age population in the US will have been born before 1964. That’s the dividing line for the culture wars because in ’64 you had the end of the Baby Boomers, the relaxation of immigration laws especially to non-European countries, the Civil Rights Act, and of course the “sexual revolution”. Once Boomers are in the minority politically, the type of “White Christian Party” rhetoric the GOP embraces runs out of gas.

    (Part of the reason that the Democrats lost in 2010 was because their majority relied too heavily on conservative blue dogs that are slowly disappearing.)

    After November however, Democrats shouldn’t be reaching for the sackcloth. The longer than the Tea Party tries to wag the dog, the easier it is for John Boehner to reach out to Nancy Pelosi for votes within her caucus. As a result, we are probably going to see more bipartisan ship in the vein of Reagan’s second term in the near future…..

    synonymouse Reply:

    Reagan’s second term saw the disastrous stock market crash of 1987.

    Second terms are historically fraught with trouble:

    Woodrow Wilson – League of Nations debacle and illness

    Calvin Coolidge – smart to not run; otherwise he would have been Hoover

    FDR – downturn of 1937 and major conflict over packing the Supreme Court

    Harry Truman – effective second term marked by Korean conflict and great unpopularity

    LBJ – gave up on a second term

    Tricky Dick – Watergate

    Ronald Reagan – stock market crash

    Bill Clinton – impeached

    “W” – disastrous second term setting up Obama victory

    A Barack second term will be impacted by a much larger and more dug-in opposition, lame-duck status and quantitative easing which will be repeated until it implodes.

    Charles Murray says your new generation are bums and that that the ruling elite continue to quietly adhere to conservative values and mores to which they owe their ever-growing dominance:

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052702304692804577281582403394206.html

    synonymouse Reply:

    Oh, I forgot Eisenhower – major recession in 1958-59 which helped to elect a lot of Democrats and eventually John Kennedy. Also Sputnik and the U-2 shot down were highly embarrassing and made the Russians look like real contenders and not braggadocio bozos, which is how they had been depicted in our press at the time.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Charles Murray also thinks that differences in income among different religions are evidence of the True God. Remind me again why his opinion on anything matters?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Truthfully, I am not that much impressed with Mr. Murray’s thinking. For one thing he tends to ignore or downplay differences within his demographic blocks, probably for reasons of political correctness and hints at self-censorship and pulling of punches. Undermines his arguments.

    IMHO the primary residual issue here is whether welfare infrastructure job-creating schemes, the planning of which is entirely politicized, are a good idea in the long run. If the schemes are obvious and non-controversial, yes. That was mostly the case in the New Deal era. But in the case of Stilt-A-Rail, a resounding no. Palmdale is off-route and wants for commute service not hsr. Spending California money to send gamblers to Las Vegas is beyond irresponsible; it’s self-destructive.

    Jerry and Nancy’s imposing a one-party welfare-state hegemony is not sustainable and to which Stilt-A-Rail will stand for history as a boondoggled monument.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    IMHO the primary residual issue here is whether welfare infrastructure job-creating schemes………….

    As opposed to the past 30 years of give-rich-people-more-money, which will usher in an era of prosperity unheralded in the annuals of time, scheme?

    Spending California money to send gamblers to Las Vegas is beyond irresponsible; it’s self-destructive.

    Californians are going to go to Las Vegas no matter how distasteful you find it. California can build a train or it can spend much more money building roads and airports to do the same job.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The main thing that undermines Murray’s argument is that it’s full of shit.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Welfare infrastructure jobs schemes have been around all thru the past 30 years. It is called the federal highway budget and other lesser phenomena like endless BART extensions into the hinterlands. You can’t really botch a highway too much unlike a rail project – there are so many autos in the US such that if you built a free road they will fill it. That may not be the case in Japan but it is here.

    But recently the transit schemes have degenerated, worse than usual, into follies, like Stilt-A-Rail and the Central Suxway. The quality of planning has really deteriorated. Jack Woods would have put thru 3rd Kearny.

    Of course Californians can go to Las Vegas, including yours truly, but just don’t enable it on California’s dime. Legalize so we can keep the ill-gotten gains in Anaheim, etc.

    And of course engineer out the Quantm route thru Tejon. **** the Chandlers.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    just don’t enable it on California’s dime.

    Why should people in Los Angeles be paying for San Francisco’s BART or Muni. Why should San Franciscans or Los Angelenos be paying for Marin and Sonoma’s SMART or US101? Why should the people in Santa Rosa be paying for county roads in Occidental?

    ill-gotten gains in Anaheim

    There’s all sorts of gambling opportunities in California already. Las Vegas has attractions that a casino in Visalia or Ukiah is never going to be able to compete with.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Don’t be ridiculous – welfare is a state function. We have in California a huge welfare burden and need gambling revenues to remain in state to help defray the costs of social services. With full legalization I assure that in a year’s time we would have casinos in state to equal anything in Sin City.

    Local transit use tax districts are a good idea. Keeping it local means harder to get money and therefore more careful planning. And of course providing a commute line for Palmdale is strictly LA’s responsibility. Forcing a major deviation to Palmdale to scam some state money is doing major injury to CHSRA viability and profitability.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Spokker

    For the ordinary people taxes are pretty high right now, taken altogether.

    Of course, the rich could pay more and not feel a thing. But I’m pretty sure they mostly think the money will be pissed away. For most politicians it just seems to be play money. I can’t see an alternative to some level of cold turkey when it comes to government spending.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Spokker: yes, the incomes of the rich grew a lot in the last 20 years, and this led to some GDP growth. But the middle class has never recovered to its 2000 peak (and had anemic growth in the 90s) and the poor have stayed at the same income level since about 1970.

    But yeah, we’re all rich now.

    Spokker Reply:

    synonymouse, race war this month, class warfare next month. Priorities, please.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I get the feeling that the Malkins and the Murrays are just hoping to frustrate blacks to the point of race riot. So far it’s not working. The only assholes at the hoodie marches are white OWS hipsters.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Spokker

    Below it is suggested they should pay for welfare out of my pension check. That’s a guaranteed riot.

    Jon Reply:

    Old people are too old to riot. That’s the beauty of the plan!

    synonymouse Reply:

    You are not getting my drift. My pension check is so small that if welfare were dependent on it you would have a riot in the Tenderloin.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But yeah, we’re all rich now.

    Go ask some old people what it was like post war. Median incomes grew every year most years. Median income doubled between 1950 and 1970. The growth, except for the top 20, keeps getting flatter and flatter and flatter. Yet productivity keeps growing. Hmmmm.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:United_States_Income_Distribution_1947-2007.svg

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    My pension check is so small that if welfare were dependent on it you would have a riot in the Tenderloin.

    Your pension check is so small because obviously you don’t have that many years of service at your old employer….or you retired in the 1970s…which would be kinda freaky…..

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Your pension check is so small because obviously you don’t have that many years of service at your old employer….

    Or his employer decided that a defined contribution plan was much cheaper and terminated the defined benefit plan in 1985.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Public budgeting may be about priorities, but a claim that there won’t be enough funds to reach an initial operating service is a claim that there shall be at most $X funds that shall be available and at least $Y funds that shall be required, and that $X < $Y.

    You can spin all the hypothetical mental models of the future that you want within that, but the claim is a quantitative claim, and there’s no reason to attach any weight or credibility to a claim like that which is made without the person making it being able to lay out the numbers they had in mind when they made it.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Sorry for the delay, Bruce… but as I recall the President’s Budget includes $46 billion over six years for HSR. If California gets half of that money (and I can’t imagine otherwise), and you include Prop 1A as match that’s only about $30 billion. Even in the original business plan it doesn’t work.

    I still don’t get why you can’t put into Google “Railroad Rehabilitation Improvement and Financing Program” and see that’s a better candidate for Cal Train electrification than Prop 1A.

  3. Tony D.
    Mar 28th, 2012 at 21:22
    #3

    YEAH! Now that’s what I’m talking about!

    James M. in Irvine Reply:

    What I would really like to know is if there is a chance that this train will be rideable before 2020? For example, if the Central valley is supposed to be ready by 2018, could things come together and actually have it ready a year sooner? It would be great to showcase the high-speed train sooner, then the traveling public can show support for the project with ticket sales and get the rest built sooner. Many rail projects get completed under budget. Just curious.

    Jim

  4. jimsf
    Mar 28th, 2012 at 21:46
    #4

    The blended approach brings to question though… doesnt this mean that caltrain as well as the palmdale to la portion of metrolink…. need to be fully compatable…

    this would be an argument for making sure that platform heights, and equipment are all compatable since there will only be two tracks on the bookends. Metrolink and caltrain should both buy the same type of hsr platform compatible EMUs to use on those portions.

    Tim Reply:

    One would hope

    I have a sneaking suspicion though that we will end up with a low platform Caltrain and Metrolink, with HSR stopping at dedicated high platforms at a few stations. Kinda stupid, but the inertia of rolling stock (all of our commuter equipment is low platform at the moment) plus freight requirements (unless we go gauntlet tracks or moving platforms like SD’s Sprinter) makes it tough to change. Hey we might go low platform HSR, but who knows. I wonder if there will be a push to electrify parts of Metrolink now that the “North” is on its way to do it. May the envy spread……..

    egk Reply:

    Re: platforms. Check out the new Euroduplex bilevel that just started international service on the Frankfurt-Marseilles route. This hot-double-level train (with seating capacity for over 1000 in double traction) runs at 200mph.

    Oh, and it has low-level boarding. Could that be the future of HSR/Caltrain compatibility?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Oh, and it has low-level boarding. Could that be the future of HSR/Caltrain compatibility?

    Yes. Or something roughly similar in overall configuration (duplex, low-level doors.)

    If anybody anywhere gave a rat’s ass about any of compatibility or costs or impacts or customers, that is.

    jimsf Reply:

    hmm that one is nice. although it would be better to go with all level boarding from the start. and to have caltrain and metro link get compatable equipment. still that looks nice

    Joey Reply:

    It’s level boarding if the train floor is at the same height as the platform, regardless of how high either is. In this case the platform would be level with the lower floor of the train.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And for the benefits of speed of wheelchair access/egress, there has to be seats at that elevator or a compliant ramp access to a level that has those seats ~ and for trips long enough to require toilet facilities on the train, the compliant toilet facilities also must be accessible.

    But not all seats are required to be accessible, so a double decker with level boarding to the lower level and steps to the upper level would count. And it saves space versus an bi-level train entry over the trucks and a ramp access down to the lower level.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Over a thousand? That’s nice. It’s almost as much as a single-level 2+2 Shinkansen.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or an 8 car NJTransit multilevel. ( @ an average of 130 per car ) MARC just placed an order for some….

    Miles Bader Reply:

    The euroduplex seems to be pretty underwhelming, much like the TGV duplex…. basically the same capacity and weight (for a given length) as a single-level shinkansen. I imagine the problem is that it has to be TGV compatible, and so suffers from the TGV’s narrow loading gauge etc…?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The point isn’t to overwhelm anybody. Good engineering is about good enough, given competing demands and constraints. (Including 2.81m body width, not Shinkansen’s nicer and roomier 3.38m.)

    TGV-Duplex has its problems (ie lack of doorway capacity), but it meets SNCF’s service and capacity needs on RFF’s network (and DB-Netz’ and SBB’s and SNCB’s and …) at a reasonable price. It certainly seems to meet the operator‘s needs better than the manufacturer-driven AGV design. I’m sure more seats/power/efficiency/etc can still be squeezed out of the legacy Duplex, should the customer need it and be willing to pay for it.

    Given a blank slate — such as with today California HSR, or to a 40-year-past extent with Shinkansen — and different and fewer legacy constraints it’s possible to do better. But that’s apples and oranges counter-factual territory.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The body width isn’t the issue here. The passenger capacity is on a par with what you get with the latest standard-bogie single-level high-speed EMUs in 2+2 configuration. The problems:

    1. The train is loco-hauled; 20% of its length isn’t carrying passengers, vs. about 3% for a 16-car Shinkansen nose.

    2. There’s no room for overhead luggage, so instead there are places to store luggage near the staircases, cutting into car capacity even more.

    3. One eighth of the available space is the bistro car.

    4. A huge portion of the train is first class.

    See seating plan here.

    Egk Reply:

    But alon that doesn’t deal with the platform height compatibility issue my friend. Commuter rail has gone bilevel everywhere I know, so….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There are no platforms in California. There’s pretty patches of concrete and not so pretty patches of asphalt by the side of the tracks but there aren’t any platforms.

    Clem Reply:

    The way these things are put together, body width is adjustable at essentially zero cost.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m well aware. For some reason people ignore the fact that I’ve said twice already that I’m discounting body width by comparing the TGV to a hypothetical Shinkansen that’s comparably narrow, i.e. 2+2.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The green cars are two by two…..

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m well-aware. The first-filter comparison I implicitly did was adding the green car seats and 0.8 times the standard class seats.

    thatbruce Reply:

    In a sensible world, the Caltrain fleet would shift to using HSR-platform compatible EMUs, as would Metrolink for its Palmdale/Lancaster line. Metrolink would still need to retain its FRA fleet for services outside the HSR corridor though, along with multiple platforms where they overlap.

    As far as this dream goes on the Caltrain side, this MOU seems to be only applicable for the electrification and signal aspects, not harmonization of platform heights or platform sharing.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    bolt three inch wide threshold plates down to a Comet III and run them to the Shinkansen Platforms in Los Angeles Union Station. Or order up some that are six inches wider than whatever they are ordering for the NEC.

  5. Roger Christensen
    Mar 28th, 2012 at 21:54
    #5

    Did I read that the legislature is discussing HSR on April 5? Love it how there seems a new acceleration of support in the air.

    Clem Reply:

    No, the CHSRA is approving the same MOU

  6. missiondweller
    Mar 28th, 2012 at 22:35
    #6

    Could someone explain how they will upgrade to full HSR when the time comes?

    Do they stop service and rip it all out?
    Does it leave us with street grade HSR?
    Do we build an elevated above the old tracks?

    These questions are not sarcasm I’m actually wondering. Or has it even been determined?

    J. Wong Reply:

    No, they don’t stop service. They’re currently running Caltrain on temporary “shoefly” tracks in San Bruno where they are elevating the tracks. The shoefly runs around next to where the old tracks ran where they are berming to elevate the roadbed or building half-size aerials. This is what was done between Belmont and south of San Carlos. It will be at grade where Caltrain is at grade like in San Mateo.

