According to Ray LaHood, HSR is Obama’s Crowning Glory

May 1st, 2013 | Posted by

Ray LaHood gave some parting remarks on Monday as he wraps up his tenure as U.S. Transportation Secretary. He was full of praise for President Barack Obama, but high speed rail was at the top of the list:

I think the crowning glory for the president — and he is going to have many legacies but his transportation legacy — will be high-speed rail in America, bringing passenger rail all over America,” LaHood said, speaking at a news conference in which Obama announced the nomination for Charlotte, N.C. Mayor Anthony Foxx to be the next transportation secretary.

“Let me tell you what I mean by that. I visited 18 countries in the past 4 1/2 years. The common thread throughout every country is a national vision, national leadership, national commitment. And that’s what the president provided over the last 4 1/2 years,” LaHood continued. “What he said to America is we know you want a different kind of transportation. And Lincoln started the rail system in America. Obama has started high speed rail in America. What a great legacy.”

LaHood is giving credit where it’s due, though he’s also being modest. LaHood was a strong voice and a determined warrior for the Obama Administration’s passenger rail plans, refusing to give in when Tea Party governors in Wisconsin, Ohio and Florida wanted to use HSR stimulus funding for roads and pushing back against California legislators who wanted to do their own redirection of HSR funds. LaHood was a hero for high speed rail during his time as Transportation Secretary.

But I’ll certainly agree with him that President Obama has made HSR a big priority, and it will be an important part of his legacy. It was the White House that insisted on including $8 billion for HSR in the February 2009 stimulus package. President Obama has pushed a national HSR plan, and has consistently included funding for HSR in his budgets and his transportation funding proposals. Congressional Republicans haven’t gone along, but Obama has never once been deterred from backing HSR by their opposition.

Prop 1A’s passage in November 2008 was great, but without federal help starting in 2009 the California HSR project would have stalled. The $4 billion in federal funding the project has received is what will enable construction to begin later this year on the first segment in the Central Valley. That’s President Obama’s doing.

High speed rail is going to be the backbone of transportation between regions of North America in the 21st century. That nationwide network will have been kickstarted by President Obama, with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood doing a lot of the heavy lifting. Both of them deserve our endless thanks.

  1. BMF from San Diego
    May 1st, 2013 at 23:24
    #1

    I think HSR on a national scale will be a poor performer. There simply are not enough pearls close enough to string across the country.

    HSR on the regional scale is a better objective.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There are plenty of pearls east of Minneapolis and San Antonio. Draw a line between the two. 75 percent of the population lives in those states or states east of them.

    Joey Reply:

    Yes, it’s likely that many of the eastern networks would end up interconnected under a full buildout scenario, thought I don’t know if the Midwest would end up directly connected to Texas or the Southeast.

    joe Reply:

    It will happen. HSR will connect across the US

    We have these critters called Senators and HSR will like an interstate – they too have opinions and will want a piece.

    Absolutely no reason IL to TX and MO and OK would NOT want a piece of HSR. OK City has a NBA franchise which is a decent measure of the city significance for that region.

    Eric Reply:

    Perhaps Hawaii will want HSR too, but sanity will prevail and they will not get it. Same with Montana. No matter what the senators say.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why not? Hawaii and Alaska have Interstate highways.

    TomA Reply:

    Yes, I would expect that if we ever really embrace HSR you will essentially have five eastern networks centered around Texas Triangle, Florida, Atlanta-DC, Boston-DC, and Chicago – with probably connections between BosWash and Chicago, Chicago and Texas, Florida and the Atlanta hub, and Atlanta and Texas.

    The LA centered and Northwest lines would be separate pieces.

    Andy M Reply:

    Absolutely. It’s only the foamers who are talking about true nationwide HSR. The rest of us are looking at regional systems around the main hubs of population, some of which will just coincidentally interconnect.

    joe Reply:

    We already built rail connecting these remote places 150 years ago. Added a highway system crossing this nation with redundancy. The argument is over speed and electrification.

    What’s a main hub of population? Missoula, MT is a main hub of population, Spokane too. I lived in both places and I’m not arguing HSR to Missoula is practical but I am very sure these are important places built around a rail and now interstate highway system. You just do not happen to live there to know it.

    BMF from San Diego Reply:

    Yeah… The level of travel demand in/out of such places don’t warrant frequent service and the necessary infrastructure improvements to provide HSR. That includes locations where rail is already located.

    joe Reply:

    I sometimes wonder what the demand for rail was before we built the rail system. Same for the highways around which land developed.

    Were a nation, not a fast food franchise. When we bring in HSR, amazing things happen, people will move there.

    The median state population (#25) is LA at under 5 Million.

    One needs to get senators to sign up for HSR funding and that means it will service states between large population centers and connect the west to east. I bet that’s how we got the HW system funded. Which states lack an interstate?

    BMF from San Diego Reply:

    Rail was initially introduced for freight. Also leveraged for transcontinental passenger use. This was before roads and airplanes.

    Today, the HSR infrastructure for passenger use to middle USA is not warranted. Just like a cruise ship is not necessary for a trip to Catalina island – even if it were a Carnival ship – HSR to Ames Iowa or Bozeman, Montana is not practical.

    joe Reply:

    Amazingly we have more people than we did 150 years ago- 23 M is now 307 million and climbing.

    So I do think an order of magnitude more people matters.

    307+ who are much more mobile and with 2 Senators per State – it’s going to happen.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    As others have mentioned too… Begin with regional networks. If one falls out of a set of regional networks that enables transcontinental travel, great. But it should not be the goal or objective.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s 600 miles from Kansas City to Denver. There’s nothing in between the two that has enough people in it to make it worthwhile to build a station. San Antonio to El Paso you say? It’s 500 miles from San Antonio to El Paso. What other metro areas over a million are there? Albuquerque! … it’s over 500 miles away from Oklahoma City and the biggest thing in between the two is Amarillo. With a metro are under a quarter of a million. Cheyenne to El Paso! Passes through Denver, Santa Fe and Albuquerque! It’s it’s over 800 miles. The combined population of Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico is under 8 million. Throw in metro El Paso and you don’t make it 9 million. The population is too low and the distances are too great to make sense for HSR. There is never going to be a transcontinental HSR system – unless you ban planes and cars.

    Eric Reply:

    The population is increasing, and also becoming increasingly concentrated. The Great Plains states are emptying out. So no, there will still not be HSR in every state.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Roads, airplanes, and the Panama Canal. The Milwaukee’s Pacific Extension started underperforming long before truck freight became a viable long-distance option.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    There’s no reason we couldn’t actually launch an industry,” Vassiliadis said, further defending XpressWest’s numbers. “There’s all these corridors all over the country … if we launched the ability to be manufacturers, engineers … if we can get going, this is an industry

    Read more: http://www.lasvegassun.com/news/2013/mar/18/high-speed-rail-project-beset-political-mine-field/#ixzz2S95UiqIY

    Billy Vassiliadis, lobbyist with R and R Partners representing the XpressWest venture

    Walter Reply:

    Paul Ryan and Jeff Sessions think that HSR (far from their districts) is a waste of money!?

