Anaheim To Move Forward With Streetcar Connection to HSR Station

Nov 12th, 2012 | Posted by

Walt Disney liked trains. A lot. Disneyland has trains all over the place, from streetcars to steam trains to monorails, not only because Walt was a foamer. Disney understood that trains are popular with the public, an exciting thing to ride, especially for kids. Growing up just a few miles away from Disneyland, my favorite part about visiting there was riding the monorail or Big Thunder Mountain Railroad (by contrast, I always thought Autopia was boring). Outside Disneyland, however, the surrounding landscape is virtually car-only.

The Horse-Drawn Streetcar goes down Main Street USA

One of the bigger issues is that the one rail station Anaheim does have is located right by Angel Stadium and Honda Center – not exactly walking distance to Anaheim’s tourist resort or its convention center. With the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center under construction, which will someday will serve as a high speed rail stop, the issue of connecting Anaheim’s major destinations with mass transit is one that needs to be solved.

Which Anaheim is about to do. The City Council has voted to develop a streetcar line that would connect ARTIC to the Disney resort and the new convention center via Katella Avenue:

Orange County’s largest city is now moving ahead with plans for a 3.2-mile trolley car system that would connect the city’s resort district with its sports stadiums, convention center and regional transit center — an airy, arched structure made of steel — that is taking shape…

[City Planner Natalie] Meeks said officials were anticipating that half the money would come from federal grants, and another chunk — at least an additional 40% — would come from local tax measures supporting transportation…

Meeks said that initially the idea was for a monorail, but studies showed that it would be considerably more expensive. Buses would have been cheaper, she said, but projected ridership of the streetcars exceeded the buses by 20%.

Anaheim mayor Tom Tait expressed some concerns about the operating cost, but the benefits to the city will outweigh those costs – especially when gas prices rise. More visitors can come to the resorts by train, transferring to the modern, low-floor streetcar at ARTIC.

This project will help close one of the missing links in Orange County’s rail network, but many more remain. The biggest is from John Wayne Airport to Santa Ana and Anaheim. It’s soon going to be time for the Orange County Transportation Authority to revive something resembling its CenterLine light rail proposal, shelved in 2005 in the face of anti-rail activism. A route from the airport up to the Santa Ana station, or to ARTIC via Bristol or Harbor, would make sense.

Still, a streetcar from ARTIC to the resorts will help people from the rest of California get to Anaheim’s big destinations more easily. As passenger rail ridership continues to climb, as are gas prices, this streetcar will prove to be a sound investment in transportation infrastructure. Walt Disney would be proud.

  1. D. P. Lubic
    Nov 12th, 2012 at 15:25
    #1

    Off topic. but too much fun not to share (and I would bet Walt Disney would have loved it, too)–a 1952 British comedy called “The Titfield Thunderbolt.” The story is about some people who wish to keep their branch line open, in effect starting what we would call a short line (and what the Brits call a “light railway.”)

    Honestly, it’s one of the most delightful movies I’ve ever seen, and you don’t have to be a rail enthusiast to like it!

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-fMe1a2Ukmw

    Do keep in mind, though, for some reason this movie has goofy “jumps” in it, courtesy of some sort of stabilization program running at YouTube.

    Andy M Reply:

    The storyline was based losely on another classic, LTC Rolt’s immortal book Railway Adventure, in which he describes in colorful and lively terms his own trials and tribulations in saving the Talyllin Railway in Wales, possibly the world’s first tourist/heritage line.

    Nathanael Reply:

    On a brief review, it seems to actually have been the first heritage or “preserved” railway line, if by this we mean a railway line formerly used for general transportation purposes, and revived as a tourist or museum line.

    (The first *tourist* lines arguably date back to the first exhibitions where railway technology was demonstrated. Some lines, constructed as tourist attractions, have been operating continuously as tourist lines since the 19th century.)

  2. Paul Druce
    Nov 12th, 2012 at 15:40
    #2

    I still think that simply running more frequent buses would be a far better solution than the Anaheim streetcar project.

    VBobier Reply:

    More buses means more wear and tear on city streets, I’d rather have street cars.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Buses also aren’t electric.

    I’m OK with trolleybuses, though. :-)

    StevieB Reply:

    Buses are slower as they travel at the speed of street traffic which they increase and that is not a minor consideration. When buses stop load slowly through the front door instead of every door as on a streetcar. The average bus speed is 15 mph while streetcars are much faster.