    Hey, did you know that there is already 4 tracks on the Penisula? Between Bayshore and South SF.

    BrianR Reply:

    yes, and there’s also a relatively short 4-track stretch in Redwood City but it seems like Caltrain almost never uses the outer tracks. The only time I’ve noticed those tracks being used is when there are delays or equipment problems and a Limited that is “ending it’s express run and becoming a local” needs to be passed by the Limited behind it that is “ending it’s local run and becoming an express” as a form of damage control to protect the schedule.

    From aerial images the ROW thru Atherton looks pretty wide too. It seems like they could easily extend those 4 tracks south thru Atherton and north from Redwood City to create a more usable passing segment.

    Suppose Caltrain and CAHSRA built grade crossing shanty’s staffed with a single crossing guard each if PAMPA continues to insist on fighting all REASONABLE efforts to grade separate. For the life of the system including wage and retirement costs I would imagine that would be cheaper than tunneling if that’s the only other solution they will accept (and they don’t mind spending more time in their cars waiting at crossings). Disasters could still happen but at least the guards would be in direct contact with dispatch and route warnings thru the PTC system.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    To do an Express / Local pass without substantial delays to the Local, you need the bypass to go past a couple of local-only stations. After all, if you have a 3 minute practical headway, and had a simple siding as a passing loop, the train that was passed would have to be three minutes ahead of the following train, then the following train would pass, then it would have to wait three minutes to follow.

    Better signaling can cut the second headway, since the train just getting going will not be going fast and the headway will be dominated by the signal layout, but the first headway for the chasing Express has a component of minimum safe stopping distance after receiving the stop signal.

    If you have a switch onto an Express track before a local platform stretch with two local platforms, between the deceleration for the two stops, and slower transit between the two stops than the Express is making on the bypass, the Express can easily make up the 3 minutes headway and hit the switch back onto the shared line while the Local is at the second platform. Or even better, the next Express stop is at a four platform station with the switch back onto the shared line after the Express pulls out of the Express platform ~ then the Local can be pulling out of the second local-only station while the Express is pulling into the Express platform, and the Express has pulled out when the local arrives at the local platform side of that island, picking up passengers switching to the local to complete their trip.

    One or two of the platform-to-platform transits of the Local service might take place below the top possible speed, but rather than losing 6 minutes standing still, the local only loses a minute or two, and since that is just in running below the top possible, the delay is far less noticeable than a halt.

    On grade separation ~ that’s a fight that can certainly be won, once there is an HSR service on the track. That will recruit more supporters in San Francisco, and since a growing number of PAMPA residents will be HSR riders, it will also divide the opposition.

    Indeed, for PAMPA residents who want the greatest say in how the corridor is designed, they risk losing their leverage by going for total opposition and impractical versions of “build it right” options. If they had gone for practical “build it right” options, they could have got those locked into place already.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    When the train makes the switch from the local track to the express track or vice versa it takes up the space 4 trains could occupy. ( Unless you want trains loitering around between stations waiting for signals to clear. ) It’s occupying one stretch of track. It’s going to occupy another which means that one has to be clear. There can’t be a train in the stretch of track behind on that second track ( unless you don’t care that it loiters around ) and the stretch of track ahead of it on the track it’s leaving or the stretch of track trailing it will be clear. Depending on the signaling system, some use up more “slots” If you are running a high frequency service you want to minimize the amount of switching trains do. If the expresses are stopping every 4, 5 even 6 stations the station sidings merge together into local tracks.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Adirondacker, given the context BrainR raised, of two through tracks, one each way, and a section with two Express passing tracks, I don’t see how your “four trains” all get there at the same time.

    It sounds like you are explaining that, one day, when the Express passing tracks become part of complete Express through tracks, then it wouldn’t make sense to operate as if those Express passing tracks have become Express through tracks. Uhhhmmm … yeah, OK. But until they have been, the trains you are talking about can’t reach that Express bypass track to get in the way of the pass.

    .

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They they are there you can’t switch tracks. If it’s a high frequency line you are using up capacity. If it’s a low frequency line… why do you need passing tracks? Schedule it so the express leaves first and local can toddle along without getting in the way of the express.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And if its an intermediate frequency of both local and express services, then strategically chosen sections that allow timed overtakes allow both to be supported on a system with two through tracks.

    Locals have greater need for frequency than Expresses since they serve shorter trips on average and a lot of the impact of service intervals is in proportion to trip time, which is what leads to a target of being able to support up to four locals per hour. Four locals per hour is a below high frequency capacity for a two track corridor, but if the Express is going to be leading out one Local, it will need to overtake another Local before completing the transit.

    Once you have the capacity to support four Locals per hour and allow an Express through, you have the capacity to allow four Expresses through, which is ample to support up intra-regional and an initial intercity service.

    So yes, an inability to conceive of timed overtakes does indeed tend to cut the options down to a choice between egregiously bad service intervals at local platforms and a four track system that will be massively over-capacity at the outset.

    Andy M. Reply:

    Yes, temporary tracks are fine. But if those temporary tracks are going to be electrified that adds to costs. I’m sceptical of the need to electrify a corridor that sooner or later is going to be ripped up and rebuilt from scratch.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The majority of the corridor is not going to be ripped up and built from scratch … the majority of the corridor is just fine for use now with Express tracks added to the outside of the corridor later. Indeed, those Express tracks can be added incrementally, to expand capacity in stages.

    And given the revenue benefits to Caltrain of electrification, having to electrify shoefly tracks at each grade separation project is not really a net cost ~ financially, having the electric service sooner will return far more than maintaining an electrical versus diesel service through each grade separation project is going to cost.

    Matthew Reply:

    Most of the cost of electrification is due to the building of substations and supporting infrastructure, not the actual wires, which are relatively easy to reposition anyhow.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But not cheap.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    It realy depends on how the temporary tracks are arranged. But compared to the overall cost, relocating the catenary is not expensive. And if masts can be used, it is really easy.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Cheaper than the lost operating revenue and increased operating cost from not electrifying earlier.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “Cheaper than the lost operating revenue and increased operating cost”? Maybe in Alternate Reality USA, or Anywhere Except the USA. But not here.

    Reminder to all: Caltrain plans — plans! — to increase its operating costs and to operate trains at almost exactly the same speed as today.

    Remember: these are the project proponents promising these astonishing benefits.

    You can’t make this stuff up.

    America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals on the job, once again.

    We lose moeny on every sale, but make it up with volume!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many decades does it take to make it worthwhile to electrify? ..on a normal railroad where electric operation costs less than diesel operation.
    Moving it is more expensive than the original installation. You have to remove the existing – which costs money, it isn’t going to be done by pixies and elves getting paid with fairy dust – and then spend as much as you spent installing it to install it again. How many years of savings does that labor cost eat up?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The full build? Or the wiring and poles along specific grade separation projects?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The overhead contact component is budgeted to ~$360m, according to the EA/EIR that Clem cites below. If 10% has to be reworked five years later, that’s ~$36m 10 years down the track, or ~$28m p.v.

    If the full benefit/cost ratio is 1.25 on a project of $1.5b, that would be a net benefit of $375m, or delayed five years a net benefit of ~$294m. So the benefit of the advancing the project would be on the order of $81m.

    If the benefit/cost ratio is higher, the net benefit is higher. If the benefit/cost ratio on a full benefit / full cost basis is substantially lower than that, there’d be no clear reason for proceeding with the electrification in the first place.

    Matt in SF Reply:

    I think the point is that “sooner or later” is going to be much later. Full 4-tracking would not conceivably even begin for another 20 years if not much later. By that time we will know if we need to make further upgrades and we may then need to replace or repair parts of the system anyways as regular maintenance or part of a modernization project or whatever.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Exactly. And at that time improvements will have broad community support (excepting of course some on this blog).

    missiondweller Reply:

    So how do you do that through Palo Alto & Menlo? Too narrow.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Are you talking about for the four grade actually separations required in Palo Alto?

    There are four roads in Palo Alto that are not grade separated, with two of them, Meadow Drive and Charleston Road, close enough together to be a single project. The ROW seems to be 100 ft wide in this section (cf. 33-TCCM-200-B), so that’s obviously not “too narrow”. East of Churchill Ave, behind the High School stadium, its 85 ft wide there. Across Churchill itself its too narrow on the southern side (cf. 30-TCCM-200-B), but in a split grade separation Churchill will be dropping 0.5ft and the rail overpass will be, as is the nature of these things, over the road, not on it, so as long as the shoe fly track is on the north side and the initial construction is an overpass bridge on the south side, the 65ft width at ground level is not a binding constraint.

    And where Alma crosses the railroad tracks, that’s well over 100ft wide (cf. 29-TCCM-200-B).

    OK, so I’ve looked at Palo Alto ~ you go through the plats for Menlo, specify which grade separations are needed to be added, and which of the grade separations will not allow shoe fly tracks during construction for a fully grade separated corridor.

  7. Tom McNamara
    Mar 28th, 2012 at 22:35
    #7

    Let’s see if this truce lasts until the ink is dry…..

    J. Wong Reply:

    No, there won’t be any truce. PAMPA plus Burlingame know the ROW will eventually be 4-tracked and will continue to fight. But politicians higher up will no longer have any cover in opposing HSR so the cities will lose them in the fight.

    jimsf Reply:

    but isn’t most of the row, with the exception of a few short stretches, already wide enough for 4 tracks without taking property? Why are they trippin.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yes but Because they don’t want the grade separation that will also occur even though it would improve traffic flow. They really, really don’t want HSR.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Why indeed. The previous HSR plan also included full grade seps everywhere. The aerials scared folks as much as the additional ROW requirement.

    Also, some parts of the ROW may be wide enough for 4 tracks but not wide enough for an extra shoefly to construct a grade sep for the 4 tracks, so that could involve some taking or ‘borrowing’ of land — but perhaps some could be built one half first like highway overpasses are often upgraded/replaced.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Under the Blended Plan it ought to be easier to avoid “borrowing” land than under the rail apartheid approach that Kopp was pushing … since completing two tracks worth of grade separation is sufficient for rail service to proceed through the work. For split grade separations where its necessary for the road to be closed for longer than just required to build the railbridge, you get started on the road side regrading early on, since motorists are less likely to freak out at a road closure when they see road work proceeding in the closed section.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Parts of the Caltrain ROW are quite pastoral with lots of tree and brush cover growing into the ROW area. Yes, it’s public property, but it’s been like that for decades now.

    If you went into any upper-crust suburb in America and suggested chopping down a bunch of greenery and replacing it with a concrete wall, you would see a similar reaction.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes ~ even if it would in reality be a long term insurance for their property values against the threats posed by oil price shocks, that net benefit will always be harder to imagine than the wall that looms in their imagination.

    Which is another part of why it will be much easier to get the work approved once the preliminary service is in operation ~ we’ll be a number of years into the bumpy decade ahead, and a lot more people will have that issue in mind when they think about property values.

    Matt in SF Reply:

    The area was even more “pastoral” before the NIMBYs moved in and clear-cut the trees for their houses, which they put right alongside an active, pre-existing railway.

    Makes you think, doesn’t it?

    flowmotion Reply:

    You’re right, all of this could have been avoided if only they hadn’t built the railroad in the first place.

    BrianR Reply:

    @flowmotion,

    and it could of been avoided too if California did not become a U.S. state and there was no westward expansion and the transcontinental railroad was not built. President Lincoln must be rolling over in his grave knowing some of his own initiatives are causing “a bit of unpleasantness” among some of our nations wealthiest citizens in PAMPA!

    Then again I often forget that the Caltrain line (formerly the SP and before that the San Francisco and San Jose RR) was built BEFORE the transcontinental railroad! Lincoln can rest in peace.

    flowmotion Reply:

    I was thinking more of blaming the Spanish. Or Sir Francis Drake.

    Peter Reply:

    Personally, I blame Jesus.

    BrianR Reply:

    yes, that is a good point!

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Clearly the solution is to blow up their houses and put the new tracks there. Then the greenery can stay!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes, give the invasive weed species trees more room to grow.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Now, that’s not necessary. The average home in Palo Alto is only 30 feet tall, so the concrete aerials can easily be built right over the houses.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    PAMPA plus Burlingame know the ROW will eventually be 4-tracked

    Only because of the Los Banos routing.

    There’s basically no reasonable Altamont service scenario that requires either of those locations to be quadruplicated, ever.

    http://caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/2011/05/where-four-tracks-will-be-needed.html

    On the other hand, pretty much every all-trains-via-Los Banos-and-Diridon-memorial-Intergalactic nails both Burlingame and Palo Alto. It’s inherent in the train speed differentials and the excessive length of shared corridor.

    If you do something insane and without precedent anywhere else in the world, such as mix your high speed and regional trains on the same tracks for over 50 miles, then you end up with an insane outcome (each HS train overtakes at least two regional trains) and an insane amount of unnecessary and intrusive and unhelpful (but profitable, very very profitable!) construction.

    Don’t take my word for it, try it out for yourself and see.

    Bad operations and bad decisions have concrete consequences. Lots of concrete.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    > without precedent anywhere else in the world, such as mix
    > your high speed and regional trains on the same tracks for
    > over 50 miles

    Ahem… what about Hamburg – Hannover? what about Strasbourg – Mulhouse? These two segments are in no planning stage to be upgraded to HSR. OK, the Hamburg S-Bahn is separated, but trains beyond the S-Bahn network use the main line, and that main line also serves freight.

    thatbruce Reply:

    His proviso is ‘over 50 miles’. Plenty of examples where the HSR trains share tracks with conventional trains to access the city stations, but none where HSR and regionals (or commuter) share track for ‘over 50 miles’. Except for the Eurostar’s original entry to Waterloo. And Korea during its HSR build-out. And the Acela services, but that barely counts as HSR.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Max, 4 (or more, in their dreams) trains per direction per hour of high-speed inter-regional traffic sharing a full 80km of non-segregated corridor with 6 or more trains per direction per hour of S-Bahn?

    There’s nothing like it. And there’s no way in hell anybody would choose such a solution over half as much sharing.

    America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals will show the world how it’s done!

    Max Wyss Reply:

    I love the example; looks like a good reason for introducing communication-based signalling…

    It would be possible to set up that 10 train thingie, but its timetable would be extremely fragile. And there is still quite a bit of concrete needed to do so. And for the S-Bahn trains, you will need something in the 4-car KISS league or better (actually all axle drives would be even better).

