California Wasn’t Built By Wimps

Apr 14th, 2012 | Posted by

I love, love, love this video from the California Alliance for Jobs. California is a state that builds things and innovates things. It’s not a state that quits or gives up. That’s true of high speed rail just as it was true for the last 100 years.

  1. synonymouse
    Apr 14th, 2012 at 09:09

    Disney was a private entrepreneur. Turn hsr planning over to a private party and you will get something radically different from Roundabout Stilt-A-Rail, value-engineered or on steroids.

    joe Reply:

    Disney just spanked Orange County. Now HSR Phase 1 will reach Anaheim.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Phase I is required by law to reach Anaheim. It is not complete until such time as that happens. I see no “spanking” of OC given that they have not changed any of their positions (including withholding signing the MOU until such time as the revised business plan was out). As it is, they did pass a resolution supporting the blended approach last month.

    joe Reply:

    Sure, tell yourself that.

    The OCTA in Nov 2011 was threatening to issue a vote of no-confidence for the entire project.

    OC and OCTA were publicly agreeing it would okay to not have the project reach Anaheim in a single seat.

    NO lawyer, lawsuit or threat changed the CAHSRA – Business interests in Anaheim and OC realized the project was NOT reaching Anaheim and got involved.

    It was hilarious to see the CAHSRA tool the OCTA and opponents. Give the OC clowns what they want and watch the adults intervene.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Sure, tell yourself that.

    The OCTA in Nov 2011 was threatening to issue a vote of no-confidence for the entire project.

    Because the plan sucked ass. It was a horrible abortion of a plan and every decent commentator who actually gives a damn about decent rail service instead of being a half-witted cheerleader for the Authority recognized that. The Authority starts making changes to get rid of some of the more idiotic bits and lo and behold, OCTA is more supporting than they previously were.

    joe Reply:

    The plan sucked ass

    Thank you for the constructive criticism.

    Spokker Reply:

    The plan literally grew a mouth and siphoned the fecal matter out of synonmymouses’ asshole lips.

    That being said, the OCTA gets a bad rap for its approach to bus transit, but they have been heavily involved in Metrolink. I think they are focusing on Metrolink for all its regional transportation needs, and are putting all of its transportation eggs in one basket, but it’s better than ignoring Metrolink.

    Clearly, I’m conflicted.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I think OCTA is interested in focusing on the Metrolink SPINE for all its regional needs:

    For example: you have a large number of commuters that work in Orange County but live in the Inland Empire that ride Metrolink. But the majority of people working into downtown LA that come from the OC obviously take the mainline route instead.

    It’s not coincidence that the Inland Empire – OC line merges with the mainline just south of where ARTIC would be. The County wants to only build mass transit connections to keep jobs in, not let them out.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    On the 2035 LRTP, the additional Metrolink services are along the Orange Metrolink line between Fullerton and Laguna Hills.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Page 48 of the LRTP indicates that upgrades are planned for all three routes, with an attempt to expand (StationLink) buses which currently don’t serve any mainline station north of Anaheim….

    What you are missing is that a major beneficiary of the HSR plan is B(uffet)NSF… would could use the grade separation to run it’s freight traffic much more efficiently than using the Alameda Corridor East now that the UP has allowed the Colton Crossing overpass to be built.

    Page 34 is more instructive, it shows you where the planned job density is for 2035.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I was looking at the map of the “Metrolink Service Expansion Program Additional Service” ~ that is billed as where there is supposed to be frequency upgrades outside of just commuter hours.

    And, yes, Page 34 explains what the new Placentia station show on Page 42 is supposed to be for.

    I’m not following which freight route you are discussing when you describe “the grade separation” ~ the original Redondo / Fullerton mixed use plan put two passenger only tracks in a viaduct above the at grade 3 track freight / Amtrak / Metrolink 91 corridor, to put five tracks where there is space for four … and I’d thought the three track freight corridor is to be grade separated as part of the three track project. That is of course on an alignment to Riverside and points East, but the benefit to BNSF there would be getting the 3 track program grade separations justified, in part, by the passenger rail traffic, and then shifting some of that passenger traffic out of the way. There’d be no extra grade separations along that part of the corridor due to the mixed use two track passenger viaduct.

    I was not aware that the Fullerton to Anaheim portion was a heavy rail freight corridor ~ wasn’t that the one that was the one that was going to get grade separations from HSR?

    jimsf Reply:

    speaking of metrolink, after checking out their website Im suprised at just how much service there is. I don’t think most people realize the socal has such and extensive rail system. The only thing disappointing looks like no late night service and the fact there is no service anywhere west of the I – 5. I’m espeically bummed about the fact that Long Beach, which is a pretty large and major part of the region having no service at all. I would have liked to have seen long beach inculded in HSR as well.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Bruce and Jim,

    You are both hitting on opposite sides of the same issue. In the 1990s, Steve Soboroff teamed up with some investors to grade separate a rail line that ran from Redondo Junction to the Port of Los Angeles and called it the Alameda Corridor. The idea was to reduce emissions from port traffic by building a “land port” in downtown L.A. which has better national transit connections than the port.

    One catch, because of the cost it added, Wal Mart essentially rebelled and devised a completely separate strategy to shift all of its shipping to a just-in-time model using trucks that wholly overwhelmed the freeway system and put the Corridor’s business model in jeopardy.

    So as a result, the UP and BNSF came to a truce and finally designed a built an overpass in Colton that otherwise it s a huge bottleneck for transcontinental traffic. And, Soboroff also got additional financing to extend Alameda Corridor east. But this became a rival project to HSR and Metrolink because of the need for grade separation.

    Now that Warren Buffett bought BNSF however, he obviously want to hedge his bets in case the situation goes down hill. If you grade separate LA to Fullerton for HSR (and for that matter Metrolink and freight) that a major coup for them.

    I would be surprised if we see a sort of Bay Area like solution in the offing with Metro effectively taking over Metrolink and other fixed guideway services and then spinning off bus and street car service to local jurisdictions.

    jimsf Reply:

    That trench corridor thing… thats alameda? Is there anything – politics aside – that would preclude building passenger rail on top of it? what about the concrete river, not sure if thats la river or a different one, that runs down through long beach…. seems it could be used. the thing is the blue line, is only good for downtown long beach to down town la. and it takes way too long. but getting from long beach to anything along the 405 corridors to the north or south east is missing. Its on my mind because I have a good friend who lives in long beach and swears by long beach airport and jet blue and he poo poohs hsr. And hes right since getting from long beach to sf via hsr would require a freeway trip all the way to ANA. there are no trains linking the long beach or west of 405 area to the OC either.

    VBobier Reply:

    @ jimsf you would not want to build in the Los Angeles River, It’s a concrete flood control channel when the rains come and then the river rises fairly rapidly. I should know as I lived near it until the late 80’s. As to the Trench putting passenger rail above It, mainly potential nimbys, could the 405 be modified for trains? Maybe, but most likely it wouldn’t be cheap, but if elevated carpool lanes were to be put in like on the 110, so could rail, although rail & 2 carpool lanes would possibly be wide, or rail could be built by itself on an elevated platform like above the 110 car pool lanes are. It all just takes money and building infrastructure is not something private enterprise has shown much interest in doing in this country where there is a competing right of way like an Interstate Highway, so it’s government money or nothing gets built.

    jimsf Reply:

    well no i wouldnt build in the river, but on the edges or over the top on an elevated mabye – just seems like its a nice wide peice of infrastructure that can overlayed. I mean considering how many people manage to somehow slip into that thing and get washed out to catalina every year maybe they should cover it!

    Tom McNamara Reply:


    As Mssr. Bobier points out, using the rivers in LA County is not feasible. The flood control element is absolutely necessary.

    The real solution is to BART-ify Metrolink/Metro light rail to make it able to connect much more quickly than it currently does. That’s where this whole electrification melodrama is coming from. Hell BART itself even secretly wants CalTrain electrified to lower its costs for Ring-the-Bay…

    jimsf Reply:

    well who knows maybe an hsr phase three will include a future 405 line from sylmar to irvine! ( (but i’d want to see the marysville yuba city chico redding line first)

    VBobier Reply:

    @ jimsf Also the edge of the LA river is largely a bike path that people use in good weather, in some parts there are settling basins here and there, high tension lines, you name it, It’s obstruction central, Oh sure the lines can be rerouted. Also the concrete is just a cover, it’s a man made embankment, so it’s not really more than fill with concrete on top, so building there probably would work, but only If one has the money to do so, nothing is impossible as long as there’s a bike path of course, people like that.

    jimsf Reply:

    Also the edge of the LA river is largely a bike path that people use in good weather, in some parts there are settling basins here and there

    oh my, well, up north weve always known that angelinos have different ideas about natural beauty.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    It’s interesting to note there are some environmental types who are trying to restore the Los Angeles River to something like a natural state:

    I’m not certain they would like the idea of the banks being used for a rail corridor.

    Peter Reply:

    @ D.P. Lubic

    We’ve had a couple discussions about the LA River in the past:

    Peter Reply:

    It’s interesting to go back to those discussions from a couple years ago and see that synonymouse’s comments have been essentially unchanged this entire time.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Spokker, thanx for the high colonic.

    Tried a speed read of the engineering report on Tejon(I-5) that Richard linked yesterday. Lot of boiler plate and environmental crap and the graphics were not easy for me to interpret, but the gist I got was that they had to lay strictly off the Bear Trap Canyon route due to Tejon Ranch opposition and that they are deathly afraid of a tunnel thru a fault.

    But the over-weaning message that was conveyed to me was somewhat different and new to my thinking. It is clear that most everybody of any import in that area north of LA doesn’t like the idea of hsr and doesn’t want it anywhere near them. Railfans forget that most people consider railroads a heavy industrial use and not something they want to be around. Something equivalent to a steel plant or a freeway.

    Apart from the consultant-contractor-labor complex I suggest there is very little support of substance for hsr amongst the general population. Even the seemingly gung-ho pols don’t have a clue about the issues surrounding hsr to the point that the opponents have actually learned more about it in the process of looking for arguments against it. The political support for hsr is strictly of the most superficial bandwagon variety. The only “in” these pols are interested “in” is staying “in” office and their friends staying “in” the money. They really don’t give a damn how well hsr functions or even if it works at all because the only time they will
    ride it is a set for a photo-op.

    I really have gotten dumb in old age. First I voted for Prop 1A just to see some cantenary hung. Hardly a very sound reason but it seemed good enough at the time. And then I was convinced to the point of obsession that the reason they have been pimping Palmdale instead of Tejon was due to demands coming from LA. But now I recognize LA’s involvement is peripheral – Palmdale will get its commute service with or without hsr.

    The real reason Tejon and particulary the Bear Trap Canyon is verboten territory is that the residents and interests in that area north of LA hate hsr and oppose the punch-thru on an order of magntude ten times greater than the reviled nimbys of PAMPA dislike aerials. The uber-nimbys of Tejon consider hsr a huge blight that cannot be mitigated under any circumstances, including extensive tunnels. So they conspired to dump the hsr on the most ghetto part of their region, which is already tainted by the ancient UP Loop line.

    I was so pissed at the notion that Palmdale was being unfairly rewarded with the hsr routing, but now I realize that as a result of its being the most disadvantaged and rundown available it is being punished as the last and least resort and they are dumping the unwanted hsr on them. It just has not dawned on them yet.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Syn, think about this–if this routing is as you think it is, that it is from old dumb rich guys who think the 1950s and the auto culture are the pinnacle of the American dream, then think about how this could backfire.

    I know you think the routing should be different, but there have also been compelling arguments from the other side, that this is a way to connect the bulk of the population centers of California together. Some of those population centers have been struggling for a variety of reasons over the years. It’s also my understanding that the actual times between the two major routes are not that different, although as you mention, there is a larger initial cost, and possible operational complications as well among them the necessity of pushing the envelope of train performance and the attendant requirements for really well maintained track).

    Still, in spite of that, there is a possibility that this seemingly second-class option may be the better one, because of the additional traffic potential from mid-point locations.

    If that’s the case, then the people who fought against HSR and succeeded in keeping it away may well live to see the day when there property will no longer increase in value, or may even lose value, because it’s not readily accessible to a modern, oil-free transportation service.

    As you may know, this happened before, in the east; towns that were bypassed by rail either stagnated or died. In fact, one such town is only five miles from my home–the town of Middleway, W.Va. To look at it today, it seems a miracle of preservation from the period prior to 1840. It is that because the residents of the town fought to keep the B&O away in that time.

    The railroad was rerouted north; the town stopped growing, and is what it is today.

    It’s a jewel in a way, but I have noted it still has a number of vacant structures, some of which have been empty for years, and there is nothing in the way of employment opportunities there at all, not even a grocery store or a beauty salon. The place doesn’t even have a post office.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ D.P.

    We’ll get back the San Francisco Chief at least. I think they will have to cut back their top speeds due to operating deficits and consequent limits on maintenance expenditures.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Operating deficits? Maybe, and maybe not. We’ve had discussions on this before (but they’ve been so far back I’m afraid I’m not the one to look them up), about how much speed we would actually need.

    Amtrak has supposedly managed to get operating surpluses out of trains that are much slower than HSR, and not even in the NEC. I’m thinking of the new services to Lynchburg, Va., which aren’t much faster than 60 mph in average speed, but they are still faster than driving–Lynchburg, for some reason, was never really adequately tied into the Interstate system. Basically, all you have to do is be faster than driving, and you have the potential to generate operating surpluses, at least in the right territory.

