Fox 11 in LA Continues Its Attack on High Speed Rail

Oct 9th, 2012 | Posted by

Back in August a local TV station in Los Angeles, Fox 11, launched a misleading hatchet job on the high speed rail project. They’re at it again, this time with an editorial blasting the HSR project. And it’s as misleading as ever.

At a minimum cost of $68 billion dollars, California’s high-speed rail is the most expensive public works project in the state’s history. And what the voters approved is a far cry from what they appear to be getting. Proposition 1A, which voters passed in 2008, says the train was supposed to go from Los Angeles to San Francisco in two hours and forty minutes. But under the current plan, public documents indicate it could be up to four hours.

No, as I explained last time, the plan is still two hours and forty minutes. What might happen is that as the system opens in phases, it could take 4 hours, but once the entire system is open, it’ll be 2:40.

Fox 11 has had a lot of problems comprehending how phasing works. Just because a project is going to be built a piece at a time doesn’t mean that you can judge the system by how it operates after the first phase is complete. That’s like saying the Expo Line fails to deliver on the promise to connect to Santa Monica because Phase I terminates in Culver City and ignoring the fact that Phase II goes all the way to the beach.

So will people really abandon their cars and planes to take a train that’ll shave precious little time off their trip?

In every single attack on high speed rail I’ve ever seen in the media, this argument is at its core. A lot of people in the media simply do not believe that Californians will choose a train over a car, even though ridership on existing intercity trains, which don’t offer much time savings over driving, is very high. We know for a fact that yes, Californians will ride trains when the option is presented to them. Anyone doubting this today is simply showing their unwillingness to accept reality.

Here’s another key point: the rails were supposed to be electrified, which means high speed. But let’s take, for example, the first segment, an unlikely trek from Madera to Fresno. The rail authority says it’ll be electrified by 2022. And that’s only if they get more money and right now, they don’t have more money. Additionally, the law promised the passengers would not have to transfer trains when riding from Los Angeles to San Francisco. But under the current proposal, passengers could have to transfer trains several times.

Again, this is Fox 11 showing they do not understand, or do not want to understand, how phasing works.

And Governor Brown, show us some real evidence that you can get private funding as opposed to continuing to push for more taxes on overburdened Californians to fund your rail project. Governor Brown how about some real answers to these questions. Otherwise, it’s time to put the project on hold. For the good of the California.

Now we see what this is really all about. Fox 11, which is now acting as an ideologically right-wing news outlet (which it never did in the past), is attacking Governor Jerry Brown and his tax proposals by making an issue of HSR. This paragraph is deeply misleading since Brown is not at all pushing for new taxes to fund rail. Proposition 30 would primarily benefit schools. It won’t go to HSR at all. You can tell they are coming from a right-wing ideological position by saying California taxpayers are “overburdened” when in fact taxes on Californians rank about 12th among the 50 states.

As to evidence for private funding, there’s plenty of that, if Fox 11 bothered to look. Since June 2008 private investors have been showing interest in the California high speed rail project. The LA to Las Vegas HSR project, XpressWest, already has $1.5 billion in private investment lined up. Market observers have pointed out the numerous ways in which HSR is a good investment, one the market will likely pounce on when ready.

But the project isn’t yet ready for private investment. As has been stated all along, that won’t happen until there is an initial operating segment carrying passengers from the Central Valley to a coastal metropolis. That segment is almost certainly going to be from Merced to Los Angeles. That takes us back to the phasing issue – to get to that initial operating segment, you have to start laying tracks somewhere. And that’s what the Merced to Bakersfield segment is planned to do.

If funding is Fox 11’s concern, are they going to ask Mitt Romney or John Boehner or Tony Strickland or any number of other Republicans whether they plan to block funds and undermine job creation in California? Ah, but that would conflict with what appears to be Fox 11’s ideological agenda. So I doubt it’ll ever get asked.

I’m not sure this attack on HSR is actually intended to derail the project – it’s too late for that; the best time would have been before the July State Senate vote. But this may be part of an effort to stop Prop 30, or to give a boost to right-wing candidates in Southern California legislative and Congressional races who are trying to use HSR against Democrats. Ultimately, it’s yet another example of the media misleading the public about this important project for California’s future.

  1. James M. in Irvine
    Oct 9th, 2012 at 09:40

    Is this a case of the local FAUX NEWS toting the national syndicate party line? I used to watch the local Fox station, FOX 11, but their reporting is more and more like the cable FAUX drivel, extremely one sided. There is no more balance.


    VBobier Reply:

    FAUX now is no more News than the Muppets are, Big Bird and Co could do a better job at Reporting the News, than FAUX could ever do…

  2. JJJ
    Oct 9th, 2012 at 09:47

    An unlikely trek from Madera to Fresno? Unlikely indeed, considering Medera wont get a station.

  3. Reality Check
    Oct 9th, 2012 at 10:09

    China Unveils High-Speed ‘Ice Train,’ But Is It Safe?

    China expects 10,000 miles of high-speed train tracks to link 24 cities by 2020, but its latest feat, a high-speed “ice train,” may be its most ambitious plan to date.

    On Monday, the People’s Republic tested what it says is the world’s first alpine high-speed rail line, which threads across the country’s three northeastern provinces from Harbin to Dalian. The new line is expected to reduce travel time between the two cities from nine hours to just four as passengers travel 570 miles aboard weather-proof CRH380B bullet trains, which can accommodate temperatures that dip to as much as minus 40 degrees Fahrenheit in the winter, and rise to as much as 104 degrees Fahrenheit in the summer.

    […] will be able to handle up to 7,000 passengers per hour in peak periods, and the train is expected to stop at 24 stations in 10 cities when it begins full operations by the end of the year.

    Engineers began construction of the line in 2008 and have said that trains will be able to run at an average of 217 mph after initial safety tests are complete.

    “We researched the experiences of high-speed railway line construction in relatively cold areas of Germany and Japan and took reference from road, water conservancy and electric supply projects in frigid areas,” Zhang Xize, chief engineer of the Harbin-Dalian high-speed railway program, told China Daily.

    Xize said the railway is fitted with special facilities to remove snow and ice from the line and protect its power supply from the elements.

    “We have used all the measures that we can come up with to ensure the safety of this project,” he said.

  4. Reality Check
    Oct 9th, 2012 at 10:41

    Eurostar Launches New Weekly Ski Service to the Swiss Alps

    […] the new ski service will carry ski and snowboarding enthusiasts from St Pancras International and Ashford International to the heart of the Swiss Alps and the Valais region. […] For added convenience, Eurostar and TGV Lyria will allow ski passengers to carry on-board an extra item of luggage in addition to the normal luggage allowance – such as a pair of skis or a snowboard – at no extra cost.