    But with partial 4-tracking at the right places and good operation modes, it is feasible, but still rather fragile.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    But with partial 4-tracking at the right places and good operation modes, it is feasible

    Max. I agree. Of course. Angebot-Rollmaterial-Infrastruktur.

    It’s really easy and cheap to do if the high speed trains aren’t gumming up the corridor for the full 80km:

    Phase 1 (~6km 4miles of quadruple of even just triple tracking.)

    Phase 2 (~16km ~10miles of quadrupling.)

    But with partial 4-tracking at the right places and good operation modes, it is feasible

    Max. I agree. Of course. Angebot-Rollmaterial-Infrastruktur.

    It’s really easy and cheap to do if the high speed trains aren’t gumming up the corridor for the full 80km:

    Phase 1 (~6km 4miles of quadruple of even just triple tracking, Belmont-Redwood City.)

    Phase 2 (~16km ~10miles of additional quadrupling, Bayshore-Broadway)

    But if those HS trains are unnecessarily messing things up all the way from Redwood City to San José, the Capital of Silicon Valley, you’re in a world of pain. Unnecessary trains force track quadruplication exactly where it is most expensive and disruptive (add in Redwood City-Atherton-Menlo Park-Palo Alto California Avenue andBroadway-Burlingame quadruplication).

    Synergist win-win way-out-of-the-box “thinking”, courtesy of America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Awe, the poor corridor. If only the residents of Livermore, Pleasanton, Fremont and Alameda County had been less hostile to running the HSR mainline through their cities we might have more options to avoid the needless stress and worry of additional tracks through the pristine wilderness of PAMPA.

    Oh, but Palo Alto is the #2 busiest station on the corridor and Stanford actually wants a stop there, as does Mtn View with light rail, good highway access and shuttles to businesses. If only there was some way we could keep the HSR mainline away from Evil San Jose which must be punished. Oh, why didn’t Alameda County ‘take one for the team’ so we could properly show up San Jose…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s basically no reasonable Altamont service scenario that requires either of those locations to be quadruplicated, ever.

    And no HSR service either.

    without precedent anywhere else in the world, such as mix your high speed and regional trains on the same tracks for over 50 miles

    Newark has been 80-ish miles from Philadelphia since Newark was founded. Some time in the late 1800s the predecessors to the Pennsylvania Railroad put in 4 tracks. Soon after they did, the CNJ/Reading/B&O partnership put in 4. On both of them there were places with 6 tracks. There still is a short stretch of 6 tracks in Rahway NJ.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    … Randolph Street to wherever Illinois Central’s four tracks went down to less than 4. Big chunks of that are still 6 tracks wide, 4 for Metra Electric and 2 for everything else.

    Tony d. Reply:

    So then this is all about what’s “best” for Palo Alto and Burlingame? Screw San Jose and Silicon Valley proper? Yeah right!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Good idea, Tony D.!

    San Jose is reaming the rest of the Bay Area raw. A little turn-about would be more than fair.

    You’re getting your $10 billion zero-passenger BART line. You’re getting your 101 and 680 and 880 and 85 and 262 widenings and “safety improvements” and interchange blow-outs. You’re not paying what you promised for any Caltrain capital project or for VTA improvements or for Dumbarton rail.

    But after all of that, there will, as today, still be no demand for anybody to travel to the doughnut of surface parking lots and abject Redevelopment Agency failure that is “downtown” San Jose.

    From today’s NYT:

    You can generally predict the quality of online photos by the words in their captions. Higher-rated photos had the words Peru, Cambodia, Michigan, tombs, trails and boats. The photo captions most likely to signify an uninspiring photo are San Jose, mommy, graduation and C.E.O.

    On second thought, sometimes the data will yield insights that are not so surprising. Sorry, San Jose.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Talk about speaking out of one’s a$$. Geez!! To the rest, let’s continue the intelligent discussion; proceed!

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Richard, you’re making stuff up again. The BART to San Jose project cost $2.3B with Santa Clara county taxing itself significantly and close to zero coming from other counties. Similarly SCC taxed itself completely to build Hwy 85, widen 101 and upgrade 237 into a full freeway (you don’t even know the correct hwy numbers down there). If you want to talk about transportation waste, point out which of your favorite cities and counties are immune from it.

    Hwys get expanded because so many people are trying to get to their jobs in Silicon Valley, which remains a key economic engine for the Bay Area and the state.

    the road to recovery runs right through Silicon Valley. … San Francisco is really trailing the national average in terms of job growth

    Your latest rant is that HSR and Caltrain cannot share the same corridor because … someday four tracks will be needed?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Hwys get expanded because so many people are trying to get to their jobs in Silicon Valley,

    Hwys gets expanded because it’s in the financial interest of highway construction contractors.

    We’re going to Solve Congestion!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So they pay taxes to build highways and then burn gas on those highways, that is taxed, to build highways in Fumbuck. I’m sure the stalwart yeomanry of Fumbuck can go on at length about how it si to spend tax money in the fleshpits of San Jose.

    Clem Reply:

    You’ve got BART to San Jose confused with BART to Berryessa. Richard meant the full project to Santa Clara (currently estimated at 6+ billion when all is said and done) and likely applied an overrun factor in line with recent BART projects. $10 billion isn’t that far off.

    Tony d. Reply:

    I think Richard meant BART to Berryessa, hence his stupid zero passengers commentary. By the day, defending Richard? You’re better than that Clem!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I think Tony D. meant “whatever the hell I like to pretend he meant.” Therefore he’s a liar. Like CARRD, the Sierra Club, James Hansen and, errr, sure, why not, William of Orange.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    the road to recovery runs right through Silicon Valley. … San Francisco is really trailing the national average in terms of job growth

    That’s an idiotic comment given that San Francisco has a lower unemployment rate.

    Michael Reply:

    People on the street in this view is pretty damning.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    That’s right Tony, the primary objective of our transportation planning is the desires of a few entitled residents of Palo Alto and Burlingame. If others don’t like it, let them buy Teslas.

    Obfuscation becomes sport for some folks, they throw off a few factoids and some are fooled for a time. But the relentless drumbeat of negativity soon wakes up most readers to the reality that getting the best result was not the goal at all, rather it is the chance to ‘play doctor on tv’.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Sure Neil. And the SFO extension was going to cost $690 million.

    Once the project is approved, the sky’s the limit.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Fair point until contracted out – BART manages to make other transit systems look downright cost efficient. But the Berryessa phase is contracted out at $2.3B. I don’t know how to cost effectively link BART to Diridon, maybe that attractive Stilt-A-Rail or Santa Clara County could choose to throw $5B at the problem.

    VBobier Reply:

    Ok now 4 tracks mains aren’t a New thing, but then Richard I gather You’ve not heard of the Broadway Limited?

    Quadruple Track”>Quadruple_track has uses where a faster train or trains can overtake a slower train or trains, as 2 tracks can be a bottleneck. As is mentioned in the Wikipedia and as is quoted below.

    Advantages of quadruple track

    A 4-track section of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor in New Jersey is shown Here.

    Quadruple track can manage a larger amount of traffic with usually twice the capacity of double track. It is often seen around large metropolis or on busy inter-city corridors.
    In quadruple track, faster trains can overtake slower ones, and quadrupling can contribute to faster operation of trains. High-speed rail of 200 km/h average speed and commuter rail of 40 km/h average can co-exist in quadruple track without interrupting each other.
    It is relatively easy to do maintenance and engineering work of tracks in quadruple line with minimum effect of train delay because double-track service is kept even if the other two double tracks are halted during the work.

    Disadvantages of quadruple track

    Quadruple track costs more due to requiring more materials and increased land acquisition costs. This also applies to tunneling and bridge costs.
    When adding tracks, land acquisition can become prohibitively expensive.
    Maintenance costs are higher and often more complex as there may be more switches on the track than on a two-track line (to facilitate switching from outer to inner tracks and vice versa).
    For safety, grade separations are almost always required.

    Examples

    Quadruple track section of the West Coast Main Line in Great Britain as is shown Here.

    America

    The New York Central Railroad’s Water Level Route was the first long distance 4-track railroad in the world.
    Much of Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor from Washington to New Haven is a four track line.
    The Pennsylvania Railroad had a four-track mainline carrying freight from Pittsburgh to Harrisburg via the Horseshoe Curve. This was how the name Broadway Limited came about due the “Broadway of a 4 track main.”
    The BNSF Racetrack in Chicago has a quadruple track section from Union Station to Lavergne.
    New York City Subway – many lines of the New York City Subway are quadrupled. Hence, many express services are operated in the New York City Subway. Express trains and local trains are separated with each different track.

    Europe

    Significant lengths of the West Coast, Great Western and East Coast Main Lines in Great Britain are quadruple track, with the remainder of the lines being double track. These lines are high capacity and high speed lines running from Glasgow, Bristol and Edinburgh to London.
    The London Waterloo to Southampton / Salisbury main line South Western Main Line from London Waterloo to Worting Junction, Great Britain.
    The Berlin Stadtbahn, Germany, has four tracks.
    The İstanbul-Ankara Main Line has a quadruple track section between Etimesgut and Kızılay in Ankara, Turkey.
    Most of the railway through Stockholm County, Sweden has four tracks, sometimes having two routes. Still the central section has two tracks only, with two more under construction (Stockholm City Line).

    Asia
    Hong Kong

    The Tung Chung Line and the Airport Express in Hong Kong are quadruplicated between Kowloon and Tsing Yi stations, but share two tracks on the rest of their routes (until they diverge before the western end). The two lines shared two tracks when they were opened in 1998.
    The Ocean Park Cable Car system got two pairs of ropeways.

    China

    The Guangzhou–Shenzhen Railway is quadruplicated for its entire length separating passenger with freight traffic. It is the first railway in China to do so.
    The Shanghai–Nanjing Intercity High-Speed Railway runs exactly parallel to the slower conventional Nanjing-Shanghai Railway.

    Huning Lines
    South Korea

    The Gyeongbu Line in South Korea is quadruplicated on 84.9km on its route, and sextuplicated on a further 11.7km

    Japan

    Hankyu Railway in Osaka has a sextuplicated section between Umeda and Juso stations. (2.4km)
    Keihan Main Line in Osaka is quadruplicated between Temmabashi and Neyagawa Signal Box (~13km)
    Seibu Main Line in Tokyo is quadruplicated between Nerima to Nerima-Takanodai stations (3.5 km)

    VBobier Reply:

    Ok the link didn’t work, but no matter it’s Quadruple Track(Wiki)

    VBobier Reply:

    Plus the 2nd picture link, forgot the = sign, drat, Here it is then.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    One thing to be aware of with the British quad-track lines is that they do often have extremely long blocks, and rather few interchanges. With the exception of the “S-Bahn” zones, the traffic could be handled on a double track with shorter blocks.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    If you want to add a few more for Europe:
    Switzerland:
    • Zürich HB – Killwangen-Spreitenbach
    • Rupperswil – Aarau
    • Zürich HB – Oerlikon (2, soon 3 double track lines)

    Germany:
    • Mannheim – Basel (partially 4-track; some stretches under construction, some planned)
    • München – Augsburg (I think they are now finished with the work)

    France:
    • Paris Gare de Lyon – St.Florentin-Vergigny (one stretch 2 separated double tracks)

    and there are more…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    There are a lot more examples in Japan, but usually each track pair has a different name. This map partly shows which lines are different, but sometimes two parallel lines run on the same tracks.

    That said, the lines on the segment between Ueno and Shinagawa do not share tracks. In other words, there are four local tracks all the way, two Shinkansen tracks, and depending on the segment between zero and four express commuter tracks. (The segment with zero, between Ueno and Tokyo, is the most congested nationwide, and JR East is working on adding two.) Yes, those are ten tracks between Tokyo and Shinagawa – all used to full capacity.

    Not that there’s any relevance to Caltrain, mind you. The local stations on those lines have more ridership than all of Caltrain. And the areas around the suburban stations look like real cities, which isn’t the case for San Jose. Stare at Shinagawa or Yokohama or Kokubunji or Tachikawa on Google Earth and ask yourself how it compares with San Jose.

  8. Andy Chow
    Mar 28th, 2012 at 23:34
    #8

    Under the blended system, the corridor would be engineered for a max of 110 mph, so it will meet the requirements set in Prop 1a. 110 mph does not require 100% grade separations but a lot of cities are interested in separating at least some of the crossings for additional safety and improve traffic flow.

    I hope that you are not joining the Kopp club to try to make HSR difficult.

    Tim Reply:

    a la “sealed corridor” with quad gates and all of the cheaper grade separations done (making it a FRA Quiet Zone).

    Peter Reply:

    Depends on what requirements of Prop 1A you want to meet. You can’t do SF-SJ in 30 minutes at 110 mph top speed, you can barely do it at 125 mph.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    It is my understanding that it will be designed for 125mph operation but Caltrain is only analyzing an operating program that runs trains at 110mph. As long as the corridor is designed to meet the requirements, HSR trains can run trains at the required speed. Caltrain has different plans, which could be adjusted when HSR trains show up.

    jimsf Reply:

    does caltrain plan to run its emus at 110?

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    I believe so, at least for the baby bullets.

    Mike Reply:

    does caltrain plan to run its emus at 110?

    Not initially; all operations will stay at 79. Once TBD future improvements are made to accommodate HSR, and once HSR trains actually arrive and are doing 110, Caltrain will likely do the same.

  9. Jeff Carter
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 04:28
    #9

    In the real (NON PB/CHSRA/Caltrain) world, does it actually cost $1.5 billion and take 8 years to electrify and upgrade 50 miles of double track rail road?

    I have not seen any breakdown of the costs, i. e. overhead catenary, signals, rolling stock, etc… Wish I had more time to read through all this MTC stuff…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You mean, $30m/mile, or IOW $19m/km? I wouldn’t think so with this much of the work involving track at grade, but whether $10m/km would be out of sight would depend on how much civil engineering is required, so it could be the normal reasonable x 2 that we expect from US projects.

    mike Reply:

    The last major electrification project in the US was New Haven-Boston in the late 90s. That cost around $680 million for 156 miles of double track (approximately $1 billion in 2012 dollars). In fairness that did not involve any rolling stock (and probably not much signaling either, though I’m not certain). Still, $1.5 billion seems somewhat overpriced.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So roughly 3 million dollars a track mile in today’s dollars. Keep the math simple, 4 tracks between San Francisco and San Jose is 200 track miles. Or 600 million.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    But the electrification is for a predominantly two-track line, and also the tension doesn’t need to support high speeds.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So it’s even worse….
    The untensioned catenary of the NEC supports 135 – except when it’s hot and it doesn’t – so they’d be tensioning the catenary for all the other reasons you tension catenary.

