Will Initial Operating Segment Go to Southern California First?

Mar 18th, 2012 | Posted by

The current high speed rail business plan involves building an “Initial Construction Segment” in the Central Valley, owing to lower land costs and the need to provide a link between the two largest metro regions of the state (which is the entire point of HSR, after all). But despite what the critics claim, there are no plans at all to actually operate passenger rail service in the Valley alone. That would be the “Initial Operating Segment” which, projections show, would be able to generate an operating surplus by attracting a significant amount of riders.

The Initial Operating Segment would connect to either the Bay Area or Southern California – it would be Bakersfield to San José or Merced to the San Fernando Valley (or thereabouts). And according to the Bakersfield Californian, the southern option looks increasingly likely:

No final decision has been made, but high-speed rail planners are increasingly focused on Southern California as the most financially promising place to build the project’s first operational segment.

In what could become a political win for the southern portion of the state, project officials say ridership and revenue projections clearly favor connecting the Los Angeles Basin’s larger population base to initial construction proposed in the Central Valley. Tracks to the Bay Area would follow at least several years later under that scenario.

Recent discussions with transit agencies in the north and south could soften the impact of any decision on where the system would operate first. Project officials say they are looking at connecting as soon as possible with L.A.’s Metrolink and the Bay Area’s Caltrain. Observers say these improvements could be made simultaneously.

But as the rail authority puts final touches on a revised business plan that could determine the project’s fate in the state Legislature this spring, Chairman Dan Richard confirmed that planners are giving “more attention” to starting service between Merced and the San Fernando Valley rather than between Bakersfield and San Jose.

Senator Alan Lowenthal seems to like it:

But State Sen. Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, co-chairman of the Select Committee on High-Speed Rail, said it’s more important to close the rail gap between Bakersfield and L.A. as a way of demonstrating the viability of bullet train service as an alternative to driving or flying. He said the rail authority should consider doing this even before linking Bakersfield and Fresno.

“The object was not to connect the Central Valley to the Central Valley but to connect the Central Valley to the urban areas,” he said.

At the same time, Lowenthal voiced support for the “blended” approach receiving greater attention lately. That option would cut costs by hooking up high-speed trains through the Central Valley with conventional commuter rail in the north and south. It could also spread out costs among different transit agencies.

Of course, my view has always been that Lowenthal is out to use the HSR money purely for local commuter rail and has been waging war on the intercity bullet train concept for years in order to try and direct that money toward solely local projects. That being said, the concept that the California High Speed Rail Authority is looking at would remain focused on the core purpose of connecting northern and southern California, as well as serving the population centers of the Central Valley.

Californians For High Speed Rail’s Daniel Krause put it well in comments I fully endorse:

This hybrid option has been advocated by the independent group Californians for High Speed Rail, which has taken no position on the northern versus southern options. Executive Director Daniel Krause said the group would like to see a blended system linking the Central Valley to Palmdale while at the same time tying into a commuter rail station in Gilroy that connects to San Francisco.

Such a compromise would curtail the northern and southern options described in the rail authority’s November business plan. Krause said construction could later continue either direction as more money becomes available.

“That would be ideal, where they kind of pursue north or south (initial operating segments) in a modified form,” he said.

I don’t really care which gets done first, as long as progress is made. One does wonder if folks like Paul Dyson and the Rail Passenger Association of California (RailPAC) would be less hostile to high speed rail if the Initial Operating Segment went southward to LA – their argument has been that the passenger rail gap between Bakersfield and Palmdale needs to be closed, and a southerly IOS would achieve that goal.

Ultimately, Daniel Krause’s point remains the strongest. The goal here is to connect to both northern and southern California. All passenger rail advocates ought to be working hard to support funding options that will get those connections built as quickly as possible. As the prices at the gas pump should be reminding us, we don’t exactly have a lot of time to spare.

  1. Paulus Magnus
    Mar 18th, 2012 at 20:41
    #1

    That hybrid option is about the single stupidest thing you could do. You don’t connect to anywhere at all with it. It’s borne out of the foolish notion that, faced with two opposing options or views, the best is to choose a median between the two. It would not, in any way, speed up rail travel between the Basin and Bay Area while pissing away political capital without any sort of return.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    http://xkcd.com/690/

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    The idea is to reduce the cost of both the north and south IOS alignments by shortening them (i.e. from SJ to Gilroy and from Slymar to Palmdale), which becomes more feasible with the early investment in the bookends. By reducing the costs, you can then pursue completion of both more quickly. I am not claiming they would necessary be built simulateously, though if money were procured from both public and private sources, it is in the realm of possibility.

    Clem Reply:

    Cutting back Gilroy – SJ is not much of a price reduction. You’ll still need to build across Pacheco Pass including 10 miles of tunnel. You can reach Livermore, 25 miles further from Fresno but with just 4 miles of tunnel to get there. If 6 miles of tunnel are more expensive than 25 miles of flat, then it’s a cheaper way to go. Oh, AND it brings HSR 50 miles closer to Sacramento, for free.

    Building IOS South will buy some extra time for this good idea to sink in.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    I agree there is much more cost savings by shortening the south IOS to Palmdale from Slymar (several billion). The cost reduction is so significant, that the savings in and of itself makes completing the northern IOS more feasible, even if it ends up in SJ rather than Gilroy.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Hmmm ….

    Somehow saving billions between Bakersfield and the LA Basin so that things don’t stop short somewhere in the middle of nowhere …

    I wonder if somebody could come up with some sort of idea, somehow …

    Alon Levy Reply:

    On LA-Bako, you get what you pay for. If you try to save money by starting from Palmdale, you need to negotiate tens of miles of curvy mountain track, on which trains are slower than cars and always will be. Bako-Palmdale followed by Palmdale-LA in a car is barely any faster sans transfer penalty than driving from Bako to LA, and the roads are more congested, because there’s from what I hear more commuter traffic on the Antelope Valley Freeway than on the Grapevine.

    Clem Reply:

    This is where Synonymouse needs to come in and rhapsodize on the merits of Bear Trap Canyon. The Twin Tejon Tunnels, marvels of modern engineering. Even the Swiss would take notice.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is only possible to bring some sense to it all by recognizing the authorities don’t care whether their projects function very well or even barely at all. There is no no accountability, no payback, no recrimination – those who deserve to be castigated are extolled. Monuments are erected to them.

    No private party will be interested purchasing the politicized, inefficient Tehachapi Roundabout. It is the perennial ward of the State, providing there is enough money left to avoid an unsuccessful attempt at privatization. Then, it’s NdeM time.

    joe Reply:

    It’s not that far from Gilroy to San Jose, – unincorporated and no opposition Gilroy and San Jose want HSR.

    The route to the city border and into San Jose is wide open coyote valley. Once there – it’s basically done. Electrification of Caltrain to SF will provide the last leg.

    Clem Reply:

    Once there, it’s done. But it’s the getting there that takes doing, and getting to Gilroy won’t be a picnic. If all the money were there it would be just as easy as you imply.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Of course, an initial operating segment Merced / to a connection to LA/US would also punt the laying of track to finalize alignment through Gilroy to San Jose.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “It would not, in any way, speed up rail travel between the Basin and Bay Area …”

    Current trip: SF-LA-US:
    – via the San Joaquin: 6:25am 4th&King, 4:10pm, LA/US. That’s +9:45.
    – via the Starlate: 7am 4th&King, 9pm LA/US, that’s +14:00.

    On current schedules: SF-Gilroy: +2:11, Palmdale-LA/US: +1:33.
    The HSR is slated Gilroy-Palmdale: +1:35,

    Given +0:15 for transfer leeway, that’s +5:50

    +5:50 < +9:45
    +5:50 +3:40.

    Once again, that seems to be “in some way faster”.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Darn lack of a preview, the greater than and less than signs confused the poor thing.

    Anyway, Merced to LA/US, it would be faster, Bakersfield to downtown SF, it would be faster, LA Union Station to downtown SF, it would be faster.

    By hours in all cases.

    So it would indeed be faster in the “able to offer trips that are hours quicker” way. Its not entirely clear in what way it WOULDN’T speed up train travel between the Basin and the Bay Area … perhaps in the sense of how fast you can move an individual CARRIAGE? That is, not passenger travel by train, but the travel of an individual train?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    UP ownership and single-tracking ensure that 5:50 would be at a piss poor frequency – not much better than offered today, if at all.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Current trip is 9 hours flat actually, at least going north from LA (to the Civic Center). You won’t get 1:35 except with express trains which won’t be running, there isn’t enough ridership to justify it between Gilroy and Palmdale. Figure maybe two hours grand total with that.

    In addition to the poor frequencies which Alon noted, which will be true on both ends, while it is true that you’ve cut it down to 6.5 hours instead of 9, you have now wasted twenty billion dollars on a trip which is 90 minutes slower than IOS-South connecting to San Joaquin at Merced and of comparable duration with a connection at Fresno.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Incidentally, Merced-Palmdale, according to IOS briefing, is about 1:42, so it really isn’t 1:35 for Gilroy-Palmdale, not by a long shot.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Make it 2:00, your original claim is still misleading nonsense.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Actually should be about 2:15, 33 minutes Merced-Gilroy off the CAHSRA’s trip planner. In any event, a touch of hyperbole yes, but nonetheless, the single worst option one could choose since it does not grant a time benefit compared to the other IOS plans while also being rather more expensive. And as noted, with the exception of a couple of trips which have good connections, you’ll be waiting a lot longer than 15 minutes between trains. So again, congrats, you’ve spent thirty billion dollars to reduce trip time by two hours for those who are able to make the handful of tight connections available.