    Nick Mercer, Commercial Director for Eurostar said: “Our research shows ski customers are seeking a more civilised way to reach their resorts by travelling by high-speed rail from London to the heart of the Swiss Alps. Our direct ski services to the French Alps have grown in popularity year on year and we expect this new service to the Swiss Alps to have similar appeal.

    “With the highest runs in Europe, spectacular scenery and reliable snow, Swiss skiing offers something for everyone. With the resorts located just a short distance from the train stations, passengers have a much more seamless journey than travelling by air.”

    Travellers can indulge themselves on their way to and from the slopes by travelling Standard Premier, where they will enjoy more spacious seating as well as light meals and drinks served at their seat.

  5. Paul Dyson
    Oct 9th, 2012 at 10:44

    Being under fire is never a pleasant experience, and even if the fire is inaccurate there are always those shells marked “to whom it may concern” that can make you just as dead. It’s even worse psychologically when the enemy uses ammunition that your own side has supplied. The initial construction in the Central Valley provides a perfect issue for project critics as it really doesn’t provide any useful transportation. Bridging the gap Bakersfield to L.A. was and still is the only sensible first phase. We’ll see how this all pans out but you can expect the barrage to grow in intensity in the coming weeks. Incoming!

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I agree with you that the way this is being phased and handled opens the door to these criticisms, but the criticisms are flawed. Had the first construction segment been Bakersfield to LA the same people would be making much the same claims.

    VBobier Reply:

    Pretty much, some people don’t like anything New or that uses less oil…

    Joey Reply:

    Of course there will always be criticisms, but do you argue with the fact that Bakersfield-LA has enough demand to start electrified rail service by itself, whereas the CV has little justification for more than a few amtrak runs per day until more track is built?

    thatbruce Reply:


    There are two problems with building LA to the Central Valley or SF to the Central Valley before the Central Valley. The first problem is the hills. No matter which route you select, building through hilly terrain simply takes much longer than building over flat ground, leading to the risk of running out of money with not even a completed tunnel to show for it.

    The second problem is the final approach into the large city, LA or SF. Were this somewhere civilized, the high-speed trains would use the existing tracks to get into the city without any fuss. Since this is the fine country of the US of A, we’re left with either building brand new separated infrastructure for the high-speed trains through some very expensive real estate, or jumping through a large number of regulatory hoops in order to get non-FRA and FRA trains playing nicely near each other.

    On a pragmatic basis, getting the ball rolling by starting construction on a section of flat, comparatively cheap land while also preparing the legal landscape for the more complicated sections makes sense. The Federal Government (following strong hints from the CHSRA) also took that approach, doling out money with the ‘independent utility’ and deadline strings attached.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Hills are not a problem. The only reason construction started in the CV first was in order to dig a big inutile hole in the ground, so as to get taxpayers to cough up more bucks.

    Also, I find the whole idea of CHSRA practicing first on easy sections to be really embarrassing. They should be hiring professionals, not amateurs who have to learn on the job.

    StevieB Reply:

    What about the problems of the environmental reports for the Bakersfield to Palmdale segment not being complete enough to allow construction within the time limitations of the federal funding and the amount of the federal funds not being adequate to construct the entire segment from Bakersfield to Palmdale. Those problems seem to be fatal flaws in beginning initial construction on this segment.

    Joey Reply:

    The EIRs were where they were because that’s where the CHSRA decided to put their effort. Had they prioritized differently, the mountain crossing could easily have been ready to go. I’m not saying it can be changed now, but it’s worth noting these types of things for future reference.

    Wdobner Reply:

    Do you know that for a fact? Were you party to the meetings where that was determined?

    Isn’t it just as likely that there were more environmental impacts to be considered for the mountain crossings and that their environmental impact reports took a greater time to prepare? Would you have the authority hold the entire project up until all EIRs were completed before beginning construction on the segment they should begin with anyway?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Yes, I do know that for a fact.

    So do you, if you possessed enough brains to interpret a calendar, or understand that 2012 is a smaller number than 2013, or 2015, or 2020 for that matter.

    Joey Reply:

    I don’t have any definite proof, but the patterns have been there over the last few years. The Authority has been hosting meetings, pushing through new versions of the other EIRs, etc, while the mountain crossing EIRs have been mostly just sitting there. And there’s very little reason why they should take any longer than the other EIRs. The mountain crossing alignments (Pacheco and Tehachapi) were chosen after the rest of the route, but that was when everything was still at the program level. And there’s very little reason why engineering through the mountains should take longer than engineering through anywhere else, particularly urban areas. The exact alignment alternatives are identified using computer software and the tunnel lengths involved are short enough that the engineering specifics are pretty routine.

    Wdobner Reply:

    So that’s a no.

    It’s not a particular problem, but you’re ascribing your biases to an administrative process with no insight into how that process is actually being handled. So long as we acknowledge the very basic fact that your suppositions have no grounding in fact then there’s no problem.

    Joey Reply:

    Yes, I’m speculating. The CHSRA provides so little information about their administrative processes that that’s all any of us can do. Do you have a particularly compelling reason why the mountain crossing EIRs would take longer, if started at the same time and worked at the same rate?

    Wdobner Reply:

    Both mountain crossings are passing through protected forest areas. That alone should generate whole volumes of environmental impacts to be studied. By comparison contemplating the impact of high speed trains on honeybees is ludicrously simple.

    But I object to your maliciously insinuating that the people who work for the organization are creating some sort of conspiracy to shape the project into something you object to. You, and a lot of other posters here, are reading entirely too much into what happens to be the most expedient and sustainable solution to begin construction.

    Would you rather they have decided to start with Pacheco and Tehachapi, thereby ending all discussion of Altamont or Tejon? At least by starting with the Central Valley they’ve thrown you guys a bone and some flexibility to pursue other routes into the bookend areas. Rather than begrudging their every statement maybe be glad for what room they’ve left you to debate.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Firing Van Ark indicates no bones are to be thrown to protesters, dissidents, disaffected. “The people who work for the organization” are indeed the same genre of zombie engineers who imposed the Indian broad gauge supplice on the Bay Area in the face of common sense, a century of railroad experience and the advice against it from countless public-spirited citizens. Remember this hsr thing does not have to work much at all or particularly well so long as the money accrues to the right parties. Just like BART.

    Maybe Indian gauge means it is meant to work like Indian railways – somewhat, sort of. Maybe BART’s worn out seats and carpet should be viewed as performance art, a cultural statement. Similarly willfully mediocre, scabbed together RoundaboutRail reflects what we want and what we ultimately deserve.

    It’s Chinatown, Jake.

    Joey Reply:


    I used to give the Authority the benefit of the doubt, back when I first started following the project (look at my comments on this blog from, say, fall 2009 and you will see this). I watched the project evolve over time, seeing good alternatives eliminated for seemingly trivial reasons, valuable input ignored, obvious cost saving measures ignored, passenger accessibility ignored, and overall zero critical thinking. So forgive me if I am just a little bit suspicious of the people at the Authority, but they have lost all of my confidence.

    joe Reply:

    I find the whole idea of CHSRA practicing first on easy sections to be really embarrassing

    I think it’s professional and wise. Doing high risk work at the beginning only increases the chance of encountering early problems without adequate time to check construction processes and understand project risks in light of actual experience with the contractors.

