HSR Critics Out Themselves As HSR Opponents

Apr 1st, 2012 | Posted by

You would think that a plan to build high speed rail that is $30 billion cheaper than the previous iteration and provides desperately needed post-oil travel between California’s metropolitan areas sooner would be one that HSR critics would embrace.

Instead, the usual suspects are lining up to attack Governor Jerry Brown’s revisions to the high speed rail project – even those whose ideas are the core underpinnings of the proposal:

“We are a matter of weeks away from various budget deadlines,” state Sen. Joe Simitian, D-Palo Alto, said Saturday. “When the cost estimates are up and down and up and down by orders of magnitude here, I think folks are going to want to make sure we spend some time to understand how reliable are these figures, and what’s the basis for the new estimate.”

Simitian, chairman of the budget subcommittee considering high-speed rail, said the authority “seems to have been listening and making an effort to be responsive.”

But the Legislature, he said, is unlikely to appropriate funding as quickly as Brown hopes.

“I think we’re going to have to look past the June 15 budget adoption date,” he said.

State Sen. Mark DeSaulnier, D-Concord, said legislative approval of the plan on Brown’s time frame would require a “heroic effort.”

“It’s the biggest capital project in the history of the state, and it should be done properly,” he said. “Given that the numbers have bounced around so much, it’s a lot to ask.”

In launching these attacks, these supposed critics are revealing themselves to in fact be opponents of high speed rail. If they wanted simply to improve the project, they’d be praising the effort and pledging to hammer out the details. But by instead denouncing the plan, they’re tipping their hand and showing the public that their actual goal is to kill high speed rail.

In fact, as Californians For High Speed Rail Executive Director Daniel Krause pointed out, the governor’s plan includes things Simitian helped create – namely, the blended plan that allows trains to serve LA and SF more quickly by using existing tracks:

“A core tenet of this plan – the blending of HSR and commuter rail – was an idea generated by Senator Simitian, along with Assemblymember Rich Gordon, and Congresswoman Anna Eshoo to reduce costs and impacts. As a result, the plan is much better because of this dialogue.

“Given the months of dialogue and negotiation with lawmakers, we are baffled by recent statements by Senators Joe Simitian and Mark DeSaulnier’s indicating a desire to delay the decision to fund HSR in the state budget.

“While certainly the details of the plan need to be reviewed, we strongly oppose any attempts to delay the HSR funding vote by Senators Simitian and DeSaulnier. These Senators have a deep knowledge of this plan as they helped to craft it. Pleading ignorance about a plan they have helped to create gives the impression they are playing politics with California’s future. We urge them to move forward without delay.”

Krause is right to argue that Simitian and DeSaulnier are working to undermine the project by using these delaying tactics. And they’re also making it clear that their intention isn’t to improve the project but to undercut it.

That’s not the attitude that California legislators ought to be taking. High speed rail is an important part of California’s transportation future. If Senators Simitian and DeSaulnier see ways it can be improved, they ought to work collaboratively to pursue those changes, just as Simitian did with his blended plan. But instead these two are signaling they might join the Tea Party Republicans in dealing President Barack Obama a big political blow in an election year by trying to kill the high speed rail project.

  1. Tony D.
    Apr 1st, 2012 at 15:53

    What the hell is Simitian talking about with this “up and down and up and down” crap?!! Or DeSaulnier’s comment of the estimate “numbers have bounced around so much?” The cost estimate went up ($98bil) and it went downt ($68bil). They both took the $98 billion price tag as gospel, but are now questioning the $68 billion estimate? Simitian and DeSaulnier are proving with each passing day that they are nothing but piles of @#$% feces!

    So how do the other senate Dems feel about adhering to the will of California voters and appropriating funds by June 15?

    God I hope they don’t screw us over…

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Haven’t you been keeping up with the news? The CHSRA’s own estimates go up, then down. Apparently Richard Mlynarik’s oblique reference to Orwell’s 1984 went over your head. “We have always been at war with Eastasia.” But given the quality of your posts, including yours of April Fool’s Day, 15:53, one shouldn’t be too surprised.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Who are you to judge the quality of posts Mr. Wrong?!

    Tony d. Reply:

    By the way, Quoting, referencing a Richard Mlynarik post to make a point? Says a lot about you Ricky; enough said.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    I guess you still don’t get it.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Whatever you say Ricky. Go ahead and re in kind (its probably important for you to get the last word in).

    Responsible_Thought Reply:

    Rick: you have it wrong.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Haven’t you been keeping up with the news?

    Yes, the Mercury News, in fact:

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

    Neil Shea Reply:


    BruceMcF Reply:

    The Mercury News article quoted in the previous CHSRblog post.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    He’s seems to be talking about a YOE estimate is higher than a constant cost estimate, costs after you’ve done more detailed planning go up after you find out conditions are worse than you expected, or you’ve increased the scope of works to pander to some NIMBY oppositions with the support of politicians like Smitian, and they go up faster the more you are forced to rely on outside contractors for planning work, and costs go up as timelines slip because of the delaying tactics of politicians like Smitian …

    … and costs go down after you look around to find a more cost effective way to solve those problems.

    If costs went up and up and up and up, with no down, until the legislature gave up and appropriated all the Prop1a money to bogus “HSR” projects that were all local transport infrastructure with no inter-regional HSR component, that seems like it would suit him just fine. So what’s he complaining about is the “and costs go down after” part of the process.

    Michael Hsu Reply:

    There are 6 million californians living below the poverty level today (2012 figures). Instead of high speed rail, why not give each poor californian a used car? Let’s say $10,000.00 USD per poor californian (for buying a used car – not for buying lottery tickets). It’ll only cost taxpayers $60 billion dollars. Hey, isn’t that the same as the cost of this new high speed rail? Which is better in terms of freedom and mobility – a used car that can take the poor people everywhere they wish to drive to, or a rail system which has only a limited number of stations?

    Nathanael Reply:

    When the poor Californians can’t afford gas, and when the cars are stuck in traffic, it’s clear the high-speed rail system is better.

    Now, giving every Californian outright CASH would probably be a good investment — we need to spread the wealth around to get the economy going. Hey, with the cash they might even get together and start their own railroad project! But no effing way should we give them useless rattletrap clunkers which will break down the moment they need them.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You need to add $20,000 per parking spot for the car.

  2. Tony D.
    Apr 1st, 2012 at 16:11

    Robert or anyone,
    Can you post contact information for both Simitian and DeSaulnier. Need to let them both know that we disapprove of their true colors.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    What’s a google? And what’s an “electoral district”?

    Tony d. Reply:

    Damn I wish we could all be as smart (ass) as you Richard! (Sarcasm). Yeah; Google and electoral district, bla bla. I was suggesting that perhaps Robert could post the contact info as an update for easy one stop shopping (that obviously went over your head). My apologies for the headache.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    The price went up to $98 billion. The project was cut in half, leaving the difficult stuff ’til later, and still costs $68 billion. Whether you support it or not you have to agree that those people managing and promoting it are constantly handing guns to their enemies and sticking targets on their own backs. ICS with zero transportation value? A fistful of business plans? Out of control consultant spending? With friends like these in charge who needs enemies?
    I’m barely hanging in there as a supporter in the hope that we can actually get some transportation value out of what is built. I am not interested in “true” high speed rail, just solutions to mobility problems. To solve most of those in a green way we don’t need super speed (220mph) with its enormous cost and electricity consumption. One day some one will explain to me where the power will come from, especially when you want to run all those peak hour trains. The Chinese of course will burn more coal. What should we do?

    joe Reply:

    I disagree. You have to be willfully blind to attribute the resistance to CAHSRA.

    First the critics say the project is expensive and gold plated and can be done cheaper. The critics say 4 track is nuts and should be blended and build gradually.

    Well we have a less costly approach …

    Now it’s not legal. The costs change to much. It timeline to spend the ARRA funding is too tight. It’s bullshit to delay HSR.

    I’m glad you admit a lack of interested in “true” HSR – that not running 220 MPH saves electricity. You’ve decided less fast service is the best thing. I like 55 MPH highways. It’s not gonna happen.

    Realistically slower service capacity means more oil burning planes and cars. Electricity in CA is natural gas, hydro-electric, nuclear wind and solar. Not so much coal.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    It’s not that 2tph (vs 9tph, or whatever) of HS traffic is unreasonable or unrealistic.

    Anybody with a clue — ie those outside the agencies — has know that the outrageous and unprecedented traffic and passenger levels “predicted” by the agency were rent-seeking outright fraud since forever.

    So, hooray for that.

    The issue that you can’t use an “analysis” of “benefits” based on a squillion trains per day and a zillion passengers per year to justify a very different (if less alternate reality) project. Not unless you change the law to ram through whatever the hell you like just because it’s in somebody’s financial interest to like it, that is.

    joe Reply:

    Flip-flopping (TM) arguments have no justification. The folks that want to keep disturbances low in their neighborhoods should just say so and not fabricate excuses to sound less selfish. There is no satisfying solution, just busy work to delay the project.

    News flash – opponents have a financial interest.

    One consequent of invalidating all analysis / benefits and data is you are done finished. You oppose the project on grounds of fraud on the part of all parties.

    Rent seeking contractors are bad and the public sector is bad. All is bad.

    You’ve made your contribution – nothing is possible.

    Game Over.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Hmm? As far as I can tell, HSR probably will save electricity, if implemented sanely.

    HSR isn’t as low in energy usage as the best slower-speed railways, but given the numbers I can find, but on an energy per seat-km basis, properly implement HSR is (1) still quite competitive with lower-speed railways, (2) more efficient than buses on the highway, (3) much more efficient than FRA-penalized incompetent American railways, (4) much more efficient than POVs on the highway (while still being 3 billion times fast of course), and (5) vastly, insanely, more efficient than air travel.

    Moreover, most people travelling the entire distance between SF and LA are going to opt for something that isn’t horribly slow, and it’s hard to do worse than a jet airliner for fuel efficiency…

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Less fast service, say 170-180mph. Look at the curve of energy consumption vs speed and look at how much 220 you have to do to make an arbitrary schedule. You can accomplish most your goals at High Speed rather than super speed (220mph). Communications is the game changer. With wifi etc an extra 20 – 30 mins on the train is acceptable if you can use the time productively. In any event domestic business travel in these corridors is static, and you won;t convert those making connecting flights unless the transfers are super convenient.
    Remember also the energy saving is dependent on high load factors. You have to move people, not empty seats.

    joe Reply:

    I’m glad that 170-180 MPH is okay with you that’s a legitimate personal preference. I’d be glad to debate the merits of speed limits on a built system.

    I’m the kinda of driver that understands when folks drive 50-55 in the right lane – legal and safe and saves on gas. The physics are simple – but we build cars and roads for faster sustained performance.

    Build a HSR line to achieve 220 MPH and we can debate the electric savings and maintenance of running 170. Maybe give folks on those trains a ticket rebate or demonstrate increased capacity at less than 220 MPH speeds.

    IMHO, building a system that is less time competitive with airlines undercuts the project and rail in general.

    For a business day trip the 20-30 minutes might be the killer – one less hour that day to do face-to-face work and return home at night.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I’m glad that 170-180 MPH is okay with you that’s a legitimate personal preference …

    Bluff body drag, a matter of personal preference. Let the market decide on the velocity-dependent exponent! “2” seems way too pre-Web 2.0.

    joe Reply:

    Another strawman for the troll.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    It’s a great point that maybe a slower speed HSR could save 10-15% of the energy used at 220 mph, but taking that plane flight uses maybe 900% more. So we can certainly talk about fine tuning later but for now many of us would like to have an alternative to the huge energy squandered by flying.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    If your prime concern is to beat air travel times you should build the I-5 route. That market is static and will in any event gravitate to the closest airport or rail station. It costs far more to build to 220mph standards because you have to build it straighter, and you end up taking out more neighborhoods and real estate in general. If you believe that the priority is to link together the state’s cities, especially the CV where alternative travel modes are minimal, then a lower cost 300kph train does the job perfectly well. And operationally the savings are far greater than 15%. Of course if your objective is to have the fastest Lionel set and enjoy bragging rights you shouldn’t expect taxpayers to fork out. You’re going to end up with a Concord on steel wheels.

    joe Reply:

    Yes, I see – we choose between either an I-5 alignment or run trains at 170 MPH. Plus 220 MPH is childish. Interesting but what if we refuse to play by your rules?

    The other view point is the 220 MPH exceeds the efficiency of air travel, does not use oil, and is fasst enough to compete with air travel.