    Or you could build IOS-S and have rapid connections from the CV to LA, something that you don’t get in the hybrid plan at all, and six daily connections at Merced with a total trip time of 5.75 hours (including a 15 minute connection period and a bus from Oakland or Emeryville to SF proper) for billions less. Oh, and allow me to point out that that’s 2-3x as many connections as you get with Gilroy. As an added bonus you get two additional connections to Sacramento which is now only 4-4.5 hours from Los Angeles.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Why are you using Merced-Gilroy when trains from LA to Pacheco Pass won’t pass through Merced?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You are shifting the goalposts ~ if you wanted to claim that the segments would never be extended and that the time savings on that route alone would not be worth the cost … you could have said that.

    Instead you opted to for hyperbole so extreme it ends up being a flat out lie.

  2. JJJ
    Mar 18th, 2012 at 20:49
    #2

    The same story was also the front page of the Fresno bee, and included a nice graphic showing that either way, the valley is included.

    Im for the southern option, simply because you can sort of get a one seat ride to SF from the valley. Yes, you need to take a bus on the bay bridge, but its a scenic enough detour that it even sort of adds to the experience.

    Meanwhile, buses on the grapevine go noticeably slower than cars. And when the grapevine closes for snow, as it almost did today, the amtrak buses cant get around it.

    Simply for weather reasons, it makes more sense to build south first. Having such a critical north-south link be subject to snow closures multiple times a year is NOT how the situation should be.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    They can and do et around it, but they end up taking another two hours. Takes them out via Palmdale or something I believe.

    JJJ Reply:

    As far as I know, Amtrak buses dont take the detour. One risk of the detour is that you never know when the grapevine will re-open. Start a 2 hour detour, or wait and hope theyll reopen it in elss than 2 horus? Decisions, decisions.

    Also, every once in awhile, the detour ALSO closes for snow, leaving the coastal route as the ONLY north-south option. Thats not the right way to run one of the worlds largest economies.

    jimsf Reply:

    yeh, they use the detour. or have in the past.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    First hand knowledge on this one. They detour if it looks like it will close.

    Brandon from San Diego Reply:

    Either is okay with me too. The Southern connection was evaluated and shown to operate more cheaply, carry more riders, and operate with a greater revenue surplus (after expenses removed). It would seem the best choice.

    But again, I am okay with either.

  3. jimsf
    Mar 18th, 2012 at 20:53
    #3

    So … hsr electric from sylmar to gilroy is the plan then transfer to caltrain and metrolink.

    Clem Reply:

    A Gilroy transfer is slow, inefficient, and expensive to achieve. Livermore is potentially much better.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    It is true upgrades would be necessary to beef up rail between Gilroy and SJ in conjuntion with construction of the IOS. If it were to be electrified, you could potentially run HSR trains all the way to SF without a transfer.

    As for Livermore, I did discuss the idea of utilizing an upgraded ACE corridor as quicker route to the Bay Area from the Central Valley (compared with the current San Joaquin line) prior to the completion of HSR track to Gilrory or San Jose, but it did not make it into the article.

    Clem Reply:

    There is also the little issue that UPRR owns the tracks between Gilroy and SJ, and operates freight trains that the FRA is unlikely to consider safely interoperable with HSR… even with PTC. Livermore does not have these problems.

    jimsf Reply:

    but you wouldn’t be running the EMUs on up tracks, they would have their own tracks per caltrain upgrades.

    Clem Reply:

    Caltrain doesn’t get to build tracks on UPRR ROW any more than HSR gets to build tracks on UPRR ROW. Caltrain doesn’t own the land. Caltrain also doesn’t plan to build extra tracks to serve a tiny number of people and jobs in the Coyote Valley; there are far more pressing investments that are awaiting funding up north. On a purely dollars and cents basis, cutting Gilroy service today would save money.

    jimsf Reply:

    if they use the blended approach, and the ios is suppose to be the electric operations, and if in conjunction with that, caltrain from 4th and king to tamien is electrified, then it makes the most sense to connect the north end of the central valley ics, to the electrified caltrain at tamien, that means constructing pacheco and up to tamien, using whatever row options they are planning in conjuction with the gilroy station.

    madera-pacheco-gilroy-tamien connecting to the electricfied caltrain row takes the ios north all the way into sf.

    with an ios south merced to la – you’d have to build the bfd to pmd section then youd have to either build full hsr row from pmd to syl to la or youd have to electrify metrolink from pmd to la.

    caltrain electrification is planned. metrolink electrification is not.
    and the existing row from pmd to la is not good enough
    so that means full hsr row construction and electification from bfd to la which is a lot more than madera to tamien.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    I feel the need to point out that the cost differential between building IOS-S vs IOS-N is rather small while there is a significant revenue advantage to IOS-S (about 2.5 billion and about two-thirds again as much operational surplus). And while Metrolink is not currently planning electrification, extending electrification another twenty miles or so into LAUS is extremely cheap and affordable and can easily be planned for during IOS-S construction.

    jimsf Reply:

    so building the tunnels and viaducts through twomountain passes – one from bfd to pmd and one from pmd to syl plus syl to la electification is cheaper than building madera to tamien via pacheco?

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    No, it’s about 2.5 billion more expensive. It has a far larger market however and thus far more revenue.

    However, if they were to go with the Grapevine route, it would likely be cheaper than IOS-N

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Are you two thinking about the same transfer between Metrolink and HSR for an Initial Operating Segment South?

    synonymouse Reply:

    I don’t believe in the mind of CHSRA management “cheaper” is a factor at all in mountain crossing decisions. Politics trumps.

    Richard obviously regards BART to SFO as his magnum opus to date and serves as a template for his likely policy on the Tehachapi Roundabout. With BART to SFO Kopp held out for the most expensive alternative, which evidently Richard endorsed.

    I suggest you will see the same reckless fiscal abandon at Tehachapi – any value engineering cost cutting that will slow down times will be rejected. It will back to the original steroided stilts. Cost-benefit was never part of the equation.

    jimsf Reply:

    @paulus- ok lets not discuss tejon because they aren’t going that way, just like they arent going via altamont. Im trying to stick with whats actually planned.

    so, bakersfield to laus with full hsr ios infrastructure ( 220-125-110 operation, electrified, viaducts and tunnels bfd-pmd and pmd syl and grade crossing elimination etc all the way into LAUS) for a mered-la IOS is ready to move forward and be completed just as fast as the wye-san jose via pacheco connecting to electrified caltrain can be done, but for 2.5 billion more ios south.

    the 2.5 billion more is fine if they can get that extra money, but I dont think they can build bfd to la sooner than they can build madera to san jose. isn’t madera (or merced) to san jose further along and don’t they plan to spend even more on that next year?

    I think they are saying IOS south publicly to placate southern poltiicians, but Ill bet they get pacheco ready sooner.

    jimsf Reply:

    heres my point the two red segments would be ready and the choice would be wich blue segments to use. the northern one requires a lot less to get done

    Joe Reply:

    Clem

    Cutting service to Gilroy would cut the subsidy santa clara pays to operate the money losing caltrain service.

    Caltrain operates at a loss, cutting caltrain service saves money. Cutting stations, saves money.

    I am told by the city caltrain rep. That the fare recovery in south county is strong, the cost and limited trains, 3, compensate for the service. The past threats to cut service were not economically driven.

    Michael Reply:

    Caltrain operating subsidies are based on county am boardings. General capital is 1/3 per county. Gilroy is all VTA. TTT is regional funding. San Mateo grade seps were SM county sales tax.

    joe Reply:

    Gilroy is in Santa Clara County – VTA.

    Caltrain says it recovers ~67% of costs at the fare box (from Caltrain presentation at Gilroy discussing system service cuts to save costs) and fares are higher for south county riders.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Caltrain says it recovers ~67% of costs at the fare box (from Caltrain presentation at Gilroy discussing system service cuts to save costs)

    Joe,

    Those numbers were doctored for political purposes.

    Caltrain would dump Gilroy in a heartbeat if VTA weren’t making extra-judicial threats.

    joe Reply:

    Richard;

    Probably “doctored” which is why I attributed that figure to them (and the place). Still the fare box is a source of operating funds. And these doctored numbers compare to doctored numbers from other public transit organizations. We have better doctors.

    I have no doubt Caltrain would run if they could and county services too if they could – and no the nice Caltrain lady didn’t answer my questions honestly claiming not to know the answer to the track lease costs (on a technicality) even if they did state the costs and projected savings on a previous visit and that figure was reported in the press.

    I do expect my City to fight for service and “threaten” Caltrain if ncessary.

    BTW, I want to thank you for not mentioning a body part or a hypothalamus generated urge.

    joe Reply:

    It is true upgrades would be necessary to beef up rail between Gilroy and SJ in conjuntion with construction of the IOS. If it were to be electrified, you could potentially run HSR trains all the way to SF without a transfer.

    Eventually, the plan is to electrify Caltrain to Gilroy. Connecting HSR to Caltrain at Gilroy would require electrification, improved gates and adding track. The benefit is access to SF sooner, improved local rail.

    Clem Reply:

    There is no longer a plan to electrify Caltrain to Gilroy. There used to be, but it is no longer the plan. Access to SF could be provided sooner via Livermore, and it would be significantly faster.

    joe Reply:

    But there’s no plan to connect to Livermore.
    See how that works?