    Bill Walsh used to script the first 15 plays of a 49ers offensive series.

    Joey Reply:

    It might actually make sense to do the highest risk segments first, given that if problems are encountered then you are not time-constrained to fix them (which might otherwise lead to large cost increases).

    joe Reply:

    Generally, it is very Stupid to do the hardest work first and more stupid with a new team – this is a new team. There will probably be problems with communication between prime and subs. Problems you want to work out with the easy parts first.

    Secondly the CAHSR project is overall is money constrained, not time constrained. So you should use the time resource to trade against money. So that’s not sensible to pretend the project, as a entire project has a time constraint. It hasn’t so you propose to address a non-issue.

    Thirdly the part of HSR that is time constrained is the part funded with ARRA money so the best choice is to build where the risk is lowest and risk of time constraints the lowest. That’s the flat CV.

    Joey Reply:

    Oh dear, the galaxy knows so little about building railway lines that if we don’t work out the kinks first, we might end up with rails on the ceiling of a tunnel! And forget about bringing in a handful of foreign experts (who have been doing this for decades) to oversee the process because that would be un-American.

    The ARRA money does do some odd things to the optimal scheduling (though ironically getting a relatively small sum of money spent as fast as possible minimizes independent utility).

    As for time constraints, there are a few: firstly, you _do_ want to get the project done as quickly as is reasonable, which generally means building the parts with the longest construction time first. You’ve also got the fact that the value of the Prop 1A (2008) funding is decreasing as a result of inflation (unless someone wants to point out some financial nuance that makes this not the case). And now you will have actual infrastructure in the Central Valley which will be depreciating and sitting mostly unused until the rest is built.

    So you should use the time resource to trade against money.

    So how exactly does increasing the construction time decrease costs on any segment?

    thatbruce Reply:


    Generally, it is very Stupid to do the hardest work first and more stupid with a new team – this is a new team.

    The CHSRA’s role in this should be on the executive level, saying ‘we want to track from here to here using these guidelines’, then handing over the construction details to another state agency with extensive experience in building long straight earthworks (Caltrans).

    Secondly the CAHSR project is overall is money constrained, not time constrained.

    (f) It is the intent of the Legislature that the entire high-speed train system shall be constructed as quickly as possible in order to maximize ridership and the mobility of Californians, and that it be completed no later than 2020, and that all phases shall be built in a manner that yields maximum benefit consistent with available revenues.

    Come 2017, opponents are going to seek injunctions based on ‘there is no way this section can be completed before 2020, it should be stopped now to avoid it being late’.

    joe Reply:

    You guys demand experience and then suggest an approach that experience would avoid.

    Construction will be awarded to a team comprised of 1. minority owned businesses, 2. small businesses, 3. HSR experience, 4. CA construction experience. There will be a prime contractor responsible for the project.

    There exists no such company that can meet the various requirements for inclusion and experience. None exist. Suggestions to the contrary are nonsense.

    Guess what. The team’s lack of past experience is a risk and everyone knows it is a risk.

    CAHSRA should expect communication, logistical and staff competency issues early in the project and expect these will settle out over time. They should insist to see evidence that the prime is taking precautions to identify and fix these issues. They should start where the proejct is easiest and build out from that point.

    BTW (f) is the stated desire to finish by a date . The desire is **not** a requirement and a desire should not be prioritized over working within budget which means avoiding hard section first.

    jonathan Reply:

    You guys demand experience and then suggest an approach that experience would avoid.

    Literacy problems strike again. Just like you couldn’t understand the suggestion to _hire_ people who have _demonstrated_experience_.. Which, of necessity, means hiring non-Americans. Which is entirely practical, and possible. The legal formaitlies may take awhile, but it’s entirely doable.
    Prime example: Roelof van Ark.

    joe Reply:

    I can’t find the relationship between your comment and what I wrote. I think this is painfully obvious – you do not – right?

    Construction will be awarded to a team comprised of 1. minority owned businesses, 2. small businesses, 3. HSR experience, 4. CA construction experience. There will be a prime contractor responsible for the project.

    It could be that HSR experience will consist of partnerships with staff that have experience BUT you can’t mention the nationality or language skills for a position that does not require the skill. Anyone who has experience with hiring knows this violates the law. This language criteria is Richard’s creation and he is an awful role model. I’d lay off the stereotypes.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Ideally, they should have started in the valley and also begun tunneling in the mountainous sections. Unfortunately the way infrastructure is funded (and the ebb and flow of political capital) gets in the way.

    J. Wong Reply:

    “Hills are not a problem” except that tunnels are very expensive.

    “They should be hiring professionals” – pray tell, where are the professionals in the U.S.A. that have had experience building HSR.

    swing hanger Reply:

    If there are any Americans with such expertise (are there?), they’re working abroad, where the real action is, rather than the political theater that passes for transport policy stateside.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They work building highways.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    High speed rail alignments are freeways, with a thin veneer of steel and systems on top.

    You hire specialists to apply the veneer.

    Or at least people who aren’t either bat shit insane or corrupt rent-seeking trough-feeding frauds hire competent specialists.

    You can hire any local AutoCAD jockey and any rebar bender to do the civils. Just give them the right parameters (which aren’t measured in inches, by the way.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I know that and you know that but some people think you need finely honed specialized skills to bend rebar or pour concrete when there’s going to be a train on top of it all instead of cars and trucks. Or that you need finely honed specialized skills to come up with how much rebar to bend and how much concrete to pour. As for the veneer, there’s people working in the US who have those skills to put down ties and rails and to get them to come out level ( or in all sorts of complex shapes ) Even ones who have experience hanging catenary and installing advanced signal systems. Pity that no one in California asked them for advice.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Jerry-PG&E Richard-PB does not hire professionals; it fires them.

    It hires MTC caliber hacks.

    I think Nathaniel Ford is available.

    joe Reply:

    The Federal Government (following strong hints from the CHSRA) also took that approach, doling out money with the ‘independent utility’ and deadline strings attached.

    Not Hints!

    All Projects ARRA funded HAD to have stand along utility so a Bakersfield to LA “fill-the-gap” project would need to have stand alone utility solely with the ARRA funds. Stand alone utility was a requirement to get the ARRA bill passed. ARRA also created onerous reporting mechanisms to assure there would be little waste.

    Paul’s alternative is, until shown otherwise, unencumbered by these reality based constraints.

    Joey Reply:

    Not Hints!