    Will the sun rise in the east tomorrow also?

    joe Reply:

    Janesville is near Madison so tanking HSR-lite in WI sure didn’t help Ryan’s district.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Janesville can benefit from regional or interregional legacy rail (to Madison and Rockford), but not HSR.

    Explanation: Janesville is 60 km south of Madison. Chicago-MSP HSR would go just north of Madison, so there is no closer station to Janesville. Factor in station access time and it’s faster to drive all the way to Chicago than to go the opposite way toward Madison and then take the train.

    However, because there are good Chicago-Rockford and Rockford-Madison legacy lines, a retooled national passenger rail network focusing on local and regional trips could offer driving-competitive times. Something on the level of the New York-Scranton(-Binghamton) service occasionally proposed only without FRA behemoths.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Real Americans ™ don’t ride trains so bringing a train to Janesville would be pointless. No one there would use it. Anyway laid off auto workers don’t have the money to go gallivanting off to Chicago.

    Cascadian Reply:

    I think a long-term national vision is important, even if all that’s built are a series of regional networks. As the regional networks build out, it’s likely that momentum for the more feasible connections will build.

    Some connections in the foreseeable future seem highly unlikely (like anything crossing the Rockies), but the planned HSR spokes around the Chicago hub will connect to the NE Corridor pretty easily, connecting Florida HSR to Texas HSR along the Gulf Coast would make sense if we could just get the separate pieces underway, and CA HSR will connect to Las Vegas and possibly Phoenix. That’s most of the country in three pieces. Unfortunately I don’t see much likelihood of a future regional system in the Pacific Northwest connecting to HSR in California, but with HSR in both regions there would be demand for more frequent non-HSR passenger rail between Portland and Sacramento.

    I can totally see the development of a system of medium-range air travel connecting these 3-4 regional or multi-regional systems, with most shorter routes in each region handled by HSR.

    Eric Reply:

    Yeah. O’Hare and Atlanta airports, for example, could become regional transfer points from which people take a train to whatever smaller city in the Midwest or South is their destination.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, exactly. Some airports are easy or fairly easy to serve by HSR, and these could displace connecting flights from small airports, in addition to the displacement of O&D flights by HSR. In California, SFO is easy and LAX is fairly easy. In Texas, it depends; the SNCF proposal and the T-Bone both serve the airports, but Keep Houston Houston is making a strong argument that serving DFW and Bush is harder than it looks. In Florida, it’s if anything easier than serving downtown Orlando. Etc.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    when thinking about metro Orlando keep in mind that the destination in metro Orlando is not downtown. It’s out in the resort parks.

    Joey Reply:

    Out of curiosity, how would you propose getting HSR to LAX?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Harbor Subdivision, blended with local rail so that people in Inglewood and along Slauson would have better east-west service and a faster way of getting downtown.

    They’re unfortunately handing over a portion of the corridor to the Crenshaw Line.

    Joey Reply:

    Would it all be on an aerial? Also, much of the corridor is too narrow for two tracks, not that the property acquisitions necessary would be particularly expensive. And I think there’s room between Crenshaw and LAX for an aerial in addition to the LRT tracks.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Most of it would, yeah. There’s plenty of room above Slauson, but not enough room on the ROW itself just north of Slauson for two tracks with everything done at-grade. The narrow part is a few blocks west of Crenshaw. It’s just wide enough there for two tracks with stations at the important street intersections (the width of a two-track aerial is about 8-9 meters in Tokyo, exclusive of stations), and somewhat wider east of Crenshaw and west of about the center of Inglewood.

  2. Donk
    May 1st, 2013 at 23:52
    #2

    In other news, after long last, the preliminary LAUS station designs have been released. But nobody is listening since LAUS is south of the Peninsula. There has been more discussion about SMART around here than LAUS.

    joe Reply:

    I live(ed) in Gilroy / Peninsula / SF so I haven’t a clue what to think about or comment on LAUS.

    You possibly know something and think it’s interesting so write about it.

    orulz Reply:

    Over the rail yards is the clear choice to me for the High Speed Rail. The underground alternatives should be non-starters. Japan, for example, doesn’t have a single underground high speed rail station anywhere, even on lines like the Kyushu Shinkansen. The rail lines always emerge above ground for stations.

    Digging out station caverns, particularly quarter mile long station caverns like this, is prohibitively expensive and disruptive. Plus, this could/should put the High Speed Rail tracks right next to the already-planned run through tracks for Metrolink.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    It starts with operational philosophy. Is LAUS to be a through station or a terminus for most trains? If you don’t allow the place to be a parking lot, whether for regional or interregional services, you can manage with the footprint you have on one level.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Grand Central Terminal, East Side Access

    The MTA is in the midst of an ambitious project to bring Long Island Rail Road trains into the terminal via the East Side Access Project. The project was spurred by a study that showed that more than half of LIRR riders work closer to Grand Central than Penn Station.[52]

    A new bi-level, eight-track tunnel was excavated under Park Avenue, more than 90 feet (27 m) below the Metro-North tracks and more than 140 feet (43 m) below the surface. Reaching the street from the lowest level, more than 175 feet (53 m) deep, will take about 10 minutes.[53]

    LIRR trains will access Park Avenue via the existing lower level of the 63rd Street Tunnel, connecting to its main line running through Sunnyside Yard in Queens. Extensions were added on both the Manhattan and Queens sides.

    Cost estimates jumped from $4.4 billion in 2004 to $6.4 billion in 2006. The MTA said that some small buildings on the route in Manhattan will be torn down to make way for air vents.[54] Cardinal Edward Egan criticized the plan, noting concerns about the tracks, which will largely be on the west side of Park Avenue, and their impact on St. Patrick’s Cathedral.[54]

    The project is scheduled for completion by 2019.[55]

    Wikipedia

    Woody Reply:

    The Cardinal needed a map. East Side Access terminates
    to the east of Grand Central, and could in no way impact St Pat’s
    a few blocks to the west.

    Actually, Wiki needs an editor. The article uses the past tense
    about the tunnel excavation. It’s done. And St Pat’s stands
    unharmed.

    jimsf Reply:

    i don’t see where vertical separation is that big a deal so long as there are escalators from the upper platforms to the lower platforms..

    Joey Reply:

    It increases access time, passenger confusion, and cost. Ridership will be less, not by much but the effect is there – keep in mind that this is not always a conscious effect – but if there’s more time spent transferring and more perceived inconvenience, that will affect many people’s decision to drive or not on subsequent trips (again, not necessarily consciously). There’s also the question of cost. In most cases it’s expensive to dig large underground caverns or build large straddle-bent aerial structures. That should go without saying.

    But even if you don’t care about those things, I have to ask the question: Why would you make transfers more difficult when it’s not at all necessary? In the case of LAUS there’s plenty of space for additional at-grade platforms, which is the easiest configuration for transfers between Metrolink, HSR, Amtrak, the Gold line, and the Red line.

    joe Reply:

    How complex is an escalator?
    These problems lack proportion.

    Recall Richard Mlynarik reposting his scathing email about pedestrian tunneling at California St Station. They dug a few feet too deep for his sensibilities and were wasting a second of walking per foot of needless depth just to comply with an arbitrary standard. It’s comical.

