Kings County Needs To Make Up Its Mind on Rail

Apr 26th, 2012 | Posted by

Kings County political leaders have become vehemently opposed to the California high speed rail project, despite the clear need for the Hanford-Visalia region to have better connections to metropolitan regions around the state. So it’s very strange to see those same leaders demanding preservation of Amtrak service in Kings County:

According to the California High Speed Rail Authority’s business plan, Amtrak would switch over to high-speed lines east or west of Hanford when those lines are completed. Amtrak service between Merced and Bakersfield would be eliminated once high-speed train service started service, now slated to happen in 2022 between Merced and Anaheim.

But Authority officials have recently entered into discussions with Kings County to see if Amtrak service through Hanford and Corcoran can be preserved, said Larry Spikes, Kings County administrative officer. Downtown stations are considered critical to cities’ local economy.

Authority Board Chairman Dan Richard couldn’t be reached for comment.

“Taking Amtrak right out of the heart of Hanford and Corcoran is just not a good idea,” Spikes said.

I’m all for providing passenger rail service to Kings County. In fact, I want Kings County to have the best service possible. Amtrak is great and the San Joaquins provide good service to the Valley. Kings County is also in line to get high speed rail service, with a station near Hanford and Visalia, providing faster and more reliable rail service to connect county residents to the rest of California. Yet Kings County has been doing everything they can to kill high speed rail.

So which is it, Kings County? You didn’t want trains running through the middle of Hanford and Corcoran. You didn’t want trains bypassing Hanford and Corcoran through farmland. You didn’t want a faster, better, more frequent train service that connects to an entire half of the state (SoCal) that your existing service doesn’t include. But you do want to preserve Amtrak?

Again, while I support providing passenger rail to Kings County, I also think that actions have consequences. State legislators should not be in any rush to grant this request until Kings County elected leaders make up their mind about passenger rail.

  1. jimsf
    Apr 26th, 2012 at 22:28
    #1

    The people in kings co are okay with amtrak brand olde tyme choo choos because it represents the past not the future. It doesn’t threaten the little cowboys and indians olde western movie fantasy in which they live.

    It would serve them right if amtrak get replaced by hsr, and then they don’t get an hsr station cuz they don’t want one.

    It would be one thing if we were talking about a bunch of reasonable people. But they are not reasonable people. Right wing wacko nuts who are drag on californias future.

    And they have stolen enough of our water too. enough is enough. time to put them out of business.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yep. A lot of the Teabaggers don’t have a particular problem with rail. They just dislike anything that reeks of change, especially the kind supported by anyone who’s not like them. HSR is supported by liberals from LA and SF; thus, it is definitionally bad.

    joe Reply:

    “Liberals Love Amtrack”

    Problem solved. Bring on HSR.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That’s Mica’s approach. The problem is that liberals, like everyone else, are a lot more excited about high-speed rail than about Amtrak.

    joe Reply:

    That’s a complete fabrication – supporting HSR doesn’t imply lack of interest in rail overall.

    That’s propaganda pushed by self appointed experts and orgs like RailPac who have a different agenda.

    It’s based in the false choice that we can have do one or the other but not both.

    Alan Reply:

    Agreed. HSR is not the best answer in every case. Conventional rail still has its place.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It is very much not a fabrication. HSR is what excites people. Independently of any interest in transit, liberal bloggers passed around a meme back in 2008 showing Obama as a sleek Shinkansen, Biden as an Amtrak diesel, McCain as a steam locomotive, and Palin as a derailed toy locomotive.

    You do not need to convince me that HSR and low-speed rail can and should be complementary.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    For many people — especially those with first-hand experience and especially outside the NEC — “Amtrak” is a toxic brand.

    Just like “commuter rail” (slow, infrequent) is toxic versus sexy “BART” (which is commuter rail, rebranded and not infrequent.)

    Train freaks may think of it all as a continuum, but few hearts and minds are won by promising shiny HSR train (just like Japan! just like France!) and instead delivering commuter railroad grade separations (just like Chicago!)

    Nathanael Reply:

    Apparntly Kings County government feels differently. They really want Amtrak but not any other train.

    What do you think of the brains of the Kings County government?

    slackfarmer Reply:

    The mindset of Kings is very simple: any and all change is bad. I don’t think it’s really a conservative/liberal or urban/farm thing. They’re just afraid of change.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Robert and everyone,

    I think you are missing the boat on Kings County/ Hanford.

    All the counties in the Central Valley have planning documents that say they want to preserve farmland and not allow low density residential housing sprawl to supplant agricultural land.

    Kings County stands out as basically the only county that has actually tried to do that. By and large, they do not permit housing developments in farmland. When you look at the stats about the relationship between growth and farmland conversion over the last decade, Kings County has done by far and away the best job at keeping growth in already developed areas.

    One of the ways Hanford has helped with this s by not just talking about how they want to promote their downtown but actively working to keep it a really nice place and the center of civic life. The Amtrak stop in the downtown has been a key part of this strategy. Within the region, trips on Amtrak just to visit the Hanford downtown are common. Hanford’s Amtrak stats again show this – about 20% of the San Joaquin ridership is to and from what is quite a small city. Excluding people getting off/on the bus to LA in Bakersfield, it has more ridership than Bakersfield.

    So yes, I can see where city officials after being basically the only ones in the region to actually walk the walk for a long time might be frustrated at the Authority’s decisions, particularly the one buried in the biz plan’s supporting docs to discontinue amtrak and put a hanford *optional* station in the middle of nowhere.

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    But don’t Hanford city plans sprawl westward toward Lemoore? The West Hanford station could fit perfectly into the scenario.

    Nathanael Reply:

    See below; Elizabeth is being deliberately dishonest by omitting the key fact that Hanford city government reflexively opposed all rail routes which would give Hanford an HSR station. The CHSRA actually WANTED to put the HSR station in downtown Hanford.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    There is a big difference between the HSR line proposed by the CHSRA which would have been a massive aerial structure wiping out large parts of said downtown, with most trains traveling through at 220 mphs, not stopping and the existing Amtrak service.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And it would have made the no-fat lattes at Starbucks curdle and the alfalfa sprouts at Safeway turn brown.

    Winston Reply:

    Hanford had some legitimate concerns both about the downtown HSR proposal and about moving the trains. As it stands the Amtrak station is the center of the twon’s bus system and (all the bus routes meet there every 30 minutes). Moving it to the eastern edge of town would add 15 minutes to most people’s trip time vs. the current Amtrak station.

    However I think this thinking is flawed. The extra access time would be made up for by shorter travel time even on a San Joaquin using the new HSR tracks. Judging by the businesses (a car dealer, a dentist, Grocery Outlet) surrounding the train station, I doubt it has much of a positive effect on the surrounding neighborhood. In fact losing the train traffic might be a good thing. On the whole the non-downtown location is better for everyone IMO.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    If you have your bus services meeting at the Amtrak station, then you connect everyone on a bus route to the HSR station if one of those buses heads out to the HSR station. And, although it would entail a shocking crossing of a county boundary, at the HSR station one might even be able to catch a bus on to Visalia.

    Jonathan Reply:

    @Winston:
    even on a San Joaquin using the new HSR tracks

    Legacy FRA-compliant slow-speed dinosaurs are _not_ going to share HSR tracks with true HSR. Trying to schedule ~150200km/hr, (max) dino-trains on the same tracks with 350 km/hr trains — which can afford to run at 350 km/hr _only_because_they_stay_at_that_speed_for_a_significant_time_ — just doesn’t work. That is why NO ONE IN THE WORLD shares true HSR tracks with legacy freight or passenger service. Quad-tracked rights-of-way, yes. True HSR tracks with no parallel legacy tracks, no.

    Or are you perhaps thinking of a pre-IOS scenario, or one in which an HSR IOS is never built?

    Winston Reply:

    I’m talking about a pre IOS scenario since that is the only one that I expect to see in the next 10 years.

    Winston Reply:

    @BruceMcF

    Yes, you would need to run a bus from the (at this point former) Amtrak Station to the HSR station. Not the end of the world, but a consideration. That being said, the reduction in noise and costs more than make up for a short bus ride.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Lots of track sharing by mixed speed services here. (Madrid-Barcelona service schematic.)
    The Avant services are 250kmh max.
    Alvia 250kmh. Altaria 200kmh.
    The AVEs are, of course 320-350kmh.

    It can be done, provided of course that you’re not seriously believing something as bat shit insane as the 13 high speed trains per hour in PBQD’s “projections”. There will be quite a lot of available capacity, even for trains with non-exotic top speeds, for some time to come. (79mph top speed counts as “exotic” just as much as 220mph)

    And as I’ve said many times, only a fool would buy 300+kmh trains any time before the complete LA-SF buildout. 200-250kmh max speed trains are more than adequate for and far more appropriate to all interim phases, and will continue to exist for many years afterwards, mixing happily enough (assuming non-US-style operating discipline and timetabling intelligence) with the wonder-super-zoomy-wet-dream highest-speed trains.

    swing hanger Reply:

    You can of course have slower trains share track with HSR trains. Just make sure they are in the same range of axle loads as their HSR cousins. You don’t want super heavy FRA diesels pounding the hell out of track.

    Jonathan Reply:

    @Swing Hanger; yes, mechanically you *can* run slow 125 kim/hr (max) trains on the same tracks as Richard’s 250 km/r trains. But guess what? Then Richard’s 250 km/hr trains end up running at *125 km/hr*. Given *demonstrated* US timetabling, operational discipline, and time-keeping abilities.
    End of story.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Unless the HSR corridor controller follows the UP approach to the 125km/hr trains (actually 175km/hr trains, the 125km/h is a corridor speed limit), which is don’t let them in at a time that they will get in the way.

    Nathanael Reply:

    A legitimate reaction to legitimate concerns would have involved serious proposals for design modifications which would still allow high-speed running while reducing impact. (You know, eliminate the “security theater” portion of the station, constructing a trench instead of an aerial, etc.)

    Instead, Hanford just said “we don’t want a station downtown”. No counterproposal.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Trench? Does money grow on trees in Hanford?

    Nathanael Reply:

    “Does money grow on trees in Hanford?”

    Good question. The people with the almond farms seem to think so. :-)

    Anyway, I wonder if Hanford would be interested in Amtrak service if they had to pay for it. California certainly has no interest in paying for expensive, redundant Amtrak service to a tiny town which refused to have a station on the new, cheaper-to-operate high-speed line.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Liz is spreading a lot of faslehoods here, whether she realizes it or not.

    As datacruncher mentions below, the article is actually about the Kings County supervisors trying to amend AB 1779 to give the southern counties veto power over the majority. As written, AB 1779 essentially will let BART, SACRT, DeSaulnier, and UC Merced control passenger rail within inland California. Unless the board stucture is changed, the four counties just mentioned will always be able to pick off votes from Stanislaus and Fresno to get what they want.

