Draft California Rail Plan Released

Feb 20th, 2013 | Posted by

The State of California has released its draft California State Rail Plan, an in-depth document that looks at the present and future of both passenger and freight rail. The plan is built around the following vision statement: “California has a premier, customer-focused rail system that successfully moves people and products while enhancing economic growth and quality of life.”

Specifically, the plan’s objective for passenger rail is:

California is committed to developing a world-class, sustainable passenger rail system that accomplishes the following objectives:

• Integrates high-speed, intercity, and commuter rail services into a coordinated statewide network.
• Is state-of-the-art and customer-focused.
• Provides an accessible mobility option that connects to other modes.
• Reduces highway congestion, improves air quality, reduces greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, promotes local and regional economic development, fosters livable and vibrant communities, and supports social equity.

The draft plan itself runs to 380 pages and is a gold mine of information about the current state of passenger rail in California as well as the history of intercity rail, with detailed ridership and financial data for routes like the Pacific Surfliners (known until 2000 as the San Diegans) going back to 1973. The data shows steady ridership growth over several decades, including significant jumps in the early 1980s and again in the early 1990s as new capacity was brought online, as well as the huge leaps in ridership over the last dozen or so years that most readers are more familiar with.

Looking forward, the plan takes a look at ways to integrate passenger and freight rail, addressing common bottlenecks such as tracks in the East Bay and handling future passenger rail service on freight tracks such as a Capitol Corridor extension to Salinas or Reno, a San Joaquin extension to Redding, and the X Train proposal for weekend service to Las Vegas (separate from the XpressWest plan for HSR service on dedicated tracks). The corridors with “the most pressing challenges” were identified as follows:

• Downtown Burbank to Ventura, Central Coast (SCRRA member agencies, UPRR). Modest freight train counts, high numbers of commuter trains.
• Stockton to Martinez, San Joaquin Valley (BNSF, UPRR). Northern California Unified Rail Service (NCURS) effects, modest freight train counts.
• Sacramento to Stockton (UPRR) to Bakersfield, San Joaquin Valley (BNSF). Heavier freight train traffic in a critical freight corridor, NCURS effects.
• Oakland to Sacramento to Roseville, Northern California (UPRR). Modest freight rail traffic, high Capitol Corridor train frequencies.
• Los Angeles to Downtown Burbank, Southern California (Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority). Modest freight traffic, very heavy commuter traffic.
• Los Angeles to Colton, Southern California (UPRR): High freight and passenger train counts, including commuter rail.
• Los Angeles to Riverside, Southern California (UPPR, BNSF). Substantial freight train counts in critical cross country traffic lanes matched with high commuter rail frequencies.
• Los Angeles to Irvine, Southern California (BNSF, Orange County Transportation Authority). Modest freight traffic, heavy intercity and commuter traffic.
• Oceanside to San Diego, Southern California (NCTD and San Diego Metropolitan Transit System). Heavy intercity and commuter traffic.

The plan also notes that major increases in ridership are expected on the Peninsula rail corridor between San Francisco and San José, which to me is further argument for pushing back hard against any move by Peninsula cities to prevent capacity expansion on that route.

In Chapter 8 the plan gets into precise details regarding possible investments for passenger rail service, from the Northern California Unified Rail Service proposal (aligning the passenger rail needs of multiple agencies) to high speed rail’s Initial Operating Segment to improvements for existing intercity rail corridors.

Proposed new rail service includes the long-discussed Coast Daylight (and a detailed list of track improvements is given) as well as regular service to the Coachella Valley, where new Amtrak Thruway bus service has demonstrated demand for intercity rail service. Commuter rail improvements are also discussed, including everything from Metrolink to COASTER to a long-overdue Ventura to Santa Barbara commuter rail service.

The map on page 268 of the draft plan is worth a look, though the image is too large to effectively post here. In fact, you should just set aside an evening, or a day, or a week, to read closely through the entire document.

Once you’ve read it closely, you can submit your comments on the draft plan. An online webinar will be held next Tuesday, February 26, from 11:30 a.m. – 1:00 p.m. The event password is RailPlan1.

I am still wading through the details of the plan and will have some more thoughts over the weekend. But feel free to post your impressions, whether shallow or deep, in the comments.

  1. nobody_important
    Feb 20th, 2013 at 22:04
    #1

    So regular passenger trains (including overweight diesel trains) are going to share tracks with HSR at some points, which sucks. Are freight trains going to share tracks? If so then, then it sucks 10 times more.

    VBobier Reply:

    The HSR tracks? No.

    Eric Reply:

    No. The Initial Operating Segment will host San Joaquin trains, on a faster schedule than possible on the freight tracks. HSR trains will not be operating for many years, probably not until they can link SF and LA, and have the route electrified. At that point I’d imagine that the San Joaquin trains will either be discontinued in the valley, or returned to the UPRR tracks. but Freight trains will never be using HSR tracks.

    Joey Reply:

    Those 32 t/axel locomotives that Amtrak uses are still a matter of some concern … the usual limit for high speed lines is 17 t/axel, or 22 in a few cases.

