CHSRA Says July 2013 Groundbreaking Still On Track

Jan 10th, 2013 | Posted by

At a SPUR high speed rail event in San Francisco today, the new Northern California Regional Director for the California High Speed Rail Authority, Ben Tripousis, said that the project remained on schedule for a groundbreaking in the Central Valley this July. He also pointed out that the project’s phases could be complete by 2029, delivering SF to LA service within the statutory 2 hours and 40 minute time (I’m going to assume he meant 2:40 and not 2:45):

Tripousis told a packed auditorium that a 2-hour-and-45-minute-trip from San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal to Los Angeles’ Union Station could be a reality by 2029, but that a host of political, financial and logistical obstacles must be hurdled before high-speed trains reach the Bay Area.

“To quote Ben Franklin, ‘We must all hang together, or assuredly we will all hang separately,'” Tripousis said.

Tripousis is basically pointing people to the current fight on the Peninsula over the Caltrain modernization EIS. NIMBYs want to prevent the EIS from studying a four track expansion which, even though it’s not going to happen in the immediate future, should remain an option as ridership expands and system demands increase. The NIMBYs want a four track corridor to be rejected forever here in 2013, a ridiculous position that would essentially decapitate the HSR project and prevent it from serving San Francisco effectively.

One reason why intercity rail is needed in California is that the air route from SF to LA is almost at capacity, as San Francisco’s Director of Transportation Policy Gillian Gillett pointed out at today’s talk:

High-speed rail is also expected to stimulate the region’s economic growth by allowing San Francisco International Airport to concentrate on expanding long-distance and international airline service, instead of continuing to be bogged down by north-south regional flights, Gillett said.

“We are ‘this close’ to getting congestion management by the Federal Aviation Administration,” she said. “We are reaching our limits in the air.”

No wonder the Bay Area’s airports support high speed rail. They increasingly find the short haul shuttle flights to be burdensome, but without an alternative they’re going to continue offering them at the expense of the longer distance routes they would much rather serve.

Anti-HSR forces seem to think that the status quo is just fine. But as passenger counts at the airports and on Caltrain rise, it’s as clear as ever that HSR is vital to the future prosperity of San Francisco and the Bay Area as a whole.

  1. VBobier
    Jan 10th, 2013 at 21:31

    I mean what are the Nimbys on the Peninsula going to do to stop the 4 track option if they lose in the Courts(which I assume will happen, losing that is)? Secede from CA? They’d have to back that up with force, I doubt they have the balls to back that up.

    joe Reply:

    No courage at all.

    The coward’s position is to oppose HSR, refuse to engage CAHSR on any level and wait. If it happens, blame the Feds and Gov for imposing a HSR design.

    A growing number of residents realize what’s going on and that HSR is inevitable. They are worried that choosing have no say in the Project in any way is a bad path forward.

  2. JJJ
    Jan 11th, 2013 at 03:00

    July 2013 isnt “on schedule”, its almost a year of delay.

    joe Reply:
    What does “re-baseline” mean in Project Management?

    Best Answer – Chosen by Voters

    When you are managing a project, you establish “baseline” cost estimates and schedules based on beginning assumptions. The thing is, at the very beginning of a project there is a lot of uncertainty, so it’s really only a ballpark estimate at that point. As things develop, you start to remove some of the uncertainty. Also, situations change – the concept for the project might change, resource availability might change, costs might go up, etc.

    “Re-basline” means that the information has either matured or changed enough to warrant updating your assumptions and doing exactly what it says – issueing a new revised baseline estimate and schedule.

    This might be done on a reactive basis just because things have changed and you realize that you are so far out of whack that you must update.

    On the other hand, for long projects with a high level of uncertainty, you might agree up front that you will rebaseline at certain critical points – when key decisions are made, or when you get within a certain time of activities. It’s good to have that kind of discussion with your management up front – that way you all understand the uncertainties and how you will be managing them.

    blankslate Reply:

    Bent Flyvberg has amassed considerable evidence that megaprojects with public funding are almost always “re-baselined” to take longer and cost more, practically never in the other direction.

    joe Reply:

    Remember the massive delays and over-runs for WinNT or Windows95?

    I bet they write books about software projects and cost overruns.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Duh. “The Mythical Man-Month: Essays in Software Engineering”, Fred Brooks. Original edition, 1975; corrected 1982, and a reprinted anniversary edition with two extra chapters in 1995.

    Nathanael Reply:

    This is due to the well-known phenomenon of optimism bias. I believe IIRC about 80% of the population has habitual optimism bias, with the remaining 20% having pessimism bias or “getting it right”.

    This is why “contingency” is built into schedules — the optimism bias. SOMETHING is gonna go wrong and cause delay, even if we don’t know what it is, so we add “contingency”.

    What I’m saying is, it’s not just “megaprojects with public funding”, it’s also “megaprojects with private funding”, “mini-projects with public funding”, “mini-projects with private funding”.

    EVERYTHING has optimism bias, so EVERY project ends up late and over budget. Unless you put in a huge amount of “contingency”.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    July 2013 isnt “on schedule”, its almost a year of delay.

    No — nine years of delay. The original opening date was supposed to be 2020, but now it is (at best) 2029.

    All the NIMBY’s fault, I’m sure.