    However, the reason that Hanford has such strict growth policies has nothing to do with being progressive, but that it’s the only county in San Joaquin Valley that does not have within its boundaries the Sierras and therefore can’t impound that water for distribution. King is the location of one of the world’s largest inland deltas that used to form Tulare Lake near the current site of Cocoran prison. However, once all the rivers that flowed into it were diverted, the lake dried up…

    That means that most of the large scale landowners and farming operations in town use irrigated water (which is expensive by comparison) or groundwater, which is usually subject to appropriative rights and heavily underpriced for those who have those rights…Sprawl would eat away at that reserve of groundwater quickly because Kings County is also one of the driest regions in the state…

    As others will note however, the presence of Lemoore Air Station would pressure the County and Hanford getting serious about commuter transportation, even if they don’t want to build more housing within their boundaries. And ultimately, if you wanted to put a station halfway between the center of population in the South San Joaquin Valley, it would have to be east of town anyway, and not far at all from where CHSRA had its station being built….

    However, given the scarcity of water south of the San Joaquin River in California anyway, Kings County’s position on sprawl isn’t bad per se, but if Tulare County doesn’t go along with it (and really Fresno and Kern County too) it will be the worst of all worlds.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Hanford has known for sometime that the HSR station would be outside of town. The plan to discontinue San Joaquin service south of Merced as soon as HSR service starts and to definitely move San Joaquin service to the new HSR tracks prior to that (instead of just in plan b) only surfaced the day before the board approved the biz plan.

    I am sure there are all sorts of historical reasons that Kings County has ended up actually trying to preserve farmland but this doesn’t negate the fact they have actually been making decisions to do so for many years – this is not a sudden change of heart.

    joe Reply:

    Gilroy also works hard to preserve farmland and it’s pro HSR. We recommended the station be put in town to preserve farmland and discourage sprawl.

    Kings County also has state facilities which used farmland – wikipedia tells me government spending provides greater household income than farming.

    Jeffrey Michael, director of the Business Forecasting Center at the University of the Pacific, stated in an October 2010 newspaper interview that nearly half of Kings County’s personal earnings come from government jobs, which pay more than agricultural employment.

    Plus we all know farming and the dairy industry in particular have price supports – tax payers assure Kings county farmers and agribusiness all get a guarantee price. And Kings county has access to subsidized water.

    It is very fair for Californians to ask for cooperation. The small strip of HSR ROW uses a small fraction of land to connect the state’s urban areas.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The plan to discontinue San Joaquin service south of Merced as soon as HSR service starts and to definitely move San Joaquin service to the new HSR tracks prior to that (instead of just in plan b) only surfaced the day before the board approved the biz plan.

    The second part of that is a fabrication: the plan to definitely move the San Joaquin to the new HSR tracks once the ICS is completed is explicitly stated in the revised Business Plan.

    It may well be that the stopping of the San Joaquin at Merced was not spelled out sufficiently explicitly for the nitpicker brigade, but anyone trying to suggest that the San Joaquin running on the ICS segment was “just revealed” the day before the Business Plan was approved would be flat out lying.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    I am sure there are all sorts of historical reasons that Kings County has ended up actually trying to preserve farmland…

    That’s your first mistake. The reasons are ECONOMIC. If you attempt to trivialize these points it doesn’t help the cause. You deliberately tried to equate Hanford and Palo Alto, as if these were upstanding citizens who wouldn’t be out of place on the Peninsula.

    Trust me, if gold or oil was discovered underneath Hanford’s “historic core”, they would bulldoze it in a second…..

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Please Nimby from PA ..Dont try and “act” for me..th ose RED Valley necks hate your type

    datacruncher Reply:

    It isn’t something new that was “buried” in the new business plan and just discovered by Hanford, that spin is not accurate. Hanford and Kings County have discussed for several years it might mean the loss of the downtown Amtrak station.

    As one example, Hanford’s city council discussed the possibility in October 2011 from the EIR.
    http://www.hanfordsentinel.com/news/local/could-hsr-derail-hanford-amtrak-station/article_a9bfc4ae-ede9-11e0-b43e-001cc4c03286.html

    I think this concern is just the politics of placing the San Joaquins under a regional authority instead of the state. Kings County and Madera County are the smallest population counties in the Valley and probably are concerned that larger population counties will drive the regional decision making about service levels.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Elizabeth:

    A lot of claims, counter-claims and OH LOOK MONKEYS goes through this forum, and frequently if the person you’re replying to isn’t mentioned in the text, it is easy to miss relevant information. Just to build on datacruncher’s post, this quote, from the October 2011 article linked to above about the Hanford City Council’s considerations regarding the then-draft EIR issued in August 2011, casts an entirely different light on the ‘oh noes the CHSRA inserted text proposing changing the Caltrans-funded Amtrak service at the last minute’ claim:

    The EIR states that the Fresno-to-Bakersfield high-speed tracks, once built, would likely replace the Amtrak service, resulting in the possible loss of existing Amtrak stations at Hanford, Corcoran and Wasco. Rail officials predict negligible impact from the switch, while many locals consider the existing Amtrak train system as a key component of Hanford’s tourism and identity as a historic railroad town as well as its public transportation network.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    There are “claims”, and then there are well founded statements of fact with references, links and backing data.

    ~
    ~
    ~
    ~
    ~

    But but but … PEAK OIL! NIMBYs! FUTURE DENIALISTS! KOCH BROTHERS! REPUGLICANS! GENERATIONAL DISCONNECT!

    BruceMcF Reply:

    There are “claims”, and then there are well founded statements of fact with references, links and backing data.

    … a powerful rebuttal that, well backed by statements of fact with references, linked and backing data.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The well founded statements come from searching for the string “Elizabeth Reply”. You know, the ones with the references, links and backing data.

    As usual, “thatbruce” comes out OK also.

    The blather, well, hard to avoid stepping in it.
    “Liz is spreading a lot of faslehoods here”
    “Elizabeth is being deliberately dishonest”
    “The second part of that is a fabrication”
    “you’re leaving out the key fact, which is dishonest, Elizabeth.”

    joe Reply:

    All based on well founded skepticism.

    Did you know that HSR to the CV will consolidate all the satellite offices and job from Fresno to the Bay Area? A claim made by this concerned, neutral citizen about HSR’s terrible impact on the CV.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Take one of those for example ~ “the second part is a frabrication”. Reading the Revised Business Plan reveals that its a fabrication, so you complaint does not appear to be about the
    substance of the statement, but rather about the fact that it does not have a blockquote from the Revised Business plan with page number and link.

    So you seem to be insisting on a standard such as page numbers and extensive quotes in the exact same post that you say

    searching for the string “Elizabeth Reply”. You know, the ones with the references, links and backing data.

    … and then proceed to cite examples by isolated snippets without linking to them.

    Jon Reply:

    …this is from the guy who responds with “Do your own damn homework” when asked to back up any of his assertions.

    Nathanael Reply:

    All good and well, except that you’re leaving out the key fact, which is dishonest, Elizabeth.

    CHSRA proposed to put the station right in downtown Hanford at the Amtrak station! Hanford refused.

    http://www.valleyvoicenewspaper.com/vv/stories/2010/vv_hsrail_0597.htm

    The refusal appears to because CHSRA needed to straighten the approach curve to the station, which required moving some houses.

    You can’t preserve ABSOLUTELY EVERYTHING and still have decent transportation. What’s more important? Farmland? Every single house in the town? Take your pick but you can’t preserve BOTH and have a solid rail corridor. If you declare that the rail line has to bypass your town, don’t be surprised when your downtown station loses rail service — you IDIOTS.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But ya see that’s plan. It’s no good in downtown, it’s no good at the edge of town, it’s no good between the towns. It’s no good if they if they skip the towns altogether. Can’t put it anywhere but they want a station. A station that’s not downtown yet not not downtown. And one that won’t disturb anything at all. Since they can’t build it anywhere but they want it everywhere it will get built nowhere, or so they hope.

    California Taxpayer Reply:

    If you could make that rhyme a little it would be very doctor suess!

    They do no like the trains around
    They do no like them up or down.
    Above, on top, or underground,
    They do not like the trains in town.

    slackfarmer Reply:

    What, demo a couple of houses? No way! Upgrade our rail service? Never!

    We need a new acronym/nickname for those who are afraid of change.

    VBobier Reply:

    Be a bunch of Luddites and old fogeys? Yep, You betcha…

    Elizabeth Reply:

    (posted above as well)

    Hanford has known for sometime that the HSR station would be outside of town. The plan to discontinue San Joaquin service south of Merced as soon as HSR service starts and to definitely move San Joaquin service to the new HSR tracks prior to that (instead of just in plan b) only surfaced the day before the board approved the biz plan.

    The plan the HSRA had for HSR through the downtown was a massive aerial that promised 220 mph trains zipping through the quaint small-town downtown every few minutes.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Here is the board presentation about the Hanford station selection. http://cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/assets/0/152/198/24d106ac-69df-49c5-9858-034a5a69d0ae.pdf

    There is a curve in the Amtrak/ BNSF tracks. 220 mph HSR requires more gradual curves and would have taken with it a lot of the cute historic downtown that Amtrak currently delivers passengers to.

    joe Reply:

    Keep the historical city, maintain quaintness, keep subsidized transportation services and preserve farmland — that’s impossible to have all the above.

    Few will sympathize with a city that wants it all. No growth in the city or outside the city.

    Gilroy’s voted to put HSR downtown to save farmland. We also know the city downtown with quaint buildings would change.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    There is a curve in the Amtrak/ BNSF tracks. 220 mph HSR requires more gradual curves and would have taken with it a lot of the cute historic downtown that Amtrak currently delivers passengers to.

    Greenfield the alignment for express trains and add 90mph connection+catenary to current track and station for trains which stop at Hanford. But that would require more sense than we’ve seen from the Authority.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I was just thinking that with respect to Bakersfield: do a bullet train corridor around and
    provide an upgraded 90mph passenger track through town. If the HSR vehicle is allowed 5″ of cant deficiency, and the maximum superelevation remains 7″, then a 4deg curve is a slow zone of
    65mph, while a 2deg curve could be superelevated to have no slow zone at all.

    They just knocked the CHSRA into doing blended operation for the high priority SJ/SF and SFV/LAUS sections, so its not surprising that it hasn’t yet trickled down to these. Of course, YOE
    budgeting something like starting out using a Rapid Rail line through Bakersfield at the outset and then completing the Express Bypass with the Phase1 completion look like its more expensive, when in real present value terms its likely to be cheaper.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then Bakersfield gets lousy frequency.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Then Bakersfield gets lousy frequency.

    It would get just as high of a frequency as it would otherwise have.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    @adirondacker12800: What Paulus Magnus said.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why would it? If it’s getting the same frequency as it would otherwise why bother to build the high speed bypass outside of town?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Design the bypass, design the corridor through Bakersfield to be the same transit for an Express service, build the cheaper of the two.

    Then in the cases where you build the express bypass outside of town and put the stopping trains
    on a Rapid Rail corridor through town to a downtown station, it would be because that’s the cheapest way to get that downtown station without slowing down the Express services.