    J. Wong Reply:

    I think there is more than just electrification involved.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I think there is more than just electrification involved.

    There’s got to be at least $300 million in direct no-purpose kickbacks to America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals in the consultancies and contractor mafia operations that will “specify” and “design” the signalling system, electrification systems, and vehicles all in utter ignorance of and in direct conflict with best global practice. These things don’t come in at twice comparable project prices for nothing!

    It’s tough work, but somebody needs to stand in the path of the firehose of cash and suck it down. Luckily, there’s exactly one world class skill that America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals possess.

    Matt in SF Reply:

    The memo lists an outline of costs associated with each category of improvement, i.e. control systems, rolling stock, etc. It’s not detailed at all, but it’s probably a better starting point if you really want to price out the cost of each mile.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Of the $1.225B for Electrification and EMUs it appears 1/3 is for the EMUs, for an Electrification cost of about $10m/km

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That is from the note of funding of $342m for EMU’s? That is noted as FTA funding, so its not certain that is 100% of the EMU cost, but in any event, it leaves $883m for any balance of EMU costs and for electrification. If the FTA funding were, for example, the 80% of an 80:20 funding split, it would be $798m for electrification, which does indeed seem like $10m/km.

    That will be inflated to a certain extent because it will be nominal YOE dollars ~ the sooner the work starts, the lower the nominal YOE value because of the arbitrary projected inflation in the figures ~ but not as much as if it was 20 years in the future.

    Clem Reply:

    The information is available in Caltrain’s Electrification EA/EIR of July 2009.

    Rolling stock is $440M
    Non-rolling stock is $785M which breaks down as:
    $171M Traction Power Supply System
    $358M Overhead Contact System
    $93M Signal System & Grade Crossings
    $40M Communications
    $39M Tunnel and Overcrossing Clearance
    $27M Utilities and Landscape Improvements
    $22M OCS Equipment and Materials Storage
    $11M Retooling of CEMOF and Training
    $2M High-Level Catenary Platforms
    $9M Liability Insurance, Financing, Other
    Total $1225M

    Note $133M of signaling and communications charges that are probably double-booked with the $231M budget for CBOSS… juicy!

    (all in YOE $ assuming 2015 completion. You can add 4 years to that, or ~10%)

  10. SL
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 07:07
    #10

    What is this?

    9. Consideration of a Resolution to Rescind Resolution HSRA # 11-11 Certifying 2010 Bay Area to Central Valley Revised Final Program EIR, Selecting Pacheco Pass Network Alternative, and Making Related Decisions
    The board will discuss and consider taking action on a resolution to rescind its approvals and certification of the 2010 Revised Final Program Environmental Impact Report, in compliance with the judicial decision.

    http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/assets/0/152/232/365/d3db58ec-a085-47a8-89e6-b9c089c25561.pdf

    Peter Reply:

    Old news. They were ordered to do this because the last revised Program EIR did not comply with CEQA.

    The next revision will likely be certified either on April 19 or at the May Board meeting.

  11. Nadia
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 07:39
    #11

    O/T: Brown administration, bullet train board seek to ease environmental reviews of the project

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-0328-bullet-exemption-20120329,0,882981.story

    Brsk Reply:

    “The environmental review doesn’t describe the system they want to build,” said Nadia Naik, a cofounder of Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Development. “The blended approaches puts constraints on how many high speed trains can operate. It affects the trip times. The question is where is the analysis?”

    Ummm, see Caltrain.com maybe?

    Wow, now you hate the blended system too? You prefer they do 4-track aerial because they did “the analysis,” really? Surprise!

    Come on be a grown woman. Fess up that you hate ANY HSR plan and just want it dead.

    When the endless lawsuits are stopped by Brown and they break ground in Fresno I’m going to be laughing at you. You and your friends and how you wasted so many years of your life doing nothing but fail at stopping the future.

    You might as well go grab a bucket and fight the tide.

    Walter Reply:

    Whining, lawsuits, and concern trolling in the media are sport for CARRD.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Ummm, see Caltrain.com maybe?

    Pure comedy gold from America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals.

    “Caltrain.”

    (Pregnant pause. Audience runs through the cliched possibilities and savours the associations. Will it be “Incompetence?” “Corruption?” “Grotesque unprofessionalism?” “Complete ignorance?” “Consultant rent-seeking?” “Reptilian hind–brain level of foresight?” “Sheltered Workshop for Special Needs?”Ineptitude?” is the obvious follow-on, but wait for it … wait for it …)

    “Analysis!”

    (NOBODY saw that coming. The house explodes in peals of hilarity! You agent’s phone lights up with offers!)

    Seriously Brsk, quit you day job and go into the gag writing biz. You’ll slay ‘em.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    No one beats you Richard for pure comedy

    joe Reply:

    It is not comedy, it is bullying.

    Realist Reply:

    Perhaps, although given CBOSS etc, maybe it’s just calling things like they are… the transportation waste to consultants in America seems pretty staggering.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Some of it is correct, but the negativity drowns out the message.

    Spokker Reply:

    IT GETS BETTER

    Peter Reply:

    The article is a grab-bag of interesting information and propaganda.

    It’s not surprising that the Authority is looking for concessions for the project in order to not blow ARRA deadlines. Those would likely be I agree that an all-out exemption is politically an impossibility.

    On the other hand, TRANSDEF is overstating its case on the revised EIR. The Authority has gotten the issues in the EIR that were not in compliance with CEQA. The fact that the Authority “lost” on a number of issues means nothing as to whether there is any remaining issue not in compliance.

    Similarly, CARRD is incorrect if it assumes that later-developed plans have ANY bearing on the Program EIR. If you will recall, that was one of the issues raised in the more recent lawsuit, and the plaintiffs lost on that issue. The fact that the plan has changed again will not change the result if that argument is raised again. Remember, what is discussed in a Program EIR is NOT what is planned to be built. It’s a general study of impacts. A Project EIR is where the detailed impacts are studied. You can’t co-opt a Program EIR and try to make it do a Project EIR’s work for you, otherwise there’s no point in separating them to begin with.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    The mountain of lawsuits that are coming down the pipeline will backfire on anti-HSR, pro-CEQA environmentalists. When they abuse the CEQA system on the HSR project, which now has large amounts of political support, I predict that lawmakers will finally say enough is enough and pass legislation to significantly reform CEQA. In other words, Gary Patton, will undermine the law he loves – CEQA – because of his extreme and obessive efforts to kill HSR by suing over everyting bogus angle under the sun.

    joe Reply:

    Daniel

    CA is already flirting with building in exceptions to the law.

    http://articles.latimes.com/2011/sep/09/local/la-me-legislature-20110909

    The new bill would require that legal challenges be resolved within 175 days for projects estimated to cost at least $100 million, if the governor selects them for such treatment during the next three years. The projects would have to win certification that they are environmentally friendly.

    Senators acknowledged that the broader measure would probably have to pass if they are to approve the AEG stadium bill. Its principal co-author, Senate President Pro Tem Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento), said it was justified by the state’s 12% unemployment rate.

    “This is a recession,” Steinberg said. “People are hurting, and we have to use every tool in our disposal to help people get back to work, and do so in a way that does not undermine our very important environmental laws.”

    The bill, AB 900, would allow a wide variety of projects — residential, commercial, sports, cultural, entertainment, renewable energy and recreational — to apply to the governor for expedited treatment. They would have to be located on an under-utilized property in a developed area.

    A possible HSR exception would be a coalition of interests, probably not the Sierra Club but enough of a coalition to expedite the process. It would “save money”, cut “red tape”, be “pro-jobs and business” and piss off the hippies. One can find enough behinds those interests to get a HSR exemption.

    joe Reply:

    Status 2011-12
    http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/pub/11-12/bill/asm/ab_0851-0900/ab_900_bill_20120111_status.html

    LAST HIST. ACTION : Chaptered by Secretary of State – Chapter 354, Statutes of 2011.
    COMM. LOCATION : SEN ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY
    COMM. ACTION DATE : 09/09/2011
    COMM. ACTION : Do pass, but re-refer to the Committee on Appropriations
    COMM. VOTE SUMMARY : Ayes: 05 Noes: 01 PASS

    Peter Reply:

    Brown signed it into law on Sept. 27. Check this page:

    Sept. 27 Chaptered by Secretary of State – Chapter 354, Statutes of 2011.
    Sept. 27 Approved by the Governor.
    Sept. 20 Enrolled and presented to the Governor at 3 p.m.

    Peter Reply:

    HSR does not qualify for AB 900’s protections. Although a lot of politicians think their particular pet transportation project does (they don’t).

    Mike Reply:

    Thanks for explaining that, Peter. I wish the Authority would have a nice one page document that helps the public understand the distinction between Program and Project EIRs.

    VBobier Reply:

    Problem is nothing is ever simple, life is complex & so is project of any size.

    jimsf Reply:

    Its groups/people such as this who are the cause of the country’s economic woes. They abuse the legal system and contribute to the astronomical costs of doing business. In this process they have been screaming bloody murder, completely irrational, over a train. a freakin train. How can grown people be that selfish, uniformed, and hysterical?

    Id be embarrassed to be them. Most american are just annoyed by these kinds of people for they are the reason the country isn’t moving forward, and instead stagnating.

    Meanwhile we all pay for it.

    Peter Reply:

    Remember, CARRD told Fresno State students that their tuition would go up by $2000 if HSR was built. So, I guess college students in particular would pay for HSR…

    jimsf Reply:

    sleazy.

    joe Reply:

    CARRD’s founding member also claimed HSR would cost CV jobs.

    HSR would reduce travel times and let corporations consolidate all their satellite office workers to the Bay Area or LA. The audience was confused. WTF?! What satellite corporate offices ?

    CARRD is a collection of upper middle-class citizens without a clue how the SV works or what a CSU student job faces for job prospects in Fresno. I say invite them to every debate. Let them explain how the CV has a socio-economic demographic that does not fly in airplanes or rail lines.

    Tony d. Reply:

    You’re kidding, right Peter? No one could be that sleazy.

    Peter Reply:

    From the Fresno Bee:

    Elizabeth Alexis of Californians Advocating Responsible Rail Design and Daniel Krause of Californians for High-Speed Rail discussed the effect of high-speed rail on communities and the California State University budget.

    Alexis said the amount the state would need to borrow for the rail project would divert $700 million annually to pay the interest on the debt, costing CSU students $2,000 annually each.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    When I first met CARRD folks they were still somewhat constructive. And now that they have made tremendous progress to eliminate the elevates in their community, they still are claiming nothing has changed (see Mountain View meeting). Uh? Nothing at all has changed? Rapid credibility loss. CA4HSR was willing to change our position from opposing blended to supporting because we realized that the way things have evolved that the plan makes sense at this time. We also saw that reduced impacts on the Peninsula is good for the people there and good for the project. But CARRD won’t budge.

    Why are people so damn extreme these days? It is really a sad fact of modern oppositional politics. The art of compromise in the best interest of society is totally lost on these folks.

    Alternatively, CARRD could have applauded the changes while staying at the table to express any remaining concerns, such as how can we now collaborative figure out how to resovle the issue of traffic mitigation, grade crossing/grade separations. As I see it, they are not at the table now except to lay the ground work to abuse CEQA, which will lead to CEQA’s undoing.

    Eric M Reply:

    It was only a matter of time the the typical “done right” CARRD would run out if smoke screens and show their true colors of anti-CAHSR.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Haven’t noticed any of the known CARRD folks posting here lately.

    Peter Reply:

    Look who started this thread.

    But they weren’t part of the Mountain View hearing, either, which surprised me. I’m wondering of their relevance is beginning to fade.

    thatbruce Reply:

    You’re right. Guess I should have said ‘participating in the discussion’.

    Tony d. Reply:

    By the way, funny (or sickening) that NIMBYS cried and bitched about a 4-track ROW…now they’re crying and bitching about the ROW NOT being 4-tracked! This new blended arrangement, designed as a compromise to help appease them, is now viewed by them as “illegal” and compromising trip times…un-@#$%%-believable! Thankfully, in the end they won’t win.

    BrianR Reply:

    I know! Isn’t the hypocrisy so blatantly obvious! CONSTRUCTIVE CRITICISM is not their real objective. Killing the project is all they are after, regardless of what it takes. Until they get exactly what they want it is going to be a never ending cycle.

    Tony d. Reply:

    I am personally calling out Nadia, Elizabeth, or other CAARD members to answer to this hypocrisy! You can’t have it both ways!

    joe Reply:

    IMHO, CARRD was formed to protect CARRD member’s financial interests, not advocate responsible rail design.

    Walter Reply:

    I’ve tried. They’re silent. These days, they just come back to take cheap shots and leave.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Robert:

    Have you considered submitting some of your articles from here to the LA Times?

  12. Reality Check
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 12:43
    #12

    O/T … but relevant to Caltrain’s ill-advised plan to develop its own “homegrown” CBOSS PTC solution:
    Digital Rail Crash-Avoidance System Runs Into Trouble

    Some passenger railroads, backed by the Association of American Railroads and the American Public Transportation Association, say they can’t afford the new PTC systems, which will also require the hiring of highly trained employees to install and maintain the new technology.

    A bipartisan group in Congress has recommended a five-year delay in the deadline for implementation. The Republican-drafted legislation would also permit railroads to install simpler, more affordable safety solutions.

    Metrolink and its partners have chosen to build an overlay system, which integrates with existing safety and signaling equipment, making it more expensive than a stand-alone system, which eliminates the need to retrofit existing equipment.

    […]

    “We’re out in front developing this,” says John Fenton, Metrolink’s chief executive. “We’ll be one of the first rail lines in the country to have it, and it’s something we need in this region since we work with both freight and passenger trains on the same tracks.”

    […]

    The idea is to market a Metrolink-style system to other rail lines both in the U.S. and internationally once it is operating in California.

    A couple other, less advanced PTC solutions currently exist, including the Advanced Civil Speed Enforcement System, ACSES, now used on Amtrak’s busy Northeast Corridor (Boston to Washington).