    Plus – the final speed is not mandated to be 220 – HSR is engineered to run at 220.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If you are truly concerned about you energy use, stay home.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Paul Dyson, you’re simply wrong; I’ve read through the detailed market analyses from the CHSRA. Try doing so! The conclusion is that running at 220 through the CV captures both the end-to-end air market *and* the market from the CV cities, whereas your options capture only one or the other. This makes the CHSRA plan more cost-effective. Particularly more cost-effective than doing both, a 300kph local and an I-5 express.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Joe is spot on, on the speed point ~ the 3hrs are to capture single day transport markets that 4hrs do not capture nearly as effectively (since fixed path intercity transport, whether airport to airport or rail requires getting to and from the intercity transport nodes) and 6hrs do not capture at all.

    If electrical power becomes sufficiently large share of the operating costs, its quite feasible to organize fewer full speed trips with higher cost tickets and more slower speed trips with lower cost tickets. However, not building toward the capability for 3hrs SF/LA when its possible with current technology would be a serious design specification failure.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    High speed trains suck down the megawatts but it gets spread out over a trainload of people. Youre fare isn’t all fuel costs. Its staff, maintenance, depreciation etc. An extreme scenario would be 2 hour4 trip times between SF and LA, 4 hour trip times and 8 hour trip times. With two hour trip times ( ignoring that it takes time to turn trains around, staff needs breaks etc. ) the train and it’s crew can carry four train loads of passengers in a shift. 4 hours, two train loads and an 8 hour trip they can service one trainload.
    It’s not going to be as simple as how much electricity the train uses…..

    I was able to find this


    Which is coming up with just under 28kWh per seat on Madrid-Barcelona, if I’m reading it right.
    What’s that come to at the wholesale rates HSR will be paying? 3 bucks? 4? Double that and the fare goes up 4 bucks for the ultra-express. It might make sense for the railroad to have cheaper fares on the ultra express because they can turn the train around fast and get a different warm body in the seat….

    Nathanael Reply:

    Paul, don’t use YOE dollars, even if the CHSRA is legally forced to use YOE dollars due to a recently passed Republican bill in Congress.

    YOE dollars are MEANINGLESS. They are an inflation prediction, and we all know how accurate those are (not at all).

    Jonahtan Reply:


    ’m barely hanging in there as a supporter in the hope that we can actually get some transportation value out of what is built. I am not interested in “true” high speed rail, just solutions to mobility problems.

    Sometime you should take some time out and read Prop A1. Or, if you already have, thank you for making it pellucidly clear that you oppose the HSR goals of Prop 1A, and that you want to spend any available HSR funds on local rail systems. (Local ones, perchance?).

    Eric Reply:

    according to
    California imports about a third of its power. Very little in state is generated by coal but together with the national average of coal generation (about 45%) imported power, its about 15% or so attributed to coal.
    More than half of california’s electricity is natural gas.

    joe Reply:

    Stop with the bullying Richard.

    Tony d. Reply:

    Richard isn’t being a bully Joe; he’s just being his miserable, NIMBY-self. Its actually quite humorous!

  3. yoyo
    Apr 1st, 2012 at 17:25

    As a registered voter in his district and resident of Palo Alto, I just sent him an email expressing my unhappiness. It’s odd that he’s such an anti-rail zealot.


    Neil Shea Reply:

    Thanks, me too.

    Eric M Reply:



    David Reply:

    I will be sending a letter to my Senator (DeSaulnier) when the plan is released, I’ve already sent him one letter. I think a letter has more impact than an email.

  4. William
    Apr 1st, 2012 at 17:38

    I don’t think the cost-estimate ever went down for a complete phase-1 system. The new figure is most likely the cost for an intern HSR system with just the CV spine part full-HSR, instead from SJ to LA.

    Clem Reply:

    Less, for less.

    Nathanael Reply:

    These are all bullshit YOE numbers anyway.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    If the CHSRA puts out a funding plan as the law requires we’ll know for sure.

  5. Tom McNamara
    Apr 1st, 2012 at 18:25

    Oh to think I said as much ten days ago:

    Simitan is not going to vote for the bonds anyway. His comments at the hearing make that pretty clear. This proposal is dumb, because it’s not really feasible. CalTrain can’t break even because SF and the Peninsula are job centers now and need to be connected to somewhere else to get excess workers. You can add as many bells, whistles, glowing lights, to the trains… it doesn’t matter.

    It is a waste of the bond money, and it won’t happen because once it’s clear that Simitan isn’t interested in such a bribe, BART will take the money back and move full speed “ahead” on Ring the Bay and Silicon Valley.

    Gee what a surprise. Simitan won’t vote for these bonds, either because he wants to win his race as County Supervisor or because he knows if the tunnel is built to TransBay, it’s only a matter of time before the Peninsula is quad-tracked.

    DeSaulnier doesn’t want to vote for it because it gives Cal Train newfound life and blows $1.5 billion that could be in BART’s pocket.

    Lowenthal’s not going to vote for it because…he wants cap and trade to go for expansions at the port…or something…maybe…

  6. Tony d.
    Apr 1st, 2012 at 19:30

    Funny how the NIMBY, naysayers are all of a sudden stressing “the law” as a means of trying to thwart this project. Calling it a reach is an understatement. Anyhow, you guys have already poisoned this thread, so have at it! Its all yours! I’ll save the intelligent discussion for the next thread topic.

  7. David
    Apr 1st, 2012 at 20:19

    I’d imagine the cost is even lower considering the original $100 billion had factored inflation into the costs. So what’s the cost without inflation?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Unfortunately, we haven’t heard a constant-dollar quote yet.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Now out on Pages 3-7 to 3-10 of the Draft Revised 2012 Business Plan

    Base year Fiscal 2011 dollars
    IOS: Low: $26.9b, High: $31.3b
    Bay to Basin: Low $41.3b, High: $49b (cumulative)
    Finished Phase 1: Low $53.4, High: $62.3b (cumulative)

    Nathanael Reply:

    Aweseome. Thanks.

    These are really perfectly decent numbers for a trunk line with multiple mountain crossings.

  8. Jack
    Apr 1st, 2012 at 20:43

    Wow, just wow. Let’s just hope the previous story a few weeks back about their votes don’t matter as we have enough else where to get this done pans out…

  9. Responsible_Thought
    Apr 1st, 2012 at 21:48

    First: Supporters need to at least give them some space, even if it looks like pandering to the opposition. After all, it’s their obligation as Legislators to take their time.

    Second: I refuse to believe they not have enough time between now and June 15 to make a decision. This project has been studied to death. They need to specifically explain to the public why the revised plan presents too many unknowns not to act by June 15.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Agree about giving them some space to do their job. Coming out of the gate attacking them may not be helpful.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Even liberals are losing interest in hsr – their understanding never went beyond the sloganeering stage anyway – because they are becoming more aware of the high costs of construction, operation, and maintenance. The recognition is slowly seeping in to the general public that it is a souped-up Amtrak, not a maglev or anything revolutionary Buck Rogers. Not breakthrough competitive with air travel times. Just a more intensive, more expensive application of traditional railway tech which will require constant maintenance and high paid labor. No talk of driverless operation.

    They see transit fares going up and are aware that all transit services are losing money and require permanent subsidy. They know that in the real world the CHSRA will be competing with urban transit systems for funding. Some Democrats would simply rather spend what money is available on welfare and social services. The cheerleaders will just have to get used to that – social spending is more popular than hsr with many voters and the pols have nothing to lose by deferring any decisions on hsr, because these voters are burned out on the hsr hype.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There’s no conflict between spending money on social services and spending it on infrastructure.

    The conflict is between spending money on blowing people up in Afghanistan, spending money on handing it to very rich failed businessmen, and spending it on useful stuff.

    I prefer useful stuff; 99% of Republicans in Congress and about 50% of the Democrats appear to prefer blowing people up and giving money to very rich failed businessmen. However, I suspect the majority of the public also prefers useful stuff.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Indeed, spending money on useful stuff is complementary with spending money on social services, because the real limit on how much money that can be spent on social services is the productive capacity of the economy ~ money is just tickets to ride, and if the ride can only take 200 people an hour, handing out extra tickets only works up to the point that you are handing out a total of 200 per hour.

    Nathanael Reply:

    A wise economic point. Where did you go to economics school? They seem to have taught you better than the average economist.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    UT-Knoxville ~ though two years after I graduated the department flipped and they sidelined forced out the non-true believer orthodox economists. Too many number crunchers working only half time for the department and half time for the state economic number cruncher bureau, but with full department votes.

    Quieter, but not all that dis-similar to how the true believers dismantled the leading Social Economics department at Notre Dame.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Even at 50%, IMO you’re vastly overestimating the number of Democrats who think this way. HSR appeals primarily to a small number of technocratic or good-government types, who fortunately include Jerry Brown. However, this is a thin slice of the Democratic coalition, which is why both Clinton & Obama have given lip-service to HSR as a minor initiative only.

    Also the huge political obstacle for California Democrats isn’t “social services” (which have been cut to the bone), but pension fund obligations owned to their political base.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’ll see your California Congressional delagation and raise you the Congressional delegations from North Carolina, Virginia, Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Vermont, Massachusetts and Maine. Throw in Illinois because Chicago is going to be the hub of the MIdwest HSR system.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Wait, I’m not clear: are you saying you’re *less* cynical or *more* cynical than me about Democrats?

    Anyway, good-government types include Wisconsin and Minnesota Democrats. And in Illinois and the Northeast you don’t *need* to be good-government to realize that passenger trains are good politics…. so adirondacker’s political analysis is right.

    trentbridge Reply:

    Yes, mouse, it’s a passenger railroad. Glad you’ve reached a solid conclusion, at last. Be honest – Conservatives wouldn’t support a souped-up Amtrak, maglev, or “Buck Rogers” technology if it involces public financing. Any more than they support healthcare coverage for all unless the “beloved” market place i.e. insurance companies can carve out an unhealthy profit margin for standing between people and healthcare providers. Yes “it will require constant maintenance” as do planes, roads, and everything that’s basic infrastructure or involves machinery that has moving parts. And don’t planes requires “high paid labor” i.e pilots? When you talk of a driverless operation, are you referring to the Republican Party?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes when it comes to cross-subsidizing automobile and truck transport, “conservatives” end up being all for it. Odd how that lines up more clearly with who contributes to whom rather than any actual political ideology.

    ericmarseille Reply:

    Sorry Synonymouse but true HSR is not a souped-up train of any kind ; true HSR is a totally different experience ; the comfort, the seating room, the bar car, the landscape going by like crazy : It’s no Buck Rogers thingie, it’s not a regular train experience, it’s not a plane experience, it’s wonderful in its own right : it’s the real HSR experience.

    swing hanger Reply:

    As ericmarseille says- HSR is a different universe from (especially) Amtrak or Caltrain- Americans who board an HSR train for the first time will experience something akin to a Model T driver getting behind the wheel of a Mercedes SLK for the first time.

    Jonathan Reply:

    “Real HSR experience”? 1983 Rheingold would be an improvement on extant US passenger train. Acela not necessarily excluded.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    1983 Rheingold? It will have gone skunky by now if not rusted through it’s can.


    Jonathan Reply:

    TEE 6/7, as I trust you realized.

  10. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 1st, 2012 at 22:30

    In view of a recently passed date (April 1), and of some critics’ ideas of alternatives to rail that include self-driving electric cars, I thought it appropriate to bring in some material from a website I normally don’t much care for, Inhabitat:



    Linked from above:


    Emma Reply:

    I’m telling you by the time HSR is up and running, probably 90+ % of all cars in California will be electric or Hybrid-electric or use an alternative fuel source.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And all of them will be as inefficient as today’s cars for the 90%+ of the time that they are parked.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I pity someone who spends 2.4 hours a day in their car….

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Lots of people spend more, but its meant to be an average for the private motor vehicle fleet.

    Brian Reply:

    By 2023 the majority of the autos on the road will be ones manufactured, purchased, and already on the road today. The average age of the private vehicle fleet is 15 years and climbing. That 15 years average means that for every new car bought in the last year there are an equal number of 30 years old cars still on the road.

    Unless there is some revolutionary and cheaper car that changes everything, the cars bought in 2011 will be on the road in 2041. Decades after after HSR blended phase 1 is built. Likely after phase 2 is built.

    Any average-person-priced electric cars built in the next 10 year we also not be able to make in Bay Area to LA area on one charge. If you need to rent a car to get there, and pay tolls on the highway, why not take the train?

    flowmotion Reply:

    Brian — I wouldn’t be so sure of that. More stringent smog testing in the 1990s eliminated a huge number of 70s & 80s vehicles where the tune-up costs exceeded the price of the vehicle. Greenhouse gas regulations could easily nudge older cars into the junkyard.