    The challenge is regulatory ~ the FRA still seems to be insisting on having a dedicated alternative carried forward unless there is some form of waiver approved that would be applicable to blended operation, so its not really a viable option for the ICS.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    That’s correct.

    Greenfield alignment roughly parallel to Hwy 43 east of Bakersfield heading straight to the Grapevine, with an interim (far) peripheral station.

    As phase 2, build a loop track (with for stopping trains only; far lower impacts and lower construction costs; perhaps only needs a single track) from the mainline into somewhat-more-central quasi-downtown Bakersfield.

    Or why not just build a line for a shuttle train that does the cross-platform or down-escalator thing at the peripheral station and bops back and forth into a couple stations within “central” Bako? That would work almost exactly as well, and would require about a quarter as much construction as having to connect both ends of a long loop. Win-win!

    The greenfield peripheral alignments just work better from every point of view, entirely theoretical “TOD” bleating notwithstanding. Combine them with either direct connecting transit or, when the very high cost is justified, by a stopping train loop off the main line, and you have a winner. Pretty much the winner that people were advocating a decade ago but that was deselected at every point by the World’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals at PBQD=CHSRA.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then why not have a bus going out to the beetfields that meets each train?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The general purpose cookie-cutter answer is: look at the options and do what works best.

    For a Hanford station, surely the catchment is substantially more than the population of Hanford itself, so the station accessible to SR43 and SR193 makes sense.

    RM is thinking of the corridor running over the Grapevine, which would make a bus or local train through Bakersfield to a station at the west edge of town an obvious solution. If the alignment is
    instead heading from Bakersfield toward the Antelope Valley, then a bypass corridor would be easy to connect to a through rail corridor, so sending the trains stopping in Bakersfield to a station in the area of the current Bakersfield station would be more convenient, without slowing down through Express services. Whether there is a suitable bypass corridor is, of course, something that they couldn’t have looked at in the prior planning envelope.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Then why not have a bus going out to the beetfields that meets each train?

    Sure, for Phase 1. Just like the buses that run to peripheral HS stations all over Europe, if much further because Bakersfield sprawl is so grotesquely wide.

    But beyond that, you’ve got to throw some bones sometimes.

    If you’re saving four or five billion (easily, through the combination of Tejon and Bako bypass), a couple hundred million on a technically strictly “unnecessary” rail connection into the more central-ish city is justifiable, and not purely for political reasons.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    The bypass idea is splendid for Hanford, it makes no sense for Bakersfield because that’s a transfer point for service going between Las Vegas and SF and SF and LA. The Gordian Knot of the project as Richard M. points out is the need to run trains at full speed through Diridon, Merced, Fresno, and Bakersfield. (Gilroy also can be bypassed with not that much trouble.)

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The bypass … makes no sense for Bakersfield because that’s a transfer point for service going between Las Vegas

    So it’s possible to transfer between Train A stopping at Station X in town Q and Train B stopping at Station X, but it’s not possible to transfer from Train A stopping a Station Y in town Q and Train B stopping at Station Y. Fascinating. Fascinating.

    The Gordian Knot of the project …

    ?

    A better and less irrelevant facile allusion is to Procrustes’ bed. It’s just what would be “designed” and “engineered” by the US’ Finest Transportation Planning Professionals.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Why would anyone in their right mind take a train from SF to Vegas in the first place? That being said, Palmdale would be the transfer point, not Bakersfield, and that’s assuming a transfer rather than a direct train from SF to Vegas.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Because on the train you only take your shoes off it you want to. You can take along a half bottle of shampoo. Toothpaste! Your ears don’t pop. The toilets are the size of Manhattan studio apartments. Which you can use anytime you want because there’s no “Fasten Your Seatbelt” sign. Partly because there’s no seatbelt. Four, four and half hours on the train beats two – three hours curb to curb on the plane.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    More to the point, since Richard is feeling snarky as always….

    Bypassing Hanford is already part of the plan, connecting to existing legacy service in town makes sense. Doing that in Fresno and Bakersfield is not going to happen..either the ROW goes through downtown or it doesn’t… If it doesn’t in the case of Bakersfield that is going to make any number of transfer goofed up… because it’s the last stop in the Valley even if you are only dealing with service on the main HSR trunk.

    Now, the real issue is that taking a cue from BART, PB has no idea how to meet the time deadline without running the trains through the stations at 220mph because it’s still effectively taking the design it had for BART and expanding it. The former, as everyone knows, doesn’t run expresses or locals and thus with the current design credibility is strained to maintain sanity and the validity of Prop 1A.

    Still, why not just bypass tracks at each station that hug the inside of the ROW and have separate platform accessible tracks on the outside?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Still, why not just bypass tracks at each station that hug the inside of the ROW and have separate platform accessible tracks on the outside?

    How long do the bypass tracks have to be? or the station sidings however you want to look at it?
    Takes quite a while for a train going 220 MPH to slow down.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    The bypass idea is splendid for Hanford, it makes no sense for Bakersfield because that’s a transfer point for service going between Las Vegas and SF and SF and LA.

    I don’t follow what LA/SF alignment and what SF/LV alignment you are assuming here.

    (1) Assuming a Vegas train, and under the Palmdale alignment, there’s direct trains LA/LV when both the Palmdale/SFV segment is finished and the Palmdale link to the Las Vegas train, so a transfer point at Bakersfield between SF / Vegas and LA/SF doesn’t appear to be a substantial issue.

    (2) Assuming a Vegas train, and under the Tejon alignment, however the Vegas train is getting to Bakersfield, running it through Bakersfield “downtown” and then to Bakersfield HSR at the west side of town to collect transfers either LA / Bakersfield for a SF/Vegas train as SF/Bakersfield for an LA/Vegas train seems fine.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Notice that Hanford never proposed what you are proposing, Paulus.

    Winston Reply:

    Having been to downtown Hanford, I can’t really see anyone describing it as cute and I like Central Valley Ag towns.

    Rick Rong Reply:

    Where in “downtown” Hanford did you go? Did you see the civic center park, the old one, where the “Bastile,” the old jail, is located. Did you stop at Superior Creamery across the street? Did you get a drink of water at the fountain built by the Women’s Christian Temperance Union? Maybe instead you visited the part of town where the modern “government center” is located.

    I’ve been to Handford. The old part, that I recall being walking distance from the Sante Fe depot, really is cute and old and unpretentious all at the same time.

    Jon Reply:

    Yeah, but come on… none of that was remotely surprising to those who had been following the project. It was obvious that the San Joaquins would never be able to compete with HSR between Bakersfield and Merced, you just have to total up the ridership for the stations that would be dropped to see that it wouldn’t be cost effective to continue slower speed service just for them. And I know you’ve seen that ridership data because you host it on your own website, and you posted a link to it here.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    We were definitely concerned about this issue. I will note that the remote possibility isn’t even acknowledged or addressed in the Final EIR for Merced – Fresno which was just issued last Friday.

    Up until this point, the Authority has pooh-poohed any hint that this might not be good for Amtrak. I personally am not in favor of the “read the writing on the wall” style of planning and project management.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Here http://cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/assets/0/152/407/410/1f47362d-1491-446b-b7b1-7dc8e6b8bd7b.pdf is the transportation section of the EIR where you are supposed to discuss the impact of a project on passenger rail.

    Search for Amtrak within the document…

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Here is the money quote from last Friday’s EIR:

    Changes in Conventional Passenger Rail Service

    With the introduction of HST service, the Amtrak San Joaquin rail service is likely to be adjusted to
    function as a feeder service to the HST System. It is expected that many San Joaquin riders would shift to HST service as it becomes available (for example, for Bay Area to Fresno trips). The San Joaquin Route could be particularly important as a connecting service during Phase 1 HST operations, prior to the extension to Sacramento. While San Joaquin service adjustments are expected to occur, connecting or direct service to existing markets is expected to be provided and would likely improve as the HST System is implemented. This would be an impact with negligible intensity under NEPA and it would be less than significant under CEQA.

    Clem Reply:

    connecting or direct service to existing markets is expected to be provided

    All aboard the Hanford bus! This is a tempest in a teacup.

    Jon Reply:

    A slow train is replaced with a fast train, and that’s a bad thing?

    I expect Madera, Hanford, Corcoran and Wasco will get bustituted, with buses run by either the new HSR operator or the new ‘NorCalRail’ organization taking over the SJs/CC/ACE. There is simply not enough ridership at those towns to justify running a train just for them. Even so, those towns will have far better connectivity to the state compared to the current situation, because they will be a short bus ride away from a HSR train to SF or LA.

    The only genuine reasons to oppose this is mode bias (i.e. you think a 50mph Amtrak train is better than a short bus ride + a 220mph HSR train, because the latter involves a bus) and transfer penalties (i.e. you think that a longer journey without transfers is better than a shorter journey with transfers.) I strongly suspect the former is the motivation behind Hanford’s objections; they like their cute little downtown and the olde tyme dinotrain that reminds them of the 19th century.

    That’s fine, but it’s a tourist attraction, not modern transportation. The most efficient way to connect the small valley towns to the rest of the state is to run buses to the HSR stations. If ridership ever gets high enough to justify upgrading the bus link to a local rail line, that would be great, but right now the ridership is just not there and resources would be better spent increasing frequency between Merced and SF/Sac.

    Jon Reply:

    Yep, a bus counts as “connecting service”. Why is this a money quote?

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Elizabeth:

    The draft EIR for Merced to Fresno, released August 2011 has the following listed under 3.2, Project Impacts, Changes in Conventional Passenger Rail Service:

    With the introduction of HST service, the Amtrak San Joaquin rail service may be adjusted to function as a feeder service to HST System. With the introduction of HST service, passenger rail service could be discontinued at Madera. Existing riders would shift to HST service as it becomes available (for example, for Bay Area to Fresno trips). The San Joaquin Route could be particularly important as a connecting service during Phase 1 HST operations, prior to the extension to Sacramento. This would be a negligible impact under NEPA and a less than significant impact under CEQA.

    Assuming that I haven’t quoted from the final document by mistake, the ‘money quote’ that you are using isn’t new to the EIR.

    Eric M Reply:

    Elizabeth said:

    “All the counties in the Central Valley have planning documents that say they want to preserve farmland and not allow low density residential housing sprawl to supplant agricultural land.

    Kings County stands out as basically the only county that has actually tried to do that. ”

    Well that is funny Elizabeth, because there are hundreds of new homes built in the past 10 years on the north-west corner of Hanford that destroyed massive amounts of farmland. Stands in the face of exactly what Hanford says it does not like. So, I guess it is okay to sell farmland to home developers, such as KB Homes, so the city can rake in millions in tax revenue each year, but not HSR? Hypocrites

    datacruncher Reply:

    Elizabeth, can you provide your source about Kings County population and farmland conversion vs. other Valley counties? The numbers I’ve seen indicate Kings County does not do as well as others.

