Once Again, High Speed Rail Prevails In Court

Nov 17th, 2012 | Posted by

In a ruling that comes as no surprise to high speed rail supporters, a Sacramento Superior Court judge ruled yesterday in favor of the high speed rail project, refusing to grant an injunction to stop construction and indicating he was likely to rule in favor of the project at a final hearing in April.

Sacramento Superior Court Judge Tim Frawley said at the end of a closely watched three-hour hearing that the 520-mile rail line was so unprecedented in size that he alone could not stop it now….

Frawley said to issue an injunction, he would have had to rule that construction would harm the farmers more than it would harm the project. But citing the potential the delays would have to raise construction costs and lose billions of dollars in federal funding, he said it was “not close” — the project had more to lose than the farmers….

This, however, is not the end of the legal battle. With the injunction request out of the way, both sides will now battle over the actual lawsuit, with a hearing scheduled on April 19, though Frawley said he was leaning toward ruling in favor of the state. Opponents are also contemplating a federal lawsuit.

Judge Frawley’s argument here is interesting – and sensible. A few farmers want people to believe their own interests are greater than the public interest, and that it’s worth risking billions of dollars in order to meet the needs of people whose concerns are valued, at the most, in the low millions. Judge Frawley rightly agreed that the farmer’s argument didn’t make any sense and that there was no good reason to grant an injunction now.

The judge also indicated he did not find the farmers’ arguments about the merits of the case to be persuasive. The California High Speed Rail Authority has done the environmental review process right, respecting the law and not making shortcuts, as the farmers had claimed.

This is another in a string of victories for the high speed rail project. To date no anti-HSR lawsuit has succeeded in its goal of derailing the project. The most these lawsuits have achieved is to send an EIR back for minor revisions while the project has been allowed to continue forward. These regular victories show that the lawsuits being filed have no basis or merit, yet they continue to be filed anyway, enabled by a broken California Environmental Quality Act that permits such costly yet frivolous lawsuits. CEQA reform is on the agenda for 2013 and clearly it is still needed, even as the high speed rail project continues to prevail in the courts.

As to the farmers themselves, they are still better off working with the Authority to get their needs met rather than trying to kill this project in the courts. The Authority has been doing a very good job of working with farmers to address concerns, and they should continue to do so rather than waste more of their money in court.

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  1. Drunk Engineer
    Nov 17th, 2012 at 10:58
    #1

    To date no anti-HSR lawsuit has succeeded in its goal of derailing the project…CEQA reform is on the agenda for 2013 and clearly it is still needed

    The lawsuits aren’t succeeding, and they aren’t delaying the project. So CEQA “reform” is needed because…?

    joe Reply:

    …a broken California Environmental Quality Act that permits such costly yet frivolous lawsuits.

    Joey Reply:

    Pocket change compared to the tunnel in Millbrae.

    joe Reply:

    Apples and oranges comparison.

    Lawsuits that seek only to delay are frivolous. These lawsuits cost millions of dollars, put billions at risk and offer no substantial improvement.

    This Judge understands:

    Ultimately, Frawley ruled the rail authority did not need to be flawless in its plans largely because the project was so massive — requiring 15,000 pages of planning — and also because the law “does not require perfection.”

    Peter Reply:

    I doubt these lawsuits cost millions of dollars. Maybe a couple hundred thousand on each side, max.

    But yes, they did put billions at risk.

    joe Reply:

    Attorney salaries – Fully costed. I bet way more than a few 100K.

    Inefficiencies with the Project work schedule.

    Staff get paid to work contingencies.

    Redoing work such as redoing the entire EIR for minor issues in PAMPA.

    Peter Reply:

    I was thinking of the direct costs of the lawsuits. Even then, I think you’re overestimating the attorney salaries.

    joe Reply:

    What are you guessing are hours billed – cost per year for an attorney and all the supporting effort?
    1 M will get you 3+ full time engineers in SV for a year.

    A lawsuit requires requires staff provide *all* requested documentation and then analyze that documentation and show responses. It will require expertise.

    The project must have contingency lans in place and any trivial change to the EIR requires it be resubmitted. Resources are disrupted. These are parts of the basic cost of a lawsuit.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah the reason the lawsuits are even there, is cause the Farmers want to sell to Developers who’ll pay dearly for the land and the water rights, not to the state who views only the land as

    worth buying, greedy farmers, that’s all that this is about and like all the other lawsuits, this one was a loser, put forth by a bunch of LOSERS

    Sore ones in fact…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    So CEQA “reform” is needed because…?