    And, despite “cash for clunkers”, there are still tons of inefficient body-on-frame SUVs which were sold in the cheap-gas years of the early 2000s. Once gas goes into the $6+ range, most of these vehicles will be retired for good by the owner.

    Also, your figures seem suspect, or draw the wrong conclusion. How often do you see a 30-year-old (e.g. pre 1982) car driving around? Rare, unless you are visiting a car show. (Perhaps there’s a lot of Model T’s throwing off the average.)

    Nathanael Reply:

    The reason there will be more and more old cars on the road is that most people won’t be able to *afford* new cars. Look at the nasty economic trends.

    I mean, that could be reversed by taxing the rich and giving the money to the poor, and that *could* happen before 2023. Wanna bet on it?

    Anyway, assuming that doesn’t happen, what do all these people who can’t afford new cars do? Either they buy old cars, or they keep old cars, or they get rid of their car.

    So the number of cars being retired is entirely dependent on how many people are in a position to get rid of their car. This means, more trains == more cars retired, fewer trains == fewer cars retired.

    I don’t think there will be enough trains by 2023 to retire vast numbers of cars in the US. Yeah, I’m a pessimist.

    Emma Reply:

    “Unless there is some revolutionary and cheaper car that changes everything, the cars bought in 2011 will be on the road in 2041. Decades after after HSR blended phase 1 is built. Likely after phase 2 is built.”

    Apple iCar?

    Derek Reply:

    If electric cars came with low rolling resistance steel tires and ran on steel roads, didn’t have to carry around their power source, and could be linked together so they didn’t have to push aside so much air per passenger, then they might be as energy efficient as electric trains.

    Emma Reply:

    I see what you did here. I’m not saying that I’m for cars. In fact I would prefer a future where public transit is dominating and reaching out to every corner of America’s cities over a future with electric cars and plug-in stations everywhere.

    Electric car or not, the problem will remain the same: traffic congestion. And there is only one cure for it. Efficient, on-time public transit. But, we all know how the current Congress feels about it. So I’m putting my money on when the Democrats under Pelosi are ruling.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    But HSR works well in environments where the large majority of local trips are by private vehicle, so moving ahead with HSR does not require waiting until the country is ready to plow through obstacles to sustainable local transport … in other words, while it is a critical part of a sustainable integrated transport system, in the right corridors with the right population sizes the right rail travel time apart, it does not require a sustainable integrated transport system to already be in place in order to succeed.

    Nathanael Reply:

    And anyway, LA, SF, San Jose, San Diego, and Sacramento all have substantial on-time public transit. Not as much as they should and not as efficient as it should be, but enough to get started with.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    A point for holding to the fantasy that all of France is a public transport paradise and that’s why HSR works is the argument that Fresno and etc. does not have substantial on-time public transport, so there’s no farebox revenues except from the urban core of SF to the urban core of LA.

    Distracting people living in outer suburbs and rural areas from the substantial benefit they will receive from the system is an important part in maintaining political opposition to the project that is in the interests of main funders but against the interests of a large number of core constituents.

    Derek Reply:

    “Electric car or not, the problem will remain the same: traffic congestion. And there is only one cure for it. Efficient, on-time public transit.”

    No, there is no evidence that increasing public transportation impacts road congestion.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, but its asking the wrong question. The question is not whether congestion can be eliminated, but whether the negative impacts of congestion can be reduced, and that is something that there is ample evidence that effective public transport can help with.

    If you give road space away for no cost other than the inconvenience of other people using it, people will use it up to the point where other people using it is too inconvenient. If you want uncongested streets, charge people for using roads during high demand periods. If you want people to have access to an area despite traffic congestion, provide effective public transport. If you want both ~ people to have the option of using non-gridlocked roads and to have access to the area despite that reduction in motor vehicle use ~ then do both.

    Indeed, since its the price on the use of the road during high demand periods that is doing the work, not the revenue collected, you can kill two birds with one stone by imposing congestion fees and directing the revenue toward provision of improved access via more effective public transport.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People who are using transportation that doesn’t use the road are blissfully unconcerned about road congestion.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Indeed… I take the train about 95% the time for my over-walking-distance travel—but the 5% of the time I use bus or taxi is far more memorable, because it’s almost always far more painful…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, there is.

    blankslate Reply:

    It impacts road congestion by giving people an alternative to sitting in it.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Just stumbled across this, and it’s interesting for its historical perspective:


    Nathanael Reply:

    Romney is unbelievable. I have no idea what he really believes because Mr. Etch-a-Sketch will say whatever he thinks his current audience wants to hear.

    For a laugh: http://www.etchasketchmittromney.com/

    Reload to get different quotes.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The quote about “nobody likes laying off someone” and “I like firing people” is disingenuous. Romney said he likes firing people as a metaphor for firing the insurance company; that he chose that particular one tells you a lot about how he thinks about everything, but he did not ever say he likes firing employees.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The magic self driving cars never get stuck in congestion. They all communicate with each other and when traffic is heavy they just pull over to the side and wait their turn.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, like the “nice” setting in the old Unix minicomputers that allowed users to set a background task to lower priority. I’m confident … that if its built into the system, “defeat your wait your turn setting” fixes will become a money earner for back yard mechanics everywhere.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’ll be as easy as tampering with the emissions control software, in other words not very easy and subject to heavy fines. Not to mention that if it’s congested, and the magic cars are all on top of one another’s bumpers to begin with, you won’t be able to merge into that unless you play by the rules.

    Beta Magellan Reply:

    I’ve seen forecasts for 2030 electric car/plug-in market shares going from ~1% to ~35%. In 2009 Berkeley’s Center for Entrepreneurship and Technology estimated 24% market share in 2030 and that’s with electric cars accounting for almost two-thirds of 2030 car sales (pdf).

    Nathanael Reply:

    This is actually fairly likely to happen, though it’s more pessimistic for driving than it looks at first: what will happen initially is that people with disposable income will get electric cars (which have higher capital costs than gas cars) while people without disposable income will just get rid of their cars.

  11. Reality Check
    Apr 2nd, 2012 at 00:15

    Ok, let me just apologize in advance … this is really pretty lame as far as such things go:

    Rail authority’s ‘new vision’ includes old technology
    Proposed high-speed rail system to use catapults on the Peninsula

    The catapult will stand at a “launching station” in San Jose’s Diridon Station. Tomlinson said passengers would be equipped with parachutes and launched 4,000 feet into the air en route to San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal, where a giant net will await them. According to the revised business plan, tickets would cost $225 per ride, with an extra $80 for those who wish to video-record their flights. Every passenger will also have to sign a waiver before boarding the catapult.

    Emma Reply:

    I can’t see this happening because the EIR would be far too difficult. We might disturb essential migration paths for birds, not to mention all the gulls. The G-forces have to comply with federal rules, too. I think I’ll stick with the High speed bus proposal.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    There’s always the option of Maglev SJ to TBT with Maglev “shell trains” with built in track that the HSR rolls onto and then proceeds as a Maglev along the corridor. I wish I had thought of that for yesterday ~ I’ll have to wait until April 1, 2013 to use it.

  12. John Nachtigall
    Apr 2nd, 2012 at 06:55

    While I agree that some critics will be against this project no matter what, I also think that supportes are painting them all with too broad a brush. As mentioned a few days ago there are critics of this “blended” plan that have been long time supporters of the HSR project.

    Of you cut through all the BS, the major issue is simple. Does this plan conform to the law that was passed? No reasonable person is expecting the HSR system to just “appear”, but the problem with this plan is that it does not conform to the law and the promises that were made.

    There is a catch 22 inherent in the plan. If you think that the blended approach will be the final word then it violates all kinds of parts of the law probably most importantly the time requirements as well as the single seat ride and other provisions. If you think it is an “intermediate” step then they are pouring billions into tracks and upgrades that it will not use in the final system (because they will have to come back and build another set of dedicated tracks) and this is also against the law because there was a very small amount that was set aside for anything other than the HSR system and this plan exceeds that.

    You can’t just ignore the law when you don’t like it anymore. I realize that with the current political situation building the HSR in the image of the law would be most likely impossible, but given the options of not building or ignoring the law you have to pick not building…the ends do not justify the means.

    On a seperate note, I don’t understand why supports like this plan anyway, it is not HSR. It is really “faster” regular rail. But all future HSR systems will be compared to this one (assuming it is built) so if it fails because it is not really HSR then it will doom all future projects. Why supporters are willing to risk that for HSR all over the country I don’t understand. As it stands now this project, as currently imagined, is nowhere near the original vision and has very dubious value.

    I can easily get a non-stop flight from LA to the bay area. Under this plan in 20-30 years I will be paying 20% less to get a on a train with a connection and the travel time will be well in excess of 2X the time when you count in the time waiting for the connection. This makes no sense to me. Why build a system 20-30 years from now that can’t beat the current system.

    No single seat ride

    David Reply:

    I assume that the connection happy plan will only be implemented in this phase, just so that it can immediately function as rail to LA and San Francisco. I think they’re relying on the second phase extension to San Diego to connect it in a one seat ride. At least I choose to believe that. Because it makes no sense to build HSR from San Diego to OC with LA being the only non HSR section all the way up to Merced. And same for SF.

    joe Reply:


    The law i.e. Prop1A, has terms for spending funds which are dependent on interpretation. Opponents interpretation is often unreasonable – the Prop was not intended to make it difficult to find matching funds to build the system. The Prop is not a plan for construction.

    I have no idea what oil will cost exactly in 20-30 years but with 7 B people and climbing, an industrialized China, and cars cars cars, it would surprise me greatly if Oil was not 3 or 4 times the cost per barrel in 2042.

    Eric Reply:

    The proposition was intended to start a backbone of construction. It was never intended to fully fund the system. As far as I know, the law only governs what the bond money can be spent on, not on what the ultimate or interm design of the system looks like. If that 9 Billion gets spent in the valley, where the money is spent on “true HSR track” not “blended”then…?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    First, the HSR corridor is “true” HSR ~ just like in France’s original HSR corridor, it appears that the “true” HSR is being built in usable segments so that each extension shortens the trip time substantially.

    Second, a well-designed Blended Plan in appropriate segments doesn’t violate any single seat ride requirement or transit time requirements ~ a High Speed Rail can perfectly well operate on an shared Electric Express Passenger Rail corridor, though of course not at 220mph … and the plan never required operating at 220mph through the central LA or west bay peninsula sections. Indeed, since France already had the Electric Express Passenger Rail corridors into their biggest cities that California lacks, they have operated with the “Blended Plan” from the outset ~ operate on a main passenger corridor through the big city and then run onto the Express HSR corridor once you get outside of the city.

    The 20-30 yr time frame and the “connection happy” system is talking about two different things ~ the “connection happy” system is one possible initial operating service, and whether the HSR runs along conventional rail corridors on the balance of the trip for the initial operating service, or it has a connection somewhere in the middle, the idea that its the 20yr plan to still be running the temporary start-up service is a serious misunderstanding of the point of an initial operating service.

    Jonathan Reply:


    what“shared Electric Express Passnger Rail Corridor”? Clue-by-four time:
    HSR trainsets cannot operate on the same tracks, at the same time, as FRA-compliant trains, due to FRA regulations. How are you going to get all the FRA-compliant trains off the Metrolink end of the “blended” tracks so that HSR trainsets can run on them? Does Jerry Brown have enough clout to drag the FRA into accepting current word-best-practice, quantitatively engineered, safety metrics?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They can’t under today’s regulatory scheme, who knows what it will look like in 2017 when there’s PTC everywhere.

    Clem Reply:

    The FRA seemed awful picky about mixing “alternate-compliant” rolling stock with freight train traffic, at least here on the peninsula. Why would they demand time separation, even for the tiny risk exposure from encountering two daily freight trains?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Who said anything about time separation? By 2017 PTC systems all over North America will be merrily inter-operating with each other all over the place.

    Clem Reply:

    The FRA said so. Merry inter-operation is not envisioned. See decision letter under docket number FRA-2009-0124

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    that letter is three years old.


    The MTA, NJTransit and SEPTA are gonna have a bit more influence than computer simulations of vaporware submitted by Caltrain.

    Jonathan Reply:

    What part of that document are we supposed to read?

    As far as p. 50 it’s all talking about “alternate” equipment passing crashworthiness tests to interoperate with *FRA-compliant* rolling stock.

    i don’t see anything saying or suggesting that HSR trainsets designed to UIC (or follow-on EU) standards being certifiable to run with either “alternate” or “compliant design”.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    With freight train traffic is the key, there … with the new rail capacity to be provided in the LA blended corridor, there’s no need to mix freight and HSR on the same track, though night freights could use the Express track during an alternate-compliance curfew.

