HSR Still On Track to July Groundbreaking

Apr 30th, 2013 | Posted by

Over at the Los Angeles Times our old friend Ralph Vartabedian is suggesting there are three obstacles to a July groundbreaking for the high speed rail project:

The new challenges are coming from a private railroad that controls a key right of way, a legislative committee delving into contracting issues and a powerful federal agency asserting authority over the project.

But as it turns out, none of these actually represent huge problems for the California High Speed Rail Authority.

The BNSF issue is new, and certainly the most newsworthy. Here’s the details:

But last week, Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway Co., which operates a freight line that follows some of the 130-mile initial route in the Central Valley, warned in a blunt letter that no deal has been reached to build on or near its existing track. The company also signaled that it may not be willing to accept the project as proposed, in part because the exact route of the line is still unclear.

BNSF had been seen as one of the more accommodating organizations to the project. But the letter, addressed to the rail authority’s main consultant, Parsons Brinckerhoff, and copied to the rail authority, asserts that the rail agency’s planning process has “a great deal of ambiguity and contradictions.” The agency is sending mixed messages to different government agencies about what the construction entails, and it’s not clear who has the authority to speak and negotiate for the state, the railroad claimed.

The letter also raises concerns about the safety of future bullet train operations and construction work next to its freight corridor through the Central Valley.

If BNSF balks at finalizing a deal, it could put a roadblock in front of the project. Federal grants to the project contain language that requires the project to have necessary agreements with railroads before starting construction. A BNSF spokeswoman said the company would not elaborate on the letter.

A rail authority spokesman downplayed the BNSF letter, saying it is “not a show stopper.”

BNSF is not as insanely anti-passenger rail as Union Pacific. Clearly they have some concerns they want addressed. But the letter doesn’t indicate any problems that are impossible or even difficult to solve. They are seeking some clarity about route, construction plans, and ongoing operations. As the planning process has evolved, it’s become easier for the Authority to provide those answers. BNSF is prodding the Authority to do just that, and a letter that gets leaked to the media is always a good way to get your questions answered. But it’s not more than that and doesn’t suggest to me there’s any serious problems here.

Vartabedian then mentions that the state legislature is interested in the bidding process:

Separately, the rail agency is coming under new scrutiny from the state Senate Transportation Committee, which is looking into the bid evaluation process for the first 29-mile segment of rail bed through Fresno. The authority’s staff changed its bid evaluation criteria last year, after the agency’s board initially set up a two-step process that would have thrown out contracting teams with the two lowest technical scores….

“The committee has some concerns and we are going to look into it,” said Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord), the transportation committee chairman.

This should come as no surprise, and a legislative hearing is fine, but this should not be construed as some threat to the timeline either. Assuming the Authority followed all state laws regarding the bidding process – and I have to believe that they did – then the legislature won’t have any reason to throw a monkey wrench into the works. More importantly, are legislators really going to get upset that a bid came in below original estimates? They’ll want to make sure it’s a good bid that won’t cost more on the back end, but that’s just due diligence.

Finally, Vartabedian tosses in a mention of the Surface Transportation Board ruling that they do have jurisdiction over the high speed rail project. That’s an unfortunate ruling, but they have given exemptions to other HSR projects in the recent past. Let’s hope the Obama Administration is able to get the board to do so again for California.

Overall these are some fairly routine issues that any major project will encounter on its road to construction. There’s every reason to believe they’ll be resolved quickly and not delay construction.

  1. joe
    Apr 30th, 2013 at 20:10
    #1

    What if a dude with a shovel, flash-light and a 6-pack starting digging in Gilroy in late night in mid June? Would that count as the kick off for HSR?

    James McDonald Reply:

    Get me a shovel.

  2. Elizabeth
    Apr 30th, 2013 at 21:38
    #2

    Here is the letter:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/138023416/BNSF-Letter-to-Authority-4-16-2013#page=1

    You be the judge.

    BrianR Reply:

    yes we’ve seen that before. Your friend, Morris Brown previously posted it here a little while back. It was actually refreshing to see Morris post something not by Wendell Cox for a change!

    synonymouse Reply:

    The letter is succinct, very carefully composed, and displays the level of insightful critique, altho of course polite, that this project has been sorely lacking since the outset.

    You know what? I don’t think they are going to get anywhere, because the response the BNSF is asking for is beyond the competence level of PB-CHSRA and Jerry Brown.