    There is certainly no plan to stop Caltrain service to south county. It will need an upgrade, eventually. That might change the current plan.

    Plus that awesome connection to Livermore does “what” to the HSR/Caltrain electrification? Does it make sense to fix Caltrain if the project runs to the East Bay and stops?

    Clem Reply:

    It’s more than just an EIR matter. The FRA granted Caltrain’s waiver for operating lightweight electric trains with very strict conditions, and one of those conditions is that Caltrain operate within the scope of what was proposed to the FRA, namely SF – Tamien.

    The awesome connection in Livermore has exactly nothing to do with Caltrain. It still makes sense to fix Caltrain regardless of what happens to HSR.

    joe Reply:

    It’s more than just an EIR matter. The FRA granted Caltrain’s waiver for operating lightweight electric trains with very strict conditions, and one of those conditions is that Caltrain operate within the scope of what was proposed to the FRA, namely SF – Tamien

    A paper barrier. If the CAHSRA asks for a reconsideration – I bet they’ll get one. And when they electrify, they’ll improve the ROW and allow faster service to SF.

    You trivialize fixing Caltrain – funding has been elusive and remains a serious problem.

    The blended approach will spend Prop 1A funding and local revenue. This “anchors” the alignment. Not just in paper but legally there’s a obligation of Prop 1A funds.

    When you’ll decide to move the alignment that”s asking ask the State for more funds anmd a do-ver because you decided to move HSR – to save money!! Yes after you spent the money on the Caltrain electrification.

    That will be very popular with voters.

    Andy M. Reply:

    Would electrification alone, without any accompanying measures (such as grade separation, added capacity etc), really bring that much of an improvement to Caltrain? Maybe marginally shorter journey times through better acceleration. Is that the plan? Or is this just an intermediate step to a later re-engineering fior higher speeds and grade separation (in which case much of the elctrification investment would be lost as the lines get torn down again.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Would electrification alone, without any accompanying measures (such as grade separation, added capacity etc), really bring that much of an improvement to Caltrain?

    It would bring a slight improvement.

    If the introduction of electrification was done through swapping the head-end power, the only improvement would be faster acceleration. In Caltrain’s case, this improvement would be best applied to the all-stops services, rather than the Bullet service.

    If instead the introduction of electrification was combined with new electrified trains, you get three benefits. Improved acceleration and improved deceleration are the first two, both of which will contribute to improved journey times. The third benefit is that a properly done refresh of the passenger seating etc will retain and attract more people to using the service.

    Clem Reply:

    It also enables 6 tph peak rather than 5 tph. One additional frequency in each direction during the peak would greatly improve service. The higher acceleration / braking of EMUs also improves the average speed of locals (well, limiteds… there are no locals at rush hour) which closes up some of the crazy service intervals required to accommodate the higher-speed express trains. Today, there is an artificially large gap in service before/after a bullet to prevent it from catching up to the preceding train.

    There is some significant push-back from the cities on this issue. They think 6 tph will result in a gate down-time Armageddon, compared to the 5 tph level today.

    The gate down-time issue is also why the cities are still freaked out about the blended plan, and even more freaked out about MTC writing a blank check for blended HSR without city input.

    Bottom line: electrification without grade separation is more than a slight improvement for quality of service.

    Peninsula Rail 2010 Reply:

    Furthermore, grade separation does next-to-nothing to improve train service, especially on a line that will never host speeds above 125mph. Remember, trains don’t stop for automobiles, so the grade separations are for the benefit of automobile traffic. Grade separations are also monstrously expensive and disruptive, but it’s crucial to remember that grade separations don’t actually improve the train performance on a suburban line. Grade separations help the construction contractors and the automobiles, which is why PB and HNTB are so insistent on complete grade separation. It means $$$ to them.

    Electrification is the single best measure to improve Peninsula train service, and properly done, it shouldn’t cost so much. In addition to better acceleration/deceleration, electrification means less noise and no more diesel fumes.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Except they won’t be allowed to run 125mph without grade separations, so yes, grade separations will improve train service.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    The difference between 125mph and 110mph is pretty minuscule.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Grade separations are also monstrously expensive and disruptive, but it’s crucial to remember that grade separations don’t actually improve the train performance on a suburban line.

    My own feeling on grade separations on a suburban line is that they provide for retention of patrons due to lack of multi-hour delays as a result of cars losing battles of inertia against trains. Grade separations also allow for a higher top speed if a particular maximum speed was set solely due to the number of at-grade crossings in a given area.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    For the billionth time, nobody is ever going to be running at 200kmh (or 180kmh) on the Peninsula.

    Sure, sleazebag contractors with billions of vested interest in over-design might claim otherwise, and sub-moronic agency staffers with vested interests in the largest and stupidest budgets for the agencies might blab such nonsense, but in the real objective world all of
    (a) the extant built environment
    (b) track capacity
    (c) massively negative return on investment
    all are perfectly aligned on this matter.

    Clem Reply:

    @thatbruce: If grade separations provide for retention of patrons, then electrification will provide patrons that can be retained in the first place. In other words, patrons will start minding the rare multi-hour delay when the basic quality of service has improved beyond the current morass of a schedule.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You get nearly all the benefit of full grade separation with gates. Cars do not normally get on the tracks, and quad gates, and even regular gates, eliminate almost all accidents.

    Punctuality is a matter of good dispatching and operating practices. Trains ran punctually on the Chuo Line before it was grade-separated, and run punctually beyond the grade-separated segment. They do not run punctually on the grade-separated Providence Line.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    Does anybody consider the *safety* and greatly reduced liability aspects of grade separations?

    Sure, Grade separations do not improve train service; they do improve auto traffic/circulation. Sure they are $$$ costly and disruptive.

    But the fact is that grade separations do make Caltrain safer as they significantly reduce the risk of vehicles and pedestrians getting hit by a train, not to mention a good deal less (stupid) horn blowing.

    Each grade crossing represents a risk/liability to Caltrain, separating the crossings will greatly reduce the risk/liability, possibly allowing Caltrain to save on insurance costs.

    Every time some idiot gets themselves hit by a train, there will be litigation, resulting in court costs, attorney fees, and the possibility of a huge settlement. This alone makes at least some grade separations worthwhile.

    Why do I see such value in grade separations? Here is a real world scenario: Several months ago, I was on train 101 (first northbound), in the bike car, after leaving San Bruno station, the horn was blowing like crazy and the train slowed to a crawl and stopped. I looked out the front of the train to see what was going on and there was a big rig stalled on the San Bruno Ave. crossing. The big rig finally moved off the crossing and we were able to go on our merry way. The very next day it was foggy as hell you couldn’t see more than 50 feet in front of you. Had the big rig been stalled then, the engineer would not have seen the big rig until it was too late, and would have plowed into the big rig causing who knows how much carnage… I may not be writing this now…

    Grade separations do not need to be as disruptive, grandiose, and overbuilt as in a PB wet $$$$$ dream… They can be of minimal length such as Hillcrest in Millbrae (431 feet of road impact) and *not* the CHSRA/PB concrete wank fests proposed in Palo Alto (950+ feet of road impact).

    Tony D. Reply:

    I find it amazing that folks are actually arguing AGAINST grade-separations. As I’ve said before, I just think it a good damn idea to separate autos and folks from fast moving trains (see BART system). If some idiot decides to step in front of a train or car stalls on the tracks/try’s to beat a train at the gate, the system comes to a complete halt like a clogged artery…GRADE SEPARATE!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s fine to grade-separate – it just isn’t a priority, and is mainly a road improvement rather than a railroad improvement. If the government’s willing to pay 85% of the budget and only make the rail authority liable for 15%, as happened with the Chuo Line, then by all means, do it. Otherwise, forget about it. There are better things to spend the money on.

    Peninsula Rail 2010 Reply:

    I am not against grade separations, but it has to be understood that improving Peninsula rail service relies on constrained decision-making. Choices need to be prioritized and optimized. Funding is certainly not limitless, and grade separations are very expensive budget-busters. Grade separations offer some mild benefit in safety and reliability in avoiding freak incidents — although look up the Great Heck rail crash for when things unexpectedly drop onto tracks — but it doesn’t make train service perform any faster, certainly not in a suburban environment. If the entire Caltrain corridor was grade-separated overnight, it wouldn’t make Caltrain service any better. On the other hand, electrication with lightweight EMUs would offer immediate performance benefits. Electrification is significantly more cost-effective than grade separation.

    As Paulus Magnus notes, grade crossing safety can be significantly improved with off-the-shelf technology without resorting to the enormous cost and disruptive politics of grade separations. It just requires some initiative, but it’s clear that PB and HNTB are intent on pouring as much concrete as possible before the public budget is bled dry. Don’t be surprised if this whole CHSRA endeavor results in expensive, useless concrete structures with no wires in sight. Witness the current ICS plan in the CV.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    Grade separations provide a safety payoff, too. I was in an Amtrak train that ran into a truck trailer carrying steel coils, which was stopped on the track. It was a big diesel engine, and the speed wasn’t too high, but there was still quite a thunk, and people went flying. I’d hate to think what would have happened with a lighter-weight trainset travelling at higher speed.