    VBobier Reply:

    I’d think the tracks would be able to handle the 32 t/axle locomotives on the HSR tracks just fine, as I’d think the CHSRA would plan for just that, so quit being nervous.

    Joey Reply:

    At what additional cost? And how much are we going to have to spend to fix up the tracks for high speed trains after these obese locomotives have been chewing them up for years?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Amtrak and NJtransit should have good numbers on how much it costs. they run obese diesels over Class 6 track

    jimsf Reply:

    “Hey I’m not obese!”

    Emma Reply:

    Did anybody else notice how Phase 1 of CHSR (dark blue) terminates in San Jose? Did I miss something?
    http://californiastaterailplan.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/California-Intercity-High-Speed-Rail-Network-Map_January-2013.pdf

    synonymouse Reply:

    Look at that bodacious dogleg – it is practically due east. How stupid – yeah, real high speed.

    Meantime Modesto rates as #5 most miserable city in the States.

    http://www.forbes.com/pictures/mli45lmhg/5-modesto-calif/

    NYC ranks as #10, ostensibly due to having the highest tax rate in the US. But don’t fret – Jerry is working on catching up.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    NYC ranks as #10, ostensibly due to having the highest tax rate in the US.

    I thought NYC was a hellhole because of it’s high density.

    synonymouse Reply:

    High taxes in the opinion of those doing the ranking. I guess Palmdale is too podunk to even register.

  2. JJJJ
    Feb 20th, 2013 at 23:28
    #2

    Draft includes confirmation that the San Joaquin will run on both the HSR tracks when theyre done AND continue to serve the existing stops.

    However, I cant find any explanation as to HOW.

    San Joaquin = low floor trains.
    HSR stations = high floor platforms

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    HSR stations = high floor platforms

    Stupid, no?
    But a long long way from the stupidest decision made for us by our PBQD overlords.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Well, those behemoth locomotives that haul the San Joaquins will pound the hell out of the tracks, so along with replacing the trackwork once the HSR trainsets are ready to run, they can build high platforms- ka-ching!

    Ant6n Reply:

    You know, there is this awesome new invention called a change of locomotive.

    And there are some ways to deal with the sharing issues, for example waivers for slightly lighter rolling stock (see Talgo), there is rolling stock that has low floor and high floor entry, there’s the possibility of hauling EMUs with Diesel locomotives in unelectrified territory.

    swing hanger Reply:

    So buy electric locomotives (or “light weight” diesels) for just one section, and include two changes of locomotive (more delay) on a run. Ka-ching!

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Ant6n:

    For a ‘temporary’ usage of the HSR ‘test’ track by the San Joaquins, there’s little financial point to purchasing or sourcing rollingstock that needs a waiver to operate along the rest of the run. For example, even with the FRA loco and trailing cab car, the Talgos don’t have carte blanche to operate far outside their regular permitted routes.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Now you understand why the decision of CHSRA and Amtrak to go in on purchasing new rolling stock.

    Jonathan Reply:

    No, actually. What’s the connection you see? Are you assuming Amtrak can get a blanket FRA waiver?

    Peter Reply:

    Or they could simply put a little bit more ballast down, raise up the tracks for the Amtrak Superliners, then remove the ballast, replace the tracks at the station for high-platform HSR trains.

    jimsf Reply:

    simple.

    jimsf Reply:

    but would’t offer the opportunity for the know it alls to freak out.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Ballast?

    Peter Reply:

    Don’t be dense, Richard.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Don’t make construction assumptions, Peter.

    Eric M Reply:

    Peter, I think I read in a report the authority released recently, there is going to be a combination of ballast and slab track. Unfortunately, it’s not all slab track which would be whole lot less maintenance (albeit at a higher construction cost, but lower overall long run cost).

    jimsf Reply:

    its this stuff underneath heresee?

    Joey Reply:

    Never seen a bridge before?

  3. jimsf
    Feb 21st, 2013 at 08:23
    #3

    I’ll have to read the doc. but I do hope that plans for service north from the central coast to sf, involves morning arrivals in Sf and evening deps from sf. so that those of us on the central coast can get into to town for business and then get back home just as we can now take a morning train south to la and get back home in the pm.

    Same goes for coachella valley. a morning round trip and and evening roundtrip would have the benefit of seriving commuters going west in the morning and east in the evening, and tourist going east in the morning and west in the evening. One plan I read had trains getting into PSN at 7pm which is way to late, you miss half your first day of vacation!

    Same goes for a redding extenstion. There should be a 6 am dep. from redding arriving sac by 9a and one going back after the end of business day 5pm arriving redding 8p this service the yuba sutter commuters and the chico students well.