    The operating costs due to pay of operators of buses is higher because you need more to carry the same number of people as each bus passenger load is smaller than a streetcar load. The carrying capacity of streetcars is greater than buses.

    Streetcars are superior transportation to buses.

    Peter Reply:

    Unless these streetcars have dedicated lanes, they will be unlikely to be able to travel significantly faster than buses because they too will be stuck in traffic.

    The modern urban environment is a lot different than the early-1900s environment that streetcars were so successful in, mainly due to the somewhat ridiculous increase in private vehicle traffic over the past century.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I certainly hope that Anaheim plans to provide dedicated right-of-way. Streetcars with dedicated lanes (but crossing cross-streets at grade, so without large bridge expenses) have been very effective.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The chosen streets seem to be plenty wide enough (four lanes each way! medians! space between sidewalk and curb!) to provide dedicated lanes.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    They aren’t planning on it.

    joe Reply:

    Street Cars are fixed which allows developers to invest in the route. Buses can be moved so one justification given for the street car is it will foster development and investment along the route.

    I used to live in SF on the Noe Valley J. It shared some of Church St but usually made better time than vehicle traffic – depending on the number of stops.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The J line was saved when the residents along it rallyed in 1957 and Muni went along and installed the wye at 30th St. for the singleended PCC cars from St. Louis. The Bernal Cut extension means that cars can be brought in directly from Geneva barn. Before the wye at 11th St. was used to turn the J cars back.

    Streetcars can move out pretty well if the street is wide enough, even if thestreetcar lane is not dedicated, tho that is vastly preferable. That is. if the other lanes are adequate to handle all the auto traffic

    Paul Druce Reply:

    If streetcars are fixed, what, pray tell, happened to Pacific Electric? And it’s not like the convention center, garden walk, or Disneyland are going anywhere.

    synonymouse Reply:

    What happened to the Pacific Electric is the great electric railway extinction event.

    Transit Experts went over to the dark side. The same faddist genre of consultant geniuses cranking out detours at PB.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    HSR isn’t a fad

    synonymouse Reply:

    Only as misconceived by braindead politicians.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It was still harder, historically, to get the streetcars ripped out than it has been to shut down entire bus systems. (Which happened overnight in one case, though that was related to racism — rather than desegregate, they simply stopped operating the system entirely).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They didn’t rip out most of them, they just abandoned them. The major streets in Newark had streetcar tracks in them well into the 60s. They are still there, like they are in most places, just been paved over.

    Jon Reply:

    The J is definitely slower than cars on Church St. It’s only time-competitive because of the subway section under Market St.

    Streetcars in mixed traffic in congested cities are a terrible idea, you just have to ride on any of the surface streetcar lines in SF to see that. If you are going to go to the expense of putting down rails you should find the political will to give the streetcars their own lanes. Otherwise, you may as well stick with buses, which have the advantage of route flexibility and ability to do express service without any extra infrastructure.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Some of us have already read through those debates on Human Transit. You haven’t, as a result of which you don’t know that relatively static frequent networks can lead to similar development outcomes: for example, in Minneapolis, some real estate ads say “close to the frequent network.” In Providence they also say “close to the trolley”; the trolley is a bus painted to look like a streetcar, just with slightly better weekend frequency than other lines of comparable ridership and peak-hour frequency.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    These are mixed traffic, same as buses would be.

  3. Alan Kandel
    Nov 12th, 2012 at 16:43
    #3

    Bingo!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Seconded. My only complaint is that it should have been done about 40 years ago. I remember walking Katella then and saying to myself what a great wide street for streetcars.

    Seattle looks to add more streetcar lines:

    http://seattletimes.com/html/localnews/2019663126_streetcars12m.html?cmpid=2628

    Seattle is some unusual and resembles San Francisco in some respects. This news item says Seattle abandoned streetcars in 1941, which is quite early and strange in light of the abundant cheap electric power. They must have converted to trolley bus, which is a good fit for hills. Trolley buses work well in San Francsico too. I believe Seattle made a big mistake in going to 1200vdc for its light rail as opposed to 750vdc for the SLUT, I believe.

    San Francisco is lagging behind, imho. Geary should have been rewired years ago so the vehicles can be stored on line at Presidio Barn. A bond issue to extend the Central Stubway to the Wharf should include a trolley bus subway on Geary downtown. The intent is to close out goddam BART from Geary for good. TWU 250A should support this – otherwise they will lose members as already happened with the BART subway on Mission, which should have belonged to Muni.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The people who were working for Muni when BART opened retired a long time ago.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART should have connected directly to the SP Peninsula line via SOMA. Of course, that is exactly why the SP had BART sabotaged with Indian broad gauge.