    If I were the BNSF I would lawyer up. I suspect the Santa Fe will come to learn the hard way how the UP adopted its hardass stance.

    Travis D Reply:

    You really think BNSF should become just as irrational as UPRR?

    Nathanael Reply:

    I did judge it. BNSF is being completely cooperative, they just want some clarity on details. Reasonable.

  3. Mike
    May 1st, 2013 at 12:30
    #3

    So, I found that letter from BNSF to be really confusing. Granted, I’m not that intelligent or fully informed. But the letter seemed to be full of complaints about not knowing what is the HSR alignment, how will it impact BNSF operations/access, etc. Isn’t all this stuff already nailed down? The EIR is done, the alignment is set, the 35% (or whatever) engineering design is done.

    And the letter talks about needing to know what are the operating plans. Why does this matter to BNSF? The Central Valley section will be 100% separate from BNSF and should create zero operational conflict with freight, not matter WHAT schedule HSR operates. Perhaps BNSF is reacting to the scenario of conventional Amtrak trains using the HSR tracks … which, again, shouldn’t impact BNSF, unless we’re talking about greater train frequency (on BNSF tracks) or different scheduling. Which it’s just much too early to talk about, and which I am certain there are already protocols in place for negotiating between BNSF/Amtrak/Caltrans.

    What’s the deal?

    Mike Reply:

    Okay, so reading this letter again, it’s apparent that there is 0% probability that these BNSF issues will delay the July groundbreaking on the north-of-Fresno segment, which isn’t even along BNSF right of way. Maybe there’s some issues here that will impact the south-of-Fresno segment, but really this seems mostly to be about the impact that enhanced Amtrak service would have on BNSF operations. Which is probably a genuine and challenging issue, but it doesn’t seem to be one that directly affects the construction of dedicated HSR tracks.

    Incidentally, both UP and BNSF have consistently said (1) we won’t sell you our right of way, and (2) we don’t want you operating your own ROW that parallels ours. So how would they intend to prevent #2, if it just involves CHSRA purchasing a parallel ROW from non-railroad owners? If STB steps out of the way, do UP and BNSF have a leg to stand on while the bitch and complain (about losing access to potential customers on the CHSRA side of their tracks)?

    jimsf Reply:

    I think they (bnsf) just want to, a, make sure they are more in the info loop from here on out, and b, make sure they are compensated and involved in any future infrastructure changes to their row, ( per changes/increases in amtrak trains)

    While the madera to fresno portion avoids the bnsf, the fresno to hanford portion uses the bnsf row.

    In fact do we know the details there? is the plan to lay two high speed tracks next to the freight tracks within the bnsf property? I think so. So they want to know all the details now so they can plan for it and have input on it.

    They also want assurance that only amtrak, and not some other operator, will have any access to the bnsf row, probably because they have an established working relationship with both caltrains and amtrak.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The letter is in response to a request from PB-CHSRA so I discount any media massaging or manipulation on the part of the BNSF to force the issue. Their concern is genuine and could range as far as to the point they believe they are being hustled by PB-CHSRA. They read the newspapers and are quite aware of the controversies and certainly the apparently successful bid by Tutor. I wonder if BNSF would ever hire Tutor. And then there is the reference: ” As we have emphasized since our first discussions with prior officers of the Authority…” With Van Ark purged who is left to even remember where and what they started to negotiate?

    Clearly the last thing the BNSF wants is “TBD”. They want explicit; they want detailed; they want in a legal agreement. This type of disclosure and transparency is totally contrary to the PB corporate philosophy, which is rooted in back-room political fixes and clandestine wheeling and dealing. The last thing PB wants is for the gritty details to be made public, because they are not going to be pretty, rather compromised and arbitrary.

    “…it is now essential that we have direct contact with whatever authority we would be negotiating definitive agreements if these projects are to be progressed.” There is no “authority” – that would be at least the equivalent of a BARTD or the supposed private concessionaire. The default would be Amtrak, grosso modo. Talk about conflict with Prop 1A and private party involvement.

    UP management is probably chuckling over the circulation of this letter.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    BNSF’s beef, as I said the other day, is that they really don’t want more or less service than currently exists on the San Joaquin corridor. They want the fractional amount of money they get hosting the San Joaquins now (which would go away when the ICS is done), and they don’t want to lose the capacity of additional service on their tracks at that cheap price either.