    Joey Reply:

    Escalators aren’t complex, neither are stairs or elevators. But why force passengers to walk farther than they have to?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    An escalator isn’t complex. A deep cavern is. If it can’t be done with a TBM, it’s expensive to put it deep underground. Deep-level subway stations in such cities as London and Barcelona are actually done with a large-diameter TBM, which can dig a tunnel wide enough to fit a track and a platform. But you can’t do multi-track multi-level terminals like that, and even if you could, New York hasn’t even tried large-diameter TBMs for subway projects for which it could potentially make sense.

    Also, ESA is so deep it easily adds 2-3 minutes just going up and down the escalators.

    joe Reply:

    Well, let’s go back to the metrics, a foot in “unnecessary” depth = 1 second of walking.

    If I follow a standard I’m protected legally, if I deviate, I assume risk but save a second per foot depth saved.

    What’s the ROI of saving that 1 ft and 1 second? I do not know that ROI but we are a litigious society.

    “walk farther than they have to” vs what other considerations? I don’t know. What do you think?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You say that it’s risky, but in reality there is a large surplus of tracks at Grand Central; there’s no need for a cavern. In both ESA and ARC, the caverns led to very high costs. Per kilometer of tunnel, ESA is the world’s most expensive rail project, separated by a factor of more than 2 from the next one and by a factor of 100 from a recent commuter rail tunnel project in Madrid.

    The ESA cavern is 140′ below ground, so at 1 second per foot it’s 2:20.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Pesky Metro North trains using the Park Avenue in the way of the LIRR trains….

    jimsf Reply:

    I don’t have an issue with having everything on the same level. But whats the difference between going downstairs to get from your hsr train directly below, versus say, walking horizontally several tracks over to get to that train? And, do you have people just walking across the tracks or do they have to go up and over anyway.

    I am def. against any underground options at laus though. THAT is a massive waste for sure.

    also, they shouldn’t need more than three hsr tracks anyway right? some terminate and turn back and the rest will continue on to the Ie and San Diego.

    Joey Reply:

    Platform access would be below the tracks. It requires fewer steps (abouthalf as many) because people require less vertical clearance than trains. In any case, the issue isn’t really HSR-Metrolink/Amtrak transfers. It’s transfers to the red line, whose platforms are 3 levels below the existing tracks which will really have a lot more access time. There’s also the fact that the entrance on the Alameda side (i.e. the station building) is below track level. So just to get to a concourse above the tracks you’d already have to go up two levels.

    Again, maybe I’m exaggerating the effects of these things, but the question is what reason do you have not to go with the solution that is simpler, cheaper, and more passenger-friendly?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Actually, walking horizontally a lot is also a problem and transportation designers don’t really care about it (see e.g. any major airport). Amtrak’s contribution to the problem is not opening a second access point in Boston even though one already exists (the bridge over the tracks used for the bus terminal), which forces passengers to walk several car lengths to the train outdoors in a city with less than perfect weather.

    bixnix Reply:

    Are there ADA issues with the LAUS platforms? The newer Gold Line platform has an elevator, but the other platforms do not, AFAIK. And, quite frankly, quickly emptying a full HSR train through those ramps would be like running with the bulls in Pamplona.

    Joey Reply:

    There are certainly issues. But even in the single-level scenario, it’s not like HSR would be using the existing LAUS platforms. The tracks have to be raised a few feet to pass over 101, and the mezzanine needs to be redesigned and expanded with or without HSR.

    jimsf Reply:

    actually there’s room right here to add two hsr tracks. They could take over one of the amtrak tracks, juggle some things around and it would be real cheap and simple. Im all for that.

    Joey Reply:

    They are constructing new platform in that space because the westernmost two platforms are going to be reconstructed for the run-through project. But that’s the idea – shuffle things around a bit and everything fits just fine at-grade.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    Well, I would not underestimate vertical access. Vertical access concerns are real… From travel perspective and construction. Every foot further down can add millions to the cost.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @orulz:

    The ‘over the (former) rail yards’ alternative implies that the HSR platforms and approach viaduct will be above the existing Gold Line viaduct, which is already impressively high. Excessive vertical separation isn’t the traveler’s friend.

    jonathan Reply:

    No indeed. But it probably looks very attractive to designers whose main business involves pouring reinforced concrete.

    bixnix Reply:

    I’m alright with the aerial over existing tracks. The concourse probably moves up two levels, from below the existing rail tracks to above them. The Red Line is still way down below, so there are four levels (or five if the existing concourse stays). We’re going to need some escalators. East of Vignes is alright, too.

    Joey Reply:

    But why not just put it all at-grade when that option exists and is workable?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Whom would that benefit?

    I mean, apart from the travelling public and the tax-paying public? Which schmucks are completely irrelevant, always have been, and always will be.

    And “workable”? Who the hell gives a flying fuck about making anything that works? The sole priority is things that cost.

    Highest cost and most concrete (more “design” services … more “oversight” services .. more “coordination” services … more “management” services … more “mitigation” … supersize me!) its own reward. Failing to function is a collateral guarantee.

    Travis D Reply:

    How do you think it is workable?

    What I saw in the LA-Anaheim AA didn’t look too workable in the long run. Nor did it look like it would be cheaper.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    That’s a fascinating expert analysis you’ve provided there.

    In the meantime, people who actually know what the hell they’re doing and talking about provided professional analysis that there is no problem serving over 49 trains per hour (local, regional, inter-city, high-speed) using eight through-running, shared platform tracks.

    But ignore them. They’re not AMERICAN and don’t understand our Unique Special Needs … the Special Needs for maximum public contracting fraud and cost.

    Joey Reply:

    What do you mean “didn’t look workable”? There is physically enough space for the platforms and approaches given minor rearranging, and that will almost certainly be cheaper than a straddle-bent aerial over the existing platforms.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    Are you talking about the existing Union Station in LA?

    Every existing platform is in use today. Granted, run-through tracks will reduce the need for platforms (less train dwell time occupying valuable space, right), however, not by enough whereas having only one level is practical. Additionally, during construction, existing operations will need to be maintained. That should be the objective.

    Also, consider this… Even for Metrolink to have run-through tracks over US 101, those tracks will need to be elevated a bit more. Those tracks cannot be extended at their current elevation and provide the necessary clearance over the freeway.

    Then, what about the future and preserving capacity for yet more trains to LA?

    Joey Reply:

    LAUS currently has 12 platform tracks for Metrolink and Amtrak. It was very recently 10, however 2 have been constructed and 2 more are under construction to make up for the fact that 4 will have to be rebuilt (at a slightly higher elevation, as you say, but this is a few feet, not an entire level) for the run-through project. Keep in mind that LAUS is not run very efficiently today – for instance, Surfliners sit in the station for half an hour before reversing, though a lot of that is schedule padding. But that, as well as Metrolink layovers, can be reduced substantially, particularly with run-through tracks.

    The LA-Anaheim Supplemental AA determined that there is room for 14 tracks on a single level (with wider platforms than the current ones), which still leaves room for the Gold Line shifted west a bit. This was 6 HSR and 8 Metrolink/Amtrak, all through-running. Now, whether this is the best allocation of capacity is a different matter, but the point remains that it is more than possible to accommodate everything at-grade.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    Yes, run-through tracks will reduce platform demand. Agreed there.