  3. Adina
    Jan 11th, 2013 at 08:26

    The Caltrain modernization EIS isn’t studying a 4-track option for High Speed Rail. The core of the study is just Caltrain electrification. Then they will study the blended system in less detail, including the results of passing tracks with 4 high speed trains per hour, and the downtown extensions to transbay. There are no plans to study a 4 track version per Caltrain and HSRA that I have heard. Do you have any different information?

    joe Reply:

    Oh, Caltrain modernization. That modernization project was NOT funded. Do you know of any state or local funding for that project?

    There is funding from the HSR Prop 1A to upgrade the Caltrain ROW to electrify it and run both Caltrain and HSR trains on the same corridor. The plan and EIR includes expanding the ROW to 4 tracks WHEN needed.

    Peter Reply:

    Do you know of any state or local funding for that project?

    joe Reply:


    J. Wong Reply:

    PAMPA wants CHSRA to rescind the 4-track EIR and agree to never consider 4-track, but of course, the CHSRA has no reason to do so.

    Clem Reply:

    Of course there is no 4-track EIR that has been published yet (although the administrative draft and 15% design was indeed completed by HNTB for the entire corridor… they are sitting on that for now).

    Where the SF-SJ project EIR process stands right now is that a supplemental alternatives analysis needs to be issued that withdraws certain design alternatives and introduces others. When this will occur is anyone’s guess, but until it occurs the 4-track all-the-way alternative is squarely on the table, no matter what MOUs may say. Another possibility is that the project EIR be scrapped completely, with the process starting over under Caltrain’s leadership.

    There is also pending litigation to make the CHSRA re-open the program level EIR to get the “blend” fully accounted for. The claim is that CHSRA is studying two different projects, one (full HSR) presented in its EIRs and another (blended) presented in its business plan.

    The objections to the CHSRA’s process are far from being limited to PAMPA.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    ‘The objections to the CHSRA’s process are far from being limited to PAMPA’
    ‘citations needed’

    Nathanael Reply:

    Well, yeah, there are some other “objections” to the CHSRA process: the dishonest city manager in Bakersfield who lied to his city council, for instance, “objected”.

    I haven’t seen any legitimate objections to the CHSRA process. The Caltrain process, yes. The BART process, yes. The Transbay Terminal process, hell yes. The CHSRA process is substantially better than average (and yes, the average is low).

  4. Reedman
    Jan 11th, 2013 at 09:03

    The idea that the air corridor from NoCal to SoCal is at capacity is overstated. SFO thinks so, because it has worst-in-the-country weather delays and refuses to space it’s runways further apart to fix the problem.

    Marc Reply:

    The separation FAA requires between two runways to allow simultaneous instrument (as opposed to visual) approaches is 4300 ft. The runways in question are currently separated by 750 ft. Moving one of the runways well over half a mile out into the bay to “fix the problem” just isn’t going to happen, due to massive construction costs and environmental issues…

    Peter Reply:

    Yep. This has nothing to do with “refusing” to change the spacing, it’s just not a realistic option.

    Jon Reply:

    The congestion management the FAA is proposing is nothing to do with the NorCal to SoCal air corridor being at capacity. Apparently the FAA is concerned with delays at certain airports causing knock-on congestion throughout the entire country, and have SFO down as the fifth worse offender. If congestion management is implemented, SFO can preserve their long-distance flights by replacing their short haul flights with HSR.

    Jonathan Reply:

    “refuses to space its runways”? 4,000 ft apart? that’s in the Bay. What airlines are operating flying-boats these days?

    blankslate Reply:

    There are also two other airports in the region, both highly underutilized.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Let’s not forget the OAC.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m in a good mood today; don’t remind me of the OAC.

    Michael Reply:

    Jealous of our horizontal funicular? Will make transit to Oakland Airport as economical as to Newark Airport.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Alon

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to bum you out.

    Check out my link to the mouse that roared. Put me in a good mood, but then I like hamsters, gerbils, etc.

    And imagine a “Dreamliner” on rails. Hey, Boeing took the bait once before.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The ultimate hope for the City of San Francisco is to turn SFO into the Charles De Gaulle Airport of the Western United States, where international passengers can circumvent having to make their way into the city center to board high speed trains for distant lands.

    However, for reasons beyond just runway design (try being in the worst possible place for fog) it would make a lot more sense to expand and invest in Oakland’s airport. However, for reasons of location, prestige and because the airport is a big money maker for the City, you can bet on enjoying copious, unnecessary delays well into the 22nd century.

    Furthermore, it would be possible to foolproof SFO, but it’s one of the few projects that would make a second transbay tube or the Peripheral Canal look cheap.

    joe Reply:

    Mercurynews carried an article on concentration of traffic at SFO and decreasing airline traffic at OAK and SJC.

    IMHO, San Jose should obsess about the connection between HSR San Jose and their underused SJC .

    Alon Levy Reply:

    San Jose should obsess about redeveloping SJC after HSR makes it redundant. 27% of O&D traffic out of SJC is to the Greater LA area. Include Vegas and San Diego and it gets closer to one half.

    Ted K. Reply:

    San Jose’s problem is that they have no room for growth without shifting traffic over to Moffet (potential turf war). Oakland’s problem is that the winds can be unfavorable for operations. So while SFO bottlenecks due to fog or rain the other two have their own problems.