    Grade crossings are fairly dangerous places. In many towns, all the cross-town traffic is funneled into a few crossings. There is usually a busy intersection on each side of the track. There are multiple sets of traffic lights. People are making turns. People are getting confused. Cars and trucks are getting backed up onto the tracks. You can’t lower the gates so far in advance that a 80 mph train can stop for a stalled truck, so you can only hope everybody gets out of the way in time. It’s better to get rid of the grade crossings, though it is a slow, disruptive, and expensive process.

    joe Reply:

    An out of state woman was killed at a confusing Palo Alto crossing. The same crossing a kid was killed on her bike in the 90s. Safety and lives apparently have a price.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BibQHBA4_D0

    It would also help traffic safety. Grade separations reduce tension and risk taking when signals go down and or traffic backs up.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    You can’t lower the gates so far in advance that a 80 mph train can stop for a stalled truck, so you can only hope everybody gets out of the way in time.

    Yes you can. Light-weight Japanese DMU stopping distance is ~1800 feet at 81 mph, Metrolink at 70mph is 2600 feet. Gates go down at 26 seconds prior to train arrival, which is 3,050 feet for a 80mph train. Put a sensor of some sort, which need be no more sophisticated than a camera transmitting to a monitor inside the cab. You now have sufficient warning of a stuck vehicle to either greatly reduce the impact force or stop completely prior to a collision.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Source. Four Metrolink cars and one locomotive, stopping distance of 2600 feet at 79mph

    http://www.ntsb.gov/doclib/reports/2011/RAB1105.pdf

    swing hanger Reply:

    Yes, you can install optical sensors at grade crossings, and if anything is blocking the tracks when the gates are down, the oncoming train is warned.

    optical sensor arrangement:
    http://www.westjr.co.jp/safety/action/crossing/cp/img/car_troubleImage01.gif

    more recent laser radar system with a wider detection area:
    http://www.westjr.co.jp/safety/action/crossing/index/img/photo01.jpg

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …a shopping bag blows across the crossing and train stops. A windy autumn day and leaves blow across the crossing…

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Agreed, you can. In fact, there are many places (of course, not in the US), where the state of a gate crossing is connected to the signalling system, and as long as the gates are up, the the block containing the gate crossing is blocked.

    I know at least of one place (with full gates) where a sensor prevents the second gate from going down when there is something (car) on the tracks. And in that location, the gates close at least 4 times per hour.

    So, it is possible, but it requires the according will.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    I was under the impression that lights start flashing a minimum of 20 sec before train enters the crossing, and that gates are down at least 5 sec before the train enters the crossing. Decision time for the engineer is when the gates are down or nearly so, and traffic is slow clearing the crossing. Does the engineer actually have 26 sec, and the 5 sec is in error? I would agree that 26 sec gives an engineer time to react, though making decisions like this several times per day would drive me crazy.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    There might be a legal minimum of 20 seconds but some accident reports I’ve been reading say that the ones in question were programmed for 30 seconds, gates go down at 26 seconds. Currently there is no decision making by engineer, only if such a system is in place would they have a decision to make.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Grade separations provide a safety payoff … I’d hate to think what would have happened with a lighter-weight trainset travelling at higher speed.

    Perhaps more injuries. (Or perhaps fewer.) Perhaps more deaths. (Or ditto.)

    What’s that worth? $200 million? $100 million? $50 million? $5 million?

    Is it perhaps possible that there are other ways to spend money that might save more lives and reduce more suffering at lower cost?

    Max Wyss Reply:

    This question was actually asked about 30 years ago in the Swiss Canton of Zürich, which has the legislation allowing an optional referendum for any (cantonal) road project costing more than 20 millions Swiss Francs. That particular project was on a relatively busy secondary road, where the manually operated gate crossing would have been replaced with an underpass. The project got beyond that limit, and a referendum was requested. The result is that since then, there are automatically operated gates, and there was no kind of accident since then. Nowadays, the gates close at least 8 times per hour, and nobody asks for an under pass or so.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Dirigibles to the tip of the Transamerica Tower are potentially much better too. You have to convince the good burghers of Livermore that they want a BART station and that they want an HSR station.

    Clem Reply:

    Dirigibles do have the slight drawback that they would be slower. BART to Livermore, which is already in the EIR process, could provide 40 minute quicker connectivity to downtown SF than a Gilroy transfer to Caltrain, even with electrification of Caltrain.

    40 minutes quicker is nothing to scoff at, from the tip of the Transamerica Pyramid or elsewhere.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    BART just scaled back the scope of their project-level EIR to stop well short of a connection with the ACE corridor (and in the middle of I-580). It is odd, because BART would probably get more ridership from connecting to the state’s emerging rail system than from a few commuters in Livermore.

    Clem Reply:

    ACE carries only a trickle of passengers, not much for BART to connect to… and BART is probably avoiding a clash with NIMBYs who don’t want BART downtown, probably the same folks who didn’t want HSR downtown. Here’s the thing about Livermore: nothing has to be downtown if they don’t like it. BART goes via 580 and HSR skirts around the south.

    blankslate Reply:

    The plan is to connect with ACE at the Vasco Rd station, a bit further to the east. Of course there is no funding to get there just yet. The total cost for current 580 extension + Vasco extension is about the same as a Downtown Livermore extension would’ve been.

    Jon Reply:

    I’m not sure why you think BART would break out of I-580 at Vasco Rd rather than Greenville Rd. The latter was studied in the DEIR (alternative 1) and is the route favored by the Keep BART on I-580 crowd, who BART appear to have entirely caved in to.

    Clem Reply:

    Either one would work. The point was to show that both HSR and BART can be routed outside of downtown Livermore, something that the CHSRA has strenuously avoided studying too much because it was a great pretext to pick Pacheco over Altamont. (There were lots of comment letters from Livermore and Pleasanton that railed against HSR through these towns, viewed in some quarters as trumped-up NIMBY opposition).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If they don’t want the gates down the solution is grade separations…..

    jimsf Reply:

    don’t laugh – you can travel california by airship!!!

    jimsf Reply:

    MtView to Long Beach departing 8am arriving 5 pm meals and beverages included. $1600 thats actually pretty cool. love to go that way.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Those computations seem to assume that the transfer at either Gilroy or Livermore is permanent and that the extension to Sacramento is completed before the extension to San Francisco.

    Clem Reply:

    I never assumed the connection would be permanent. It’s an intermediate phase, and this entire discussion is about phasing and how best to do it. What to build, in what order, with the least possible money, in order to end up with something useful the soonest.

    Sacramento wouldn’t be built before SF, but there would be 50 miles less of it left to build. In discussing the trade-offs of how to build the Phase 1 HSR system, Sacramento and San Diego are too often ignored.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    “I never assumed the connection would be permanent. It’s an intermediate phase, and this entire discussion is about phasing and how best to do it.”

    The cost comparison reads as a net cost differential, which implies that the the extension of HSR from Gilroy to SF and the extension of HSR from Livermore to SF are effectively identical in cost.

    joe Reply:

    …and there is the HSR extension from Livermore to San Jose.

    Clem Reply:

    Ah! Yes, the mortal flaw in the whole scheme… Good catch guys!

  4. jimsf
    Mar 18th, 2012 at 21:54
    #4

    well, as much I want to side with the bay area, since I live in merced for now, I guess merced to lax would be nice. I can get to sf now on the san joaquin in 3 hours, or I can drive it in 2.

    merced to la in a couple of hours would be nice, plus I can rent a car at la and drive from there to long beach oc or psp.

    okay. merced la it is! but it better be 220 electric, with this trainset

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That train won’t be available in 2031 when they are ordering trains.

    jimsf Reply:

    you mean this new blended thing still wont get us a 220 train to anywhere or nowhere or somewhere.. until 2031? ill be retired by the pool in psp by then. great. thanks a lost you lame ass bunch of california politicians with your heads up your asses.

    Daniel Krause Reply:

    blended is only in the urban areas. the IOS would funciton at full speed and then one of two things would happen: 1) there will be transfer to the bookend blended systems; or 2) HSR trains will continue on the upgraded blended track. Scenario two would obviously be preferrable. The new biz plan is designed to speed up the project schedule siginificantly, so I am almost certain they will show true HSR running well before 2031.

    jimsf Reply:

    I was just under the impression that the new blended thing would lead to an IOS north because caltrain would speed up electification whereas metrolink has no plans to electrify, so the ICS in th valley(220) plus pacheco(220) plus electrified caltrain (110) give us sf to bfd true high speed rail faster than an ios south.

    an ios south means building the two mountain crossings, bfd-pmd and pmd syl to full hsr specs, plus electrifying metrolink from sylmar to la

    caltrain already plans to switch to emus, whereas metrolink doesn’t.

    What I don’t want is a ride to palmdal, or a ride to gilroy. or a ride to livermore.

    all of those options would be no faster than driving.

    What happened to all the politicians who used to be able to get things done.

    wherefore art thou willie brown!

