Caltrain and CHSRA Work on New Blended System MOU

Feb 6th, 2013 | Posted by

With last year’s adoption of the two-track “blended system” for combining Caltrain and high speed rail operations in the near term, two older agreements between Caltrain and the California High Speed Rail Authority were rendered obsolete. So Caltrain and the CHSRA are working on a new agreement that codifies the “blended system” plan:

The current MOU, adopted in 2004, and a 2009 agreement the two parties operate under envision a four-track, grade-separated system often called the “full build-out” that would have caused excessive property takings on the Peninsula as an aerial viaduct was proposed to be constructed.

The new MOU will focus solely on the “blended system” idea first put forward by Assemblyman Rich Gordon, D-Menlo Park, and former Palo Alto state Sen. Joe Simitian almost two years ago.

Although the blended system is expected to have minimal impacts on the Peninsula, about nine miles of passing tracks will have to be constructed somewhere along the corridor between San Francisco and San Jose to allow high-speed trains to pass Caltrain trains. The corridor is expected to be electrified by 2019 but high-speed trains will not access the tracks for many more years after that.

I think we all know that the article’s claim that the four-track system “would have caused excessive property takings” is complete nonsense without a shred of evidence to back it up. The existing right-of-way is largely sufficient to handle two more tracks, and minimal property acquisition would be required to add them. But those claims were used by anti-rail forces on the Peninsula to rally local governments to attack the high speed rail project in what was the Peninsula’s own version of the Tea Party movement. Last year, the CHSRA simply decided to punt and, realizing that the project was going to be built in phases anyway, decided to accept a “blended system” of sharing two tracks with Caltrain, at least initially.

But that move is not intended to permanently foreclose the idea of adding more tracks. In the proposed new MOU it’s clear that nothing prevents two more tracks from being built, although neither does the MOU suggest anywhere that two more tracks are planned. The document is silent on the matter.

The “blended system” has its share of skeptics who aren’t quite sure how Caltrain and high speed trains can share the two tracks alone, especially as passenger rail ridership soars. It seems like a recipe for congestion, but as the HSR system is being built out, it also seems reasonable to share tracks for a time until funding can be found to begin construction on the other two tracks.

As long as future expansion of the rail corridor is not explicitly ruled out, it’s something that HSR advocates can live with. There’s no reason why the future of passenger rail in California should be permanently restricted just because a few NIMBYs threw a fit in the early ’10s.

  1. Jerry
    Feb 6th, 2013 at 22:47
    #1

    My hope is that the entire SF to SJ ROW will be PLANNED on the basis of 4 tracks all the way. Even if 4 tracks are not initially built, the plans will be ready.
    The new CalTrain San Bruno station was planned for 4 tracks, but only being presently built for 2 tracks.

    Emma Reply:

    I hope so too. Urban areas should definitely be 4 tracks while long distance, rural tracks should be 2-3. 1 is a crime.

    I took the Coast Starlight from San Jose to LA then Pacific Surfliner from LA to San Diego. Coast Starlight felt like a ride in a carriage. The speeds were off the chain ridiculously slow. Heck, light rail is faster! But the view from the Lounge car made it less of a pain. This was my first experience with American railways and I’ve gotta say the stations ain’t too shabby. Very functional, kinda remind me of European stations back in the 90s.

    LA has a pretty decent station, it was quite busy around 9pm. The Pacific Surfliner was FAR more comfortable than Coast “Cattle Express” Starlight. From Nothern LA to OC, the train was blazing. I’ve never seen such speeds on a train in the US! I was impressed. San Diego County was ridiculously slow.

    But all of them had one thing in common: I would say there’s no hope for 99% of the Amtrak stations between SJ and SD regarding HSR compatibility except a completely new station above grade. I haven’t seen SF-SJ, but if it’s anywhere like the rest, it’s going to be a bottleneck that we will feel.

    StevieB Reply:

    Plans have a limited shelf life so are best made immediately prior to construction.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Yes, and CalTrain needs electrification and upgrades ASAP.