    I think the re-alignment of the tracks for existing services would be interesting to discuss. The Gold Line would be shifted west? I’ve seen it written that the Postal Office has a historic building in the way? Looks challenging. Is it true? For the other end, it looks like the Gold Line would be improved if tracks continued straight south for 2 blocks and then curved 70 or 80 degrees to get aligned straight into the Regional Connector project. Gold Line 90-degree bends would be reduced from 3 to 1. That would have to be a lot faster.

    Joey Reply:

    Which building are you talking about? It should be possible to shift the Gold Line tracks west without impacting the Terminal Annex or even the Mozaic apartments (see the AA I linked near the bottom of this thread). The access road and the small rail yard it leads to would of course have to go.

    And as to realigning the Gold Line south of Union Station, I agree 100%. The new Little Tokyo station included in the Regional Connector makes the current detour mostly useless, and those sharp curves aren’t doing anyone any good.

    StevieB Reply:

    The Consolidated Shared Track Alternative on page 10 of LA-Anaheim Supplemental AA shows the Gold Line tracks going through the east side of Mozaic Apartments and Terminal Annex. The design was only 5% and does not appear in the draft alternatives presented by the Los Angeles Union Station Master Plan team.

    Joey Reply:

    The draft alternatives presented by Metro include alternatives which were withdrawn by the CHSRA, including the tunnel option and Vinges St aerial option (the alameda tunnel is new). And you are correct that that particular diagram shows slight clipping of the Mozaic apartments and Terminal Annex. But as you also say, the design is preliminary. There are in fact several solutions to this problem, any one of which would be sufficient: (1) Relax the spacing requirements between the HSR and Metrolink tracks and between the HSR and Gold Line tracks to normal track spacing (15′) (2) Introduce slight platform curvature at the north end of the platforms (3) move the entire setup slightly south such that the ends of the platforms extend over 101 slightly.

    bixnix Reply:

    I agree it should’ve been considered. Maybe it was, and discarded. It would’ve require enlarging the concourse. Maybe they have something in mind so grand that the space for an expanded concourse above the Red Line and below the main tracks wasn’t enough. Currently, the existing headroom in the concourse is inadequate. And it leaks.

    Joey Reply:

    The platforms have to be raised for the run-through tracks project anyway. And the existing tracks need more pedestrian access. It helps that the at-grade entrance on the Alameda side is below the existing track level. So rebuild the entire concourse – it’s still cheaper and more convenient for passengers than a big aerial above.

    swing hanger Reply:

    @orulz
    Small correction- there is an underground HSR station in Japan- a four track layout at Ueno in Tokyo. There was simply no space for above ground HSR platforms at Ueno Station nor an above-ground ROW between said station and Akihabara on the way to the Tokyo Station terminus.

    StevieB Reply:

    Draft alternatives released for Los Angeles Union Station Master Plan Might as well allow reading of the MTA press.

    thatbruce Reply:

    Metro LAUS site which has links to various pdfs.

  3. TomA
    May 2nd, 2013 at 05:49
    #3

    Obviously a connection between the Chicago hub, and what would essentially be a Dallas hub would be one of the last steps in the chain, but given the flat and empty terrain, it would be relatively cheap to build both out to say Kansas City (via OKC and Tulsa for Dallas, via Saint Louis for Chicago) to make that connection. The Northeast would connect with the Midwest in Cleveland or Toronto (or both), and with the Southeast corridor in DC.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    or you could get on a plane and fly now with no additional infastructure investment…and its faster???

    Why?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Because once Dallas to Oklahoma City to Tulsa is built and Chicago to Saint Louis is built connecting Tulsa to Saint Louis means people in Kansas City can get to either? Or Chicago or Dallas?

    jimsf Reply:

    The anti rail, planes do it better argument always fails to take into account, that the train is more versatile ( not to mention more convenient and more comfortable for everyone)

    Yes a plane can get a group of people from chicago to houston or dallas.

    Of from Dallas to Kansas City etc

    But a single train can serve chicago, springfield,st louis, kansas city, tulsa ok okcity dallas waco, college station and houston, and any number of city pair combinations therein That makes it a FAR FAR FAR more useful piece of infrastructure.

    jimsf Reply:

    and why should we do it? because we should have a high standard of living, we are a wealthy nation, we can afford it, and we need to stop pissing away money on helping the rich get richer and start investing the TAX DOLLARS of the american people into shit that directly benefits the american people and helps make our lives better, easier, and more pleasant.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    If that was true we would have public airlines and private trains. But since here in reality trains are not more efficient it is the opposite. Airlines get very little subsidy and trains (especially long distance trains) are a money losing mess. If the government did not prop them up Amtrak would be dead

    jimsf Reply:

    With out government support the airlines would be dead as well.

    joe Reply:

    Exactly – they entire airspace is Free Fed provided Infrastructure.

    It is Fed owned, managed and they also assume the cost for R&D and infrastructure improvements to the National Airspace – a critical part of our national infrastructure. Not all infrastructure is concrete.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Not true – the one percent could easily pay to maintain airports strictly adequate for themselves.

    The rich can lavish a fortune on trivia – witness the obnoxious Larry Ellison. They can afford to blow money like PB.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Once again, the facts are inconvenient for your argument

    http://ti.org/antiplanner/?p=5002

    Air travel has the least subsidy by a ton, and that is according to the bus association so you can’t claim bias

    I know you will never admit this, but the brutal truth is air travel is better. It requires less time, less subsidy, and provides much better flexibility. One airport can provide travel to anywhere, no tracks required.

    Yes we build trains to connect the country….that time is past. We are already 100% invested in planes and roads.l.we don’t need a 3rd mode

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That I can catch flights all over the world from the three New York airports doesn’t do me much good when I want to get to Philadelphia. If I want a cheap flight from Albany to Washington DC it takes longer than the train door-to-door. Usually costs more too door-to-door. The market has spoken when it comes to NY-DC. Amtrak has 75% of the market.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Without a doubt the NEC is suited for rail. That said it still does not have HSR and won’t in the foreseeable future. But again you try and shift the argument to one you can win ignoring the original comment. The original comment was for HSR from Chicago to Dallas with extensions to KC etc.