    If there are numbers that are different somewhere I’d like to see them to compare.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    The bond passed in Kings County..all this nonsense has been stirred up by a handful of nimbys helped along in the media by the big mouth Burlingame nimbys and of the course big business type farms…The supervisors down there are as bad as Simitan in turnface support because a handful of people yelled and screamed

    Nathanael Reply:

    I’m sure you’re right. I don’t think much of the Kings County and Hanford government behavior, but that doesn’t mean the governments are representative of the citizens; governments often aren’t. (Sigh.)

  2. Andrew
    Apr 26th, 2012 at 22:29
    #2

    Good route for a feeder line to Hanford-Visalia HSR, also connecting Kings-Tulare communities to Downtown Visalia, using old ROW.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    You mean, this one along the east west alignment here?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Irrelevant nitpick (sorry): why do you call it a tram-train when it doesn’t run on the street anywhere?

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I’d like to know why we come up with these new goofy words in the first place. Trolley service in general becomes light rail. What are called tram-trains are what used to be interurbans.

    I can’t find it, but somewhere on the internet is a something along the lines of an “illustrated new steam locomotive terminology,” in which common parts of a steam locomotive are given new, modern, high tech sounding names, such as the whistle becoming an “audible grade crossing warning system,” and connecting rods becoming a “direct mechanical transmission device.”

    While looking for that, I did find this, and hope it gives you some smiles for today (and we thought the Republicans made conservatism look bad):

    http://www.alaska.net/~clund/e_djublonskopf/Flatearthsociety.htm

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sometimes these terms come out of different histories. For example, the tram-train (zweisystem) is historically an extension of mainline rail into a city that runs in streetcar mode on streets, whereas an interurban was historically built in one piece and is more separated from mainline rail.

    This can be important when discussing function rather than technology. When someone says “this city needs a tram-train,” what they’re saying is “this city has suburbs that are well-served by the mainline but a center that’s too far from the train station, and is too small to justify tunnels, so it requires an on-street spur from the mainline running trains certified for both mainline and street operation.” It’s different from what you meant when you advocated for a greenfield interurban.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Here in the US, we called trams streetcars or trolleys or interurbans, but then we shut most of them down. Since there were countries where they didn’t shut most of them down, they kept calling them what they called them before ~ trams in Commonwealth English, and given the influence of English banking in Continental railroadification, something nearly sound-alike in a lot of other European countries.

    When some American cities started the process of getting the nice stuff that the cities overseas had, streetcars and trolleys and interurbans were still frozen in the popular imagination in their Meet Me In St. Louis form of the scattered still-existing heritage streetcars, so the cheaper way of putting together a passenger rail system was called “light rail” using pictures of sleek modern European trams. And then they started the typical American process of systemic budget creep, as features added to this system and things needed in that environment were included in planning budgets, got funded on that basis, and so formed the reference for the next round of budgets. And “light rail” accumulated this set of expectations, as is only natural, since a lot more people ride the things than ever read the articles and papers in the late 70’s / early 80’s about light rail as a concept …

    … and then cities go into the current streetcar kick …

    … and now some people are rediscovering the original idea of “light rail” from the 80’s and calling them “Rapid Streetcars”.

    So, yeah, people introduce name names as marketing devices, and then those names take on a life of their own and the language evolves, same as it always has.

    “Tram-train” didn’t come from giving a new name to old things, it came from giving old name to a new thing. The first tram-trains were smaller regional towns with legacy streetcar tram networks that were marginal or non-viable with the increase in mode share of the car and with, as Alon notes, the mainline train station at the “wrong” place for pure pedestrian access because back in the day people just hopped onto the once-frequent tram service. From one perspective, the tram is heading out onto the mainline rail network to get passengers, to extend its reach, from the other perspective, the suburban train passengers get to stay on their train as it uses the streetcar network to drop them within walking distance of their destination.

    So its not describing what used to be called trams as tram-trains ~ trams are still trams, as they’ve been for over a hundred years, trains are still trains, and tram-trains run part of their route like a tram system and part of their route like a train.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “. . .tram-trains run part of their route like a tram system and part of their route like a train.”

    I see where you’re coming from, but it still sounds like an interurban to me:

    http://www.oerm.org/pages/pehistory.html

    Some even handled freight service, and on street trackage, too. It made me laugh to read in some critical comments on a newspaper site that trains couldn’t deliver groceries to your local store. The irony is that in some cases, that’s exactly what they used to do.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:654_on_Plumas_-_Flickr_-_drewj1946.jpg

    Hmm, I probably sound like a stick in the mud type, but don’t you wish you could duplicate this scene today on the old British Columbia Electric?

    http://www.davesrailpix.com/bcer/htm/bc008.htm

    Oh well, nothing lasts forever, including language; let’s just get what we need. . .

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Commonwealth english speakers would just call an interurban a tram. Some trams are streetcars or trolleys, some trams are what we would have called interurbans.

    The key part of the definition of a tram-train is a tram that is upgraded to pass certification to run in mixed traffic on an ordinary rail corridor. Obviously beefing up a tram so it can operate in mixed traffic is something that is far more viable where UIC standards apply ~ its not really practical in the US. Under FRA standard, even with a waiver, the more promising approach would be the train-tram approach, which comes at it from the other direction ~ instead of beefing up a tram, modify a passenger train with improved stopping and low speed performance to allow it to run as a streetcar. It would likely be a low floor train, with a platform of perhaps 22″ so you can still provide a “platform” as a street bulb connecting directly to a sidewalk, though not as nicely as with the 7″ platform height of an ultra-low-floor tram.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There are tram-trains running in the US right now.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Where. precisely, do we have light rail running in mixed operation with passenger and freight heavy rail?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Riverline and Newark “Subway” in New Jersey.

    Jonathan Reply:

    You mean, “where within the purview of the US FRA”?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Precisely. They are mixing segments of regular heavy rail corridor, running in mixed traffic, as regular intercity passenger rail traffic does, and segments running as streetcars trams, using modern trams upgraded for dual power and to meet UIC standards for running in mixed traffic.

    Its less common, but if they use passenger trains upgraded to run on the streetcar network, that’s normally called a train-tram. That’s actually the more likely scenario for the US, for starting from where we are starting.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The service level of tram-trains is very common in North American light rail systems, only it can’t use mainline tracks (other than the Riverline case) so the construction cost is much higher. The LA Blue Line is a good example: it runs in a railroad ROW, without many grade crossings, but then changes to streetcar mode in Long Beach so that it can serve the central parts of the city and not just the industrial ones. (It runs in a tunnel to get to Downtown LA, but LA is large enough to justify such tunneling, whereas Long Beach is not.)

    synonymouse Reply:

    Streetcars are gradually coming back throughout the U.S. because they never should have disappeared on the busy routes in the first place. Even small systems like the Johnstown Traction Co. could have survived with a reasonable and appropriate amount of public financial support.

    The private streetcar companies, facing challenges and competition on numerous fronts, were under-capitalized to continue R & D such as the phenomenally successful PCC or perform necessary track replacement. Even publicly owned entities such as SF Muni would have had to come up with large amounts of money at the time to rebuild, for instance, the Mission Street lines and the #14 interurban as well as buy new PCC’s. The situation required more moxie than they could muster and they cheaped out with trolley buses. In actuality trolley coaches were a good solution for many SF stretcar routes, especially the ones with steep grades. So it could have been worse.

    Every city had a similar sad stgry with local variations in the playing out of the rail debacle.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Requiring private, local funding for all railroad tracks, while funding infinite supplies of paved roads out of state and federal general taxes, will do that.

    If you go back far enough, both the roads and railroads were funded by government subsidies to private companies. I tend to think that’s a bad system; but the *problem* we had, historically, is that the railroads turned into privately funded and owned systems and the roads became all-public-money all-the-time. “Mode parity” ended when the ‘private turnpike’ systems of the 18th century started to go away.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    When I drew it, I was discussing different funding models and regulatory regimes for sustainable integrated transport systems and Hanford and Visalia were supposed to be obviously far too small for their own free standing streetcar systems.

    That’s not to say that a tram-train is generically superior to, eg, a diesel railbus for that specific corridor.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    Have they actually picked West Lemoore for the station?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    No, alternatives east and west of Hanford are both being carried forward (pdf) ~ the west ones are between Hanford and Armona.

    Part of the additional impacts of the programmatic route were through housing subdivisions built since the corridor was originally developed ~ in light of King County’s serious “preservation of farmland” stance, more farmland would have been retained by not developing those subdivisions and leaving that as farmland with HSR running through it.

    California Taxpayer Reply:

    I voted for the high speed rail and now I’m finding out about all these delays because it seems like people are afraid of change. In the case of Tulare and Kings, they weren’t even suppose to get a stop or it was optional or something If I remember correctly. Wouldn’t it make more sense to put it somewhere between
    Hanford Tulare and Visalia since that’s where all the people are?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Don’t confuse the smoke with the fire, though. The delays in starting construction stops once the legislature approves the start of construction.

    For Tulare Country and Kings County, that means city and country officials finding themselves where the ground is breaking on a project with statewide implications which has been converted into a partisan political football in the effort to claim an accomplishment on one side and to deny the ability to gain a political benefit from an accomplishment, on the other side.

    So a bit of bending with the various political crosswinds is to be expected, especially where its more posturing than something that will have a substantial effect.

    As far as Hanford station, its (1) not certain that it will exist and (2) it will be located somewhere near where the HSR bypass around Hanford crosses the state route through the middle of town. Whether that is on the east or east side of Hanford depends on which bypass route they pick. The Alignment Alternatives process has narrowed it down to one bypass or the other, with the original planned alignment through town now ruled out.

    This link is a google maps sketch of one thing that could be done without having a Hanford HSR station at all: its designed to connect to HSR at the HSR platform in Fresno. The bold blue line is the main route, the purple extension takes it down to terminate at Tulare on an abandoned rail corridor, and the fine blue lines are bus connectors.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The attitude of Hanford and Kings County has been incredibly self-defeating.

    By contrast, Gilroy and Fresno went in with “We want high-speed rail, but we want it to be done *like so*”, provided *technically achievable* desires to the CHSRA, and those towns are basically getting exactly what they asked for.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    So, in the end, while Tulare County may not have obtained a Viaslia HSR station, if they push, they can get the eastern Hanford bypass option and a station there, which is more accessible to Tulare county than a station on the western Hanford bypass option (or than the now excluded alternative of a downtown Hanford station).

    Kings County supervisors voting, “no change, I don’t like!!!” mostly means they cede influence to Tulare County.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    You could probably say the same thing for the Union Pacific. They could have had a fully grade-separated and fenced and secure right-of-way for free, and whatever design concessions they realistically needed so that hsr did not adversely impact their operations.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Absolutely true. Meanwhile, I think BNSF is getting what they asked for, pretty much.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    They could have had a fully grade-separated and fenced and secure right-of-way for free

    Try to think straight.

    The upside to them of this is minimal, at best. In fact, one might very plausibly make the argument that a grade separated line, especially if it involves the most desirable trains-up-people-level configuration, is downside to them, since any grades are pains for super-long freight operation and since being away from grade level means disconnection from existing or potential industrial spurs.