    Dumb Muni abandoned the 40 line to San Mateo, which would have been the basis for a Muni version of what is now BART in San Francisco. Muni subway on Mission downtown. A rapid transit express rail line could have even been incorporated into the 101 freeway when it was built in the City. The carmens union, which was to become TWU 250A, made stupid mistake after mistake. Their insistence on two man operation was a big factor in the bustitution of 1946 to 1950.

  4. Tom McNamara
    Nov 12th, 2012 at 20:06
    #4

    I actually think this is a misstep as far as the right environment for streetcars. What is really needed is more like an AirTrain type set up to grade separate the access points at ARTIC and the various destinations along the route.

    Using a streetcar (or even buses) doesn’t make sense unless you are trying to promote the curb appeal of the route used. However, given that nearly the whole route is going to be buttressed by big, monolithic stops like the Convention Center, Anaheim Stadium, and Disneyland…I can’t see the utility.

    I can see though how Disney will oppose linking everything by a monorail, though….

    Paul H. Reply:

    How about the costs of a streetcar compared to a grade-separated AirTrain type system? It’s a lot less to do a streetcar line, cheaper to maintain, and promotes walkable streets. I think Anaheim has got it right to do a streetcar. I think we’ll see other cities want to connect streetcar system’s to their high-speed rail stations. You might even see streetcars in downtown Fresno in the not too distant future. That’s the true potential of high-speed rail; to be a catalyst for streetcar, BRT, and light rail lines all over California. I think to have an electrified, integrated transit system would put California YEARS ahead of most of this country in terms of what the future of transportation is going to look like.

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    You need to look at the map.

    Putting a streetcar down Katella Avenue which is what, four lanes wide in each direction, isn’t going to be a catalyst for anything. It’s true that a streetcar might help along Harbor or another area which has more pedestrians, but with the current plan in place this is going to be a boondoggle of a strategy.

    Now, show me that Anaheim intends to demolish all its large monolith buildings along the route and its a different story….

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Three lanes.

    Donk Reply:

    Maybe they can have the streetcar stop in front of Home Depot and Walmart. That would be fitting for the OC.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Tom McNamara:

    Consider who else would be using any preferential lane treatment that the streetcars are going to get. Disney runs an extensive shuttlebus service to/from its remote parking lots that would benefit from being permitted to bypass the Disney-induced traffic, and OCTA has a number of routes that pass through Anaheim.

    Tom Mcnamara Reply:

    Except that it would appear there will be no separation and no preferential lanes, just streetcars mixed with car traffic stopping at “stations” in the median that will still require a long walk through mammoth parking lots to get to a destination.

  5. Paul Dyson
    Nov 12th, 2012 at 20:49
    #5

    Coming from LA the fastest way to Disneyland by public transit is train to Fullerton and OCTA bus straight down Harbor Blvd.

  6. Neil Shea
    Nov 12th, 2012 at 20:57
    #6

    Ralph on the challenges of the Bakerf-LA segment
    http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-bullet-mountains-20121113,0,4082877.story

    Donk Reply:

    That was the most thoughtful, balanced, well-researched article that I have ever seen Ralph write. Maybe the Koch brothers are out of money or something.

    joe Reply:

    C. Michael Gillam, a vice president at engineering company Parsons Brinckerhoff who is overseeing the project’s Southern California design, said he was “very confident about our ability to do this.” A veteran of bullet train projects in China and Taiwan, Gillam has a staff of about 200 working on the Bakersfield-to-Los Angles segment, and his team will begin plotting the exact route next year, when detailed environmental impact reports are scheduled to be released. It will roughly parallel Hood’s route.

    Stephen Mahin, director of the Pacific Earthquake Engineering Research Center at UC Berkeley, said the bullet train’s operating plan suggests a “strong probability” that a train could be going over a fault if it ruptures. But good engineering can reduce the risks.

    “It is not that it can’t be done,” he said.

    synonymouse Reply:

    C’est de la merde avec du poil dedans”

    Peter Reply:

    Wow, it’s objective! Are we seeing some personal and professional growth?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    The schematic is not very objective, exaggerating the vertical..Looks more like a funicular.