    At this point in time, “alternate compliance” rolling stock is compliant with whatever passenger vehicles they are cleared to run alongside. Whether or not an Express EMU or DMU is FRA compliant does not in and of itself determine whether it is compatible for sharing track with HSR.

    BTW, who’s corridor is that, with the Surliner running on it between Burbank and LA Union Station?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Does Jerry Brown have enough clout to drag the FRA into accepting current word-best-practice, quantitatively engineered, safety metrics?

    Probably, but he may not need to.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Its not clear to me that you’ve read the Caltrain JPB application for waiver:

    Specifically, JPB is considering purchasing
    non-FRA compliant high-efficiency electric multiple unit (EMU)
    vehicles, constructed to European safety standards for its Caltrain
    commuter rail service between San Francisco, CA, and Gilroy, CA. JPB
    seeks relief from the requirements of Sec. 238.204 Static End
    Strength; Sec. 238.205 Anti-Climbing Mechanism; Sec. 238.207 Link
    Between Coupling Mechanism; Sec. 238.211 Collision Posts; and Sec.
    238.213 Corner Posts.
    JPB, which owns and operates the Caltrain commuter rail service
    between San Francisco, CA, and Gilroy, CA [MilePost (MP) 51.9], is
    currently considering a program that increases system capacity by
    removing constraints within the system. This program, referred to as
    “Caltrain 2025,” will allow Caltrain to expand service and reduce
    costs while providing a measurably safer transportation network. Along
    with electrification of mainline tracks and implementation of an
    enhanced positive train control system, a key component of this program
    involves the operation of some non-FRA compliant high-efficiency EMU
    vehicles constructed to European safety standards that feature Crash

    [p. 3961]

    Management capabilities. Also, Caltrain will temporally separate
    freight operations from passenger operations between San Francisco, CA,
    and Santa Clara (MP 44.6), by limiting freight movements to the
    exclusive freight period hours of midnight-5 a.m. Only from MP 44.6-MP
    51.9 will freight service commingle with Caltrain commuter equipment
    during revenue service.

    If the HSR trains are sharing the track with non-compliant EMU’s, what’s the issue that you are raising?

    Indeed, if LA acquired compliant EMU’s and given their weight and braking capabilities the HSR were cleared to share track with them below some speed, the fact that the EMU’s happen to be cleared to share the track with freight does not give them “freight train cooties” that prevent them from sharing the planned new express track with HSR.

    Jonathan Reply:

    I have read the application for waiver, carefully, more than once.

    As I understand the current regulatory environment, non-compliant HSR rolling stock sharing tracks with *FRA compliant* rolling stock is an issue.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and by the time they have a few dozen endless Context Sensitive Sessions in each town up and down the line – where they can pick the color of the trains – it’s going to be 2022 and the trains won’t be delivered until 2025. I suspect that by 2025 the M10s will be five or six years old and Metro North will have a wealth of data on lightweight railroad cars inter operating with freight trains and heavyweight passenger trains.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Except what Caltrain wants to do is buy off-the-shelf UIC-compliant EMUs, not as-yet-nonexistent M10s.

    And i somehow had the foolish idea that CAHSR might end up running off-the-shelf UIC-compliant HSR sets.
    The FRA hasn’t gotten anywhere on “alternate designs” running at 125mi/hr to 220mi/hr.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The UIC compliant wunder-trains Caltrain will be shopping for in 2025 are just as nonexistent as M10s.

    Acela was a one off Frankenstein of a train. Why would the FRA be doing anything about Tier II trains when nobody is contemplating buying any?

    thatbruce Reply:


    what“shared Electric Express Passnger Rail Corridor”? Clue-by-four time:
    HSR trainsets cannot operate on the same tracks, at the same time, as FRA-compliant trains, due to FRA regulations.

    In Caltrain’s case, the ‘shared’ bit refers to Caltrain’s non-FRA-electric-trains sharing the same track and corridor as the CHSRA’s faster non-FRA-electric-trains. And if there is still freight being run up the penninsula when all that is going on, there will be FRA-mandated time separation protecting the FRA and non-FRA trains from bumping into each other.

    For Metrolink, you’re assuming that the tracks that the non-FRA HSR trains run on in a corridor are the same tracks that the FRA trains run on in the same corridor. That may not be the case.

    Jonathan Reply:

    No, in the Metrolink case, I’m merely not assuming (or rather, taking it for granted) that the tracks *will* be different.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Indeed, reading the SFGate article in advance of the release of the plan, there wouldn’t seem to be any basis for any of the above confusions about the proposal, except for people who get their information from unsourced supposition and hearsay:

    The so-called “blended” system would still move travelers from Los Angeles’ Union Station to the Transbay Terminal in San Francisco in two hours and 40 minutes at speeds up to 220 mph, as voters were promised when they authorized the bullet train system four years ago, Richard said.

    Eventually, riders will not have to change trains when riding between San Francisco and Los Angeles, he said.

    “Every step of the way, we will be connected to something and be able to improve service in the intermediate level while building out” a bigger system, Richard said of the “blended system.”

    However, the SFGate article seems to bury the lede, putting this at the end:

    Critics say the numbers still won’t pencil out, although they hadn’t seen the revised proposal.

    Those who know that the numbers won’t pencil out in advance of seeing the numbers, clearly clearly are just opponents looking for any basis they can find to justify your opposition.

    Its clear that some opponents are just attempting to compose plausible sounding sound bites, since they contradict themselves from one thought to the next:

    Assemblywoman Diane Harkey, R-Dana Point, Assembly Republicans’ point person on the high-speed rail issue, said the authority’s changing plans should lead lawmakers to block the sale of the bonds for the project.

    “The entire high-speed rail project needs to go back to the drawing board,” she said.

    … so the argument is that because the HSR Authority changed its plans, the HSR Authority should go back and change its plans! In programming, that’s what they call an infinite loop.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    … so the argument is that because the HSR Authority changed its plans, the HSR Authority should go back and change its plans!

    Yes, because then, when presented with the changed plans they can complain it’s not what they were told about before they asked for the changed plans. Another chorus of complainers, who have been patiently waiting in the wings, will then chime in with complaints about how much all of this is costing. the done right people can complain that it still hasn’t been done right and needs more study. It’s multi-layer infinite loops.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Hi John, I’m not sure why you say that. Are you opposed to opening up usable segments within 10 years while continuing to build the HSR mainline over 5 more years? Are you opposed to spanning the Bakersfield-LA gap in the next phase? I think this plan will be designed to get usable service up as fast as possible, and to provide the longest possible single-seat rides (including to SF) as quickly as possible.

    flowmotion Reply:

    This point was made yesterday, but Prop 1A has two key requirements for bond spending:

    – “would advance the construction of the (HSR) system”
    – “would not have an adverse impact on the construction of Phase 1”

    That’s right, 1A outlines various specs for the HSR system, but it does not even require that this HSR system be constructed!

    It’s almost as if they anticipated a “blended plan”. Which is reasonable, given the fact that a $9B bond was always going to be a drop in the bucket.

    Mac Reply:

    John….You are SO right. This new plan does not adhere to Prop 1A no matter how much the proponents dream that it does.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Ah, but here’s the secret of the “blended plan”….

    …if you upgrade the Caltrain or Metrolink with two tracks, and the final system requires four tracks for capacity reasons, and you add the additional two tracks (rather than ripping everything out and starting over), then the two-track upgrade wasn’t wasted.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Especially as the bulk of upgrades are grade separations, and if its being funded in light of the Blended Plan from the start, the civil engineering for the grade separations will be directly used by the four track system.

    Except of course for fixing the San Bruno curve, but where a plan is presented that seems to have over 50% sanity prevailing, that bridge may have to be crossed when we come to it. Certainly by the time the SF Bay to LA Basin plan is in operation, when it is finally discovered that they can’t get to 2:40 without fixing that curve, that will be a lot of pressure from not just Sacramento but also from south of the LA Basin to fix the damn thing and unlock Prop1a funding of Phase 2 projects.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I thought the plan was to spend all of the Prop 1A money on phase one and use the profits from phase 1 to fund phase 2.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    All the Prop1a money is committed to Phase 1 until Phase 1 is finished, then it is free to be directed to Phase 2. AFAICT (and IANDL, so that is of course provisional) the Prop1a money includes the bond funding and also revenues generated from works funded in part with the bond funding.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What are the chances of there being any money left once phase 1 is complete? For that matter what are the chances of the money running out before Phase 1 is completed?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If phase 1 is complete, the money won’t run out, since phase 1 it will generate revenue on an ongoing basis.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I should have been more specific and specified money disbursed from the bond issue. The ability of the legislature to refuse to disburse Prop1A bond money disappears once it’s all been disbursed. Or the ability of people with hidden agendas to sue over whether or not disbursing bond money conforms with the restrictions on disbursing bond money.

  13. DavidM
    Apr 2nd, 2012 at 08:55

    The board meeting has been moved to April 12 in San Francisco.

    Seems there’s another David… I’m the one in DeSaulnier’s district.

  14. John Nachtigall
    Apr 2nd, 2012 at 09:00

    I am opposed to ignoring laws…even ones you don’t like. I have 2 points.

    First, what they are proposing is not compatible with the law. If you read the law it is clear that money should be spent on high speed trains, not on making tracks with faster regular trains. While I agree the blended approach is rational and a good compromise (assuming you want rail service), it is not actually allowed by the law. They are supposed to spend the money on high speed rail and a little bit on systems to connect to that rail, they were not supposed to spend the money on making slightly faster regular rail (which is what this does).

    Lets assume this plan goes forward. Richards says that “eventually” we will have single seat service within the time prescribed by the law. When is that? 20 years? 30 years? 150 years? And when it does the money spent on the blended approach at the bookends will not help towards building the dedicated tracks that were the original plan.

    My second point is that in 10-20 years when/if this is losing money we will all have to listen to the supporters complain that the blended system is not “true” high speed rail and all systems should not be judeged on the sucess or failure of this proposed system.

    It is disengenous. Basically supporters are making a devils bargin. They are compromising on the original vision of the system and ignoring the law just so they can say the “won” when in reality all we are getting is a 70 million dollar system in 20-30 years that is less capable then existing transportaiton systems (airplanes) today.

    Derek Reply:

    The law doesn’t say how fast the trains must run on the peninsula.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The law does say you have to make it from SF to LA in 2:40. How can you do that with a stop (or 2) in between and at max 110 on the peninsula?

    Peter Reply:

    At full build-out it has to do it in 2:40. The law says nothing about times prior to completion of full build-out.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    It does give a time requirement on the peninsula actually. 30 minutes between SF and SJ if memory serves

    Derek Reply:

    You’re right, 30 minutes. But as Peter mentioned, this plan would not be the full build-out. It’s just an interim phase.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    The full build out is the blended system now.

    Derek Reply:

    What about Sacramento and San Diego?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    They’re Phase 2, same as before.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Now, when you say “this plan” … which plan would that be, the “priority upgrade” to Caltrain, the ICS, the IOS using the ICS, the HSR IOS, the Valley to Valley, the Bay to Basin or the finished Phase 1 using the Blended Option?

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Everyone should take a look at Streets and Highways Code section 2704.08(c) to see exactly what a “funding plan” is supposed to look like. It pertains to a corridor or usable segment, which I guess could include the so-called “IOS,” but not the so-called “ICS.” It is supposed to identify which corridor or usable segment the CHSRA is asking be funded. It is supposed to contain some other things as well, including a certification that all project level EIRs have been completed.

    joe Reply:

    Is HSR a street or highway?

    Rick Rong Reply:

    No, it is not. But that is where the Legislature, and the voters, put the provisions dealing with the funding plan. Here is a link that will take you to AB 3034, most of which was on the ballot as Proposition 1A:


    Scroll down to Section 9 and this is what you will see:

    “SEC. 9. Chapter 20 (commencing with Section 2704) is added to
    Division 3 of the Streets and Highways Code, to read:

    “Article 1. General Provisions

    “2704. This chapter shall be known and may be cited as the Safe,
    Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century.”

    So yes, although HSR is neither a street nor a highway, most of the important language that deals with it is contained in the “Streets and Highways Code.”

    And here are links to some of those same sections but as contained in the Streets and Highways Code:



    joe Reply:

    HSR isn’t a road or highway. The laws for those projects are arguably not applicable.

    Evidence HSR is not a highway or road project is clear: CAHSRA is not managed by the State organizations or authorities that manage roads and highways.