    Marc Reply:

    Please provide some evidence that “winds can be unfavorable for operations” is in any way a significant cause of declining airline traffic at OAK. More significant issues are that SFO managed to get hold of Virgin America, enticed Jetblue to relocate most of their Bay Area flights, United pulled out of OAK altogether, and American only has a few flights left out of OAK. Given that I live 10 minutes away from OAK, I would far prefer to use it, and did almost exclusively in past years. Now it’s very difficult to get anywhere from OAK, except on Southwest. As far as I can see, SFO has created it’s own traffic problems…

    Ted K. Reply:

    My apologies – I was less than clear in my message. I was referring to a probable upper limit on traffic growth at Oakland’s airport due to prevailing winds. My source was a discussion with a local flight instructor back in the mid-1990’s.

    Also, a map of the airport shows a lot of open space. Unfortunately, much of that space is environmentally sensitive and there are a lot of birds in the area.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    If Oakland Airport simply carries the same amount of passengers as SFO does for longer haul flights, you don’t have a problem. And you don’t need Oakland to do that unless you build HSR anyway to absorb the short-hop flights.

    Back in the Saddle Reply:

    Moving more of the NOR/CAL-SOU/CAL air traffic to Oakland and San Jose and relieving SFO does not solve the air space issue. The flyway from the Bay area to LAX is getting extremely busy and air traffic is being moved to other routes to reduce traffic so a flight from SFO to LAX will be somewhat longer. The air space problem also goes right to the runways at LAX since you can land only so many airplanes at a time. When airplane killers like the B-757’s and others like it arrive at LAX or other airports, the spacing between those types of aircraft are extended and therefore fewer flights can arrive within a certain period of time.

  5. synonymouse
    Jan 11th, 2013 at 10:09

    The Peninsula is going to be dominated by Caltrain and commute ops, not by the peripheral, inconsequential hsr. There are very competitive alternatives to TehaVegaSkyRail and the State will never be able to decree a monopoly the way BART does. Dumbarton is always an option for the CHSRA. Besides Oakland and the entire East Bay will eventually wake up from its torpor and demand attention from the CHSRA away from San Jose-centricity.

    The mainstream cheerleaders and foamers need to also wake up to the fact that the mountain crossing is the real controversy and ask themselves the question just who will want to buy a backwoods detour when even the class ones can’t use it. And most of all the cheerleaders need to respond to the Tejon Ranch’s Co.’s contention that hsr is inherently blighting.

    Meantime the real “Moonbeam”:

  6. Jon
    Jan 11th, 2013 at 10:26

    I was at this event; far more interesting than the usual CAHSR spiel was the proposal to tear down I-280 back to 16th St and bury the HSR tracks underground. Apparently the Mayor is behind this plan, which will involve a complete redesign of the DTX (possibly with two tracks, possibly with a loop), the addition of a new Caltrain station at 16th St, the complete removal of the 4th & King rail yards in favor of an underground Caltrain station, and the construction of siding tracks in the Caltrain ROW somewhere else in SF for train storage.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And PAMPA gets blighted with berms and aerial hollowcore.

    Jon Reply:

    SF is planning on stumping up the cash for this. They reckon they can fund most of it through increased land values. PAMPA can and should do the same, but they wont because that would mean scary new development. And you know very well that the current plan for PAMPA is no change other than electrification.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The mayor’s proposal is an interesting proposal, and knocking down 280 is definitely worthwhile. But it doesn’t solve the Transbay Terminal problems and it doesn’t provide replacement midday train storage. So I don’t think it helps Caltrain very much.

    Joey Reply:

    Something wrong with retained fill?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Berlin Wall. Would SF replace I-280 with berm?

    PAMPA would go for trench probably, but you know PB would oppose it on general Brutalist corporate culture grounds.

    Basically they need to fire PB for everybody else’s best interest.

    Sure would seem Lee’s scheme screams diminished system capacity. Dumbarton and terminate hsr at SFO.

    Joey Reply:

    The berlin wall effect is completely psychological. A properly designed elevated alignment would increase corridor permeability. And how exactly would a trench work with all those hydrology issues? There is plenty of justification to grade separate that portion of the corridor with or without HSR. The question is when, and with how many tracks.

    Peter Reply:

    Please stop with the fake “Berlin Wall” shit. It’s insulting.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That’s all you got? Everybody has heard the expression “from the wrong side of the tracks”.

    Why do you think SF wants to tear down elevated freeways. They divide and wall off. And in the case of Palo Alto and East Palo Alto there is already that bifurcation.

    The real crux is the retrograde 1960’s LA Bechtelian-Jetsons mentality of PB. Death to hollow-core, corroded bare aluminum, modernist sterility. Dump PB and the DeTour..

    Matthew Reply:

    There already is a wall through PAMPA that hasn’t prevented the towns from flourishing — actually it helped build them. It’s called the Caltrain corridor. Having lived next to it, I can attest that it fully functioned and operated as a wall, forcing me to sidetrack my path on many occasions, to one of the portals through it.

    The grade separation project could open up more portals through the wall, making it much easier to traverse than it currently is.

    But all this common sense is probably frying your brain.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You think an aerial that will be a magnet for lowlifes and grafitti and will probably have to be walled off with razor wire won’t constitute a much worse barrier, physical and psychological than at grade tracks?

    Joey Reply:

    The crossings wouldn’t be walled off of course. At the end of the day that’s all that matters physically (visual and psychological are different matters).