    The point stands. Air travel works better in that case and for most of US for that matter outside the narrow NEC

    Eric Reply:

    You’re not helping your cause. You admit that rail is successful in the NEC even though it isn’t HSR. Imagine how incredibly successful it would be if it was HSR? Did you know that most of the city pairs on a Chicago-Dallas HSR route do not have direct flights between them? Go to Travelocity and look up St Louis-Tulsa or Oklahoma City-KC, minimum travel time is 4 hours with a layover. Not counting security, baggage, etc. HSR would faster, more comfortable, and more reliable than that. And you still think air is better here?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Chicago to Dallas wouldn’t have an “extension” to Kansas City, it could go through Kansas City. Just like few people use HSR to get from London to Marseille few people will be using the line to get from Milwaukee to San Antonio. The ones in Milwaukee will be using to to get to Chicago and St Louis. The ones in Chicago will be using it to get to Milwaukee, Saint Louis and Kansas City. The ones in St. Louis will be using it to get to Milwaukee, Chicago, Kansas City and Tulsa, the ones in Kansas City will be using it to get to Saint Louis, Chicago, Tulsa and Dallas and the ones in Tulsa will be using to get to Saint Louis, Kansas City, Dallas and Austin, the ones in Dallas will be using it to get to Tulsa, Kansas City, Austin and San Antonio and the ones in Austin will be using it to get to San Antonio Dallas and Tulsa and the ones in San Antonio will using it to get to Austin, Dallas and Tulsa. The same thing can be done with Minneapolis to Miami. Or Chicago to Boston. Or Portland Maine to San Antonio. It’s one of the virtues of trains. They don’t go from airport to airport thats miles from anything else, the go through downtown.

    jimsf Reply:

    Air travel does not work better. First, most people are fed up with air travel and it is seen as a real pain in the ass. Second, air travel is only good for serving routes in excess of several hundred miles. for trips between 50 to 500 miles or so, driving or slow incomplete rail, or greyhoud, are the options. And americans deserve better than having to drive drive 400 miles at 65mph, for 6 hours, or 6 to 8 hours on a train and / or bus combo, a waste of an entire day.

    In addition, rail has the advantage of serving many more intermediate city pairs along any given route making it far more useful.

    Add to that the fact the trains are more convenient, and far more comfortable and way less hassle than flying.

    so you are wrong.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Air travel works great which is why it beat rail…beat it like a mule…beat it like a rug.

    Don’t believe me? Why is Amtrak a mess and Southwest a successful profitable business.

    I get you hate air travel, so does my dad, with a passion, but the vast majority are fine with air travel, hence the reason it won

    jimsf Reply:

    at one time, when air travel was shiney, new, well regulated, safe, and comfortable, bordering on classy, and trains were in decline, yes air became the rage, but profits today come at the expense of the passenger experience, and passenger who need to travel are stuck with bad air travel or slow trains. hsr will give them good trains that they will prefer, in those city pairs served. just wait and see.
    Americans want this choice and shown by growth in rail travel ( even with our current clunky old trains- record setting ridership and revenue growth, month after month, year after year) The trend is moving towards rail in those markets best served by rail.

    I don’t know why you are so threatened by trains.

    jimsf Reply:

    High speed rail corridors should be built between and leading out of, all the major urban areas and be funded by the defense budget. that way we have a very fast way to evacuate major cities. and everyone knows that anything in defense, useful, wasteful, or otherwise unnecessary, is untouchable by the same people who complain about money to feed school children.

    Joey Reply:

    Railroads failed here because the government decided to subsidize other modes of transportation more than 50 years ago.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Air travel works great which is why it beat rail…beat it like a mule…beat it like a rug.

    Go ahead, land your commercial airliner at a private airport. Fly it with private air controllers. Drive away in your rental car on a private road.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I’ll let you in on a secret jimsf. I hate air travel. I would take a train everywhere. If HSR gets built i would ride it. if it went to Vegas i would take it for every vacation. My argument is about facts and efficiency. It is not logical to spend 70 billion on a transportation mode that is redundant to one we already have and it is especially bad when the existing mode is cheaper and faster (cheaper by including capital costs). We already have air infrastructure. That is a sunk cost that is already paid. HSR is additional. I don’t think there are enough people who hate air to make it work without subsidy and I don’t think they are following the law. It is not because I hate trains.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    transportation mode that is redundant

    If the alternate transportation modes were under utilized that might be an argument. Building HSR is cheaper than increasing capacity on the alternates. Not-traveling between Los Angeles and San Francisco versus using HSR isn’t one of the scenarios being discussed. Nor is not-traveling between Bakersfield and Fresno or using HSR.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Go ahead, land your commercial airliner at a private airport. Fly it with private air controllers. Drive away in your rental car on a private road.

    jonathan Reply:

    And you can stop to shake hands with John Galt!!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Only if Dagny doesn’t have us rushing off to something.

    jonathan Reply:

    Ooo arrh, we’re roight lucky to have the chance to drive a steam-train through a diesel tunnel, and risk getting asphyxiated, just so the Owner can show the world that she’s Boss.

    Might not be quite what John N had in mind, though.

  4. Bill
    May 2nd, 2013 at 10:33
    #4

    Main hubs? There is already rail criss-crossing this country, why not make it faster which would probably translate to higher demand? Construction to “start later this year”? They’ve been saying that for a few years now. I’ll believe it when I see it. To me HSR isn’t about environmental preservation, it’s more about modernization, which needs to happen. I’m also skeptical about this being Obama’s legacy, he’s a staunch supporter of HSR but the republican congressmen don’t like to fund or pass any laws that are any good to this country, namely education, transportation,(except roads and airports), and gun control. If shovels hit the dirt later this year or sometime before the next presidential election, then people might notice and actually give a shit. Until then the general population won’t care or even notice. I keep reading this this blog only because I’m holding my breath for good news.

    VBobier Reply:

    Or as one Repub US Senator put it, to be seen as supporting the POTUS, in any way, shape or form…

    Neville Snark Reply:

    Yes! I seriously think that if Obama favours something, he should say doesn’t want it, at which point the Repugs will pass a bill for that thing, at which point Obama will sign it. Repubs are so stupid that it might work, and they’ll think they’re winning …

    thatbruce Reply:

    A meeting like this.

    VBobier Reply:

    Or even just not sign it and let the bill become law all by itself…

  5. John Nachtigall
    May 2nd, 2013 at 15:55
    #5

    How can HSR be Obama’s legacy when no HSR was built in his administation? Acela is “higher” speed rail but not HSR by any stretch and CAHSR is not funded.

    To have a legacy you have to actually help build it…and then it has to work and be useful. He can’t even get past the 1st hurdle

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    UIC definition of “high speed” is more than 200 kilometers per hour on legacy track. Regionals do that all the time and in many places along with Acelas. The UIC definition of “high speed” on new alignments is 250 KPH. Acela does 240 KPH in Rhode Island every day. It’s been tested in RI, NJ and MD at 265.
    ( in nice round numbers 125 MPH on legacy, 155 MPH on new and Acela runs at 150 in regular service and has been tested at 165 ) I suspect the NEC will get new trains and new catenary capable of “high speed” before any run in California.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It averages 80 mph or less. That is not HSR under any definition. Regardless Obama did nothing either way other than talk. I am surprised that train supporters are giving him any credit, he did not help anything

    Joey Reply:

    Definitions of HSR usually refer to top speed. Even on dedicated alignments, it’s rare for HSR to average more than 125-150 mph. Of course, that’s not to say that the Acela’s speed isn’t pathetic and shouldn’t be treated as such. It doesn’t help that Amtrak seems to be determined to make sure that all infrastructure investments don’t go toward projects that would actually increase the average speed much.

    Woody Reply:

    For 8 years the Bushies dreamed of killing off Amtrak,
    and planned no future for it.

    Obama quickly got $10 to $12 billion for passenger rail
    (and complained of the shortage of shovel-ready projects on the shelf).