    HSR is subject to a higher degree of scrutiny and funding – Prop1A.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Joe, Did you bother to look at the materials I linked? The “Safe, Reliable High-Speed Passenger Train Bond Act for the 21st Century,” also known as Proposition 1A, is in the Streets and Highways Code. That does not mean that other provisions of the Streets and Highways Code necessarily apply to the HSR project, and I am not suggesting that they do.

    joe Reply:

    Okay. You are right. The link and reference snip is Proposition 1A as presented and approved.


    Nathanael Reply:

    Depends on which law you’re looking at. I believe HSR is legallly a “post road”, for instance, like every other railroad in the US.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    30 minutes between SF and SJ in 30 minutes is an average speed of 96 MPH. The express trains need to do that, not the ones that make stops.

    Clem Reply:

    They most likely won’t, short of some major curve remediation.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Keep pushing for the curve remediation. That could actually happen.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Having the Bay to Basin in operation is the scenario that allowed the greatest possible political leverage to be applied to curve remediation.

    Clem Reply:

    By the way, what is the average speed of the Acela Express that goes non-stop from Newark to Philadelphia? Then compare to 96.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    95, 81 miles in 51 minutes.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …weekday Vermonter does Newark-Trenton in 31 minutes which works out to 94 MPH.
    Newark-Trenton is handy to keep in mind, it’s 48 miles from Newark to Trenton.

    Emma Reply:

    In a perfect world, we would have Maglev running from San Diego to Eureka. I’ll be happy with any realistic proposal. There is still room for improvement once the system is making real revenue and once we get private money out of politics.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Maglev sucks as far as throughlining with the conventional rail system goes, so there’d be no way to run a tram-train from the Eureka terminus through onto the North Coast Light Rail system. And if there’s no Eureka tram-train, its obviously not a perfect world!!!

    AFAIR The Island seemed to have Maglev from Vegas to LA, but then again it was a dystopian vision of a system in which a wealthy few turn out to be wiling to do anything it takes to get what they want`, so Maglev fits right in.

    Back in the real world, IMV this seems to be one of the most realistic proposals to have come out of the CAHSR. After all, I’ve been arguing for a “Blended Approach” between San Jose and the San Francisco TBT for years now.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Nonsense. A perfect world would have steam powered maglev so it’d still be wrong.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    it is telling that the travel time is not described in the new draft plan (page 5-12) just the number of trains per hour.

    My argument stands, no matter how much you want it you have to meet the law. They are calling phase 1 complete after the blended plan is done. You have to hit 2:40 big trip and all the small trip times from the law when phase 1 blended is complete or you are not meeting the law

    Emma Reply:

    I see your point and there is a lot of truth in it. But I still don’t see on which side you are. I think the law is the problem requiring standards that couldn’t be met by a $43 billion proposal in the first place.
    Just to give you a more extreme example. Imagine Congress passed a $2 billion funding bill to design rockets that must reach the speed of light. The law would be flawed because there is no way on earth $2 billion would have been enough to meet the requirements in the law.

    And yes, I rather have them call Phase 1 complete and move on to something more realistic. I have been a supporter of the blended approach for a while and -$30 billion seem to prove my point although I still think we can squeeze out more.

    peninsula Reply:

    “the law is the problem requiring standards that couldn’t be met by a $43 billion proposal in the first place.”

    Peter Reply:

    You have to hit 2:40 big trip and all the small trip times from the law when phase 1 blended is complete or you are not meeting the law


    No, you don’t. Only portions that are built with Prop 1A bond funds have to meet ANY of Prop 1A’s requirements. If you don’t use any of Prop 1A’s funding on upgrading Caltrain (except for Prop 1A’s connectivity funding that doesn’t have any trip time requirements) or Metrolink, you don’t have to meet trip times for those segments. It was set up this way specifically to enable it to be built in stages.

    Peter Reply:

    And as long as you are not handicapping the Merced-Burbank IOS time-wise so that it could never meet Prop 1A’s time requirements, you’re in compliance with Prop 1A.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    1) There will not be any part of the final blended line that did not get at least some money from 1A. For example, the whole line will be covered by the collision avoidance system and that will be 1A money so every portion will have 1A money
    2) There is nothing in the law that specifies what you just stated. It simply states what the times must be. They did this to prevent exactly what is happening, using the money to build a “not” high speed rail system.

    Everyone keeps using the “stage” argument but I think that misses the point. Even if I grant that nothing needs to meet anything until it is all built, in the plan presented yesterday they said they were done when the blended phase was done. So in 2028, when there is a single seat ride from SF to LA, they have to be able to meet the provisions of the law. If they are not even planning on doing that how can you argue they are following the law?

    Peter Reply:

    But that’s the thing. Money is appropriated in stages. Once the Prop 1A money runs out, which will happen quite soon, definitely prior to completion of Bay to Basin, are you arguing that any future funding will be hobbled by the same restrictions of Prop 1A? As in, nothing can be built that doesn’t comply with Prop 1A, even though Prop 1A only applies to the $9.95 billion in bonds?

    Rick Rong Reply:

    What do you mean, “Prop 1A only applies to the $9.95 billion in bonds”? Are you suggesting, for example, that the limit on the number of stations can be ignored after the $9.95 million has been spent?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So, 500 years from now when they want to build an HSR station in Chico they won’t be able to because Prop 1A limits the system to 24 stations?

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Chico is not within the HSR system as defined in Proposition 1A. “The total number of stations to be served by high-speed trains for all of the corridors described in subdivision (b) of Section
    2704.04 shall not exceed 24.”

    And as for limitations and restrictions that do apply, once the bonds are paid off the people can amend the law to change the law.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So 500 years from now they want to put one at Los Banos so SIerra Club types can enjoy the natural splendor, they can’t?

    Rick Rong Reply:

    500 years from now the bonds will have been paid off, and the people will have an opportunity to amend the law to change the system definition and restrictions, as I already wrote.

    Keep in mind that this is what the voters who approved Proposition 1A voted for. Not just for “high speed rail,” but for construction of a HSR system that met certain definitions. The voters also imposed certain requirements on the CHSRA, including those pertaining to what the funding plan is required to contain.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Bill Gates and Tim Cook decide to build villas in Wasco and they decide that building an HSR station in there is a good thing. They can’t do it?

    Rick Rong Reply:

    How many times do you want me to answer the same question? You can certainly disagree with me, but I’ve already told you what I think the answer is. Or is you latest a rhetorical question?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Do you need to amend the law if two billionaires want to get together and build a station out of theri own pocket? It wouldn’t be the 24th station it would be the 25th. Prop 1a says you can only build 24.
    If you aren’t spending bond money, which will be difficult to do once it’s all been spent, there’s not much anyone can do.

    jim Reply:


    If they build it, CHSRA trains can’t stop at it.

    Peter Reply:

    What CHSRA trains? CHSRA is not going to operate any trains.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Adirondacker, is your next question going to be about three trillionaires, and after that five gazillionaires? Anyway, “there’s not much anyone can do” except amend the law to change the definition of the hsr system. Since it was approved by the voters, Prop 1A could be amended the same way it was enacted: the legislature proposes an amendment and the people vote on it. Lots of laws get amended. But until then, the will of the people, as expressed in Proposition 1A, defines a high speed rail system in terms of certain corridors, in terms of phases, and in terms of limitations on number of stations (which affects operating characteristics), among other things.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The only power Prop1A has is the legislature refusing to disburse funds If they aren’t being asked to disburse funds what can they do.? If all the funds have been disbursed what they do?

    Peter Reply:

    Yes, that’s exactly what I’m saying.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    That makes 0 sense. The 9.95 billion was never enough to build a whole system no matter what. Under your intepretation the system has no constraints because the money can not apply to the whole system. Why would they put system requirements in the law if that was the intent of the law.

    This is like Medicaid spending. It is funded jointly by the fed and state governments but the min requirements are set by the feds. If you accept their money you have to meet the requirements. Prop 1A is the same, if you use Prop 1A requirements you have to meet the law, even if it was not the whole amount.

    Peter Reply:

    No, under my interpretation there are specific constraints for the construction of those tracks to whom Prop 1A bond money is allocated. Those tracks have to be designed to meet Prop 1A’s requirements. Tracks not funded by the $9 billion are not required to meet Prop 1A’s requirements. Which is precisely what the business plan lays out.

    Using your logic, Prop 1A’s requirements apply to any and all funding for high speed rail in California. If a private investor comes in and offers to finance, say, the extension from Merced to Sacramento, the private investor is bound by Prop 1A’s requirements? Now THAT makes zero sense.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    So would you say that a station could be built in Los Banos, if all of the bond funds had been expended for the segments between, say, SF and Gilroy, and Merced south to Los Angeles?

    Peter Reply:

    Red herring. That construction sequence is baloney. Come up with a more realistic question, and I’ll answer.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    It may not be a realistic scenario, but it is a legitimate question. I’m trying to understand your rationale. But if you prefer, let’s say that Merced to Los Angeles uses up all the bond money. What then?

    Peter Reply:

    Well, in that case you know my answer. My rationale is the same. Prop 1A does not apply to any construction not funded, even in the least bit, by Prop 1A bonds. The way the law stands right now, a station could be built in Los Banos without Prop 1A funds. But that was always the case.

    The thing is, though, a station built in Los Banos would have a VERY hard time getting built, simply because it would have to face a brutal environmental review.

    joe Reply:

    So would you say that a station could be built in Los Banos, if all of the bond funds had been expended for the segments between, say, SF and Gilroy, and Merced south to Los Angeles?


    Prop 1A did not admen the state constitution.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Peter, then if I understand your argument correctly, you would also say that, if all the bond money were used up to complete the Merced to Los Angeles portion of the system, there would no longer be any requirement to have the line end at Transbay Terminal.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    there would no longer be any requirement to have the line end at Transbay Terminal.

    Yes, unless they get some money from someplace else. What are they going to do otherwise, send out the CHP to barricade the stations until Transbay opens?

    joe Reply:

    I’m not a lawyer.

    The Prop 1A funded construction has to be compliant Period. But, I know of no way a legislative body is restricted from from passing/amending a law to build the station after the funding is completed.

    I can see a Federal angle but it does not apply to HSR.

    Recall the Feds under G Bush the Lesser mandated any R&D facility built with Fed money cannot do stem cell research. The State had to make a facility without federal dollars to do stem cell research and CA did just that.

    I once had along conversation with Ted Love, M.D. who serves on the California Independent Citizens’ Oversight Committee (ICOC), the 29-member board that oversees the $3 billion allocated to stem cell research authorized by Proposition 71. He explained the business model and the advantage Ca had with the Fed free facilities. CA was attracting world class talent.

    So I can see some taint if the project was restricted by the Feds – they have a say and can pass a law but the Prop 1A is all State law.

    Maybe a Proposition has to be passed to amend Prop 1A, maybe…Possibly a amendment to allow stations to be added to HSR an amendment Prop 1A with N stations allowed and removing the ban on the Los Banos station.

    FWIW, I don’t want to see a Los Banos station.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    No, Prop1a also applies to revenues generated from works financed in part by the $9.95b in bonds. And since, absent a catastrophic economic depression, the system will generate ongoing operating surpluses, at least some of which will flow back to state coffers, works that hope to leverage that revenue stream also have to respect Prop1a.

    Peter Reply:

    Yes. I wasn’t thinking about Phase 2.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Prop1A/AB3034, in its current form, applies to the California High Speed Rail System along the corridors described in the document. It doesn’t exclude building in non-AB3034 corridors using completely non-AB3034 funding, or more than 24 HSR-capable stations within the corridors described, as long as only 24 stations are served by the CHSRA-blessed HSR trains.

    As for 24 being a hard and fast limit, there have been bills introduced to modify AB3034, currently in attempts to stop the system from being constructed. When the 24 station clause becomes a limitation that needs to be removed, a similar bill will likely be introduced to modify it. Its not something thats worth stressing over at this point as we need to first get to 2 stations.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    On your first point, the Blended Approach doesn’t in and of itself change the speed in those sections.

    In particular, in the Caltrain section, if the corridor is fully grade separated and they fix the San Bruno Curve, then it will certainly be possible to meet the transit target with Express track designed for 125mph operation.

    And a preliminary service [i]doesn’t[/i] run on track designed for 125mph and [i]doesn’t[/i] benefit from full grade separation because it is running on the [i]existing[/i] track, there’s also no problem, because the existing track already exists, doesn’t require Prop1a money to continue existing.

    So if the Prop1a money goes toward works that comply, and a service runs before the system is completed on track that doesn’t comply with Prop1a requirements and also didn’t receive Prop1a money … there’s no problem with that.