    Given their business practices, there really is no upside at all to balance the immense potential legal downside of sharing their industrial plant with trains full of soft squishy breathing lawsuits-waiting-to-happen.

    Maintaining grade crossings is part of their budget. (Not really a whole hell of a lot more expensive than maintaining and inspecting the civil engineering structures of grade separating bridges, in the big-dollar corporate budget scheme of things.) Occasionally hitting things at grade crossings is accounted for in their business model.

    By and large the grade crossings work OK for them, so why borrow trouble?

    You’re offering them something they don’t think they need, and exposing them to liability they certainly don’t want.

    Be realistic: these are large and very well-established corporations operating in the US legal climate; they’re not railfans, and they not going to get all excited and lose sight of the bottom line just because you come along and say you’ll build a trackside fence for them.

    JJJ Reply:

    Theres actually some official state or county document that shows that as an official proposal, with studies and everything. No idea where that document is though. Caltrans? Countrytrans? Visalia City Hall? Kings Transit? Someone did the study.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Tulare County Association of Governments. The study was the Tulare/Visalia, and the study says the ridership would suck, as one would have expected in advance.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    It’s actually a national security issue:

    Lemoore is the most important Naval Air Station on this side of the country. But because the surrounding area is so dry, it’s not conducive to building much industry or other “clustering” around it. Thus, the only way to do it is as a BART-sytle “close circuit” urban rail design that would have a few stops spaces pretty far apart: the Air Station, downtown Hanford, the HSR station, and a couple stops by Visalia.

    That would put your workforce relatively close time-wise while still respecting the ecological effects of all this….

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That was pretty much the tram-train alignment, with streetcar operation for a short stretch of downtown Hanford and streetcar operation to terminate at the Convention Center.

    JJJ Reply:

    Any tips on how you were able to find that document?

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Googled for Tulare County passenger rail (also Visalia also Hanford, but those were dead ends), found a reference to it on the TCAG site, then googled for that by title.

  3. Walter
    Apr 27th, 2012 at 00:29
    #3

    I’ve got my chips on Kings and Tulare County negotiating their way out of a station.

    These guys are going to look unfathomably dumb to whomever’s left there in 2040.

    Nathanael Reply:

    They already look dumb to me. Hanford should have jumped on the Hanford downtown station offer and looked like geniuses.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Since they’ve not carried forward the through-Hanford alternative, its not entirely clear what further role in negotiations Hanford really has on whether there is going to be a station on either the eastern or western edge of town. The advantage of the east station is that its convenient to both 43 and 198. They both are convenient to the east-west rail corridor.

  4. JJJ
    Apr 27th, 2012 at 00:29
    #4

    They absolutely must keep the San Joaquin, for the same reason you have Acela, Regional and Commuter rail on the same tracks, they provide very different yet complementary levels of service.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The reason they have Acela and Regional on the same track is that they’re branded differently and have different price points. Since the Regional is the lower-class, lower-fare brand, it’s the one that stops at lesser stops like Bridgeport and Old Saybrook.

    In contrast, the day the Shinkansen opened, the old Kodama stopped running, and when the TGV opened, the Mistral was demoted to an ordinary rapid train and then retired after a year.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Alon Levy/JJJ:

    Under full buildout of CHSR, I can see the name ‘San Joaquin’ being attached to the all-stops service, especially if BruceMcF’s suggestion regarding express bypasses is taken up to retain a stop in historic downtowns.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That’s very possible. If the naming convention follows Shinkansen history, then the first CAHSR service, making all stops, will be called the San Joaquins, and then express runs will have a different name. If those express bypasses are built then the San Joaquins will over time add more stops, possibly on alignments following the old routes rather than the high-speed tracks.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I should point out, JJJ, that the Acela, Regional, and Commuter rail are *on the same tracks*. Kings County is now trying to keep a service *on different tracks*. That’s not the same thing.

    Having two separate services on nearby but not adjacent tracks has been done, but all the examples I can think of are in truly high-volume corridors. Maybe the SF-LA HSR line will be that high-volume, but I doubt it, and so do the people who did the projections. LA-San Diego is projected to be sufficiently high volume.

  5. synonymouse
    Apr 27th, 2012 at 00:54
    #5

    All parties can demand whatever they wish. Palmdale demands that the entire statewide project be detoured to serve their burg.

    When it comes to hsr Jerry Brown seems as closeted and isolated as some third world autocrat. His is a blind faith that the CHSRA will be his shining hour, his monument to himself.

    Meantime the Democratic Party machine is rife with corruption, the inevitable consequence of vegetative monopoly on political power.

    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-assessor-20120426,0,2668462.story?track=rss

    Hey, but we’ll get back the San Francisco Chief, if Amtrak survives that long.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Naw. The Democratic Party in California is so much cleaner than anything we’ve ever had in either party in NY, it’s not funny. You don’t know when you have it good.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Of course Illinois’s even dirtier. But you know what? It’s a nice place to live, because *they keep the trains running*.

    lex luther Reply:

    screw illinois.

  6. lex luther
    Apr 27th, 2012 at 08:36
    #6

    Having lived in Hanford as a kid, I know that they do not want what they would see as “big city” things in their farm towns. People there like their small country life with sulfur smelling tap water, dust storms, valley fever, double-wide trailer homes, turd shoveling rednecks and gangbangers galore. thats why they live there. they are anti-LA, anti-SF, anti anything that isnt small town or atleast small minded.

    Its not about political party there, its about cotton pickin western yee haw politicians who like their farm life and see the HSR as the hick town killer in the way small businesses equate walmart to the mom and pop shop killer.

    But they dont have a problem with having 2 maximum security prisons in corcoran with one holding Charles Manson, and they have no problem diverting water from the bay area and the Delta for their drained tulare lake bed farm fields..

    its not that they are afraid of change, they just really dont want it

    Nathanael Reply:

    Well, if you’re right, the train will just whiz right by them without stopping, and will have very little impact on them at all, except to cause more people to ignore them entirely. That’ll make them happy, if you’re right. I hope you’re wrong.

    afukuda77 Reply:

    Lex Luther,

    I have lived in Hanford my entire life, except my short stay away in college. You represent the short sighted view that most others have of Hanford. No city is perfect, however Hanford has its charm and its benefits. I am glad you left, you are the negative part of Hanford we can simply live without. Hope you live in paradise!

    lex luther Reply:

    get out and see the world

  7. Jon
    Apr 27th, 2012 at 10:46
    #7

    It’s fairly simple. Hanford and Corcoran have Amtrak stops only because they happen to be on the route of the Amtrak California, system whose purpose is to provide transportation between different parts of the state. Amtrak California doesn’t have a highly time-sensitive ridership (else they would be driving or flying) so the few minutes it takes the train to stops at these stations can be justified. Also, as a state run not-for-profit system, Amtrak California has social mobility goals and is willing to trade ridership for coverage.

    High speed rail is essentially replacing Amtrak California as the statewide rail system, but it will be a for-profit system with time-sensitive passengers and ridership rather than coverage goals. The time spent to stop at Corcoran (and arguably Hanford) can no longer be justified for the statewide system. The need to provide lifeline mobility to Hanford and Corcoran remains, but there are also many other similarly sized places in California which have no rail connection and rely on Greyhound or Amtrak Thruway buses.

    Most likely the local stations between Merced and Bakersfield will get bustituted as part of the state funded Northern California Unified Railway, connecting at Merced. If they don’t like that outcome the counties of Kings, Tulare and possibly Kern, Fresno and Merced could vote to tax themselves to build and operate for a new regional rail system connecting the central valley towns. Otherwise, the local stations between Merced and Bakersfield will just be abandoned and left for the Greyhounds.

    All depends how much value the state of California thinks there is in providing basic transportation to these towns, and how much the towns themselves value their rail service.

    Nathanael Reply:

    What makes me roll my eyes at Hanford is that they were basically offered a downtown HSR station on a silver platter and refused it.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Mmmmm…. 350kmh blasting through your downtown back yard. Who WOULDN’T want it? How about a downtown rocket fuel factory and a downtown open pit copper mine also? Build baby build! On a silver platter!

    joe Reply:

    Indeed – Gilroy recommend HSR downtown.

    Clem Reply:

    As a practical matter it simply won’t happen. For two reasons: (1) from nearby, ground-level or elevated 220 mph HSR doesn’t make an otherworldly “swoosh” sound as described to the city’s residents–it makes a loud roar similar to a jet engine; and (2) the CHSRA has now estimated the additional cost of a Gilroy station trench for the first time: $2.033 billion (see page 23).

    joe Reply:

    Possibly. I’m not surprised the cost is high over the lowest cost – crap outside of town – because it also includes running track to downtown Gilroy and apparently an 8 mile trench. >/b>

    $ 382 million for ~1.5 miles of cut and cover tunnels to accommodate alignment alternative along US 101 and Gilroy downtown station

    $2,033 million for ~8 mile long trench to accommodate alignment alternative along US 101 with Gilroy downtown trench option.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Perhaps now you see why when Gilroy was offered reasonable options, Gilroy’s response, “We want a trench!”, was not taken seriously here.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Hmm. If I were Gilroy, I’d solicit competitive bids for digging a trench.

    It’s a HOLE. That is something which can be made cheaper. Heck, if Gilroy manages to dig a trench before HSR arrives (and they’ve got several years) it’ll be a fait accompli and the CHSRA will be forced to say “fine, we’ll use it”.

    Nathanael Reply:

    An open cut in soil can’t be that expensive. Is the trench planned to have concrete side retaining walls? That adds up quickly. Would it have to go through rock? That would also make a big increase in cost, certainly. ‘Course the details aren’t there in the report.

    Nathanael Reply:

    And I don’t know the local geology.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Nathanael:

    Making a hole isn’t hard. Keeping the hole open costs more, and making sure the hole won’t collapse under a variety of conditions costs a lot more. The idea of cities along the route pre-digging trenches according to the published ‘this is how you dig a hole for the use of the CHSRA’ specification is interesting.

    Nathanael Reply:

    :-)

    If it turns out that the bedrock is close to the surface in Gilroy, *then* I understand the projected costs (ow).

    Nathanael Reply:

    Clem, people live next to airports.

    Nathanael Reply:

    My point being that people’s noise standards vary. A track surrounded by sound barriers may be ugly or loud, but it’s less so than many other things which towns actively court.

    Winston Reply:

    Honestly the current proposal to build a station at a freeway interchange on the edge of town sounds like the best alternative. It’s a shame that Gilroy has delusions that HSR is going to save its downtown.

    joe Reply:

    We suffer no delusions HSR will “save” downtown – we think it will change downtown.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    It’s simpler than even that:

    The San Joaquins can be appended to just Fresno-Bakersfield. It’s a faster connecting on HSR from the Bay Area than taking a one seat ride to Hanford now. And it will cost less if more of the state rail system is self-supported.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    That’s a long run for not that much prospective ridership. A commuter train on the Visalia/Hanford corridor then up to Fresno would be marginal, though as noted a shuttle to the base from Hanford might help, but with the HSR taking over Fresno/Bakersfield, the patronage over the long Corcoran to Wasco stretch would be about nil.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    That is exactly why from a political standpoint, it might just happen: HSR can subsidize services to far off and distant lands using conventional rail and curry favor with rural legislators that way. And I mean, if you think about it, if HSR is profitable plowing the profits back into to other transportation upgrades isn’t a bad idea…

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Madera, Fresno, Hanford, mebbe. But if you were in Hanford and looking where to go next, its hard to pass up Visalia as the terminus of that route as opposed to Corcorran.