    Metrolink is building its system with interoperability as a top priority by, for example, using the 220 mhz frequency band — popular among freight lines — for radio communications.

    Industry-wide adoption of PTC will allow regional railroads to choose their own technology and tools while permitting all rail lines to communicate with each other. One potential hurdle is the lack of sufficient 220 mhz bandwidth to accommodate all of the railroads.

  13. Eric
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 13:34
    #13

    You know, with the regional commuter operations planned for CAHSR in the future, I don’t know why they haven’t explored eventually supplanting Caltrain with HSR. They will be serving the exact market and purpose as far as the peninsula is concerned. Why not just run the eventual HSR trainsets as “Caltrain”.

    Reality Check Reply:

    CAHSR plans to run Caltrain-local type service providing trips like Belmont-Menlo Park? Really? When? Where?

    Eric Reply:

    Just looked at the caltrain timetable vs the stations listed for the peninsula – I remember them describing more stations than that. Guess I was wrong!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Making trains that can go 220 MPH is very expensive. For local service between San Jose and San Francisco you need trains that can go 70 MPH and maybe a few that can go 125 for the express services. They’re a lot cheap than 220 MPH trains.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Quite ~ the important thing for a local service is not being able to run 70mph instead of 60mph, its how long before a station it has to start slowing from 60mph and how long after a station until it gets back up to 60. A Flyer route would benefit from 110mph, but its not clear that a Flyer route is worth the trouble, when the same trains could be used to run regular Express services at higher frequency and on a more regular schedule.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I think you are overstating the case. Indeed, depending on the actual business model chosen, it might not be a decision that the Authority would ever be making, it might be a decision made by a franchise operator.

  14. Reality Check
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 13:40
    #14

    O/T: Rail Corridor Task Force to Detail Findings Tonight
    14-month investigation into best option for new Caltrain and High Speed Rail tracks led to one strong recommendation.

    Third Draft Complete

    The Third Draft of the Palo Alto Rail Corridor Study is available for download. The study is a report of the Task Force’s work and discusses the vision for the study area.

    Previous drafts of the Palo Alto Rail Corridor Study can be found in the resources section of this website.

    Peter Reply:

    The Task Force made an early choice not to review every possible option presented by the California High Speed Rail Authority, which oversees the statewide project, but instead to focus on the two most desirable options for Palo Alto: buried tracks and at-grade tracks.

    Well, that’s a good way to ensure a particular result for a “study”. Just ignore options you don’t like. Unfortunately for PA, the Authority is going to have to study an elevated alternative in order to comply with CEQA. They have to study a range of reasonable alternatives, one of which will be an elevated alignment.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Yes, and this isn’t that study. This is of a review of the corridor for town planning purposes. One of its main conclusions is that the tracks, together with the parallel major streets Alma and El Camino, form a barrier through the town, and that grade seps and safer crossings would be desirable. Grade seps desirable in Palo Alto? Stop the presses!

    Peter Reply:

    What, you don’t think PA is going to trot out this “study” and claim “But we studied the issue, and we concluded a trench was the best option for PA, no need to look any further!”

    synonymouse Reply:

    PB will oppose a trench. PAMPA will have to hire its own engineers, just like Berkeley.

    VBobier Reply:

    A trench will only enable suicides to happen by depressed kids being able to jump or even hang themselves with a rope of something, that’s the reality of a trench and the State said PA wants a trench, PA has to pay for a Trench and that includes long term body retrieval by the local Coroners Office, So I’d think as do a majority that an elevated would be better than carting out a bunch of body bags, don’t like it Syno? Tough…

    synonymouse Reply:

    “Just ignore options you don’t like.”

    And what the hell do you think they did in spades at Tejon? Cheerleader double standards once again.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And among the alternatives will be primarily at-grade alignment with a few specific overpass and underpass and split-grade options for grade separation. There’s no reason except sound-bite news coverage why a viaduct or low berm and split grade separation at one point in the line means anything at all about what should be done five kilometers away.

  15. Reality Check
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 13:44
    #15

    The New Plan for California’s High Speed Rail Project: Faster, Smarter, Cheaper — and Legal

    Tony d. Reply:

    Yes!

    VBobier Reply:

    Very nice find Reality Check, very nice indeed.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But Stilt-A-Rail remains a welfare infrastructure jobs scheme which will need ongoing subsidies, just like BART. Palmdale, for example, will demand and get below market fares as its only interest in being on the hsr route is to get a free commute line to LA.

    VBobier Reply:

    Worthless and useless argument Cyno, other areas have it, they do just fine, so get off it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Just what other area in California has it, pray tell? May I remind you of the simple, brute fact there is currently no(as in nil, nada, zippo)passenger service either over the Tehachapi Loop or to Las Vegas from anywhere in the Golden State. What does that tell you about demand?

    No private entrepreneur would build the Roundabout. Only crooked machine politicians with your money.

    California has one third of US welfare cases. When Jerry secures the 2/3 lock in the Legislature, he will institute even more welfare spending. By then we should have half of the welfare recipients in the country. You can give them free one way tickets to Palmdale.

    Mark Reply:

    Your obsession with Palmdale and some shadowy conspiracy of “machine politicians” and Tejon vested interests would be laughable if it wasn’t such a serious sign of other issues you might have.

    synonymouse Reply:

    How do you plan to pay for the exploding welfare-social service budget?

    Jon Reply:

    With your retirement fund.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    California has one third of US welfare cases.

    It seems highly likely that if you add up each state’s share of “welfare cases” according to local conservative talk radio in each state, the total state shares likely add up to somewhere around 200% to 500% of total “welfare cases”.

    And all the time missing the point, since if “welfare cases” refer to individual welfare, its pocket change compared to corporate welfare cases.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    California has one third of cash benefit welfare, maybe. It has a much smaller percentage of food stamp cases (link) – in fact, Texas has more than California, even though it has fewer people and lower unemployment.

  16. Roger Christensen
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 16:08
    #16

    Excellent! I am surrounded by the Families Protecting the Valley crowd. Can’t wait to pass it along!

  17. Tony d.
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 17:11
    #17

    Back to the intelligent discussion: does anyone know why this project won’t be completed until 2019? BART to SJ (from Warm Springs Fremont) will break ground next month and be completed by 2016. What’s the timeline for Caltrain electrification?

    Peter Reply:

    No, BART to Berryessa is supposed to be completed in 2018. For $2.3 billion.

    Tony D. Reply:

    When BART to SJ landed federal funds a few weeks back, the local media was reporting that the project could be completed by the end of 2016. 4 years to construct heavy-rail rapid transit from WS to Berryessa sounds reasonable. 7 years to electrify/modernize Caltrain from SJ to SF; just curious as to why?
    By the way, hats off to Neil Shea for putting down a beat down earlier in the thread. I love when facts defeat nonsense!

    Neil Shea Reply:

    There’s one very shrill purveyor of nonsense here. I think he wears a cape and mask at home to best assume the persona of super hero. Like most of us here, I really appreciate America and the Bay Area and want to see more transit alternatives available. I don’t understand the vicarious thrill of always tearing things down, but maybe if I was dropped as a baby I might see things differently.

    Jon Reply:

    That’s not the reason. Richard M used to be all buddy-buddy with the Caltrain management, until he felt that they weren’t doing exactly as he told them to and threw a hissy fit. Now it’s his personal vendetta to expose Caltrain and their contractors as fools and incompetents, even if it means arguing against upgrades that would improve the railroad. A case of if you can’t join them, destroy them. Personally, I just want to see improved transit in the bay area, and have no desire to see people die in a fire just because I disagree with their views.

    Matt in SF Reply:

    The memo on the electrification agreement lists a timeline for PTC and for electrification, so you can at least see how long they are estimating each phase of the project will take. PTC by 2015 or so and electrification by 2018/2019 IIRC.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Thanks Matt.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    There may be different projects being discussed here ~ the $900m in Federal Funding was for Fremont to Milpitas to North San Jose … there is also the link to central-ish San Jose and Santa Clara.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    The funded and underway project to Berryessa is the subject of the $900m federal grant. It is 10 miles for $2.3B, no tunneling, links to VTA light rail which go through the job corridor of North San Jose (Cisco land), and the end station is next to a Hwy 101 exit.

    The other portion is $4B+ for 6 miles under downtown SJ and turning up to Santa Clara next to SJC airport. Santa Clara County has about 40% of the funds itself already. The economics of it are problematic in large part because it is mostly tunneled. But we will probably want to link the systems and complete the ring around the bay at some point.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    So if one person is talking about finishing the first “project to San Jose” and someone else about finishing the second “project to San Jose”, its normal for the “earliest completion” date to differ.

  18. Matt in SF
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 18:23
    #18

    This has probably been posted previously, but for people like me who only stop by occasionally I just noticed that Caltrain released their detailed analysis results of the feasibility study conducted on the blended plan dated March 2012:

    http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/Caltrain+Modernization+Program/Documents/Final-Caltrain-California+HSR+Blended+Operations+Analysis.pdf

    Also, I notice in their 3/22 press release supporting the agreement for the electrification project says:

    “…Caltrain has expressed opposition to a four-track system and the agreement specifies that future improvements would be limited to support blended high-speed and commuter rail operations on a system that is primarily two-tracks…”

    Which is strikingly at odds with their existing 2004-2023 strategic plan which promotes 4-tracking as the “ultimate” scenario for building service and ridership. Not that I am opposed to the recent agreement, but it’s a little quick for them to start pretending like they have been singing this tune all along. There’s truly no need for Caltrain to misrepresent their position or how it might have changed over time.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Glad to have you stopping by Matt. I am occasional as well. I do think this MOU has generated some cautious optimism and quieted some of the negative voices, but certainly not all of them.

    BrianR Reply:

    I was also taken aback when I read the “system that is primarily two-tracks” statement. I was thinking to myself “what kind of business does Caltrain think it is running? Is it in transportation or running a quaint tourist railroad?”

    I couldn’t imagine United Airlines creating a business plan saying we will only ever use ‘X’ amount of gates at SFO and restrict the growth of our entire route structure so we will only ever need those ‘X’ amount of gates even if traffic demand requires obtaining more gates.

    Unfortunately for Caltrain they are the weakest player on this whole issue and can easily be bribed by PAMPA / Simitian and various mayors of San Mateo county to subordinate their own interests unless they want to risk losing their funding. It would be nice if Caltrain didn’t have to be so spineless on these issues.

    One of the biggest ironies is that those groups have taken the Transit Oriented Development rhetoric, abused it and flipped the logic upside down. Since when is a 4-track grade separated passenger railroad a bad idea for TOD? What good is TOD if based around sub-standard ineffective transportation infrastructure?

    It seems so pathetic that in the year 2012 here on the peninsula we need to replay this 4-track vs. 2-track, grade separated or not grade separated debate. It’s like we are caught in a time warp here.

    It really is a shame that back in the 1920’s the Southern Pacific didn’t complete their originally proposed project to 4-track and electrify the peninsula line from SF to San Jose. If only they got further along than just adding those extra tunnel bores in SF. Yes, of course I get it that there was the great depression, WW2, postwar suburbanization, an entire restructuring of our society (and so on) since then. It’s always nice to imagine those “what-if” scenarios though.

    Gianny Reply:

    NO-Cal has taken too much power in this planning, Los Angeles needs to take it back!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Torpedoing the obvious Tejon punch-thru for a 50 mile detour in the boonies is not a power-play on the grossest scale?

    “The student is now the master”

    “Master of evil, Antonio”

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I was also taken aback when I read the “system that is primarily two-tracks” statement. I was thinking to myself “what kind of business does Caltrain think it is running? Is it in transportation or running a quaint tourist railroad?”

    The question a thinking person would ask, rather, is: “what kind of business does Caltrain think it is running? Is it providing transportation services or maximizing infrastructure cost?” Spewing out track and bridges and signals and platforms, etc willy-nilly without any thought and analysis and doing so where they serve no service purpose is the hallmark of an agency which isn’t in the transportation services business — of the public service business, for that matter.

    BrianR Reply:

    @Richard,

    yes, I’ve seen that before, I get it and I know it’s an excellent analysis but as described it is a “phased implementation of 4 tracks” as needed. I don’t think we can all be 100% certain that from now until 100 years into the future there would never be a need for 4 tracks between Redwood City and SF as a further stage in the “phased implementation”. Sure we can make do with very precise schedules operating like clockwork to avoid the need to 4-track the line but to a certain extent “dumb and simple” really is the smartest approach. Having a bit of flexibility isn’t such a bad thing when it can be easily accommodated. There may be higher infrastructure costs but other benefits including maintenance shut downs being easier to accommodate on a 4-track line.

    I understand the virtues of “minimizing infrastructure” but that seems more like a freight railroad approach as in all the single-tracking of formerly double track mainlines across the country just because new computerized traffic management systems of the 60’s and 70’s said that was the “smart” approach. Run the trains as slow as possible to save on fuel costs too. Obviously works better for freight than passenger service.

    I guess we’ll just have to see how well it works to trim back the amount of 4 track ROW to the minimum amount necessary for both Caltrain and HSR. I don’t think having a bit of skepticism on that concept is as ignorant as you imply. I just think it’s foolish for Caltrain to sign a legal agreement saying they will never ever add additional 4-track ROW beyond a pre-set ‘X’ amount. I hope the courts are pretty lenient with the definition of the term ‘primarily’. As long as Caltrain has not more than 49% of it’s ROW quad-tracked they should still be able to qualify as a “system that is primarily two-tracks”.

    Maybe it will get to the point that Caltrain will need to revert the current 4-track ROW section between Sunnyvale and Santa Clara stations back to 2-tracks to re-distribute it’s % allowance for 4-track ROW north of Redwood City or to wherever needed most (Altamont or Pacheco alignment). Better not let it’s % of 2-track ROW drop below 51% unless it want’s to get sued like crazy. Caltrain should try to give itself a bit more flexibility in it’s ability to adapt to future transportation needs which none of us can exactly predict.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The bit about minimizing infrastructure is not just a freight railroad approach. It’s also a good passenger rail approach, though for different reasons – obviously, property taxes are not the issue. Rather:

    1. Land is expensive in urban areas, so widening ROWs to accommodate more tracks should be done only when necessary.

    2. Viaducts and tunnels are expensive, so adding multiple tracks on structures is expensive. This is the biggest issue in city centers.

    3. Aerials have a width limit for good urbanism, based on the width of the street underneath and other urban characteristics.