    On the “what if it loses money” ~ the only way it is going to lose money is if the trains go out with low load factors, and the solution to that is run as many trains as the passenger demand can bear. If its franchised out to a private operator, there’s no reason to accept a bid that risks losing money for the state. If it underperforms expectations of the winning bidder, then minimum service requirements might be an issue that is raised when the franchise comes up for renewal, but at those transit times, there is some daily service frequency that is going to generate an operating surplus, which would therefore be a profit for a private franchisee, assuming it does not overbid.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Except the current “blended” proposal does not run on existing track. Look at the Peninsula.

    The current “blended” proposal has $750m-odd of Prop 1A HSR money, spent on electrifying your so-called “existing” track; and ~$750-m-odd of MTC, state, regional, and other federal funding to “match” the Prop 1A money. Except the allegedly “matching” money seems to be spent on:
    * Caltrain EMUs;
    * an HSR-incompatible, bespoke, unique-in-the-world signalling system which pays a premium of a few hundred million dollars, solely to be able to open grade-crossing gates in front of trains stopped at a station adjacent to a grade crossing — and based on a design which was a decade late in reaching service goals!
    * track upgrades which are NOT to 200km/hr regulatory standards

    Moreover, despite repeated assertions here by people who should know better, Caltrain’s stated costs for electrification (excluding trainsets) are in fact dominated by the overhead catenary system, _not_ by traction-power substations.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I think it’s dominated by wire, not labor. You can disassemble the catenary and reassemble it over a relocated or improved track for a fraction of the cost of building new.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Don’t forget the cost of the masts. There _are_ options where moving the masts only requires digging a new hole and filling it with concrete; then lift the mast out of the hold hole and plop it in the new one. But I’d be very surprised if the Usual Contractors went that route. Just look at the horizontal mast spacing they’re specifying.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Get real. Nobody does that. The cost of a few temporary extra steel (or concrete) poles and their hanger hardware is less than a rounding error in their project budgets.

    The process, everywhere (and I’ve personally seen it dozens of times), is erect poles, attach hangers, string wire, connect wire to existing section, tension, test, THEN remove wire from old section, remove hangers from old stanchions, remove old poles, done.

    Materials costs are just about immaterial, especially since the temporary stuff gets recycled back to the spares pool. Labour (to use the charitable term for the 2x to 10x world prices that we pay for crap transit products and services) dominates everything.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Labour……dominates everything.

    I suspect it dominates in low cost countries too.

    But but but Calrain will attract great big thundering herds of passengers who are avoiding Caltrain now because it’s a diesel line. So many that installing the new stuff will pay for itself faster than the grade separations nessitated by the increased traffic. So many passengers that even the stuff they install over the shoo-fly tracks, needed for the initial grade separation, will be amortized over the year or so they are up. And when the two track grade separations increase traffic even more it’s going to be cheap and easy to add a third and a fourth track while maintaining service.

    Jonathan Reply:

    No. Caltrain wants to electrify because it gives them better acceleration, and thus significantly better SF-SJ times. Quicker journey times has demonstrably increased Caltrain ridership.
    That’s what the Baby Bullets offer (along with the downside of reduced frequency at low-ridership stops. Blah blah blah skip-stop blah blah blah).

    Caltrain’s market-survey data shows that customers, and prospective customers, want two things: quicker journey times, and more frequent service. Caltrain is correct in observing that electrification is the best way to deliver both objectives, while also improving utilization of their rolling-stock

    _Caltrain_ is not pushing for complete grade separation. Please pay attention.

    I don’t understand quite how CalTrain proposes to _increase_ operating costs by electrifying, but that’s what Richard says they say.

    Jonathan Reply:

    “get real”? Update your biases Richard. Go look at the publicity guff from.. I forget, was it EuroPoles?

    I’m intrigued by what lies behind the self-contradictory assertions some frequent posters make.
    On the one hand, we see assertions that electrification costs are dominated by substations. Yet go look at Caltrain’s own (contractor-supplied) estimates, and it turns out that the OCS dominates.

    I’ve seen some a digitized version of black-and-white film of SJ electrifying lines circa WW2.
    _That_ was labor-intensive. One (steam) train-car per piece of the mast; one person per car, tossing the pieces out at each marker. And then a crew of people working along the line, assembling the pieces, then erecting them in holes.

    The Auckland, NZ electrification is _NOT_ labor-intensive.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s not labor intensive because it’s cheaper to use very expensive machines to replace the even more expensive labor.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    At Caltrain it takes uses four people to empty a trash bin on a station platform. FRA safety!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The Auckland, NZ electrification is _NOT_ labor-intensive.
    So the materials cost of stanchions dominates installation?

    Some may live to see a world in which that is the case (far too many humans, far too much wasted material), but you’re a century off there, mate.

    Ask yourself: How many tonnes of steel, copper and concrete per track-km? What are the respective costs per kg of these materials? How does the sum of those numbers compare with per-km electrification? (Don’t forget to include signalling and SCADA, with ~0 materials cost and massive budgets!)

    Alternately, don’t ask, don’t estimate, don’t calculate, don’t investigate, just blather.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    In the “appears to be” CBOSS, is that an inference from other things, or the MOU, since I don’t see CBOSS specified in the MOU.

    I hadn’t seen any earlier to CBOSS actually having a feature missing from existing systems, but is it the case that the feature cannot be added to existing systems, or just that it has not?

    Jonathan Reply:

    I don’t understand what you don’t understand. CBOSS is advertised as allowing CalTrain to open grade-crossing barriers adjacent to stations, when trains approaching that crossing are stopped at the station Caltrain is paying a huge premium over international signal-system prices for that one feature. Oh, and it isn’t actually _implemented _yet.

    And given that the base system on which CBOSS is to be based were about a decade late in delivering 110mi/hr service for Amtrak in Michigan, I wouldn’t trust their estimates on cost, or time, to implement that feature. Not one whit.

    And of course CBOSS is incompatible with the requirements, to date, for CSHRA signalling.
    From memory, those requirements include things like multiple sources, demonstrated success in high-speed rail deployments; and other criteria which boil down to; ETCS Level 2.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They gotta talk to NJTransit. The NJTransit trains do that bit of magic every day.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Maybe they should! It’s a bugaboo with the Peninsula cities, due to the traffic impact.

    The Menlo Park platform ends at a level-crossing at Oak Grove. If memory serves, Mountain View (Castro St) and Redwood City (Broadway) are in the same boat. (Possibly others, those are the ones I’ve lived or worked near. Excluding a now-closed station, which had the same issue.)

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I happened to be at Redwood City station a few days ago, and observed a stopping train approach from the south. The Redwood City platforms end ~25m south of the Broadway Avenue grade crossing, and the approaching train’s stopping point ended up being 35-40m from the crossing.)

    The gates at the Broadway Avenue crossing closed for a total of eleven seconds as the slowing train approached, and then immediately raised as the predictor software of the crossing controller determined that the train would not run through the crossing.

    (Yeah, I know. Data. Who the hell needs or it cares about it?)

    Even assuming that a minor software of the predictor software could not remove this terrible, terrible, terrible 11 seconds interruption to sacred motor vehicle traffic, and even assuming that ETCS/ERTMS cannot be interfaced with crossing controllers (which of course it can be and is, despite lies from the lying consultant sacks of shit behind CBOSS), well, WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

    And if this ~11 second spurious motor traffic interruption 5 or 6 times an hour (remember: only for stopping trains, and only for trains in one direction) WERE some sort of horrific imposition, DOES IT JUSTIFY A TWO HUNDRED MILLION DOLLAR SCAM?

    The “problem” is insignificant, to the point of being imaginary.
    The “solution” is a hallucination.
    The costs are outrageous, scandalous, criminal.

    Everybody — everybody — in any way whatsoever connected with conceiving, promoting or funding CBOSS deserves to die in a fire.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You don’t electrify track. Track serves as a ground return, and except in very rare circumstances nothing need to be done to it to allow it to do so.

    The Bay to Basin seems like it will use existing track, so there’s your direct HSR utility for the initial poles and wires.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s all sorts of stuff that needs to be done to the track to be able to use it for the return current. Especially at the insulated joints if they exist. If they exist that implies a signal system of some sort. If you want to electrify that sometimes means “our signal system isn’t compatible with electrification”

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Still, talking loosely about electrifying the track is going to confuse people into thinking its something other than regular catenary power supply.

    It could well be a quibble raised by those looking to raise every possible quibble in a kitchen sink attack, but given that the existing track with the indicated grade separations from the electrification waiver can be used by the HSR under the interim Bay to Basin service, the transitional service between the IOS and the finished Phase 1 plan, its hard to see what the objection would be. Even if the Bay connection flips and goes via a Dumbarton tunnel, service to San Jose remains in scope for Phase 1, so the entire length of the Caltrain Corridor is in scope for prospective Phase 1 service whether the HSR connecter comes in from the south or in from the side.

    Jonathan Reply:

    You don’t electrify track. Track serves as a ground return, and except in very rare circumstances nothing need to be done to it to allow it to do so.

    Bruce, that’s simply not true. The track is part of the “ground return” for the AC overhead electrification. Signalling systems (and track circuits) which weren’t designed to operate with electrification usually aren’t compatible with electrification. So you end up running new fibre-optic cables to replace whatever legacy system is in place.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Track only serves as a ground return if it is well insulated from other return paths — ie the ground! (This implies insulation between the rail and every sleeper/tie, among other things.)

    And that “ground wire” strung between every pair of catenary stanchions. What could that possibly be for?

    Eliminating stray currents together with earthing the shit out out everything are a significant part (an easy part given planning and professionalism, but a significant retrofitting pain in the neck otherwise) of any railway electrification project, new or old, AC or especially DC, retrofit or new construction.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You may opposed to ignoring laws but the patronage machine running the State could care less. They just fix the laws, the courts, whatever, to enable what they want.

    I don’t even think the loyal opposition, Harking and LaMalfa etc., are even that much motivated. They are just looking busy for their constituents, just like Simitian, Lowenthal, DeSaulnier and company. Nobody really cares that much whether hsr works or not. Brown, in particular, does not seem to have a clue. The Tehachapi Roundabout, with $2bil, 50 route miles and a half hour travel time in the balance, is practically slapping him in the face, and yet he remains oblivious. He is just having fun playing with his choo-choo train set drag racing the UP thru the Tehachapis.

    The hsr phenom is like the space program or the Super-Collider – after a while the pols lose interest and the funding dwindles because their involvement and understanding was always superficial. The programs go on for years on inertia and just keep accumulating like plum-appointment commissions and panels.

    trentbridge Reply:

    The patronage machine running the state is a solid majority of registered Democrats. As of Jan 2, according to the Sec. of State there were 7,430,000 Democrats and 5,171,000 Republicans. Deal with it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So how come this super powerful cabal didn’t make the law to their liking in the first place?

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    They had to give the appearance that democracy was still intact, duh…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    but that would be the beauty of it, convincing the peons that they want, need, crave and will vote for the plan.

  15. Paulus Magnus
    Apr 2nd, 2012 at 09:56
  16. Paulus Magnus
    Apr 2nd, 2012 at 10:02

    Draft Revised Business Plan

    Summary of changes

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    It’s official, IOS-South won.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    no surprise, lot more people there and close the gap

    Nathanael Reply:

    And it has more YIMBYs and fewer NIMBYs than IOS-North, too. Really it was the only logical way to go.

    Jon Reply:

    Also, full kudos to Tom McNamara for predicting the Unified Northern California Railway and interim San Joaquin operation on the ICS. Very cool.

    This project is looking less and less like a statewide BART and more like how other countries went about HSR. The main added challenge we have here is that the legacy rail infrastructure is not owned by the state, and there is currently no sense of a ‘statewide’ rail system. This plan moves us a lot further forward to such a system.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I’d like to thank the Academy…

    …but actually someone else first mentioned ACE being extended to Merced, I think it was “Howard”. Once I read that, the bells went off as far as the relationship to ACE/SVJRR and BART…

    Nathanael Reply:

    I think this was made possible by the PTC mandate following Chatsworth. Without that, it seemed impossible to share track between HSR trains and anything which already existed. With the PTC mandate, the entire picture changed.

  17. mike
    Apr 2nd, 2012 at 12:17

    On p. 2-35 from the business plan:

    “The Authority will also make a new decision on the Network Alternative for connecting the Bay Area with the Central Valley.”

    Is this for real, or are they just going through the formality of re-certifying their previous decision on Altamont vs Pacheco?

    Jack Reply:

    Why would they spend 1.5 B on Caltrian and then run the line up the other end. I think the latter.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Because they would still be running trains to San Jose when using Altamont?