    Joseph E Reply:

    “plus I can rent a car at la and drive from there to long beach oc or psp.”
    If PSP is Palm Springs, you might still need to rent a car, but there is hope of more frequent trains service in the future (though you might still want to rent a car when you get there).
    But you can get to Orange County on Metrolink and get around by OCTA. Long Beach will be a one-seat, 50 minute ride on the Blue Line light rail train, straight from Union Station, and there is a good bus system once you are there. Transit is improving in the LA area.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    There should be half-hourly service at least as far south as Laguna Niguel by the time of IOS-S. It’s been OCTA’s biggest desire for awhile.

    jimsf Reply:

    There is no practical way to visit greater so cal car free. My friend will have to pick me up downtown. thng is, now that I live in the valley, driving is faster but still dreadful- north or south. Id take hsr if its real hsr and gets me from merced to laus in 2 hours. then I dont mind renting a car from there because It saved me wear and tear on my own car, plus it exchanges 4 hours of driving time for 2 hours of comfy amenity-laden high speed time.
    the blended approach though sound like it would not be faster than the 4 hour drive from merced to la.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    It’ll be 2:05 Merced-SFV, prolly all-stops.

    http://cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/WorkArea/DownloadAsset.aspx?id=10330

    jimsf Reply:

    better than the the 6 hours it takes now, or the 4 hours to drive.

    blankslate Reply:

    I would trade a 4 hour drive for a 4 hour train ride, because it would save wear and tear on my car and exchange 4 hours of driving time for 4 hours of comfy amenity-laden train time. AND would dramatically reduce the likelihood of deadly 80-mph fog-induced car crashes that happen all the time on I-5 in the CV. MANY people in CA feel the same way I do, and there will be even more of us when gas hits $6/gallon and beyond.

    Gianny Reply:

    You no longer want the AGV’s Jim? How about this Italian AGV http://www.alstom.com/Global/Transport/Resources/Images/News%20and%20Events/News/agv_nola_picture_1.jpg

    Looks so comfortable
    http://www.alstom.com/Global/Transport/Resources/Images/News%20and%20Events/News/agv_nola_picture_10.jpg

    Gianny Reply:

    Their main page
    http://www.ntvspa.it/en/index.html

    jimsf Reply:

    Very nice interior. The Italians do know design. It think what makes the zefiro so attractive is the how the body covers the wheels

    and these
    interior options

    Max Wyss Reply:

    The bogie covers are mainly here for aerodynamic reasons (and maybe also noise).

    The interior is completely up to what the operator orders. I guess California won’t get compartments like shown in the above link; it would more be something like 2+3 seating (or 2+2, depending on the available width of the carbody).

    California could (but I have serious doubts that they would) hire Italian designers for the interior design. But there are still a few years to go until it really becomes an issue…

    jimsf Reply:

    Italian interior design yes!! might as well go all out!!!
    I just really don’t like the siemens velaro. its just not attractive. maybe it would look okay in all black. But really I just don’t like the look.

  5. William
    Mar 19th, 2012 at 00:03
    #5

    I understand the hybrid plan was to create a train route that is “faster” than today’s train, which in itself would attract additional riders. But I think going to both Gilroy and Palmdale are two half-solutions to IOS, which in my view, doesn’t make up for one complete IOS to either San Jose or Sylmar, primary because this provide higher utilization to one major end-point.

    I favor IOS-north because Caltrain is further along with electrification plan. So far I haven’t see any Metrolink electrification plans or operations after electrification, so it is quiet possible that IOS-north can go all the way to San Francisco 4th&King. IOS-north to San Jose is also cheaper than IOS-south to Sylmar, and San Jose is more of a destination than Sylmar, which would still require people to drive to it or connection to Metrolink.

    jimsf Reply:

    Yes that makes the most sense. here here.

  6. Andy Chow
    Mar 19th, 2012 at 02:24
    #6

    Once the connection to Palmdale is made, it would be possible to use Talgo trainsets with diesel locomotives to provide a single seat ride from LA to the Bay Area. The Bay Area portion would use the San Joaquin route. No Altamont and no Livermore.

    I don’t think Livermore BART transfer is a superior option to getting HSR to the Bay Area. First of all not everyone is interested to use BART as the connection to HSR (many would rather drive to Livermore instead). Since Livermore is farther than any of the Bay Area airports, it would make HSR far less attractive whether or not there’s a BART connection. The best location for HSR is to be closer to the city center than the airports, where riders can transfer to another mode directly to their destinations. The same pretty much goes if HSR riders have to transfer to Caltrain or Metrolink, but that Caltrain and Metrolink can share tracks with HSR, which BART cannot.

    System electrification can begin after funding for the northern connection is available.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    BART isn’t putting all it’s chips on Livermore… DeSaulnier and Company would love to see ACE connect e-BART and Merced.

    The San Joaquin route north of Merced is not very advantageous past Antioch. There’s no real way, on existing track to go directly from Livemore to Merced anyway, you have to backtrack through Stockton….

    The reason why Krause’s idea doesn’t work is that BART doesn’t want to let CalTrain get a coup like the blended service, it will do anything to stop that, even if it means shunting the train to god knows where.

    Southern California doesn’t have that problem, but because there is no rivalry, between transit agencies we are stuck with whatever they come up with for Palmdale to L.A.

    joe Reply:

    Since Livermore is farther than any of the Bay Area airports, it would make HSR far less attractive whether or not there’s a BART connection

    The problem is being there, at Livermore , and having to build out HSR from there to SF and SJ.

    As much as this is called a temporary solution, it will take years to find and build a path to SF – something I suspect some intentionally hope happens.
    “See how sucky BART is?” “BART/SFO – I told you so.”

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    BART is a better path to nearly all of SF — let alone the Bay Area — than is one station at Transbay.

    BART to Livermore will beat BART to SF for good parts of the the East Bay (there’s life beyond the SF Peninsula!) for HSR access forever.

    Bus or drive to Livermore will beat BART to SF for Walnut Creek, San Ramon, Livermore, etc, forever.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    One wildcard is the funding question. Any work on a bookend requires local match, and I have yet to hear what program Heminger plans to raid to pay for it.

    Alameda County voters seem likely to pass a new transportation sales tax measure. At $6.7 billion, it will double the existing tax and run without a sunset date. Dumbarton rail and the I580 corridors are already in the plan. Can Santa Clara and San Mateo counties match that?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I have yet to hear what program Heminger plans to raid to pay for it.

    What’s the most you’ve ever lost on a coin toss?

    joe Reply:

    I disagree – a terminus at Livermore and BART transfer is not better than a single seat ride to SF Transbay on an improved Caltrain ROW.

    One can transfer onto BART at the SFO station as easily as Livemore.

    (there’s life beyond the SF Peninsula!)

    Life, but not work – jobs are on the SF Peninsula.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I disagree …

    Well, I must say I’m surprised there!

    I’m sure you’ll let the 85% of SF and Oakland and Berkeley and Walnut Creek residents and businesses that are closer to a BART station than to one misconceived airborne bus terminal at Misison and First know that they really should be enjoying “an improved Caltrain ROW” (I get a woody just thinking about it!) rather than, say, getting to where the hell they want to go.

    Jobs are on the SF Peninsula.

    Please, do let the US Census they screwed up on that whole counting and tabulation business of theirs.

    jimsf Reply:

    I agree a single seat ride to sf is better, but the jobs are not on the peninsula. silicon valley is not the only piece of the economic pie in the bay area, in fact only tech people even care about. The majority of bay area residents don’t work in tech. They have normal jobs all over the bay area. At safeway, and the mall, and in emeryville, at banks, and restaurants, toll booths, and pep boys, and just everywhere. They don’t go to menlo park to work.

    joe Reply:

    My local paper tells me the East Bay, net, continues to lose jobs while the Peninsula SF and San Jose gain.

    I’m not arguing a worker at Safeway isn’t as important as freshly minted Google hire. There are pepboys, safeways and janitorial jobs in the SV and Peninsula. These workers don’t live in Menlo Park and are priced out of the market. They use Caltrain and SamTrans and VTA to get to work.

    Some Peninsula employers pay for transit passes because building permits and EIRs rely on Caltrain/Bus/Bike to reduce car traffic. They offer shuttles from the stations. I think this is better route for the HSR system.

    Meanwhile Livermore wants the BART outta downtown and at the highway.

    Clem Reply:

    Pssst. Your single seat ride will be 40 minutes slower to the central business district in SF.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Psst. If they are going to spend money extending BART to Livermore they could spend money upgrading Caltrain.

    Clem Reply:

    40 minutes slower after Caltrain upgrades, that is.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    BART is great if you want to go someplace BART goes. Going to Livermore sucks if you want to go someplace BART doesn’t go like all the places AC Transit goes, Golden Gate Transit goes, MUNI goes. That’ why they are building that big bus terminal over the train terminal.

    jimsf Reply:

    speaking of tbt- for all those who think projects cant be done well.. and say what you want about sf…. but this project has moved along on schedule without a glitch.
    they held a design contest, picked a winner, got teh demolition done, and began constuction, andhave remained on sked. no fuss no muss.

    Andy Chow Reply:

    BART may have more stations in SF but its accessibility from other modes of transportation other than Muni is poor. There’s no space for taxis, shuttles, pick-ups/drop offs, and tour buses, which are important for intercity travelers. BART stations even have limited elevator access, and don’t forget that peak hour trains are packed with no dedicated space for luggage.

    Amtrak already connects with BART at Richmond, but still many passengers continue to Oakland or Emeryville, with some continuing to SF via bus. Caltrain connects with BART and Millbrae, but most riders still get on and off at 4th & King. It shows that many prefer to get to the city center as close as they can before transferring to another mode (all of those stations have dedicated taxi and pickup/drop off areas.)

    Of course some don’t mind transfer to BART because their destinations are within walking distance from BART, or that they don’t mind making another transfer (at suburban stations that have such facilities). I just don’t think that it is a serious substitution for direct HSR access into SF, with a proper intercity station designed for easy access for people with luggages.

    Clem Reply:

    Agreed. BART is at best a temporary solution.