    By the time the Pacheco Tunnel is funded/built/operating, PAMPA demographics will have changed and HSR service will be running in SoCal. It will be much easier to steamroll the NIMBYs in the future.

    synonymouse Reply:

    PAMPA demographics are strongly trending towards more affluent and exclusive. Favoring a permanent 2-track tunnel solution, quite possibly Ring-the-Bay.

    Meantime Tejon demographics will be trending downwards, in keeping with the general decline of outer-ring suburbs. A bunch of casinos and strip malls should set the tone.

    VBobier Reply:

    A permanent 2-track tunnel solution might not be workable, if 4 tracks are needed, too bad, so sad…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Mais non

    PAMPA: 1 Cheerleaders: 0

    neener! neener! neener!

    Team Tejon: 1 Technicals: 0

    neener! neener! neener!

    “Money doen’t talk. It swears.”

    -B. Zimmerman

    VBobier Reply:

    Face it Syno, You’ll never get what You want, Tejon is very dead. You can take that to the bank.

    synonymouse Reply:

    as dead as 4 tracks in PAMPA. Hell, if they go Ring the Bay adio hsr entirely.

    synonymouse Reply:

    try adios

    VBobier Reply:

    4 tracks is only as dead as You are Syno and You don’t look too dead….

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Jerry,

    You own stock in construction companies and engineering consultants?

    Four tracks all the way! To Crescent City! And beyond!

    Jerry Reply:

    Richard – No, no, and no. The idea was to PLAN for a 4 track width ROW. Put in only the necessary tracks as necessary. But allow for future growth. (ROW issues alone could be a separate blog.)

    Jerry Reply:

    I believe it was you or Clem that pointed out the problems with the San Bruno curve. The planning for the San Bruno project should have included eliminating that curve.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Jerry: don’t forget to give away parts of the ROW, anytime anyone asks. (See: Millbrae BART)

    William Reply:

    …If every train was to stop at Milbrae, there is nothing wrong with a two-track station…

    The ‘new’ Millbrae Station will be 10 years old this coming June, time to blow it up and start from scratch?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If blowing it up and rebuilding it costs a lot less than not blowing it up, yes it’s time to start from scratch.

    Jerry Reply:

    San Bruno project update.
    CalTrain has announced that the completion date has been moved 1 1/2 years from the summer of last year (2012) to the end of this year (2013). And the cost has increased 18% from $77 million to $91 million.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals on the job.

    Death is too kind a fate.

    Reality Check Reply:

    San Bruno grade separation obstacles lead to price increase for Caltrain project

    The project was originally scheduled to be finished by last summer, but Caltrain is now revising the completion date to the end of this year. Today, the agency also will ask its board of directors to approve a change-order contract to increase the construction costs of the plan from $77 million to $91 million.

    Caltrain spokeswoman Christine Dunn attributed the increased price tag to a number of unforeseen obstacles.

    Heavy rains during the beginning of construction delayed some excavation plans, and underground utilities were difficult to locate. Further, soil samplings near the railway were much more contaminated than anticipated, increasing cleanup costs, Dunn said. Crews also had to build a makeshift bridge over a vent structure on top of a nearby BART tunnel, Dunn said.

    The agency has the money to pay for the $14 million increase through funds set aside in its contingency budget, Dunn said. The overall cost of the project — which includes administrative work, design plans and the contingency element — is expected to rise from the $147 million originally budgeted, although the increase is not likely to be as significant as the boost in construction costs, Dunn said.

  2. Donk
    Feb 6th, 2013 at 23:08
    #2

    Hopefully this doesn’t keep them from building the beautiful signature six track 80 story tall viaduct into and out of San Jose Intergalactic

  3. Roger Christensen
    Feb 6th, 2013 at 23:15
    #3

    So at the Feb. 14 Board Meeting it looks like we do not get the anticipated route decision on Fresno to Bakersfield. But we get discussion on the Caltrain MOU and a special bonus: the Draft State Rail Plan.
    Fun!

    Donk Reply:

    Thanks for the update. Your limited posts probably have the most substance out of anyone’s around here.