    Jack Reply:

    uh hu…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, and if they are only running the occasional train to San Jose, and its off the 2:40 critical path, then the electrification would about do it south of Redwood. The MOU doesn’t explicitly commit to anything that isn’t usable either way. That puts the main East Bay station somewhere in Fremont instead of in San Jose, and San Jose either uses the BART to get there, the Caltrain to catch the HSR all-stations at Redwood or the occasional San Jose service. East Bay inland can catch existing services to Fremont instead of San Jose, North Central Coast need to get through to San Jose or Fremont to catch the HSR, which swapping the Gilroy route onto the Capitol Corridor and running the Capitol Corridor through to Salinas would do.

    And of course all the shadowy powers behind the scenes that the dramatists here love invoking will be pushing mightily one way or another on what is a 52:48 call either way to win the day for their various nefarious ends.

    Tony d. Reply:

    No. San Jose/Silicon Valley would have a direct HSR line via Altamont as well. Don’t try to sell us short. Besides, there are no immediate plans to construct a billion dollar plus HSR bridge or tunnel through Dumbarton (maybe in the future).
    I do like the idea of Amtrak/CC running south to Gilroy and beyond.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    /Silicon Valley seems like it would have pretty much the same, unless they were to try to bring the HSR corridor across on the causeway. Not all that much difference whether the main station is in Fremont and the secondary station station is in Redwood, or the main station is in San Jose and is in Redwood. And if other trains can use the Dumbarton tunnel, then there’ll be a way to get to Fremont.

    San Jose would have “a direct HSR line”, though it would not get near as many services on that direct HSR line through the day as it would on the main trunk corridor.

    egk Reply:

    Minor point: SJ might not get as much direct to la service on an altamont scenario. But it would get more direct Sacramento service. And more San joseas go there than la anyway, so that might not be all bad (and, if French, German, Italian and Spanish hsr practices are any guide, the altamont scenario would have higher overall frequencies to everywhere, when connecting service is considered)

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And this is where you get to the framing of the project and the assumptions about how much the transport system ten to twenty years from today is going to look like today’s transport system.

    If you assume that building the Pacheco Pass alignment is going to turn NIMBY’s on the commuter overlay version of the Super-ACE, one the “mid-HSR” Super-ACE is done then SJ would get both direct service to Sacramento and all of the services would go through San Jose. And of course if the commuter overlay is driven by regional clamoring for it, it has the prospect to be a substantially better corridor for intra-regional transport than a corridor designed to get trains from LA to SF in 2:40.

    If you assume that ten years from now is pretty much like today except with proportionally more people all around, the commuter overlay could stay on the drawing board indefinitely, with Northern California making do while revenue bonding from HSR operating surpluses going to the San Diego corridor for an extended period. And then that frames the issue as a fight for frequency by SJ and proximity by the north Central Coast versus proximity for the southeast bay and proximity and frequency for the inland east bay.

    Tony d. Reply:

    By the way, electrifying Caltrain from SJ-SF still makes sense even with Altamont HSR alignment serving SJ and SF (future Dumbarton).

    Tony d. Reply:

    Yes! By the way, Congrats Paulus for IOS south. I’ll take modernized Caltrain as a consolation prize any day over nothing.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Jack, here’s a mysterious analogy to ponder: why would they spend money on Caltrain rolling stock and then not run it to San Diego? Or, why would they electrify Caltrain storage and maintenance tracks that won’t be used by HS trains? Weird, huh?

    (Or legitimately mysteriously, why would they waste hundreds of millions on Caltrain consultant pork-fest signalling that will massively increase HSR costs?)

    The incremental cost of electrifying Caltrain beyond Mountain View (which is where demand craters) is low, almost down in the noise given the extreme and typical bloatedness of this project budget. (The incremental operating cost of running too many mostly empty trains to SJ is another matter — a larger fraction of a smaller number.)

    The legitimate reason for not electrifying beyond PA/MV (which was on the cards at one time) is that VTA defunded its voter-approved commitment to Caltrain electrification and gave everything to PBQD’s BART extension, just as SFCTA is throwing everything and more at PBQD’s Central Subway. The wonderful “new” Other People’s Money for Caltrain is really just back-filling the broken local commitments. It’s sure nice of the whole entire population of State of California to volunteer so willingly to fund these local projects, isn’t it? (When I repave the driveway of my house I’m going to demand that Prop 1A bonds pay for it as an essential bikeway nexus to HSR in SF.)

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I didn’t see where in the MOU it specified that the PTC referred to was CBOSS. Which page was that?

    Mike Reply:

    It doesn’t refer to CBOSS in the MOU; the MOU talks about “Advanced Signalling System” and PTC. Even Caltrain hasn’t been using the phrase CBOSS lately.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Hence the question ~ since Caltrain didn’t have any money to implement their electrification plan, I wonder whether part of the discussion behind the MOU was that the CHSR was not committing to CBOSS.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Try reading the Appendices to Calrain’s recent documents.

    They’ve switched to talking about an “Advanced Signalling System” in public, but the
    Appendices still say the Advanced Signalling System is cactually CBOSS.)

    What can one say about “engineers” so far behind the curve, that they reach conclusions _this decade_, that a “communications-based” system should have had SNMP instrumentation to facilitate diagnosis after things go wrong. Bunch of incompetents. But that’s what happens when you let PEs (let alone EEs) try to design networks.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You save great big gobs of money by not running a four track railroad between San Jose and Redwood City. But unless you build HSR tracks between Fremont and San Jose you are just shifting around where the empty seats will be running.

    mike Reply:

    If it wasn’t clear from Richard’s post, electrified Caltrain is critical to the “blended” plan. You wouldn’t want to mix electric and diesel – very different performance characteristics, and diesel won’t be able to use DTX. But if you’re going to electrify Caltrain, you have to do it all the way to SJ Diridon (Cahill), or even Tamien. That’s true even if HSR doesn’t merge in until Redwood City.

    joe Reply:

    No it was not at all clear from Richard’s post/rant.

    I do understand he objected to “other people’s money” being spent on Santa Clara’s section.
    Also that same construction paid for with other people’s money isn’t relatively expensive (so why is it that bad to do?). The objection is either a matter of Principle or Principal.

    Plus extending BART to San Jose (to enable part of his HSR-Livermore-BART = Bay Area) is now bad.

    And he has a driveway.

    Clem Reply:

    I am savoring the Pacheco Paranoia. Prediction: it will never be built.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Looks like you may be getting your wish Clem! As a former Gilroy resident, I’d be happy with Amtrak/CC as a consolation prize. My opinion: I think more folks from Gilroy and the Central Coast would be happier with greater transit connectivity to the Bay Area than to LA/SoCal. Amtrak/CC, perhaps later being electrified, will work.
    Been looking over the plans for the Altamont high speed rail corridor. If this is what eventually comes to favor, expect ACE to be fully upgraded/modernized between Stockton and San Jose first before a Dumbarton crossing (tunnel or bridge) is even considered. SF bound passengers in the interim would either have to transfer to BART in Livermore or to Caltrain in San Jose. But yes, long-range plans should call for a direct Dumbarton crossing for straight through HSR service to SF.

    joe Reply:

    The CAHSR removed all dependencies between the Alignment lawsuit by Antherton and developing the CAHSR business plan & etc. It’s off critical path for the current work.

    I don’t see this as a step backwards – the lawsuit demonstrates the difficulty in getting an alignment approved. If CAHSRA wins the lawsuit and continues, they would have cleared a significant hurdle – No?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If CAHSRA wins the lawsuit, then given the fact that the Super-ACE corridor hasn’t been tested in court, it would give Pacheco the inside track. If CAHSRA loses the lawsuit, and loses it on grounds that are peculiar to PAMPA, then that would give the Super-ACE corridor the inside track.

    If CAHSRA loses the lawsuit on grounds that are common with Super-ACE, it goes back to the political race to see which region can be flipped from NIMBY to YIMBY first.

    Clem Reply:

    I think the issue isn’t with CEQA. I have no doubt that the CHSRA will re-certify Pacheco and eventually come up with a lawsuit-proof EIR, and be able to clear construction of San Jose – Merced. The issue of whether to actually build it, when better and cheaper and more phase-able alternatives exist, is orthogonal to CEQA. Delaying this segment to the mid 2020’s provides plenty of time for them to come to their technical senses, no matter how slowly.

    As for Caltrain electrification being the camel’s nose under the tent, I’ve got news for the peninsula: the nose got chopped off the camel.

    Brian Reply:

    As for Caltrain electrification being the camel’s nose under the tent, I’ve got news for the peninsula: the nose got chopped off the camel.

    What does that even mean? In English please.

    Clem Reply:

    Sorry if that was a bit cryptic. It used to be that Caltrain improvements were a package deal that came with Pacheco, and a lot of local stakeholders (including Caltrain itself) were on the Pacheco bandwagon because of the Caltrain improvements. Now that a deal is shaping up to electrify Caltrain by 2019 and build Pacheco in the mid-2020’s, the package deal has been un-bundled. Once the Caltrain bit is done, the whole Pacheco vs. Altamont question becomes much less tainted by agency interests.

    Nathanael Reply:

    But the Pacheco vs. Altamont question will still be decided in favor of Pacheco, because UP and the Pacheco NIMBYs will make sure of that. And even the Peninsula NIMBYs, once they realize where the tunnel will come out….

    Now, go back to the Second Transbay Tube plan instead, and you might be able to assemble a serious YIMBY coalition.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    What is UP’s role in this, again? Pushing the alignment further west, so the Wye is further west and the travel time a smidgen longer, I can see that one. Other than that, I’m not sure how I see that the Super-ACE alignment interferes with freight flows.

    Would they be concerned that with the HSR “almost there”, they might face of sovereign intervention forcing them to reconfigure their tracks to allow the HSR to run through on the cheap?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    It used to be that Caltrain improvements were a package deal that came with Pacheco, and a lot of local stakeholders (including Caltrain itself) were on the Pacheco bandwagon because of the Caltrain improvements

    Clem, that’s simply not true.

    The driving force for Pacheco is and always was BART Fremont-Flea Market-“downtown”-Santa Clara. Nothing else.

    There are no Caltrain stakeholders of any consequence, because there’s never been serious money involved, so other interests can and have and will throw the system under the bus in order to get theirs.

    Remember that NOBODY works FOR Caltrain (you’d have to be a complete fool to stake your reputation on Caltrain success), everybody follows the political juice (ie follows the money) and will do whatever is best for the contractors they serve.

    Caltrain’s fine executive staff recommended and Caltrain’s deeply analytical and and deeply engaged Board voted for the Southern Gateway High Speed route (ie no non-BART rail from Fremont to SJ) because it was in PB’s and allied consultants’ interests for them to do so, not to “improve Caltrain”.

    Nobody “improves” something by voting to give all the money to somebody else!

    Now what IS the case is that, after giving all the money away, they were and constantly did use their own voluntary destruction of the finances of the system for which they were nominally fiducially responsible as a circular justification needing CHSRA to come in and back-fill the billions they’d forfeited. Please, beat me again and beat me harder!

    Step 1: Reallocate all potential local and regional Caltrain funding to PB DBA BART.
    Step 2: We have no money for poor Caltrain!
    Step 3: Justify PB’s HSR route as a way to get state funding to partially replace local funds pocketed in Step 1.

    Result: ~$10 billion more for PB and allied contractors, state taxpayers end up ~$10 billion poorer, and Caltrain improvements were set back ~20 years.

    So it all worked out OK.

    (This is exactly the same result, with many of the exact same actors, as the last go-around — where Caltrain funding was reallocated to BART to Millbrae and Caltrain improvements were set back ~20 years — except that time only $2 billion was involved.)

    Neil Shea Reply:

    I think you are right on the pattern of other kids giving their school lunch money to BART a number of times over the years. This time I think there’s something different going on. A big voter in all of this is the City and County of SF and its representation on MTC and BART boards.

    In the past extending BART benefited them because it increased the hinterland of workers and shoppers to bring into SF. But now there’s almost nothing left for BART to bring to SF (Livermore? Antioch? San Jose — they already have a connection to that that’s no slower than BART). The new girl at the party can bring much more connectivity to SF and the region as a whole.

    This will be the first time that BART is not getting everything it wants, so predict some tantrums. As Richard noted, PB covers itself either way.

    As Clem notes, there will be a window for alternatives to Pacheco and a new tube to Oakland will be discussed, but there is not a natural, available, easy corridor to get that line out to the CV. In the end I predict Pacheco gets built but only after 15+ years. Meanwhile Livermore BART will never connect to ACE.

