Palo Alto Wants to Change State Law to Throttle Rail Corridor Forever

Feb 16th, 2013 | Posted by

Another day, another twist in the long-running saga of Peninsula NIMBYs trying to throttle passenger rail forever:

California’s high-speed rail project may have left the station last year, when the state Legislature approved funding for the first segment by a single vote, but Palo Alto officials still have plenty of concerns about the locally unpopular project, and they hope their newest representative in Sacramento can help.

The city is now working with its newest representative, Sen. Jerry Hill, D-San Mateo, to clean up Senate Bill 1029, the bill that authorizes funding for the first segment of high-speed rail, in Central Valley. The bill also includes improvements for existing rail systems in Northern and Southern California, known as “bookend” segments.

One of Palo Alto’s concerns is ensuring the funding allocated for Caltrain’s electrification actually gets delivered. Another is making sure the project remains in the Caltrain right of way to the extent possible. The city also wants to make sure that the locally unpopular four-track alternative, which involves running Caltrain on the two inside tracks and high-speed rail on the two outside tracks, is off the table for good.

According to the city’s lobbyist, John Garamendi Jr., Hill has been meeting with officials from the California High-Speed Rail Authority, Caltrain and the Legislature and plans to introduce a bill in the coming weeks that would alleviate some of the Peninsula’s anxieties. The proposed legislation would further commit the rail authority to fund Caltrain improvements and create a new hurdle for rail officials should they choose to revisit the four-track option. Under Hill’s bill, the agency would need unanimous votes from all transit agencies involved in the project to even study the alternative.

The article goes on to say that legislators have no desire to revisit high speed rail anytime soon, which is understandable – let construction get under way and come back once that is well under way.

That said, this blog’s position has and remains clear: it would be appalling to restrict passenger rail ridership growth for decades to come just because a few NIMBYs here in the early ’10s demand it. Much of the Peninsula rail corridor has enough right of way to add two more tracks, and only minimal purchases will be needed in some areas to complete such a project. It doesn’t need to happen now. But it will have to happen someday, and it would be crazy to prevent it or make it more difficult just because some people in the present day refused to look at long-term needs.

Let’s hope the state legislature rejects this unwarranted and reckless proposal.

  1. joe
    Feb 16th, 2013 at 14:52
    #1

    Palo Alto is special. Not only should CA clean up the HSR bill for Palo Alto’s sake, but that state requirement cities build affordable housing to qualify for grants and state money is hostile to the Palo Alto Way of life.

    http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=28591

    Palo Alto fights state mandate for more housing
    City asks regional agency to reassign some of its allocated units to Santa Clara County

    “I think we’re fighting for the soul of our city here,” Klein said. “This is the issue I hear most often when I attend public events.”

    Palo Alto, which is often referred to by council members as a “built-out city,” has been fighting these mandates for years, arguing that the agency’s projections are far too ambitious and the city has no way to accommodate the level of housing it is asked to plan for. While ABAG cannot force the city to comply with its allocation, ignoring the mandate could cost Palo Alto funding for transportation and sustainability projects — a valuable commodity for an ambitious city with a slew of bike-related projects on its wish list.

    So cut the check – send the money and leave them alone. It’s a special town.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Palo Alto is special, just like the Tejon Ranch Co.

    PAMPA: 1 PB Worshippers: 0

    Travis D Reply:

    It ticks you off that PB is always right doesn’t it?

    Incredible that a multinational company can just always be right on everything. Sort of like that time they invented that way to turn water into wine.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Hmm, PAMPA wants to try to get the legislature to enshrine 2-track, but the current plans don’t mention it. Seems like PAMPA: 0 CAHSR: 1

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    If they oppose electric passenger rail and infill development, then they’re not terribly interested in doing anything about climate and therefore not terribly interested in doing much to save the soul of the state. It’s all about protecting their own privilege, everyone else’s needs be damned.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Poppycock – if it had not been for MTC-BART, Heminger, Kopp and Willie Brown 20 years we would already have an electrified Caltrain and the TBT Tunnel.

    Everything about human impact on terrestrial environment and climate is directly proportional to population growth. So if are worried about climate change forget about PAMPA the people you want to wail on are Jerry Brown and Antonio Villa, who want to double the size of LA, the pavers of the natural world.

    synonymouse Reply:

    20 years ago

    synonymouse Reply:

    Infill sucks and cracks out neighborhoods. Trashy apartments in backyards.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Just like the slums of Vancouver’s West End.

  2. Matt Korner
    Feb 16th, 2013 at 15:26
    #2

    Keep talking, Joe. You’re making me hostile to the Palo Alto way of life.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah Palo Alto is starting to sound more and more like the old pre fire residents of Nob Hill or as it was later described, Snob Hill where the Snobs lived who didn’t want to mingle with the riff-raff…

  3. missiondweller
    Feb 16th, 2013 at 15:31
    #3

    This is why you cannot give in even one inch to these people. It needs to be explicitly stated that the four track expansion is when not if. Its fine if they have 15 years to get used to the idea. Many of these are selfish baby boomers who will have “moved on” by then anyway.

    Matt Korner Reply:

    Where’s a good meteor when we need one?