    Still, stimulus money —
    — repaired 95 wrecked coaches to add capacity,
    — began dozens of small improvements from high-level platforms to new stations,
    — launched rebuilds in three states on the Vermonter route (one done, two to come),
    — helped extend Downeaster service,
    — got major work underway to make St Louis-Chicago a 110-mph route for 75% of its distance,
    — will begin work this construction season on similar upgrades
    Kalamazo-Dearborn (aka Chicago-Detroit),
    — made big steps on the CREATE projects to untangle rail and roads in ChicagoLand and
    speed up every passenger train into the city,
    — funded work underway on the Cascades to increase capacity 50% Seattle-Portland
    while shaving 10 minutes off the 3 hr 30 min schedule,
    — is double-tracking a bottleneck west of Albany that will speed trains to Vermont,
    Montreal, Toronto, Buffalo (two of ‘em), and Chicago,
    — is double-tracking the route Charlotte-Greensboro to cut 15 minutes off
    the current Piedmont, Carolinian, and Crescent schedules,
    — paid for orders for hundreds of new coaches and
    a new fleet of 70 electric locomotives
    (new equipment that should speed up all trains on the NEC),
    and more.

    Did I mention Wi-Fi on more than half the trains carrying three-fourths
    of the passengers, electronic ticketing, real-time inventory control.

    More than one million more passengers every year since the year
    Obama took office, revenues covering more of costs, markedly
    improved on-time performance, and the beginning of realistic
    planning for fleet replacement and upgrading the NEC.

    It was poor choice to call Obama’s rail improvements “HSR”,
    but lately the DOT refers to “high-performance rail”. That is
    what we’re getting, no denying it. It isn’t all thanks to Obama,
    many have helped in Amtrak’s turnaround, but it could not
    have been done without him.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    the DOT refers to “high-performance rail”. That is what we’re getting, no denying it.

    Wow, somebody is in denial….

    Eric Reply:

    Sounds like BRT. In practice, most of the sizzle and little of the steak.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Amtrak is not turned around…it still loses money hand over fist…just less fast than before.

    And the statement was HSR is Obama’s legacy which I still assert is impossible since he did not even build any HSR much less prove it helped the country

    trentbridge Reply:

    According to the US Constitution, Obama has three and a half years left so there will be some HSR construction in his Presidency – assuming the IOS of CAHSR begins building in the next twelve months. Does President Kennedy get credit for the Apollo moon mission? He said the US would put a man on the moon before the end of the decade (sixties) even though, obviously, he didn’t see it happen and would’ve been out of office when Armstrong stepped on the Moon in 1969.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not that anyone should get credit for the Apollo boondoggle, but JFK promised to land a man on the moon by 1970 and this was achieved in 1969. NASA didn’t just build an IOS to low Earth orbit.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    What were they doing with Mercury and Gemini. And Apollo 8?

    .. I saw it in glorious black and white with monoaural sound.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:AS8-13-2329.jpg

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The unmanned missions were fine; it’s the manned ones that were stupid.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Tell the foaming John Birchers that the gubbmint is gonna drop a few billion to go to the Moon and they would go ballistic. Tell them you are gonna spend a few billion+1 to show the Russkies how much better we are than them and they will defend the program until the bitter end. And we got Tang out of it.

    jimsf Reply:

    I loved tang. do they still make it?

    And why is alon saying it was stupid to send men to the moon?

    joe Reply:

    ’cause he’s 24 years old.

    Apollo’s pictures of Earth changed the way we see Earth forever.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    And why is alon saying it was stupid to send men to the moon?

    The entire purpose of going to the Moon was nationalistic dick waving. You may have noticed that after teabagging the Soviets with “We got there first!” we ceased to give a damn about it (remaining Apollo flights utilized rockets and equipment already built; the production line had already shut down before Apollo 11).

    jimsf Reply:

    nothing wrong with national pride. And nothing wrong with the fact that it captivated the attention of a nation and inspired people. Also if we are to continue to venture further in to space it was necessary to make sure we could do it. Mars will be next. And beyond because humans explore and spread. Always have, always will.

    joe Reply:

    Apollo captivated the world. It was global, peaceful and civilian lead exploration. The world watched.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Not really on the “beyond Mars;” the radiation exposure problem is pretty much insurmountable at reasonable expense (it basically turns into antimatter rockets driving ships as fast as possible) and it’s a pretty difficult problem for Mars itself.

    joe Reply:

    “anti-matter rockets” No such thing even remotely suggested.

    Radiation is a problem, but not insurmountable. Landing and lift off a problem. Far easier to orbit close to Mars and tele-operate robots with a few seconds delay.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Yeah, actually, it does get suggested and yes, radiation is an insurmountable problem for long distance trips. Even the low end estimates for a Mars trip rub against maximum lifetime dosages and the high end cancer risk doubles the rate of cancer (from natural 20% to 39% of crew).

    joe Reply:

    insurmountable. Look it up.

    joe Reply:

    anti-matter rocket

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antimatter_rocket

    Not necessary for Mars.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Inspired people to do what, exactly? Not scientific research. Not any commercial space exploration. Just a bit of national pride that led to nothing. NASA of the 1960s and early 70s was focused on a mission that had no real benefits, and once that ran out it couldn’t retool. Instead, it told its engineers to think like managers and came up with these ridiculously optimistic safety estimates that all crumbled after Challenger.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    I never said it was necessary for Mars (though nuclear thermal or nuclear electric may be necessary in order to get trip times down and cancer dosages down to a reasonable level); I said such things were required for “beyond Mars.”

    joe Reply:

    Oh Alon – how do you even argue this? I lived through it. What book is informing you otherwise?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Okay, you lived through it. In what way does that make you an expert?

    It comes from bits and pieces. The Feynman O-ring story is an everyone-knows kind of thing. The fact that the Apollo project had no scientific benefits is from The Republican War on Science (which praises the JFK-scientist alliance actually, as “we’ll agree to support your boondoggle if you don’t say the boondoggle is for science” is better than how the GOP is acting nowadays).

    JOE Reply:

    “Inspired people to do what, exactly? Not scientific research.”

    Utter crap. The very fact we did this CIVILIAN and not Military was massively important.
    Civil space, not Mil.
    Lunar program changed how people viewed the planet – made it much smaller.
    The lunar program inspired science and created earth science.
    Skills were repurposed.

    The lunar surveyors used to explore the moon were turned towards earth and evolved into the present global, international monitoring system.

    Global measurements of the surface mean global collaboration to understand the patterns and fluxes. Space measurements fostered international collaboration to explain the patterns and tie them to atmospheric data.

    The Mauna Loa Observatory and Keeling’s Mauna Loa CO2 measurements were explicable with bottom up data.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    which praises the JFK-scientist alliance actually, as “we’ll agree to support your boondoggle if you don’t say the boondoggle is for science” is better than how the GOP is acting nowadays

    it got the foaming anti-science people to support it because it would show those Russkies. And got the support of the vaguely pacifist Adlai Rockefeller-Nelson Stevenson independents to support it while it hid a lot of national defense spending. The contractors building X for NASA would turn around and build Y for the ICBMs. The spare computer time on NASA facilities were borrowed too and lots of other things. Not that ICBMs were a particularly good idea

    … and isn’t your GPS neato….
    … and Corningware…. not that they make Corningware anymore. Tis a pity.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The IOS is conventional track with no electric and Obama has not gotten them the needed federal funds to change that. I would only give him credit if in the next 3 years he can secure the funds to take it to HSR. But with a GOP congress he wont

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many miles of Interstate Highway were completed when Eisenhower left office?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Eisenhower got the appropriation passed and the law authorizing the system. Obama has not gotten a permanent source of funds passed. No national system passed. He got 1 set of fixed funds that most states turned down and did not build any full part of any system.