    But again, because of BuffetNSF’s connection to the White House and Amtrak supporters, I am sure they are trying to glean anything they can from the Governor’s Office about the ability to have Amtrak operate or own CAHSR.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Jimsf,

    They are using BNSF for Merced to Fresno as well. The selected hybrid alignment starts on UP goes out BNSF and then goes back to UP.

    An agreement with BNSF is a requirement of federal funding and the RFP, even addendum 9, explicitly didn’t even have a draft of an agreement.

    BNSF states in this letter there is no agreement on anything until there is a plan, which is an entirely reasonable position.

    They also point out that there are differing and contradictory stories being told to the STB, in the environmental docs, in the FRA applications, in the business plan, to the public etc etc.

    Usually in these cases this means there is no plan.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Hard to believe but perhaps the BNSF are that naive. The Van Ark fiasco should have alerted them they would be henceforth dealing with dullards they would practically have to tutor..(no pun intended)

    On the other hand the UP strictly adheres to the Andy Grove paradigm: only the paranoid survive. Why take a chance?

    Travis D Reply:

    That you admire UP is all the evidence I need that I should hate them.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Is it a taking to cut them off from 50% of their franchise? Or good public policy for that matter?

    Mike Reply:

    I don’t have a whole lot of sympathy for the railroads’ argument that they “own” the right to connect to future customers on either side of their ROW. Law and regulation may say differently, of course, but it would seem very odd (and unjustified) for railroad owners to be granted a right over the uses of adjacent private properties. In general, if I own some property and if it matters to me that an adjacent owner does or doesn’t do something (that is otherwise a legal thing to do), it’s up to me to reach an agreement with that property owner (which may include my compensating them).

    I guess the key question is what exactly is the nature of the franchise granted to by federal government to UP and BNSF, and does it extend to a right of access to adjacent parcels. If only there was a rail lawyer here!

    Nathanael Reply:

    “does it extend to a right of access to adjacent parcels”

    No, it doesn’t.

    Travis D Reply:

    Is it good public policy to let a railroad have god like powers to choose who buys property adjacent to theirs?

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is the same sort of decision where you allow a very large building immediately abutting a freeway ROW. You are locked in – actions and policies have consequences you will have to live with down the road.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Paul: No, and yes, respectively. Private entities like BNSF and UP have no special rights of access across other people’s land, barring STB decision to delegate governmental powers to them. Nor should they.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It’s worth remembering that the entire current mess was created by:
    (1) the government decision back in the 19th century to delegate the public responsibility of transportation to private railroads,
    (2) the government decision in the mid-20th century to allow the private railroads to avoid their legal franchise responsibilities to provide suitable passenger transportation. Part of this deal was that the private railroads were not supposed to complain when the government provided the passenger transportation that they had failed to provide.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Re (2), that unfunded mandate helped cause Eastern railroads to collapse. The PRR had an overbuilt network, huge legacy costs, and competition from other overbuilt railroads. So did Southern Pacific, though admittedly to a somewhat smaller extent. Both had terrible finances, as did their successor companies, well into the 1980s. The one without passenger rail survived to the freight rail resurgence of the 1990s, the one with collapsed in 1970 and had to be nationalized.

    Nathanael Reply:

    That’s what we get for entrusting public responsibilities to private companies. (2) was a consequence of (1).

    It’s worth noting that every other country in the world has nationalized its freight tracks. (I haven’t found any exceptions.) A few countries, under the influence of loot-and-steal politics, have since privatized them, generally to disastrous consequence.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “2) we don’t want you operating your own ROW that parallels ours. So how would they intend to prevent #2, if it just involves CHSRA purchasing a parallel ROW from non-railroad owners?”

    They can’t prevent #2 and they have no plans to prevent #2… because they quite literally can’t. They have no leverage to prevent #2, none at all.

    Jim Reply:

    CEQA. They can point out that potential customers cut off from rail freight will be forced to use trucking and the EIR didn’t consider that. Delay is leverage.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “Potential” customers don’t mean a damn thing for EIR purposes, and this is well-established.

    After all, the freight railroad can always build a spur, on a bridge over the passenger tracks, to serve these future “potential” customers. If they should ever turn up. Sometime 300 years from now, perhaps. If the “potential” customers ever turned up, the freight would have to build a new track and do new grading to access them *anyway*.

    Actual customers *are* considered in EIRs. “Potential” customers aren’t.