    I’m unconvinced. The CHSRA/state was making noises about wanting to start in the valley long before the feds decreed that the funds must be spent in the valley. In fact, the first round of funding had no specific segment requirements.

    a Bakersfield to LA “fill-the-gap” project would need to have stand alone utility

    Bakersfield-LA has lots of standalone utility. You could start running electrified regional trains (maybe 125 mph top speed) from day one, and there’s enough travel demand that people would ride them. Combine with electrified Metrolink services on (Palmdale or Santa Clarita)-LA and you’ve practically got justification to build the line all by itself.

    joe Reply:

    You’re confused.

    The stand alone utility has to be built with the ARRA money – period. Bakersfield-LA segment would need to be completed with the 2009 ARRA money. 8 B total was for the entire USA

    “$8 billion for intercity passenger rail projects and rail congestion grants, with priority for high-speed rail”

    The CV segment is usable by Amtrak if no other work ever happened. You say Bakersfield to LA for 3.5 B?

    Joey Reply:

    At reasonable rest-of-the-world costs, you could almost certainly build LA-Palmdale with that money, which still has justification for regional service. Then you build northward as additional funding arises, increasing the usefulness of your infrastructure massively with each new segment built, rather than hovering on uselessness up until you hit SF or LA.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    At reasonable rest-of-world costs, which the project was budgeted at in 2008, you could do Sylmar-Bakersfield with LA-Sylmar electrification on the existing amount of money.

    joe Reply:

    You both refer to reasonable rest-of-world-costs which are irrelevant to the reality of USA construction costs. You both complain about the high cost of construction so I see no point in proposing unrealistic alternatives with data you don’t believe.

    jonathan Reply:

    Joe demonstrates functional illiteracy yet again. Rest-of-world costs _are_ entirely relevant.
    Even more to the point, rest-of-USA costs are not in line as the local transport-industrial-goverment complex costs.

    joe Reply:

    I’d reply to your comment but since I am illiterate I neither can read it nor have I written anything on this blog.

    My imaginary self can reply. Using cost estimates that you admit are not realistic results in an unrealistic result.
    Any alternative construction using bogus cost estimates is bogus. It illustrates the difference between a counter-factual thought experiment and the reality facing the CAHSRA.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    There is NO utility in the central valley since a perfectly acceptable alternative already exists. Replacing one route with another is not independent utility.

    joe Reply:

    I prefer to discuss the reality of the ARRA proposal and selection criteria. It was selected so your viewpoint is inconsistent with the program funding.

    The stand alone utility for the ARRA construction is what is built could offer utility for Amtrak. It improves the ROW.

    Now please send me a link or make a simple statement that one could can fill the gap from Bakersfield to LA and meet ARRA requirements.

  6. synonymouse
    Oct 9th, 2012 at 10:52

    2 hrs 40min would require Tejon. The Fox report reasonably correctly represents the dissident view of the PB-CHSRA megaproject.

    The cheerleaders are not content that the Brown regime have a political lock on the Legislature and are going to ram this thing thru Hugo Chavez style no matter what. They insist that all citizens salute the boondoggle. Or else.

    Tough shit – TehaVegaSkyRail Rail is still a turkey.

    Joey Reply:

    2 hrs 40min would require Tejon

    Or Altamont-Oakland-SF via Transbay.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Oh, you can do it even with Sacramento-Oakland-SF via Transbay. You can even do it with Tehachapi and Pacheco, it just requires skipping stops.

    Joey Reply:

    Obviously? 2:40 refers to the express travel time, which was either 0 or 1 stops between SF and LA (the 1 being SJ). But it also requires making no design compromises, which amounts to a lot of extra costs and potentially a large detriment to local service (i.e. CalTrain).

    Peter Reply:

    And no one is going to run 2:40 in practice, the same way they won’t run 30 minutes SF-SJ in practice, either. These are arbitrarily/legislatively (sadly, they are the same thing) selected design targets that have no bearing on how operations will actually happen.

    So, no, there will be no large detriment to local service.

  7. Alek F
    Oct 9th, 2012 at 11:27

    Great article.
    Thanks for publishing, and for clearing-up some points that Fox 11 has (purposely) falsified.
    As far as I know,
    Fox 11 is one of the worst, biased, ultra-liberal, ideological news channel,
    which I stopped watching completely.
    They only tell half-truth while omitting some important facts.
    And – like most media channels – Fox 11 has barely any knowledge about public transit and rail industry overall. Hence their distorted views.
    Shame on Fox 11!

    VBobier Reply:

    Liberal? FAUX? What planet do You come from? Romulus?

  8. Richard Mlynarik
    Oct 9th, 2012 at 11:33

    The plan is still two hours and forty minutes

    My plan is that unicorns poop rainbows.

    It always has been, and always will be, physical reality be damned.

    Eric M Reply:

    So what run-time simulator did you use, that adjusts for stops and speed variances along the SF-LA route did you use and what time did you get?

    Derek Reply:

    The lower time limit for the 432 miles from SF-to-LA, at a max velocity of 200 mph, no intermediate stops, and instantaneous acceleration and deceleration, is 2 hours 10 minutes. So that gives the CAHSR 30 minutes to work with.

    synonymouse Reply:

    All you have to do to validate and consummate the Prop 1A cluster you know what is put a putative Bombardier hsr car, pantographs and all, in the belly of one of those Vietnam War era cargo planes, and fly it along the scenic route over the Tehachapis and Palmdale, SF to LA.

    Ergo, PB don’t need no stinking Prop 1A.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Dear Eric M,

    Thank you so very much for asking! I was so hoping you might, what with your being such an earnest and diligent seeker after knowledge and all.

    As it happens, I used exactly the same train simulation codes, track data, and train performance parameters asThe California High Speed Rail Authority’s consultants did over eight years ago. Since those were produced using a reasonable non-American piece of software, that reuse saved a lot of effort. As a engineering professional with a keen interest in realistic modelling and cost-effective and time-effective expenditure of effort, I’m sure you’ll agree with my approach.

    Unfortunately, the Authority’s World Class Web Site Maintainers have done at least two “relaunches” and “redesigns” and “upgrades” of their World Class, Microsoft-powered web site since the time when they made “Appendix D TPC Train Performance Calculator Graph” of the January 2004 “Operations Report” of the “Program Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement” available on the web, and they seem to have completely evaporated.

    The “Operations Report”, sans, appendices, seems to have survived under this marvellous Microsoft-approved URL but the appendices have faded away, comme les neiges d’antan.