    As I was looking this up I was interested to see the whole interstate highway system in 2006 dollars was 425 billion. HSR is 79 billion (if it stays on budget) for 1 small segment. Tell me again how cheap it is?

    joe Reply:

    There is no binding multi-year appropriation. It’s a fallacy.

    It costs each driver 0.50+ per mile to ride on that highway and billions to maintain and police the roads.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    As I was looking this up I was interested to see the whole interstate highway system in 2006 dollars was 425 billion.

    Sumpthins not right.

    There are 42,000 miles of Interstate route. 420 billion comes out to a ten million a route route mile. You can’t build Interstate grade highway for a ten million dollars a route mile in 2006. Not two lanes wide in each direction and with the occasional interchange. 4.2 trillion – 100 million per route mile – gets you close to the usual number bandied about for a new lane mile of Interstate grade highway. ( 25 million per lane mile with four lane-miles in each route-mile of the narrowest Interstate )

    Perhaps the reference was “the Interstate highway system cost 425 billion to build as of 2006?” Which is somewhat different than “the Interstate highway system cost 425 billion 2006 dollars to build”.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Price of construction in real dollars has gone up over the years

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    If you can’t trust wiki who can you trust?

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Interstate_Highway_System
    End of the construction system

    2nd source

    http://historical.whatitcosts.com/facts-interstate-highway-system-pg2.htm

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Paul and Adirondacker are not contradicting the Wiki.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You couldn’t build the New Jersey Turnpike today. They built it across useless swamps in Northern New Jersey. Today those same swamps are valuable protected wetlands. The parts in Southern New Jersey were built across the almost as useless Pine Barrens. Which are covering a few trillion gallons of some of the purest drinking water in the US. Yes with a T. Wikipedia say 17 trillion. I shouldn’t mention around Californians, they will start plans to tap it to irrigate golf courses.

    The cost to build the New Jersey Turnpike isn’t on the Interstate Highway system’s tally sheet. Neither are the bridges at either end. Neither are the other toll roads, bridges and tunnels in the system. Even if the system could be built again for 425 billion, that 425 billion left out lots of very expensive bits that are in the estimates for HSR.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    No i agree…you can’t build it again today for 425 billion….it would be a hell of a lot more. Certainly in the low single trillions at a minimum but tens of trillions would not surprise me.

    But that just goes to my original point, we already invested in the infrastructure for cars and planes. To build a HSR system in the US is super expensive given the developed nature of the country now. Unlike the first railroad, it does not open up any possibilities that are not already provided by what we already have.

    In the end it is just not a good ROI.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If you wait until the existing infrastructure is at capacity your decision to build additional capacity is years late. Californians voted to build HSR in 2008. It’s five years later and construction hasn’t even started.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I can expand air capacity (which is what primarily competes with HSR) for a lot less than HSR costs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    are you able to leap tall buildings in a single bound too?

    jimsf Reply:

    how hard headed are you that you can’t grasp that air travel only serves certain city pairs efficiently.

    do you really expect people to fly between stockton and bakersfiled, or oakland and merced, or sacramento and fresno and palmdale to san jose?

    all the millions of people who live long the proposed route of hsr, would be left with no fast options for travel.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Why should we support increased populations in the Central Valley?

    jimsf Reply:

    because you aren’t going to stop increased populations in the valley. cities are mandated to accept their share of growth, the valley is the most affordable place for middle class families, the valley has the most room to grow, and the valley will grow regardless of whether you build hsr or not, if you built it, you create a better quality of life, and most importantly, you connect the economicly disadvantaged parts of the state to the rest of the economy, helping bring more prosperity.

    jimsf Reply:

    in fact, in my opinion, even without new growth, the current people of the valley deserve this investment to give them better access and more travel options, regardless of whether its profitable rail. they deserve because they are californians just like the rest of us.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Then air travel will become frequent and affordable if the SJV is destined to grow no matter what.

    joe Reply:

    SJV will grow. The question is why should be abandon parts of CA.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Favela

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    how hard headed are you that you can’t grasp that air travel only serves certain city pairs efficiently.

    Take his bait. Lets just say you want to go from Fresno to San Francisco. Lets also assume the trip from your house to the curb at the airport is the same as the trip from your house to the curb at the train station ( It was for me to Newark Penn Station or Newark Airport, was for most people in that part of the state,about the same give or take five minutes for everybody else in Northern NJ until it was faster to go to Metropark than the airport )

    The walk from the curb to the time the plane’s door’s close is an hour. You didn’t check any bags on the plane, just like you wouldn’t on the train, so you don’t have to claim baggage just walk from the gate to BART. Half an hour? You get lucky and as you sit down on the BART train the doors close and you depart. BART’s Quick Planner says that takes 33 minutes to Embarcadero. So two hours to get from the airport curb to when the doors open at Embarcadero not counting flight time? Quick search of Expedia says the flight is between 47 minutes and 70 minutes on the non stops. Lets keep the math simple and call it 45. So 2:45 from the time you cross the curb at the Fresno Airport until you walk off a BART train in San Francisco? And that’s if you get a fast flight and everything else works out well. Google says it take 2:56 to drive from San Francisco to Fresno. It’s been my experience that Google is optimistic. But lets just go with “takes the same time to fly as it does to drive”

    Trains station don’t work like airports. You get to the curb at the Fresno Airport 15 minutes before the train is due to leave and that leaves you with plenty of time. The trip planner for the High Speed Rail Authority says it’s going to take an hour and nine minutes to get from Fresno to SFO. But they have built the high speed rail system and you can just stay on the train and get delivered a block away from the Embarcadero BART station. They say that’s going to take 1:20. 1:20 is optimistic. Lets say it’s a local and it stops at Gilroy, San Jose, wherever they decide to put a station on the Peninsula and SFO before it gets to San Francisco. Lets be super generous and say that increases the total trip time to two hours. 1:45 would be a reasonable compromise. So two hours from the time you step across the curb at the Fresno train station until the doors open at Transbay. An hour faster and no airport security, no long walks to and from gates and a one seat ride. Hmmmmmm.

    JOE Reply:

    Airports have limited capacity and gate space so the air traffic from Fresno has to compete with traffic from NYC, Hong Kong, Seattle and etc. SFO also shuts a runway with FOG – expect delays and flight cancelations due to the weather. Since airlines decide how to allocated limited gate space – airlines support HSR. Airlines will probably sell tickets with a HSR connection to Fresno.

    Derek Reply:

    I can expand air capacity (which is what primarily competes with HSR) for a lot less than HSR costs.