    Now, this may call into question the whole business of a new dedicated railroad and its enormous capital costs, even without your hated “Stilt-O-Rail,” but it shouldn’t have the operating deficits you fear. Why would they be there? This operation will be faster than driving. This route you have doubts about will also have a larger passenger collection area and greater patronage as a result. That should help the bottom line.

    You could be right about the route selection not necessarily being the best for what you want to see, but this alternative may not be as bad as you see, either.

    The main problem is what you pointed out, about possibly having to reduce top speeds, and possibly overall speed, to where the railroad can not meet the legal demand of a 2:40 running time. This doesn’t mean the road won’t have surpluses, it doesn’t mean the operation won’t have adequate patronage, but one would have to ask, what do you do with something that’s a success, but not enough of one to meet a statutory requirement?

    An interesting legal question, wouldn’t you agree?

    jimsf Reply:

    Palmdale was being unfairly rewarded with the hsr routing, but now I realize that as a result of its being the most disadvantaged and rundown available it is being punished as the last and least resort and they are dumping the unwanted hsr on them. It just has not dawned on them yet.

    yes poor palmdale. Whatever will the downtrodden folk of the antelope valley do with all that prime high speed, mostly 90 mintues or less access to every major economic region of the state!

    joe Reply:

    And Las Vegas. If Desert Express is realized, that system will link to CA at or near Palmdale.

    James in PA Reply:

    Palmdale DX Station at the point where all three tracks are close.,-118.03299&spn=0.205069,0.329933

    synonymouse Reply:

    Palmdale – it will lose whatever of rural it once had and become an outer-ring suburb aka a far-flung slum. The fringe that is the first to hit the crapper when the economy dumps. Land of crack and crank, foreclosures ornamented with wafer board windows, trashed-out trailers and gang-bangers and bikers.

    Meantime the Chandlers and cronies will be sampling caviar and waiting to tee off at their Bear Trap Canyon redoubt, worlds away from the Palmdale ghetto.

    jimsf Reply:

    I’m sure the people palmdale would tell you to go f yourself when referring to their city as a ghetto and I’m sure that in a state of 37 million people, your opinion of palmdale is meaningless.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is not my opinion that counts but that of the Ritchie Rich movers and shakers of the Tejon region who see Palmdale as the dump they can foist the hated hsr on instead of their precious Bear Trap Canyon.

    The richies are immune to the CHSRA’s environmental greenspin because they are used to being the ones to dish out the pr bs, not taking it. They see a railroad line as a nuisance to be relegated to the poor back side of town.

    Been down so long it looks like up to me. Dazed and confused. That’s Palmdale – get ready for some serious hollow-core and that good ol’ BART howl, hiss and screech.

    jimsf Reply:

    so what. nothing youre saying has anything to do with anything.

    tejon doesn’t want hsr, fine they arent getting it. palmdale wants it, great they are getting it.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Syn, I know you think BART’s bridge design tends to be noiser (and much of that was attempting to build a transit system with structures, and cars, as light as possible), but it seems likely to me that between the speed and larger, heavier equipment (even if light by North American standards) that the bridges may be of more traditional, more solid design. If that’s the case, that could take care of the noise problem, or at least a good part of it.

    Screeching? That sounds like flange noise, which you normally get from curvature. The high speed nature of this thing will require much more generous curvature than anything on BART (except for terminal facilities), so that should take care of a lot of noise impacts, too.

    The big questions that remain are patronage (can they get the passengers?), and initial cost (a big investment no matter which route you use, a potentially bigger investment if this route goes all “loopy” as you see it). Both are legitimate concerns, and I won’t try to argue against them (although I admit to being leery of a base tunnel through multiple earthquake faults myself–and that won’t come cheap, either).

    I’m actually fairly confident that the patronage will be there–we’re already seeing it with dinosaur Amtrak, and that’s far from the best we can do. What I think we may see is just what I mentioned before–that the old, rich white guys will live to see the errors of their opposition, or if not them, then their children or grandchildren.

    Would that be a bad thing?

    I know you don’t believe this, but at the same time, I bet you would love to be wrong for once.

    Take care, and I hope you have a good day.

    P.S.: Steam train season is coming up; Dr. D.P. is going to prescribe some rides to pep up your spirits. Hey, all of us need things like that once in a while.

    Take care.

    synonymouse Reply:

    A correct opinion has value in and of itself because it empowers the holder with understanding; an incorrect has value when it is held by people powerful enough to impose it no matter how wrong it is.

    It is not yours truly who is getting a good effing here but the residents of Palmdale.

    The class theory that the rich are superior and smarter than the poor is being played out in Palmdale. Since the Chandlers have imposed an immutable embargo on the Bear Trap Canyon route that means that Palmdale has a total monopoly now. Now the rich have the smarts and the stones to exploit a monopoly to the max but the ordinary people are like eunuchs. Palmdale has Jerry Brown, PB, the CHSRA absolutely and tightly by the balls. They now have to go thru Palmdale to build their stinking(in the Chandlers’ opinion)hsr.

    They have a perfect opportunity to shake down the CHSRA for pretty much anything they want. Palmdale can shut down the whole project by threatening to hire some Gloria Allreds. Palmdale can demand every kind of improvement, mitigation, gold-plating imaginable because the CHSRA has backed itself into a corner.

    The fact they won’t take the CHSRA to the cleaners, the way a rich burg would, just shows they are losers. Whatever you can get away with, that’s the American Way. The Chandlers are getting away with murder, so should Palmdale if they have any sense.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It was a horrible abortion of a plan and every decent commentator who actually gives a damn about decent rail service instead of being a half-witted cheerleader for the Authority recognized that.

    Step back and look at the absurd dichotomy in this: everyone either thinks that the prior draft 2012 Business Plan was a “horrible abortion” of a plan, or is an uncritical cheerleader.

    There is no room here for critics of the plan who saw bad parts and good parts. There is no room for critics of the plan who saw it as something that could be substantially improved but was, at any rate, not as bad as the alternative of building road and airport infrastructure that could well be white elephants within a decade of completion.

    In terms of emotional over the top hyperbole, its heading toward the foam at the mouth territory so often occupied by our chief foamer, RM.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    There is no room for critics of the plan who saw it as something that could be substantially improved but was, at any rate, not as bad as the alternative of building road and airport infrastructure that could well be white elephants within a decade of completion.

    I stand before you with two sandwiches. One is a shit sandwich. The other is a shit sandwich of dysentery. The first is objectively better than the second, but, you would admit, neither is a terribly good idea, and you’d be better off with neither.

    As for the road and airport infrastructure, there’s a reason that the plan never actually names what specific alternatives would be required: It doesn’t preempt anything. Larger airplanes with greater passenger capacities solve the air infrastructure requirements and the road infrastructure that might be preempted is 1) geared towards commuters rather than intercity and 2) is located along Phase II routes which means that, given that they will be decades away, will not be preempted.

    Oh, and if oil prices have risen to the point of air travel being so diminished as to make airport infrastructure white elephants, the economy has crashed so ridiculously hard that nobody is going to be taking the train.

    Now, you might suggest the proposals to turn SR-99 into I-9 at a cost of 16-19 billion dollars would be a preempted road infrastructure spending. It very well might be. However, I suggest that, with 28% of traffic being truck traffic, and 22% of all traffic being five axle trucks, (as of 2002), preemption could be accomplished easier, more quickly, cheaper, and with far greater air quality and safety benefits by upgrading freight rail and encouraging diversion from truck to rail.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You mean like grade separating the arrow straight railroad ROW right next to 99? Nah, can’t do that. UP might not like it.

    VBobier Reply:

    Larger aircraft need longer and wider runways, bugger terminals, taxi ways, none of this free, it all costs money, if the engines are noisier than the present largest aircraft then neighbors will need to be compensated somehow with money and/or improvements to structures(sound proofing). All this costs Government $$$$, Airlines won’t pay the costs all by themselves to do any construction, as it’s not cheap.

    VBobier Reply:

    should be “bigger terminals”.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Though in Ozzie, both spellings would work. Horrible buggers they are.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    All of that is already in place for the intercontinental flights, there’s no added infrastructure necessary.

    Wdobner Reply:

    Mr. Magnus, that isn’t always the case. Larger aircraft are not a panacea for California’s beleaguered air transport system, particularly in LAX’s case, where the current largest aircraft can cause major problems:

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Thanks Wdobner, facts from the ground deeply appreciated.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Wasn’t thinking of tossing the A380 and its like into SFO-LAX traffic, as hilarious as it would be, but rather larger variants of the 737 and comparable aircraft (for instance, the 27% increase in seats that SWA gets with the -800 compared to the -300).

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, if you are standing before me with those two choices, I agree, the no sandwich option is better.

    But adding different gradients of worse than nothing on one side of a false dichotomy does not stop it from being a false dichotomy. The fallacy in a false dichotomy is the missing middle …

    … and no matter what your opinion is about how bad the original draft 2012 Business Plan was, stating that anybody who does not condemn the plan in quite so hyperbolic and exaggerated terms as you is, therefore, a project cheerleader is an excellent and clear case of a missing middle.

    Another example of a false dichotomy is:

    Oh, and if oil prices have risen to the point of air travel being so diminished as to make airport infrastructure white elephants, …

    … as a response to

    … of building road and airport infrastructure that could well be white elephants …

    The natural reading of that is that its the incremental new infrastructure that is rendered a white elephant, while the more extreme reading is that its all road and airport infrastructure that could well be white elephants … and you chose the more extreme reading, because while the less extreme reading can easily be due to a significant shift in mode share, the more extreme reading allows you to require an economic collapse.

    As far as the Steel Interstates proposal, having argued for it repeatedly, its perhaps no surprise that I strongly favor them, but there is no assurance when the Federal Government will get a Steel Interstate program on track.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    On the reading of Prop1a that operating surpluses are not bound by the Prop1a phasing, whether Phase 1 is finished without Anaheim would be a moot point, since even with the increases in scope of the project, the 50:50 local match rates ensured that the Prop1a bond funding would be completed before Phase 1 is.

    Its only on the reading that the operating surpluses are bound by the Phase1 language that its a live point, and only for the finance made possible by those specific funds. If there was some other funding for the Phase2 segments, when and under what terms they could proceed would be governed by that other funding mechanism, not by Prop1a.

    synonymouse Reply:

    operating surpluses?

    Surely ye jest. Mediocrity requires subsidy.

    The cheerleaders should be working overtime to come up with a new tax on the masses to underwrite the BART-TEE they are deploying all over the map.

    You’ve got your b-grade project but you are going to have to shake somebody down to pay for it. It is called revenue enhancement. Maybe the CHSRA could try to claim the proceeds from traffic camera tickets.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The measure of mediocrity would be mediocre operating surpluses rather than larger ones.

    Except, of course, that even an operating surplus that is an indication that the system is being run in a mediocre manner and needs to improve will, thanks to those of you with an ideological commitment to the premise that it will operate at a loss, be easily painted as if it was some kind of big deal.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Difficult to cope with a mediocre to poor routing that is essentially a collection of regional commuter lines. Born to lose. Ergo subsidy.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Like the collection of regional commuter lines that is commonly referred to as the NEC?

    synonymouse Reply:

    With the crucial difference that is mostly straight shot along direct paths of demand existing before the coming of the railroads.

    California routes came a lot later(like I-5)and then you have the mountain crossings, none of which are ideal. Complicated by the historical anomaly that the best crossing was never exploited and now it is in the hands of wealthy and powerful development interests who are going to take it off the table for good.

    Airlines do not have to worry about having their best routes eliminated and/or lost in perpetuity.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Most of California was settled around the depot. So was most of the NEC…the population has grown a bit since the railroad came through in the 1830s.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Well, syntho-mouse, Ergo less revenue than they would otherwise obtain (abstracting from people living in Fresno, Bakersfield or Lancaster/Palmdale) only implies subsidy if you think that the best possible performance is just a hair over breakeven.

    That is a convenient premise to have for your argument, which is no surprise since you pick your premises to match your foregone conclusions, but there’s no reason for anyone else to look at the urban area populations along the corridor and a conservative estimate of practicable trip times and hold that premise.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They would be lucky to break even with Tejon, let alone the Roundabout.

    Factor in Amalgamated or TWU and any money lying around will go to payroll.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Mouse, your continual repetition of the same points without new evidence or analysis is tiresome. Such repetition actually serves to undermine your case because it instead persuades your audience that you lack supporting facts or else you would be presenting them. This may be helpful in refining your persuasion technique:

    BruceMcF Reply:


    … you pick your premises to match your foregone conclusions, …


    They would be lucky to break even with Tejon, let alone the Roundabout.


    … but there’s no reason for anyone else to look at the urban area populations along the corridor and a conservative estimate of practicable trip times and hold that premise.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    tl;dr version: Phase 1 is required by law to reach Anaheim to be complete, but there is no legal requirement to complete Phase 1.

    VBobier Reply:

    And Anaheim/OC can be the last part of Phase 1 to be funded and built.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Certainly, the tail end of the route implies that: LA/Anaheim does not have to be completed to allow any other trip except to Irvine ~ and there’s no requirement at all to even go to Irvine.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah well who paid for the Interstate Highway System to be built? Hmm Syno? Government, Not little old private enterprise. Who put people on the Moon? Government, Not little old private enterprise. Who paid for the Transcontinental Railway? Government, Not little old private enterprise.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Interstate highway system was extremely poor spending, Apollo project was nothing more than nationalistic dickwaving, and the transcons were PPPs, not government alone.

    StevieB Reply:

    The transcontinental railroad was financed with government loans which were repaid by sales of the land grants given the railroads of government land. A prime example of government largess.

    jimsf Reply:

    can you imagine the unmitigated gall of americans getting together and deciding to pool their national resouces do stuff they decide they wanna do. who do they think they are, a democracy?