    Ask yourself why not a single high-speed line in the world has four running tracks. It’s not freight or property taxes; it’s construction and mitigation costs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Ask yourself why not a single high-speed line in the world has four running tracks.

    Because two tracks have enough capacity for everything except the Tokaido?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Sure we can make do with very precise schedules operating like clockwork to avoid the need to 4-track the line but to a certain extent “dumb and simple” really is the smartest approach. Having a bit of flexibility isn’t such a bad thing when it can be easily accommodated …

    Dear BrianR,

    Good engineering is about making well-informed and adequate trade-offs.

    Your “Very precise schedules operating like clockwork” is what other people call “the minimum acceptable, and if it gets worse somebody gets voted out of office.” This stuff isn’t rocket science — and the level of schedule adherence is modest, far from “very precise.”

    Indeed “having a bit of flexibility isn’t such a bad thing”, which is why the people who know what they’re doing build in (at huge cost, but justifiable cost) enough extra infrastructure to accommodate inevitable small disruptions, and limit that cost by
    working smarter not harder, and applying effort and money to keeping trains close to schedule; and
    understanding the perfect is the enemy of the good, and not designing the system to be robust against asteroid impact any more than they design for most trains running 10 minutes late.

    I fundamentally don’t understand the attitude that “well that reasonable cost and good service and on time running may be good enough for those foreigners, but what we need is bigger and fatter and flabbier and more expensive and worse all around.” Nothing I’ve ever proposed is anything different from copying what already works elsewhere day in and day out. I don’t get the business with setting expectations below zero and then rewarding failure to even achieve that.

    And moreover, this other-wordly precision timekeeping? It’s just what BART does 152 times every single weekday (112 times on Saturdays, 100 times every Sunday) at 19th and MacArthur in exotic far-off Oakland. Not Rocket Science!

    Is the answer that the Peninsula can’t ever expect even as much as Oakland (forget Hong Kong or Berlin!), therefore one should pay more to build more overpriced stuff in order to get worse service? I honestly don’t get it.

    Peter Reply:

    Which is strikingly at odds with their existing 2004-2023 strategic plan which promotes 4-tracking as the “ultimate” scenario for building service and ridership. Not that I am opposed to the recent agreement, but it’s a little quick for them to start pretending like they have been singing this tune all along. There’s truly no need for Caltrain to misrepresent their position or how it might have changed over time.

    Caltrain’s Board is made up of appointed county-level politicians. It is completely normal for them to backtrack quickly. In this situation, I think they realized that if they wanted to have any chance of Caltrain getting electrification, they were going to have to oppose quad-tracking.

    This does not prevent them from doing another about-turn in 15 years when HSR needs to increase capacity.

  19. jimsf
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 18:50
    #19

    So in 8 years in say 2020, what does this new plan brings us. from segment by segment from transbay center to union station?
    1.transbay center will be complete.
    2.DTX complete?
    2.caltrain will be electrified from transbay to gilroy?
    3. pacheco finished?
    4.chowchilla wye?
    5.merced to bakersfield electrified?
    6.bakersfield to palmdale finished?
    7.palmdale to sylmar finished?
    8.sylmar to laus electrified.?

    Matt in SF Reply:

    I noticed that the new agreement lists the scope for electrification as being from the TTC to Diridon.

    That maybe makes sense anyway as the CHSRA counts SF-SJ as one segment, and SJ-CV as the next segment, so south of SJ could be a focus for a different group of partner agencies, perhaps at a later date once the peninsula portion has been completed.

    Tim Reply:

    We’ll let you know in November……

  20. jimsf
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 19:21
    #20

    I think its time for caltrain to go away. They don’t know what they are doing. They’ve already run their existing railroad into the ground. Go ahead and electrify it and make the switch to EMUs, the dissolve the corrupt caltrain agency, and let bart manage it. Say what you want about bart, but there’s one they well and thats run lots of trains, to lots of places, on time, on a schedule, with better frequency, and with timed transfers. with their ebart they already plan to integrate smooth transfers from the ebart trains to the legacy bart trains and they know how to do it smoothly. they could do the same thing at san jose. traveling from fremont to moutain view – no prob step off the bart at sj and onto a waiting ebart to mt view. they could even integrate the ticketing.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    Is there much to go away? Caltrain has outsourced decision-making to consultants, and has outsourced operations to contractors (Yikes! That sounds like CaHSR!). Public oversight is by a “Joint Powers Board” composed of reps of local transit districts, who don’t seem able to come up with money to pay for the trains. As is the case with many companies and government agencies which have outsourced themselves out of existence, Caltrain as an organization consists only of the name “Caltrain” and the red circle logo.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    You’re right actually. Electrification actually goes 1 stop past Diridon to Tamien in SJ. South from Diridon, Santa Clara Cty should work out a deal with Monterey Cty to run a few diesel trains per day. But around the bay we should definitely have a single operator, and BART is a trusted brand.

    jimsf Reply:

    even it didn’t become part of the bart district, caltrain could at least contract bart to manage it just like bart works with ccjpa.

    BrianR Reply:

    If Caltrain stops all service south of Tamien perhaps the VTA could resume service by purchasing some of those recently re-built Budd RDC’s for service between Tamien and Gilroy.

    http://www.industrialrail.ca/images/stories/About%20Us%20Jan%202011.pdf

    The re-built RDC’s at least solve the FRA compliance issue assuming that part of the line being UP owned will not be granted the same exceptions as the Caltrain line. If FRA matters are not a concern the VTA could purchase something like the DMU’s used for the Sprinter in Southern California.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sprinter_(North_County_Transit_District)

    Or the VTA could just contract with whoever is operating Caltrain (Amtrak or Herzog) to operate the DMU’s for them. Having separate train service to Gilroy not tied into Caltrain’s main operations may actually benefit traffic growth on the line since frequencies could be more easily adjusted to meet traffic demand. Another benefit of not being tied into Caltrain is that the route structure could expand. Maybe go beyond Gilroy to serve other cities down the line.

    If there was funding this would not necessarily have to be tied into whenever Caltrain gets electrified. It could happen relatively soon.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That they need to use RDCs is really sad.

    Peter Reply:

    Or they could lease some modern FRA-compliant DMUs from SMART while SMART waits for Army Corps of Engineers to issue their permits to fill in wetlands so they can lay some track and build some stations. Thank you, Supreme Court and SWANCC.

    synonymouse Reply:

    SMART will need all its doodlebugs to sacrifice to the road-ragers.

    Yesterday I had an enlightening NWP experience down at the intersection of Washington, Lakeville and the NWP tracks in Petaluma. Waiting to walk across the intersection when lo and behold on come the lights and ringers and down come the crossing gates. It’s an NWP consist of maybe 8 grain hoppers and the RJ Corman genset now labelled NWP as well.

    The trains proceeds to move back and forth across the intersection in a switching movement for about 10 minutes. Meantime the hard-hatters in their out-sized pick-ups are blowing the red lights all over the place and in the opposing traffic lanes.

    Just a matter of time before Darwinian selection cuts in – can’t wait for SMART trains hitting crossings at 79mph.

    Peter Reply:

    That’s cool, if people want to kill themselves because they think they can beat a train, let them.

    Spokker Reply:

    Most people can beat the train by staying out of its way. The most recent South Park had some really great people-getting-hit-by-trains humor. It really hammers home how retarded people are who are killed on tracks by trains.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Buried someplace on the FRA’s website is statistics about motor vehicle/train collisions.
    Half of all nighttime collisions involve the car hitting the train. In other words hitting the train after it’s in the crossing, not getting hit by the train when it gets to the crossing….

    synonymouse Reply:

    The building trades unions must have indeed slipped Jerry some oxygen because he woke up long enough to sign the compact for the RoPo casino:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/n/a/2012/03/30/state/n132020D77.DTL

    Potential major destination for SMART, which desperately needs one.

    Peter Reply:

    I guess that people traveling to and from work wasn’t enough destinations for you?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Apparently he collects a pension, which he’s afraid will be taken away to support low lifes in the Tenderloin, so going to work isn’t on his radar. He really needs to get out more, the Tenderloin ain’t waht it used to be.

    synonymouse Reply:

    What universe do you guys populate? I worked in the City for 40 years and know the Tenderloin quite well. I used to get coffee and donuts at a Vietnamese place, I think it was on Ellis, until they gave up because the punks were breaking their windows to often. I remember one time on my way to work after leaving the donut shop a crack dealer followed me for a block trying to get me to buy some of his stuff.

    I have a brother-in-law who lives on Turk. My son-in-law was going to art school around 9th and Market a couple of years ago – he has some choice stories to tell. The Tenderloin is just as much of a dump as ever, if not worse.

    Passenger counts on Golden Gate Transit have been dropping for decades. Many runs have been eliminated. Marin County is going to bid out its bus operation, almost certainly to an outfit with a cheaper union than GGT, just as Sonoma County did in the mid-80’s

    A great part of Northbay transit ridership lies not only to the south of San Rafael, where it is currently planned to terminate, but south of Larkspur, its original terminus. Believe it SMART is going to need the traffic generated by the casino, which will be only 45 minutes from the City at nitetime. It will be jammed.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Does ACE come into San Jose pointed in the right direction to run through to Gilroy/Salinas?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Then it seems either ACE or the Capital Corridor could be extended to pick up the Gilroy services if the trains from SF don’t have the electrical supply to do so. Either way could continue service to Capitol, Blossom Hill, Morgan Hill, San Martin and Gilroy and allow the extension to Pajaro, Castroville and Salinas that the TAMC wants.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    There are already ideas being discussed of extending the Capitols to Gilroy and beyond and pulling back Caltrain to Tamien after electrification.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    It would be great if Monterey County would support extending at least some trains down there. I do think there is a challenge with trackage permission south of Oakland though.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Eventually, if they want passenger service to be competitive and cars are still legal, they’ll have to build a cutoff. Salinas-Gilroy may euphemistically be referred to as a line, but it’s more like a fractal.

    William Reply:

    My idea was to have one quasi-state owned company running both CAHSR and Caltrain. This, in my view, would take care of issues raised in this blog, such as cross-ticketing, common-platform height, rolling stock compatibility, etc…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why stop there, why not a Federal operating company.

    BrianR Reply:

    something like Amtrak perhaps!

    When the CAHSR project was first being introduced I remember hearing statements in the media that “this is not going to be anything like Amtrak so we don’t need to worry about it being ineffective and mis-managed”. I am talking in terms of the general public there. Personally I have a positive perception of Amtrak and really like the idea of a nationalized passenger railroad.

    Ironically, having the moniker ‘Amtrak’ attached to it might actually give it better PR at this point in time!

    CAHSR could just as well be branded as an Amtrak California operation. Caltrain would just become the local service operation of Amtrak California. In a way that brings Caltrain back to it’s roots as a Caltrans operated service.

    synonymouse Reply:

    79mph Amtrak – Kopp’s gonna love that. That’s about the level of deferred maintenance they will be able to afford. That’s all Palmdale to LA requires anyway and the entire CHSRA raison d’etre revolves around Palmdale.

    Peter Reply:

    Kopp? You mean the guy who no longer has a say? Invoking him as a boogeyman is a lot less effective when he’s out of the picture.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Kopp is a BART ally with considerable influence.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Aren’t you supposed to link to this when you mention his name?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I have a positive perception of Amtrak, too, in the sense that now with the impending FRA reform I don’t think it has any problem that liquidating it and selling its assets to Japanese railroads won’t fix. That it’s only on time about half the time whenever I take it (on the NEC, on its own tracks no less) can easily be fixed with better managerial culture, better workers, and better maintenance practices.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Amtrak’s concept of “on time” leaves a lot to be desired. Your concept of “on time” and Amtrak’s are somewhat different. Or you are really really bad at picking trains.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    My concept of “on time” is “I get to my destination when the schedule says I should get to my destination,” with a fudge factor of about 4-5 minutes.

    The point is that Amtrak counts OTP based on arrival at the terminal, and boosts the stats by including a lot of schedule padding just before the terminal. Since I ride between New York and Providence, I miss out on ten minutes of Providence-Boston schedule pad northbound.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If California should ever split into two or three separate states, then Federalizing it would be one option, yes.

    Seems a bit silly to federalize an inter-regional system that is contained within a single state.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Seems a bit silly to combine the bus system that barely serves a rural county into the same agency that runs BART and Metro and then throw in the intercity services.
    …. Seems a bit silly to have VRE, MARC, SEPTA, NJTransit, two divisions of the MTA, SLE and the MBTA. Roll them all into Amtrak and let everyone fight over who gets what and when.
    …..Seems a bit silly that Dayton has it’s own transit system and then Cleveland and then Columbus. Merge them all into one, one that decides the Dayton trolleybuses are just too small a fleet in the overall picture of Ohio mass transit and should be replaced with buses….

    synonymouse Reply:

    Point well taken – that has always been the worry about rolling Muni in with Bay Area regional transit. M-F’ing modernizers would try to destroy the cable cars, trolley buses, streetcars, etc.

    In the past we almost lost the cable cars, the trolley buses, and the streetcars to Bechtel types. In the past all of the blame for Electric Railway kill-off has been laid on the highway lobby, but the truth is that the self-styled transit experts, Bechtel’s etc., as well as local politicos, were also in it up to their eyeballs. These are, in spirit, the same modernizers, the same growth-mongers, who are pimping Stilt-A-Rail on steroids.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The people who are responsible for the great bustition aren’t in charge anymore, they’re dead.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Why does it seem silly that Dayton, Cleveland and Columbus each have their own transit system ~ they are disjoint systems. The California HSR system in Northern California and the California HSR system in Southern California is not going to be two disjoint systems.

    “…. Seems a bit silly to have VRE, MARC, SEPTA, NJTransit, two divisions of the MTA, SLE and the MBTA.”
    Yes, that could well be rationalized by one or two, though the current political environment where “reform” usually means an excuse to screw over public transit, this might not be the right time to consider it.

    “Roll them all into Amtrak and let everyone fight over who gets what and when.”
    That, on the other hand, would be even worse than federalizing the California HSR system.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are proposing to roll Muni, Metro, BART, the buses in Ukiah, into one uberagency that would bring post-millennial enlightenment to the masses. Just like merging Dayton, Cleveland, Columbus and Cincinnati into one agency would.