    Never mind, one can always use one’s personal archive to dig out

    When one does, even the most casual observer — and as a highly motivated technically inclined individual with a keen interest in public policy, your examination would be far more than casual, would note a number of factors:
    * 350kmh commercial operation;
    * Extremely high civil and operating speeds through urban and suburban environment (200kmh nearly all of SJ-SF; 350kmh through all the Central Valley cities; 250+kmh LAUS-Burbank; 350kmh Burbank-Bakersfield-Merced-Modesto-Stockton-Sacramento; 350kmh Fresno-Los Banos-Gilroy; 200-350 Gilroy-SJ; etc);
    * Extraordinary “guaranteed not to exceed” simulated train driving style (maximum acceleration and maximum braking around every single speed restriction, including full throttle application in the 500m and 800m straightaways between the curves approaching the SF terminal)
    * No allowance for the realities of commercial operation (schedule recovery time; energy conservation; lower operating speed than absolute maximum civil speeds; etc etc etc)
    * etc etc etc etc etc.

    That was 2004.

    I think any reasonable person might have some teeny niggardly doubts — regardless of the realistism or practicality of the damn-the-reality-just-blast-it-through simulated route — that the simulated train operation and hence the simulated train run times might not be entirely relevant to commercial railway operation here on Planet Earth. I know, you must find it hard to believe that PB might knowingly flog data in such a way that it might benefit its corporate interests more than it corresponds to reality, but things did smell just a tiniest bit piscine, even way back in 2004, don’t you agree?

    Now as you’ll no doubt recall, the vehicle used for the same simulations was a Siemens ICE derivative (32.52 KW/tonne, 300m consist) and the Great March of Technical Progress has delivered newer trains since then. But having a passing familiarity with order of magnitude reasoning and a rough recollection of Rayleigh’s equation showing bluff-body drag to be proportional to the square of fluid velocity (and hence power to the cube) at high (we’re in the area of ~10^5) Reynold’s Numbers, and also noting the large amount of maximum-speed running, you’re more than likely to conclude that incremental advances in train weight, train aerodynamics and train propulsion are unlikely to result in a large (~ 15+%) improvement in end-to-end run times on the same alignment.

    On the other hand, I am unaware of a single change since October 2003 to any section of the PBQD-designed PBQD-promoted PBQD-profiting CHSRA-rubber-stamped route that has resulted in a significant decrease in train operating time, whether by significant shortening of the route length; significant increase in the highest speeds; significant removal of speed restriction; or significant failure to add many large news sections of new speed restriction.

    So, if 2h40m was, well, just the tiniest eensy-beensiest bit of a “white lie” (and honest gigantic rent-seeking no-bid engineering cartels do make honest mistakes from time to time!) back in 2004, and if every aspect of the system has gotten slower since 2004, often in significant ways, and if the only defence of the 2h40m run time — 2h40m post-“blended system”!!!! — that the CHSRA’s highly ethical, highly professional, highly numerate, Chairman or any of his staff have been able to produce (the dog ate their homework!) is:

    The answer is that no document exists. These were verbal assertions based on skill, experience, and optimism and so Dan Richard went with the expertise of the engineers offering these assertions. I have been informed that a memo is in the process of being drafted on this very issue and I will provide that to you as soon as its complete.

    well, then, I think you’d little choice have to agree, based on my extensive run-time modelling (using software and staff time that PBQD generously provided!) as well as upon subsequent program changes, that the amateurs seem to have the facts, and the only thing the professionals seem to manage is professional lying.

    So, thanks for your earnest query, Eric M. It’s always a privilege to do other people’s homework!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    PS In case your personal archive is temporarily unavailable for some transient technical reason, here you go:

    You’re welcome!

    joe Reply:

    Dear Eric M;

    Did he use a run time simulator. He says he did but gosh – Clem puts stuff on a blog and shows his work and describes the tools. No such link provided here. Just a massive comment- shame on robert or richard for using a comment to post what I would love to see as stand alone.

    As it happens, I used exactly the same train simulation codes, track data, and train performance parameters asThe California High Speed Rail Authority’s consultants did over eight years ago. Since those were produced using a reasonable non-American piece of software, that reuse saved a lot of effort. As a engineering professional with a keen interest in realistic modelling and cost-effective and time-effective expenditure of effort, I’m sure you’ll agree with my approach.

    Now Richard’s a hobbyist and it’s not really expected for one to produce a document or (gasp) a link to a blog or describe his analysis but then he’s asking us to take his word for it as an snarky authority figure. What was that software package?

    Maybe I’m wrong and he’s put it out there …. very unconventional if he did to not refer to it.

    There’s the CAHSRA peer review, the GAO, Darrell Issa and the broad community of practice that would probably find his simulations interesting. That’s how serious people make a difference.

    Joey Reply:

    So basically you don’t trust the CHSRA’s own analysis then?

    joe Reply:

    I haven’t seen it, can you send me a link?

    Joey Reply:

    Richard links it a few comments up (it’s now stored on his site having been removed from the official site for whatever reason). In case you can’t find that, I’ll provide it again:

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Clem’s simulation gave a zero-pad travel time of 33 minutes between SF and SJ, using higher-performance rolling stock than the ICE 3. The mandated travel time is 30 minutes.

    joe Reply:

    And Clem has built some padding in that time table. Not that it makes the difference enough but given his objective was to produce a time table under a set of test conditions tghat IMHO are not required for the verification of the SF to LA trip.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The 33 minute figure comes from here (it’s actually 33:51) and does not include padding; this is added separately.

    You can push it down a bit by raising superelevation and cant deficiency to the absolute limit – ~200 mm cant, ~180 mm cant deficiency for a 300 km/h+ train – but then you’re constraining the types of rolling stock you can use to just 2.5 choices, versus about 8 otherwise. Legalese aside I don’t think it’s a worthy tradeoff in California, because most of the route is greenfield and so curves aren’t a major problem, and the primary city pair is longer and so saving 5 minutes at the ends is less important. I do think it’s a worthy tradeoff in the Northeast, but that’s with a different set of constraints from in California.

    Derek Reply:

    * 350kmh commercial operation;

    China achieved this in 2008. The record in noncommercial operation is 575 km/h, so 350 km/h is actually setting the bar pretty low for 2029 when Phase 1 Blended is expected to begin operations.

    Joey Reply:

    350 km/h results in very high electricity and maintenance costs, compared to, say, 300 km/h. I seem to recall China making this compromise on one line in order to keep ticket prices at reasonable levels, though I don’t remember the specifics. Some things can be done to improve this a bit, such as very light trains (which will never be allowed here), but it’s still not cheap. Indeed, we seem to be approaching the limit of what is economical with steel-wheel-on-steel-rail technology, at least as far as speed is concerned.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    350 km/h is actually setting the bar pretty low for 2029 when Phase 1 Blended is expected to begin operations.

    Kewl. So that whole “electricity too cheap to meter” business is just around the corner.

    A round of thorium shots for all my friends, then! No, make them doubles! Party on!

    Derek Reply:

    The amount of power needed to overcome air resistance is proportional to the square of the velocity, so a train going at 400 km/h uses 31% more electricity to overcome air resistance than a train going at 350 km/h. That isn’t horrific. One loss leader trip per day going at that speed will fulfill the requirement.