    Travis D Reply:

    No, a zombie apocalypse. Much more fitting.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah, limited in scope of course…

    synonymouse Reply:

    cheerleader apocalypse – hordes of undead PB Worshippers

    synonymouse Reply:

    “This is why you cannot give in even one inch to these people.”

    How many inches did they give to the Tejon Rancheros? Like 50 miles.

    Moonbeam does not have the stone to stand up to the Chandlers.

    VBobier Reply:

    The Governor of CA doesn’t need to, Governor Brown has Tehachapi, lawsuits over a Tejon route can take time & more money than just the initial cost of a proverbial Tejon route, so Tehachapi is cheaper, don’t forget that lawyers can make things more expensive Syno, as they always win, no matter what side they play on. So forget Tejon, it will never happen, even the Freight Railroads never bothered to do more than investigate it.

  4. synonymouse
    Feb 16th, 2013 at 15:42
    #4

    On the contrary the current affluent residents will be joined by even wealthier, even more connected. They will want more upscale, more exclusive, more gentrification. translation: no aerial blight.

    Team Tejon has already established the principle and the precedent – PB-CHSRA bows before them in abject kowtow. PAMPA could buy out the Tejon Ranch with its chump change. So fuggedabout anything PAMPA does not want.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    yes those grade crossings are so quaint. They well get even quainter when more trains start running. Even quainter when, because there are so many trains running on the parts of the line that were improved they have to eliminate stops in Palo Alto to keep the rest of the line running.

    Jonathan Reply:

    There will be an uproar over increased gate-down time impacting traffic , well before that.

    joe Reply:

    From what I can infer in news stories, many residents don’t link issues and city government doesn’t encourage big picture problem solving.

    In the past year:
    For 20 years, Menlo Park for example, did not comply with state guidelines for housing. They have built up a ~1975 unit deficit.

    When they green-lit Facebook in 2012, Menlo Park had to approve (lawsuit settlement) 1000 new units by May 2013. It’s a scramble to figure out where. Meetings start in March.

    Menlo park has a shortage of city planners – they need nine new staffers for all the 35+ new development projects. BUT – Menlo park has a pension deficit of 11 M so they didn’t add new staff.

    Menlo Park has no room at their schools so they need to add capacity and they are approving 1000 new units. Already Middle School Students have to cross El Camino and Caltrain to get to school.

    There’s congestion and new developments going up in downtown under a EIR – like 500 El Camino. Cut through traffic and new trips expected with the developments.

    MP refuses to discuss how Electrification/HSR can improve Caltrain crossings and traffic flow.

    Like the 20 years of delinquent housing, this too will require the state/regional transportation step in and make meno park do something with little time to plan.

    It goes on and on.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They do not want to become San Jose, experiencing a crime wave.

    There is no answer except population stabilization, for a positive longterm outcome.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes dense housing gives you the slums of the Upper East Side. Or the the near North Side. Or almost any neighborhood in San Francisco. Electrifying Caltrain will turn Palo Alto into Scarsdale. And Menlo Park into Cos Cob.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Or Cairo. Or Mexico City. Or Rio. Or Hong Kong.

    more appropriate analogies. And of course you did not cite the grittier quartiers of NYC, which is a city vastly richer than most, with more tony enclaves than say St. Louis.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or London or Paris or Tokyo. Tokyo is just a cesspit of crime and depravity.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I suggest you watch some French TV. Plenty of real taudis parisiens and some areas have lost all their local shops, shuttered due to crime. People living in what amounts to a large closet.

    And the Bloombergians hate the Japanese ethic, keeping foreigners to a fringe and applying traditional societal norms to keep things functioning smoothly. The Bloombergians want them to open the flood gates to what would overnight amount to a new underclass of immigrant proto-slaves.

    But the Japanese aren’t stupid and recognize the Bloombergians are just jealous. The Japanese could very quickly increase their population if they decided to. Just appeal to patriotism and nationalism – but their neighbors would not like that at all.

    Matthew B. Reply:

    Synonymouse, I’m not sure why I bother to respond to you sometimes, but here we go.

    Your logic is flawed. The existence of high density low quality housing, including in some French banlieues, does not imply that high density causes low quality. I’m pretty sure any reasonable statistical analysis (i.e. better than cherry picking the one study out of a handful that comes to the conclusion you want to promote) would determine there isn’t even correlation. The nicest parts of Paris are the most dense, and it is definitely the case that density is highly correlated with productivity, educational achievement, and all sorts of other measures of quality of life and economic strength.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    ..isn’t one of the reasons the banlieues are slums is that they don’t have rail connections?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I suggest you watch some French TV. Plenty of real taudis parisiens and some areas have lost all their local shops, shuttered due to crime. People living in what amounts to a large closet.

    The crime is in the suburbs rather than in Paris proper. The Upper East Side-dense parts of Paris are nice; they’re not the most expensive parts of Paris, but the most expensive parts are also very dense, just less so than the eastern arrondissements.

    Travis D Reply:

    So you hate cities in general. Why am I not surprised?

    joe Reply:

    Hate? No. Fear! He’s scared – the world’s changed and he’s w

    Menlo Park isn’t racist – The platinum blond Swedish Bikini Team couldn’t get a housing project approved.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swedish_Bikini_Team

    Die-Hards like Morris Brown opposed every housing project that would have kept the city affordable.
    Now the understaffed city will have to approve 1,000 by May 2013.