    No doubt however in all the above cases, they will ignore common sense, use staffing and equipment shortages as and excuse, and proceed with the worst possible schedules for everyone.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    There are no funds for any of these services. Both the “Coast Daylight” and the Coachella Valley train have been in past iterations of the State Rail Plan for at least a decade. Do not go to your local station until at least 2025. Send a letter to Omaha with a copy of the freight density map from page 128 and ask why it costs $500 million to accomodate one more pax train on the coast.

    jimsf Reply:

    I saw your name on a local org. something about the coast…. what is the best way to get involved with this? I do not want to join any org that is anti hsr and I did read somewhere that coastal communites wanted to deny hsr to the valley because the coast didn’t get what they wanted.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    pdyson@railpac.org
    We support HSR.
    We don’t like the priorities and a lot of other details but overall we support.

    jimsf Reply:

    ok. I support the plan as is including the priorites. ( because wishing for something else and having too many cooks in the kitchen with an opinion gets us nowhere) I know that in the long term it will work out. No one is going to get their way but we will have a statewide rail system as planned!

    jimsf Reply:

    I actually prefer that the MDR-BFD high speed segment be completed along with the electricfication of caltrain… followed by construction of pacheco allow all electric hsr service from bfd to sf to begin since bfd-pmd-lax is so far behind. I think connecting the valley to the bay is just as important as the valley to lax.

    Peter Reply:

    Most of us don’t read Amtrak code, Jim.

    Joey Reply:

    I think connecting the valley to the bay is just as important as the valley to lax.

    What you think has no bearing on the relative sizes of the metropolitan areas.

    jimsf Reply:

    and the relative sizes of the metropolitan areas are not the only thing to consider when proceeding with phases.

    jimsf Reply:

    there will be a high speed section from madera to bakersfield and an electrified caltrain row, long before there will be a bakersfield to los angeles upgraded electric row. So it actually makes sense to connect madera to san jose and start running electric revenue service from sf to bfd while socal is working on what to do with palmdale sylmar la.

    Caltrain has an electrification plan underway, socal is way behind on what to do with lax to palmdale.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Aren’t the costs of Madera-SJ and Bako-Sylmar basically even?

    jimsf Reply:

    I dont know about the costs. Im thinking that madera san jose get the train to the newly electric cal train row so you can have a single seat electric train ride from sf to bakersfield sooner that you are going to get a single seat electrified ride from madera to union station.

    going to palmdale and stopping is useless compared to going to sf directly via the new electric caltrain row.

    jimsf Reply:

    and if im not mistaken caltrain is going to be done with upgrades and electrification long before metrolink even starts to upgrade and electrify from union station to bakersfield.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Metrolink isn’t even thinking about any electrification, but if there’s money to complete Bako-Sylmar then the cost of electrifying Sylmar-LAUS is very low compared to the cost of any HSR segment. Caltrain’s electrifying, but there’s still a ton of money to be spent on Madera-SJ – the mountain pass is expensive, and so is the southern approach to SJ.

    And I totally agree that going to Palmdale is useless. Hence, Bako-Sylmar. Bako-Palmdale is much cheaper, but not really useful for passengers.

    joe Reply:

    Southern approach to San Jose is green field – Southern San Jose is green field – lovely Coyote Valley. I can’t fathom how that is expensive.

    The only significant city is Gilroy and that’s been a favorable city for HSR project. The alignment is TBD and maybe greenfield and greenfield station in the farmland NE of the city.

    The CA Rail plan in mid term projects wants to double track Caltrain UPRow from San Jose to San Martin. ~ 5 miles N os Gilroy.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The 2012 business plan says that this segment is very expensive an that IOS-South and IOS-North are even on both costs and schedule. There are several very expensive projects involved in IOS-North, such as the iconic bridge in San Jose (on the southern rather than northern approach), the Pacheco Pass tunnel, and urban construction in southern San Jose. Gilroy is not the hard part.

    Peter Reply:

    Also note that connecting SJ to SF for HSR under the current plan requires the construction of miles and miles of viaduct. That’s not cheap. Until that’s completed (or they grow a brainstem and decide to run HSR through the existing, at-grade, Diridon station), passengers will have to transfer to Caltrain at Diridon to complete the trip to SF.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Or they most likely will chose another mode…

    joe Reply:

    Yes Pacheco has a tunnel and that’s an unknown until it’s built. Same as in the South. Right?

    We can describe the fantastical structures such as San Jose’s station and urban areas (I’m glad see see San Jose and Urban Area in the same sentence) but we’ll see those in LA too – right?

    San Jose, the South is also open space so technically getting into San Jose is a clear shot from Fresno – if we bypass Gilroy’s downtown it’s wide open.

    And if we’re blending in the South recall getting to Gilroy means getting to Caltrains ROW. There’s plans to double track the Caltrain ROW and run service Salinas-Gilroy-San Jose-Oakland and eventually electrify. Single seat to SF gets easier if they blend HSR starting at Gilroy.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Gilroy-SJ is not Caltrain’s ROW; it’s UP’s. It’s not really usable by HSR. Politically it’s easier to use Palmdale-LA, which is at least owned by Metrolink (technically it’s the reverse, since Palmdale-LA is curvy and steep and Gilroy-SJ is neither, but you need a large preexisting HSR operator to be able to tell UP what to do).

    The LA structures are not required. The run-through tracks are a separate project, and aren’t needed for the IOS anyway. The tracks are not grade-separated and host heavy commuter trains but that’s not a problem due to the short length of the legacy segment. There were never any plans for viaducts around LAUS, unlike with Diridon, except for what’s associated with run-through tracks.