  4. jimsf
    Feb 7th, 2013 at 08:40
    #4

    spekaing of blending. Metrolink is extending a line from riverside south to perris and eventually temecula/murieta. This is the same route the hsr lax-ie-san phase 2 will take. Wouldn’t it be prudent to make sure that what metrolink builds is built with future hsr specs in mind?

    Joey Reply:

    It’s a shame that Metrolink, like many other US transit agencies, is focused on outward extensions into low-density areas when the core system, where most of the ridership potential exists, is in serious need of service improvements.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The purpose of these extensions is to enable sprawl, pandering to developers. Likewise for the Palmdale deviation. Erstwhile “greens” such as Brown have gone over to the dark side. There is general tacit accord between the two parties endorsing unlimited population growth and urbanization.

    Eric Reply:

    Service will be so infrequent that it won’t do much to enable sprawl.

    Matthew B. Reply:

    That part of Riverside county has no problem building sprawl with or without Metrolink. All they have to do is widen *literally every freeway* in the area: http://rctc.org/projects

    Metrolink is actually the good guy, comparatively speaking, in this project. I’d rather have communities build up around train stations than freeway exits if they’re going to be built there anyway.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Metrolink has been increasing service as well, especially in OC, and will be extending 3 OC line trains to San Diego (though that seems to be perpetually set to “next year”)

    Joey Reply:

    San Diego? What definition of “core system” are you using?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    @ Joey: Spot on. Metrolink is 5 counties, not a unified system. If Riverside has some money to spend they will spend it in Riverside however dumb the project. The core, LAUS, and bottlenecks such as I-10, will only be fixed by LA County or state or federal money. The Perris line will be w wonderful thing. I hope both riders enjoy the trip.

    jimsf Reply:

    missing the point of the post though.

    If they are building and uupgrading along the future hsr la-ie-san route then they should be doing some compatability planning. If nothing else it means that the so called “wasteful spending” for an allegedly useless commuter line won’t go to waste end the end as it really winds up being a head start on hsr.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I know what you were getting at. Worst case it preserves the RoW even if it doesn’t provide useful transportation. A bit like the ICS.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not just the US. Greater Vancouver, which generally runs transit well, is focusing on extending SkyTrain outward to a trio of suburbs that threw a hissy fit, while figuring out ways to cheap out on a proposed extension within the city replacing the city’s (and North America’s) busiest bus corridor.

    Eric Reply:

    I thought Manhattan 2nd Ave was the busiest.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I thought it was the Lincoln Tunnel eXclusive Bus Lane.

    http://www.panynj.gov/bridges-tunnels/lincoln-tunnel-xbl.html

    Joseph E Reply:

    That’s not really a “corridor”, more of a short trunk and terminal for many routes. The Broadway corridor is just about the busiest long, linear bus route north of Mexico.
    Wilshire in Los Angeles and Geary in SF are also pretty busy, and are being considered for transit improvements.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The M15 (1st + 2nd Avenues) is about on a par with the 99-B (express buses on Broadway in Vancouver) alone, but there’s also a local overlay in Vancouver, the 9, which is a very busy route itself.

  5. synonymouse
    Feb 7th, 2013 at 13:34
    #5

    Over the DeTour the service might be reduced to infrequent due to losses(maybe single-tracked?)but to Palmdale Villa and Antonovich and successors would certainly want commute llevel service.

    A few extraneous observations gleaned from watching too much TV, some French and some local.

    Apparently in some outer-ring suburbs of Paris the shopping areas are totally shuttered and stores abandoned due to high crime and the residents have to resort to “city-centers”. From the visuals these suburbs have a lot of medium-rise apartments, around 4 stories or more. It would seem the older areas are now more valuable than the newer developments.