    Facebook now adds thousands, and the housing settlement adds thousands.
    Morris Brown was distracted by HSR impacting a narrow ROW while his city bumbled their way to overbuilding.

    HSR / Caltrain *will* be used to fix the grade crossings and it will improve traffic flow between east and west MP.

  5. Keith Saggers
    Feb 16th, 2013 at 15:54
    #5

    Sy
    the chandlers?

    synonymouse Reply:

    http://blogs.laweekly.com/informer/2009/11/environmentalists_sue_to_stop.php

    Funny thing is the inevitable expansion of I-5 and derivations will impact them more and quite negatively from the green POV than any hsr alignment, mostly in tunnel, ever could.

    StevieB Reply:

    In synonymouse’s mind Harry Chandler is alive and owns the Tejon Ranch.

    synonymouse Reply:

    More so in your Governor’s mind – that is why Jerry is petrified at the very thought of approaching the Kingdom.

    Peter Reply:

    Why you think that Tejon vs. Tehachapi for HSR is even on the Governor’s radar is a mystery to me.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Radar is not accessible in second childhood.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Synon, you just proved StevieB’s point…..

    synonymouse Reply:

    Get real.

    Tejon is very much on Moonbeam’s radar – he fired Van Ark over it.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Chandlers’ Synon, Chandlers. No sane person thinks Tejon-Ranch-Co and the Chandlers are coupled.

    As for “firfing van Ark over it”… that proves StevieB’s point again.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Some interesting chronology of the Tejon Pass Route:

    https://docs.google.com/viewer?a=v&q=cache:DLC3ky6CKi8J:cdn.calisphere.org/data/13030/k4/tf387002k4/files/tf387002k4.pdf+Santa+Fe+railroad+plan+to+build+a+railroad+over+Tejon+Pass&hl=en&gl=us&pid=bl&srcid=ADGEESg8fMKQIq5TikF-9z48jmH8VgIxZCTXRb8Y6YhZcAtykLe46ROSOcRIi5XkWhoonRpxiwPw8dJIXCesKnTBkNfnN7pcThvKlNkO-NQfMd6b5pYDafpFZ2GedzbGm-4vOzeou2JF&sig=AHIEtbSa75ZSALqbOtpYCTtqSyTRN5Yubg

    Wikipedia indicates the original trackage rights agreement for the Santa Fe to operate over the SP’s Tehachapi line dates to 1899, but apparently there was a subsequent document around 1911. Curious next year Harry Chandler buys the Ranch. Just perhaps the hostility to rail is truly legacy – the 100 year NIMBY.

  6. Adina
    Feb 16th, 2013 at 16:24
    #6

    Palo Alto’s position on this bill is actually a step away from their earlier rejectionist stance. Before, their position on 4 tracks was “never.” Now, it is “everyone needs to agree.” That is a notable moderation. I was at the Palo Alto Rail committee meeting when they discussed it, and it was very clear that they were moderating their stance. Klein himself said at that meeting “we are moving away from never-never-land.”

    Personally, I think that if there’s a time in the future when there are proposals to add capacity beyond the blended system, the improvements will be massively popular. The blended system supports up to 4tph. Paris to London has 3tph. New York to DC has 3tph. So we’re talking about a time in the future when HSR is so successful that there’s demand to expand beyond the frequency of Paris to London and New York to DC.

    Let’s say it’s 2040. Gasoline costs $15 or more per gallon in today’s dollars. A roundtrip car trip is $300 with an average car. A flight is $600. All the high speed trains are standing room only. Consumers are begging for more service. Businesses are begging for more service. Constituents are banging on the doors of the High Speed Rail vendor and transit agencies and their legislators to improve system to deliver more service. There are a few holdouts, but their preferences are marginal and unpopular.

    I am not worried about requiring broad agreement for greater capacity in the future, because if that capacity is needed, people of the time will demand it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Like how more capacity was needed between Jersey City and Manhattan in 1994?

    joe Reply:

    Palo Alto has not changed. This is the same opposition BUT they recognize there is nearly a Billion in free Caltrain improvements tied to the HSR project. The city (probably their lobbyist) clued them into the backlash over their NEVER stance. This new position requires unanimous consent. How undemocratic.

    PA opposes compliance with state laws requiring housing be built in the city to receive state money – Yet Palo Alto approves non-residential development and takes money from developers to mitigate the development impacts.

    PA approved a 5 B Stanford Hospital expansion – and they took money for mitigating impacts.

    PA then opposes (Klein himself is quoted) that the housing that the state requires ALL cities build – PA requests it be put elsewhere.

    City asks regional agency to reassign some of its allocated units to Santa Clara County

    “I think we’re fighting for the soul of our city here,” Klein said. “This is the issue I hear most often when I attend public events.”

    The soul of the city. I think of Dorian Gray

    Travis D Reply:

    Dear God the picture of the soul of Palo Alto would be an inhuman monster by now! Covered with horns, multiple fanged mouths oozing putrid saliva that burns all that it touches.