    Joey Reply:

    A note: as Alon Levy said, the Gilroy-SJ ROW is UP owned and as such cannot be so much as touched (why does this keep coming up?). Palmdale-LA is not, but an agreement with UP forbids blended operations (at least with freight), so you need dedicated tracks there too, though at least the ROW can be used.

    But all other things being equal, it really makes sense to connect to LA first, just in terms of sheer ridership base.

    Joe Reply:

    Joey

    The UP row is due for expansion to 2 track in the state plan. It also services Caltrain.

    As much as Alon knows, he isn’t in charge or privy to State planning or governance.

    If San Jose construction is such an expensive burden, I think not, then an option is to use the ROW from Gilroy. No physical law prevents it.

    I think they will build to San Jose BUT if it is OMG expensive assome say then there is an option.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m relying on the rumors I’ve heard here as well as what the cost estimates in the business plans.

    Joey Reply:

    Joe: UP has explicitly forbidden high speed trains to run on their property, and has expressed no interest in selling any part of its ROW, regardless of the present or future number of tracks. How much simpler can it get?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    How much simpler can it get?

    GilroyLogic(tm) is much simpler than anybody else’s so-called “logic”.

    Choo choo!

    Fore!

    joe Reply:

    Joe: UP has explicitly forbidden high speed trains to run on their property…

    BFD. It means nothing.

    1) Fresno to within San Jose city boundaries is all undeveloped, open space. It’s just dealing with the physics of laying track. HSR can get to San Jose easily.

    2) If there is some problem building to Downtown San Jose, (or desire to start HSR sooner) the alternative is to use the Caltrain ROW. It can begin in Gilroy and the State’s rail plan supports Caltrain/UP track expansion for other passenger service through Gilroy to Salinas.

    3) UP cannot forbid anything. In fact UP is allowing HSR between Chicago and St. Louis along a single track. UP is deriving nearly a billion in ROW improvements. Caltrain’s blended plan is easily extensible to South of San Jose on the same track. It’s an option.

    Joey Reply:

    Chicago-St. Louis is not HSR. It’s enhanced speed with fully FRA-compliant trains, which are infrequent enough that freight service won’t be disrupted. This was all done with UP’s consent. HSR will be running non-compliant trains at much faster speeds – this is 100% incompatible with UP’s operations (not that you’d want to mix the two anyway).

    And I should remind you that the CHSRA has signed off on what UP said. Gilroy-SJ isn’t a particularly hard section (at least south of Blossom Hill), but it will NOT be done within the existing ROW under any circumstances. The current options are next to the existing ROW, or along 101 (which you should know).

    joe Reply:

    I don’t think blending to Gilroy will be necessary – I think it’s easy to build HSR to San Jose.

    If it were HARD then the UP ROW is there to make it easier to run trains to SF.

    As much as you defer to UP and it’s awesome corporate statements, I do not. I really don’t think much of the company’s proclamations. It’s TBD.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    HSR can get to San Jose easily.

    I think it’s easy to build HSR to San Jose.

    PBQD=CSHRA, of all people, don’t seem to be applying advanced levels of GilroyLogic(tm) to this problem.

    For some reason or other, they seem to think it will cost many billions of dollars and take decades and involve complex and costly civil engineering and funding sources that nobody has identified.

    You owe it to them to confidentially clue them in (don’t do it in public — wouldn’t want to be professionally embarrassing) during a couple rounds on the links?

    joe Reply:

    “complex” “costly” “decades” “billions of dollars”

    You can’t identify one technical problem.

    It’s a rail road.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    So is Bako-LA.

    jimsf Reply:

    Its going to come down to a combination of politics and which construction segment is ready to move forward first.
    Further, any opposition on this blog to completing pacheco before tehachapi is soley the result if altamont wishes and has nothing to do with any other reason.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Nowadays, pretty much everyone here who has a strong pro-Altamont opinion also has a strong pro-Tejon position. It’s not about that; it’s about LA’s size vs. SF’s.

    jimsf Reply:

    san jose to madera is about 125 miles with one mountain crossing (pacheco pass elev 1300ft) BFD-LAX is about 160 miles crossing the mountains twice (elev. 4000 ft)

    jimsf Reply:

    I just think you can have an electrified high speed route from bakersfield to Sf sooner, logistically, because you will have the high speed core in the valley already, and electric caltrain row with upgrades ( so a 220 and 125 capable line) sooner than you will get construction and electricification done from BFD to LA because there, you need new row with tunnels and viaducts up the mtn from BFD to PMD then you need new row with tunnels and viaducts down the mtn from palmdale to sylmar, plus the metro row up grades from sylmar to union station. Its just a lot more work to be done at that end and where caltrain has a plan and money to get started shortly on its upgrades, there is nothing for bfd-la yet. ( correct me if im wrong)

    Now you can argue that bfd to palmdale is better, but using the metrolink row from palmdale to union station, would not be electric, would probably not even be a single seat blended ride, and would take even longer than the current bus transfer from bfd to union station.