    Close to Marseille some “rappers” or banger types managed to stop a TGV, which looked to be operating on an aerial. They used railroad type flares to pull off their stunt. fascinating

    Lastly there is a quite good documentary on Silicon Valley doing the rounds on PBS, mostly about Shockley and the traitorous 8, Noyce and Fairchild Semiconductor, and then Intel with Gordon Moore and Andy Grove added on. Lots of info I did not know of local interest and most importantly it emphasizes a new management philosophy advocated particularly by Noyce that was more egalitarian and encouraged lesser lites, ordinary employees not in the inner sanctum to contribute ostensibly without fear of ridicule or retaliation. The exact opposite of the military-like hierarchy at the giants. I think IBM was the pillar of conformity and rigidity they had in mind.

    But if there ever were a contemporary example of top-down diktat and NIH elevated to dogma it would be Bechtel-cum-PB. I wonder if Van Ark had an inkling of what he was getting into.

  6. jimsf
    Feb 7th, 2013 at 15:52
    #6

    O/T but the state transportation plan is rather interesting. Expecially this part on rural areas and their importance/need for good transportation.

    Peter Reply:

    Quick fix for rural road safety: Close loopholes allowing inexperienced/unlicensed drivers to drive big rigs for ag. That would reduce likelihood of accidents like the one with the big rig t-boning the San Joaquins.

    jimsf Reply:

    I think you’re missing the point. Its not just ag, but rural parts of the state include the far farflung tourism and lumber areas in the north northwest and northeast. ( I never think of the central valley as rural, its too well connected and tied to the pop centers) – but there are a zillion square miles of “other california that I am familiar with and those places are
    fantastic and they need good access.

    We aren’t building rail to replace road and air travel, but to give people a third option, for statewide mobility.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The people who want to go to or from Eureka have an excellent highway system to get them places.

    Nathanael Reply:

    And it’s uncrowded!

    Donk Reply:

    Jim, I miss your rants about farmers.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Peter, don’t worry. The NTSB is proposing armor plating for the sides of passenger cars resulting from their study of the Miriam, NV grade crossing collision. Also I hear that GE is pushing their 110mph freight based fuel guzzling loco as the “standard” as opposed to lighter weight 125mph diesels from the likes of Siemens. 21st century progress all around.

    William Reply:

    @Paul Dyson,
    I don’t know if you are talking about the California Zephyr Accident happened on 6/24/2011 at Lovelock, NV. But on that accident, I don’t think NTSB can do much beyond horizontal crash standard on rail passenger cars, short of requiring closure of every grade crossing, or requiring equally as expensive barricade style crossing guard. As long as there are grade crossings this kind of accident will bound to happen, especially on this kind of grade-crossing in the middle of nowhere, where the truck driver can easily lose the situation awareness.

    I don’t know what kind of beef you have with GE, but as you might know, GE does sell quite a number of locomotives to European countries, China, and South American countries. So you can not say GE locomotives are inferior to European companies’ product. In fact, GE locomotives have a very good reputation in reliability and durability.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I don’t say GE locos are inferior for the job for which they are designed, i.e. heavy freight, in fact they are very good. They do not have a design for a high speed passenger loco and are trying to palm off the freight loco for passenger work.
    The 6/24/11 accident is archived as at Miriam NV. It’s south of Ocala siding at about mp 318. I was there Wednesday believe it or not. Lovelock is MP 348 or thereabouts. If NTSB requires much more weight on pax cars they’ll have to redesign the braking system.

    Peter Reply:

    It’s been pointed out again recently that the NTSB is not a rulemaking body. Its purposes are investigative and advisory in nature, only. They cannot “require” anything.

    William Reply:

    @Paul Dyson
    Are you referring to MPI HSP46 that MBTA ordered? Since it uses GE engine and control systems.

    Marc Reply:

    If NTSB requires much more weight on pax cars they’ll have to redesign the braking system.