    Peripheral Canal.

    Freeway widenings.

    Interchange “Safety Improvements”

    Shopping malls.

    Professional sport team stadiums.

    Greenwash choo choo trains. CHOOOOOOO! CHOOOOOOOOOOOO! CHOOOOOOOO!

    “Congestion mitigation” (by adding highway lanes.)

    Roadway “safety improvements” (by adding lanes.)

    “Transit Oriented Development” (without the “transit”)

    New “affordable, rail-accessible” Central Valley subdivisions.

    There are so many ways CEQA “needs” to be “reformed”.

    CHOOOOOOOOOOOO!

    joe Reply:

    Another kvetch against the system. Emigrate for goodness sake.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Would you tell a railroad engineer in Switzerland who complains that Swiss society is racist to move to the US, where there are no jobs for him?

    joe Reply:

    Yes. Move here and leave the racists.

    “To surrender the city to you is beyond my authority or anyone else’s who lives in it, for all of us, after taking the mutual decision, shall die out of free will without sparing our lives.”
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Constantine_XI_Palaiologos

    And jimsf answered below….he’s complaining about jobs, growth and progress.

    Live here and push for better transit within our system or live in Switzerland and ride their worlds- finest choo-choos.

    Jonathan Reply:

    The Swiss don’t have actual “Choo-Choos”, except in museums, or used for steam excursions. Or as tourst attractions, like the Brienz Rothorn ( a narrow-gauge rack (cog) railway).

    So, no, no Swiss ‘Choo-Choos’. Unless you’re going on an excursion behind A 3/5 702, or the (ex-German 01 202).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    In case you didn’t understand, I’m referencing the fact that Richard’s professional background is such that he’s not particularly employable in the German-speaking world, or at least much less so than in the US. It’s not about pushing for anything. It’s about how the cluster of programming jobs developed in Silicon Valley and not in Geneva, just like the clusters of railroad engineering in the world are in places like Berlin and Tokyo and not in the US.

    (The difference is that if the US gets off its FRA high horse and starts importing improvable technology, while at the same time investing in good transit so that there’s a larger domestic market, it could develop a domestic network of suppliers and manufacturers, in 30 years.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It has a domestic network of suppliers and manufacturers that is whined about endlessly.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Colorado/US Railcar, United Streetcar, and the rest deserve to be whined about. They are protectionism whammies, like the Trabi.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Kawasaki, Alstom, Bombardier etc produce things domestically in the US. Popping out an R160 or a PA5 is all that much different than popping out an Acela III

    Alon Levy Reply:

    They have transplant factories, yeah. Certain people are pissed that there are no US-owned manufacturers; some of those people write entire articles about this in TAP that completely fail to mention why Pullman and St. Louis went under.

    Andy M Reply:

    Kawasaki, Alstom, Bombardier etc supposedly making things in the US creates railroad skills in the US much in the same way that assembling IKEA furniture makes you a qualified carpenter.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Assembling them outside of the US is even less useful.
    For the IKEA furniture to appear in you local IKEA store lots of things have to happen. The Noprht American market for IKEA furniture is big enough that IKEA mkes a lot of it in North America. A whole supply chain grows up around making white melamine covered DIY assembled furniture. The people who decide to call it something with a umlaut over a vowel or two and that it will be made out of white melamine covered MDF aren’t a big part of the economy. Just like the people who decide that beige carpeting in the railroad cars would be a bad idea aren’t a big part of the economy.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Don’t underestimate maintenance work. Honda started out as a bicycle repair shop.

    Jonathan Reply:

    How many brain-cells does it take, before you can conclude that a light color is a _bad_ _idea_ for carpeting in a public transport vehicle???

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    47 brain cells but someone makes that decision. And the people who make that kind of decision aren’t a big part of the workforce.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Neither are the people who assemble the carpets of the correct color, or for that matter the chassis. Remember how much the Amtrak locos cost and how many jobs are involved?

    Jonathan Reply:

    Alon, you mean the Cities Sprinter? _Someone_ has to do the engineering to figure out where all that useless dead mass which meets the arbitrary, never-show-to-actually-improve-safety, FRA buff-strength requirements, is going to be borne by the locomotive.