    Something like this

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Don’t buy it. These legacy rail services won’t be particularly compatible with commute patterns.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    I’m not so sure. The Madera / Fresno leg can’t go on the BNSF alignment, since the HSR station is over at Mariposa Plaza. So that would have to be on the HSR corridor from Madera to Fresno to the Hanford bypass. With the downtown Hanford station about 20 minutes away from Fresno HSR, that Hanford / Visalia section seems more likely to be a viable stretch. And while the alignment in use between Visalia and Tulare is not oriented correctly for that, the abandoned Visalia/Tulare alignment is oriented correctly.

  8. synonymouse
    Apr 27th, 2012 at 12:45
    #8

    There are some powerful private interests influencing public transport decisions, and certainly quite often they do not have the public interest in mind. The BART car contract, for instance, apparently is not going down without a decent fight:

    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/27/BA8T1O9PUU.DTL

    It is good the carbuilders are tussling with each other and may go to court as it brings significant issues out from the backroom and into the daylight.

    Similarly Tolmach raises an issue I’m sure the cheerleaders would prefer to ignore or paper over. And that is the role of the profitable airlines vis-a-vis the CHSRA. Tolmach makes the case the airlines will easily out-compete Tehachapi Stilt-A-Rail both in terms of travel times and ticket cost, and even factoring in fuel price inflation. So it not inconceivable the airlines are endorsing the Roundabout route, with full anticipation that it will prove an expensive embarrassment and no threat to the airlines’ bottom line.

    And once again similarly I wonder whether the embattled LA County Assessor cut a sweetheart deal with the Tejon Ranch Co. for campaign baksheesh.

    “You think you know what you are dealing with here, Mr. Geddes[sic], but you don’t”

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Jet Blue isn’t interested in running routes that would challenge HSR. They are totally content to take the Florida -NYC route for example and leave NYC to DC to Acela. And besides, they are totally non-union…

    JFH Reply:

    Here’s an alternative to your airline conspiracy theory: Passengers will consider values other than just minimal time and price. Value will be given for being able to have cell-phone access and the ability to use electronics non-stop, for example. The airlines won’t fall over and die, nor will passengers completely refuse to the train in favor of the airlines. You can see this happening with the Acela right now. Based on flight time alone, it’s faster to fly from DC to NYC (~2h45m by Acela, ~1h20m on United). Depending on when you buy your ticket, either the Acela or the plane could be cheaper. Somehow though Acela has a higher marketshare than the airlines between DC and NYC. Curious, isn’t it?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    hour and twenty in the air and an hour from the curb at the airport to the time they close the door on the plane. It’s not easy to get to the NYC airports.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Acela does not. Amtrak does. It is a noteworthy distinction.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Don’t be so sure. Amtrak altogether has more than twice the market share of the airlines on NY-DC. The Regional has more passengers than the Acela on average, but it’s plausible that the Acela has a higher proportion of NY-DC passengers (where it has the biggest time advantage) whereas the Regional has a higher proportion of passengers on the shorter segments or those serving stops the Acela skips.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Of course these cities (NY and DC) are only about 225 miles apart, hardly a comparison with So Cal to Bay Area. If you are on the west side of L.A. (the more affluent, more likely to travel) LAX is easier than LAUS. Ditto Walnot Creek, Orinda etc. to Oakland.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I made a narrower point than that.

    Where one can get to from the Westside depends on what happens to 30/10. In either case, once the Westside Subway is operational, it will be much easier to get to Union Station than to LAX, but the question is whether it’ll be in 2018 or 2036.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Only 225 miles apart is all the more reason to drive.
    If you are starting off someplace other than the Westside which is most of the LA area you’ll be closer to an HSR station than you will be to LAX.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Holland Tunnel is all the more reason not to drive.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Or the Lincoln Tunnel, or the George Washington Bridge, or Canal Street, or absolutely any Avenue in midtown Manhattan. Basically, if you’re going into Manhattan, you want to avoid driving if at all possible.

    There are actually similar circumstances in San Francisco, where I’d include all the hills and most of the bridges on the “reasons not to drive” list. These “driving unfriendly” characteristics of SF are one reason why it’s important to get the HSR terminus into SF proper and connect it with the Market St. trains. Pity the Transbay Terminal designers weren’t serious about rail service, or indeed about decent bus service.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Looking again at the FAA data, you’re probably right. 1.5 million NYC-DC areas air travel, 3.1 million Acela riders which tends to split 50/50 BOS-NYP and NYP-WAS.

  9. Reality Check
    Apr 27th, 2012 at 13:49
    #9

    Italian rail link a showcase for Alstom

    By Mark Odell in London and Giulia Segreti in Rome

    One of the last bastions of state control in Europe is set to crumble on Saturday when a group of high-profile businessmen launch the continent’s first private, high-speed passenger train service between Naples and Milan.

    NTV, a company set up by Luca Cordero di Montezemolo, the chairman of Ferrari, and his partners with an initial €1bn investment, will take on incumbent Trenitalia, the state-owned operator, with an ambitious venture that aims to break-even by 2014.

    “We have ended one of the longest monopolies in our country,” Mr Montezemolo, NTV’s chairman, told the FT on a press launch of the service this month.

    The launch of services also marks a milestone for the train-building division of France’s Alstom. NTV is so far the only customer for Alstom’s AGV, the successor to its world-famous TGV.

    Alstom is hoping NTV’s €650m fleet of 25 high-speed trains, dubbed the Italo, will act as a showcase for its latest product.

    “The launch of the Italo fleet of AGV trains is very important to Alstom in terms of supporting NTV in their development of high speed rail services,” said Henri-Poupart-Lafarge, president of Alstom’s transport division. “The launch is also a validation of Alstom’s decision to develop this latest generation of very high speed train.”

    The market for high-speed trains and infrastructure is worth about €11bn annually and a number of countries are looking at building dedicated domestic networks, including Russia, Brazil and the UK. But Alstom, which has the highest installed base worldwide thanks to the success of the TGV, is facing growing competition from Germany’s Siemens and Canada’s Bombardier, as well as from China’s rapidly developing high-speed rail sector.

    Mr Montezemolo and his partners, who include Diego Della Valle, the founder of Tod’s fashion company, control a third of NTV. France’s SNCF, Europe’s most experienced operator of high-speed rail services, and Intesa Sanpaolo bank each hold a 20 per cent stake.

    The crucial market is Rome to Milan, where NTV is planning to introduce nonstop services from August. The market is roughly split between Trenitalia and the airlines, with the state-run operator estimated to carry about 25m passengers per year.

    NTV is looking to differentiate itself on price — the cheapest one-way ticket will cost €45, roughly half the price charged by Trenitalia — as well as product. NTV’s fleet of 450-seat trains boast the latest features, including free WiFi, live TV and a dedicated “cinema carriage”.

  10. lex luther
    Apr 27th, 2012 at 16:56
    #10

    100 FRESNO BUSINESSES COME OUT AGAINST HSR, CENTRAL VALLEY TEA PARTY TO HOST PRESS CONFERENCE

    http://californianewswire.com/2012/04/27/CNW11553_140602.php

    BruceMcF Reply:

    CENTRAL VALLEY TEA PARTY TO HOST PRESS CONFERENCE

    Way to avoid parroting a party line.

    morris brown Reply:

    @lex luther

    What is really comical is recalling a statment made by David Crane when he was on the CHSRA Board … we should build where they love us (the Central Valley)…

    Robert’s whole thread here is ridiculous. Kings County alrady made it stance perfectly clear — they don’t want HST — they are a part to a lawsuti seeking to kill the project, with more to come.

    Nathanael Reply:

    If they don’t want high speed rail, then there will be a high speed rail line running through Kings County without stopping. After all, the rail does have to get from the north side of it to the south side of it. Hope they’re happy with that result, because that’s what their current hostile attitude is going to get them.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    it can get from Bakersfield to Fresno without going through Kings County.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah, that’s the ticket, bypass Kings, they don’t want it anyway, so lets give them what they want, nothing.

  11. lex luther
    Apr 27th, 2012 at 21:36
    #11
  12. jimsf
    Apr 27th, 2012 at 22:03
    #12

    Well, in the past we have often wondered allowed if anyone from the state or hsra even reads this blog. Apparently at least caltrans does as I was asked by my boss today to change my name here. Apparently caltrans asked because they think you all might get the idea tham Im representing amtrak here. Of course ive been here long enough and you all know that I voice only my personal opinions and experieinces and a lifelong californina resident, voter and taxpayer. But alas, if they prefer i change my name I will, So I will go and come back with a disguise on so that you will not know that I work for amtrak.

    this could be fun. I could come back as just anyone! And you wont know its me because Ill be wearing dark sunglasses and a wig.

    lex luther Reply:

    come back as superman

    jimsf Reply:

    or in drag as Anita Martini.

    lex luther Reply:

    well that would be fitting for a san francisco resident

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Jim D’oh brother of Jane D’oh and John D’oh

    http://thesisters.org/index.php/community/userprofile/Sister Jane Doh

    VBobier Reply:

    You could even come back as the Batman, after all there are a few Jokers here. ;)

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Because as we all know… changing your name to Jim Merced connotes more objectivity than Jim SF.

    I think tensions are running high at Cal Trans because the President probably wants to have Amtrak operate all the trains as a contractor for HSR because it’s political advantageous and California obviously has no incentive to do that for self-supporting service.

    jimsf Reply:

    Hmmm I guess I have to wait for my new name to be approved by moderator. ( jeopardy theme…)

    I don’t think its about objectivity on my part. My feelings on HSR are based on what I want to see as a Californian as was best for Californians. And I stronly beleive in in a fully integrated, single operator, standard and high speed system that makes getting around the state as simple as getting around the bay on bart. step on, dippity-do, you’re there, step off. No fuss no muss. I don’t think this or that about hsr because I work for the railroad. They are unrelated from my point of view. I have a lot of opinions on the best way to do things in order to put good transportation first and politics second. But everyone here knows that doesn’t happen in america. so we will take what we get and the public will make do and work around the politicians mistakes.
    . I happen to like the hsr plan, especially the route and station choices. I blame the downgrade from full hsr by 2020, totally on the republicans and tea party yahoos and their ilk. with them, as an american, I am fed the eff up.

    I wonder when my new name will be ready.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I’ll bet we’ll still be able to spot you even with a new name and no further mention of your Amtrak experience, or at least that you will soften the expressions that you are an Amtrak agent. Writing styles, if you study them long enough, are often as distinctive as voices and faces.