    YESONHSR Reply:

    I agree get the damm thing built and opened..it already been debated till almost project death…2 tracks and in 2035 life and times here will be much different…the older Nimbys/City fathers will have passed away and younger more forward thinking PA will want better train service.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Well, that is a nice step in the right direction.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Adina, you’ve picked two rail corridors that underperform, for two different reasons. London-Paris is international and has never had very high traffic; pre-Chunnel air traffic was 4 million a year, vs. 7 million LA-Bay Area (and the air/rail mode split on LA-SF is 50/50). New York-Washington has a train that’s about as fast as pre-HSR legacy trains in France.

  7. Jerry
    Feb 17th, 2013 at 02:29
    #7

    An interesting side note.
    The Amtrak Pennsylvanian segment between Pittsburgh and Harrisburg is in danger of being eliminated by October unless the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania can come up with the nearly $6 million dollars to keep the segment running. (The Pennsylvania continues from Harrisburg to Philadelphia and on to New York City.).
    A federal law — the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act – passed in 2008, required Amtrak to develop a consistent formula for passing the costs of subsidizing certain routes to state governments. But the Pennsylvania Dept. of Transportation is reluctant to pay for that segment.
    The interesting part is that segment runs through the historic Altoona horseshoe curve and through the district of U.S. Rep. Bill Shuster, who recently took over as chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee. We’ll see how that all works out.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Oh no, a segment of passenger rail that no one uses and loses a bunch of money is going away. What will we do?

    YESONHSR Reply:

    A whooping 6million dollars is a alot of money???..there are people here in the USA making that much a year..and I have ridden it and it was very full and serves a purpose of giving needed service to Taxpaying Americans…Teabaggers and Reason propaganda thinking aside .

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    There are people making that much money a DAY…what is your point? My point is that it can’t be that critical or the PA government would jump at it. The truth is that rail is a transportation mode that just does not have enough advantages to get market share. Busses are cheaper, Airplanes are faster, and cars are more convenient. Rail does not bring anything special to the equation…hence they keep losing money

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Once again, another denialist forgets that the game is rigged; the auto driver and the airline passenger have never paid all their costs. The cost recovery ratio for roads is horrible, and for buses it’s even worse, at least for transit; in Washington, DC, the bus system requires twice the subsidy to carry half the riders that the heavy metro system does, and the bus system doesn’t have the special infrastructure to pay for that the rail system does.

    Level the playing field–which is to say let the driver pay what it really costs for his road system, in a way that he can actually SEE it, and not go around hiding it–and see what happens.

    YESONHSR Reply:

    The point is people acting like this is a HUGE waste are thinking nonsense Teaparty/Reason warped logic..its NOTHING moneywise..Pennsylania probally spends that much money a year on trash pickup/grass cutting along its roads…140,000 people use this service a year…and I dare say the person using this type of logic in the PennDOT is a Republican.

    Nathanael Reply:

    John, the Pittsburgh-Philadelphia line is heavily used, and loses very little money. It needs to be improved. 2 a day would help, speeding it up would help, diverting through State College would help.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Is there a good rail line through State College?

  8. jimsf
    Feb 17th, 2013 at 09:06
    #8

    Isn’t most of the row between sf and sj wide enough for four tracks already and I don’t think local municipalities have any jurisdiction over the railroad or railroad property.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Yes, most of it is already wide enough. They have no jurisdiction over the railroad or its property, but do have some limited jurisdiction over nearby property.

    James M in Irvine, CA Reply:

    Too bad a slush fund couldn’t be set up for the CALTRAIN ROW. Use that fund to purchase adjacent properties, then lease them out until the RR is ready to expand, then terminate the lease. Money is generated to offset the cost of the property until it is ready for expansion. This could bee really useful to gain control of properties that can be condemned to ease curves and increase speeds.

    Jim M

    synonymouse Reply:

    The drift is precisely in the opposite direction, with the municipalities wishing to take Caltrain property rather than adding to it.

    But that is the cheerleaders’s own fault for insisting on routing thru San Jose and then trying to push around the Peninsula. Now it is either dominant Caltrain or BART Ring the Bay.

    They should have kept an open mind on Altamont and a route thru the East Bay, which is shell-shocked and easily bullied.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Too bad a slush fund couldn’t be set up for the CALTRAIN …

    $230 million (and climbing) for worse-than-useless CBOSS.
    $147 million (and climbing) for the one worse-than-useless San Bruno grade separation
    $60 million to build unneeded and wrong-height platforms in San Jose.
    $10 million for a decades-obsolete “new” Rail Operations Control Center.
    Over $100 millions wasted on the obsolete-when-installed CTC signals.
    $2000 million (and climbing) for a worse-than-useless tunnel (75% HSR use, not Caltrain’s) in SF.
    $1500 million (guaranteed to be blown out) to be wasted on non-level-boarding EMUs and mis-deisgned US-unique electrification.

    There’s plenty of Caltrain slush to go around!

    None of it to benefit Caltrain riders or taxpayers or residents, mind you, but plenty of slush raining from the skies, and the people who enjoy slush have taken notice and are happy.

    jimsf Reply:

    Caltrain and hsr chould be compatible in everyway. ( caltrain should actually be done away with)

    If they are using low level boarding emus, then perhaps chsra plans to use thesewhich would appear to be compatible.

    jimsf Reply:

    look these and these appear to use the same platform so maybe this is the plan…..

    jimsf Reply:

    and further, if they did use these not only would they be compatible with caltrains low platforms, but they’d be compatible with all the existing low platforms in the state during the blended operations phase. you wouldnt have to rebuild anything – just add the catenary.

    jimsf Reply:

    this platform is the same height as this one

    wouldnt this save some money?