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Which of these programs did we actually vote on?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Considering what we were spending in Vietnam at the same time, not all that bad of an investment. We got highways out of the Interstate Highway Program and lots of stuff out of the space program – those satellite weather pictures have value, as does sending reruns of inane sitcoms to your cable company.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The satellite and cable investments were not due to the Apollo program. In fact, as Chris Mooney notes in The Republican War on Science, to get the scientific community’s support for the Apollo program, Kennedy had to promise that he wouldn’t sell it on scientific merit, since it had none (unmanned probes would’ve been just as good for research).

    joe Reply:

    Alon’s wrong.

    Apollo program needed to understand if the moon’s surface was dust or solid enough to support a lander. They flew survey Sats around the moon to map the surface and these survey/orbit capabilities were re-purposed for Landsat.

    The Weather Sats even today depend on NASA. NOAA/NASA.

    Apollo program recruited /trained scientists. Even now Scientists fly in the ISS.

    Probes were not capable of doing the same work as Apollo – a sample return mission form the moon in the 60s? Fantastical.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Apollo program needed to understand if the moon’s surface was dust or solid enough to support a lander. They flew survey Sats around the moon to map the surface and these survey/orbit capabilities were re-purposed for Landsat.

    Nothing done by that that wasn’t equally achievable and transferrable from intelligence gathering satellites over Earth.

    The Weather Sats even today depend on NASA. NOAA/NASA.

    Not related to Apollo.

    Probes were not capable of doing the same work as Apollo – a sample return mission form the moon in the 60s? Fantastical.

    Luna series. Luna 15 went crunch, but 16 returned lunar rock in 1970. Less than Apollo, but Apollo also had a rather larger rocket and payload capacity; it could have easily been used for unmanned sample returns and carried rather more as well.

    Joe Reply:

    skill, people, developed of Apollo were reused for earth science applications of nasa tech

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Skills people developed for NASA went to building better ICBMs too.

    joe Reply:

    Probably the reverse. The first ICMB type rocket was the V-2 in 45. The captured Germans went to Alabama and it was for Mil purposes.

    NASA Apollo was about human space flight which means rockets that are safer and reaching the moon was about lifting enough mass to keep humans alive and still reach lunar orbit and return safely.

    The Saturn-V on display at FL’s Space Center, our family went there last April, clearly is far for complex and different than an ICMB (you can see a V-2 at the Smithsonian in WA DC).

    But with the above comment I refer to the civilian skill to run Apollo. That skill was kept and re-purposed. Landsat and NOAA are not using Military skill, they civilian agencies use civilian NASA.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    The first ICMB type rocket was the V-2 in 45

    The V-2 is not an ICBM type rocket, but rather an SRBM. There are orders of magnitude more complexity involved in building an ICBM (which is why it took more than a decade to do so).

    The Saturn-V on display at FL’s Space Center, our family went there last April, clearly is far for complex and different than an ICMB (you can see a V-2 at the Smithsonian in WA DC).

    Hey, we got ourselves a bonafide rocket scientist here!

    Explain, in detail, how the Saturn V is more complex than the Midgetman, R-36M2, or the RT-23 (which was launched from trains because the Soviets were awesome like that)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The weather satellites were great and so is GPS, and the focus of NASA should’ve been these and other things useful for science and technology. A pissmatch with the Russians about who can do bigger space theatrics? Pshaw.

    joe Reply:

    1) Our ability to make global measurements and monitor the earth system is based on Sat measurements NASA develops. As an Earth Scientist, these measurements are critical for improved weather, theory and monitoring.
    2) Civilian, not military advancements via NASA. This was a pissing contest with the Russians but using civilian assets and skill. Not stealth aircraft like the F-22 that don’t work and is out of production.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, they’re critical. That doesn’t mean that spending resources that could’ve gone to science on a dick measuring contest was a good idea. Just because it was categorized as civilian spending doesn’t make it useful to civilians, in the same way that just because something is categorized as bike or transit spending doesn’t mean it’s not just another road widening.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    But without the geopolitical chest thumping angle, there’s no guarantee that the resources would have been directed in that direction at all.

    The point that some particular cycleway spending could have been spent more efficiently
    on cycleways without paying a tithe to the automobile troll guarding the bridge to the future is certainly likely to be valid, but the first question to ask is whether or not the spending does in fact improve things for transport cyclists. In many cases, forcing the automobile troll to actually allow useful spending for transport cyclists to occur in order to collect his tithe would be a substantial improvement over “cycle” spending to benefit motorists that interferes with transport cycling.

    joe Reply:

    The Pyramids – Egyptian dick spending.

    I propose there are classes of mega-projects a nation will undertake rather than exclusively spend money small ones and twos.

    IMHO, those projects that are civilian lead and for civilian benefit exceed by orders of magnitude those for Mil purposes.

    Being somewhat older, I was aware of the space race and the impact – immense – it had on our nation. It was fantastic.

    A retrospective review of accomplishing this hard stuff in a world of CGI movies might make the investments look underwhelming or look like dick swinging but to put a human on the moon and return safely was NOT dick swinging since it inspired a planet. It was a human achievement.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s somethings that come out better with a Hassleblad.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If you’ve ever wondered why of the three pyramids one is much smaller than the other two, it’s because it was the last to be built, and the previous two drained the kingdom’s resources. So a few thousand years later those mausoleum complexes became big tourist attractions. For the people who actually had to pay taxes for these edifices, it wouldn’t have been any consolation.

    And the moon landing inspired people to go into space in exactly the wrong direction – more theatrics, less research and resource exploration. Right now all the resource-based projects from sci fi, such as asteroid mining, seem weird and gauche, while manned Mars landings are all the rage. Theatrics lead to more theatrics.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Right now all the resource-based projects from sci fi, such as asteroid mining, seem weird

    That’s because they are fundamentally and unavoidably fictional.

    You’re right on all your other points, of course. (Not hard, given the cast of characters involved.)

    Space is a fine place for robots. (Meanwhile, the only habitable environment for the non-robots is being rapidly and systematically destroyed.)

    Hugely wasteful prestige programs (hello!) are fine circus diversions for dimwits and fine profit centres for the usual suspects.

    PS Velcro! Don’t forget the velcro. And Tang.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Velcro a product of the overblown Swiss space program!

    jimsf Reply:

    I think my temurpedic mattress came from the space program and that thing is the most awesome mattress ever. It was worth it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Sending unmanned probes to wherever doesn’t get people who piss their pants at the Communist threat, excited. Building a national highway system so commerce can flourish doesn’t get the people who piss their pants at the Communist threat, excited. Building better ICBMs so we could turn not only the USSR but the PRC into glassy nuclear wastelands without leaving the comfort of home…. isn’t quite as exciting to people who piss their pants over the Communist threat. Sending a man to the moon humiliates the Russkies and the Chinese. Bonus points for pissing off the egg heads who point out it could have been done with unmanned probes. Neat trick hiding the scientific research inside humiliating the Communists. Otherwise the people who piss their pants would find unending reasons to oppose spending on the research. Mostly to piss off the poindexters. Not that people who piss their pants over the Communist threat would believe that unmanned probes could do the work. Or that the research has merit. And ya can’t give a space probe a ticker tape parade either.

    Joe Reply:

    what probe with 1960 technology?

    Sounds cool but impossible with the technology of the time.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    See, it didn’t piss off the eggheads, precisely because JFK made a point to actually listen to them. The point Mooney is making with this story is that JFK got the support of the scientific community by making a deal with a major scientist with a prominent position that I forget (head of the American Academy of Sciences, maybe?) that the government would not argue for the Apollo project on spurious scientific grounds, showing that science and government can cooperate even when their agendas aren’t the same. The contrast Mooney draws is with modern-day Republican policies, which aren’t orthogonal to science but rather directly oppose it; their policy regarding science is not to engage in related policy explicitly for other purposes than pure research, but rather to cling to delusions that scientific consensus is not sound and a bunch of thinktank cranks know better.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes the egg heads let the administration distract the yokels by whispering “It’s gonna make the Russkies look bad” and took what scientific research they could get instead of the no research they would have gotten under “we can do it with unmanned probes”. Which they got anyway since before you send a fragile living payload into outer space you have to go take measurements. Mariner 2, Mariner 4…. Voyager.. all made possible because we developed skills that would make the Russkies look bad.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    A notable difference to today is that in 1960 we were trying to impress a broad section of the people’s of the world that the Western World had a more appealing system than the Soviet Bloc, so the whole “There Is No Alternative” public poverty in service of private affluence dynamic was faced with more checks and balances.

    Another difference is that the Republicans had not yet executed the Southern strategy, so there was much more ideological overlap between the Democratic and Republican parties, with both parties having substantial socially conservative and socially liberal wings and the divide in the business community more along the lines of the more capital intensive industries that were more worried about the maintenance of high levels of economic activity and the less capital intensive industries more worried about the clout of labor unions.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    And more importantly, the majority of the political class sought material, objective ends… not triggering the end times to ensure salvation.

    VBobier Reply:

    Without the space Program we wouldn’t have the micro electronics that We have today, as NASA was the primer of the pump for micro electronics back then to the tune of millions of dollars, just to save weight, to increase reliability, to save space and to save power, as the astronauts would largely like those in Apollo 13 be on their own with only what they had with them back then and everyone who had a TV in and out of the USA hung on baited breath for days wondering if they’d get home alive or not and back then it was carried live, not prerecorded…

    Joe Reply:

    nasa did not lead microelectronic development.

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    Isn’t the Disneyland Monorail the ultimate Roundabout Stilt-O-Rail?

    DanM Reply:

    Last I checked, the monorail had excellent ridership and was cash-flow positive including construction costs. On top of that, it’s *really* cool and has inspired two generations of kids (starting on a 3rd)…

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    The wonderful old-fashioned steam trains do well, too, and in fact were the inspiration for the whole park.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    While on the subject of the monorail, it may be noted that the Seattle monorail line recently celebrated its 50th anniversary:

  2. jimsf
    Apr 14th, 2012 at 09:21

    The UC Merced students have a pro hsr facebook page called “i will ride” they even have a logo.

    joe Reply:

    Imagine the size and academic footprint of this new UC campus in 30 years when NorCal and SoCal residents can easily reach it via rail.

  3. jimsf
    Apr 14th, 2012 at 10:06

    That’s a great video!

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I think it would have been a better video if it hadn’t defended high speed rail, honestly. Instead if the group would have said “it’s time to rebuild California” that would be something that everyone could read into what they wanted and HSR is a function of that.

    It’s too astro-turfy…even though some of the clips are fantastic. If you gave it another week you could have a truly great political ad.

    joe Reply:

    The Pro-HSR ad would be better if were ad for something other than HSR. That way people who were not thinking of HSR would still not think of HSR after they saw the ad – therefore the ad would be more effective.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I detect the slightest hint of sarcasm here ~ as if you are really saying that having an advocacy ad include what is it advocating for for is in reality a good thing.

    But then, if including what you are trying to promote is such a smart idea, why don’t any commercial advertisers do it, huh? Would you expect to see Bud, by the glass or by the case, in an advertisement from Budweiser? Or a Chevy Truck in an advertisement by the Chevrolet Truck division?

    Based Tom’s sincere advice on how to best advocate for the HSR system, certainly not.

    joe Reply:

    I agree with you – maybe I wasn’t clear. The ads works. It’s a really good message tied to HSR.

    Removing HSR and letting the ad “be something that everyone could read into what they wanted” would not help HSR. Like you mention, that’s not how commercials are made either.

    Right now HSR, better or worse, is the symbolic project for California moving forward.

    I thank god the GOP decided to make non-auto transportation and specifically HSR a tribal marker. No to bike paths, no to public transportation and, George Will writes, no to rail which is collectivism and the path to socialism.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then what was he doing on the train?

    Tom McNamara Reply:


    The issue to me is that it doesn’t draw a fine line between HSR’s merits and the need to rebuild California.

    Instead, you are given three separate messages, which on their own are strong, but missing a common thread: 1) California is a place of ambitious plans and designs 2) The state’s infrastructure is in need of repair 3) HSR is a great project.

    The mistake the “California Alliance for Jobs” is making is equating infrastructure with jobs and not present the problem as: California’s survival is tied to the strengthen of its public works. Then introduce the idea of needing ambitious and radical solutions to continue on this path. Then introduce HSR as ONE of those solutions.

    joe Reply:

    It’s a HSR ad. California Alliance for Jobs is making the case for HSR at a time when HSR will come to a vote. George Burns said timing is everything. This is the time for advocating for the HSR project.

    You describe an ad campaign. It’s a complex message requiring ads and frankly the argument (#2) to rebuild what we have and aging can be used against (#3) HSR by opponents of both repairing and investing.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Right, and the mistake here is that the “Rebuild CA” meme is much stronger than the other ones.

    So the various public/construction unions in CA alliance for jobs, should change their name to Rebuild CA and either make general ads, or an ad just about HSR.

    This is the same reason that CARRD struggles; they only make the convenient arguments, not a larger, more consistent viewpoints that tie to other beliefs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    CARRD struggles because their goal is “don’t do HSR at all” not “HSR done right”. Though from certina viewpoints not done at all is done right.

    Tom McNamara Reply:


    Alon Levy Reply:

    I forget, do Elizabeth and Nadia live near the tracks?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    If Palo Alto counts as “near”, then yes…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Rebuild California should read “Ream California”.

    CAARD and all the others are showing how to get the best out of situation wherein a powerful institution like the CHSRA insists on going thru your place. Sue their ass off.