    So the choice should be – complete whichever link offers full electric hsr operation to a metro area first… and the north end will be ahead of the south end on this, plus the missing link is shorter and the mountin crossing measley.

    Joey Reply:

    Well, considering none of the (considerable) upgrades which would be required to accommodate HSR on the CalTrain ROW have actually started (or have a definite start date), I don’t think there’s much reason to think that the 50 miles that would be shared with CalTrain might happen before the 20ish miles that would be shared with Metrolink.

    jimsf Reply:

    correct – that remains to be seen. But im betting caltrain upgrades will happen first.

    joe Reply:

    @alon

    Nowadays, pretty much everyone here who has a strong pro-Altamont opinion also has a strong pro-Tejon position. It’s not about that; it’s about LA’s size vs. SF’s.

    The word for that kind of thinking is “Contrarian”.

    @joey

    I don’t think there’s much reason to think that the 50 miles that would be shared with CalTrain might happen before the 20ish miles that would be shared with Metrolink.

    Of course there’s reason – the 50 miles with Caltrain was planned, has an EIR, is funded AND it connects SF to SJ with commuter rail.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Actually the dogleg route is contrarian, following secondary alignments. The primary entrees into SF and LA are Altamont and Tejon respectively. The politicians simply aren’t interested in whether it works or not – they are not just mouthing the party line.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Seeing as how the HSRA seems to be planning on IOS-South and the business plan claims the IOS-South and -North costs are the same, I don’t think it’s contrarian to argue that LA-Fresno is more useful than Bako-SF.

    jimsf Reply:

    Alon, the point I’m making is not about which way the IOSshould go. The IOS can wind up being from the valley to bakersfield palmdale union station using the existing track from palmdale to union station, which will be slow and not electricfied. In otherwords, yes we can have a partially higher speed diesel train that runs fast down the valley and with a transfer to metrolink at palmdale – or one that is a single seat ride all the way to laus.

    Im just saying if at that time where the ICS in the valley is done, if the electrification of caltrain is underway, we could have a true electric hsr from sf to bfd sooner, because it would be way ahead and the mountian crossing is shorter and easier.

    I south IOS will not be high speed rail. Still useful yes, but its not HSR until you build new row from bakersfield to union station and electrify it. And it at least appears at this time, that that is barely on the horizon, as caltrain prepares now for its upgrade program.

    Unless suddenly the money to and plans and eir, for the new row from bakersfield to laus, races ahead of caltrains plans. see what Im saying

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah, the business plan disagrees with you on whether it’s really easier to do Madera-San Jose(-San Francisco) than to do Bakersfield(-Palmdale)-LA.

    John Bacon Reply:

    What strong continuing incentive exists for San Joaquin Valley residents to travel using CHSR service to either the Los Angeles or San Francisco Bay area? Convenient access to excellent airline service to major destinations throughout the U.S. and the rest of the world from either Los Angeles or the San Francisco Bay area airports could be one answer. Only the San Francisco Bay area end of the proposed CHSR LA to SF route comes near any major airports.
    There may be enough CHSR construction money already appropriated to construct a moderate speed CHSR single track electrified CHSR railway from Bakersfield through Fresno along already established railroad right-of-ways plus a 220 mph mostly single-track line from a point north of Fresno to Gilroy. A 150 mph peak speed CHSR extension between Gilroy and San Jose may be the highest speed residents adjacent to the CHSR right-of-way will tolerate.
    The CHSR Authority apparently expects that a HSR Pacheco Pass crossing will require over 10 miles of tunnels. The Pacheco Pass crest, 1,350 feet above MSL, is about 1,000 feet above the altitude of the surrounding planes. Using the equation S = (V^2)/(2*G) a train moving at 220 mph has enough kinetic energy to climb 1,618 feet. If traction motor power is set to only overcome air and rolling resistance a train initially running at 220 mph along the pass-approach planes will cross the Pacheco Pass crest at 136 mph. Climbing 1,000 feet on a 6 % grade will take 12.2 seconds longer with the foregoing power setting than the period required to travel the same 3.16 mile distance at a constant 220 mph enabled by a parallel constant altitude tunnel.

    joe Reply:

    Using the equation S = (V^2)/(2*G) a train moving at 220 mph has enough kinetic energy to climb 1,618 feet. If traction motor power is set to only overcome air and rolling resistance a train initially running at 220 mph along the pass-approach planes will cross the Pacheco Pass crest at 136 mph. Climbing 1,000 feet on a 6 % grade will take 12.2 seconds longer with the foregoing power setting than the period required to travel the same 3.16 mile distance at a constant 220 mph enabled by a parallel constant altitude tunnel./blockquote>
    I missed the part where High Speed Rail was single speed either 220 or 0.

    I do like your thinking however and find no compelling reason for traffic to drive 65 MPH when 55 MPH will suffice. In fact I am told 45 is about the optimum speed. We could adjust speed limits on cars too and also require cars speedometers in the US not exceed 85 MPH.