    Besides that, and fitting ACSS II — Japanese car manufacturers used to assemble copmlete cars; then take them apart and put them in “CKD” boxes (“Completely Knocked Down”), so the CKD units could be re-assembled in countries with local assembly requirements (or prohibitive tariffs.)

    That made sense for cars, where the daily production would dwarf CKD demand. But I do wonder how much of the “US manufacture” is simply putting together Vectron sub-assemblies.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Siemens has plants all over North American capable of spewing out sub assemblies. And components for the sub assemblies. I betcha the carpeting in those plants was spec’d out by a ‘Murcan and bought by a ‘Murcan purchasing agent from a ‘Murcan vendor who used ‘Murcan sub contractors to install it. Same thing happened with the paint etc.

    jimsf Reply:

    nothing wrong with any of those things. jobs, growth, progress.

    Winston Reply:

    For someone continually complaining about excessive project costs, you sure seem opposed to solving the problem. Yes, public agencies are badly run, but things like excessive tunneling, building transit in freeway medians, and even a good deal of the lack of transparency of public agencies is caused by fear of CEQA lawsuits. It’s crappy law and should be fixed.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    That’s an interesting theory you have there, Winston.

  2. Stephen Smith
    Nov 17th, 2012 at 12:26
    #2

    This wasn’t CAARD and TRANSDEF’s lawsuit, was it?

    Peter Reply:

    No, this was based on the Merced-Fresno EIR. There are three lawsuits filed against it that have been consolidated for trial purposes.

    StevieB Reply:

    The request for an injunction was a component of three lawsuits against the rail authority over its approval of the proposed Merced-Fresno section of the statewide rail line: one by the Madera and Merced county farm bureaus, Madera County and property owners in Madera and Merced counties; one by the city of Chowchilla; and one by companies that own property along the rail route in Fresno and Madera counties. The suits have been combined for court hearings.

    Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2012/11/16/3069298/judge-denies-injunction-in-high.html#storylink=cpy

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Carrd doesn’t have a lawsuit

    joe Reply:

    A quick check at the webpage would confirm that fact.

    Maybe some are confusing “Citizens Advocating Responsible Rail Design” with “Neighbors for Smart Rail”.
    http://www.smartrail.org/smartrail.org/Welcome.html

    http://www.laobserved.com/archive/2012/11/expo_line_work_can_procee.php
    Expo Line work can proceed, state high court says
    The California Supreme Court denied a request by Neighbors for Smart Rail for a stay that would stop construction on the Expo Line extension across the Westside to Santa Monica.

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    Sorry, my mistake…also for screwing up the acronym…

  3. Peter
    Nov 17th, 2012 at 18:55
    #3

    OT: Good job, New Jersey Transit. You managed to get 1/3 of your locomotives and 1/4 of your railcars damaged by parking them in areas forecast to flood.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals.

    Joey Reply:

    NJT must have the finest of the finest then … even the LIRR and MNRR had the sense to move their equipment out of high risk areas.

    Jim Reply:

    …Operating Professionals.

    The forecasters told them that Kearney was likely to flood. They responded that historically it hadn’t, so left the equipment there. I’m not sure there is an adjective for that.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    People who buy lottery?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    It gets better.

    http://news.yahoo.com/exclusive-jersey-railway-put-trains-sandy-flood-zone-020644706.html

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    By the time the forecast changed to “it’ll probably flood” it was too late to move them out. They would then face the problem of having trains stranded on the “wrong” side of outages.

    Peter Reply:

    I think that’s what’s referred to as “making excuses”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Hindsight has extraordinary clarity.

    Peter Reply:

    As did the flooding forecast maps. There was truly no legitimate excuse for this.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The tide wasn’t forecast to be as high as it was until hours before it arrived. Well after the system had been shut down and the crews sent home. Since the trains don’t drive themselves, moving them after the forecast changed would have been difficult.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @adirondacker12800

    They would then face the problem of having trains stranded on the “wrong” side of outages.

    Nothing a truck can’t fix.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes Uhaul has a whole fleet of those down at the local rental agency.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    For a couple days, there was justly a moratorium on inappropriate jokes. No more. The hurricane is over. Bring on the jokes about The Bully, the drivers who don’t know how to parallel park, the roads where if you miss an unmarked left turn you need to spend 10 minutes backtracking, and the sprawltastic office parks.