    Peter Reply:

    I guess you missed the note: “Track angle not to scale.”

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Very small, very faint in my print copy.
    In any event the article reinforces my view that if this is the most difficult segment of the route it should be built first, if for no other reason than we’ll need all the money we can beg or borrow to do it, and should not be wasting it on a duplicate line in the flatlands.

    Donk Reply:

    If this segment is in fact so challenging and expensive, then (to pre-empt Synonymouse) they should spend more time comparing the cost and efficacy to the I-5 alignment. We could be talking about a difference of $10B and 5 years.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Quite so, but I don’t pretend to be an engineer so must leave that call to “experts”. Clearly both routes are challenging. Of course the study and comparison would likely take 5 years!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The PB Boys’ own report (Boys’ Own Report!) provides the answers.

    Even by hugely sandbagging Tejon with a crazy detours (a billion or so wasted around Tejon Ranch, another billion or two for an insane diversion into “downtown” Bakersfield and back) and even without accounting for the known and significant extra infrastructure (new power, new roads) and staging costs of the Palmdale Roundabout, and even completely (totally!) discounting the operating efficiencies and ridership gains of the direct Grapevine route, they still couldn’t come up with the answer they were paid to produce. So they just ignored their own analysis.

    We have the experts. Their expertise is in producing predetermined answers. Want your ridership numbers cooked? Cooked to order to a blackened crisp? Just pick up the phone and call Cambridge Systematics! America, the greatest nation in the history of the universe, has lots and lots and lots of such experts.

    synonymouse Reply:

    5 years? It took the influence peddlers 5 minutes to lock on and into Tehachapi.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Donk

    Reality is not in play here. Proper decision-making is out of the question under the present utterly political circumstances.

    Sadly, and for real, the only way you could secure a proper analysis would be to send Villla, Antonovich and Zoeller to Guantanamo for intensive re-education. I am not joking.

    BMF from San Diego Reply:

    Palmdale. That city is written into state legislation for the project, correct? The I-5 alignment does not serve Palmdale.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Since when did the “state legislation for the project”, i.e. Prop 1A, have to do with anything in the real world. Moonbeam dispenses with its provisos with a wave of the hand. Can’t wait to hear the line of bullshit when they can’t make the 2:40 travel time.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Synon, there seem to be two worlds; the one in wihch you live, where FRA-compliant diesel locos can run on track designed for ~17-tonne axle-load HSR trainset,s up 3% to 4% grades.
    that’s world inhabited by strange politicians with your pet names.

    That world doesn’t have too much in common with the one the rest of us live in.
    Even Adirondacker commented on that fact, _a year ago_..

    You _do_ understand that no-one can understand your pet-name-rants unless they’ve followed the last year or so of your messages, don’t you? Three Crones, etc?

    swing hanger Reply:

    A person knows they been hanging out too long on this blog when they can predict with near perfect accuracy how each regular will react to a given post, down to the pet phrases. Kinda like frequenting the local watering hole. Fun though, the familiarity.

    Eric M Reply:

    Can’t wait to see your run time simulator to prove you opinion that 2:40 is impossible, without stops, using an Alstom AGV trainset specifications?

    Jonathan Reply:

    if this is the most difficult segment of the route it should be built first, if for no other reason than we’ll need all the money we can beg or borrow to do it, and should not be wasting it on a duplicate line in the flatlands.

    Yes, great idea. Except the numeratii here will be aware that CHSRA did not get enough money to build that crucial expensive step., They did get enough money to build the simpler, cheaper, segment in the Central Valley.

    Numbers are such obstinate things. Unless you’;re Synonymouse. And even he may be educable.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The longer they wait at this point the more likely they are to come to their sense.

    Anyway it is going to take a while for Jerry to pull $20bil out of Prop 30 to flush down the Tehachapi toilet.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    three crones + one moonbeam = Chavez?
    .. or is it Partido Revolucionario Institucional? Il Duce!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The schematic is not very objective, exaggerating the vertical

    If you’re able to find a published example of a railway alignment profile in which the vertical scale is not larger please do feel free to share it with us.

    One doesn’t report gradients in permille and percent for no reason.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    … surely most of them express it in SI units…..

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    It depends who the writer expects his audience to be. In this case it’s certainly scaled to deliberately prejudice the reader against the project.

    Peter Reply:

    Or it was scaled to not take up the entire width of the paper. Or that’s the way the Authority itself portrays these types of diagrams?