    Santa Clara is the R&D and HQ for many tech companies that could set up facilities in the CV and use HSR to get to those facilities in about an hour. If not ,then CV is an option for those that can telecommute for 2 or 3 days a week and ride the HSR system.
    http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_22631777/chip-maker-nvidia-plans-big-expansion-santa-clara

    Nvidia’s expansion signals that the Silicon Valley tech boom that has ushered in two years of dazzling job growth in Santa Clara County is far from running its course.

    “We see no slowdown in 2013,” said Justin Hedberg, a first vice president with Kidder Mathews, a real estate brokerage. “There is a lot of demand for big blocks of space. There are a lot of companies out there right now looking for large spaces.”

    Nvidia currently employs about 3,300 people in Santa Clara. The first phase of the new development could accommodate 1,000 to 2,000 additional

    synonymouse Reply:

    As I recall Clem has pointed out that the true speed limit on mountain crossings with substantial gradients is deceleration speeds and safe braking distance not the up side.

    Patronage projections for RoundaboutRail are wildly optimistic. There will have to be significant subsidy for even any residual trunk service. They will hope to shift the costs onto the Amtrak national budget.

    There seems to be the unrealistic presumption that airline competition will wither away. That is not even the case in Europe. And the Ryanairs of the future will have the advantage of cheaper unions or none over Jerry’s militant, strike-happy TWU, Amalgamated, BLE, or UTU.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Go ahead, book a flight from London to Paris on Ryanair.

    synonymouse Reply:

    No Tehachapi DeTour on the Chunnel.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    airplanes don’t go through the Chunnel

    Joey Reply:

    No, only a detour through Lille.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Syn, when you say “militant unions,” read the union response to SNCF’s new low-cost TGV service: the union claims that reducing staffing to just four conductors per train is anti-worker.

    http://www.thetransportpolitic.com/2013/02/24/in-france-a-truly-low-cost-high-speed-rail-option/

    synonymouse Reply:

    Interesting article, Alon, and angles at some points that would irritate the PB-CHSRA faithful and contrary the cheerleader party line.

    Track fees becoming “onerous”? What are the maintenance costs going to run for the DeTour with such a low utilization factor?

    Not going all the way to city center? You mean we could terminate at SFO and pass on the TBT? Blasphemy.

    And “cattle cars”? They should ride mangy BART – but don’t leave your ear plugs at home.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The maintenance costs are trivial. The track access fees come from congestion near the terminals, plus RFF profiteering on the backs of future operators not owned by the French state.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Future operators are paying RFF now? What a sweet deal for RFF.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, but RFF is raising track fees now in advance of their arrival.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Well then RFF has down something even more amazing making profits on fees that aren’t being paid.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Right now it’s just making profits on fees that SNCF is paying. for now it’s an internal transfer of money from one state-owned enterprise to another. This will soon change.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So everybody will be paying the same fees for the same well maintained road someday in the future? How awful.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Those fees are far in excess of maintenance costs, even on lines whose construction has been fully paid off (especially on those – they pay off their costs quickly by having very high fees). They were not very high until a few years ago, when SNCF was facing competition due to EU open access rules while RFF has remained protected. In 2005, the track fee schedule was set to let RFF break even and SNCF make a profit; today, it’s the opposite.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Thems the breaks when you decide to let the wonders of the free markets to be unleashed.

    joe Reply:

    Paul;

    Here’s a favorable perspective of what is clearly counter-productive rail advocacy.

    http://la.streetsblog.org/2010/02/19/lahood-talks-tigers-and-stimulus-while-boxer-pledges-support-for-30-in-10/

    The next audience member to speak was Paul Dyson, the president of the Rail Passengers Association of California and Nevada. Dyson took up for Millhouse, claiming there were many examples of crashes being caused by a pair of engineers distracting each other. Boxer asked Dyson to send along those instances, but seemed doubtful they existed.

    Having riled Boxer, Dyson turned to LaHood and questioned the $2.25 billion High Speed Rail Grant given to California. Dyson pointed to the huge cost of the project to connect Anaheim to the Bay Area, nearly $40 billion and commented that the grant was too small to be useful in construction and to high to not be wasted by bureaucrats. For the second time that day, LaHood lost his cool and fired back:

    This is the first time I’ve ever heard someone say they didn’t want $2.25 billion after working on high-speed rail for 10 years…Your argument is ridiculous. The reason that we gave that money to California is because you’ve done a good job. If you think it’s being mismanaged, come forward and tell us about it. We don’t find that to be the case.

    This is a somewhat amazing claim, as there has been plenty of criticism of the High Speed Rail Authority in California covered in such small local papers as the San Francisco Chronicle and Los Angeles Times. While LaHood dismissed Dyson with a joke about sending those complaints along with his proof that engineers can distract each other along to Boxer; he managed to get a laugh and show a disconnect with the local debate all at the same time.

    The GAO has an open investigation in HSR and HSR management. This waste and mismanagement are the topic of the investigation. I doubt LaHood will be embarrassed by the findings.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Fame at last…
    Counter productive? Time will tell. Clearly the wise ones (Boxer and LaHood) were taken aback by the comments in what was otherwise an audience of sycophants and annuity gatherers. The result of one of my comments (not reported), that 20 million people in southern CA stood to get nothing for decades, resulted in Metro and others garnering some dosh for LAUS run through tracks and other improvements for both bookends.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What did they give to run-through tracks?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    As I recall it comes to about $300 million.

    joe Reply:

    Time has spoken.