  4. joe
    Nov 19th, 2012 at 07:55
    #4

    Awful article form Stephen Smith, a contributor to Bloomberg View. It’s full of beltway wisdom.

    1. HSR failures are “our fault”. Republicans are reasonable if rail advocates only were more efficient we would “please” Republicans.
    2. Technocrates and engineers can solve icky political problems – Amazingly people don’t have serious disagreements on policy and even if they did, technocrats and engineers make apolitical decisions that both sides can support.

    http://www2.tbo.com/news/opinion/2012/nov/18/vwviewo1-new-dot-chief-could-set-tone-for-transpor-ar-567134/
    A focus on efficiency over spending should please House Republicans, whose support the administration will need if it ever hopes to increase federal transit funding.
    ..
    Whomever Obama nominates, the administration should learn from the failures of its grand and expensive first-term ambitions. If the White House is willing to listen to the engineers and technocrats within the department, it might find some of its goals within reach.

    Peter Reply:

    It also gets at least one thing VERY wrong. The FTA contribution to the Oakland Airport Connector was cancelled because the FTA’s lawyers concluded that BART failed to meet Title VI requirements. That had nothing to do with the FTA “coming to its senses” on funding stupid projects.

    synonymouse Reply:

    A fairly good article but extremely naive. None of this mild-managed kvetching about political incompetence undermining projects will produce more than the slightest ripple.

    And they ignored the most egregious and telling example – the firing of Van Ark. The message is clearly there is zero room for the most customary and expected competence and ethics in the CHSRA executive suite.

    I suggest the feed the monster approach is the best. As much as Jerry’s spinmeisters want a very low bid on the ARRA segment I hope the contractors realize they have the Machine by the balls. With the absolute supermajority in place the machine hacks are prepared to come up with whatever monies are required to carry out Jerry’s Legacy. If the contractors are smart they should double-down on their bids – inflate them good – and call Jerry’s bluff. They can’t lose as Moonbeam is obviously impaired at this late date and will never back down on or alter his obsession.

  5. Paul Druce
    Nov 19th, 2012 at 12:38
    #5
  6. Peter
    Nov 19th, 2012 at 13:59
    #6

    OT: Does anyone know what type of PTC system SMART is planning on implementing?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    One engine under steam?

    jimsf Reply:

    with cowcatchers and cinders for all.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Haha adiron, a (bit) more than that, 30 min. headways peak.

    @Peter:
    Apparently it will be wireless PTC, using 220Mhz bands. The line will be signaled with automatic block signals.

    http://www.ltk.com/projectexperiencedetails.aspx?SPN=TRANSIT%20WIRELESS%20COMMUNICATIONS#WC-SMART

    info on wireless PTC in the North American context:
    http://transitwireless.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/05/PTC_whitepaper_may2012_ver2.pdf

    Jonathan Reply:

    “North American context”? Huh? There _is_ no other context; PTC is a US regulatory term for an Automatic Train Protection system (ATP) which meets specific regulatory goals. The rest of the English-speaking world uses the term “ATP”.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Relax buddy, railway semantics, and btw, there are other contexts of PTC (which you correctly point out is a US monicker, like “light rail”), such as in Japan, where it’s called ATS, ATC, or ATACS, depending on the implementation.

    Jonathan Reply:

    No, those various systems are _NOT_ PTC; they’re ATP.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Excuse me. Such systems in other Engilsh-speaking countries are not “PTC”; they’re ATP.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    unless they are ERTMS. Or CBTC.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    ERTMS is the name of a standard for signaling that includes ATS/ATP/PTC/whatever. CBTC/moving block signaling is a feature of signaling systems involving precise location of the preceding trains rather than a fixed block system in which an entire block is considered occupied when there’s a train on it; it can be implemented without ATS/ATP/PTC, and vice versa.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    CBTC doesn’t stop the trains if they get too close together? Which is what PTC et al are doing….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It doesn’t have to. The New York implementation does, but then again New York has had ATS from day one. A train that runs a red signal is automatically stopped.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    so the CBTC equipped train that has a bridge fall on when it derails and wipes out the bridge allows the closely following train to crash into the wreckage?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That particular train was not CBTC equipped.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If the train has CBTC, CBTC isn’t going to stop it from derailing and collapsing the bridge.
    The derailed train taking out the bridge supports is rare but it’s happened more than once.
    Does the following CBTC equipped train hurtle towards the survivors making them causalities of the second train wreck or does the CBTC equipped train come to controlled stop before it crushes survivors?