    And one nice thing about trains is, you can halve the electrical requirements per person to overcome air resistance by doubling the length of the train.

    James M. in Irvine Reply:

    As I have said before, they should only need to run 1 train, ever, at the verification speed. Look, it made SJ to SF in 30 minutes, and LA-SF in 2’40”. Now, make a schedule that gets to most paying passengers and run the wheels off of it. If people want to pay for the express, run it. If paying passengers want to see every station close and slow for less money, we can accomodate that!

    Just because your car shows 140 mph on the speedometer, doesn’t mean you HAVE to go that fast.


    Alon Levy Reply:

    And one nice thing about trains is, you can halve the electrical requirements per person to overcome air resistance by doubling the length of the train.

    Um, no. Not all air resistance is generated by the nose.

    Derek Reply:

    You’re right. Air resistance is also generated at the tail end of the train. Luckily, every train has only one nose and only one tail end.

    Peter Reply:

    Oh dear. Please peruse. Types of drag

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Per unit area, the most noise-inducing part of the train is the pantograph, followed by the gaps between the cars. The nose also generates a disproportionate amount of drag but less, and the sides of the cars also generate some drag as air moves alongside them.

    (Noise and drag come from the same source. Think about it.)

    Paul Druce Reply:

    You’re forgetting about all the additional infrastructure that needs to be beefed up for that to work, which is rather expensive in itself.

    Peter Reply:

    How is the infrastructure significantly more expensive for a 400 m train than a 200 m train? Other than for TBT, I can’t see a significant increase.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Infrastructure for 400 km/h train vs 350 km/h.

    Peter Reply:

    Sorry, lost track of the thread.

    Anyway, the main infrastructure cost is for grade separations, which are the same no matter what the speed. Other than requiring different curve radii, where does the big cost increase come in?

    Joey Reply:

    Construction tolerances have to be a little tighter, and curves have to be a little bit wider, but those aren’t huge costs. The main thing is that maintenance costs go up a lot.

    jonathan Reply:

    Read the CHSRA documents. I forget which TM, but the document says that, on route territory where building for 400km/hr would have neglible marginal cost, CSHSRA willl do so.

    I think that boils down to: long flat stretches in the Central Valley, and the occasional curve radius.

    Peter Reply:

    If you look at the EIR maps for Merced-Fresno, all curves south of the wye are laid out for 250 mph top speed. That doesn’t mean they will/have to go 250 mph, of course, the same way they don’t have to go mach 5 on straight track, even though they “could”.

    John Bacon Reply:

    From Peter’s ‘Types of Drag’ thread: “Assuming a more-or-less constant drag coefficient, drag will vary as the square of velocity. Thus, the resultant power needed to overcome this drag will vary as the cube of velocity”. Therefore raising speed from 350 to 400 kph will raise the power required by 49%. The total energy required to traverse a given path will be proportional to the square of the speed increase. Therefore raising speed from 350 to 400 kph will increase total energy consumption by 31%.
    All this ignores rolling friction drag which remains substantially constant at any speed and its magnitude is about 4% air resistance at 350 kph.
    Note: Once you have a HSR train’s maximum power, balancing speed, and seating capacity it becomes intuitively obvious how to obtain an estimate of power costs per seat. Considering a 12,000 kw, 296 kph balancing speed, 1323 seat Shinkansen will have a power cost of $0.0051 per seat mile while using $0.10 /kwh grid power. Assuming a 15% reduction in the drag coefficient for a newer faster model a 350 kph run should cost $0,0061 per seat mile.

    Peter Reply:

    TLDR, as usual.

    Derek Reply:

    Therefore raising speed from 350 to 400 kph will raise the power required by 49%… Assuming a 15% reduction in the drag coefficient for a newer faster model a 350 kph run should cost $0,0061 per seat mile.

    Then the difference in energy cost between 350 kph and 400 kph is $.0030 per seat mile. This means the 174 miles (280 km) from Merced to Bakersfield running at a constant speed of 400 kph instead of 350 kph would add a cost of 52 cents per seat, and save 6 minutes of transit time.

    jonathan Reply:

    Yeah, except you don’t bake that time (and cost) into your schedules; you use it as a reserve to _make up time_ when necessary.

    Derek Reply:

    In practice, yes. But Richard’s concern was that it would be absolutely impossible to get from LA to SF in 2:40 or less.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Don’t infrastructure and maintenance costs rise with speed too?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes. Infrastructure doesn’t get much more expensive if you’re not topography-constrained, which you aren’t in the CV, but maintenance costs do go up with speed.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    A posted a reply, but as usual it is stuck in moderation.

    The lesson is: only make unreferenced, reality-estranged assertions with no backing data. And always trust figures of authority, without question.

    Wdobner Reply:

    All that bloviating over ten minutes. Which would you rather have, Tejon or Altamont? If the latter then why aren’t you guys beating the CHSRA over the head with the fairly apparent savings present on an Altamont alignment such as SETEC outlined as a way to rectify some of their “mistake” in choosing not to bypass the Antelope Valley?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I’ve been beating CHSRA over the head about Altamont since before you were born — that would be about 15 years ago, I estimate.

    Wdobner Reply:

    Heh, unfortunately it’s was more than 15 years ago I was still in the area.

    But I’m genuinely curious. If CHSRA called you up tomorrow and said you could pick the route over either the northern or southern mountain crossing, which one would you see as being more deserving of your magnanimity? Altamont or Tejon?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Based on the information available to me, and upon my general (I’d like to think general and uniform) policy of not even expressing an opinion on matters on which am am under-informed, I believed for a decade that the Palmdale detour was an acceptable engineering compromise, trading a longer and somewhat slower route with an added intermediate market against comparable costs at much higher geotechnical risk. I believed this in December of 2011.

    But it turns out PB was outright lying — surprise! — about both the comparable costs and, worst, about wildly differing risk. Hoist by their own report.

    So my opinion changed in January 2012. It turns out, contrary to my pollyannaish naive optimism that they might accidentally have done one thing right just one time if only by accident, that our local PB Boys are only capable of egregious lying and cost maximization, and never of acting in the public interest when engaged to advise public agencies on public projects.

    I admit it. I was wrong. (And the CHSRA CEO lost his job for asking some inconvenient questions, such as “Palmdale?”)

    Today, if somebody held a gun to my head, I’d say “Tejon”, because LA-Bakersfield-Fresno(-Merced) is of far greater utility (LA basin spanks SF Bay Area population), and utility is what I’m after. An impractical, tens billion cost added, transparently pork-fuelled boondoggle — which is what PB’s own report shows Palmdale to be — is the worst way of achieving utility, and the worst way of generating public support for completion of a useful and affordable system.

    Funding of SF Bay to Central Valley is so far off that, with some luck, many of the sleazebags behind the Los Banos catastrophe will be dead (so many bizarre gardening accidents, so little time) or in jail. We’re talking decades from now, what American being the Greatest Nation on Earth and Can-Do and all.