    Peter Reply:

    Violates ADA requirements for level boarding in newly built systems.

    jimsf Reply:

    those are brand new platforms

    Peter Reply:

    Those are brand new platforms. But as part of a legacy system. Subject to GO-26D.

    jimsf Reply:

    then how will caltrain use the emus with low boarding?

    Peter Reply:

    Because it’s a legacy system, grand-fathered in. New trains, but legacy system. Including continuing to use diesel Baby Bullet trains.

    jimsf Reply:

    yes but the blended hsr is going to be using the legacy system. new trains, caltrain tracks.

    Peter Reply:

    Good luck convincing the feds that therefore the ADA level boarding requirements should not apply to HSR. At every single station platform.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Brand new platforms are subject to ADA….. If I were a Federal regulator, i could see making an argument that electrified, “Modernized” Caltrain was subject to ADA.

    Peter Reply:

    Ah, but who wins in a “conflict of laws” shootout between a federal regulation for the “convenience” of people with disabilities, and an alleged state “safety” regulation? Methinks that simply claiming federal preemption of state laws via the Supremacy Clause isn’t going to give you the answer on that.

    jimsf Reply:

    in fact with nothing more than electrification these trains couldpretty much go anywhere in cali. not at top 220 speed of course, but certainly singe seat service could start with electrification of the whole existing route, as high speed upgrades are done segment by segment.

  9. jimsf
    Feb 17th, 2013 at 09:10
    #9

    depending on how you view things, the peninsula will be shooting itself in the foot with this limitation. The end result of the two track limit will be hsr with two tracks (plenty plus passing zones) the elimination of caltrain ( a weak, toothless agency) and the eventual closure of the bart gap between milbrae and santa clara.

    In the end, it will be for the best.

    joe Reply:

    … the elimination of caltrain ( a weak, toothless agency) the eventual closure of the bart gap between milbrae and santa clara.

    Exactly.

    Possibly an aerial alignment along the HSR ROW.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You guys are blinking crazy. There is about as much chance of a’an aerial alignment along the HSR ROW” in PAMPA as a low-income high-rise housing block being erected next to Dianne Feinstein’s manse in Presidio Heights.

    jimsf Reply:

    well pampa will pay to tunnel bart under the el camino through their portion. Besides this is something that is at least 35 to 50 years away and the pampa demographics are going to be very different in 50 years.

    joe Reply:

    Berkeley paid to put BART under ground.
    .

    Eventually the state will force a solution to the congestion problems they create.

    History of BART
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/History_of_the_Bay_Area_Rapid_Transit

    Construction of the initial system

    BART construction officially began on June 19, 1964 with President Lyndon Johnson presiding over the ground-breaking ceremonies at the 4.4-mile (7.1 km) test track between Concord and Walnut Creek in Contra Costa County.

    The enormous tasks to be undertaken were daunting. System wide projects would include the construction of three underground rail stations in Oakland’s populated downtown area, four stations through San Francisco’s downtown beneath Market Street, as well as four other underground stations in other parts of San Francisco, three subterranean stations in Berkeley (which paid more to bury them, in contrast to the stations in neighboring Oakland and El Cerrito), the 3.5 miles (5.6 km) tunnel through the Berkeley Hills; and of course the 3.6 miles (5.8 km) Transbay Tube between Oakland and San Francisco beneath the San Francisco Bay. Constructed in 57 sections, The Tube is the world’s longest and deepest immersed tunnel at cost $180 million and was completed in August 1969.

    PAMPA uses the NIMBY/Do Nothing strategy while approving retail and corporate, high tech development. It’s the easiest way for a Council member to avoid responsibility is to have the State force them to act.

    Within PAMPA there is a hierarchy – the lesser valued, less connected sections of PAMPA will see a BART system and historically that is along the Caltrain ROW.

    flowmotion Reply:

    What happened 50 years ago isn’t that relevant.

    More recently, BART built a subway in San Bruno. They also proposed a subway in Livermore. If “ring the bay” happens, PAMPA will get their subway.

    joe Reply:

    Maybe.

    The Livermore subway was to bring BART into the town, not for aesthetics.

    Jon Reply:

    One of the alternatives would have brought BART to the same downtown station location on an aerial along the UP ROW. They chose not to persue that one.

    joe Reply:

    Nor did they stick with the downtown station.

    flowmotion’s got a point, the past isn’t a guarantee and JimSf wrote 35-50 years is so out there we can just guess.

    PAMPA’s free subway is, IMHO, conditional on the route. Burying for aesthetic reasons along the existing ROW probably not as “free” as burying to run BART along the El Camino Real. That would also parallel the most heavily traveled VTA route, the 22/522.

    flowmotion Reply:

    Yep, an El Camino Real subway is exactly what I was thinking. BART could also swing east towards the US101 office parks in Mountain View, where aerials would be acceptable.

    In any case, BART and HSR would likely want to stay-off each others toes as much as possible.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There will only be one or the other. Caltrain tech is so much superior to that of BART there will be no further interest in BART. And of course that is one reason BART has always tried to usurp the SP ROW.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If you get BART Ring the Bay hsr will terminate in San Jose. Be careful what you wish for. Altamont could rise from the dead along with Ring the Bay.

    missiondweller Reply:

    Never happen. Here in SF we are hell bent on having HSR to the newTransbay Terminal being built.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Don’t be so confident about that.