    Despite being a favorite boogieman, the NTSB is an investigatory and advisory board, they can’t require anything. They determine a probable cause and make recommendations as to how to reduce the severity and/or frequency of similar accidents in the future. It’s up to the FRA to accept, reject, or modify the recommendations, they’re the ones with the regulatory function.

    joe Reply:

    NTSB has a web site and it tells it employees (US Govt) 400 people — nationwide.
    Also

    http://www.ntsb.gov/about/history.html
    To date, the NTSB has issued over 13,000 safety recommendations to more than 2,500 recipients. Because the NTSB has no formal authority to regulate the transportation industry, our effectiveness depends on our reputation for conducting thorough, accurate, and independent investigations and for producing timely, well-considered recommendations to enhance transportation safety.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Peter, Marc, Joe: the NTSB could use its investigative powers to make recommendations about driver safety and car safety, instead of blaming the victims of car crashes. Now that the head of that outfit is about to become SecTrans, with the authority to issue regulations, expect this victim-blaming to become policy.

    joe Reply:

    ” the NTSB could use its investigative powers to make recommendations about driver safety and car safety, instead of blaming the victims of car crashes. ”

    That is an irresponsible comment. I suggest you look up the word “blame”. Maybe you can recompose the comment to be more precise.

    William’s above comment is on the mark.

    “I don’t think NTSB can do much beyond horizontal crash standard on rail passenger cars, short of requiring closure of every grade crossing, or requiring equally as expensive barricade style crossing guard. As long as there are grade crossings this kind of accident will bound to happen, especially on this kind of grade-crossing in the middle of nowhere, where the truck driver can easily lose the situation awareness.”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    On the contrary, William’s comment is another victim-blaming mentality. Instead of treating trucks with faulty brakes slamming into grade crossings as an inevitability, the NTSB could make recommendations regarding driver training, driver licensing, truck inspections, car inspections, and slowdowns for grade crossings. A truck that can’t brake for a moving train is a truck that can’t brake for a pedestrian, or for that matter another car.

    I’m using the expression “victim-blaming” correctly. You don’t need to come right out and say “It’s the victim’s fault”; all that’s required is talking more about the victim’s behavior than about the perpetrator’s. Exactly like how some people’s reaction to rape is to talk about how women dress.

    joe Reply:

    “Instead of treating trucks with faulty brakes slamming into grade crossings as an inevitability,”

    It is an inevitable event – failures happen.

    When the solution is driver training
    New driver licensing (state function)
    changing the US grade crossings
    new truck inspection
    car inspections

    I see an obsession with TRAINS!!!
    OMG WEIGHT!!! OMG Trains will weight too much!!!!

    William Reply:

    @Alon Levy
    NTSB did make other recommendation on truck brake, inspection, enforcement, and etc…:
    http://www.ble-t.org/pr/news/headline.asp?id=36318 (from BLE website)
    http://www.ntsb.gov/investigations/2011/miriam_nv.html (NTSB)

    NTSB has to treat “truck slamming into the side of a rail passenger car” as an inevitability in its report because it already happened. NTSB’s commendation is, in case this kind of accident happened again, how the rail car design can save lives. Of course FRA can come back to require barricade style crossing guard in this kind of grade crossing, where the highway speed limit is 70mph(!) at this crossing.

    Joey Reply:

    I see an obsession with TRAINS!!!
    OMG WEIGHT!!! OMG Trains will weight too much!!!!

    Train weights are being discussed because adding lateral impact strength to trains was one of the NTSB’s major recommendations.

    And trains do weight too much. If you actually look at the weights, it’s not uncommon for american trains to weight twice as much as their European and Asian counterparts (though 1.5x is probably more common). This is an obstacle both for performance (inferior acceleration), power/fuel costs (use more), and maintenance (heavier trains wear more on the tracks).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The railroad was there first; the cause of the accident was not railroad behavior. Why is a 70 mph speed limit for cars treated as sacrosanct, then? Rail speed limits are reduced due to grade crossings and signaling limits; why are road speed limits not so reduced?

    The same set of questions can be asked about licensing. The ICC was set up specifically to regulate railroads nationally; the NTSB could propose national regulations of driver licensing.

    Instead of asking “How can driver behavior and car design be changed so that cars kill fewer people?”, the NTSB asks “how can railcar design be changed so that cars kill fewer people?”. It’s ridiculous.