    Jonathan Reply:

    You want to see reports from Syndey talking about how they implemented ATP with ETCS?
    Or Auckland?

  7. Derek
    Nov 20th, 2012 at 16:30
    #7

    Southwest to cease daily Reno-Oakland flights

    Officials at Reno-Tahoe Airport say the move is in reaction to challenging economic times and the ability to fill seats on short flights. For many people, flying is a luxury when it takes only four hours to drive between the two cities.

    It’s 218 miles driving, or 178 miles as the crow flies. High speed rail could make such a trip in about an hour and fifteen minutes. Reno by way of Sacramento seems like a natural destination for a third HSR line in California. (As would LA-Palm Springs-Phoenix.)

    Travis Reply:

    Unfortunately, if you thought getting across the Transverse Ranges was difficult for HSR, climbing over a 7,000-foot Sierra Nevada pass is going to be even more ridiculously convoluted/expensive. Doubtful that that corridor has enough traffic to make the construction/maintenance expense worthwhile.

    Peter Reply:

    What was that about short-haul flights being all profitable for airlines? I seem to recall a certain airline planner making a lot of claims like that sometime earlier this year.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Hmmm? Short-haul flights are even more inefficient (in terms of fuel usage, landing slots, etc) than long-haul flights, and long haul flights are already horribly inefficient compared to HSR…

    Peter Reply:

    I guess you don’t remember Sobering Reality’s comments. He kept on claiming that short-haul flights are profitable, or airlines wouldn’t operate them.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Which is true. Obviously there isn’t enough demand on this particular corridor, I don’t believe he was making the case that all short-line routes are profitable, which would be absurd.

    Peter Reply:

    That actually was his argument, IIRC. If they aren’t profitable, they wouldn’t be operated.

    J Baloun Reply:

    Sacto to Reno could make good use of up to a 4% grade or at lease 3 to 3.5%
    Like this?
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cologne-Frankfurt_high-speed_rail_line

    J Baloun Reply:

    Would HSR over Donner Pass use snow sheds when not in a tunnel? In world-wide HSR service, what is the most snow they have to deal with? Do they plow HSR lines? Just curious.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @J Baloun:

    I don’t know what the most snow that a HSR line has dealt with, but I’ve traveled on HSR trains in Japan, UK and Western Europe up to the Swiss Alps when it has been snowing heavily. The only passenger-noticeable disruption that I remember was when the London-bound Eurostar service kept to a non-HSR speed from Lille to the Chunnel to ‘avoid using all the power’ (power availability issue on that segment?). Always had the ‘right’ snow falling when I traveled by train in winter.

    Peter Reply:

    A couple of years ago when Europe had record-breaking snowfalls they had major shutdowns of the rail network. I think that was simply because of the amount of snow, not because it was the “wrong”snow. It also didn’t help that the Netherlands hadn’t invested in heaters for their switches, so they froze in position and couldn’t be reset (doesn’t this occasionally happen with Capitol Corridor in Sacramento, too?).

    Jonathan Reply:

    According to the German press at the time, the service stoppages in Germany had a _lot_ to do with DBAG deferring maintenance. The executives at DBAG wanted to improve profitability, in preparation for a public stock offering. I believe recall specific mention of frozen turnouts, due to lack of maintenance (or fuel?) to the heaters.

    where’s Richard M. when he could actually be useful? Or Max Wyss?

    J Baloun Reply:

    The ‘avoid using all the power’ part sounds partially due to the extra power needed to do a little plowing. From YouTube videos of plowing it looks to consume a good fraction of the locomotive horsepower or in this case, HSR motive power.

    swing hanger Reply:

    The Joetsu and Tohoku shinkansen lines have to deal with heavy snowfall. Trainsets are equipped with snowplows. Also, tracks and switches are sprayed with warm water from sprinklers, much like the types used to water lawns.
    At Shin-Aomori Station. Aomori City receives some of the heaviest snowfalls in the world for a city of its latitude:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iAKhChqarlc

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The KTX has heaters installed at the switches. I don’t think Korea is snowy, but its winters are very cold.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Independently of the mountain crossings problems, Reno is too small a city to justify HSR. It’s smaller than Bakersfield and Fresno, which are only getting HSR because they lie between LA and SF.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Reno is a destination. People don’t go to Fresno for the Las Vegas style entertainment or to Bakersfield for the Tahoe quality skiing. Short enough that higher speed rail, if it’s a lot cheaper than full fat HSR, would be a reasonable alternative.