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Mouse is just jealous of all the new pedestrian crossings we’ll get — and I predict we’ll eventually come to our senses and accept the HSR station in PA, in 10-15 years after CalTrain ridership is 100k/day and HSR is ready to run.

    Matthew Reply:

    The current, existing wall consists mostly of a fence and trees. There does not seem to be a “graffiti” problem on the existing walls and infrastructure, or in the current underpasses in the PAMPA area. University Ave, Homer Ave ped/bike, Embarcadero Rd, Oregon Expy all seem to be doing fine. Three of those also carry Alma Street overhead, which makes them over twice as big as needed for RR separation.

    This is not a new right-of-way. It is a right-of-way that has existed for 150 years. It is older than the towns around it. And the grade separation, done right, will make life a lot better for people now living on either side of it.

    Is it possible to do grade separation in a crummy way? Yes. But it can also be done in a nice way. That’s why the towns should be engaged in the process and working it out. Not this terrible hate-change-at-all-costs nonsense. It’s a tremendous opportunity.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sorry, PB don’t do “nice way”. PB do BART in Daly City way.

    VBobier Reply:

    Lowlifes and graffiti? Sounds Racist to Me, so when do You get out the flaming crosses & the sheets? Just cause people aren’t like you, doesn’t give You the right to spread fear & hate…

    Richard Mluynarik Reply:

    America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals on the job.

    Joey Reply:

    I’m tempted to say that knocking down a large portion of 280 would be a positive outcome, though of course there are simpler ways to do the whole setup.

    Eric M Reply:

    The west option to Transbay would be nice.

  7. synonymouse
    Jan 11th, 2013 at 11:24

    Too big to fail, too big to jail is now tacitly written into the Constitution – aka “Implicit Guarantee”:

    TARP stands as the master template of bait and switch, the perfect progenitor of the pack of lies Prop 1A.

  8. Brian FL
    Jan 11th, 2013 at 19:24

    Some interesting news via Fred Frailey at forum. He says that Amtrak and CAHSR will partner on specifying HSR train sets. This should be good news as it will perhaps lead to cost savings and a defacto USA standard for rail cars. Here is the link:

    Left unsaid is what will the FRA say about safety issues with regards to weight and crash worthiness?

    Clem Reply:

    opportunities to use this equipment acquisition to serve as a catalyst to encourage expanded domestic manufacturing of high value modern technology.

    We are doomed!

    synonymouse Reply:

    I do remember when Boston and SF teamed up on what became the Boeing-Vertol. It could have been a decent streetcar if they had devoted the requisite number of years debugging it. The cars rode well but were a maintenance failure.

    Does appear that the UP CEO who predicted the CHSRA would top out at 160mph was right on the mark. I’ll bet he also knows that Tehachapi is a hopeless piece of shit for a passenger op.

    Does this work out that PB has a handle on Amtrak-NEC as well as BART-CHSRA? Does that also mean another retro-Bechtelian proprietary porkfest and a locked-in contractor such as Bombardier? PB don’t like furriners much, like SNCF or Alstom. They tend to talk back, like Roelof.

    Peter Reply:

    Which manufacturer isn’t “foreign”? I wasn’t aware that Budd and Pullman were still in the railcar manufacturing business.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    I think Bombardier has a plant in USA, therefore trains are Made in America

    Peter Reply:

    Meh, more Illinois-Nippon-Sharyo-like manufacturing plants, not a big deal.

    joe Reply:


    Stephen Smith Reply:

    Incredible. Amtrak hasn’t even demonstrated that it’s competent enough to order HSR train sets, and they’re already tailoring their purchases to encourage export of technology that doesn’t even exist yet??

    BeWise Reply:

    ‘Amtrak and the California High Speed Rail Authority are joining forces this coming week to begin the process of ordering up to 62 sets of high-speed trains for use in both the Northeast Corridor and in the Golden State. Thirty-two of the train sets would be earmarked for the NEC, for use at speeds up to 160 mph, and the others for California.’

    So let me get this straight. We’re now planning on purchasing 30(!!!) high-speed train sets even though we don’t even have enough money to electrify the starter segment? Aren’t we getting a little ahead of ourselves here??? Also, what happened to purchasing off-the-shelf technology? Not surprising I suppose…

    Michael Reply:

    “For the California High Speed Rail Authority, the equipment-buying process being initiated is the most visible sign yet that the controversial project will actually come into being. ”

    How credible is the author’s wits if he believes that an RFI for equipment is the “most visible sign” of the CHSRA’s forward progress? Electrified tracks somewhere in the state to run them on would be a more visible sign, wouldn’t it?

    I remember when news was reliable.

    Peter Reply:

    Or even just some actual construction…

    JFH Reply:

    This is just an RFI to get the process started. They aren’t committing, or even planning on purchasing the trains yet. It seems to me that it will be quite some time after the RFIs are in until the purchase decision will be made, and quite a bit longer still until the trains start to come off the line. Say that all of this goes through and Amtrak and CAHSRA wind up buying the 62 train referenced in the article. It will encourage the necessary funding to be given to the project to purchase the trains, and it seems plausible to me that if Amtrak takes the first 32 trains, by the time train 33 is finished, CAHSRA will be ready to start using it.

    Clem Reply:

    The problem is that Amtrak and CHSRA need totally different products.