    And besides, if a CAST IN STONE DECISION — the Palmdale detour — were shown not to be immutable …

    So, Tejon.

    Which doesn’t mean that everybody in any way connected with BART to San Jose and HSR to Los Banos doesn’t deserve to die in a fire, understand.

    joe Reply:

    1. Let’s see. The section on risk in the referenced report sez:

    Because the engineering for the I-5 alignment is at 5% design level (i.e. less developed than the
    Bakersfield to Sylmar alignments), risk analysis was performed to account for potential increases in cost
    resulting from further design development and community and stakeholder input. A risk assessment
    approach was used that is modeled on the Federal Transit Administration’s (FTA) risk assessment
    process, but differs since it does not offer a way to distinguish between 5% and 15% design levels.

    I have to guess what’s HIS problem with the way they managed risk. Gosh I suppose Richard’s an authority figure and I have to take his word. IT’S FUCKEN OBVIOUS RIGHT? I must be stupid. Where except in my day job would I expect a explanation given Richard’s fully capable of typing a word salad of tantrums.

    2. Public support. Let’s see the project’s financed. It has strong Fed and State support. The GOP and Fox opposes it. Aga-business opposes it…. Hmmm…Help me out here.

    An impractical, tens billion cost added, transparently pork-fuelled boondoggle — which is what PB’s own report shows Palmdale to be — is the worst way of achieving utility, and the worst way of generating public support for completion of a useful and affordable system.

    Palmdale threatened to sue to keep the alignment. One might think political support for the project would help generate public support. Nahhh… That’s too obvious.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Tejon, not just for the reasons Richard gave, but also because of funding issues. The amount of money CAHSR can expect to get from the feds in the next few years is within the cost range of Bakersfield-LA. It’s at the lower end now because Merced-Bakersfield is being build north to south instead of south to north, so it’s impossible to plug small budget holes by reprogramming money from the CV to LA-Bakersfield (which the feds will almost certainly agree to if pressed), but it’s still reasonable: without the special fudge factors and the Tejon Ranch swerve, we’re talking about $12 vs. $15.5 billion total, which works out to $6 vs. $9.5 billion in federal funding.

    Since the IOS is necessarily LA-CV, this means that cutting costs here is much more important because it makes the difference between having HSR at all and having an orphan track. The feds may cough up $9.5 billion, but assuming Democratic control of the House, I suspect $6 billion is much likelier.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Richard is entirely correct in circling Tejon as the the nail that sticks out and can’t be hammered down.

    All you need to verify this is solicit the opinion of real-world rr professionals. CEO’s down to engineering staff at UP, BNSF, etc. would look at the two options and instinctively chose Tejon . SNCF did recommend exactly that. Don’t parallel an existing deeply compromised alignment whose major positive feature, hardly ever discussed, applies to freight railroads. I do not just mean ruling gradients limited to around 2%; I am referring to the eastern connection at Mojave. The CHSRA will not exploit this feature at all.

    Build a brand new entree into LA, just as the Santa Fe wanted a century ago but could no longer afford in the new era of trucks and highways. Tejon will have a better utilization factor because it is express. Don’t discount the possibility of light express freight, say UPS trains. And a third access to the LA basin from the north in the event that Tehachapi and/or the coastal route are incapacitated

    The political problems are exaggerated. Most voters would automatically go for the Grapevine if presented with the choice. Palmdale can be bought off. Barry Zoeller is playing professional nervous nellie – hsr can use the Bear Trap Canyon alignment with minimal disruption. Most of the route is in tunnel and golf courses can be easily relocated.

    Recall this is not chump change: 50 route miles shorter, a half hour faster and $5bil cheaper.

    John Bacon Reply:

    (1) The great circle distance between Los Angeles and San Francisco is 348 miles.
    (2) Through San Jose the main road distance between LA and SF is 389 miles.
    (3) The CHSR estimated rail distance between LA and SF is 447 miles.

    The 59 mile longer rail distance could be largely explained by the Palmdale detour plus drift to the east of a straight line between Bakersfield and San Jose in order to roll through Fresno. An I-5 corridor alignment between Sylmar and the I-5 SR-152 intersection would shorten the current projected LA to SF via SJ 447 mile rail distance to a total rail distance approaching the 389 mile road distance passing through the same three cities. A 59 mile shorter distance at 220 mph will reduce total running time by 16 minutes. A straighter alignment through the sparsely populated I-5 corridor might allow up to 400 kph speeds (348 mph). Boosting top continuous speeds by 28 mph over 240 miles could save an additional 7 minutes.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Oooh, useful facts, that’s an innovation around here.


    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And going through Palmdale makes the trip to Lancaster a lot faster. And the trip to Las Vegas a lot faster.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That’s a different route entirely. Spending California money to send our welfare recipient to drop their checks in Vegas is just appalling. Jerry should be ashamed. But you gotta luv the irony of Jerry enriching Adelson, his political nemesis.

    Vote no early and often. Vote the exact opposite of the big advertising.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Welfare queens wouldn’t be caught dead on a train. They take their Cadillacs to Las Vegas. Using their food stamps to fill up the tank.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I did not use Ronnie Reagan’s patented dig; the point is to keep California money in state. Unless Adelson and Wynn want to take over our huge welfare burden.

    The Sin City torque to the route planning should have been in the Prop 1A language right out in front. California voters should weigh in on spending our money to benefit LA casino moguls.

    I have been critiqued as melodramatic. California is condemned to reliving every damn day the melodrama that is “Chinatown”. Jerry Brown makes Noah Cross look like one of the good guys. What a disappointment. Firing Van Ark for doing his job – what a bunch of sleazes and douchebags.

    synonymouse Reply:

    LA should read LV

    Jerry Reply:

    Richard, I fact checked your unicorn plan with my local Tea Party representative. She said you are exactly correct.
    She added that we don’t have unicorns today because they were playing around and didn’t make it onto Noah’s Ark. (Designed and built by an earlier version of PB)
    Naturally the unicorns pooped themselves. A little over 40 days and 40 nights later the unicorn poop had fermented and turned into a rainbow. So yes, rainbows are in the sky as a result of your plan. That’s her story, and she’s sticking to it.

    Joey Reply:

    What does the tea party have to do with any of this? 2:40 was barely achievable given zero design compromises and a butt ton of money spend on lots of very expensive speed improvements in difficult areas, often at the expense of local service.

    Travis Mason-Bushman Reply:

    This isn’t a zero-sum game. We should be spending money on local improvements *and* regional rail networks.

    VBobier Reply:

    Parts of the money that was allocated is going for local improvements that have something to do with HSR.

    jonathan Reply:

    Name three local improvements which actually benefit HSR.