    Hope you get to stay around.

    jimsf Reply:

    I will disguise my voice and speak with an accent, and misspell amtrack a lot or avoid mentioning it altogether. And if you spot me you mustn’t let on! ssshhhh

    BruceMcF Reply:

    And write out Amtrak station locations, instead of using telegraph code.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    Anyone who reads your comments could not come to the conclusion you were speaking for Caltrans, Amtrak, Obama for America…etc…etc…

    This is an embarrassing attempt at censorship, I gotta say.

    lex luther Reply:

    perfect example of government intrusion. they are violating your privacy

    jim Reply:

    I suspect this is over things like the San Joaquins being possibly taken over by BNSF. If Caltrans is actually in negotiation with BNSF, they probably don’t want that generally plastered over widely read boards.

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    Come back as NotJimSF. They’ll be totally surprised!

    jimsf Reply:

    lol be nice. youre gonna get me in trouble.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I’ve used the name David Eastern on a newspaper comment page; maybe he could come back as Jim West. It’s a name with a California heritage, and railroading heritage, too:

    http://www.tvshowsondvd.com/graphics/news3/WildWildWest_S4.jpg

    http://www.imdb.com/media/rm2540673024/ch0008888

    A more modern interpretation:

    http://www.trimarisdiane.com/Hunks/younghunks/willsmith.jpg

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah, then He’d have Loveless out to get Him. ;)

    Seriously Jim, rename Yerself anyway You feel is appropriate…

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    When it comes to not being embarrassed among family and friends, a fake name is useful. But I wouldn’t be too confident that nosy people at government agencies, and interest groups bent on intimidation, haven’t long-ago hacked into this site, and learned everybody’s real identity.

    Matthew B Reply:

    Oh no, tin hat time!

    Nathanael Reply:

    Absurd. I think it was clear to us that you were not representing your employer. Hell, I had guessed that you were retired — are they gonna make you not write about your work when you’re retired too?

  13. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 27th, 2012 at 23:14
    #13

    In other topics, Atlanta, Ga. finds public investments that might trump spending on education (and of course, rail service):

    http://thinkprogress.org/economy/2012/04/26/472177/with-education-budgets-drained-atlanta-will-use-taxpayer-money-to-replace-a-20-year-old-stadium/

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Also, in other topics, and despite being a bit of rather old news, we have Obama taking on the “birthers,” including Donald Trump, at the White House Correspondents’ Dinner (just about a year ago), a tradition since the time of Calvin Coolidge:

    http://truthquake.com/2011/04/30/obama-destrtoys-donald-trump-birthers-jokes-white-house-correspondents-dinner-premieres-lion-king-birth-video/

    Whether you like him or not, you have to give the man credit as the “coolest” occupant of the White House in a long time; it’s no wonder some have suggested the president would have a successful career as a stand-up humorist if he weren’t president. Of course, one wonders if his audience would be limited; his humor is clean and a bit cerebral, and in today’s vulgar culture, that might not be a best-ticket-seller.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I thought Jimmy Carter was “cool”. Sigh. Solar panels on the White House!

  14. jimsf
    Apr 27th, 2012 at 23:27
    #14

    well, its been great fun chatting with all of you all these years. Take care and keep up the good fight!
    -jimsf

  15. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 28th, 2012 at 00:45
    #15
  16. Daniel Krause
    Apr 28th, 2012 at 06:55
    #16

    I am actually sympathetic to Hanford (and other small cities) on this issue. Preserving rail service to these downtowns is a good think and can continue to be the focus of focusing development in these areas as CA finally looks to reduce the sprawl pattern and encourage walkability.

    For the planned interim service, it would be ideal if Amtrak would continue to run a local service that serves all existing stations while providing an express service that would utilize the new HSR track. I suspect the challenge here is that Amtrak may feel there is not enough revenue to continue with local service to small towns. This needs to be figured out.

    For final rail network, I envision HSR being hubs of a much wider Central Valley network of rail that would serve as both commuter rail and a feeder service to HSR stations. In addition to all existing Amtrak stations continuing to be served, many other towns would get stations, especially along the 99/UP corridor south of Fresno (yes this would require dealing with UP and would more some upgrades). Additionally, Fresno and Bakersfield could have additional commuter rail within their urban areas that link to HSR.

    The rapid population growth of the CV justifies planning for an extensive rail system, and that is why talk of eliminating sevice to any stations is ill advised.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Except even Madera / Fresno / Hanford /Visalia is 76 miles ~ running to Corcorran instead and going on to Wasco, rather than a bus from Corcorran to a Hanford HSR station and a bus from Wasco to a Bakersfield HSR station, seems hard to justify. After all, accommodating population growth at those locations would entail switching from a mini-bus to a full sized coach.

  17. morris brown
    Apr 28th, 2012 at 11:59
    #17

    Here is a summary of the sad reality that is California today:

    http://www.newgeography.com/content/002801-as-california-collapses-obama-follows-its-lead

    We have lost our way, and its getting worse and certainly ot better.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Morris, you need to do better; check out the response below. . .

    California Taxpayer Reply:

    The sad reality is only for some people. Many people still think California is a good place to live.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Kotkin wrote a similar, somewhat shorter piece for the WSJ. Utterly and totally ignored by the Pelosi machine mandarins.

    Someone needs to come up with a catchy name for the latter-day Golden State gone to seed. Our value-engineered PC version of Camelot.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Kotkin should stick to blaming AIDS on megacities.

    Spokker Reply:

    What should AIDS be blamed on? Just curious.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Lots of things, none of which is cities being too big or dense for Kotkin’s liking.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    What should AIDS be blamed on?

    Seitan.

  18. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 28th, 2012 at 13:07
    #18

    And a response on that site by Christopher Davidson:

    http://www.ccsce.com/PDF/Apr12_CA-Economy-Update.pdf

    The link above may be of interest to readers.

    Unemployment rates continue to be higher here than in other states largely because of the precipitous decline in construction jobs. We also lost jobs in tourism and in export-import trade, but those sectors are slowly coming back now.

    Meanwhile, CA has modestly increased its share of some of the most dynamic sectors of the economy. All my figures below are from the April 2012 report referenced above; “California Economy Update,” published by the Center for the Continuing Study of the California Economy

    Ever since 2000, the state has continued to have approximately 40% of jobs in the entertainment industry. California’s share of venture capital funding has gone from 40% to 50% since 1995. Since 2007, California’s share of jobs in the Internet industry has risen from 12.9% to 15.4%, in scientific jobs and R&D 17.9 to 18.8%, in software 16.8 to 17.7%. Computer services and management consulting services have dropped very slightly, from 14.5% to 14.1% and 16.7% to 16.4%, respectively.

    I don’t dispute that there are serious economic problems in California, but I don’t see the evidence here that high unemployment and low growth are the result of environmentalist public policies. It makes more sense from the data I’ve seen to say that the region was overbuilt in the 1990s and 2000s, and we’re now suffering from too much empty real estate. The cost of doing business may be higher here than in Texas, and the promise of green energy industries may not have been realized — yet — but it seems an exaggeration to me to call this an economic collapse!

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Yes, its ignoring the elephant in the room to ignore the collapse of the housing bubble when trying to pin the struggles in the California economy on some other factor.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It’s notable from that report that one of the major sources of unemployment in California is cuts in government jobs.

    Seems California has lost its way — it needs to have a lot more people directly employed by the government! (Probably mostly teachers.) I think we know what to blame for this (the 2/3 rule from Prop 13, and the crazy Republicans who signed Grover Norquist’s 14-year-old fantasy no-tax pledge.)

    VBobier Reply:

    Yep, that’s on target, 13 and Fuhrer Norquisling…

  19. D. P. Lubic
    Apr 28th, 2012 at 15:36
    #19

    Since we have been looking at larger pictures, with their impact on this rail project, here is another, with interesting political observations. Of particular interest is the original source, hardly a liberal one:

    Summary and review by an environmentalist writer, and presumably a liberal view:

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/04/28/473228/american-enterprise-institute-and-brookings-must-read-the-republicans-are-the-problem/

    The original source document, from a pair of conservative writers:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/lets-just-say-it-the-republicans-are-the-problem/2012/04/27/gIQAxCVUlT_print.html

    And a related, if rather lengthy essay on the fellows I’ve had to call the Repugnant Ones:

    http://truth-out.org/index.php?option=com_k2&view=item&id=3079:goodbye-to-all-that-reflections-of-a-gop-operative-who-left-the-cult

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    A lot has been said about how opposition to this rail project, and for that matter to other things like renewable energy or a green economy, from a variety of irrational fears. In the case of rail, a lot of this has focused on the generational aspect (in particular about how people who grew up in the amazing postwar era can’t believe this age was as magical and special as it was), but I wonder how much also comes from a perspective–and perhaps a well-informed one–that we are hitting the limits of benefits in a highly technological society, and with those limits, the limits on the ability to make insane fortunes.

    Case in point–Henry Ford’s Model T was a huge improvement on walking and animal transportation, in spite of the horrible roads of the time. The 1955 Chevrolet (first year for the now-traditional small block V-8 from that builder) was a lightweight, economical car that could run on the new turnpikes of the day, and on the interstates that would be the future. A modern car is very much improved over that 1955 Chevy, particularly in the reliability and safety departments, yet it can’t get you to work much faster than the 1955 model, and indeed may be slower because of traffic congestion.

    This can even apply to modern electronics, such as computers. Sure, computers are increasing in capacity all the time, but if you’re using one for most routine things, like checkbook work or posting on the internet, the doubling in speed from X nanoseconds to 2X nanoseconds per transaction isn’t likely to be visible. It doesn’t really improve your actual experience.

    At the same time, we now have some very large enterprises that are really tied into the existing status quo (i.e., the oil business). They see that things are at some very real limits, and that growth is problematical at best. There are other business, such as the banking business (a/k/a Wall Street) that likely sees all this, too. New products can be hard and expensive to develop, and can be quite risky to market, too; it is infinitely easier, and likely much more sure of profit, to come up with all these control frauds we have seen of late.

    What this means is that we have these large, rich, and powerful institutions that are themselves fearful. I don’t think they should think this way–for example, I would think there would be plenty of money still to be made in oil, even if we doubled the mass transit ridership share–yet the fear is apparently there. That’s what stands out about the article Morris linked above, and what stands out about almost all of the opposition to HSR, while that same opposition fails to account for the costs, in treasure and blood, of the transportation status quo.\

    And speaking of fear, how else does one explain a Donald Trump’s noisy opposition to wind generators?

    http://thinkprogress.org/climate/2012/04/25/471248/donald-trump-monstrous-wind-turbines-will-make-scotland-go-broke/

    Ill admit, I’m stumped for answers. What we need is an opposition party (i.e., the Democrats) that is willing to speak the truth, and speak it bluntly. Lay out the situation, lay out the evidence, and lay it out so any doofus can figure it out. That’s really not that hard to do; I do it all the time explaining tax and labor law to my clients on audits, and in the process, show them how to minimize their tax costs, claims costs, and so forth. (I take the attitude that people owe the government what they owe, but they do not owe what they do not owe.) Yet this is one thing the Disappointing Cats seem unable to do, and ironically, it is because the Disappointing Cats are afraid they’ll lose their seats if they do tell the truth.