  4. BeWise
    May 1st, 2013 at 13:28
    #4

    Question, I’m aware that the French limit axle load on their high-speed lines to a maximum of 17 tons. Given that the F59PHI engines that currently pull the San Joaquins have an axle load of just over 33 tons, won’t this cause excessive wear and tear on the IOS tracks within a short amount of time?

    jimsf Reply:

    What if they used FRA compliant DMUs?

    BeWise Reply:

    Do they plan to?

    jimsf Reply:

    These are new

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    so new that no one has every seen one.

    Joey Reply:

    And how much more money and less performance comes from buying from a company that has almost zero experience building anything? They’ve built a few mediocre diesel-mechanical units previously, and they have zero experience building the diesel-electric units which would be required for 110-125mph operation (despite claiming to be able to do so).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The company that built the DMUs went belly up a while ago. The current company owns the blueprints. I don’t know if they have ever actually built one.

    jonathan Reply:

    Diesel-mechanical? A DMMU, in this day and age? And FRA-compliant? Even “mediocre” results would be impressive, using a heavy truck gearbox. Are you sure you don’t mean diesel-hydraulic?

    Hmm, TrainWeb says Voith hydrodynamic (“hydraulic”) transmission.

    Joey Reply:

    Yeah, my bad.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    They would still weigh absurdly much. DMU isn’t magic, FRA is evil sorcery.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not only do they weigh a lot, but also they’re very expensive, so they’re used in mixed consists with unpowered cars, so that the performance is for shit.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Yet still better than diesel locomotive hauled consists.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    When the top speed is 60 mph, the stop penalty is about halfway between a loco-hauled consist and a high-performance EMU. The MBTA Fairmount Line study says 70 and 43 seconds of acceleration penalty and measuring speed on YouTube for the FLIRT says 14 seconds of acceleration penalty to 100 km/h.

    The higher the top speed is, the worse this gets, because the DMU advantage of more powered axles is less important than the power-to-weight ratio.

    William Reply:

    http://www.n-sharyo.co.jp/business/tetsudo_e/prod_overseas.htm

    Using METRA’s EMU as an estimate, my guess that the axle load for DMU similar to the SMART ones will be less than 20 tons per axle, which is not too far off the 17 tons per axle for HSR trains.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    no

    jimsf Reply:

    how many years between the time that the initial construction segments starts being used as a usable segment/interim use and the time an electric 220 train IOS goes into operation?

    ten years or so?

    What to do with the new non electric infrastructure in the meantime?
    What can you run on it?

    Joey Reply:

    And people wonder why some of us dislike the fact that they chose to build the least useful segment first?

    Clem Reply:

    17 tons at 200 mph = 33 tons at ??? mph

    Eric M Reply:

    Theoretically, it could be 200 mph. At high speed, weight really means nothing. It’s all about power and gearing. Although, it could take a looooooooong time to get to top speed with a heavy trainset

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, you’re missing what Clem’s saying. The same trainset on the same tracks will cause more track wear at high speed than at low speed.

    jonathan Reply:

    No, he’s just plain wrong, even on his own interpretation. He doesn’t get the concept of power-to-weight ratio, or the costs associated with having to build at shallower grades for FRA-compliant bronto-trains. Well, okay, maybe he’s right, but he’d have to be a Flatlander. If I heard that Eric M. is a proponent of the I-5 route, I could end up choking ;)

    By the way, what Clem is asking is: at what speed is the the track wear from a 33-tonne axle load FRA -compliant locomotive, equal to the track wear from a 17-tonne axle-load HSR trainset travelling at 200 mi/hr? I’d say it’s a trick question.

    (Yes, I know it’s Apatosaur, not brontosaur; and I double-checked my comment below, which I wrote before Alon’s reply above.)

    Eric M Reply:

    No, I am not a proponent of the I-5 route, nor the use of heavy trainsets…..and I understand axle loads and track wear. Apparently, you and Alon missed the first word I said: “theoretically”. I said nothing about actually advocating the use of FRA sets on the IOS

    Eric M Reply:

    I am not advocating using heavy trainsets at all. I merely stated you could get a heavy load to high speeds, but it would take a lot of power and lots of gears.

    jonathan Reply:

    I say again: “power to weight ratios”. Try starting this FRA-compatible trainset on a 3% grade.

    And “lots of gears”: astonishing. just how many gear-ratios do you think a train has??