    It’s 2020 and the NEMATA ( New England Mid Atlantic Transit Agglomeration ) is in charge. New York City has implemented congestion pricing that’s painful enough to actually affect congestion. ( the cash toll between New York and New Jersey is 12 dollars for cash collected inbound, 9.50 during peak if you use electronic payment and 7.50 off peak) There’s a budget crunch. Do they cut service in Virginia, where it’s cheap and easy to drive? Or do they cut service into Manhattan and use the congestion pricing fees to get away with cutting service? Sounds like a plan, charge Long Islanders to make Virginia commutes easier…. I know, they can use the money to build the North-South connector in Boston, freeing drivers from paying for the mitigation they promised to pay for! Sounds great all around! Throw some buses for Bangor and Altoona into the mix too!

    Foamers love to ponder the possibilities of a local from Wilmington going all the way to New Haven. Which cars of the 12 car train do they spot at the 6 car SEPTA platforms? Ponder the joy of having your commute from Philadelphia to Wilmington delayed because there’s signal trouble in Stamford! Ah you say they can just close off cars in Trenton. How much does it cost to shuttle empty cars between Trenton and Wilimington? Think of endless opportunities one agency would offer. And they can replace the single level regionals with multilevel commuter cars! All sorts of oggly goodness to be spread around!

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, the proposal is insane to a substantial degree.

    However, when you asked rhetorically why not federalize it, you were suggesting that there would be essentially no difference between an uberagency formed for the massively oversized state of California and federalizing it, and I disagree ~ federalizing it would be even more insane.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    at least the federal government could come in and say “No, you can’t have two different signal systmes. one is good enough for both Caltrain and HSR and Metrolink and HSR and whatever may crop up in gte future” and “No, you can have one platform height for Caltrain, a second one for Metrolink and a third one for HSR” They’d probably end up with ACSES, 48 inch high platforms and 10’6″ wide cars that are 85 feet long but that wouldn’t be a terrible thing. Suboptimal but not terrible.

  21. jimsf
    Mar 29th, 2012 at 19:28
    #21

    Oh lord the hillbillies are at it again. Can you stand it. Chowchilla votes to end high speed rail

    joe Reply:

    The Chowchilla City Council approved a resolution Tuesday to support Assembly Bill 1455, a bill designed to stop the proposed high-speed rail project so more taxpayer dollars, according to the council, aren’t wasted.

    Gilroy’s Mayor and City Council Opponents of HSR agreed on one thing: The City had no power to stop HSR so they agreed it was in their interest to conduct a study and recommend an alignment to HSR *if* the project were to go to implementation.

    Opponents were smart enough to recognize they can’t pass a bill to stop high speed rail. Disengaging and nonsense posturing runs the risk of being marginalized.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “Put the Wye somewhere else”.

    Not quite as silly as the farmers south of Fresno, but the Wye has got to go somewhere. Mind, while the people near a likely Altamont Pass Wye are not going to pipe up, “No, no, keep the Wye in Chowchilla” ~ if asked, they’d probably agree with that.

    James Reply:

    (I am not a rail system expert but…) A while ago I thought to locate the Wye ‘under’ a future airport terminal. The terminal would be served by three branches of an HSR system, Bako, Sacto, and SF. I suppoe by ‘under’ I mean in close proximity since the curve radius would make a nominal wye very large. Unless the station is located near the wye.

    James Reply:

    With a simple shift of the three legs of the curves that make up the wye, the three lines can meet the curve radius requirements and cross over each other in a small area the size of a station. Not unlike a cloverleaf. Then any train can stop or pass through without slowing. I may even take up less land area since part of the wye overlaps. But then the inner parts of the wye will of course be farm land anyway. As a structural design engineer one way I approach a problem is to look at the geometry. I understand that actually planning a wye in a given CV location is of course much more complicated.

    Jon Reply:

    …that would mean you would have to build three island platforms, or three pairs of outside platforms, on three different vertical levels. Why on earth would you make things that complicated?

    And anyway, why would you want to build an airport near Chowchilla? What population are you serving that isn’t served by a closer airport?

    James Reply:

    Simply the irony that a cow pasture or apple orchard will be one of the best served transportation points in the state.

    Jon Reply:

    It won’t be the best served transportation point in the state, because no trains will stop there. You’re finding a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Simply the irony that a cow pasture or apple orchard will be one of the best served transportation points in the state.

    You mean like this location?

    James Reply:

    Ok, less theoretical. A station at the CHSR/DE wye at the Palmdale Airport. Palmdale is planned to have a station. The airport has long been considered as a growth airport for the southland. And DX is gaining traction.

    James Reply:

    meant to type CHSR/DX wye

    Peter Reply:

    LA Airports has all but dumped Palmdale from its growth plans.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Close ~ like THIS location. I think that highlights just how lofty the “all roads lead to Stockton” dream can be.

    James Reply:

    Kind of the BART wye at SFO. ‘Planning’ ahead.

    James Reply:

    Does not have to be an airport. Just seems like the meeting of three branches is a future opportunity to develop something that can take advantage of the confluence. Maybe it will make more sense in 40 or 50 years.

    ComradeFrana Reply:

    You could build a really tall watchtower there, y’know, for all your train-spotting needs. Other than that, the location on its own is practically useless.

    William Reply:

    All alternatives carried forward have the wye placed outside of the Chowchilla city-limit. Don’t know what the city is complaining about…

    Peter Reply:

    I’m not sure if you can call them “hillbillies” when they live in a flat valley. “Hicks” may be appropriate, though.

  22. datacruncher
    Mar 30th, 2012 at 10:46
    #22

    Part of the opposition is driven by a developer’s current proposal in Chowchilla for a NASCAR track complex. The race complex location is along Avenue 24 west of 99 and south of the city. That is the same general area that part of the Ave 24 Wye alternative uses.

    Donk Reply:

    They should place the NASCAR track right next to the HSR tracks. This way spectators can watch NASCAR cars race HSR trains at 220 MPH.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Now there’s a sport with long term potential…NASCAR….

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It does lose something with electric cars ~ though quick pit stops become even more critical when you are swapping out batteries. One thing to try to thrill spectators with is the prospect that the cars could burst into flames first and then wreck, rather than always being the other way around.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    On the other hand it’s just the thing for drag racing.

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

    Race tracks are short, no need for batteries, the French and the Japanese have high speed pantographs all figured out.

  23. Neil Shea
    Mar 30th, 2012 at 17:35
    #23

    Last evening a community meeting was held for Palo Alto’s “Rail Corridor Study” with city staff, members of the task force created for this purpose, and consultant staff present, plus perhaps 40 members of the public. I had expected this as a final presentation of their results, but they were gathering input, asking residents to prioritize areas for improvement and give feedback on maps.

    The current study states that the rail corridor together with Alma St. and El Camino form a barrier to East/West access across the city, and recommends improved crossings (grade sep or not), and and additional ped/bike crossings. Last night’s feedback was strong and unequivocal: the folks present want grade separations everywhere in Palo Alto.

    This may sound surprising, given a few shrill voices from PA and the city council actions in suing CHSRA. But it seems that this report will have to capture this community feedback that folks want grade seps. When we asked city staff how to continue the momentum for this they suggested lobbying Caltrain (!).

    This might create an interesting challenge for the city council who may want to balance their inflammatory rhetoric and advocacy for a few homeowners with broader community expectations. Now that the blended approach is underway, hmm, how might PA move forward with some grade seps? Without the HSR boogeyman, will trenching still be the locally preferred option, especially when it comes to helping fund it?

    Stay tuned. Like all communities PA does not speak with one monolithic voice.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You know they are thinking underpasses.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Sure, exactly, Charleston, Meadow and Alma should all go in underpasses under the tracks. Then kids couldn’t commit suicide on the tracks so easily — and cars aren’t stopped when the crossing gates come down.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Charleston, Meadow and Alma should all go in underpasses under the tracks.

    Nope. All roads and footpaths (including University and Embarcadero and Oregon Expressway, as well as Charleston, Meadow, Alma, and Everett, Page Mill, California Avenue, etc) should be at ground level, where they’re most useful to human beings, and the tracks should go over them.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    I don’t disagree, and Americas Finest Transportation Professionals did propose en elevated structure for the south half of PA. In Melbourne I saw very nice overhead trains with red brick structures including nice shops and many passageways through. Trains are ‘out of sight, out of mind’, no visible catenaries. It would help for folks in the Bay Area to see firsthand a good elevated rail design.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Nobody in their right mind would want aerials. low-life magnets. Not even Oakland:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/03/31/BAUE1NR36V.DTL

    Neil Shea Reply:

    You haven’t seen aerials done right Syno. Richard is right on this one. Underpasses under at-grade tracks are what many American communities know best, so that is what PA has done and likely would do going forward, and it is not best to send people underground, nor is it usually ideal to dig long expensive trenches (unless natural narrow valleys already exist).

    synonymouse Reply:

    fuggedaboutit

    PAMPA is getting richer by the day. Pretty soon it will be worth ten times the Chandlers and throww in Feinstein, Pelosi, Boxer, Moonbeam collective fortune to boot. Nobody will eff with PAMPA just as they were afraid to mess with the Tejon Ranch crowd.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Don’t be a blowhard Syno. I was with my townies at our rail corridor meeting this week, and we all want grade seps. Our challenge is to find the best design. Richard makes a great point about benefits of elevating (keeping people at street level) if we can find good models for it. e.g.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/mathteacherguy/1191662210/
    http://forum.skyscraperpage.com/showpost.php?p=4776654&postcount=4048

    Jon Reply:

    There is a big difference between BART/freeway style stilts and raising the trackbed on a berm. The latter can be done very attractively and already has been in various places along the peninsula. A shame that the ‘Berlin Wall’ hysteria killed this option before it received proper consideration.

    Another thing possible with berms is a split grade option where the tracks are elevated slightly and the roads are depressed slightly. That option already works well in the area between Redwood City and San Mateo.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Another thing possible with berms is a split grade option where the tracks are elevated slightly and the roads are depressed slightly. That option already works well in the area between Redwood City and San Mateo.

    No it doesn’t. The intersections are wastelands. They’re uniformly unpleasant for pedestrians, and kill off all activity for a block on each side.

    Only a un-civil engineer would ever propose such crap.

    It’s really very simple:

    The tracks go up. The roads and sidewalks and driveways and businesses and homes and people stay where they were, at ground level.

    * The grades aren’t designed for 10,000 ton coal trains with 3 of 6 locomotives disabled. (Which is fundamentally what the design criteria used by the World’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals at Caltrain amount to.) 3% is perfectly doable and results in less construction (boo hiss!) and lower visibility.
    http://caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/2009/08/effect-of-heavy-freight.html

    * The structures aren’t designed for 120 ton freight (or Caltrain/Amtrak) locomotives.
    http://caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/2009/08/effect-of-heavy-freight.html

    * The track spacing isn’t designed for 400kmh (which is what the design criteria used by the World’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals at Caltrain amount to) and the structure clearance and side walkways aren’t designed for traversal by panzer divisions. Have the slightest contextual clue, people. (“People”, used charitably.)

    BruceMcF Reply:

    the design criteria used by the World’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals at Caltrain amount

    I hope you have that on a keyboard macro, it’d be inefficient to be constantly retyping that ~ never mind the emotional wear and tear of maintaining a constantly sarcastic tone of voice.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Underpasses under at-grade tracks are what many American communities know best

    Underpasses are what Californians know best. The berms, retained fill, elevateds all over the Northeast and Midwest on the other hand…

    synonymouse Reply:

    In California aerials constitute an automatic broken window. It is a cultural thing – mean streets ghetto like Chicago or Cleveland. Any excuse to go to seed hereabouts. California “noir”. Aerials degenerate into blight. The PAMPA people are not stupid – PB-cheerleader jedi mind tricks don’t work on rich people.

    The Chandlers are claiming that hsr tracks at grade or in tunnel are blight. And yet the foamers ignore that bs and obsess on PAMPA, which has more political power than the Tejon mob.

  24. Neil Shea
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 00:21
    #24

    $68B rumored new total cost in the business plan, to be announced Monday, with IOS “from Merced to the San Fernando Valley”
    http://www.mercurynews.com/news/ci_20295926/california-lowers-estimated-cost-rail-project

    synonymouse Reply:

    Jerry spent several hours working on project changes? All he needs is a few seconds to cross out Tehachapi and write in Tejon.

    But of course we know that the kernel change he came up with after several hours was to pencil in 3 hours 42 minutes. Maybe some oxygen might help.

    I did not think I would ever be nostalgic for the Sperminator.

    JJJ Reply:

    The Fresno/Sacramento bees are reporting it as a done deal, not a rumor.
    http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/03/30/2782610/california-high-speed-rail-estimate.html

    Alon Levy Reply:

    How much is it going to be in constant dollars?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    No way to tell from news articles that do not break spending down by year.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Assuming that none of the underrun comes from descoping things that will have to be built later, and that the construction schedule is unchanged, we’re talking about $45 billion in 2010 dollars.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    There’s no way to tell from the newspaper articles alone how much of the descoping is a change in the finished program and how much of the descoping are things that will have to be built later. So no way to tell whether that assumption that none of the underrun comes from descoping things that have to be built later is a relevant assumption or not.

    I can’t see any point in guesstimating today to bitcan it when more details are released tomorrow.

    David Reply:

    The board is rolling out the plan on April 2 at 10 am. It will be streamed.

    http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/pr_3302012.aspx

    There are now 3 board meetings scheduled for April, and a two-day meeting in May.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    The reports talk about Merced to SFV. That sounds like like Pacheco is deferred — and there may be discussion of extending ACE to Merced. Sounds like we’re pretty far from a one-seat ride to SF TTC.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    That was always the case until there was Bay-to-Basin.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Unless you use articulated Talgos running on diesel….

    Tony d. Reply:

    If we can one day ensure Amtrak/CC to Gilroy and Altamont HSR to San Jose, then they can defer Pacheco all they want.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    There won’t be an Altamont HSR (communities and county have vetoed that, and will continue to). There could be an extended ACE train to Merced.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Communities and counties don’t have a veto over it.

    Clem Reply:

    If the tri-valley communities have vetoed Altamont HSR, then PAMPA have vetoed Pacheco HSR, in spades!

    synonymouse Reply:

    San Jose would veto deferring Pacheco just as LA vetoed Tejon.

    Tony d. Reply:

    I think SJ would be good with Altamont HSR, especially if Diridon Station is still served from north, northeast. Wouldn’t need to worry about high aerials, an iconic bridge or UP to the south. But whatever: Pacheco or Altamont, I’ll take either one.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    You cant veto deferring something unless you have the $$ to accelerate it.