    Telling the truth, even one that can be rather complex and technical, shouldn’t be feared or even that difficult. Like I said, I do it almost every day, and have developed enough of a diplomatic (read-respectful) style to carry this for most people, provided they have at least some reasoning ability, but it seems a lost or missing talent among the political types. And the problem is far too large for me to tackle alone.

    As I’ve said before, much of this is generational, and should die with time. The question is, do we have the time?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    the doubling in speed …. isn’t likely to be visible. It doesn’t really improve your actual experience.

    You need a fast computer with modern graphics card to watch the pr0n in HD. It’s a much better experience if you can see their pores.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Ger-nope. For anything online on the World-Wide-Web — what simpletons call the Internet — is a waste. (unless you’re doing visualization on Internet-2).

    What a high-end 3d graphics card _does_ get you, is the polygons-per-millisecond to render good 3d graphics for high-end gaming. That comes out at, um, 4 millisec per mono frame, if memory serves. Yes, there _are_ people prepared to pay for that.

    Spokker Reply:

    Tablets can even do 720p and even 1080p video now. You don’t need a Radeon or a GeForce to watch HD video on a desktop.

    What Jonathan said about 3D gaming is why you need a powerful GPU. The CPU is not *as* important. I was rocking dual core when everybody was saying, “EIGHT CORES BABY YEE HAW!” Only now are quad cores becoming necessary.

    For the first time ever the hardware is way ahead of the software. I suspect this is because of the abnormally long 7th generation of video game consoles. That’s where the bulk of the games not called World of WarCraft make bank, and that hardware is seven years old by now. Even a budget PC desktop with a graphics card is going to run the latest games like Skyrim better on a PC than an Xbox 360.

    I think CPU and RAM is more important for crap like video editing or whatever. For 3D gaming, however, the trend has been to make the GPU more and more responsible.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    And yet Starcraft 2 keeps crashing my middle-end-as-of-2008 laptop.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If you believe things you find on the Internet 47 percent of people are still using XP. If they wanna watch HD it’s going to be a struggle because if they are using XP they are very likely to be using an older computer. And chances are good they never reinstalled Windows and there’s lots of bloat-ware sitting there eating up processor cycles and RAM.
    …but anything you buy today, that comes with a full sized keyboard, shouldn’t have a problem. Pointless to watch 720 on your tablet or phone because the display doesn’t have that many lines in it…. unless you just bought it.

    Spokker Reply:

    Regardless of what the actual resolution of the display is, the point is that something like a Tegra 3 device can render 1080p video. This will come in handy for other things like tablet gaming. A recent game called Dark Meadow looks especially nice on the Tegra 3 platform.

    I’m still using XP on one PC that I use for general productivity. I can’t use it for gaming anymore because the GPU fan stopped spinning and fell off. Temps are fine during general use but will overheat during gaming. In any case, it’s an AMD Athlon 3500+ overclocked to 2.4 GHz with a gig of ram and a Radeon x800. It can do 720p video but not 1080p. I think I built it in 2005.

    When I got back into PC gaming in mid to late 2011 I recognized that the hardware was ahead of the software and I wasn’t going to go for even a mid-range rig. We got a dual core AMD processor with a Radeon 6770 and 4 gigs of ram. Everything I’ve been playing (like Dragon Age 1 & 2) runs fine. I’ve also been going back and picking up some older games I missed. They are like $5 now on Steam and Amazon during the weekly sales.

    “And yet Starcraft 2 keeps crashing my middle-end-as-of-2008 laptop.”

    Is it a proper AMD or Nvidia GPU or one of those Intel ones?

    Spokker Reply:

    Hell, my girlfriend’s Samsung Galaxy S can playback and record 720p video.

    BruceMcF Reply:

    Its not precisely pointless to stream a skinnytab like a Kindle or Nook Tablet at 720p. The common streaming options are 480p and 720p, so with a 1024×600 resolution screen, you have a choice between upscaling by 25% and downscaling by 20%. Streaming 1080p would be pointless, but playing 1080p content would be more about ease of use ~ the ability to pull a video off of a BD and play it either from a media center onto an HD TV, or to put it on a micro-SD card and play it on the tablet, without worrying about having coding it in two different screen resolution.

  20. Frank
    Apr 29th, 2012 at 17:47
    #20

    Dear Mr. Cruickshank, in keeping with your article’s title, Kings County local governments and most of its population has made up their mind. I think we made up our mind around a year ago. You just have not paid attention to things outside your model of the world. I guess that is okay.
    Since 2009, the CHSRA has not factored in the needs or the concerns of this area. People here did try to work with CHSRA for around a year. We do not get any credit for that point.
    When common people here determined that CHSRA disregarded our needs and concerns, we asked the CHSRA for a little honesty and due process and the state then violated our rights and violated the law. I never hear much about that point from you or any supporters of CHSRA’s past and present plans. The CHSRA and the governor broke off communication with Kings County and our population from June-2011 through, well, this month. We did not stop working with them, they stopped communicating with us. That was all very disappointing and does not inspire faith in the state to operate in good faith with any of us.
    We discovered that the project planning does not comply with the provisions of Proposition-1A for a variety of reasons. That raised the question of why should we have our personal property seized, our businesses compromised, our local economy compromised by something that does not appear to even be legal or obtainable given the missing funding of the project. Despite how we have been portrayed, I do not think that we have ever taken a position that HST’s are bad. We have just been saying that the planning is poorly done and that the process is flawed and needs to be corrected and done right. I am sure that you could also lay a copy of the Proposition-1A voter’s guide down and discover that the revised CHSRA Business Plan does not comply with many of the provisions/safe guards of the now state law. You can obtain your own copy of the document by going to the California Secretary of State’s website.
    Since we are here in the physical middle of this, this is reality and not a hypothetic exercise about whether or not this project as designed will help the environment, be cost effective on some level someday or how many people will actually ride this for what price or if this will create some jobs, somewhere. We have had the time to look at what the real impacts will be to real people here. CHSRA has not looked at that based on the letter I just received from them from a question I asked last February during a public meeting. We are also Californians and should have some consideration given us when being told that we must sacrifice our futures for other Californians who have a desire but not much of real plan to get from here to there faster.
    We do know the following things: 1- The plan as designed will hurt our ability to make a living, feed our families and service our local communities’ needs and operation. 2- The plan will cause us to lose real identifiable jobs here in our communities. 3- The project does not comply or complement the county’s 2035 General Plan that was approved by the state. 4- The county’s 2035 General Plan was hailed as one of the best plans in the state by our governor who was the AG back then. 5- For the most part, the local governments here are responsive to their jurisdiction’s needs. 6- The project will cause us an unreasonable burden given the lack of benefits achieved that have been promised if the full project is never realized. Remember the technical people claim that this project will pollute more until after 2040 and if it is never finished, it will never bring the eco benefits and transportation benefits it promised. Remember we are also in a weird air pocket down here because of the mountains on three sides and end up with the crap that blows in from the northwest and drives by on both east & west sides of us. We really do not need any more pollution added in to the mix. Also, consider that the need to pay debt service and bond principle will forever compete with school, safety & social service programs here and statewide. Everyone loses if this is not finished and there is no funding to get south Bakersfield.
    About Amtrak service down here, it has been plumbed into the local/regional transportation planning. Much investment has been made to make local transportation hubs around the stations that happen to be more or less in the downtown. Buses (local & regional), commuter vans services & taxis are already linked into the Amtrak stations and in play daily. It was all part of that good planning by local governments to comply with state and federal mandates. Amtrak already exists and people here use it. The ridership of Madera, Hanford, Corcoran & Wasco make up around a quarter of the ridership on the San Joaquin Amtrak service, which is the fifth busiest Amtrak corridor in the US. People here use it as a commuter thing like people use Cal Train and Metro Link. Before you say it, yes, we know that Amtrak is subsidized like those other train and the bus services.
    Eliminating Amtrak here because of the addition of an in completed 800-mile HST system will cause further harm to our local situation beyond just taking our property and livelihoods. Since we already have Amtrak service here, we will do our best to not end up with less transportation services here while improving (skeptical) services for all Californians. Remember, we are also Californians and should be receiving better transportation services like everyone else. AB1779 has been sold around here as having nothing to do with CHSRA but that is not the case. If it isn’t the case, what is the problem with giving the southern San Joaquin Valley Counties the ability to protect their existing inter-city passenger rail service?
    I have said all of that to say this, you appear to have some rather strong and critical views about who we are, how we live and what motivates us but it appears that you have not taken the time to look beyond your model of the world in your office or home. I can fix that for you.
    I am sincerely inviting you to meet with me here in Kings County and you can show me how we make this work for our economy here and our communities here. I am extending the invitation to Mr. Daniel Krause also. I have his contact points and will contact him, we have discussed meeting. You can coordinate with him.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “People here did try to work with CHSRA for around a year. We do not get any credit for that point.”

    Care to prove it? I was following the news at the time.

    Nathanael Reply:

    As for Amtrak, feel free to fund it locally. You DO have the ability to protect your existing service; Amtrak is always happy to do contract operations.

    You might be surprised how expensive it actually is to do so, especially with a competing, faster line taking the passengers from Bakersfield and Fresno.

    OK, wait, I just caught this….
    “We have just been saying that the planning is poorly done and that the process is flawed and needs to be corrected and done right.”
    This is simply not true; this is not what the Kings county local government were sayi9ng. It is what everyone who is categorically opposed to high-speed trains *says* they were saying…

    But if this were *actually* true, Kings County local governments would have made counterproposals which were technically feasible.

    They did NOT. I would have read about them in the news!

    If you made such proposals and the local governments did not, then I suggest that you need to take a good hard look at your local government officials!

    synonymouse Reply:

    All of the difficulties in the Valley could have been easily avoided with the I-5 alignment.

    With a demonstrable hsr up and running on the Racetrack upgrading the 99 corridor could have then proceeded with all parties and stakeholders having a clear idea of what to expect.

  21. DavidM
    Apr 30th, 2012 at 09:14
    #21

    DeSaulnier’s SB 1117 clears committee:

    http://sd07.senate.ca.gov/news/2012-04-25-desaulnier-s-statewide-passenger-rail-plan-clears-committee

    “SB 1117 will direct the California Transportation Commission (CTC), in cooperation with regional and state agencies, to create a statewide passenger rail plan that would address the following issues:

    · High speed rail, conventional intercity rail, commuter rail, and urban rail transit.”

    Paulus Magnus Reply:

    So a law duplicating the current state rail plan? Brilliant job Legislature.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Not much work for the CTC then. I’d like to be paid to Xerox the existing state rail plan.

    lex luther Reply:

    yet another government agency….what a waste

    VBobier Reply:

    Then I guess You(Lex Luthor) like anarchy then?

Comments are closed.