    MTC has always opposed the TBT Tunnel.
    Ditto for BART naturlich.
    Lee & friends see billions to be added to the City tax rolls in the post-Redevelopment Agency era by expropriating all the lands belonging to Caltrain within the City.

    The Blend Magna Carta being drafted by Hill et al may very well constitute the best deal the Cheerleaders could ever hope for and does ace out BART for good of the Peninsula market. And forces a direct and very unfavorable comparison of Bechtel-PB eccentritech with a state of the art standard gauge oc implementation. What’s not to like?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Transferring to BART in San Jose makes as much sense as having Acela terminate in Baltimore to transfer to the DC Metro. Or having Acela terminate in Trenton for a transfer to PATH. Or Providence or New Haven.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That’s why Altamont might rise from the crypt along with BART Ring the Bay.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Transferring from HSR in Fremont isn’t much better.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Dumbarton to SFO.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Transferring to BART at SFO would be like transferring from Acela to PATH in Newark. Or transferring from Acela to the 4 in Woodlawn. Or from the Acela to Orange line in New Carrollton. Or from Acela to the Orange line in Forest Hill.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    North of SFO, BART already has its own ROW. If BART replaces Caltrain, then HSR will get the tracks from about Millbrae north all to itself.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Alon they are going to build two more Transbay tubes, one for the line to Fresno and another for the line to Reno. Of course they will need the Caltrain ROW into downtown. For all those people who take 100 mile rides on BART from Davis to Menlo Park. Just like you’d want to take the D train from Danbury to New Brunswick. First Stockton then the world. Stockton is only as far from San Francisco as New York is from Philadelphia. Just imagine, taking the Broad Street Subway from Philadelphia City Hall to Times Square!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Maybe they should extend SkyTrain down to Seattle, too.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Alon

    True, and Clem has pointed out that hsr coming in via Dumbarton could also use this route.

    However all with this project is politics and money. Yesterday Lee announced a big China Basin development with the Giants so Islais Creek and Dogpatch is next. They might want to grab all the property for redevelopment; they might want to kill the TBT Tunnel(happened once before)or they might go for most everything in tunnel under the street at 4th & KIng.

    Ergo way reduced footprint if the ROW survives at all. Remember the TBT has only been popular with a part of SF officialdom. It has its enemies, holding their tongues for the moment.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “Stockton is only as far from San Francisco as New York is from Philadelphia. Just imagine, taking the Broad Street Subway from Philadelphia City Hall to Times Square!”

    Ugh!

    Jon Reply:

    It’s conceivable that BART might ring the bay, with HSR taking the Caltrain ROW. It it completely implausible that BART would ring the bay but HSR would terminate at SFO, leaving Transbay empty and unused, just so SF could grab an 80ft wide ROW for redevelopment. What possible use would that be?

    Yes, they want the 4th & King rail yards, but that’s because the rail yards would actually be worth redeveloping. The rest of the ROW is no use for anything except rail.

    flowmotion Reply:

    @ syn — Did you see the supposedly leaked map that showed a second BART transbay tube coming in underneath King Street? (Before turning north and then west down Geary.) Something is afoot.

    synonymouse Reply:

    No, but that would be something worthy of Noah Cross. I guess that would mean BART from 48th & Geary to Sac. Does TWU 250A have any idea of how they are being screwed?

    The second tube should be for Caltrain with its vastly superior tech and bathrooms no less. If this is the beginning of a real BART-MTC blitzkrieg, orchestrated by Heminger, PB and friends, Ring the Bay would have to be at the center of it. BART could not permit the damming comparison of state of the art electrified Caltrain with its proprietary anomalous craptech.

    Earth to Cheerleaders and PB Worshippers: better monitor this one carefully – you could be getting aced out of your SP ROW and Dumbarton will all that is left. This could be the real deal.

    Jon Reply:

    @flowmotion – yes, secret plans! So secret that they were published in the Chronicle.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I would assume the plan in question would be much more succinct and much closer to imminent. Enough to ask how two underground lines in the same 4th & King environs would interface.

    Jon – are you prepared to conclude that BART has truly renounced its decades-old Peninsula scheme?

    Jon Reply:

    I wouldn’t say renounced, but I think a new transbay tube and a Geary line are both higher on the priorities list.

    BART’s problem is that they know a peninsula line would be much slower than Caltrain due to the detour via Daly City, so either they have to try to sell an increase in commute time, or duplicate the existing standard gauge track between Millbrae and downtown SF. (Duplicate not replace, because despite what you may think, HSR wants to go downtown and BART will not win a battle with HSR.)

    If BART builds anything further on the peninsula, it will likely by north from Santa Clara for SJ to SV commuters. Possibly they would use the UP ROW to get to 101 and head north to Googleland. Maybe stations at Montague, Lawrence, Mathilda, Moffet, Rengstorff.