    Joey Reply:

    If it were to-scale it would be terribly uninformative.

    Jonathan Reply:

    One and only one question; Were the axes labellled with units?

    If they were, caveat emptor. (Just like graphs showing the “huge difference between 12,,050 and 12,
    375, when the base is 12,000 and the top of the graph is 12,400.
    If they were no units, , they;re worthless.

    What? Whats that you say? You expect the US public to be statistically literate?

    Jonathan Reply:

    Oh, for fucks’ sake. I have many railway publications in which even 2-D drawings have X and Y to different scales. For obvious reasons — at least if you stop and think.

    I am mildly surprised that Richard did not mention that German-speaking countries even have a characther w which denotes parts-in-one-thousand: like the percent character, %, but with another “o” on the denominator. It’s used to denote gradients.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Here is an example (scroll down a bit to second image):
    http://www.johnathersuch.com/railways/eritrea/eritrea.htm

    *notice the difference in scales for length and height, given on the upper left.

    I agree that the general public, given their innumeracy, will misinterpret the diagram. Heck likely at least half the rail foamer population in the U.S. doesn’t know what a permil is.

    Edward Reply:

    Thank you! I was reading a locomotive spec sheet yesterday and couldn’t figure out what the heck that ‰ meant.
    And yes, it referred to the gradient that it could handle… rather high as it was for a rack system.

    Peter Reply:

    “I am mildly surprised that Richard did not mention that German-speaking countries even have a characther w which denotes parts-in-one-thousand: like the percent character, %, but with another “o” on the denominator.”

    That’s also known as “permille”, which Richard did mention.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Oh, so he did. I confess I tend to skim Richard’s comments; the signal-to-nose ratio is often low.

  7. swing hanger
    Nov 13th, 2012 at 03:01
    #7

    o.t.
    The environmental assessment for the All Aboard Florida higher speed rail project (West Palm Beach to Miami segment) has been released:
    http://www.allaboardflorida.com/wp-content/uploads/2012/10/EnvironmentalAssessment_AAF_Passenger_Rail_Project_from_WPB_to_Miami.pdf

    Some interesting takeaways from the document, sure to cause some tut-tutting among our resident technicals:
    1. stations will have faregates
    2. only paid passengers will be allowed past the faregates, where they will be funneled into waiting area mezzanines, either above (in Ft. Lauderdale and WPB) or below (in Miami) the platforms.
    3. passengers will be permitted access to boarding platforms only 4~5 min. prior to the arrival of their train.
    4. Ft. Lauderdale and WPB will have at grade stations, with ticketing areas at ground level but the secure waiting area above the tracks, requiring passengers to go up and back down to access trains.
    5. Platforms will be marked clearly so that passengers will know exactly where their car will stop, the car number and seat will be printed on their ticket also (this for once is a good thing).

    schematics for the Miami Station, as well as for the two others:
    http://miami.curbed.com/archives/2012/11/02/all-aboard-florida-station-options.php

    neville snark Reply:

    Oh god. Let it not be a blueprint for HSR-USA. We don’t need no secure waiting areas etc.

    neville snark Reply:

    I mean we don’t need no stinkin’ secure waiting areas etc.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @neville snark:

    You need to look at the proposed plans for the Fresno and Bakersfield stations then.

    Peter Reply:

    How do faregates work for people with any sort of luggage, anyway?

    Brian FL Reply:

    I thought I read somewhere that they were going to offer checked baggage as well. Think of cruise line passengers who have checked bags from the airport to the ship or resort (Carnival, Disney and Universal). Also, I have read that AAF is going to actively go after the cruise ship passenger market and offer what I would assume will be a combination travel package with the airlines and cruise lines (along with streamlined check-in and bag check). The Orlando airport station plans I have seen will offer airline bag check-in at the train station.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Checked baggage? Great, they’ll have to raise top speed by 10 or 15 mph just to compensate for the longer dwell times.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Only two intermediate stations, it shouldn’t be that much of an issue.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Only an extra 10 or 20 minutes extra of trip time between the lengthy dwells and the platform access delays. Plus all the extra staff to man the barricades and supervise the penned cattle and to manhandle the baggage, and the deadweight train space (freight cars!) wasted on checked baggage. They really ought to tack a few boxcars on the back and hitch a steam locomotive or two to the front. And all the porters must be black.

    America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals doing their finest work, blissfully free from the contamination of the last century of foreign socialist metric UN-loving railway development.