    William Reply:

    @Alon Levy
    I think you mis-red NTSB’s intention on its recommendations. NTSB’s recommendation is primary on how to avoid this kind of accident from happening again, and if it happened, what can be done to minimize casualties. On how to prevent this from happening again, yes, the responsibility falls almost entirely on the trucking industry and its regulators. One how to minimize causalities, however, is where we cannot avoid the question of side-impact standard, unless we can remove the car/truck from this equation altogether, i.e. grade-crossing closure, grade-separation, stronger cross-guard, etc…

    While NTSB is mum on recommending car speed-limit reduction, it recommend FHA to develop action plan for grade-crossings, which, I presume, must have included car speed-limit reduction.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Casualties can be minimized by demanding various features on cars that make it crash more gently, or by reducing the car’s speed.

    More in general, it’s perverse to try increasing transportation safety by increasing regulations on the safer modes. Even if you accept that the NTSB is trying to make each mode safe separately (and it’s not, but rather seems to accept that cars will cause massive carnage), from a systemwide perspective it’s more important to cause a mode shift from cars to anything else.

    joe Reply:

    More in general, it’s perverse to try increasing transportation safety by increasing regulations on the safer modes.

    You are Perverting safety to satisfy your arbitrary, aesthetic preferences of how problems should be fixed.

    Marc Reply:

    Sorry, Alon, NTSB has no responsibility for investigating driver or car safety. That is the function of the NHTSA.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    “Since 1967, the NTSB has investigated accidents in the aviation, highway, marine, pipeline, and railroad modes, as well as accidents related to the transportation of hazardous materials.”

    If the NTSB’s charter prohibits it from investigating how driver behavior or car design leads to highway accidents, then a) the agency should be abolished and replaced with an agency that can investigate these, and b) people involved with it should not get to head USDOT.

    joe Reply:

    Air travel is very safe. This works. I don’t see the problem with the NTSB – independent organization seems to do a damn good job for its size and charter.

    FAA is responsible for airplane safety. Not the NTSB.

    NHTSA uses large data sets to find issues with vehicles and their operation – very different than the NTSB. 50 deaths in a population of 1.4 million vehicles.

    Car accidents & investigations are State responsibilities – not Federal.

    Do we need an organization dedicated to optimize TRAINS!!!! OMG !!! Maybe. But not because train cars will weight too much if we don’t.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Car travel is very unsafe. Tens of thousands of deaths per year in the US, and federal regulators obsess about making trains marginally safer by making them less useful, and ignore any mode shift questions. If US trains become 10 times less safe, but there’s a mode shift of 10% from driving to trains, it’s a net gain for the US transportation system’s safety record.

    joe Reply:

    @Alon

    You accept the current injury and death rate and propose trades against an unacceptable baseline.

    In short – it’s a game to you.

    Not a game to me or my dead mother in law killed by a errant tire that flew off a poorly maintained car. New roof crash worthiness standards in place now could have saved her life. Not a game at all.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Right… that’s why I’m attacking the US railroad system for offering less safety than that of China, Japan, Korea, the EU, and Switzerland.

    But bad as FRA-regulated trains are, they’re still 1.5 orders of magnitude safer than cars. A policy that raises the cost of trains relative to that of driving is bad for safety, and vice versa. Walk a bit on roads that were built for cars only, on 2′ sidewalks with no barrier between you and high-speed road traffic, and tell me that making things harder for pedestrians, cyclists, and transit riders is the answer. Get out of your dangerous, polluting multi-ton hunk of metal and see what life is like from our point of view sometimes. We’re not the ones causing the accidents; the drivers are.

    joe Reply:

    “We’re not the ones causing the accidents; the drivers are.”

    Safety is about safety – your hung up on scapegoating, blame and leave TRAINS ALLLOOOOONNNNEEE!!!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If safety is about safety, why are cars even legal? Why is 1 passenger fatality per 5 billion passenger-km an unacceptable risk for trains while 1 per 250 million passenger-km an acceptable one for cars?