    Amtrak: 250 km/h, high cant deficiency capability, tilting
    California: 350 km/h, low noise

    Just because they have pointy noses doesn’t make similar.

    Then there is the issue of fleet size– the contracts contemplated here are minuscule on the scale of the world HSR rolling stock market. It can’t be cost-effective to set up a domestic manufacturing capability for that, unless HSR is a jobs program. If the latter, why not just have crews dig holes and fill them back in somewhere around Palmdale? Oh, wait, that’s already planned.

    Jim Reply:

    Not that different. The NEC needs very high acceleration so that the frequent station stops lose as little time as possible. A high power/weight ratio provides both the high sustainable speed that California needs and the high acceleration that the NEC needs. I’ve said in the past, and Alon has, too, that if such a thing as a high floor, wide body Talgo 380 actually existed, it would be ideal for the NEC. It might never reach its top speed, but the stop at Wilmington would waste fewest minutes. Just looking at top speed is probably misleading.

    Yes, the NEC requires high cant deficiency/tilting, but it’s not clear to me that a blended California system wouldn’t benefit from that, too.

    Surely no one wants high noise.

    Clem Reply:

    You can’t easily build a train that both tilts a lot (not just the minute suspension adjustment practiced in Japan) AND has full cladding of the wheels and running gear to smooth air flow for low noise. There are no examples of 350 km/h tilting trains anywhere in the world.

    But I’m sure we can do it better here in the U.S.A., since we clearly have the know-how and inexhaustible streams of taxpayer funding.

    This promises to be a true F-35 of the rails.

    Jerry Reply:

    Gawd Clem, that’s a Mad Onion Magazine headline if there ever was one.
    “CAHSR adopts F-35 as its engine for HSR train sets in CA.”

    Clem Reply:

    As you may know, The F-35 is very capable but it is many years late, many billions over budget, and promises to be a nightmare to operate and maintain. I have no doubt that we can build the world’s most sophisticated and capable high speed train just like we can build the F-35. Amtrak and CHSRA are structurally incapable of demanding any less.

    VBobier Reply:

    Considering the F35 is not Government designed, I’d trust the CHSRA and Amtrak more than some defense contractor who likes to up the cost simply to squeeze the tax payers of every last dime that can be had…

    Peter Reply:

    @ VBobier

    You do realize you just described PB’s activities for CHSRA to a T, right?

    VBobier Reply:

    @ Peter: Did you ever think that PB doesn’t do designs all on their own that they might also suggest better ideas? Defense contractors design the whole enchilada from scratch and raise the price to suit their greed, so their is a difference…

    Richard Mluynarik Reply:

    “You do realize you just described PB’s activities for CHSRA to a T, right?”

    VBobier Reply:

    @ Richard, You do know You’re sounding like You’re willing to paint everyone with a broad paint brush? I do not see anything wrong with PB or Amtrak or the CHSRA, Government is good, Defense Contractors are different as their given the green light to do whatever they see fit with no oversight while underbidding, hence insanely high costs due to cost overruns, Boeing and such can make a fighter, yet companies in Europe or even in Russia can do so for less, We out spend everyone on Earth combined on our Military, the Military needs an audit… At least CA state Government has oversight for costs and will build/design what’s needed by Professionals and not by Amateurs like You or Me, for somethings one does not need more than relevant expertise, as rail and row are rail and row, for what one does not know one employs a consultant to fill in the missing knowledge, it’s not like all aspects of HSR are a deep dark subject known only to those who have built HSR, most of what goes into HSR is pretty much just conventional construction techniques that are tried and true.

    Clem Reply:

    You do realize that you just described PB’s activities for CHSRA to a T, right?

    VBobier Reply:

    @ Clem: Drop dead, PB is ok, they don’t own the design, don’t like it? Too bad, so sad…

    Peter Reply:

    What part of PB’s design was not completely designed completely by PB? The only input the Authority has is to give PB the occasional instruction as make the design slightly less expensive or to give them general directions as to routing. Make no mistake, this is a PB job, through and through.

    VBobier Reply:

    @ Peter and other Nimbys, if It wasn’t PB, You’d go after whoever was in PB’s place, so I don’t buy it, nor will I ever, what they are doing is not criminal in any way shape or form, so go away… As this is a losing battle on Your part.

    Clem Reply:

    Your blind faith in PB would be endearing if it weren’t so horribly misplaced…

    synonymouse Reply:

    “if It wasn’t PB, You’d go after whoever was in PB’s place”

    You are missing the point. All indications are, as in a long track record, that PB does differ importantly from other consultants. PB is so politicized, so intimately connected downtown, that it is practically a government agency. PB and BART, for instance, are like siamese twins.

    PB lays down on the job of pulling for the best interests of the citizenry(ingloriously in going along with an inferior and extortionate mountain crossing route). They fired the only guy who had a clue and standards. What replacement could be any worse?

    joe Reply:

    VBobier is right. You can replace PB with another company and it would not stop the complaining.

    Thankfully there is an outlet for these complaints.

    The GOA’s investigation into HSR is not a criminal investigation – the bar is pretty low – The GAO is reviewing for best practices including management. All of PBs work, including CAHSRA management, is under review and ANYONE can submit information. ANYONE & ANONYMOUSLY.

    The report is due in Feb. 1213.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Richard, Clem, you do realize PB doesn’t work on cost-plus contracts, and so it’s totally different from defense contractors, don’t you?