  10. D. P. Lubic
    Feb 17th, 2013 at 14:31
    #10
  11. John Bacon
    Feb 17th, 2013 at 16:14
    #11

    One approach that should attenuate determined opposition to a blended Caltrain/CHSR right-of-way through Palo Alto scheme would be to build open-cut grade separations for all at-grade-railroad crossings except Palo Alto Avenue and possibly Charleston Road. Permitting the reduction of the present CHSR 23.5 foot overhead clearance by specifying third-rail electrification, single deck EMUs, and diverting Santa Clara to South San Francisco rail freight along the center of SR101 and the Dumbarton Rail Bridge might keep total grade-separation costs below viaduct plus berm solutions. Lower electrification costs, far less disruption during construction for on-going rail service, possibly little or no tree or property taking, and higher tolerable train speeds could be the result of low profile grade-separation designs.
    The tripling of the copper/aluminum price ratio within the last decade combined with the normal contemporary use of aluminum third-rails for new 1,000 VDC railway electrification projects and halving the total system transformer weight by dispensing with on board rolling stock traction power transformers, which still normally use copper windings, are additional factors rendering late 20th Century 25 KVAC electrification recommendations for 200 kph or less urban rail-electrification-projects obsolete.
    The final result of an open-cut grade separation will usually have all its heavy concrete structures, such as over-crossing-bridge-piers and earth-retaining-walls, along the edge of completed road-rail-grade-separations. Transforming a double-track-at-grade-railway into a four-track plus 16 foot center platform grade separated right-of-way by building over-crossing-bridge-piers and retaining-walls in slit-trenches can be done with a 25 foot clearance between the new concrete structures and trains rolling past during construction. Planning on back-filling these new concrete structures in order to permit safe normal speed rail operations while letting the new concrete cure for at least a year instead of a month before carrying a full load will permit 30% lighter concrete bridge pier and retaining wall designs. During a dry season weekend a bus-bridge can sustain passenger service while the old-railway track and earth from between the retaining walls is removed and new track is laid in the trench. Since most earth at least 10 feet below grade has been firmly compressed for centuries a stable new track-way can be quickly established.
    Note: Local trains departing from a University Avenue cross-platform transfer station behind an express train not stopping at California Avenue faced with a combined local and express track south of Embarcadero will never be delayed by more than 15 seconds on its way to its California Avenue stop. Therefore narrowing the right-of-way to a single southbound track between Embarcadero and California Avenue will produce negligible service delays to local trains behind express trains. Narrowing the ultimate build-out to three tracks between Embarcadero and California with a shallow open-cut beneath a Churchill overcrossing is a track-way design that will produce a fast high capacity railroad corridor at a moderate capital cost while simultaneously minimizing adjacent neighborhood opposition.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The tripling of the copper/aluminum price ratio within the last decade …..

    Volts times amps equals watts.

    If you want a watt, kilowatt or a megawatt at 1,000 volts you need 25 times a much conductor as you do at 25,000 volts. Aluminum doesn’t conduct as well as copper so you need more than that. Copper isn’t that much more expensive than aluminum. In nice round numbers copper costs four times as much as aluminum.

    rendering late 20th Century 25 KVAC electrification recommendations for 200 kph or less urban rail-electrification-projects obsolete.

    Which is why people who do this for a living have stopped building them. [end sarcasm font ] Except for legacy systems third rail electrification makes no sense. Which is why new systems almost exclusively use 25kV.

    John Bacon Reply:

    It can be easily shown that for a 1,500 VDC third-rail electrification system construction cost will be one-half or less the cost of 25 KVAC electrification capital expense for every one of the following major cost drivers:
    1) Distribution line conductive material.
    2) Distribution line suspension system structures.
    3) Total electrification system transformer costs.

    Today third-rails for new railroad electrification projects are made of aluminum with a thin stainless-steel-surface-strip for contacting rolling-stock-current-pick-up-shoes; overhead contact wire remains copper. Here is a conductive material cost comparison between 25 KVAC OCW and 1,500 VDC third-rail electrification:
    1) Aluminum does have an unfavorable conductivity compared to copper according to the following ratio: 168/282 = 0.596.
    2) Aluminum’s lower density advantage over copper is 8.98/2.70 = 3.33.
    3) The price per pound advantage of aluminum over copper is 3.688/0.943 = 3.913.
    Thus wholesale aluminum cost advantage over copper due to conductivity, density, and price per pound differences between these two markedly different metals is the result of the following product:
    (168/282)*(8.98/2.70)*(3.688/0.943) = 7.749
    4) From Bernard de Fontgalland’s ‘The World Railway System electric traction section “The cross-section size of contact wires of ‘copper equivalent’ changes from 400 square mm for 1,500 VDC to 150 square mm for single phase AC” or 150/400 = 0.375. (This author also says the distance between 1,500 VDC substations is one-quarter normally designed into 25 KVAC systems.)
    Given this real world summary where a greater conductivity is used for 1,500 VDC third-rail than 25 KVAC distribution the difference conductive material costs per unit length is reduced by the 150/400 ratio: 7.749*(150/400) = 2.906
    Therefore aluminum third rail LVDC conductive material costs (1/2.906)*(100%) = 34% of HVAC overhead copper wire costs.