    Peter Reply:

    San Jose is shitting itself over the aerials through downtown. There’s a good chance it would compromise and agree with selecting Altamont just to avoid those.

    Clem Reply:

    Nothing to worry about. As long as everything follows the Visual Design Guidelines, it’ll be iconic.

    Reality Check Reply:

    If SJ is so shitting itself over aerials, then let HSR go back to UP/Caltrain’s perfectly suitable at-grade “Gardner” alignment between Diridon & Tamien.

    However, I sense the prospects of HSRA going back to Altamont will continue to improve … and that’ll also solve more significant problems than SJ not wanting aerials.

    Peter Reply:

    Agreed on all points.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Again, as long as Diridon SJ is directly served by an Altamont HSR alignment, I’m all in!

    Clem Reply:

    Nothing like another decade to mull over the error of our ways…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That depends a lot on whether the segment moves from the drawing board toward application for funding before or after the Initial Operating Service has begun service. If its after the IOS has launched, then the people making noise on aerials are a lot more likely to just be shouted down.

    Hypothetically, if Livermore and that general area and Fremont switches to being strong YIMBY’s and San Jose switches to being strong NIMBY’s, sure, its easy to see it flipping. That involves lots of political tea leaf reading five years or more in the future, so both ruling it out or judging it strongly likely would seem to be extremely speculative conclusions.

  25. synonymouse
    Mar 31st, 2012 at 14:49
    #25

    As a founding member of the Triumvirate in whose image the CHSRA was designed San Jose retains considerable political power.

    I guess you could argue that San Jose has been rewarded with BART and now Caltrain electrification, but I doubt the capital of Silicon Valley will see it that way. After all LA scored an enormous coup with the successful demand for Tehachapi. Many extra billions of dollars commandeered from the State to build a local commute line to Palmdale. It is a sibling rivalry power trip thing amongst the Triumvirate and my guess San Jose will protest. Actually for San Jose Tejon is probably advantageous as it provides a faster trip to LA.

    BrianR Reply:

    Maybe someone should just ask San Jose politicians if they will accept Altamont over Pacheco. They might of changed their minds in the last few years and there are alternate options that could help them reconsider. How about Oakland’s politicians? What clout have they been exerting to steer the route decisions towards Altamont? I am curious if there were proposals to bring HSR directly into Jack London Square or was it always the idea to connect only via BART?

    I imagine it’s going to be a hard sell for the CAHSRA to get San Jose to accept a BART connection to Fremont in lieu of direct HSR service to Diridon. As a means for negotiating the elimination of the San Jose branch the CAHSRA could offer San Jose funding for other “connectivity” improvements.

    There’s been talk for a long time about the need to connect VTA light rail to San Jose Airport. The airport has also been talking about a separate people mover system to connect the airport terminals and tunnel under the runways to serve the future combined BART / Caltrain station in Santa Clara. I actually think that on it’s own sounds pretty stupid. San Jose airport is too small to justify it’s own separate rail transit system. It would be a better idea to extend the light rail under the runways in place of the people mover system and have the light rail connect directly to the Santa Clara BART / Caltrain station.

    The CAHSRA could fund this project in lieu of the entire San Jose Branch. It just means re-classifying the HSR terminus from being Diridon to San Jose Airport. The funding would be justified because BART and VTA light rail could both be considered the “HSR connecting systems” (like Caltrain) It’s just a ‘three seat’ instead of a ‘single seat’ connection.

    I would think San Jose politicians would be all in favor of it since it fulfills a need that always been considered a pipe dream and gives the airport better connections to the downtown and the whole light rail system. It will simultaneously help generate more passenger demand for the airport and benefit residential and business development in the nearby downtown area thru improved transit connectivity.

    It satisfies the same speculative development interests as a Diridon HSR terminus, so the business groups could support it just the same. Even with the tunneling under the runways (cut and cover approach – close one runway at a time) that 2-track light rail extension should be much cheaper than an entire separate San Jose branch. The CAHSRA should still come out ahead and save money.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Hi BrianR, you’re thinking creatively and that’s good. But I’d start by saying it’s not a problem that the largest city in our region (and the Silicon Valley jobs and industry region) wants HSR, that’s a good thing.

    By contrast not only did Livermore, Pleasanton and Fremont object, as did the Tri Valley Transportation Council representing all the transit systems there, but Oakland couldn’t even get Alameda County to support an Altamont routing.

    Meanwhile if you check in the new ‘Jerry Brown lowers cost’ topic, I just posted teh SF Gate article describing the use of ACE and the San Joaquins to connect the Bay Area to initial HSR service from Merced south. So Alameda County and the Tri Valley have an opportunity to improve this line and to host service into the Bay Area indefinitely. How will they embrace this opportunity?

    Of course the HSR mainline will still run Pacheco through San Jose when funding is found to build it.

    Clem Reply:

    Tri-valley protestation was drummed up, and rings quite hollow in comparison to PAMPA. The best Altamont alignment doesn’t even touch Pleasanton, so why would they mind? Here’s why: they were told that Altamont would “do over” (to stay polite) their dowtown.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    You know they now have the best opportunity since the routing decision to overturn it. Once the temporary regional service is in place they can request and welcome the mainline. If we get Dumbarton rail then we could even offer that corridor for the main line. Care to bet whether any governments in Alameda county will ask to move the mainline there?

    Meanwhile the routing decision was made for real reasons, including full service to the region’s largest city, our vibrant job centers in the south bay, and not splitting trains reducing service to SF and SJ. I’m not sure Clem that you accept that those are valid reasons on which to make the decision.

    Clem Reply:

    Valid reasons:

    Not relieving the Tri-Valley to Silicon Valley commute,
    Not providing competitive Capitol-killing Bay Area to Sacramento service,
    Not efficiently serving Oakland and areas of the East Bay that total > 1 million,
    Not avoiding the need to build an extra 50 miles to reach Sacramento,
    Not competing for ROW with BART to SJ,
    Not serving the Golden Triangle where the jobs actually are in SJ,
    Providing the future opportunity to develop Los Banos,
    etc.

    There are many pros and cons, and they need to be taken on balance.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Altamont remains clearly a better option than Pacheco but I suggest that not only will San Jose continue to oppose any change from Pacheco but the hidden hand behind SJ will be that of LA, which will fear any alteration or rethinking could undermine the Palmdale fix.

    Clem, are they really talking about slabtrack in the mountains? I just can’t fathom that after all the PB cover bs about seismic issues.

    Joe Reply:

    Tri-valley protestation was drummed up, and rings quite hollow in comparison to PAMPA. The best Altamont alignment doesn’t even touch Pleasanton, so why would they mind

    A two-fer: Conspiracy and idealism.
    Tri valley’s minimal opposition is a counter factual argument since HSR is not aligned in the tri-valley. Opposition todate is no less manufactured than anti rail actions in PAMPA and CARRD’s phoney advicacy.

    The altamont alignment is superior in part because it is hypothetical, ideal and unconstrained by reality. You offer a better alignment bypassing pleasanton. Who knows if landowners and those near the ROW are enthuastic supporters.

    Tony D. Reply:

    BrianR,
    Respectfully disagree with your fine post. IF somehow Altamont HSR comes back into play, Diridon SJ should STILL be served with direct HSR service, regardless of BART being extended south from Fremont. Aside from the point that San Jose is the largest city in Northern California, BART and future HSR serve entirely different purposes (as you are probably well aware): one acts as intra-regional transit, the other intercity/long-range commuter rail. They compliment each other, they don’t replace each other.

    In fact, IF Fremont got a HSR station with an Altamont alignment, I’d design it so that it was served by an LA-SF HSR line only, with a LA-SJ HSR line bypassing Fremont entirely. SJ/SV residents would definetely use HSR out of Diridon to get to Tri-Valley, the CV and SoCal but (most likely) not to Fremont; that’s what BART is for. On the flip side, users of a LA-SF HSR line would use a Fremont station to transfer to BART for travel up the East Bay and NE Silicon Valley (Milpitas northward).

    By the line of thinking of some, HSR should end at Millbrae/SFO because BART/Caltrain could then ferry passengers the rest of the way north into SF. This should not be the case for SF OR SJ re HSR and BART.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The people in San Jose can get on their very very expensive intra-regional train and go to the inter-regional train station in Fremont. Just like the people in Oakland will do, though they’d probably be more likely to go to Transbay.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Uh, no. Respectfully disagree.

    Clem Reply:

    Heh– would Jerry Brown be considered an Oakland politician? He just spiked Pacheco, after all.

    Clem Reply:

    By ‘spike’ I meant he kicked the Pacheco can way, way down the road.

    Joe Reply:

    I do not think Gov Brown gives a shit about Oakland, let alone spiking the HSR alignment.

    I’m curious about his list of pro-Oakland decisions as Gov. They would be…….?

    Deferred gratification is diffitult in politics. The HSR strategy appears to anchor the system in the CV and build better service ASAP. This is constrained by reality, like EIR, poltical opposition, political support and avoiding a reboot.

    Willfully ignoring opposition to altamont construction is a mistake HSR stakeholders will not make.

    Clem Reply:

    He was mayor of Oakland for a long while, that’s all.

    As to Altamont opposition, it can be willfully ignored just as easily as it was willfully drummed up. The other possibility is to willfully ignore PAMPA opposition; is that even a mistake HSR stakeholders wish to avoid?

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Oakland also happens to be his residence.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Brown is also significantly less stupid than nearly all of his peers. At least a full standard deviation less stupid.
    (Not saying much, of course. And that’s no guarantee of outcomes. In no way is it.)

    Also: http://mtcwatch.com/pdfiles/5-04_Brown-CHSRA.html

    City of Oakland
    1 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
    3rd Floor
    Oakland California 94612

    Office of the Mayor
    Jerry Brown
    Mayor

    April 20, 2004

    Joseph Petrillo
    Chairman
    California High Speed Rail Authority

    RE:
    Draft Environmental Impact Report/Statement
    Importance of Studying the Altamont Alignment

    Dear Mr. Petrillo:

    The proposed high speed rail system under study by your Authority would represent the largest public works project in California’s history. A full and impartial analysis of alignment options is essential for the success of this investment.

    Altamont Pass was identified by the High Speed Rail Commission in 1996 as the preferred option for connecting the Bay Area to the Central Valley and points south. This alignment was dropped from consideration in 2000 in favor of a Pacheco Pass alignment, BEFORE the environmental review process was begun. Now that the DEIR/EIS on the project is out for public comment, and many of the background documents on which that decision were based are now available, it is clear that the decision to drop the Altamont alignment was premature.

    From the perspective of Oakland specifically, and the East Bay generally, a Phase One high speed rail project over Pacheco Pass or Mount Hamilton (the Diablo Direct alignment) would provide little if any benefit. Oakland travelers would first have to travel west to San Francisco in order to go south to LA. There would be no service between Oakland and the large and growing cities in the Central Valley north of Merced. High speed rail would also not provide time-competitive service between Oakland and any Central Valley cities. If, as is planned, future phases of the rail project included extensions to Sacramento and Oakland, the travel time between these two cities via a Pacheco Pass or Diablo Direct alignment would be longer than today’s conventional rail Capitol Corridor service.

    A prime argument made by the Authority against the Altamont Pass alignment is that it would require an awkward splitting of service between San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland. However, Oakland does not get direct service in Phase One. In fact, considering the other extensions of the rail system which are also not included in Phase One-San Diego, Sacramento and numerous feeder services–it seems highly unlikely that an Oakland extension will happen any time in our lives. The argument about a three-way split is specious.

    By contrast, an Altamont alignment for high speed rail would provide real service for Oakland and East Bay residents starting the very first day of Phase One operation. This service would be improved further if a small amount of funding were used to upgrade the BART system with passing tracks so that express service between Oakland. Fremont and Pleasanton could be instituted.

    I urge you to do a full analysis of the Altamont Pass alignment, and consider how to optimize the real benefits to Oakland of a Phase One system. This will increase public support and the likelihood that Phase One will be funded and built. Later generations can then judge whether other extensions are worthwhile.

    Sincerely,

    Mayor Jerry Brown

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, if by “spike” you mean, “make it more likely that the NIMBY opposition to parts of your alignment can be soundly beaten”, sure, he spiked Pacheco.

    It also allows time for the grass roots YIMBY campaign in Livermore to get going, but I’d expect that beating the NIMBY opposition in PAMPA would loom larger for a dedicated Pacheco advocate than the risk of a rival YIMBY movement taking root in Livermore.

    Clem Reply:

    Here’s the problem: the “blended” approach doesn’t help Pacheco anymore once Caltrain is electrified.

    The argument for Pacheco was always that it would hasten the full electrification of Caltrain from SF to SJ (forgetting for the moment that sharing the ROW only to RWC would also result in full electrification to SJ). It was a package deal. Unfortunately, the package just got unbundled, and electrification looks like it might happen years before construction starts on Pacheco.

    Fast forward to 2020.

    Caltrain is electrified and enjoyed by all, but all other HSR funding has been plowed into Merced to LA. There is no HSR service to the Bay Area, unless you count an upgraded Altamont corridor. 580 and 680 have gone from bad to worse. From that particular state of play, what comes next?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Point well taken. The connection between an electrified Caltrain commuter and hsr is tenuous, just as the link between hsr and the Palmdale-LA commute operation. Hsr doesn’t need either one to work.

    There is a glaring problem with Jerry’s re-think and re-write of the Prop 1A mission statement and that is the certainty that the truncated quasi, proto, wannabe hsr operation will run up some big operating deficits. “Lucy! — you got some ‘splaining to do!”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    would also result in full electrification to SJ

    Why would it? Erie Railroad commuter trains started to share the electrified Hoboken station of the DL&W in 1958. The people in Ridgewood are still waiting for electric trains. The Central of New Jersey abandoned their Jersey City terminal in 1967, the people of Plainfield are still waiting for electric trains. A few nice push pull diesels shuttling between Redwood City and San Jose are good enough. Or hitching the cars to a dual mode locomotives and hauling them to Transbay that way.

    Clem Reply:

    Would you buy a left shoe without the right shoe?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why would you put a shoe on your hand?
    If it’s so inevitable to electrify to San Jose why isn’t it inevitable to electrify to Oakland? And if it’s electrified to Oakland why isn’t it inevitable to electrify to Sacramento?

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