    Howard Reply:

    The plan is to serve Reno on the way to Salt Lake City. The State Route 70 (+US395) route could be used over the Sierras; because, with Beckworth Pass at an elevation of five thousand feet (Donner is over seven thousand feet) there would be a lower grade and less of a snow issue. If the Truckee ski area needs to be served the HSR route could leave State Route 70, follow State Route 89 and then take I-80 to Reno; however, that’s goes up to about six thousand feet even with some tunnels.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Meh. SF-SLC is too far, has nothing in between except Reno, and has cities that are too small. If there’s money for HSR over that distance, LA-SLC is much more interesting, and also doesn’t involve difficult mountain crossings.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Salt Lake City is too far from anywhere. To Las Vegas in road miles it’s roughly Boston to New York, 425 miles. Metro Salt Lake City is what? just over a million and Las Vegas is roughly 2 million? Not enough people. Reno comes in at 518 road miles and Denver at 537. It’s too far from anywhere even if it was metro New York or Tokyo.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Reno isn’t the destination Vegas is. Not even close. Look at the numbers by air: Vegas has a domestic air traffic of 69,000 passengers per day, in a near-tie with Boston for 6th highest nationwide; Reno has 6,700.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Look at the numbers by air to Atlantic City. Reno isn’t Fresno
    .
    People from metro New York or Philadelphia drive to Atlantic City. I suspect that Northern Californians drive to Reno. Make the train faster than driving and faster than the bus there will be more of a market than to Fresno. Since there’s nothing east of it the trip between Sacramento and Reno doesn’t have to be full fat HSR.

    http://www.visitrenotahoe.com/media/facts-statistics/travel

    Nice round numbers 6 million visitors a year. Capture a quarter of that and it’s 1.5 million a year. Again nice round numbers 8.000 visitors a day. Just for the fun in Reno, there’d be the people in Reno going to California points for fun. And the people going between the two for business.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The link says 5 million annual visitors, of whom half are from California. So we’re talking about a universe of 2.5 million visitors rather than 6 million. 1.5 million requires running the table on visitors originating in NorCal and inducing a small amount of extra traffic.

    A traffic density of 1.5 million a year is way less than enough to justify HSR even on flat terrain with no urban land use. Xpress West is projecting 4 million annual passengers in each direction a few years after opening, and is a borderline case.

    In the reverse direction, Reno no longer holds any special position – it’s just another metro area of half a million people, and those contribute very little ridership.

    What would be more interesting is running a tilting train on legacy track. If UP is consolidating freight along the Donner Pass then this tilting train would use the Feather River Route, which is circuitous but could have higher average speed by enough margin to fully compensate if it were passenger-primary. (Incidentally, a unified rail authority would of course do the reverse, i.e. run freight on the flatter Feather River Route and passenger rail on the shorter Donner Pass route. Alas, UP.)

    jimsf Reply:

    feather river is really nice. meanwhile this has been very succrssful for forty years too
    renofun

    Joe Reply:

    I80 holds only so many cars before people say fuck it and do not bother. Add weather and rough roads to the mix. I think many do not travel to the area due to traffic.

    Rail to tahoe/reno would cut out the bottle neck that is I80.

    Joe Reply:

    Reno / Tahoe.

    Traffie to tahoe sucks. Reliable, fast rail to Tahoe/Reno would avoid the horrible traffic on 80. I do not even bother driving anymore. I stopped trying. Train with shuttle and lift tickets would attract riders.

  8. Robert
    Nov 21st, 2012 at 06:15
    #8

    Elon plans on further disclosure of the $6 billion Hyperloop that will get you from LA to SF in 30 minutes in about a months time…

    http://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musks-hyper-loop-2012-9

    Will be curious to see the details. I know that Robert wrote an article about it recently. How funny would it be if someone obsoleted the HSR program by doing something an order of magnitude better. Keeping an open mind.

    RT

    Peter Reply:

    Sounds a lot like a PRT-vactrain gadgetbahn hybrid. The $6 billion cost estimate is amusing.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Lots of things are cheap-n-easy on paper… :]

    [Elon Musk is a cool guy (though also a bit creepy on a personal level, from what I’ve heard), and has done some neat stuff, but the amount of hero worship around him is pretty silly…]

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