    Distribution line suspension system structure expense comparison:
    Compared to the weight of a 25 KVAC copper overhead contact wire (OCW) weight per unit length while aluminum third weight will rise due to greater third-cross-section {(400/150) = 2.67} but falls sharply when considering aluminum’s low density {(2.70/8.98) = 0.300}. The net third rail/OCS conductive material weight comparison is: (2.67)*(0.300) = 0.802 or in practical terms nearly the same. Assuming freight operations are excluded catenary wire distributing 25 KVAC power must be at least 16 feet above the top-of-rail level. A third rail is supported every ten feet from extended cross-ties by roughly 25 cm high insulators above and outside the nearest running rail.
    Given that present rail electrification schemes either distribute DC power at or below 1,500 volts directly to EMU traction motor drivers along the line or DC power at a similar voltage within rolling stock which is generated within train-mounted transformers driven by 25 KVAC OCS distribution lines. The amount of energy per second a transformer can transmit is proportional to the cross-sectional area of its electrical windings times the magnetic field area those windings enclose. Thus the magnitude of a transformer’s energy conversion rate is proportional to the fourth power of any single physical dimension. Any transformer’s weight and therefore its cost is proportional the cube of any single physical dimension. Therefore a transformer’s cost is proportional to the ¾ exponential power of its energy transmission rate. The more fragmented the power distribution system’s last step-down voltage stage requiring a transformer the higher the system’s total transformer weight and therefore construction costs are going to be. For example consider the case where 16 EMUs are supplied by a 25 KVAC power distribution line requiring a voltage-step-down-transformer on each car. What would be the total electrification system transformer weight if those 16 individual transformers were removed and those 16 EMUs were instead supplied 1,500 VDC power from one line-side sub-station transformer? Answer: 16^¾ or 8 times the weight of a single EMU transformer weight. Therefore you are cutting system transformer weight and therefore transformer cost in half by using a single line-side sub-station transformer to supply 16 EMUs.
    A 1,500 VDC electrification scheme would require no traction-power-voltage-step-down-transformers on board rolling stock confined to the SF to SJ territory−a significant advantage for EMUs with the high power to weight ratio appropriate for efficiently meeting the broad peak, unusually complex, and high reverse commute proportion demand curve for SF Peninsula regional service. Higher average speeds abetted with 20 kw/tonne Caltrain, 30% greater than BART’s present EMUs, would enable multiple peak-hour-runs for most Caltrain rolling-stock to dominate the schedule. A significantly higher daily equipment utilization rate and therefore a lower rolling stock inventory would be needed for a given total ridership would be required. In addition a sprightly Caltrain will more easily mesh with CHSR runs reducing delays and increasing potential frequency for both services along their combined SF Peninsula corridor right-of-way.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People look at past construction costs, current operating costs and come to a come to the conclusion – that 25kV is the best compromise except under extraordinary circumstances.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    OK, you eliminate a bunch of transformers and rectifiers on rail cars; how many additional substations and rectifiers do you need lineside?

    As I recall, the limit is or was about three miles from a substation at 600 volts with DC, which works out to 6 miles between them, and even then you had problems of voltage drop, dimming lights, and reduced performance. For a relatively low voltage of 11,000 VAC (PRR NEC legacy system), I think the substation spacing goes to something like 25 miles or better; higher voltage extends this further.

    Ampere levels are inversely proportional to voltage for a given watt transmission level, which means that at higher voltage, you can use smaller conductors (wires) rather than rails.

    Higher voltages on rails also introduce safety hazards at track level. An interurban in Ohio attempted 1,200 VDC with a third-rail system, and had to load passengers at high platforms that were fenced (one rider referred to them as “cattle pens”), and on top of that, at this voltage had severe problems with arcing between the third rail and parts on the car, including journal boxes, bearings, and axles. They ripped that system out and went to wires.

    There’s a reason we use AC power for most applications, including in your home, and why it is the main standard for railroads today, too.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Every three miles on light to medium use lines. Closer on heavily used lines. Can only pump so many watts through that rail. At some point you have to put another substation in between the originals to be able to get enough watts out of the rail.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The problem with arcing isn’t about DC but about high voltage with third rails. In the War of Currents era, GE’s DC household electricity supply was perfectly safe: households just tapped the 110 DC power lines with no change of voltage. It was safer than AC, as Thomas Edison demonstrated with the electric chair. The problem is that at that low voltage there are losses in transmission, requiring closely spaced substations. For rail applications we see this at much higher voltages too, 11 kV vs. 25 kV. AC power had the advantage of being able to use high-voltage transmission lines with the technology available in the late 19th century.

  12. J. Wong
    Feb 18th, 2013 at 18:49
    #12

    Caltrans blitz seeks more Amtrak riders

    I’m curious. The article doesn’t specify which lines have decreased in ridership, but I’m guessing it’s the Capitol Corridor.

    Peter Reply:

    Didn’t they fuck up Sacramento’s platforms somehow? Make it more unpleasant to get to them?

    jimsf Reply:

    here’s some good info and video on the phase two portion of sac station. years I ago I said they should turn the empty space that used to be a destination restaurant, back into a destination restaurant. Now they are doing just that. The historic building is going to be a showplace. completely restored and lit.
    that restaurant space is going to be spectacular.

    Jerry Reply:

    jimsf, I’m looking forward to it all. This is happening all over the country. Check out what happened in Pittsburgh, PA at their old P&LERR station – http://www.stationsquare.com/

    jimsf Reply:

    oh that IS nice I like it.

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