    Andy Chow Reply:

    That’s why I think that we should use the San Joaquin route to Oakland until we have funding for the proper connection to SF. Riders could still transfer to BART in Richmond or eBART somewhere in Antioch.

    J. Wong Reply:

    It’d be faster to take the Amtrak bus from Merced to Emeryville than to take a San Joaquin.

    Andy Chow Reply:

    The current Amtrak buses from SF to Stockton (to meet with San Joaquin to and from Sacramento) are slower than the direct train. Besides that, it is not a speed issue. It is just bothersome to transfer when they are closer to the middle of the journey.

    For example, if you want an overnight trip from the Bay Area to LA, you can take the bus (Greyhound) or the train + bus. Flying is not an option since the trip is not long enough to do it overnight and airports have curfew.

    If you do the train + bus, you would have to transfer in the middle of the night. With the direct bus, you won’t.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If a one seat ride is at the top of your priorities take the Coast Starlight.

    Andy Chow Reply:

    Amtrak Coast Starlight is not low on ridership, except that it is only limited to one trip per day. Yes, if say some of the Surfliner trains extend all the way to San Jose or to San Francisco, it would be more useful than the current bus connections. Shouldn’t the cities along the central coast deserves better rail service?

    I think that using the San Joaquin route for the interim Bay Area connection until a proper connection is built to the Caltrain corridor is better than requiring a transfer to a bus in Merced or build something half ass to Livermore and require a transfer to BART. The San Joaquin route is not fast, but at least it offers closest urban center stop and a service that would be competitive to intercity bus and driving.

    Clem Reply:

    To be clear, the Livermore transfer from HSR to BART is not half-ass. It is 40 minutes quicker than the Gilroy HSR connection to a fully electrified Caltrain, and much quicker yet than a detour on Amtrak. I don’t think passengers will mind a transfer if it gets them to SF 40 minutes sooner.

    jimsf Reply:

    but there is no plan for getting hsr into sj and sf from livermore, santa clara co wants to be on the mainline, hsr up the peninsula get caltrain electrified. The peninsula row nimby issues are contained and being dealt with, alameda county routes would open a a whole new can of worms creating years more of delay.

    Its just not going to happen.

    Donk Reply:

    While most people in the Bay Area battle this out because they want (or don’t want) HSR to be closer to where they live, I and most other SoCal residents will support whatever gets SoCal connected to the Bay Area the fastest. If Clem’s plan of connecting to Livermore does this (as a temporary solution), then that is what I support and I am sure the rest of the state will support.

    jimsf Reply:

    actually no one is battling anything out. Everyone knows that the plan is pacheco gilroy san jose san francisco. there are some nimbys along the route who clearly aren’t able to stop the project but it is being modified with the blended approach. other than that the only talk of livermore is on this blog. getting hsr into sf and sj via altmont will takes years longer if ever and be caught up new legal batt;es as a whole new set of nimbys goes into play not to mention there is no plan at all for getting hsr across the bay. ( only dreams of a bumbarton crossing) But starting from scratch with dumbarton and finding row from livermore to sj will take another decade.

    going to livermore would doom hsr from ever getting to sf

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But they’d get that fabulous BART ride. It’s why Acela passengers get off in Baltimore and take teh DC Metro to get to Union Station in DC. Or why Acela passengers get off in Stamford and take the 5 train to Grand Central. Or get off Acela in Princeton and take PATH to the World Trade Center….

    jimsf Reply:

    speaking of getting to the bay. I have to get from merced to oakland today. ill be driving thank you and even foregoing the free train trip.

    Andy Chow Reply:

    Livermore is half ass because it would be very hard to find a viable right of way to get to San Jose or San Francisco. There are some unfriendly cities (and the SF bay) along the path that you would have to fight with. The existence of BART would also make very hard for HSR to extend.

    With Peninsula corridor, one seat ride is possible from day one with the blended approach. You can’t ever blend HSR with BART. If say BART is actually standard gauge and more like Caltrain, then I think blending with it to get to SF from Livermore would be a good idea.

    If HSR ends at Livermore, the only way to get decent ridership is to have large parking lots and runs lots of feeder buses. BART isn’t going to get 100% of the riders that would ride HSR past Livermore if it is extended.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Livermore is half ass because it would be very hard to find a viable right of way to get to San Jose or San Francisco. There are some unfriendly cities (and the SF bay) along the path that you would have to fight with. The existence of BART would also make very hard for HSR to extend.

    Wow. So many slogans. So little information.

    Livermore is half ass because …

    CHOO CHOO! WANT CHOO CHOO IN SAN JOSE! CHOO!!!!

    very hard to find a viable right of way to get to San Jose or San Francisco

    Are you insane?
    CHSRA found many such viable routes.
    CHSRA deliberately ignored several others.
    SETEC outlined an extremely viable route.

    And the way to get to San José, the Capital of Silicon Valley? Take PBQD’s $10 billion BART line, just like in Big Grown Up City with a Subway. Suck it down, Silicon Valley Urban Sophisticates! Ride the empty subway line three whole stops to the ghost downtown!

    There are some unfriendly cities …

    Those cities were 100% bought and paid for by the SJ BART extension sleazebags. Now that that’s a done deal, they don’t matter in the slightest.

    (and the SF bay)
    Zero geological risk, fully explored route, zero technical risk, fully-proven.
    Fremont-Menlo Park is in fact the least risky or “unfriendly” section of the entire statewide HSR route. Just fire up a bigger brother of the TBMs which are at work, as I type, just a couple hundred metres away on a parallel tunnel, and off you go. No NIMBYs, no FRA, nothing unexpected, just drill baby drill.

    But you’re more interested in cornflake box slogans than objective fact.

    The existence of BART would also make very hard for HSR to extend.

    OK. So let’s assume, for the sake of cornflake box fact-based debating purposes, that this is the case.

    SO WHAT?

    Is the aim here to build CHOO CHOO CHOO CHOO CHOO CHOO or is it to provide something that’s good enough for actual humans to use to undertake actual human activities using actual dollars?

    If it’s “hard for HSR to extend” then maybe that’s because society determines that there are better things to spend money on than MORE CHOO CHOO.

    So, what’s the problem?

    Either it’s worth extending and we can decide that that needs to be done (rather than, say, funding the University of California system, or preserving state parks, or whatever other non-civil engineering frivolity people dream up), or “half assed” turns out to be GOOD ENOUGH.

    joe Reply:

    So kids, It’s either stop HSR in Livermore or we cut UC.
    Another strawman.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    So kids, It’s either stop HSR in Livermore or we cut UC.

    Dear Joe,

    Trains aren’t the highest priority in the universe.

    For that matter, neither is the UC system. I’d go for “higher tuition for MBAs” over, oh, say, “people bleeding to death in the street in front of my house”, for example.

    I never say HSR terminating Livermore was perfect or even desirable; I think that, like anything that involves the commonwealth, there are trade-offs that aren’t addressed by “WANT CHOO CHOO!” It’s debatable and ought to be subject to analysis and understanding.

    Enjoy the rest of your reading comprehension deficient day!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I think everybody here is missing the point that extending HSR from the CV to Livermore is fairly easy – not much tunneling, an area that’s not environmentally sensitive, no urban construction. Extending HSR to SJ via Pacheco is probably a little cheaper than extending it to RWC via a Dumbarton tunnel, but this cost difference in Phase 0.75 is pretty small, whereas that between Livermore and Gilroy+electrification in Phase 0.5* is large. The Phase 0.5 time difference is also substantial, whereas the Phase 0.75 time difference is trivial and probably works Altamont’s way.

    *Phase 0 is LA-CV.

    joe Reply:

    Reality Guys:
    Prop 1A passed.
    Pacheco Alignment was chosen.
    ARRA funds awarded.

    Richard’ shares his personal preferences, priorities and offers straw-man arguments.
    I did not know that Advocating for HSR means that makes HSR the highest propriety thing in my universe. Also, MBA’s pay more because people are bleeding to death. Gotta love that straw-man.

    Andy Chow Reply:

    I don’t agree that the Altamont Corridor is a slam dunk especially between Livermore and Redwood City. Pleasanton is pretty clear that they are more NIMBYish than the NIMBYist city on the Peninsula. I certainly cannot count on Fremont to change its attitude just because it got what it wants.

    The San Joaquin route is already the alignment that requires the least investment than any others. That route already has a BART connection with no new extensions. The stops in Emeryville and Oakland is much more desirable than Livermore. So if somehow we don’t believe that HSR is such of a priority, I think the improving the San Joaquin corridor is a more worthwhile proposition than spending a bunch of money to go Livermore but politically very difficult to extend further at any cost.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Andy, you’re missing a vast speed difference between HSR and San Joaquin. To be mean, let me point out that the Starlight connects LA and Oakland/Emeryville, and still gets approximately zero ridership.

    Clem Reply:

    Pleasanton? The best Altamont alignment doesn’t even go through Pleasanton. The SETEC alignment is a piece of cake (through rural, largely undeveloped land in utility corridors already blighted by high-voltage transmission towers) compared to PAMPA. It’s a greenfield alignment, so construction doesn’t need to tiptoe around existing operations. It also won’t suffer from a glut of slow commuter trains as Pacheco will, at least not until Redwood City. Fremont can be dealt with in a way that PAMPA cannot, a simple matter of money and political juice.

    The San Joaquin route is an abject disaster for trip times. HSR without the ‘H’.