    Peter Reply:

    Ah hell, even in Europe the intercity trains have lengthy dwell times at stations. I’ve often wondered why they stop for 10-15 minutes at a station.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    My recollection is that TGV dwell times are about 5 minutes and Pendolino dwell times at Zurich’s airport station are about 2 minutes.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    If you need 10 or 20 minutes of time to swap baggage out of a train, you’re doing it horribly wrong. The baggage crew will know when the train is due in, they should already be out there with equipment, properly placed so that when the train arrives all they need to do is open the door and start tossing baggage in/out. The intermediate stops shouldn’t have all that much baggage and they could always just run baggage only between Orlando and Miami if push comes to shove.

    neville snark Reply:

    In the UK, one takes big luggage through bigger gate that is staffed.

    Matthew B. Reply:

    In France, there are bigger gates that aren’t staffed. There’s a system that lets one person in at a time, the gate behind closes, the machine reads your ticket, and the gate in front opens.

    Jon Reply:

    BART also provides larger fare gates for this purpose.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Additional and larger faregates = more civil engineering concrete and more profit for defense contractor Cubic and more “need” for “station agents”.

    It’s a win-win-win synergy!

    Neville Snark Reply:

    Actually the faregates are installed only for heavily used commuter lines; beyond a certain point, where large numbers of passengers get on and off at stations the are close together, it isn’t possible to have conductors/ticket inspectors check for tickets.

    Peter Reply:

    “where large numbers of passengers get on and off at stations the are close together, it isn’t possible to have conductors/ticket inspectors check for tickets.”

    Then how come the BVG can do it on busy U-Bahn lines at rush hour?

    Neville Snark Reply:

    Ok it is quicker and easier to do it with faregates. They figure.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    or the people in management have only ever seen the NYC subway and that was in pictures.

    Matthew B. Reply:

    Or Paris, London, St. Petersburg (Russia), Boston, San Francisco, Beijing, Hong Kong…. I agree that fare gates aren’t really necessary, but they’re also not the end of the world, and many very effective systems have them.

  8. Brian FL
    Nov 13th, 2012 at 06:23
    #8

    Also reported yesterday by the Palm Beach Post is that AAF has bought property in downtown West palm Beach for their new station. They paid $2.5 million for what appears to be 7 parcels on the county property appraiser website. Things are definitely looking up! Also, on the AAF Facebook page they noted that a decision on train sets to be announced at the first of the year.

    http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/news/fec-buys-land-for-west-palm-train-station/nS42g/

    As far as the secure waiting areas, I took that to mean to keep passengers inside the A/C and out of the Florida heat! But with future commuter trains using same stations, I don’t know how that will work if the new commuter service boards from the same platforms.

    Andy M Reply:

    Good news, but this is not yet the sure point of no return.

    The people behind AAF are basically real-estate investors, and thus buying real estate is what they are ultimately about. If the project doesn’t go forwards, I’m sure they’ll find another profitable use for this land, so it’s not yet a clear and totally unambiguous comittment to AAF. But it’s a strong psychological signal, that for sure.

    Brian FL Reply:

    I agree, although all I am reading and hearing is positive at this time. Once they announce agreements with FDOT for the ROW along the toll road and with the Orlando Airport for the station there AND their selection of train set builder/operator – only then will I think AAF is really actually going to happen! We in Florida have been on this high/higher speed train ride too many times, with all proposals until now having died an early death. This is the furthest along of any FL proposal I have heard of. Keeping my fingers crossed!

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    It’s not a real estate play. The only downtown piece of property anywhere in the state that they owned before announcing the service was the nine-acre parcel downtown Miami, and with the downtown Miami market as hot as it is, it’s plenty developable even without spending $1 billion on capital costs alone. Check out flaglerdev.com – all their property is in outlying industrial areas. (I also spoke to Husein Cumber a week or so ago and he told me that it wasn’t a real estate play, although obviously you shouldn’t take his word for it – check out their property holdings on your own.)

    Brian FL Reply:

    I would not be surprised if they have options on buying more real estate near the WPB and FTL station sites. In fact, I hope they have. That would guarantee their commitment to this project even more. Looking at their preliminary Miami station design, I was struck by how much it would benefit surrounding land owners as well as Flagler. The Miami site would seem to be the crown jewel in their holdings. You are correct in that their holdings are mainly industrial sites. There are also several large FECI properties adjacent to the FECR tracks in south FLorida that could be groomed for alternative development. I am curious how FECI will take advantage of the Orlando area, seeing how the station will be in the middle of a government owned airport site. That is the one remaining question I have regarding their development plans.