    I scapegoat because cars are a danger to my life, while trains aren’t, at least not when I’m riding them.

    swing hanger Reply:

    It’s been mentioned that EMD has a better product to supply the higher speed (110~125mph) loco-hauled market, with their F125. Wouldn’t call it a light locomotive though.
    http://www.emdiesels.com/emdweb/products/pdf/2-sidersENG_LTR_proof_rev5RevE.pdf

    Apparently Vossloh had a hand in the design.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s okay, it’s slightly less than double the normal axel load allowed on high speed lines.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Such axle loads are routine on heavy freight lines all over the world. There are domestically produced locos in Japan and the EU that are as heavy as American freight locos. The innovation is not using them in passenger service – they use lighter locos in Europe, and no locos at all in Japan except on a handful of night trains.

    Clem Reply:

    Euro freight locomotives weigh 90 metric tons, maximum, on 4 axles. Any exceptions are just that, exceptions, such as for Swedish ore trains.

    The garden-variety US freight locomotive weighs double that, 180 metric tons on 6 axles.

    Euro limit is 22.5 t per axle. US closer to 32 t per axle.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Alon: Nonsense. Unless you use a circular definition of “heavy freight line”, which includes only lines run just like US freight railroads. BHP in Australia comes to mind.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    There are Japanese locos in the 130-140 t range (for freight only). There are also such European locos, but I may be wrong and they could be Co-Co, reducing axle load.

    Jonathan Reply:

    The EMD series 66/77 (UK class 66) is some 126 tonnes, on six axles.
    They are used for European heavy freight.

  7. Paul Dyson
    Feb 8th, 2013 at 11:16
    #7

    My purpose in bringing these matters up (NTSB recommendations and GE non passenger locos) was to draw attention to the impact this would have on the so called blended system. In theory you could have a high speed train set and haul it over say Metrolink from the end of the HS line to LAUS to provide a single seat ride. But if FRA adopts NTSB side impact recommendation then HS train sets will have to meet that requirement or not be able to run through as above. There is still a grade crossing (North Main) just out side L.A. Union Station and there will still be some up the AV line. Do we want armor plated TGVs? Would anyone build them?
    With a combination of the GE locomotive and further reinforced passenger cars the non electrified passenger services in this country will further deteriorate in performance. 0 – 60 in 30 minutes?!?!

    synonymouse Reply:

    My guess – strictly a guess since they will probably delay the real decision until the last minute – is that it will be forced transfers between two distinct systems, FRA-AAR and HSR. The primary purpose of bringing Amtrak onboard is to attempt to federalize the operating deficit and nullify calls for privatization.

    That’s the beauty part of Tejon – a brand new line between Bako and LA via that route gets you closer in to LA before you have to transfer and would be attractively very fast. Fast enough to put up with the transfers in the interim.

    synonymouse Reply:

    One poster is suggesting BNSF would purchase “Borden to Corcoran”:

    http://www.altamontpress.com/discussion/read.php?1,82971,82993#msg-82993

  8. Caltrain Rider
    Feb 8th, 2013 at 11:45
    #8

    This may be off topic but as long as we are discussing Caltrain. For some reason, Caltrain conductors insist on queuing passengers at the 4th & King doors/gates until 10-15 minutes (sometimes 5 minutes) prior to train departure and checking everybody’s ticket.

    Is this so conductors don’t have to do anything for the rest of the trip?
    Does Caltrain understand the concept of Proof of Payment (POP)?
    Isn’t POP supposed to consist of random ticket inspections?
    If they are checking all tickets at 4th & King, then why does Caltrain need 2 or more conductors for the rest of the trip?

    Just thought I would throw this out there.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    I’d say that it’s probably taking bad habits from Amtrak over with them, but that’s never been a problem with Metrolink.

    Caltrain Rider Reply:

    Caltrain recently switched from Amtrak to TASI (Herzog) as the operator. However, many of the former Amtrak conductors remained with Caltrain.

    Maybe thet are just preparing for HSR by forcing passengers show tickets every time?
    Maybe they are getting ready for a closed/gated system?
    Maybe to increase costs?

    Reedman Reply:

    Speaking of Caltrain, it had it’s first fatality of 2013
    http://www.mercurynews.com/peninsula/ci_22553367/person-struck-killed-caltrain-tracks-palo-alto

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