    Andy Chow Reply:

    Without taking side over the Altamont vs. Pacheco debate, my basis is that use the San Joaquin corridor until a proper HSR connection to the Bay Area is funded. Altamont is OK as long as it gets over the Bay, not ending in Livermore. I don’t buy the concepts of going half ass to Livermore and that someday it will go to SF, and I don’t buy the idea that it is OK to have a system that can get closer to the city center but don’t, and rather depend on a feeder rail system that’s not designed to handle intercity ridership.

    Jonathan Reply:

    BART to Transbay??

    synonymouse Reply:

    If Ring the Bay were to materialize, BART would use its existing trackage into the City.

    But, as Clem has pointed out, hsr via Dumbarton could access the TBT. It is a very solid idea but I suggest San Jose would exercise its veto right over Altamont, already established by LA over Tejon.

    jim Reply:

    Once the connection to Palmdale is made, it would be possible to use Talgo trainsets with diesel locomotives to provide a single seat ride from LA to the Bay Area.

    No, it wouldn’t. They would not be able to use the tunnels through the Tehachapis, which will not be (expensively) built to accommodate diesels.

    Dual mode locomotives would be possible, but very heavy and thereby nullify the advantage of using light cars.

    Also, just because you can construct a one-seat ride doesn’t mean it will attract riders.

    The next step after the ICS will be an actual IOS with high speed trains running on it.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    One could haul an electric set with a diesel locomotive, then the weight of the diesel locomotive isn’t an issue in the electric portion.

    But you’d still prefer it to be all-electric to either SF or LA/US, since the additional demand in the higher speed segment would mean only some runs would be hauled by diesel the rest of the way the other direction.

    jim Reply:

    But then coupling and uncoupling it takes time.

    TANSTAAFL!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They can do it while they are unloading and loading the baggage onto the baggage car and restocking the diner’s ice and Presto logs.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    In fact, Talgo is converting some sets in Spain to bi-mode. However, it comes at a price; the two cars behind the power units (locomotives) are converted to hold a diesel engine each, feeding the locomotive. Such a setup would be possible, and switching over from power mode might even be possible while moving (on a much smaller scale, this has been done for a many years by the SBB with small switchers).

    These Talgo trains are intended to provide direct connections from the high speed network to places which can not be reached otherwise, and where electrification is considered to be not economically feasible.

    jimsf Reply:

    and changing the linens in the sleepers.

    Andy M. Reply:

    It’s also been done since the 1960s on British Rail with their class 73 and 74 electro-diesels. Officially designed to work freight onto non-electrified spur tracks and short connecting lines, in reality the feature saw more use in passenger service. The third rail system is designed for long multiple unit trains so that even when the third rail is interrupted due to level crossings, turnouts etc, some pickup somewhere on the train will still have contact to the juice rail and the train can never really get stranded without juice. With a short locomotive that wasn’t the case and sometimes you would hear the diesel spring to life while the train was rolling at slow speed, presumably due to a brief loss of power. On the London Victoria to Dover Eastern Docks boat trains they had battery motor vans that fulfilled the same purpose.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    It’s interesting to note that with all this discussion on dual-power locomotives, no one has mentioned that this seems to have been pioneered in the US back in the 1950s:

    http://www.american-rails.com/emd-fl9.html

    http://www.amherstrail.org/images/WayneKochPhotos/FL9M-Stamford-Lower-Yard1.jpg

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mDuSWDTU8Dg

    thatbruce Reply:

    or earlier.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    That just increases the likelihood that we get Merced to Palmdale with connections leaving daily…

    thatbruce Reply:

    Dual mode locomotives would be possible, but very heavy and thereby nullify the advantage of using light cars.

    I love comments like this.

    In FRA land, there are the dual-mode ALP-45DPs, weighing in at 131t, 32.66t/axle. A little bit on the heavy side, but everything is in FRA land.

    In non-FRA land, there are lighter versions, such as the Bombardier TRAXX series, weighing in between 80-88t depending on model and a 14t axle load.

    Waivers permitting, most of these beasties would be suitable for operating through steep electrified tunnels, and hauling the train to its final destination in non-electrified territory.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    A little bit on the heavy side, but everything is in FRA land.

    Yes. But then things in FRA land are bigger. Fooling around with specifications found on Wikipedia TGV cars are 65 feet long. Standard North American passenger car is 85 feet long. A TGV car is 15 inches narrower. Or more horsepower/kilowatts are going to weigh more
    DBAG Class 145 and 146 ( TRAXX P160 AC ) are 82 tonnes. ALP46As are 92 tonnes.
    DBAG Class 145 and 146 develop 4.2 megawatts at the wheels. ALP46As develop 5.2.
    So the DBAG locomotives 19.5 tonnes per megawatt and the ALP46As are 17.7.
    ALP45DPs are more or less an ALP46A with a generator, diesel engine and fuel tank, that’s gonna add a bit of weight….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The TRAXX has 5.6 MW under high-voltage catenary.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Which of the 437 versions and how much does it weigh?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The standard one, and 80-88. The FRA penalty for medium-weight locos isn’t that great – it was 4.5 tons for the ALP-46. The really high penalties come from Tier II rules (TGV -> Acela) or from lightweight frames.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There is no standard one, each railroad specs out what they need.

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

    NJTransit spec’d theirs to haul around 12 multilevels at 125MPH and keep all 2000 passengers comfortable when the temperature outside is -10 or 105. And do whether the catenary is feeding 25Hz or 60Hz.
    None of the four tonnes ( 92 – 88 ) has to do with that, it’s all evil FRA skulduggery in cahoots with the freight railroads, Koch brothers and the Trilateral Commission to undermine Agenda 21.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You know they actually studied the issue and concluded there’s a 4-ton penalty, right? (See link here)

    The TRAXX is specced to provide a certain amount of power (the same as the ALP-46A, marginally more than the ALP-46), and to be quadri-voltage; none of the four standard voltages is 12 kV 25 Hz, but it already can do voltages down to 1.5 kV and AC frequency down to 16.7 Hz, which means 12 kV 25 Hz is a trivial modification. It’s also specced to be usable in all European climates, from Denmark and perhaps Sweden to Italy and Spain. New Jersey isn’t Russia; it doesn’t need special climate modifications.

    Jonathan Reply:

    innumeracy? TRAXX have four axles, 80-88 tonne divided by four is not less than 20-tonne axle load.

    Perhaps you’re thinking of the Siemens EuroSprinter, which has been built in a Co’Co’ configuration. But then you’re out the hybrid setup. Vectrons are available in diesel, but AFAIK haven’t ever been designed as a hybrid version.

    @adirondacker: don’t compare to a TGV, compare to an ICE-2, or a Velaro Sapsan (Russian loading-gauge, wider yet than US).

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Jonathan:

    The 80/6 vs the proper 80/4 was my mistake. I’m not sure which page I was looking at for a Co’Co’ arrangement.

    jimsf Reply:

    Yes that makes sense. you are correct!

  7. Reedman
    Mar 19th, 2012 at 10:00
    #7

    BART-to-Berryessa/San Jose is now funded and construction is scheduled to start in a few months. If CAHSR made a decision and commitment, then BART from Berryessa/San Jose to Downtown San Jose would be an easy decision. And we are talking about “BART BART” here, not eBART. A reminder: San Jose is the tenth largest city in the USA. bigger than Denver, bigger than Boston, bigger than Detroit, bigger than San Francisco, bigger than Sacramento.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    A reminder: San Francisco daytime population is bigger (~1m). San Jose is economic “importance” is that of a bedroom community: its daytime population actually shrinks by 50,000. Boston’s daytime population, BTW, is comparable to that of San Jose — but in a considerably more compact area.

    jimsf Reply:

    But in the bay area, with our regions, you have sf, you have oakland as the capitol of the eastbay and san jose as the capitol of the south bay- which includes all of santa clara county, southern alameda county, and santa cruz county. so having an hsr station there, one thats on the mainline, makes sense.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Hilarious. If Santa Cruz — in a whole other county — gets counted then a similar radius needs to be drawn around an East Bay alignment for apples-apples comparison. That only makes the comparison much worse for Pacheco.

    jimsf Reply:

    not hilarious. santa cruz county is connected by the hip economically to santa clara county. its santa clara county’s bed room community.

    joe Reply:

    and Gilroy is the historical gateway (i.e. for years it’s been the main driving/land route) from So Cal to the Monterey Peninsula which sees ~4 M visitors per year.

    Joey Reply:

    4m isn’t that much given that there will never be any useful direct connection.

    joe Reply:

    There are useful direct connections now.

    There are daily buses running to/from Monetery Transit Center and Gilroy Caltrain which is also the VTA center for local, regional and express VTA buses.

    Bus service like the Marin Airporter/SFO is quite feasible and could be done in cooperation with Montery Co’s 4-5 star hotels.

    And there already are proposed extensions of passenger rail service continuing down the UP tracks to Monterey County.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Monterey county is working to fund Caltrain down to Salinas, and connect their Monterey peninsula light rail to it. These plans can be expanded and modified, and shuttles are always possible. So even without a direct connection we can still serve a share of those 4m visitors.

    jimsf Reply:

    that means statewide tourists who are tryihng to see as much as possible, can get from both sf down to the central coast, and from socal, up to the central coast, via a quick hsr trip that allows them to squeeze more into their stay in california.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Gilroy-Salinas is too circuitous to be competitive. Send the entire FRA to early retirement, ease some curves, tell UP the line is now passenger-primary, and drop GTWs on the line, and it still won’t come close to beating the highways.

    joe Reply:

    Exit at Castroville, “The Artichoke Capital of the World” if you limit the rail to the UP ROW.
    It still crosses the Elkhorn Sough and bypasses the 101/156 grid-lock.
    http://www.bayrailalliance.org/salinas_monterey_rail

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s 34 minutes on 101 vs. about 55 under best rail industry practices. Salinas is not LA and Gilroy is not Long Beach; there’s traffic, but not enough to make trains competitive with buses.