    Palmdale, take notice. Sue and take advantage of the fact the CHSRA can’t threaten you with the Grapevine and has to go thru your town. Brown and Richard, the construction unions want this project so bad they’ll give in to all your demands. Follow PAMPA’s smart example and squeeze PB good – you can’t lose. You’ll just get a better deal for your town because you have Chandlers behind you and Brown and Richard are intimidated by them.

  4. Jack
    Apr 14th, 2012 at 14:31

    Build, baby Build!

  5. missiondweller
    Apr 14th, 2012 at 15:15

    Great commercial.

    We should get a 1 minute version to run on TV. I’d contribute to that.

    jimsf Reply:

    off topic but no one has brought the tired old “which equipment should we use” thread in a while. Thats way better than the pacheco palmdale thread that never dies.

    On another note, what about grass roots outreach. I have found that there are some things such as the merced high speed rail comittee and the uc merced I will ride group, and the fresno group, and some face book pages but I wonder if anyone is actively reaching out to these smallish grass roots orgs tying them together, promoting this blog and hooking them up with ca for hsr etc. there needs to a “movement’ that is more coehsive than the nimby and naysayer movements

    Kenb Reply:

    A million person march on Sacramento. (maybe not quite a million) That will send a message.

    Andrew Reply:

    If somebody sets up a campaign, I’ll donate fifty bucks.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    The California Alliance for Sprawl thanks you for your contribution. But you need to think much bigger — $50 to them is chump change.

    joe Reply:

    Thank you President of the California Congestion Collation.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Congestion is a good thing, you get to spend more time in your car!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If traffic is slow enough, it means I can cross the road fearlessly in my own city.

    joe Reply:

    Plus I have an iPad so I can play angry birds as my google car drives me to work.

    It’s like a windows solution – build a new feature that fixes a problem with an existing feature.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    To be fair to Bill Gates, XP is better than its predecessors. It also appears that 7 fixed the problems introduced with Vista.

    But anyway, I’m all for making sure cities are pedestrian-friendly by other means than programming congestion into them. For a start, congestion could be priced – traffic would be faster, but not enough to remove walkability, and conversely some of the people no longer on the road would add to the masses of transit users, pedestrians, and cyclists and induce more businesses to cater to us.

    However, the first rule in a hole is to stop digging. It means no more road widenings, no more freeways to nowhere, and no more advanced traffic engineering for maximal car capacity with maximal pedestrian waits at stoplights.

    Spokker Reply:

    I still use XP on my work PC and in all the time I have used it has never crashed on me or given me problems like previous versions of Windows have. Its uptime is measured in weeks. Similarly, I use Windows 7 on our gaming PC and again, no problems.

    Once OS that really needs to be cleaned up is Android. Love the idea of it but goddamn, talk about a OS tha- FORCE CLOSE

    Joe Reply:

    Detect and repair
    Agent interface
    Social interface
    Dynamic menus

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    $50k and they might return your calls. Maybe.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Great video..should be played everwhere the Nimbys and Naysayers place their FUD lies

  6. BeWise
    Apr 14th, 2012 at 15:20

    OT: Tea Party Florida announces support for All Aboard Florida:

    BeWise Reply:

    *Tea Party Miami*

  7. Andrew
    Apr 14th, 2012 at 19:39


    The video has a rednecky quality to it. Caifornia Ain’t for Wimps! Don’t Mess with Texas! Gratingly statriotic and acting as if we were inventing high speed rail for krisake. That said, it’s a cool video. What I would like to see now is a video that clips together a bunch of mockups of fast-moving trains set to the first minute of Sweet Emotion. But change it to


    I can’t tell you baby where I’ll be in an hour!!!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Ugh, not for me–but I’m not into such rock, I’m a real throwback there, so don’t take my advice on that. Could be good for a more modern HSR crowd than I am, though–ought to try my hand at the different lyrics myself, that might be fun. . .

    How do we get the PR contract? I can use the money. . .

    BrianR Reply:

    @ Andrew,
    I agree with you on the rednecky aspect of it. They need to pick a narrator with a normal voice who doesn’t sound like he is from a Carl’s Jr. commercial or a GMC truck ad. Whenever they show a construction worker you immediately hear “that voice”. Outside the fiction of TV commercials construction workers talk like everyone else. I’d say ditch the “Ain’t for Wimps” theme too. There’s got to be better ways to inspire people.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Took another listen to the audio, and I wouldn’t say the voice talent was what I would call “rednecky;” to me, he sounds more like a “voice of doom,” of foreboding.

    Now, if you want rednecky, what you really want is Southern, or at least something like it.

    Hmm, actually, I like the voices, both on screen and off, in these two PR films from Norfolk Southern:

    The best part of the voices, particularly the narrator of the second? An optimistic quality, not present in the “voice of doom” in the ad.

    Ah, but what do I know?

    How do I get the PR contract?

  8. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 14th, 2012 at 20:56

    “The video has a rednecky quality to it. Caifornia Ain’t for Wimps! Don’t Mess with Texas! Gratingly statriotic and acting as if we were inventing high speed rail for krisake. That said, it’s a cool video.”–Andrew

    And in a way, reminiscent of the “imported from Detroit” ads from Chrysler that won such acclaim not so long ago, with Clint Eastwood and Eminem:

    I don’t follow this stuff like I should–I’m not a sports fan–and missed out on the best part–the Republicans getting all bent out of shape on Eastwood’s ad:

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Some of this gets better and better; check out the commentary just after 4:00:

    Some more–I say, the Republicans keep looking crazier and crazier:

    Commentary by some YouTube blogger; have to laugh at the Carl Rove as captain of the Death Star sequence. Where is that from?

    Now, let’s hope we still get trains in spite of, or in partnership with, a resurgent auto industry.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Couldn’t help myself–that bit with Obama singing with the presidents of Mount Rushmore looked too funny to not try to find:

    This was funny, too:

    My sense of humor must be getting strange these days. . .

  9. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 14th, 2012 at 22:35

    Ho, hum–Amtrak sets another ridership record:

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    What’s really interesting is how much the NERegional has been increasing (especially the Virginia services) and the Texas Eagle as well. Surfliner’s been down thanks to all the track work though.

    Amsnag is down (thanks to Amtrak) the past couple days, so I can’t check a range of days, but there are already sold out sleepers in September on the California Zephyr between Chicago and Denver.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I wonder whether that’s an ongoing ramp-up of Texas Eagle ridership from the previous schedule upgrade, ongoing reaction to improved on-time running after the economic collapse, or reaction to new improvements from the most Texas works funded a couple of years back.

  10. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 14th, 2012 at 23:03

    “. . .there are already sold out sleepers in September on the California Zephyr between Chicago and Denver.”–Paulus Magnus

    I wasn’t totally serious (nor totally ridiculous) about an idea for a transcontinental HSR sleeper service (coast to coast in 24 or 20 hours), but that thing about the CZ suggests a portion of it may not be quite so far fetched. . .and wasn’t that also the route of a very fast train from the old days, a Denver Zephyr?

    Hmm, the DZ was an overnight train, with a 16-hour schedule (sounds like a 20th Century or a Broadway), but it could also have been flipped, as a long-distance day train. . .interesting. . .a modern HSR variant should do those 1000 miles in what, eight hours or so, and with intermediate stops, too?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The difference between short corridor routes and sleeper routes is that short corridor routes have a number of transport demand sweet spots over the day, and appeal to a broader cross section of trips between cities connected by three hours or less of transit.

    While a sleeper route is a very appealing option for one particular style of trip, the trip for one or more full days at the destination with a hotel stay, where the sleeper trip on both ends allows the saving of one or two days of hotel stay … and has a bit of leeway in the evening as far as how late a departure is late enough but not too late … it has a fairly tight sweet spot as far as arrival time, ideally arriving in the earlier part of the morning peak or (in smaller cities) leading shoulder of the morning peak, arriving in the near vicinity of primary destinations and including opportunities use good quality local transport to connect to a range of secondary destinations.

    So while it could indeed work well to connect two large cities that are roughly eight to twelve hours apart, or to recruit into a large area from a collection of subordinate central places roughly eight to twelve hours away … building a dedicated Express HSR corridor for one well patronized train per day each way seems a bit of a dubious proposition.

    If you are going to be providing that long haul passenger rail service anyway, then having the routes hit some useful sleeper service sweet spots along the way is sensible. And if you were improving a conventional rail corridor anyway to support on-time 100mph train paths through the system, then that would open up substantially more potential sleeper routes than at the current Amtrak rail speeds …

    … and if it was possible under the prevailing regulatory regimes to run through an Express HSR short corridor and then run as a sleeper overnight to another Express HSR short corridor, that could do something to increase the market demand for the sleeper, since it could hit the arrival sweet spot for the largest destination and still arrive at a useful time for other stops along the morning arrival Express HSR corridor …

    … but its hard for me to see building a dedicated Express HSR corridor primarily in pursuit of Express HSR sleeper service. The middle of the night is a very attractive time to shut down a short corridor to allow maximum flexibility in scheduling both routine and major maintenance.

    jimsf Reply:

    I imagine what will happen eventually is that state or regional hsr systems will eventually grow together organinically, allowing one to sort of hopscotch across regions using connecting systems, followed by the creation of agreements where neighboring operators can run over each others tracks.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That’s seems more likely east of the Mississippi ~ plenty of medium sizes cities an appropriate distances apart for Rapid Rail service, for one thing, and when a through Amtrak runs onto a Rapid Rail corridor for the improved reliability and speed, you’ve already taken a step in that direction.

    As you get toward the western half of the country, it may be that the corridors will be more in clusters that don’t automatically connect with each other ~ the Cascades Corridor, the LA Octopus, and the Front Range.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I think it’s the likeliest to happen on some lower-traffic routes into the Interior West. The reason is that east of Chicago, the short-distance corridor services are located in such a way that they could and should all be connected to form a connected HSR network. New York-Chicago trains would take 5-6 hours. Of course this is past the sweet spot, though judging by Paris-Nice (5:30 HSR, 1:00 air shuttle, HSR has 31% of the air/rail market) it could get some ridership, but together with the overlapping corridors it would be a good route.

    West of Chicago, things start changing, and then electrifying routes and running passenger trains on them at low to medium speed to allow good sleeper service becomes interesting. The problem is that Chicago-Denver at upgraded low speed is about 16 hours, or if you push it 14. But Chicago-Omaha would be 7 hours, allowing decent sleeper service from New York and Chicago. Alternatively, if for some reason Chicago-Omaha gets greenfield HSR, then Omaha-Denver would be 7-8 hours, allowing sleeper service from Chicago (it would be 10-11 hours).

    The issue with all such services is scheduling. In the down direction – i.e. from the HSR network to the legacy network – it’s easier because the HSR leg would be at normal hours and then the legacy part would be at night, which is normal. In the up direction, it’s harder because of tight maintenance practices. It’s also harder to combine destinations than to combine origins. A New York-Omaha sleeper collects people from New York, Upstate, and Cleveland; if it can reverse direction without annoying passengers, then add Chicago and replace Upstate with Philadelphia and Pittsburgh. An Omaha-New York sleeper deposits people in New York.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    NY-Chicago in 5 hours is gonna be very very expensive. Halfway point is Pittsburgh or Buffalo give or take a few.
    It’s 907 miles via Pittsburgh. Or an average speed of 181 MPH. 6 hours is an average speed of 151. Via Buffalo it’s 960 or an average speed of 192 for a 5 hour trip. 6 hours is an average speed of 160.
    Average speed of 125 is 7:25 via Pittsburgh and 7:40 via Buffalo. Not very good for Chicago-NY but has a whole lot of under 3 hour city pairs buried in it. And means Buffalo anywhere and Pittsburgh anywhere is under 4.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Adirondacker, might there be a better alternative to New York-Buffalo than Albany? Granted, the Erie, the Lackawanna, and the Lehigh Valley wound up missing some population centers, but all had shorter routes than the NYC, and in some cases had better civil engineering (most notably the Lackawanna).

    One of the interesting things about the NYC routing is that the stop at Albany is actually farther from Chicago than New York City, at least in terms of air distance.

    I have to say, getting more speed via Pittsburgh looks tough at best; there are a lot of hills and curves between Altoona and the former Steel City. One good thing, though, a base tunnel (which was actually proposed at some point in PRR days long ago) would be an easier (if not cheaper) proposition than a California counterpart, if for no other reason that there aren’t quite so many faults in the area–even if we do get a quake in the east on occasion.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The problem with those other routes is that no matter what alignment you pick, practically all of it has to be done greenfield or at best following an Interstate. In addition, all alignments require serious tunneling, though the Hudson Line is good enough for medium speed and building the tunnels under Westchester is not necessary for good trip times to Upstate. Since there’s no opportunity to pick a cheaper alignment, the best that can be done is to follow alignments that connect lots of intermediate cities. New York-Philadelphia-Pittsburgh and New York-Albany-Syracuse-Rochester-Buffalo would be good enough even if there were nothing to the west for them to connect to.

    Western Pennsylvania is mountainous, but it’s nothing that other HSR lines in the world haven’t had to deal with. Based on pure eyeballing, it looks no worse than the terrain of the LGV Mediterranee or the Cologne-Frankfurt line, and much better than the newer lines in Japan and Switzerland. It requires tunnels, but probably not exceedingly long tunnels.

    New York-Chicago doesn’t have enough traffic to justify building 1,300 km of HSR for it, but once the intermediate city pairs connect, you get it for free. The other alignments don’t have big enough intermediate cities to justify it. New York-Scranton-Binghamton would be a nice upgraded legacy line, just not an HSR line.