    If Richard needs to go to LA from SF he will fly. Some Bay Area folks will drive to Merced and take the train from there.

    joe Reply:

    Step 1: Reallocate all potential local and regional Caltrain funding to PB DBA BART.
    Step 2: We have no money for poor Caltrain!
    Step 3: Justify PB’s HSR route as a way to get state funding to partially replace local funds pocketed in Step 1.

    Result: ~$10 billion more for PB and allied contractors, state taxpayers end up ~$10 billion poorer, and Caltrain improvements were set back ~20 years.

    So it all worked out OK.

    There are stakeholders for Caltrain, one is Nancy Pelosi who wants a shiny transit terminal in her city. As much as Caltrain helps her objectives, it does, it has a chance at Federal money. Other people’s money.

    The Caltrain system spans three Bay Area Counties and it’s a clown show the way they cooperate and a game of chicken to keep it running.

    When Santa Clara County has a chance to extend BART service to Santa Clara County – they’ll do it and expect a larger funding source like the state and Feds to step in for the three county Caltrain system.

    It worked too and why not? It’s a try county system.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    BART was the local unstoppable force but I think we’re at an inflection point, BART has outrun its supply lines — in large part because there is not much more expanding BART can do, after they get to Diridon. In every other direction the $230m+ cost per mile is prohibitive, especially for non-sharable track with super costly custom rolling stock.

    Electric Caltrain with new cars just insults the proud animal, and Kopp’s tirade is one of its screams. But eventually merging the Bay Area’s rail systems under the BART name will be proposed to deal with BART’s future obligations.

    Meanwhile making TTC a run-through station with a new tube to Oakland will be desired and needed. The cost however will be an absolute fortune (with PB getting their full cut), so it will get started in 15+ years — as part of the next generation of upgrades. From Oakland it will run up the Capitol Corridor to Sac, and at that time on to Tahoe. This will be needed service and there will be no obvious approve-able HSR mainline route through the Tri Valley (with the 580 median already taken), and definitely not on Stilts. Nor will a Dumbarton route be approvable for HSR.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Meanwhile making TTC a run-through station with a new tube to Oakland …

    Fought that, lost that in 2003. (America’s Finest Transportation Professionals on the job!)

    Hey, but don’t let immovable objects get in the way of your counter-factual fantasies! How about a new Caltrain tube from Fisherman’s Wharf to the Farallones with a stop at Fort Point as well? Reality is a downer.

    Jon Reply:

    Until recently, the TTC plans had tailtracks which cut under the low-rise section of 301 Mission and turned south east under Main, so that at least must be technically feasible. No reason why those tracks couldn’t then head north east under Folsom to get out into the bay. The corner you’d need to cut is currently a two story building and a surface parking lot. Yes, it would be easier if 301 Mission wasn’t there and you could cut straight to Mission, but it’s not impossible.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …. it has a chance at Federal money. Other people’s money.

    According to Wikipedia 313 billion dollars of Federal taxes were collected in California in 2007. California gets 79 cents back on every tax dollar it sends to the Federal government. 21 percent of 313 is 66, in nice round numbers. If California gets 10 billion a year from the Federal Government, it’s Californian money coming back to California.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Hey, but don’t let immovable objects get in the way

    It’s not immovable. It’s just that it would be very expensive and time consuming to tear it down….

    joe Reply:

    @ adirondacker12800

    I agree with your point and would add Santa Clara County is a net contributor to the state budget.

    “other people’s money” ™ is a reference to Richard’s apparent requirement (very, very, strong moral desire) that CA counties fund their own sections of transportation projects and coordinate that funding for projects that span the three counties.

    In the case of Caltrain, San Mateo County shortchanged Caltrain millions less than promised/expected. That shortfall caused Caltrain to propose cutting Santa Clara County service. Even if they were able to shut down San Mateo stops, Santa Clara County residents work at some of the San Mateo stops and need the service.

    The incentive to pay for service is conflated by the fact not paying might result in keeping disproportionate service t those paying less and seeing service cuts to Counties paying their full share.

    Funding Caltrain a game of Chicken. I think it needs more power and accountability – also it’s a good reason to ask the state to help coordinate costly upgrades.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The demise of the CHSRA would constitute a huge victory for BART, which would secure Ring tghe Bay and eliminate any embarrassing comparison of contemporary standard gauge ocs state of the art and BART’s Bechtelian bizarrocrap.

    But apparently it is Jerry Brown and Antonio Villaraigosa versus Kopp and Heminger and Amalgamated. Clash of the Titans – how can one not enjoy watching one’s enemies rumble to teh death.

    Donk Reply:

    I think what Clem is trying to say is “I could get a hell of a good look at a T-Bone steak by sticking my head up a bull’s ass, but I’d rather take the butcher’s word for it.” – Tommy Boy

    Clem Reply:

    Advice for every steakholder. (is camel even any good to eat?)

    BruceMcF Reply:

    It depends on whether its a young camel raised for meat or an old camel that has been out working in the desert for years.

    There’s probably a colorful analogy associated with that different lurking around somewhere, but since it would only be appreciated by camel herders, its probably normally expressed in Arabic.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Better is a subject of some dispute, but I hadn’t seen the phase-ability argument. What is the phasing of the Super-ACE that doesn’t entail using UP track? Or is that a reference to locking a partial build of Super-ACE to a BART station?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Prediction: it will be built or else the Altamont Corridor will be built ~ either of which is better than the third alternative, which was to lose the whole project while fighting over a secondary detail. I’ve seen cycle racers do that, play cat and mouse on who is going to lead out the other until the peloton catches up.

  18. Mac
    Apr 2nd, 2012 at 20:10

    The plan says that they will improve the Metrolink system in So. Ca (but the WILL NOT electrify it)
    In order to electrify beyond LA/Anaheim, they will need to go with the “full build plan” for Phase 1 which they stated could be complete by 2033 for $92.4 billion. The devil is in the details

    Nathanael Reply:

    Interesting. I hope this means reconfiguring the northern corridor from LA Union to the San Fernando Valley to make room for quad tracks and future electrification. Or building the run-through tracks to go south from Union Station.

    Peter Reply:

    They can electrify Metrolink between Burbank and LAUS without Metrolink having to run electric trains. Diesels run just fine beneath catenary…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    No, the “Blended Plan” is planned to be a qualifying full build, LA/SF in 2:40, with electric service on the mix of blended corridors and dedicated HSR corridor from Anaheim through to SF-TBT.

    The Bay to Basin can use the electrification on either or both sides before the extra express capacity is finished: since its an interim service step toward the finished phase 1, it doesn’t need to hit the 2:40 mark.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Ridiculous – the machine will simply pencil in 3 hours 42 minutes in Prop 1A.

    The salient question IMHO is how they are going to approach the Roundabout. When coping with an obvious politicized boondoggle there are two recourses. You can take the gold-plated cost is no object tack and hope that impresses or cut your costs on a hopeless loser.

    My guess is for the latter, as Villaraigosa is not going to be happy at all with no improvements to LA to Palmdale or later rather than sooner. After Palmdale LART is what this thing is all about so I’ll predict a super loball treatment of the Detour and the savings directed to Palmdale-LA.

    Plus I would have to assume the Chandlers would want the most superficial incursion of hsr upon the east side of their barony.

    Peter Reply:

    Yes, the Machine will…

  19. Reedman
    Apr 3rd, 2012 at 10:57

    Perhaps the blended system needs to use dual-feed locomotives (diesel and electric power), like those used in New York City.


    Jerry Reply:

    Similar to the Prius.
    It would be good to keep such options open.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The blended system doesn’t need hybrid power, it’ll be electric all the way. The “blending” there is corridor ownership, running HSR trains on the same Express track with other passenger trains.

    There are versions of an interim service that could make use of them, but its only the fast section that has strong confidence of operating with a surplus, so if a prospective franchisees were bidding, they’d probably rather bid on Burbank / Merced HSR all the way than on some hybrid operation, and leave the subsidized slower rail service to the existing Slow Speed Rail system.

  20. DavidM
    Apr 3rd, 2012 at 10:58

    Anyone know what this is about?


    This bill would also impose certain requirements on the High-Speed Rail Authority with regard to the high-speed rail element of the plan and implementation of projects on an incremental basis by the authority, including preparation of an incremental high-speed rail development program, as specified, by December 31, 2013, which would be incorporated into the authority’s business plan.



    This planned hearing is in response to the Sacramento Bee’s investigative report on the use of peer review panels and issues with conflicts of interest and transparency.

  21. Eric
    Apr 3rd, 2012 at 11:07

    Joe Simitian needs to learn what an order of magnitude is.

    nslander Reply:

    Does the fact he doesn’t understand that surprise you? I mean, its SOUNDS like thing a smart person would say, which is all a gasbag politician needs.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Never mind AN order of magnitude, he is talking about orderS of magnitude … like $45b to $4,500b to $4.5b.

    Pssst, Mr. State Senator, an order of magnitude is sliding the decimal point right or left.

    Fortunately for Mr. Simitian, the educational system in the US is sufficiently shambolic that the vast majority of the electorate have no idea how ignorant that sounded.

  22. synonymouse
    Apr 3rd, 2012 at 11:59

    The CHSRA is not anywhere nearly as popular amongst the electorate as the cheerleaders believe. Thus local pols are incorporating these concerns and discontents in laws which make them look busy and useful.

    Kopp has been quite vocal of late with his unhappiness with the Brown-Richard truncated hsr. Kopp is influential in MTC circles and coded into his remarks is probably BART disgruntlement over losing Ring the Bay, which they have been carefully plotting for decades.

    Roundabout Stilt-A-Rail is sure to be a big money loser and the pols are protecting their backsides proactively from I told you so.

    The entire CHSRA megaproject revolves around LA-Palmdale; the latter have seized control thru Brown. They will insist on below-market fares on their Palmdale mini-BART(how about the name LART?)and accordingly they will demand local exemptions to any profitability requirements, quotas, or schedules.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    mouse may have a point that Kopp wanted BART to ring the bay and is bitter — as if real life does not have $$ constraints and all projects can cost as much as his SFO airport BART link.

    But mouse, closing the state’s rail gap Bakersfield to LA region is just necessary and makes sense, can’t buy your conspiracy theory on this.

    Jonathan Reply:

    In Synon’s world-view, a new Bakersfield-LA line is a waste of money unless it’s also good for freight.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Bako to LA via Tejon is an excellent project; Tehachapi is a freight detour.

    No conspiracy here – Mayor Villa and LaLa have clearly taken charge of the CHSRA, but it would seem to be a pyrrhic victory, at least for the short term. They are going to spend all of the money on the Roundabout instead of LA to Palmdale. The City of Fallen Angels would be better off with the much more functional and efficient Tejon alignment, but LA and IQ, apart from the occasional Richard Feynman, just don’t coincide. Sadly ditto for SF of late.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Synon, for about the fourth time:

    * Lines designed for HSR over uneven terrain are _NOT_ compatible with freight. (Not even European freight trains). The power-to-weight ratio of HSR trainsets lets them tackle gradients which are prohibitve for freight trains).

    * Operation of HSR is totally incompatible with freight. HSR trainsets would be bumbling along, lik e– in terms you might understand — like a steam express stuck behind a hand-jigger. Not only that, but the axle-loads, and deficient (by any sane standard) maintenance of US freight car wheels is incommensurate with high-speed rail.

    I’m honestly not suer which way your “Tehachapi is a freight detour” is supposed to point.
    But your obsession that CAHSR should provide public-financed trackage (and then go broke) so that 19th-century drag-freight railway companies can make a profit hauling gravel over the HSR tracks, has no basis in reality. None. Which is one reason why other people here conjecture that you spend too much time smoking peyote.

  23. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 3rd, 2012 at 21:29

    Off topic, but perhaps of interest to the eastern fans and observers here–a collection of photos, most taken from the rear of a train, of the Amtrak Keystone Corridor (former Pennsylvania Railroad main line) between Philadelphia and Harrisburg, featuring electrification, graffiti, heavy rail, concrete ties, missing (ripped out) rail on what was once a 4-track main (sad, the line just doesn’t look right with those missing tracks), leafy suburbs, beautiful stations and interlocking towers, a preserved GG1. . .well, enjoy the trip:



    One of several Caltrain photo albums:


    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    General link to the above; be sure and check out what may be in the archives. I didn’t have the time for it just yet, but if what I did see, including some material on the former Great Northern line past Glacier National Park is any indication, there is a lot of good material here.



    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    A trip on the C&O, in edited and in thumbnail, full collection versions:



    Have fun.

    Jerry Reply:

    Lubic @ 21:29
    Terrific photos. Thanks for the post. Noticed on Caltrain truss bridge at Palo Alto shows 1902 as year built and still in use.

Comments are closed.