    Oh right. You don’t pay attention to such things. Well, you should; they matter.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Peter: the routing was quite blatantly picked by a political committee, not by PB.

    Honestly, Peter, Clem, Richard, stop discrediting yourselves. PB is a perfectly typical contractor just like Aruip is. They are particularly well connected in San Francisco, which is why it’s good that the CHSRA is now being run by LA politicians.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is PB’s responsibility to communicate to the politicians and the public just how poor and expensive is the CHSRA’s blatant political routing, and which they of all parties know to be the case. Their professional responsibility is to the voters, not to Moonbeam, or Villa or Antonovich, and it is to represent truthfully. They have been systematically machinating, covering up, distorting. They are as wretched a bunch as the pols who have been cutting their checks.

    There is only one “outlet for these complaints” and that is to vote no on pretty much everything those crooks put on the ballot.

    Peter Reply:

    @ Nathanael

    Give me one example (other than the retention of the Gilroy Trench, which was Kopp’s “reward” for Gilroy playing ball with the Authority) where the Board failed to adopt the “staff” (aka PB) recommendation regarding routing.

    And yes, I’m certain that any other contractor would be acting the same way that PB does. In this case, however, we are dealing with PB.

    @ synonymouse

    You obviously do not understand the role of contractors. Their professional responsibility is to the organization that hired them. Their role is to design a railroad, and they’ve essentially been given free hand to do so.

    Politicians, on the other hand, have a responsibility to the voters, not contractors.

    joe Reply:

    The Alignment in Gilroy is TBD.

    The city, rather than procrastinating or suing, saw the project was likely to go forward and decided to study alignments and give a non-binding recommendation, a trenched downtown alignment.

    Peter Reply:

    Yes, and the staff had recommended withdrawing the trench option due to feasibility and cost, and Kopp said the trench should be retained for the reason I said.

    Joe Reply:

    Certainly PB isn’t operating unilaterally. Yes, I hope cooperating has its rewards. Certainly Menlo Park’s denialism works against planning and offering suggestions and “socializing” these expectations.

    If a trench was a reward, then a reward for what pro-HSR action when that decision/reward was made? Seems like the timeline is off.

    The grant to do the study and the jointly funded envisioning study happened more recently, the City’s position on HSR (the vote to give recommendations) was well after the alignments.

    It probably avoided a fight: FYI: The City Council noted in the debate that building a “greenfield” station would make Gilroy only the second one along the whole system – Kings Co is the other. That “low-cost” alignment runs counter to our local intentions to preserve farmland and open-space in that area. It’s also higher cost option to Gilroy (at this time) since all needed infrastructure to/from the station including roads has to be paid by the City.

    To-date it a trench is an unfunded recommendation without details. We expect more details on the costing and impacts now that we set priorities. CAHSR has information on what we desire and expect and our assumptions underlying these preferences.

    Peter Reply:

    Joe, this was so long ago I do not remember what Gilroy’s action was. If I recall correctly, it was for support from the Mayor. I do, however, distinctly remember Kopp motioning that the trench not be withdrawn (as would have been if the staff recommendation had been adopted in its entirety), and that, in Kopp’s own words, this was a reward for the action by Gilroy.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Joe, stop with the GAO obsession. Or, if you want to continue, don’t use language like “They review best practices.” In fact the things they’ve written about Amtrak and railroads in general before place them firmly in the same category as the engineers who’ve never visited a modern train station and think curved turnouts lead to the gates of hell.

    Joe Reply:

    Joe, stop with the GAO obsession. Or, if you want to continue, don’t use language like “They review best practices.” In fact the things they’ve written about Amtrak and railroads in general before place them firmly in the same category as the engineers who’ve never visited a modern train station and think curved turnouts lead to the gates of hell.

    No Alon. The GAO is a reasonable suggestion for our hypercritical experts that have all the obvious answers only if someone in power were listening.

    GAO does analysis for the US Gov’t on bequest of Congress. It has expertise for analysis and identifying best practices in program and project management. The GAO actually has a set of defined best management practices against which they review the CAHSRA.

    Fraud and criminal and bad practices are domain independent – you critics are complaining about factors of cost overruns and horrible management.

    Now the GAO, like most everyone else, is supposed to be too stupid to get-it.

    Apparently you haven’t sent in one comment or complaint. Too bad.

    “Edmund Burke said all that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing. Do not allow evil to triumph. Do not do sit by and do nothing.”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Repeating “the GAO has expertise for identifying best practices” when it promulgates the “only 2 HSR lines worldwide are profitable” canard doesn’t make it so.

    joe Reply:

    U R 2 obsessed with trains.

    Next: George Lucas doesn’t know shit about star wars.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “Politicians, on the other hand, have a responsibility to the voters, not contractors.”

    Certainly true. And as far as I can tell, the LA, Merced, Fresno, Gilroy, and San Jose politicians have been pretty good about trying to do right by their voters. Atherton, Palo Alto, Bakersfield, Kings County and Hanford politicos are another matter, and seem to have succumbed to “trains will sour the milk” hysteria.