    Another issue is that HSR compresses travel time along the line, and this rewrites optimal networks. For example, in the presence of Empire Corridor HSR, it’s faster to get from New York to Ithaca via Syracuse than directly via Binghamton.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yeah, there’s a reason why the I-80 alignment runs the way it does ~ the terrain is not
    only generally rougher in south west PA than it is in central west PA, but the ridgelines between Lewisburg and Wilkes-Barre tend to run West by Southwest where directly between Philly and Pittsburgh they tend to run South by Southwest. So along a general I-80 alignment there tends to be more progress made east and west from one ridgeline to the next.

    Except for regulatory barriers, crossing a Rapid Rail corridor between, say, Pittsburgh and Cleveland would allow a service from Chicago to Pittsburgh or from NYC to Cleveland to run through primarily on the Express HSR and then finish the trip on the Rapid Rail. Ditto a junction on a Rapid Rail corridor Cleveland/Columbus for Chicago/Cleveland, NYC / Columbus / Cincinnati, and Columbus / Toledo / Detroit for NYC / Toledo / Detroit.

    One plausible scenario for a sleeper there is a service leaving either end too late to complete the journey before the Express HSR corridor curfew, leaving the Express HSR corridor for some midpoint and then running as a sleeper to the major center at the opposite end.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Miss Snow took the shortest route to Buf-fa-lo, not the fastest. The Water Level Route was faster even though it was longer. And it’s much more ….level… so you can sleep….
    The DL&W and the Erie had good civil engineers, they picked the better routes. By the time the Lehigh Valley comes along they have to take the routes that the DL&W and the Erie didn’t want.
    I just dipped into, the Erie Limited took 23 hours between NY and Chicago, DL&W-Nickel Plate took 22 and the Broadway Limited or the 20th Century took 16.

    Yep the shortest route would be across northern Pennsylvania, I-80 more or less. There’s a whole lot of nothin’ between Youngstown and Wilkes-Barre.

    jimsf Reply:

    I wonder if there might be a market for a nice ( nicer than amtraks current aged fleet) nice business/first class conventional overnight train between nyc and chi… as an alternative to flying, for business types who need to say get to new york for a meeting or whatever, instead of the hassle of trotting out to ohare in february, they could catch the train downtown after the business day, settle into a very well appointed roomette with shower, and with 21st century gadegtry, and wake up fresh for a day in nyc, then return that night, for the price of a rountrip business class plane ticket you would save on a hotel and it would be a lot more comfy and convenient. ( Im assuming that business people are not masochistic enough to fly round trip in the same day – thats four airport experiences in one day- surely they don’t…

    jimsf Reply:

    oh scratch that. I just realized its a 20 hour trip by train from chi to ny. ugh. why so long. I thought it would be like 10 hours. never mind.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Jim, that’s one route that has had a bad downhill experience from the good old days. Best times for both the Pennsylvania Railroad and the New York Central (Broadway Limited and 20th Century Limited, respectively, plus some other extra-fare trains) was 16 hours westbound, based on clock time. Actual running time was 17 hours; the difference was due to crossing from Eastern to Central time (which made the eastbound run 18 hours clock time, crossing back into time).

    It’s worth noting that the NYC time, even with a longer route and their version of PTC (an intermittent system relying on trackside magnets and receivers on locomotives) managed that 17 hour running time over 960 miles with an 80 mph speed limit that was in effect even before WW II. The Pennsy had higher speed limits (I think what is now the NEC had a speed limit of 90, and reportedly steam engines ran faster than that, sometimes over 100, in Ohio and Indiana), and even a shorter route, but there was that mountainous division between Altoona and Pittsburgh, and a lot of freight congestion in that general area, too, courtesy of all the steel-related traffic around that smokey city. The whole business makes me wonder what the NYC and perhaps the Pennsy could have done with a wider application of PTC and, in the case of the NYC, a higher speed limit. Certainly the “Water Level Route” would have had an alignment conductive to really fast running, even in steam engine days.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    DP, the schedules were 15 hours westbound, by the clock at the station, and 17 hours eastbound. If you didn’t reset your watch, 16 hours on the train.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    You’re right, and you beat me to checking that Streamliner Schedule site to check on it!

    Hope Jim SF looks at that site, too; bet some of the services and schedules will make him drool at what we did before. Bet he’d like to get himself a time machine. . .

    BruceMcF Reply:

    There’s definitely a market at 12-14 hours, so whichever of New York or Pennsylvania gets their main east / west corridor upgraded to Rapid Passenger Rail for their purposes, the other two legs needed are a fast run, unimpeded path from downtown Chicago through to northeastern Indiana, and then a Rapid Rail corridor either from Erie to there along the Ohio Lakeshore or from Pittsburgh to there via Columbus.

    Or else if a Rapid Freight Rail corridor was put together from New York to St, Louis, take that and get off at a Rapid Passenger Rail corridor that is running across it to Chicago.

    Its still got the one service per day problem ~ while it would likely be an effective service if the path existed, its hard to hang a lot of infrastructure upgrades in between on the economic benefits of a single daily service, so it would be a matter of leveraging opportunities that become available due to investments made primarily for other purposes.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    So long as there is as heavy a reliance on State planning as at present, there is a New York State political rational for Syracuse / Rochester / Buffalo, and when if that is upgraded, then Albany is a more appealing direction to go than Binghamton … and there is also a New York State rational for NYC / Albany.

    Now, if you’ve upgraded Syracuse / Rochester / Buffalo, it may well be that a general Ottawa / NYC could be made a tad faster as a through route NYC/Buffalo, but it seems like it would leave New York City across the river to New Jersey, then crosses from New Jersey to Scranton in Pennsylvania to get to Binghamton.

    And its not like you are going to have people in Rochester protesting in the streets for their right to get to NYC via Scranton as opposed to NYC via Albany.

    If you have a Federal role big enough to support that kind of cross state investment, the very first priority for the Northeast is a true Express HSR between DC and Boston. After that, an I-80 alignment through PA and then a fairly straight shot across rural Northern Ohio to Fort Wayne would connect the whole of the east coast complex with the whole of the Great Lakes / Midwest Chicago spoke and wheel system in a single project. A Federal Legislature is a fairly stupid beast in any event, so giving it one project to concentrate on for that task seems prudent.

    And then once you have that, there’s not as much reason to worry about getting to the Buffalo / Rochester axis via the Albany corner from NYC ~ for the complementary Regional HSR routes that is not taking end to end NYC/Chicago patronage anymore, running NYC / Albany / Syracuse / Rochester / Buffalo makes a lot of sense.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I suspect that the people of Pennsylvania will be much more interested in Pittsburgh-Philadelphia than they would be in Williamsport-Scranton. And that the people of Cleveland will be much more interested in Cleveland-Pittsburgh than they would be in Cleveland-Williamsport or even Cleveland-Scranton.

    Ask Google to give you driving directions from Cleveland to NYC. It picks I-80 and comes up wht 461 miles. One of the alternates it gives you is I-76 and I-78 at 496 miles. Drag the route to go through Philadelphia and it’s 523 miles. Would you rather have Cleveland-Williamsport in your list of city pairs or Cleveland-Pittsburgh? Or Cleveland-Scranton versus Cleveland-Philadelphia. Cleveland-Philadelphia gets you Cleveland-Harrisburg and Cleveland-Lancaster in the deal. Cleveland-Altoona too, Altoona is slightly larger than Williamsport. Though the fantasy maps I’ve seen of Philadelphia-Pittsburgh bypass Altoona, it’s not on the route. That might be foamer prejudice for the Central of Pennsylvania route – today’s Pennsylvania Turnpike.

    Of course the people of New York are much more interested in connecting Buffalo to NYC through Albany, it’s where the people are.

    Binghamton is the big city along the Southern Tier. It’s metro area is only a quarter of a million. It’s surrounded by mountains… until you get to Buffalo, West Orange NJ or Youngstown OH. The best the people of the Southern Tier can hope for is “faster than driving” not HSR. The only metro areas on that list that aren’t along the Buffalo-Albany-NYC route are Binghamton, Glens Falls, Ithaca and Elmira. Glens Falls is going to much more interested in what’s going on between Albany and Schenectady than they are in what’s going on between Binghamton and Elmira.

    Cleveland-Buffalo or Cleveland-Williamsport? Cleveland-Buffalo gives you Cleveland-Rochester and Cleveland-Syracuse. Cleveland-Williamsport gives you Cleveland-Scranton. Assuming Buffalo-Toronto gets improved a bit, Cleveland-Buffalo gets you Cleveland-Toronto. Cleveland-Scranton gets you Cleveland-Binghamton.

    …. they build Cleveland-Scranton when Cleveland-Pittsburgh and Cleveland-Buffalo becomes too congested.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    …. they build Cleveland-Scranton when Cleveland-Pittsburgh and Cleveland-Buffalo becomes too congested.

    Not when it becomes congested, but as the political demand for faster trips grows.

    That is, at the junction with the Cleveland / Pittsburgh Rapid Rail corridor, a NYC / Chicago through Express HSR corridor offers faster NYC/Cleveland and faster Chicago/Pittsburgh. At the junction with Cleveland/Columbus it offers faster NYC/Columbus and faster Chicago/Cleveland. At the junction with the Columbus/Toledo it offers faster NYC/Detroit.

    Its as if you were reading that as saying that a Federal project to build an Express HSR corridor along the I-80 alignment is instead of building the already proposed and planned and in some cases already starting to be developed Rapid Rail corridors … but the social geography east of the Mississippi is not like the social geography of California, and east of the Mississippi, except along the crowded NEC, there are ample opportunities to build a much wider variety of Rapid Rail corridors, put into service much more quickly, for substantially lower capital costs per line.

    In spite of what the online mode warriors for Express HSR or nothing may argue, there is absolutely no reason to play the high stakes game of aiming to build an Express HSR corridor straight out of the gate.

    So, unless we fall for the siren call of the Express HSR or nothing mode warriors, when we do get around to building an Express HSR corridor, it will be in a context more similar to France’s than Spain’s, with the luxury of being able to run a range of services to different centers along the same corridor, branching out onto the Rapid Rail system to complete the trip.

    Binghamton is the big city along the Southern Tier. It’s metro area is only a quarter of a million.

    Yes, precisely. I’m glad you agree with me that one wouldn’t look to trying to clip the corner off the Albany L route, because a Regional HSR corridor should be going where the Regional Population is.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Pittsburgh-anywhere at speeds much higher than what the PRR did is going to cost a lot of money. To get Harrisburg-Pittsburgh down to “faster than driving” you have to spend almost as much as you would making it HSR.

    You can spend a gazillion dollars carving a new ROW from Ohio to Kearny NJ or spend half a gazilion connecting Cleveland to the HSR ROW in Pittsburgh and half a gazillion connecting Columbus to the HSR ROW in Pittsburgh. The people in Columbus and Cleveland get to New York faster than flying and they get Pittsburgh and Philadelphia in the deal. Make Ohio-Kearny really fast you don’t even get Scranton, the line is miles away out along i-80.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Bruce, what you’re missing is that New York-Buffalo-Toronto is at HSR range, not medium-speed range. About the maximum average speed you can hope to squeeze out of legacy track is about 130 km/h, i.e. NY-Buffalo in 5:20 and NY-Albany in just under 2 hours. In contrast, greenfield HSR speed, i.e. about 250 km/h, gives you NY-Albany in an hour and NY-Buffalo in 2:45, allowing trains to capture virtually all travel between New York and the four major Upstate metros, and much travel within Upstate as well. An onward connection to Toronto would give NY-Toronto in 3:30, also capturing most O&D travel.

    Likewise, at HSR speed, NY-Pittsburgh is 2:30. Upgrading legacy track could give you on the outside 5:00-5:30 (assuming full HSR between New York and Philadelphia), depending on how much cant and cant deficiency could be squeezed out of the mountainous segment west of Altoona.

    The problem with using 5:30 as an intermediate step leading to 2:45 is that it’s not really competitive with flying, while still requiring a fair amount of capital investment into track upgrades and multi-tracking to avoid interference with freight trains. It’s less than the amount of investment in full HSR, of course, but the benefits are much smaller. Upstate New York is actually very convenient territory for building full HSR – flat, not terribly urban, and with multiple ROWs with few or no grade crossings. Pennsylvania is a bigger problem because of the tunnels, but the part that HSR would be the most expensive in is precisely the one it would be most rewarding in, because of the curves on the legacy line.

    The issue then is that building full HSR on I-80 rather than on Empire or Keystone only gives you the markets from New York to the Midwest, and those aren’t large enough. New York-Cleveland is at fine range, and to some extent so is New York-Detroit, but New York-Chicago is too far, and even those other markets aren’t all that big. I-80 probably saves 30 minutes over Keystone, but it gives way fewer markets. It’s the equivalent of LA-SF via I-5 – faster, but at too high a cost. (I-5 is faster by less than 30 minutes than 99, but it’s cheaper, whereas I-80 is no cheaper than Keystone, because it needs to find a way to get into New York from due west.)

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Alon, I expect that a Regional HSR corridor could make substantially better than 80mph between Buffalo and Albany.

    Regarding capturing the flying market from Buffalo to NYC, its a cost and benefit chase between the the share captured and the cost of the capture ~ your not talking about an outer anchor of an urbanized area of 3.2m with another 1.5m 40 minutes from the terminus … you’re talking about an outer anchor of an urbanized area of 1m, with an urbanized of 0.7m, 0.4m and 0.6m along the way.