    Eventually, if there’s explosive growth in that region, it’ll start to make sense to cut off the line and railstitute 101. Not now. Start from the lines that would get a lot of ridership (i.e. the expensive urban rapid transit tunnels in New York and Los Angeles), and then work your way up the cost-per-rider chart. Do it right for 20 years and things will change. The economics of building a greenfield commuter line in a region with 7% transit mode share is not the same as that of building one in a region with 50% transit mode share.

    Joey Reply:

    Take a look at the population of Santa Cruz County. Now take a look at the population of SV. Now take a look at the population of the East Bay. Now reconsider…

    jimsf Reply:

    its irrelevant to discuss because the decision has already been made and isn’t going to change.

    jimsf Reply:

    and there is already a upgraded corridor planned for altamont.

    Everyone from livermore west will already have access to the rest of the bay via bart.
    southern alameda will access the san jose hsr station
    oakland/berkely/richmond will access hsr at sf.
    walnut creek pleasonton and livermore will access hsr via the altamont overlay

    the south bay, santa cruz co monterey co and san benito co will access hsr via aj and gilroy. While you may say that san benito co is not very relevant, its valid to point out that pacheco brings hsr access to folks who have no other options – it brings hsr to more regions, altamont would bring hse to a region that will laready have access to it via other locations as well as the overlay. using pecheco plus overlay gives us a much larger system and more coverage when all is said and done.

    using altamont population to short change hsr in the long run for a quick fix is short sighted.
    Not only is is short sighted but ending hsr at livermore bart…. will delay getting it into sf for another decade as nimby fights, and environmental fights ensue in the eastbay and dumbarton and eastern part of menlo park.

    it doesn’t accomplish anything.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    jimsf makes a good point — intermediate steps are only useful if they lead to somewhere. There is no clear route through Altamont into SF. The NIMBYs in Livermore, Pleasanton and Fremont are as vocal as those on the peninsula. Crossing the Bay via the Don Edwards Wildlife Refuge will be subject to so many lawsuits it may well be impossible, and any new bay crossing would cost $billions. TBT and Diridon are regional hubs. The selected route with the Altamont overlay is a good solution.

    The Altamont overlay could be upgraded to full HSR eventually if it can get to a destination other than the freeway by Livermore. Were Altamont proponents thinking it would follow ACE to San Jose?

    joe Reply:

    I know fiscal scolds tell us every railway tie we lay means a bleeding person is left cared and kid goes uneducated. But building Pacheco doesn’t preclude Altamont service.

    I don’t know the costs and barriers for the East bay alignment – neither do they and that’s the problem. When faced with these risks the “normal project management practice” is to pad the schedule budget – Oh nos – and costs inflate as these risks materialize and are mitigated with $ and time.

    For those reasons we have to make compromises and despite deciding to build HSR – we have to debate and stop and debate and stop again and again until we pick the right solution and compromise. That means we have to pick their preferred alignment and compromises. Building Pacheco and improving altmont service isn’t part of their vocublary.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They’re crossing the Bay via the same wildlife refuge, now, for a water tunnel.

    And the Altamont overlay can’t be upgraded to anything useful unless Yog-Sothoth comes back to Earth and abolishes the centrifugal force. But then humanity would have bigger things to worry about than trains.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Yeah, good luck with that national wildlife refuge water tunnel, “that dog won’t hunt”. Menlo Park and Atherton residents and the Sierra Club will happily point that out and sue even if Livermore, Pleasanton, Fremont and Newark somehow do not. Everyone here knows this, so I have to wonder what the Altamont proponents’ real objective is.

    Their argument would be a lot more credible if they clarified a credible endpoint. Right now it really sounds like they want to end a HSR line in middle of 580 in Livermore. If they say they want to follow ACE to San Jose, then they get to fight all the NIMBYs everywhere and they eliminate any supposed time savings to SF.

    Probably they will soon suggest building a new bridge across the widest part of the bay, Feinstein’s old ‘Southern Crossing’ from the I-380 stub to I-238. They can look forward to PB’s partnership in building projects of the scale of the $6B+ Bay Bridge new eastern span.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    … the Sierra Club will happily point that out and sue … so I have to wonder what the Altamont proponents’ real objective is.

    Are you stupid, or just pretending?

    The Sierra Club — at chapter and at state levels — endorsed Altamont over Pacheco.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    FYI Richard, your constant use of ad hominem attacks causes people to tune out whatever point you’re wanting to make

  8. D. P. Lubic
    Mar 19th, 2012 at 18:45
    #8

    Off topic, and it’s the competition to boot, but here is a page from an electric car site with a “commercial” made by an electric car owner. This home-made ad is cool, and the site questions how good the Madison Avenue people really are anymore:

    http://www.pluginamerica.org/drivers-seat/if-you-cant-plug-your-car

  9. Useless
    Mar 21st, 2012 at 10:31
    #9

    HEMU-430X(Renamed from HEMU-400X to indicate its increased design speed to 430 km/hr) prototype’s roll-out, will enter the 4-year long testing in the summer. As usual, the legendary UIC train with a Shinkansen-like axle load, with the revenue service speed target of 370 km/hr.

    http://i41.tinypic.com/ojimh1.jpg

    Joey Reply:

    Cool, but everything I’ve seen says that steel-wheel-on-steel-rail rapidly becomes economically useless after about 320. Unless they have figured out how to make massive leaps in energy efficiency at high speeds…

    Useless Reply:

    @ Joey

    The low axle weight is the key. Low axle weight reduces the wear and tear to a manageable level, and this is why they went an extra-length to achieve a Shinkansen-level axle load in a UIC train.

  10. Neil Shea
    Mar 21st, 2012 at 11:36
    #10

    Only tangentially on topic: Palo Alto did a Rail Corridor study which they are presenting in a community meeting next Thursday 3/29 http://www.paloaltorailcorridor.org/

    I didn’t notice if someone posted this earlier. But the conclusions rather rational:
    – Caltrain & the rail corridor is important and used
    – Caltrain, Alma Street & El Camino form a big barrier to connecting the city East-West. More and better connections across the corridor are needed for peds, bikes and cars
    – Grade separations would make for the best connections across the corridor

    They considered at a high level the alternatives for a trench the length of the city vs. no change to the tracks, as two cases that proxy for all vs. no new separations.

    To me this seems very practical that the community acknowledges the importance of the corridor and their desire for grade seps. Next step might be to realize that they (we, I live there) would have to contribute $$$ if we want the gold plated approach of a full length trench. Given this, the old CHSRA alternative B of an elevated track south of Oregon Expwy and a trench north of there is a pretty reasonable starting point of discussion — if they are offering funds to trench half our city we should say yes and proceed, maybe we can revisit the south half of town later.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I believe you will discover that PB will do everything in their power to depict trenching as not feasible. In their heart of hearts they are committed to aerials and in the immortal words of Junior Soprano they are “slippery f***s” . Good luck.

    J. Wong Reply:

    So how did BART get trenched from Colma to Millbrae?

    synonymouse Reply:

    PB is famously taken with aerials so there must have been an overriding technical need for the trench.

    The point is not that trenching in PAMPA cannot be accomplished but that is not what PB wants to do. You are talking on an “entrenched” bias bolstered by PB’s notoriously immense corporate hubris. Only equalled by its greed.

    Jon Reply:

    An aerial was one of the alternatives in the draft EIR for BART to SFO, so it must have been technically feasible. I don’t know why the trench was selected in the final EIR, I would guess that it was the result of NIMBY pressure and PB’s desire to maximize cost. Likewise I’m sure PB/HNTB would not hesitate to trench the peninsula if funding was available.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Hey, we know trenching costs more than aerial. Alternative B includes both. My point is that, if allowed, my town ought to try to say yes to the trench in the north half of town and defer a decision on the south half, later accepting an aerial or helping to find the incremental costs.

    joe Reply:

    Neil

    I lived in MtV’s Monta Loma and found it difficult to bike and walk places (like Stanford) because of the track and Alma’s tight roads.

    One gem was the Rail/Alma St underpass at what is now the San Antonio Caltrain Station. It was a underpass to the Old Mill Shopping Center and Theaters. These underpasses improve the walk-ability of a neighborhood and encourage bike riding.

    A key for HSR advocates in PA is to encourage residents to design walk/bike underpasses and routes to connect neighborhoods and get kids out of cars and biking to school and also encourage within town shopping along the El Camino commercial ROW. In short, it can boost property values and quality of life.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Yes. As residents talk about what kind of access and circulation they want in their town for pedestrians, bikes and cars, they may find increasing shared objectives with statewide efforts to improve the corrido both for more frequent trains and for easier, safer access across the corridor.

    Next step we’ll realize that electrified trains are quieter, faster and cleaner than what we have today. Finally we’ll realize that making common ground with CA HSR to gain more federal, state and private funding will be a win-win. (See, I’m always an optimist ;)

Comments are closed.