    San Francsico has a peculiarly defective political culture (see the multi-part series by Joe Eskenazi) and its politicians know that the voters don’t care about effectiveness. Hence atrocious misdesign like the Transbay Terminal, which is such a bad piece of design that I fully expect it to be avoided by both buses and trains.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Now that you mention it, the GAO’s quality of work reminds me a bit of The Phantom Menace.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The E5/6 has the same cant deficiency as the Acela.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Oh, and so does the Talgo 350; RENFE’s spec documents say it’s capable of lateral acceleration of 1.2 m/s^2, which is about 180 mm of cant deficiency. I’m not 100% sure about the higher-powered AVRIL, though.

    Joey Reply:

    That’s because the FRA’s strict rules and the Acela’s poor design lead to a terrible cant deficiency relative to the amount that the Acela actually tilts.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    True. That said, even the original, pre-FRA meddling specs called for 9″ of cant deficiency. On passenger-primary track, the difference between 9″ and 7″ is small; the New Haven Line is canted at 5″, and I think the Shore Line farther east might be even 6″. With such cant, the difference in cant deficiency translates to an 8% speed difference.

    Richard Mluynarik Reply:

    Nothing like “encourag[ing] the “necessary” funding to be given to the project to purchase the trains” 25+ years before the trains could be used.

    And nothing like having the twin brain trusts of PBQD and Amtrak on the job. The stupid. It hurts.

    Nothing like having Amtrak’s NEC historical setup dictate California HSR’s (ideally) blank-sheet infrastructure, rolling stock, maintenance and operations.

    Nothing like having America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals sucking down your tax dollars by the hundreds of billions.

    synonymouse Reply:

    PB has sought the precise contrary of “blank-sheet infrastructure, rolling stock, maintenance and operations.” in its slavish traipsing after the hoary UP along 99 and over the Tehachspis. BART was much more tabula rasa, even if that meant occasionally ill-conceived as in Indian broad gauge.

    The “C” in CHSRA stands for counterrevolutionary. Or the “r” in hsr for reactionary.

    That’s why I touted maglev in the face of all this Jerry-built mediocrity. At least there would be a chance to break out of the PB box.

    Altamont, I-5, Tejon. quick, cheap, express, very fast, competitive. 21st century breakthru.

    synonymouse Reply:


    Clem Reply:

    Altamont, I-5, Tejon. quick, cheap, express, very fast, competitive. 21st century punchthru

    tweet of the week.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Clem, I still cannot comprehend the degree of opposition at Tejon-Santa Clarita. I mean if they were thinking genuine wilderness, then I could see whey they would be upset. But you have already got the freeway, path 15 and the aqueduct in the general corridor plus apparently the Tejon Co. is pimping shopping centers and the like. And a casino.

    But if they are a paper tiger who’s really against it? Bako will get hsr service in all scenarios and Palmdale its quasi-BART too. I mean $5bil in savings, or more, is a lot to not have to relocate a golf course. This does not compute.

    Nathanael Reply:

    City & County of LA want Palmdale service (yes, for development). The state of Nevada and “XPressWest” want Palmdale service (obviously, for the Vegas connection). Palmdale and Lancaster want Palmdale service (uh, this should be obivous). The State of California has an interest in buttering up both the state of Nevada and the LA politicos.

    There is no political lobby which cares enough about the 5 minutes delay to change that picture.

    In fact, the report comparing Tejon to Tehachapi *explains this outright* by listing the political interests which prefer Palmdale.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s only 5 minutes if you sandbag Tejon to swerve around Tejon Ranch. Otherwise, it’s 10 minutes.

    And yeah, it’s a question of diffuse vs. concentrated interests. Same reason why the US subsidizes oil and farmers, doesn’t crack down on air pollution and carbon emissions, and has public works programs that are more about the jobs than the infrastructure. Development in Palmdale is net bad for pretty much everyone except the speculators and some LA County boosters who can’t think beyond their own pride of being a bigger county.

    Nathanael Reply:

    In any case, my point is that the only way to change this is to create a large *political* lobby, involving multiple local governments, which is advocating for a Tejon (straight under Tejon Ranch) alignment. Ranting about PB is stupid, as PB has absolutely nothing to do with this choice.

    The natural advocates for the direct Tejon Ranch route would be Bakersfield (which benefits most from the direct alignment) and points north (less and less as you go further north, because the percentage benefit gets smaller and smaller — the difference between 2 hrs. 40 min and 2 hrs. 50 min is not significant to most people).

    Unfortunately, the Kings County government is full of idiot NIMBYs, and the Bakersfield city government is being sandbagged by its dishonest city manager, so they aren’t thinking in these terms. If you want to change the political situation, you have to start there. Hanford is just as bad or worse.

    You can also try working with the local governments of Madera, Fresno, etc. — but their priorities are (a) having train stations at all, and (b) getting people to build stuff next to the stations, so they don’t care much either.

    It really doesn’t matter that much. A ten minute detour is nothing if it’s what gets the political winds aligned, and it’s necessary for the Las Vegas line in any case. You should see some of the detours which the UK has been stuck with for 100 years because the local Lord in the 1840s didn’t like railroads so his land had to be avoided. It hasn’t done much harm. If the system is successful and the speed is an issue then people will clamor for the Tejon bypass; if the speed isn’t an issue then they won’t.

    The important thing is to get a state-owned rail line running passenger service between major cities at reasonable speeds. That means something has to go between Bakersfield and LA. Whatever political alignment is required for that is acceptable.