    As far as entering New York from due west ~ obviously “a general I-80 alignment through Pennsylvania” does not imply following the exact track of I-80 through New Jersey to NYC ~ the alignment of the north-south East Coast Express HSR and its complementary Rapid Rail corridors will have a substantial influence on what the appropriate access and egress from NYC is.

    As far as saving 30 minutes to NYC and costing 30 minutes to Philadelphia ~ that’s a trade-off I’d make without viewing it as eliminating Philadelphia as a market, and the terms of that trade depends heavily on the alignment of the North-South Express HSR on the East Coast. Coming down to Pittsburgh from the area of Newcastle on a Rapid Rail corridor between Pittsburgh and Cleveland certainly does not cut the Pittsburgh / NYC market off ~ that is, after all, substantially less than the transit on a Rapid Rail corridor that is supposed to connect NYC and Cleveland via Philadelphia and Pittsburgh.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Alon what he’s missing is that northern Pennsylvania is rugged mountains. And because it’s rugged mountains it’s sparsely populated. And that if it hadn’t been for 90 percent federal match I-80 wouldn’t be there. Or that the Lackawanna Cutoff, an engineering marvel across not so rugged mountains, sometimes compared to the Panama Canal, would have to be replicated all the way across Pennsylvania.

    Tom McNamara Reply:


    I’ve been kicking around a future post about this topic…in other words, what happens to Amtrak’s long distance trains once we have HSR.

    At first, my thinking was that you would have sleeper trains to patch where HSR wouldn’t serve: Say from Sacramento to Eugene.

    But then, as I thought about it, I realized that if HSR routes aren’t owned or run by Amtrak, then the “Corporation” has to offset the loss of revenue from running state-sponsored routes. That got me thinking that one solution is to consolidate the long distance lines.

    For example, the Coast Starlight would disappear, and instead you would have both the Empire Builder and Sunset Limited terminate in SF. The extended transcontinental lines would trace the same path as the Starlight, but not go straight through.

    The Zephyr, meanwhile, could be routed through St. Louis and continue onto to D.C. and New York to allow a one seat ride coast to coast.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    That would be interesting, instituting true transcontinental trains, something we have never had much of, other than Amtrak’s Sunset Limited when it briefly had an extension to Florida.

    Not everybody knows this, but there once was a proposal to extend the Empire Builder to San Francisco (actually Oakland)–in the 1930s! The proposed routing would have been down a new line called the Bieber (sp) route, which ran north from the Western Pacific at Keddie to a connection with the Great Northern. The proposed California section of the Empire Builder never did run down the Bieber line (which never did get passenger service of any kind because of the Depression), but it and the Feather River Canyon were and are quite beautiful today.

    Can you imagine the GN’s Empire Builder, in its heavy-weight Pullman green version, making its way down the Feather River behind a Baldwin-built S-class 4-8-4? Wouldn’t that be a beautiful sight back then–or now?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    We have some diesel fans here, and this is a glimpse of what you might have seen a bit later:

    Not as flashy as SP’s Daylight colors, nor Santa Fe’s Warbonnets, but still nice, still elegant. . .

    BrianR Reply:

    @ D.P. Lubic,
    interesting to hear about that. However I would be more excited to see orange and green streamlined Empire Builder making it’s way down the Feather River Canyon and across Altamont Pass to Oakland. That’s one of my favorite paint schemes from the streamliner era because in a way it’s so odd.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Brian’s comment got me to poking around:

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Except, the main point of the very long haul routes is not the end to end traffic but the service to overlapping sets of origins/destinations in between, so the key question is the benefit to those points from the rearrangement.

    Barcelona / Madrid has a conventional rail sleeper leaving after the last HSR leaves before curfew falls, and getting to the other side before the first HSR arrives after curfew lifts. That might be a useful route for a conventional rail service to play … but the timing doesn’t fit the Pacific Northwest route well, so perhaps some version of a SLC/Denver route instead.

    And running longer long haul routes implies that more passengers get to experience the benefits of track or equipment problems occurring thousands of miles away. One could, for instance, imagine a grand loop, with the Oregon leg of the Empire Builder running down the Coastal route to LA, then picking up the Sunset, and once there is through running for Chicago, the Empire runs on to the Cardinal to the Virginia corridor and runs south instead of to DC to head to Florida and of course the Sunset is extended to Jacksonville once more … and a train is late in North Dakota because of a derailment in Georgia, or a train is late in Houston because of a mudslide in Oregon.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Except, the main point of the very long haul routes is not the end to end traffic but the service to overlapping sets of origins/destinations in between, so the key question is the benefit to those points from the rearrangement.

    I’m not sure I follow you. HSR, just an example, is likely never to fill the gap between Eugene, Oregon and Sacramento. If you have a sleeper leave Sacramento at 10pm, even under current conditions at 10:45 am. With a little tweaking, you could run the Empire Builder out of SF at dinner time, stop in Sacramento, then run a nonstop sleeper to Eugene that gets in around breakfast. Then resume travel to Portland arriving around lunch before heading east.

    Sleepers won’t be competing with HSR like Europe because the geography is way different….

    BruceMcF Reply:

    There was a European rail enthusiast that was working on a Pacific Northwest / California sleeper with improvements to the Shasta Route in support of the mixed use Rapid Rail class of “HSR” rather than the bullet train Express HSR: The Shasta Route ~ but of course, a sleeper to the Pacific Northwest doesn’t integrate with the type of sleeper service that is complementary to a HSR corridor between the same pair of cities, such as between SF and LA, which can arrive at one destination earlier than the first HSR can get there by leaving the night before and running as a sleeper during the period when the HSR corridor is in its nightly shut down for curfew.

    One can imagine that running on either an extended version of the current San Joaquin alignment or an upgraded Coastal route, but that route alone would justify neither extending the current San Joaquin alignment nor upgrading the Coastal Route, so which one would fit the task would depend on what improvements are done with other objectives in mind.

    BrianR Reply:

    @ D.P. Lubic,
    I believe HSR in China has sleeper service with dedicated sleeping compartments. I think it’s one of the few examples in the world with specially equipped sleepers in HSR service.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I’d read about that myself somewhere as well. Looks like it’s true, based on (what else) Wikipedia, in class CRH2E:

    One of the sleeper sets was involved in the collision at Wenzhou:

    Scroll down for interior shots:

    Ain’t it neat how the Wikipedia can make you an instant expert?

    I had a coworker who said he was considered an “expert” by the management (he was picked to give lectures and seminars at training sessions and the like). He would joke that “expert” was defined as “ex,” meaning former, or used to be, and “spurt,” a little bit of something. So, he used to be a little bit of something, but now he wasn’t that. . .

    Sadly, he’s gone, though it shouldn’t have surprised anyone; this fellow looked like “Mr. Five by Five,” and smoked like a chimney, too.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Who was Mr. Five by Five?

  11. trentbridge
    Apr 15th, 2012 at 09:55

    “they are deathly afraid of a tunnel thru a fault.”
    That’s why BART was never built – too many faults in the Bay Area.
    And the Metro Red Line to No. Hollywood.
    You never see a subway in a city subject to earthquakes – like Tokyo.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ trentbridge

    I hear you but take a look at the engineering report that Richard linked. PB is scared shitless of a real base tunnel which would dramatically speed up the mountain crossing.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Just to remind you: BART’s official strategy for the Berkeley Hills Tunnel in the event of a large (and inevitable) east bay fault rupture is, uh, “we’ll get back to you on that.”

    The priority spending on the current and hugely expensive ongoing seismic program has been to keep most of the core system east of the hills running, and in particular to do so in the absence of the facilities of the Concord maintenance yard.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    west of the hills”, of course.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I think the gallery’s movement potential has been used up and they are going to have to expand at some point.

  12. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 15th, 2012 at 10:05
  13. Burlingame
    Apr 15th, 2012 at 12:34

    Good afternoon. Kind of a simple off topic question for the group. I think I understand now that the CalTrain phasing means that grade crossings between SF and SJ will not be fully separated for decades. I thought from previous discussions that meant the trainsets must meet stricter FRA requirements to survive a grade crossing collision, therefore heavier, therefore slower. I don’t see any mention of a change in trainsets so what gives. Can someone explain. Thanks

    Clem Reply:

    European trains (“alternate” compliant like Caltrain’s future EMUs) can do as well or better than FRA equipment in grade crossing collisions. All European high-speed trains from Alstom, Siemens, CAF, Talgo, you name it, are compliant with the latest European crashworthiness standards. The Japanese are also getting into the act with a Euro-compliant model.

    Mixing high-speed trains with grade crossings will be OK. Not great, but OK.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    For over a decade, in any event.

    Note that the waiver that Caltrain received was contingent on a specified list of grade separations that Caltrain had included in their application, it did not depend upon total grade separation.

    The baseline of the Bay to Basin plan does not go all the way to SF, so that the Bay to Basin phase does not hinge on having regulatory clearance to run through in that phase, but if it is cleared to run on that corridor, then the remaining crossings would more decide how fast it could go ~ level crossings on 110mph speed limit corridors, for example, have to meet standards that level crossings on 79mph speed limit do not have to meet.

    Clem Reply:

    The waiver was not predicated on any grade separations. I sure would like to see this ‘specified list of grade separations’ but I’ll bet your choice of beer that you can’t produce it.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You’re right, I misread the waiver. Its contingent on a specified program of level crossing improvements, and I can’t provide that specified list either, but being part of an open and transparent government waiver application process, it is presumably available to the public somewhere in our system.

  14. Gianny
    Apr 15th, 2012 at 18:57

    Any chance that with Desert X and CHSR connecting at Palmdale that the airport would finally be developed and the airlines take a chance?

    If Virgin operates CHSR and it connects to both SFO and PMD it could offer an all in one ticket correct?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    My bet is no.

    When I first discovered this blog years ago… that was my exact thinking… you could build Palmdale Intergalactic space station and relieve all the pressure on Southern California air transportation.

    Then I crashed landed one day at and realized HSR is going to free up enough capacity to make Palmdale useless. (And Ontario, Burbank, Long Beach). Not just because of eliminating flights between say Oakland and Ontario, but also because eventually you won’t have as many transcontinental flights if you can get to anywhere in the Midwest within 90 minutes of landing at O’Hare…..

    Eventually you are probably going to end up with four major airports in California: Oakland, Castle, LAX, and whatever San Diego figures out for itself. Combined with the traffic flowing in an out of Vegas, and you will have enough capacity.

    Peter Reply:

    Oh dear, back to trolling for a never-going-to-happen Castle? Tom, please take off your tinfoil hat. Your last paragraph only makes sense if you replace Castle with SFO.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    SFO rapidly loses utility once you Ring-the-Bay because it’s operationally challenged (read, fog) and with intersecting runways. In fact, it’s quicker to get from the Embarcadero BART Station to Oakland Airport than SFO. However, because of the connections involved on AirBART…most people don’t know this.

    Castle isn’t a pipe dream… once you have enough population growth between Fresno and Sacramento there will be a lot of sense in putting an airport roughly halfway between the 7-8 million that might end up living there.

    Peter Reply:

    Ha, and you think Castle would be less operationally challenged by fog? I guess you’ve never tried to fly into a CV airport during Tule fog.

    Also, there is already more than enough capacity at Fresno and Sacramento airports. Why do you need another one in between the two? Seems kind of silly.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Here’s where I am coming from:

    Castle’s advantage is that you have a long runway that is already built and saves some of the hassle associated with construction. But also, you have to realize that once there’s an HSR line that runs between Fresno and Sacramento in terms of cost containment it makes sense to have one airport that feeds equally between the northern half of the population distribution and the south.

    (Think about it: if you have 50% living north of the airport and 50% living south, if an equal number take the train to the plane each day they offset each others’ empty seats). That’s important consideration because if made the big new SJV airport in Sacramento, then as riders disperse, no one gets on to replace them.)

    Another example of this is … BART. The most expensive segment to operate (the tube) is also the most heavily trafficked because all regional lines feed into it.

    Peter Reply:

    long runway that is already built

    Or you can just use the two existing airports and use transit to get to either of those. Sacramento is working on extending light rail to its airport, and Fresno is looking at developing BRT.

    Are we now seriously looking at building new airports to fit them into our HSR scheme? That’s as bad as a historian picking a narrative and trying to fit everything into that narrative, a la Richard White.

    Somehow I find airport pipe dreams dumber than HSR pipe dreams.

    jimsf Reply:

    Now that I’m living out here in Merced…. its given me a new perspective. Here;s the thing, hopefully hsr would eliminate the need for another airport. The way things are now, the sac airport is way on the north side of the city and best service the sacramento valley-north (yuba – sutter on up to redding shasta)

    Fresno no doubt has its eyes on being THE major city in the san joqquin valley and liekly plans to grow its airport accordingly. Merced is an hour north of fresno, two and half hours to sac airport, and about 2 hours to 2.5 to oakland airport. So you could arugue that a merced-modesto area airport is needed. but one would hope that hsr would – with coordinated – code sharing – through ticketing would elminate that need. Only problem is fresno airport is no where near hsr, neither is sac nor oakland.

    I guess you could make palmdale some sort of centerpiece airport for valley travelers. but so far only SFO will really have a direct connection to HSR,

    Its unfortunate that the hsr trains won’t go right through terminals at all the airports so that pax could get off the plane and step on the train to complete their journeys withough having to use assroted shuttle=y things. Once you add more bits and peices people are like.. screw it Ill just drive its to complicated.

    jimsf Reply:

    seriously last night, someone wanted to get their friend from merced to sac. I had a direct train 703 to sac. 21 bucks. get on, ride get off. they left saying it was too complicated and they would just drive their friend there instead.