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    By large FECI properties adjacent to the tracks, do you mean FECR property being used for railroad operation (yards, etc.), or do you mean land distinct from the railroad in their property division (Flagler Development)? Because I’m not seeing any of the latter. Maybe they’ll move/deck over some railyards or sidings, though…I don’t know the right-of-way well enough to know what they could be sitting on that’s valuable. It’s possible that they’ve got a bunch more options aside from land for stations…we’ll see, but I’m guessing not.

    Tom Mcnamara Reply:

    The real estate play is the track itself. The goal is to get Amtrak and Tri-rail to use their track instead. Mica and Csx are working together to ensure that the Feds just so happen to pay for upgrades on track that is about to be relinquished anyway.

    Peter Reply:

    Are you basing this on anything you know or simply on wishful thinking?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    It is pure unbridled insanity, nothing more.

    Peter Reply:

    Aka “Math you do as a Republican to make yourself feel better”

    Tom McNamara Reply:

    It’s a conjecture based on the fact that Rick Scott is actively trying to spin off Tri-Rail and Amtrak currently lacks state-sponsored service in Florida. If you look at SunRail at Orlando, it’s pretty easy to see that if Tri-Rail is spun off and starts using Amtrak as a contractor because they can append service on the long distance trains in Orlando, then the FECR alignment is attractive for that purpose.

    Think of it as combining the San Joaquins and Coast Starlight on one track and then mixing all the passengers. (Oh wait…that’s what CAHSR is doing….)

    Brian FL Reply:

    I went to one of their Subsidiary company websites http://parallelinfrastructure.com/ and was able to see that they have some industrial but also empty land near their tracks. The land isn’t currently being used as part of the railroad operations. It looks like maybe it was at one time. Check out the interactive map on that website. Not sure how much can be developed but some of it looks like it could. I kind of think there is more to their real estate potential than we know. I just can’t see the Miami station land being enough to make it worth a billion dollar investment. But it is pure speculation on my part. As you say, we will see how it works out.

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    That’s actually a really interesting website. But two things: 1) those are very small parcels, and 2) there’s nothing of any significant size in any downtown area, near stations, which is the only land that’s going to benefit from passenger service.

    Brian FL Reply:

    That is true, but that website shows land owned by just FECR. This is just speculation, but knowing that FECI is part developer/real estate, do you think that the real estate part of the company (Flagler) would be buying first rights (or buy outright) to property around the stations, knowing what AAF is doing (where other developers would not have that ‘inside’ information)? Obviously if that were to happen, Flagler wouldn’t necessarily list the same address as AAF on the deeds so it might be much harder to figure it all out. There has to be more real estate in play with Flagler than we know about in order to make it a good investment for FECI. I am not close to FECI so I have no way of knowing what is really happening.

    Nathanael Reply:

    FEC is quite clear on their plans to build on TOP of the Miami station. Very old-fashioned railroad-based development model, dates back to the 19th century.

  9. Tony D
    Nov 13th, 2012 at 09:37
    #9

    Long time no post. Just my opinion, but a Las Vegas style monorail would have been a better option than a streetcar; completely separated from auto/pedestrian traffic altogether. Disney has billion$, why can’t they contribute to a line? Oh well…

    James M. in Irvine Reply:

    I agree, a Monorail would make a forward looking statement. However, there might be either confusion or a yearning to not look like your are in “Disneyheim”. Use a trolley to look differrent…

    jimBo

  10. Reedman
    Nov 13th, 2012 at 10:04
    #10

    Disney was not above throwing their weight around during the route selection for the Orlando-Tampa HSR. During the planning stages, DisneyWorld announced that if the SR528 route in Orlando was chosen, they would continue to operate their huge bus system from the airport. The SR417 route was chosen so Disney would agree to direct visitors to use the train system, but then Disney wouldn’t sign an agreement to actually be part of the system, so the route was re-done using SR528. [I believe that it was a fatal mistake that at the Tampa end, the train would end in downtown Tampa and not go to the Tampa Airport, or to St. Petersburg.]

  11. StevieB
    Nov 13th, 2012 at 11:44
    #11

    Ralph Vartabedian of the Los Angeles Times is once again sowing fear. This time he is extolling the likelihood of a derailment while crossing the Tehachapi Mountains between Bakersfield and Palmdale.