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    usually one though they can do all sorts of funky things these days with AC traction and variable frequency inverters

    jonathan Reply:

    Spoiler!
    There’s only more than one if you have a mechanical gearbox; and diesel-mechanical has been passe’ for a good 50 years.

    Technically, the problem with starting a juggernaut FRA-compliant train on a 3% grade is limited by tractive effort, not horsepower; but either way, Eric M’s answers are so bad they’re barely even wrong.

    Yes, synthesizing AC at the best-frequency-for-the-moment, with thyristors (GTOs 10-15 years ago; IGBTs today) does wonders for efficiency. But when you’re starting from a dead stop, fiddling frequency can’t do much to help. Starting tractive effort, blah blah blah stall torque blah blah blah tractive effort curve blah blah blah

    jonathan Reply:

    The context here is BeWise’ question about wear and tear on the tracks.

    The ICS — particularly any bridges or viaducts — is being built to take FRA-compatible trains. But the rails are going to get worn to crap, and pushed out of alignment. It will cost a lot to get the track back to FRA Class 9 standards.

    Andy M Reply:

    Axle loads are not an absolute limit, exceeding which will lead to a catastrophic failure.

    If in the early years heavier axle loads are permitted, there will be faster wear of track, but speeds will also be lower so that is tolerable. Modern track tamping machines can re-align track with very great accuracy. During the transitional period to real HSR, they will have to use those machines more intensively. But nothing impossibly so.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Would slab track have any particular issues?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Slab would need some resiliency built in – dampers, cushioners, etc. Slab would be noisy and more difficult to rebuild or realign in event of subsidence or washout.

    jonathan Reply:

    Axle loads are not an absolute limit, exceeding which will lead to a catastrophic failure.

    Actually, that’s exactly what they are, when we’re talking about exceeding both axle-load and weight-per-unit-length by a factor of two. Bridges and viaducts, dear boy.

  5. Gianny
    May 1st, 2013 at 18:36
    #5

    Draft alternatives released for Los Angeles Union Station Master Plan

    http://thesource.metro.net/2013/05/01/draft-alternatives-released-for-los-angeles-union-station-master-plan/

    jimsf Reply:

    wow those are some crazy choices. Never heard of the underground options before… seems like the first option makes the most sense.

    Joey Reply:

    There was an all at-grade option in the LA-Anaheim AA. Where did that go?

    Clem Reply:

    It was not, shall we say, sufficiently “concrete” to be considered any further.

    EJ Reply:

    Ugh, just so long as we don’t get any of the Vignes street options – that area is a wasteland, and it’ll be one for the forseeable future. Under Alameda street has a lot of potential – it’s fairly deep, but it focuses development on the correct side of the station, and it has good links to a proper bus terminal (Patsaouras Plaza should be scrapped, aesthetically it’s not bad, but it’s just too small – LA needs a transit hub with capacity for all its buses).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Penn Station is yucky. It doesn’t connect with the El. And there’s nothing around it. Before that everyone though Commodore Vanderbilt was out of his mind when he bought all that property way up in the hinterlands of 42nd Street. Who’d go all the way up there to catch a train.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Vanderbilt continued to run the horse-drawn trains south from 42nd St. to New York City proper to connect people to Grand Central.

    Pennsylvania Station was actually a far more questionable operation; it is where it is because the tunnels under the Hudson had to avoid the existing infrastructure on the New Jersey shoreline, which is why they bend so far north.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Strange they didn’t enter on 14th Street via northern Hoboken. Or was it too hard to find land for a cathedral to the corporate might of the PRR train station?

    Nathanael Reply:

    You have to remember, what is now PATH got there first. The PRR route is carefully situated just to the north of the route which was already franchised to the Hudson & Manhattan.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People in 1900 were looking at growth patterns and seeing that the prime real estate was moving a block north every year. 14th Street as the happenin’ place was already beginning to fade. I’m sure there was someone complaining that building the station of 34th Street was stupid because by the time they made their money back on it it would be like the slums of we now call the West Village. That they should put it up in the West 50s like the bridge plans, right at the 9th Avenue El. That in 1960 it’d be 20 blocks closer to the shopping district in the 70s and the theater district in the 80s.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @EJ:

    The problem with Patsaouras is that its not ‘the’ bus terminal at LAUS. It only deals with 40% of the traffic, with transit operators finding it easier to disembark passengers on a side street than get the bus into the plaza, and the issues first time travelers have with finding where they can board a specific bus are intense. It’s not even useful for buses coming from the El Monte/I-10 busway as they can’t enter the plaza from that direction.