    Andrew Reply:

    Or instead: Paicines corridor, I-5, Tejon (LA-SJ in 322 miles, 1:40):,-120.377197&spn=4.392662,7.075195

  9. BeWise
    Jan 12th, 2013 at 09:16

    “It will encourage the necessary funding to be given to the project to purchase the trains, and it seems plausible to me that if Amtrak takes the first 32 trains, by the time train 33 is finished, CAHSRA will be ready to start using it.”

    Don’t forget what happened to Wisconsin. Even though they purchased the trainsets, it didn’t guarantee that they’d actually be used.

    BeWise Reply:

    That was meant as a reply to JFH.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Well, when you elect a criminal (Walker) as Governor, you do get some nasty results. (The “John Doe” investigation and the federal criminal investigation have now finished all announced prosecutions, and have gotten up to the level of Walker’s direct aides. They delayed sentencing on the last one for over a year until they were sure they had her cooperation. Cooperation on what, you ask?… well, there’s only one Person of Interest left, and it’s Scott Walker. Expect the indictments to come down this year.)

  10. Keith Saggers
    Jan 12th, 2013 at 09:52

    Monthly Meeting Agenda CHSRA

    January 23, 2013

    Sacramento City Hall

    915 I Street

    Sacramento, CA 95814

    10:00 AM

    2. Informational Update on the Supplemental Alternatives Analysis for the Central Valley Wye

    Staff will provide a presentation on the Authority’s approach for advancing the identification of a preferred east-west Wye alternative in the vicinity of Chowchilla in Madera County.

    3. Proposal to Award the Project and Construction Management Contract

    Staff will request that the Board award a contract for project and construction management support for Construction Package 1.

    4. Proposal to Authorize the CEO to Release Requests for Qualification (RFQ) for Construction Package 2, Construction Package 3, and Construction Package

    Staff will request authorization to release the RFQs for Construction Packages 2, 3, and 4 separately or in combination at the discretion of the CEO.

    5. CEO Delegation of Authority Amendment

    Staff will propose an amendment to the CEO authority delegation for certain environmental decisions.

    6. Closed Session Pertaining to Litigation

    The Authority will meet in closed session pursuant to Government Code section 11126(e)(2)(A)to confer with counsel with regard to the following litigation:
    •John Tos; Aaron Fukuda and County of Kings v. California High Speed Rail Authority, Sacramento Superior Court Case No. 34-2001-00113919
    •City of Chowchilla v. California High-Speed Rail Authority, Sacramento Superior Court No. 34-2012-80001166
    •County of Madera v. California High-Speed Rail Authority, Sacramento Superior Court No. 34-2012-80001165
    •Timeless Investments, Inc. v. California, Sacramento Superior Court No. 34-2012-80001168
    •Town of Atherton v. California High-Speed Rail Authority, Sacramento Superior Court No. 34-2008-80000022
    •Town of Atherton v. California High-Speed Rail Authority, Sacramento Superior Court No. 34-2010-80000679
    •Town of Atherton v. California High-Speed Rail Authority, Court of Appeal, Third Appellate District, Case No. C070877

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Does this show that PAMPA has lost its PAMP

    Peter Reply:


    Keith Saggers Reply:

    I meant are Menlo Park and Palo Alto no longer involved in lawsuits against CHSRA

    Peter Reply:

    They don’t list all parties. On court documents it’s listed as “Town of Atherton et al.”

    Clem Reply:

    You should pull up these documents and have a read. It’s really easy!

    Sacramento Superior Court
    Court of Appeal, 3rd Appellate District

    Who knows, you might even learn something!

  11. Keith Saggers
    Jan 12th, 2013 at 14:41


  12. D. P. Lubic
    Jan 12th, 2013 at 20:17

    Off topic but perhaps of interest–the current issue of Car and Driver has a “Top Five” listing, which this month is a top five list of “threats to the C/D way of life.” These “threats” include the insurance industry (seen as strangling the interest of younger drivers. . .hmm), a 1982 Toyota Camry (demonstrated how reliable and comfortable cars could become, and in the process made them bland), Apple Computer (too many electronic gizmos in cars, apparently inspired by Apple products–an assessment I have to agree with), and light rail (the transportation of the future and one that, like monorails, will always be the transportation of the future). The little column mentions a light rail line in Los Angeles that is supposedly carrying only 13,000 people per day, base on some report from Reason. If that’s the report I’m thinking of, it was for the opening operation of a line that wasn’t even completed yet–which makes me wonder how that line is doing now. Not included–the inability to use other gizmos and drive at the same time, plus the boring chore that driving has become with too much traffic and too many other idiot drivers.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    As of November 2012, Expo Line was was averaging daily boardings of 22,000 weekday, 13,500 weekend

    Nathanael Reply:

    And only half of it is open. Phase II is under construction.

    Andy M Reply:

    In other words, the future is way too scary. Electronic devices? Efficient transportation? Let’s have nothing to do with all that and try and turn the clocks back.

  13. synonymouse
    Jan 14th, 2013 at 09:12

    “Tripousis told a packed auditorium that a 2-hour-and-45-minute-trip from San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal to Los Angeles’ Union Station could be a reality by 2029, but that a host of political, financial and logistical obstacles must be hurdled before high-speed trains reach the Bay Area.”

    Two hours and 45 minutes cannot be achieved without Tejon. And even that is sketchy. With 160mph top speed and the extra delays of the value-engineered DeTour no way with RoundaboutRail.

    Quelle farce.

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