    Where the rail line would cross the San Andreas fault near Palmdale, for example, an earthquake could leave rails laterally separated by 20 feet. A sophisticated shut-down system would slow trains in minor quakes and activate an emergency stop in major quakes. At full speed, however, a bullet train would need four to five miles to make an emergency stop on level ground, and longer going downhill.

    A 20 foot separation of the tracks at the moment a train is approaching while possible would have a very low probability. I would expect a lower probability than that of an aircraft falling from the sky onto your home.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is no seismic at Tehachapi, only at Tejon.

    Repeat that mantra until you acquire nirvana.

    Peter Reply:

    No one’s denying the fault crossings. You just claim they are.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Tehachapi cheerleaders are in total denial.

    Peter Reply:

    You do realize they’re studying some of the same engineering solutions for Palmdale-LA that you were extolling for Tejon, like the seismic chambers, right? How does that qualify as denial?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Denial fueled by duplicity and hypocrisy. PB might as well be the CIA when it comes to cover stories and disinformation.

    Anything is acceptable and copacetic at Tehachapi; absolutely nothing at Tejon.

    The cheerleaders’ kid glove treatment of the Tejon Ranch Co., easily the most rabid anti-hsr NIMBY’s in the territory as opposed to the constant calumny directed against PAMPA.

    The CHSRA is a practical joke on the people of California.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Or shall I say, California is getting “punk’d?”

    Jonathan Reply:

    Anything other than Tejon/I-5 seems to count as “denial”., Or VillaMoonChandler conspiracy.
    Or something.

    There’s only One True Route,and Synon is its Disciple, perhaps? I’ve tried for over a year to point out the gaping flaws in Synon’s world-view. Hard numbers have no effect at all.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Just had to add this clip from the film, “10.5,” a made-for-smellavision movie:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X3oUGxvDTrc

  12. Peter
    Nov 13th, 2012 at 15:58
    #12

    OT: Looks like the X-Train finally put adults in charge of its website. I was surprised to see that this was still happening. They claim to have finally purchased enough railcars for their first trainset, and that they will now start operations late 2013.

    Donk Reply:

    So they only plan to have 1 train each to LV on Thu/Fri and then two trains back on Sun. See this is my exact problem with DesertXpress. I don’t see how they get any riders on the rest of the days of the week.

    Tom Mcnamara Reply:

    International travelers. There are not that many flights from Europe and Asia that serve Las Vegas. But Los Angeles has plenty. Also don’t forget the conventions….

    Peter Reply:

    Don’t forget, two weekly roundtrips is likely all they would ever be able to get trackage rights for over Cajon Pass. This is all that is possible unless they build their own tracks – a.k.a. XpressWest.

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    Those people are insane…they’ll never be put to use, if they actually did even buy them in the first place. Or, an even scarier proposition: they know something we don’t about getting federal funding.

    Tom Mcnamara Reply:

    X-train will serve Orange County and the Inland Empire directly by using the Cajon Pass. Desertxpresswest is going to terminate at Union Station.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I will say this: if the X-Train actually operates, perhaps it will prove to people that there is demand for train service between Las Vegas and LA. If it promptly starts selling out, I think the (totally separate) XPressWest project will have a much more convincing case that high-speed service is needed.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Equally interesting will be how well Amtrak does this holiday weekend. This is the peak travel season for Amtrak (and everything else), and it will be interesting to see how well trains do vs. cars and planes. What might the reaction be if Amtrak goes up and sets another record (predicted), but air and auto traffic are down or flat, or only increase very slightly (+0.6% for auto, also predicted)?

    http://www.stjosephpost.com/2012/11/22/amtrak-ridership-at-its-peak-for-2012/

    http://www.bizjournals.com/orlando/news/2012/11/15/orlando-thanksgiving-air-traffic.html

    http://articles.marketwatch.com/2012-11-21/finance/35249986_1_flight-delays-outbound-flights-dense-fog

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/cars/2012/11/19/gas-prices-thanksgiving-aaa/1715791/

  13. D. P. Lubic
    Nov 13th, 2012 at 19:00
    #13

    Off topic, but of interest for the political junkies–a Republican assessing what his party needs to do to win elections again.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/d-r-tucker/republican-polls_b_2112522.html?utm_hp_ref=tw

    VBobier Reply:

    Oh that’s simple, grow some empathy glands for the less fortunate people and be honorable too.

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