    Im telling you its not the government screwing up the country its the people.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    I agree. I ride the train any chance I get, and I’ve had to explain to a lot of people how easy it is to do it. Most people just don’t think of the train as an option, and mostly it’s out of ignorance.

    Donk Reply:

    1. The main problem with fog at SFO is that the runways are too close together, and that they can only use one runway when it is foggy. The fog itself does not keep planes from landing. According to this logic, the Tule fog would not affect landings and takeoffs at Castle, as long as they do not plan to use two runways that are close together.

    2. When I fly to the mid-Peninsula from LAX and am getting picked up, I usually choose SFO because it is cheaper than SJC. Except for during the foggy season – I steer clear of it in the winter, since that is when the thick fog is most frequent and completely screws you. SFO in my experience is a a great airport in the summer, but should basically be shut down in the winter.

    Peter Reply:

    Well, MER (FAA code for Castle, Merced-MacReady is MCE) only has one runway, so yes, it would be just like SFO in bad weather.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Though one runway with flights scheduled for one runway is a lot less headache than one runway with flights scheduled for two.

    Peter Reply:

    In bad weather, yes, but in good weather, SFO will beat out a one-runway airport any day in terms of capacity. What are we supposed to plan for, peak capacity or intentionally constrained capacity?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Which is, of course, why a one runway airport with one runway open is less headache than a two runway airport with one runway open ~ because that closed runway was a risk, not a certainty, when the planning was done.

    I don’t see this whole Express HSR system to airport connection factor being a bigger driver than the population impacts of the system on Valley urban centers, which suggests that Fresno is more likely to get appreciable new out of state air connections along the Phase1 leg of the Valley corridor. As far as the gap between the station and the airport, they’ll hash out something to bridge the gap as well as they can, and depending on how well they do, there will be more or less rail/air transfers taking place.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sigh. At the risk of getting on a hobbyhorse, there’s a perfectly usable rail corridor from LAUS to LAX, one that LA is debating what to do, and will likely be turned over for light rail. It’s not yet too late to get a waiver, run mainline trains, and have them make local stops with express trains overtaking in the middle. This way HSR serves LAX with pretty much zero effort on HSR’s behalf, and LA gets a much better rail connection to the airport than Crenshaw could hope to be.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    At the risk of getting on a hobbyhorse, there’s a perfectly usable rail corridor from LAUS to LAX…


    That ROW is a single track paralleling Slauson Boulevard for miles on end with NO GRADE SEPARATIONS until you get to Crenshaw.

    I admit Crenshaw is the subway everyone loves to hate, but I think in time, people will discover its utility…..

    BruceMcF Reply:

    At the risk of getting on a hobbyhorse, there’s a perfectly usable rail corridor from LAUS to LAX …

    Huh? I figure that when people are reckoning airports, they start counting from LAX.

    As far as the gap between the airport and LA Union Station, they’ll hash out …

    swing hanger Reply:

    The line in question, the BNSF Harbor subdivision, is single track and as mentioned has rather tight clearances and numerous grade crossings in the section around Slauson, that will have to be elevated and built partially over the road if double tracked. Still much cheaper than a subway, which you don’t build in suburbs anyway, barring nimby complaints. If no HSR into LAX, light rail connection to LAX is less than optimal, IMO, unless you have express services rather than all stops locals only.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    I really don’t get why BRT, via carpool lanes, isn’t a perfectly acceptable solution for LAX travel, especially since there is no reason you couldn’t do through checking of baggage via the bus. Isn’t it only a couple miles that would need to be added?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Harbor Sub is single-tracked, but Crenshaw is currently zero-tracked.

    I may be optimistic, but I think that if LA proposes an elevated line over Slauson, with local stops serving the community at the same fare as light rail and buses, it’ll get a favorable response.

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    Even with future Regional Connector LAX will be three trains from LAUS: Red/Purple, Expo, Crenshaw.
    Perhaps Metro should extend Green Line to Norwalk HSR for a direct connection.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The lack of a Norwalk extension is inexcusable, but the fault lies wholly with Norwalk. Metro proposed an above-ground (I believe at-grade) extension to the station, but Norwalk rejected it, demanding a tunnel.

    Donk Reply:

    Sadly, there is no local grass-roots movement in the Norwalk area to push for this connection, so it is not even on anyone’s radar. This was a similar challenge for the Regional Connector, which was more of a regional problem than a local problem – but Villaraigosa had the foresight to push for this and really got this project front and center.

    Somebody with political connections needs to spearhead this thing, since it is a project that has considerable regional importance. Unfortunately, there is considerable local opposition in Norwalk, the 4th district county supervisor (Don Knabe – R) is totally useless when it comes to transit, and the people that this benefits are primarily commuters from other regions who don’t even live in LA County.

    This project will probably remain off the radar until HSR gets built and people in the South Bay area start demanding a direct connection from the Green Line to HSR. People in the South Bay are wealthy, politically connected, and are the LA County residents who would most benefit from the Norwalk extension, by eliminating the need for them to drive all the way to LAUS (the Crenshaw corridor will not be viable solution for them).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s something to be said for flying to California without a stop in Chicago. Maybe a stop in Denver or Salt Lake City or even Las Vegas. The more traffic you keep out of O’Hare the better.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Until current conditions, yes.

    But once Rahm Emanuel is done with it, O’Hare will likely be the Heathrow of the Midwest, complete with high speed link to downtown Chicago in 15 minutes….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    O’Hare already is the Midwest’s Heathrow's_busiest_airports_by_passenger_traffic

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I thought the O’Hare express train was Daley’s pet abortion.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    For Loop to Ohare traffic, meh. For Champaign-O’hare only meh. Together, maybe still meh. But you’d get West-of-O’hare-O’hare and places other than Champaign, places that don’t have air service. Maybe not so meh. Either have to spend a lot of money bringing the train to the people mover or a lot of money bringing the people mover to the train.

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    It was—although there’s still some O’Hare-Chicago planning, it’s very much on the back burner and hasn’t been a priority. The idea of either installing passing loops on the CTA’s Blue Line or a dedicated HSR line is almost certainly dead.

    joe Reply:

    Dad wanted the Cross town Expressway about where Cicero runs.

    Never happened.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, I flew direct to Denver from Canton/Akron and if I had a choice between a connection through O’Hare and one through Denver, I’d take Denver.

  15. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 15th, 2012 at 20:37

    Off topic, but something I ran into while looking for something else, and just a bit of fun to share–and advertisement for the Cumbres & Toltec (narrow gauge heritage road in Colorado & New Mexico):

    Hope it helps perk up Syn and a few others. . .

    synonymouse Reply:

    Thanks for the link, D.P. Did you catch the video of moving the 463? What a tiny shop and a K-27 is not a very big locomotive.

    I have some fond memories of the Rio Grande narrow gauge. In July, 1960 the roundhouse guys at Alamosa let my brother and me up in the cab of the 491, which was on the table. They were putting the tank back on the 493, fresh out of the shop. The railroads were a lot friendlier to kids in those days. No lawyers or nannies around.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Sure saw it, Syn, in fact a link to some of those 463 videos from Steam Central is what caused me to wind up with that one. Here’s what I posted at Railway Preservation News:

    And the link to John Craft’s Steam Central site:

    In other western news, it looks like UP’s 844 may have had some minor trouble:

    The Steam Central site has “twitter” feeds from the UP steam crew; something you may want to check on.

    “The railroads were a lot friendlier to kids in those days. No lawyers or nannies around.”

    And more steam and other classic railroad equipment and railroading in general going on; of course, some years earlier, it was so much better, as you well know.

    I tell people I live in the wrong time. A bad thing is I’ve had a couple of friends who have also told me the same thing!

    Somewhere on the internet is a big bunch of photos at Alamosa in the time period you describe, or perhaps some years later, in which much of that shop complex was still intact; if I get around to it, I’ll try to find those pix and get some links set up (and undoubtedly will annoy Donk again). All that’s gone now, but there is now a standard-gauge steam road running out of Alamosa–and it connects with the narrow-gauge line at Antonito! I’ll try to get something of that up, too.

    Take care.

  16. morris brown
    Apr 16th, 2012 at 07:54

    As a response to this video which Robert writes:

    “I love, love, love this video”

    take a look at:

    New Video Reveals Bankruptcy of California High-Speed Rail

    BruceMcF Reply:

    An oil money funded organization is against electric transport. I am shocked.

    Joe Reply:

    Morris’ city, Menlo Park, opposes HSR but it loves to make money off development and congestion.

    It is parochial in accepting growth that will bring in cars and congestion but staunchly NIMBY when it comes to public infrastructre like blended HSR with Caltrain.

    His city wants 5 story development, more parking and more reatil and commercial. Plus Facebook is offering millions in cash and funding for specific development in menlo park so it can expand the new campus buoght from Sun Microsystems.

    Here is a description of the new downtown but as my pro HSR MP friends say, how the heck are people going to get into Menlo Park? It is already too congested with cars.

    “The so-called El Camino Real/Downtown Specific Plan will establish new rules for everything from building heights to sidewalk widths, availability of parking spaces, locations of new shops and restaurants, amount of public open space and measures that encourage a bike- and pedestrian-friendly environment.”

    Joe Reply:

    Deal cut to give Menlo Park millions of dollars in exchange for facebook expansion.

    Cities should ask for corporate money to offset development. My criticism is MP is willing to allow serious impacts to residents for money but sues to stop HSR – it isn’t about disturbing a community in a steady state. It is about money. MP wants to block HSR as hardball to extract money from CA.

    VBobier Reply:

    If a private citizen tried that, It would be called Extortion, which is a crime last I looked…

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Morris, again, is this the best you can do?

    And that Tim Cavanaugh–what a waste of skin.

    He says the ad calls people names, and says that calling people names is essentially losing the argument. I happen to agree with that, but what does he say? What does he really say?

    “The light-loafered pansies at the Alliance for Jobzzz didn’t have the stones to post this as a listed video.”

    “The video’s cast includes hacks [crossed out in the post] respected citizens. . .”

    “There’s also a career apparatchik and the founder of the “I Will Ride” Student Coalition. . .”

    This guy is lame, lame, lame, the so-called factual charges he brings up have largely been discredited, and of course, he has no real alternative given the knowledge we have of the true cost of our road system and the oil dependence that comes from it.

    Then there are the usual comments by others that invoke “shiny choo-choos,” and a few more that are, well, extreme:

    This one sounds something like the Communist biz I had to deal with, only instead of Communist Socialists, we have National Socialists, a/k/a Nazis:

    “Seriously California, if you can’t get your trains to run on time, what is the point of all the other fascist shit you force on your citizens.”–Chloe

    Is this guy serious, or is he a spoof of the highway bunch? Poe’s law, how do you really know?

    “I get so sick of these stupid debates on the merits of mass transit. Look, there’s a reason Auschwitz had railroad tracks rather than an eight-lane freeway running into it. Mass transit is all about controlling duhmasses, hence the name.

    “Suburban sprawl and automobiles simply allow too much freedom to people who abuse that freedom by doing what they want to do instead of what they are told they should want to do.

    “Now shut up and eat your broccoli.”–Jerry’s Kids

    This guy claims to be ready for when the roads fall apart. Wonder what he’ll do for gasoline, tires, and parts:

    “OT Just picked up a Honda XR650L. It’s a dual sport (headlights and turn signals on what’s otherwise a dirtbike). So when there are no roadzzzz, I can keep going.

    “Stoneage air cooled engine. Fun, fun, fun, and 50+ MPG.

    “When the Pockyclypse comes and those choo choos aren’t running any more, I’ll have transportation…”–Formerly Almanian

    Poe’s law again?

    “I didn’t watch the video but I assume it’s the one of the high speed trains knocking down that very drunk freight train, stripping it naked and stealing its watch and phone, all while those other high speed trains stood around and laugh. That’s moral bankruptcy. (Social commentary!)”–Fist of Etiquette (Man, where do these guys come up with these names?)

    “New California state slogans:

    “California: Conquering the Challenges of the 21st Century With the Technology of the 19th Century

    “Ride Our Shiny Choo-Choo to Fresno!

    “Who Doesn’t Want Their Luggage Stolen By Surly Baggage Handlers?”–Albo

    I wonder if we are starting to win, finally. . .I hope we are. . .

  17. Reedman
    Apr 16th, 2012 at 09:15

    I would feel better about HSR if the planning recognized the population facts. San Jose is the 10th largest city in the country, the third largest city in California. HSR needs to directly link the “Big 3” before thinking about the smaller burgs of Sacramento, San Francisco, and Oakland.

    jimsf Reply:

    San jose will be connected before san franciscos and sacramento and oakland isnt even included.

    Peter Reply:

    Actually, according to the current plan, San Jose will be connected at the same time San Francisco is. Once the massively overbuilt (yes, I agree it is) viaduct is completed to access San Jose, trains can also immediately start running to SF under the blended approach.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Which current plan would that be?

    Bay to Basin ~ 410 miles
    San Jose and Merced to the San Fernando Valley
    First HSR service to connect the San Francisco Bay Area with the Los Angeles Basin.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    before thinking about the smaller burgs of Sacramento, San Francisco, and Oakland.

    Sacramento, San Francisco, and Oakland are all far more important with far more traffic on existing transportation methods.

    Comments like these are why I’m tempted to end every comment with Pacheco delenda est.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Altamont is a better route, but with a government project it is all about politics.