    You’ve been pushing HSR since the early 80′s and we have a HSR project and Trans Secretary behind it. But that HSR Plan is NOT right so your against the plan and tweaking some very pwoerful nses over your dissatisfaction.

    That’s is as counter produce a position as I can find for any advocate and a track record since the 80s pushing for HSR but not this HSR – we need to do it right – your way.

    It’s a teaching example. I have a case study.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    It’s not that I am against the plan, I am against the incompetent and excessively expensive execution. As with the state rail corridors, Metrolink, all of these agencies, we get very little for our money. You seem to think that we shouldn’t ask questions? That we should spend taxpayers’ money without auditors? That we should accept the total mediocrity of Metrolink and the Surfliner? That it’s OK to have three passenger rail agencies overlapping and bickering with each other and delaying each others trains? All on my and your dollar? Yes I am dissatisfied. And I’m trying to do something about it. What is your plan of action? Or are all these geese really swans?

    jimsf Reply:

    the problem is though, that these agencies didn’t just pop up out of thin air. They are a result of local people wanting transit and backing their creation. local folks want local control.

    you can’t get mad at the agencies really, you have to educate the local folks as to why they would be better off with less provincialism. And that is impossible to do.

    I mean a while back i think we counted something like 35 or 65 different transit agencies in the 9 bay area counties. The people in sonoma county aren’t going to let ac transit take over, the people in marin aren’t going to let bart take over, the people in san mateo arent going to let central contra costa transit take over. and so on.

    Joey Reply:

    Which … somehow means that we shouldn’t ever criticize any project?

    joe Reply:

    You said nothing about coordination and how DOT can help coordinate a statewide or region-wide transit system. That would be productive and highlight a problem by appealing to person in power’s authority to coordinate big picture issues. We have local optimizations – a common problem when people are answering to local issues.

    All I read is that you decided to make a dig on a project the DOT Cabinet head personally invested his time.

    Now walk into an office in Sacramento, maybe talk to a transit bureaucrat and see how that spotlight helped you get VA to coordinate transit systems.

    YESONHSR Reply:

    just like TRAC..and that “so called” rail backer now in bed with the Nimbys in PA and his one man rant in a newsletter..thye dont speak for us!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Who’s in bed with the Nimbys of Lebec?

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    So Paul Dyson goes to Washington to complain about Califonia getting grants for HSR

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    No, right here in Los Angeles. Not worth the airfare.

    joe Reply:

    Then Paul goes to Sacramento to lobby and gain support.

    Not worth the gas.

    Why lobby after pointlessly annoying the Trans Secretary and Senator in a public meeting?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    They are not Gods, far from it. Sometimes advocates have to say what other insiders cannot. There was a point in saying it, especially three years ago, when Boxer and others were kowtowing to the unions to put two men in the cab. Can you imagine what that would do to operating costs for the existing systems? About a month after Metrolink started adding a second man they had a near miss side swipe with a freight going into a siding with two Metrolink engineers up front. Someone has to speak up on these issues, we can’t all be ass lickers.
    As for LaHood, I used to carry with me all the reports done on the LOSSAN corridor since 1984 to the meetings to show just how much had been wasted on consultants and engineers in that corridor alone. (It eventually became too heavy). It was perfectly legitimate, with the likes of Morshed in command, to challenge LaHood and warn him that with only $2 billion offered the CHSRA would piss that away in a heartbeat with nothing to show. At that time they were still talking about spending $4 billion to get to Anaheim from LA.
    Believe me, this can still happen. We may still end up with no project, or a couple of decades of a valley track with no connections to the ends, given the way things disfunction around here. There will probably be three or four more Secretaries of Transportation to annoy before we see much hardware and I hope I’m around to do it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Are the SecTrans and the Senator royal advisors who activists need to grovel in front of, or public servants who activists should tell what they think?

    jimsf Reply:

    drama.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Keep up the good work, Paul. What are they going to do when the class ones propose to automate further?

    The primary argument for private operation and/or ownership is that the private interests are more seriously involved, they take managing general construction and operating costs to heart, whereas public agencies have a long track record of cavalier spending. There is very real cause to be concerned that the orphan segment will be a pr disaster. Remember the politicians are not interested in this thing other than rewarding constituents and cronies.

    Outside expertise is spurned and the CHSRA fires the messenger. If the contractors aren’t blind they will give no quarter, take no prisoners.

    joe Reply:

    It was perfectly legitimate, with the likes of Morshed in command, to challenge LaHood and warn him that with only $2 billion offered the CHSRA would piss that away in a heartbeat with nothing to show.

    And LaHood’s response was perfectly legitimate.
    You did nothing – the entire exchange resulted in a laugh line and you’re calling LaHood a bully. Unproductive.