    The problem with a replacement terminal for Patsaouras is that there isn’t a space big enough close to LAUS and easily accessible by buses that doesn’t involve knocking down a building or two (something replacing the MWD headquarters and spanning 101 next to Alameda could work).

    Travis D Reply:

    In spite of what Clem implies I can see many good reasons to jettison that plan. The fact it involved lots more land and didn’t cost less being chief among them.

    Joey Reply:

    The fact that it makes transfers vastly easier than any other option is quite compelling.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Precisely.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Joey: the at-grade option may still be in the LA-Anaheim AA. In fact, it may end up being chosen by the CHSRA….

    …. but this is a different agency doing a different study! So they didn’t feel the need to pay attention to the results of the CHSRA studies, which already rejected two of the options being studied in the “LAUS Master Plan” study.

    Yeesh. Some coordination, people?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    What would have made the most sense is running it beneath the rail yard. But that would affect the MTA parking lot…so instead they are trying to push it out it looks like beyond that point. Not that intermodality is important or anything.

    Joey Reply:

    You have the track access passage, red line concourse, and red line platform below the existing tracks. Whatever you’re constructing under that would be build _very_ deep. That was considered and rejected in a previous iteration of the AA with good reason.

    Joey Reply:

    The fact that the red line station box is at an angle to the main tracks also means that you would have difficulty getting any easy transfers, even ignoring the huge vertical distance that people would have to traverse. The correct place for the HSR platforms is at-grade, where there is in fact enough room, particularly once Metrolink and Amtrak have run-through tracks.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Initially your arrangement works. But eventually, when it’s possible to do SF to LA nonstop trips in two hours, there will need to be more grade separation.

    Joey Reply:

    So put flyovers on the approaches. The LA-Anaheim AA had dedicated HSR platforms off to one side anyway, though IMO that’s not the best configuration. But in any case, no need to pour several billion into a hole which would in fact make transfers harder.

    Travis D Reply:

    I dispute that the at-grade option was actually viable.

    Joey Reply:

    Dispute all you want, but use actual geometry. Keep in mind that many of the new options involve demolishing the Mosaic apartments anyway, though that’s not strictly necessary in either case.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Need “HSR concourse”.
    Need 100% segregated HSR station.
    Need 100% fare gated access control.
    Need separate airside and landside circulation.
    Need separate airside and landside waiting areas.
    Need waiting lounges, for that authentic airline experience.
    Need longest possible transfer routes.
    Need incompatible services, serving incompatible platforms, at completely separate, nbearly completely unconnected, only accidentally semi-adjacent, mutually oblivious passenger herding “stations”.
    Need to maximize access time and waiting time and transfer time. Because fucking over passengers is THE AMERICAN WAY.

    Garbage in, garbage out. Of course “the at-grade option wasn’t actually viable”. It’s NO EXPENSIVE AND STUPID ENOUGH for the America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals.

    Remember, the criminals at LAMTA just diverted hundreds of millions of tax dollars to the rent-seeking pig-fucking defense contractors at Cubic, Inc, for 100% unnecessary, operation cost increasing, security cost increasing and future capital cost blowing sky-high fare gating. These are the same class of criminals who determine what maximum concrete, maximum contractor kickbacks, maximum capital cost, and minimum passenger utility are the sole criteria for “viable” alternatives.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    the criminals at LAMTA just diverted hundreds of millions of tax dollars to the rent-seeking pig-fucking defense contractors at Cubic, Inc, for 100% unnecessary, operation cost increasing, security cost increasing and future capital cost blowing sky-high fare gating.

    They’ll be able to reduce fare evasion from “almost not worth doing the bookkeeping to keep track of” to “to just a bit less than almost not worth doing the bookkeeping”. Gotta keep the proles in line after all.

    jonathan Reply:

    Ahh, so just _think_ of the savings on book-keeping!

    Or do you mean it’s still only _almost_ not worth doing the bookkeeping”?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If they are losing 1% to fare evasion and installing faregates means they’ll lose 0.9 percent it’s almost not worth doing the bookkeeping in either case. They have to, so that they know how much they are losing to fare evasion but determining how much fare evasion is costing them is still going to be an expense whether they have fare inspectors or faregates. If the fare inspectors are missing 2 percent of fares and installing faregates makes that drop to 1.5 percent the cost of the faregates has to be very low to make it “cheaper” than fare inspectors. If the fare inspectors are costing them more than faregates and the faregates make them lose less they at what point are they “worth” it. If the faregates cost them more than fare inspectors and the fare evasion doesn’t budge they aren’t “worth” it. Or some variants. It’s when algebra and calculus come in handy.

    jonathan Reply:

    It’s when algebra and calculus come in handy.