    J. Wong Reply:

    You’ve never worked for a large corporation, have you? I’d have to say that practically any human endeavour is always all about politics.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They’re not going to destroy Pacheco, but they will drill a hole in it and destroy some of the nearby grasslands.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Its dangerous to rely on municipal boundaries for evaluating transport markets ~ on Urbanized Area populations in California among the 2000 top 50 (out in 2002, so the 2010 numbers should be out this year):
    LA-Long Beach-Santa Ana #2, 11.8m
    SF-Oakland #12, 3.2m,
    San Diego #15, 2.7m
    San Jose #24, 1.53m
    Riverside-San Bernadino #25, 1.51m
    Sacramento #28, 1.4m

    The largest Urbanized Area not directly on proposed alignment is Concord, CA, #65, at 552,624, right after Fresno, CA #64 at 554,923.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    HSR needs to directly link the “Big 3″ before thinking about the smaller burgs of Sacramento, San Francisco, and Oakland.

    Here are some data. Inter-regional (over 150 miles) trips into the SF Bay Area per MTC:

    Business travel: 14% vs non-business 86%.

    SF business (over 40% of entire region!) vs SJ+SC+Fremont+South Bay business combined: 415%
    Oakland+Berkeley+Tri-Valley+680 business vs SJ+SC+Fremont+South Bay business: 200%
    SF+Oakland+etc business vs SJ+etc:

    SF non-business (over 35% of entire region!) vs SJ+SC+Fremont+South Bay non-business: 265%
    Oakland+Berkeley+Tri-Valley+680 non-business vs SJ+SC+Fremont+South Bay non-business: 135%

    SF total vs SJ+SC+Fremont total: 325%
    Oakland+Berkeley+Tri-Valley+680 total vs SJ+SC+Fremont+South Bay total: 135%

    Altamont markets (SF, Peninsula, Fremont, Tri-Valley, Oakland) entirely excluding SJ (for argument’s sake, not in reality) vs all Los Banos/Pacheco markets (SJ, Fremont, Peninsula, SF): 115% non-business, 105% business, 115% total
    SJ+SC+South Bay total versus tota; Altamont markets (hypothetically excluding SJ) : 12%

    San José, the Capital of Silicon Valley, is hardly even on the map (even if it weren’t getting a directly connecting BART line, which it inexplicably is, providing its tumbleweeds with better and closer HS connectivity than the larger Oakland/Berkeley market.)

    This is supposed to be a business plan?

    Clem Reply:

    You don’t get it, do you? San Jose is bigger than Atlanta and Miami combined! So back off!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    But but but but 12% is the tenth biggest percentage in this list of percentages: “6% 11% 42% 69% 1% 9% 0% 100% 17% 8% 31% 12% 2% 7% 27% 3% 33% 4% 25% 99%” The tenth largest!

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    As I recall, Richard is Australian, so I’m surprised I have to explain to him the American way of doing “Capital” cities, because Australia is the same way. So let me explain:

    Whereas most countries situate their capitals in important cities, the US does the opposite. It is a tradition going back to the Founding Fathers when they decided to put Washington DC in a swamp. State Capitols are the same way; indeed it is a rite of passage for school children to memorize all 50 State capitols (not an easy thing to do…Bismarck? Where’s that?).

    There is a certain logic to this. For most Americans, visiting your central government is an unpleasant experience. It is where you meet your parole officer, pay taxes, or get a marriage certificate. There is no sense wasting valuable real estate for such business, so we Americans situate the government infrastructure in some real armpit locations. Like the far end of an airport runway, in the case of San Jose.

    Joe Reply:

    Hey Tool.

    What is the Capital of Australia if not an exact copy of how the US built WA DC.? It was an entriely planned city.

    It was a compromise between the two major Australian cities. Selected in a contest.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What Drunk Engineer is saying is exactly that Australia built its national capital at a nowhere location between two states, just like the US.

    That said, Australian state capitals are the states’ primate cities. Sydney is the capital of NSW, Melbourne is the capital of Victoria, etc. In the US, this is true of only a minority of states (Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Arizona, Connecticut), of which California is not one.

    And all of this was about nitpicking Richard’s sarcasm about the role of San Jose as the capital of Silicon Valley.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Denver. Atlanta. Indianapolis. Oklahoma City. Cheyenne.
    St. Paul, Minneapolis is bigger but you can walk from Minneapolis to St. Paul quite easily.
    Richmond, it isn’t the biggest city anymore but was.
    Carson City may have been the biggest city in Nevada when it became a state. Las Vegas was a wide place in the road until recently.
    Santa Fe has been the capital since 1610, things change over 400 years.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Richmond is the traditional capital of Real America.

    Some states change their capitals in response to changing population trends. Rhode Island used to have multiple capitals; it made Providence its sole capital after Providence started to industrialize and left the other cities in the dust. I guess it’s more understandable if the capital was fixated in one city – not really New Mexico’s fault that ATSF bypassed Santa Fe and went to Albuquerque instead. (Or Israel’s fault that all the industry was in Jaffa/Tel Aviv and Haifa and Jerusalem had no reason to exist other than religious history.) But other states… don’t really have an excuse. New York picked a city up the Hudson out of a hat. Ohio put the capital in the middle of nowhere and took a couple of centuries for it to grow to real city size. Michigan picked a tiny town out of spite over the larger cities’ fighting over who gets to be the capital. Wisconsin put a capital in the middle between the river and the real cities to the east, and it was so insignificant at the relevant time that three separate railroads connecting Chicago with the Twin Cities all bypassed it.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Columbus is on the bank of a river in the middle of the state. There was a town on one bank of the river, so it was put on the other bank where there was room to build. I know placing the capital where all the people in the state have a chance to get to it is a boring and ordinary way to pick a capital, but its a state settled by boring and ordinary people.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    New York picked a city up the Hudson out of a hat.

    Albany is at the fall line more or less. Easy to get to from downstate because there’d be a ship sailing that way relatively frequently. Since it’s at the fall line that means it’d be the place people above the fall line would be able to get to without catching a sailing ship.. the nice boring place in the middle of the state. And a nice place to make sure the state was collecting all the taxes as the stuff was being portaged.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Augusta is at the fall line
    Hartford is at the fall line
    Richmond is at the fall line.
    Columbia is at the fall line
    Augusta is at the fall line.

    …notice a pattern here?
    Your priorities are bit different before they start digging canals and building railroads.

    Trenton isn’t on the fall line but it’s halfway between Philadelphia and New York and they could keep tabs on the New Yorkers and Philadelphians easier. And it’s sorta kinda halfway-ish for the people in the New York Bay basins and the people along the Delaware…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It take that back about Trenton, Trenton is at the fall line…..

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Drunk Engineer :

    I’m surprised I have to explain to him the American way of doing “Capital” cities, because Australia is the same way.


    What is the Capital of Australia if not an exact copy of how the US built WA DC.? It was an entriely planned city.

    As DE said.

    However, the Ozzie State capitals are normally more like colonial capitals, the largest population centers in their state and living off of resource extraction in the rest of the state ~ Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Perth, even Adelaide. Hobart’s not quite so dominant, but then Tassie isn’t such a big hinterland that you can get quite so plump living off the pickings.

    Neil Shea Reply:


  18. DavidM
    Apr 16th, 2012 at 12:16

    I like this letter from a former San Mateo mayor.

    “Every once in a while a legislator gets to make history. It’s usually a vote which requires some guts because it is going to make some constituency unhappy. I hope our legislators look in the mirror and ask themselves if they want to go down in the history books as the people who killed high-speed rail and Caltrain electrification or those who took a risk and voted for a better future with long-lasting benefits.”,%20Rich,%20Jerry%20and%20Leland

    J. Wong Reply:

    Not everyone on the Peninsula is against HSR. It’s good to be reminded of that.

  19. Reality Check
    Apr 16th, 2012 at 13:01

    Caltrain downtown extension gets top billing for top dollar

    The Metropolitan Transportation Commission is making the extension one of its top projects for major federal funding, it said at a meeting Friday.


    With the latest projects on the way, the MTC decided to select the next ones to submit for the $2.5 billion it expects to receive in major federal funding for big transit projects over the next 28 years. The plan is to press for $650 million in federal funds toward the estimated $2.5 billion cost of the 1.3-mile extension from the Fourth and King streets Caltrain station to the new Transbay Terminal.

    Peter Reply:

    Heh, so they fixed their cost-benefit analysis of the project then, I guess?

    Joe Reply:

    Nancy Pelosi is why the MTC should prioritize the TBT with Federal funds.

    She has the clout to get that project funded with federal money. Waiting until she retires is stupid.

    Prioritize sections where the political will and means are the strongest makes sense.

    Donk Reply:

    Well its great that MTC is being proactive about this and not just depending on HSR bond money to pay for the whole thing. The DTX is going to have considerable local commuter rail benefits, and so should be funded at least partially by local sources, rather than depending on more $400M handouts from the HSR pot.

  20. Reality Check
    Apr 16th, 2012 at 13:28

    In today’s Palo Alto Daily Post (not available online), editor Dave Price‘s column is headlined: Legislature to avoid vote on HSR.

    He writes:

    It looks like the Legislature will be able to approve the high-speed rail project without actually voting on it.

    You’ve probably seen reports about how the Legislature will soon decide on Gov. Jerry Brown’s request to sell $2.3 billion in bonds needed to start construction of the bullet train.

    Many lawmakers, especially the ones here, have been riding the fence refusing to say whether they are for or against it.

    Yes, they have been raising concerns and holding hearings, but I haven’t heard any of them say they’re against it. I think they’re afraid to angering union bosses, who are pushing hard for high-speed rail as a way of crating more union jobs.

    A vote would tell us where our lawmakers stand.

    But State Assemblyman Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, who is running for state Senate, doubts there will be a vote. Instead, he expects the bonds will be included in the state budget.

    Here’s what I think will happen: Legislators will say that they had to vote for the budget to keep the state running, and that they wished the bonds weren’t included in the budget, but unfortunately they were.

    The rest of his column is mostly about “Three PR Blunders” the Caltrain PR office led by Mark Simon has recently made … including one which “blindsided” Jerry Hill and his planned bill for a Caltrain tax:

    Hill had planned to get the Legislature to approve his bill that would let voters in the three Caltrain counties (San Francisco, San Mateo and Santa Clara) decide on a tax to help stabilize the commuter railroad’s budget.

    Then the Caltrain PR office sent out a news release suggesting its financial problems had been solved with an agreement with the HSRA to electrify the railroad.

    That put Hill in a bind — how could he make the case that Caltrain needs a tax when the railroad’s PR office is saying everything is going to be OK?

    So his bill is on the back burner.

    That wasn’t the only blunder by the Caltrain PR office in the past couple of weeks.

    After the electrification announcement came out, a post reporter asked how much Caltrain would save by switching from diesel to electric. No answer. The reporter has now filed a request under the California Public Records Act for the information.

    You’d think Caltrain would be happy to say how much money the new trains would save.

    The column then moves on to “the biggest blunder” having to do with Caltrain’s stonewalling in response to the Post’s questions about CEO Mike Scanlon’s $88,214 in “extra pay.” This brought his annual compensation up to $356,857 last year, and they note that this is double what Gov. Jerry Brown makes. (So the Post has filed a public records request regarding this issue too.)

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Lost in all this political calculus is the fact that unlike Lowenthal and other candidate running for partisan office, Simitan can win his Supervisor seat outright on June 5th if he gets more than 50% of the vote.

    Clem Reply:

    Caltrain’s silence on operating costs is not surprising. Their own EIR shows their operating costs increasing after electrification on page 2-48.

    Relative to the no-project alternative, O&M costs would evolve as follows, in millions of YOE dollars:
    Train Operations (crew and admin): -0.94 (2015) to -1.87 (2035)
    Traction Power (fuel or electricity): -5.11 (2015) to -18.81 (2035)
    Rolling Stock Maintenance: 4.55 (2015) to 12.38 (2035)
    Traction Electrification/Maintenance of Way: 7.0 (2015) to 13.92 (2035)
    Maintenance Facilities: 0.19 (2015) to 0.38 (2035)

    The line item for rolling stock maintenance drives the outcome. They have some excuse about a new life cycle maintenance philosophy that increases annual cost, but improves service reliability and overall condition of the vehicle over its life. Thus, a direct comparison between maintenance costs between the No Project and the Project Alternative may be misleading, i.e. they don’t even believe their own figures… in reality it’s probably because the FRA considers every EMU car as a locomotive, with the more onerous inspection and service requirements this entails.

    They conclude on page 2-49 of the EIR:

    Caltrain electrification with EMUs is projected to increase Caltrain’s O&M costs by approximately $5.69 million in 2015 and about $6.00 million in 2035.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    the Project Alternative may be misleading, i.e. they don’t even believe their own figures… in reality it’s probably because the FRA considers every EMU car as a locomotive, with the more onerous inspection and service requirements this entails.

    I’m sure the Metra, the MTA and NJTransit have detailed accounting information about MUs versus locomotives hauling cars. NJTransit even has diesel locomotives, DMUs, electric locomotives and EMUs. I’m sure they would have been more than willing to share that information with Caltrain.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sure, but those agencies are all within the FRA’s regime, so they just show us what the real costs are under present regulations.

    To me it would be interesting to see how things may be different in Europe and in Japan, to see what the FRA’s effect is, similarly to its weight penalty for locomotives.

    Clem Reply:

    You have to admit they’ve got a knack for shooting themselves in the foot. They’re lucky the Daily Post journos are too dumb to dig in the right places.

  21. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 16th, 2012 at 20:21

    Off topic as can be, but likely of interest here: British newsreel/PR footage of early high-speed (or rapid rail?) operation, with the Coronation Scott in 1937–100+ mph running, and with steam . . .

    Have fun.

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