    And for Boxer and Unions 1) I know how much more that added person would have cost…..how much? and 2) The NTSB would probably be interested in your data and conclusions. Senator’s not so much. Go figure.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I haven’t seen anything about trains but there are multiple instances of the pilot and the co-pilot getting so wrapped up in a minor problem that they don’t notice that they are about to fly into something. And do.

    Reedman Reply:

    FYI, LaHood had a White House press conference today:

    http://cnsnews.com/news/article/transportation-secretary-budget-cuts-over-100-air-traffic-control-towers-may-be-closed

    Nathanael Reply:

    Paul Dyson has the right to say what he thinks, and he should.

    He comes across as a fool. LaHood’s response was honest and correct and I agree with LaHood.

    Eric Reply:

    Also the San Joaquin extension to redding is described as running on the existing UPRR double track…when none of that route is double track.

  4. Paul Dyson
    Feb 21st, 2013 at 08:47
    #4

    A wish list is not a plan.
    A list of projects without priorities is not a plan.
    A list of projects without funds to pay for any is not a plan.
    You cannot plan when you have no control over two of the biggest players, i.e. BNSF and UPRR.
    California supposes, Fort Worth or Omaha disposes.

    Does anyone know where “San Fernando Valley” is in terms of a station stop? (If in doubt, mumble) Is it beyond human ingenuity to haul a HS train 12+/- miles into LAUPT instead of building an interim terminus?

    Does anyone think that transferring decision making for the state intercity corridors to county level JPBs will do anything to improve service?
    What exactly are the terms of reference of the new state transportation organization from July 2013?

    jimsf Reply:

    further balkanizing the states rail agencies is a joke. we should be going in the opposite direction. A single agency for the entire state, with board members from each region to ensure the best through travel for passengers.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Agreed

    jimsf Reply:

    adapt the thruway bus service as needed. and a single ticketing platform and price structure from eureka to indio.

    Of course with la metro trying to take over the world in the south, and bart taking over the world in the north, and caltrans doing battle with la metro, and with amtrak always used as a political pawn, and with ambitious local politicians vying for power… we can rest assured that common sense will not prevail. That I can promise.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    California is fairly unique compared to most states as to the level of decentralization that it tolerates. Yet, the real issue is not the State Rail Plan, whatever you think of it. It’s the realignment of federal funding via PRIIA that puts a lot more pressure on the state to force local authorities to pump cash into services that are both regional and interregional in focus.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Capital Corridor-Oakland to San Jose is funded-$88million

  5. synonymouse
    Feb 21st, 2013 at 10:47
    #5

    When I saw this I could not help but think of the Moondoggle:

    http://esciencenews.com/sources/reutersscience/2013/02/21/india.launch.mission.mars.year.says.president

    Here you have a country with millions in rank poverty spending on a macho project with next to no practical value. Moon exploitation is stalled and after we find not much of interest to the masses on Mars we will scale back our space and science plans, just like the Apollo and the SuperCollider.

    When politics make key decisions and money is “free” disappointment is inevitable. And yes there will be freight on the IOS, when BNSF buys the orphan trackage at slightly above scrap.

    Travis D Reply:

    And our society will continue to degrade into one not even worth saving.

    But we’ll have loads of reality TV to distract us from how our nation does nothing!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If we aren’t doing anything who will be producing the reality shows?

  6. jimsf
    Feb 21st, 2013 at 13:04
    #6

    off topic but check out this bart map

    Clem Reply:

    This is a map I composed my Senior Year in high school, cleaned up and updated for posting on here. It details the potential future configuration of rapid transit in the Bay Area, including running Caltrain as a rapid transit service with an integrated fare structure.

    It’s not BART, it’s still Caltrain!

    jimsf Reply:

    you made that? in anycase, its good coverage. they should do it.

    Clem Reply:

    No, the guy who made the map (and blogged about it) said this. I didn’t make it.

    blankslate Reply:

    And what’s your point?

  7. Emma
    Feb 22nd, 2013 at 16:05
    #7

    I love how they used teal for Pacific Surfliner and light blue for CA High speed rail on that map. Not confusing, at all…

    Joey Reply:

    Evidently allowing the general public to understand their plans was not one of the goals.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Hey, over here, the three subway lines are colored blue, yellow, and light blue.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Coming out of the Wall Street station a tourist snags me and asks “Is this the blue train?” Had to be a tourist because no one thinks about train colors much in New York. And which blue train did he want since there’s more than one blue train. For what it’s worth he wanted the red train. Though the blue train would have worked almost as well. The stations for the blue trains were farther away. Either of them because that far downtown the blue trains go their separate ways.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Hey, I had a tourist once ask me how to get from JFK to Columbus Circle. I told her it’s fastest to get the E and change to the B/D. She decided she doesn’t like transfers and instead went the long way around on the A.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s probably faster to use the LIRR and then take the 1…..

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah, but that’s more expensive and the transfer is nastier.

  8. D. P. Lubic
    Feb 25th, 2013 at 15:09
    #8

    Keeping an eye on the competition–a new road tunnel in California, impressive engineering but only 100% over budget:

    http://news.yahoo.com/cutting-edge-calif-tunnels-poised-open-200802670.html

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