    Yes, exactly. That’s why i asked about your non-quantitative “almost” and “just a bit less than almost…”.
    I will have to recalibrate my irony-o-meter.

    jonathan Reply:

    “NO” -> “NOT”.

    It’s amusing when Richard’s insane rants negate themselves.

    Joey Reply:

    There are places on the internet where people crucify each other over typos and grammar mistakes. Let’s not make this that kind of place.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I object to the use of the word “crucify.” It was an actual punishment and you’re minimizing it by using it metaphorically.

    (Yes, I’m trolling, but I’ve heard similar arguments made seriously about the term “grammar Nazi.”)

    jonathan Reply:

    .. but it *is* amusing.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I once wrote a comment on Ezra Klein’s old blog in which I said “always right” when I intended to say “always wrong.”

    Yes, I got pilloried. And hanged and quartered. Etc.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Am I missing something or are all of these proposed master plan alternatives ignoring the LAUS run through tracks project?

    Joey Reply:

    They’re visible faintly in the drawings.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Boy are they faint.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    That is a good question
    Perhaps the transit panjandrums of LA don’t want trains to run through
    Must keep the people in the county!

    Donk Reply:

    No, if you look closely at all of the alternatives, there is a picture of the run-thru tracks on tracks 3-6.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Must be some new transparent bridging material

    jonathan Reply:

    Amazing things you can do with Unobtanium these days. Maybe they should get James Cameron to do the design.

    Donk Reply:

    So uh how much are we spending on the stations alone? SF already pillaged $400M from the limited HSR pot for the TBT. Is each city expecting to get HSR funds to pay for their stations at that magnitude? HSR funds should ONLY be used to for track.

    Michael Reply:

    Donk, do you have a clue how much TBT costs and how much SF is raising from land sales, sales taxes, bridge tolls, etc? Do you know what the $400m is as a percentage of the TBT? Yes, $400m is a lot of money, but I think you’re missing part of the story. This has been discussed here before.

    Donk Reply:

    Yes I realize that the $400M went for the HSR box and that TBT is a huge project. But do you have a clue how much HSR funding has been raised to date and what percentage of that has gone to the SF TBT box? What if LAUS, Anaheim, SJ Galactic, Fresno, and all other cities asked for advance payments on their stations? We would have a bunch of great stations and no money to build tracks. So, yes, SF has pillaged a large portion of the precious HSR funds for their station.

    joe Reply:

    Cities are responsible for building infrastructure supporting the HSR station and anticipated growth. If they build one in a field out of town, the city must build the infrastructure and roads to support the station. Police and fire services too.

    How would CA decide which city is privileged to borrow money for a HSR compliant station? And what’s in it for them again?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    track is almost useless without stations. People don’t like to rappel up to the train from the ballast.

    Donk Reply:

    Thank you, I did not realize that you need train stations along tracks for trains to stop at. The point is that at this point we need track more than we need stations, and that raising funds for a station is much easier than raising funds for HSR track. Once we have the track started, local leaders will find ways to fund the stations.

    jonathan Reply:

    Adirondacker, you keep forgetting that this isn’t the NEC. You think the difference between 8in ATOR and _at_ TOR will, all by itself, force rappelling?

    What a strange world you live in. ;)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Bridesburg_Station_2012.JPG

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Why not? It makes for good action movie scenes.

    Donk Reply:

    I assume that the LAUS topic will not even get its own post, since it is only about SoCal. If this was about the TBT, Caltrain, or anything else on the Peninsula, Robert would have gotten the scoop on it well before it was out. Then we would have arguments about capacity and alignment of tracks going into TBT, BART ring the Bay, and Caltrain compatibility.

    EJ Reply:

    You do have to wonder why this rail link is so important when Socal and Norcal rail wonks live in completely different worlds…

    joe Reply:

    I blame Richard for not jumping on the topic with his own designs and kicking off a controversy.

    jonathan Reply:

    Ah, but is it Richard’s designs which spark the controversy; or his vituperative, abusive, bordering-on-kook, ad-hominem attacks?

Comments are closed.