    VBobier Reply:

    Those are money going to the Bookends for improvements related to HSR, like Stations, Electrification of Caltrain, Track work(maybe), and Signaling(PTC, like on Metrolink)…

    If you want details, someone else might want to dig them up as I have no idea where they would be and Google hasn’t been much of a help…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    It’s a negative-sum game: make local service much worse while spending money badly on a shockinglybad inter-city program.

    Public sector upsides? Who the hell needs those? Socialists and Yurpeens, that’s who.

    We’re talking Win-Win Synergy, the AMERICAN BUSINESS WAY.

    Joey Reply:

    This isn’t a zero-sum game. We should be spending money on local improvements *and* regional rail networks.

    That wasn’t the point. This refers to the CalTrain corridor specifically, where pushing the speed of HSR means less capacity for slower CalTrain service, unless you spend A LOT of money on additional track in difficult places.

    Joey Reply:

    Formatting fail. Can we please get a preview function or an edit function or something here?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Volunteers needed!
    (Robert does enough work here without wasting weeks trying to understand the WordPress code base of twisty passages.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They pee the rainbow. They poop the pot of gold that you find at the end of the rainbow.

  9. Joetrain
    Oct 9th, 2012 at 12:35

    I’m a big proponent of this HSR project, and agree that Fox News can’t comprehend the core concept of phasing. However, I am distressed by the timeline of this project, and the phasing lends itself to criticism. 2025 is a long way away, and I’m worried we’ll be saluting the Robot Overlords before this project has electricity, let alone a sub-3 hour train between LA and SF. I’m thankful that, for the moment, we have leadership in Jerry Brown that can cut through the selfish, ADD, instant-gratification culture of CA that can no longer do big projects together, but am not oblivious to problem of asking people to start paying now for something that will only start being awesome in a decade, and has a lot of potential to blow-up before then (I wouldn’t put it past the GOP of CA to blow-up the project after the first phase and sink the capital investment just so they’ll have a “Train to Nowhere” to bludgeon those of us who value public works projects and, you know, functional communities.

  10. Derek
    Oct 9th, 2012 at 16:58

    Why RailPAC supports High Speed Rail; Why RailPAC is not a cheerleader for the CHSRA

    With the possible exception of an overnight service, the existing route via Tehachapi and the Soledad Canyon is simply not designed to provide a competitive journey time. Even without the presence of large numbers of slow moving freight trains, and even with modern high powered tilting trains, it is unlikely that a time of 3.5 hours between these cities can be improved upon…

    There is a similar gap or gaps between the north end of the San Joaquin Valley and the San Francisco bay area.

    I don’t understand the author’s concerns. Phase 1 Blended will operate on dedicated tracks all the way between San Jose and Los Angeles. They won’t share tracks with freight trains.

    Peter Reply:

    Yeah, it confuses me, too. Maybe Paul Dyson could shed some light on it, especially the 3.5 hour travel time.

    I definitely agree with their criticism on Caltrain electrification and CBOSS costs.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I agree the article is quite cryptic. It does not seem to address the issue of a new alignment altogether and where to locate it.

    Even with the optimum route, presumably right thru the fabled Bear Trap Canyon golf course and of course over Barry Zoeller’s dead body 2hs 40 minutes will be problematical.

    But all these mundane concerns are of no bearing. Jerry is as clueless as Louis XVI.

    Peter Reply:

    Maybe RailPAC is bright enough to not get involved with such battles?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Sorry for the failure to communicate. The point I was trying to make is that there is a limit to upgrading existing routes, which historically is RailPAC’s policy. Thus Los Angeles – Bakersfield today cannot be adequately upgraded even with tilting trains to offer a viable service. A new alignment is necessary. I chose not to get into the battle of which route as I am not qualified to comment on the engineering front, and because commercially I can see both sides of the coin, including the network effect of a Las Vegas link.

    Peter Reply:

    That seems like a fantastically wise approach.

  11. Jos Callinet
    Oct 9th, 2012 at 19:41

    Would the moderator of this blog PLEASE address Joey’s request he made above that an “EDIT” function be added so when we make typographical errors or otherwise need to edit our submissions, we can do so.

    I have seen numerous requests that an edit function be added. Is there a compelling reason why it cannot or should not be?

    Thank you.

    Joey Reply:

    Richard replied about why it’s not quite possible to “just do it.” Someone with experience with WordPress (and PHP I think) will probably be needed to get it running, but no one has come forward so far.

    Jon Reply:

    I’d be happy to take a look, I used to admin a WordPress site and I’ve built a few PHP sites. Robert, send me an email if you want to take me up on this.

    I’m sure Richard M could figure it out as well, but if I was Robert, I wouldn’t trust him with admin access in a million years :)

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Jon, that’s nice. Have you stopped beating your wife?

    Jon Reply:

    Are you denying that you’re vehemently against the editorial line of this blog? Why should he trust you with access to it given that your venomous abuse is well documented?

    I suppose you could argue in an abstract sense that your opposition to the content of this blog doesn’t necessarily suggest a desire to sabotage the mechanics of the blog itself. But given that you’ve advocated that various other people you disagree with should die in a fire, it wouldn’t be a very convincing argument.

    Eric M Reply:

    No, he is just being a jerk with a classless comment like that.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Jon, I just think you’re a poor excuse for a human being. That’s all. Enjoy your carreer as a big trust-worthy anyonymous-coward PHP wizard.

    J Baloun Reply:

    Richard boards the school bus and shoots Jon. Claims it is obligatory in the name of pure rail transportation technology.

    Jon Reply:

    Thanks, Richard. I love you too.

    VBobier Reply:

    Something like this? Edits might be possible w/just a click by the Admin under WordPress 3.8+, just sayin…

  12. D. P. Lubic
    Oct 10th, 2012 at 03:46
  13. Alon Levy
    Oct 10th, 2012 at 04:13

    At a minimum cost of $68 billion dollars

    Cost inflation, media-style: every number gets a “minimum” attached to it, and any range of numbers is “up to” the high end.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Can you think of any recent major American projects which didn’t go over budget?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    How about nearly every light rail line in the last 15-20 years?

    Peter Reply:

    I guess the qualifier is included to account for VTA light rail?

    Alon Levy Reply:


    For the average in recent years, see here.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Water Tunnel 3 though with recent prices it may be under budget. It is on time.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    In this case, this is reasonable as the business plan actually had a range and $68 billion was given as the low. I would also add it is reasonable as one of the reasons the number dropped is they simply moved items out of scope but not out of the project (Transbay DTX, run through tracks at Union Station) .

    joe Reply:

    You forgot the PAMPA trench. That construction is not in the 68 B estimate either.

    jonathan Reply:

    Neither is your Gilroy trench. Hypocrite.

    joe Reply:

    Oh, I’m completely fine with costs increasing con·com·i·tant with ROW enhancements.

    I think CARRD has to decide when to stop flogging the cost horse least they argue against anything but the less costly 4 track ROW across PAMPA.

Comments are closed.