    I highly doubt you can build an airport, and attract an airline to provide service to your airport, for less than what it would cost to add a train station to a HSR line.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Denver International Airport was built from scratch for 5 billion. It is the 2nd largest airport in the world and is only at 1/3 capacity (32 mil passengers a year vs. 110 mil capacity). So assuming I build from scratch (which is worst case because renovation existing airports is cheaper) I could build 14 which can get you anywhere in the world vs 1 segment of HSR that only goes from LA to SF.

    The air traffic control system is way antiquated so when they switch to GPS tracking capacity will increase a lot.

    And why would I spend 70 billion to save 1 hour for a few citizens of Fresno going to SF?

    Derek Reply:

    $4.8 billion in 1995 dollars is $7.1 billion today. A HSR station can be built for as little as $10 million each. Therefore, the incremental cost of adding a station to a HSR network is miniscule compared to the incremental cost of adding an airport to an air travel network.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Real estate in rural Colorado was a lot cheaper in 1990 than it is in the Bay Area in 2013. O’hare is adding them at 3 billion a pop. ( Adding four and decomissionong two and other sundry improvements, according to Wikipedia, sourced to The Chicago Dept. of Aviation ). They already owned the land. Add a runway to an airport in California for 5 billion. They could just fill in some bay out at Oakland….

    Derek Reply:

    And then there’s the opportunity cost of capital. Imagine how much the city could make renting out the land an airport sits on. That represents a huge subsidy to airports. Downtown HSR stations are ridiculously cheap in comparison. Yes, the tracks themselves use a lot of land, but most of that is out in the country where land values are much lower.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Actually, tracks themselves don’t take much compared with a highway, so you’re still cheaper even there.

    It’s really interesting to look at aerial photos of where I live, and see the huge swaths a 4-lane, limited access road takes up, and to note how a double-tracked railroad, even where it is four to six tracks wide in a town, is almost invisible. I might mention that at least one of those big roads is approaching 50 years of age, and it still stands out from the air as if it were built yesterday. To find the railroad, you almost have to know where to look for it first, and note not the road itself, but the rows of trees growing on each side of it, making it a corridor of woods through farms and towns, with a skinny railroad in the middle of it.

    A second line, with only one track, would be even harder to spot; what makes it stand out is that it was built following the wide Shenandoah valley rather than crossing it, and because of that, it’s very straight, almost ruler straight in some places for surprising distances. You don’t see too many straight lines in nature, and especially in West Virginia.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So if stations can be built for 10 million and track is “cheap” then why does this system cost 70 billion for a compromised system and 100 billion for a full system. Oh I know why..because those numbers are fiction.

    Trasbay terminal alone is scheduled to cost 4+ billion. And a 29 mile segment of easy track with NOelectricity just bid out at 1 billion.

    My original point stands…it’s expensive and the ROI is better doing other things

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Speaking for myself, I wouldn’t say this was “cheap,” however, it is less expensive than other options.

    If it costs “too much,” then we also have to consider that we’ve overspent and overbuilt the road system.

    I believe you have made comments to the effect–and I certainly know others have–that this money would be better spent on local transit, since that is where most of the passenger miles are (not everybody is driving or flying between Los Angeles and San Francisco, and a lot more commute everyday)–but it’s worth noting that the exact same arguments against HSR have been used against local rail transit, and even bus transit (i.e., it would be cheaper to provide autos to the poor at public expense), ignoring, at least in that case, the problems of poor system operation due to congestion.

    Ask yourself how “expensive” this (and electric local transit) will be when gasoline goes to $5 or $6 per gallon. Ask yourself how expensive our current auto oriented structure is when we have to worry about some king or terrorist in the Middle East making trouble for the oil supply, and how much money we spend on that part of the world for just that reason, and that we’ll still be doing that with $6 gasoline, unless we really change how most of us get around. HSR isn’t all of this by any means, but it’s an important part.

    Derek Reply:

    So if stations can be built for 10 million and track is “cheap” then why does this system cost 70 billion…

    People who are good with money call it an “investment.” It means you pay more up front in order to more than recover the initial cost later.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    800 route miles of HSR, with a ROW 200 feet wide and a bit extra thrown in for stations, would use up 20.000 acres. Denver takes up 34,000. Dallas-Fort Worth isn’t quite as big, 18,000. Los Angeles World Airports is dropping 1.5 billion on new international terminal. SFO only spent a billion on their’s. Airports are cheap!!!…

    Derek Reply:

    In areas containing no existing rail rights-of-way, the high-speed train alignment’s potential impact zones are defined as 100 feet wide… This potential impact zone width may be reduced to 50 feet, thereby further reducing the High-Speed Train’s level of impact. (source)

    So let’s call it 10,000 acres or less for HSR (and most of that on cheap land), compared with 34,000 for DEN on the more expensive outskirts of the city, or 18,000 for DFW even closer to downtown.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Gas is not going to $6 a gallon thanks to oil sands and oil shale. It’s going to stabilize right here at $4 for awhile until they make technology to extract it even cheaper…but at a minimum we have200 years supply at $100. Peak oil is a myth.

    The area of land covered is immaterial, the argument was the cost of the HSR system is cheaper than alternatives…that is just not true on its face. Not with4 billion dollar terminals and1 billion dollar 29 mile sections

    jimsf Reply:

    the cost of the system is not the issue. you can’t do what hsr will do for californians, with airplanes and californians deserve and want, to invest in this for one simple reason. Californians like nice stuff, are willing to pay for nice stuff, and they like to be mobile, and they like to go fast. And they convenience. and they like access.

    Hsr will make accessing the states regions as simple as bart makes accessing the bay areas regions.

    And its a fully upgradable and expandable system.

    bottom line is like it or not its being built. Are you even from california cuz you don’t sound like you are.

    joe Reply:

    ” It’s going to stabilize right here at $4 for awhile until they make technology to extract it even cheaper…
    but at a minimum we have200 years supply at $100. Peak oil is a myth.”

    Oh you are such a fish.

    If peak oil is a myth then why not just continue to use high grade, sweet crude oil at 100 per barrel?

    There is no magic short cut to energy intensive mining and thermodynamics of these alternatives. Oil sands are as energy dense as a potato. 4 per gallon currently requires large amounts of easy to extract sweet crude oil and globally weak economy lessening demand.

    $6 a gallon is a few years off. $6 per gallon is just a 50% price increase. We used to pay less than 0.30 per gallon. a factor of over ten less than now.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Jim, it’s interesting that you compare the effects of HSR as being similar to those of a rapid transit system; Alon Levy has made similar comments on his page, with more detail of course:

    http://pedestrianobservations.wordpress.com/2013/03/12/linear-compression-how-hsr-is-like-rapid-transit/

    Linked from Alon’s article; I know Alon will disagree with me, and Synonomous will strongly disagree, and I can’t claim to really know California geography, but this suggests that maybe that “detour” may not be so bad:

    https://keephoustonhouston.wordpress.com/2013/02/19/the-magic-of-high-speed-rail/

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s going to stabilize right here at $4

    4 buck a gallon gas doesn’t do you much good if the highway is creeping along at 30.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    We used to pay less than 0.30 per gallon. a factor of over ten less than now.

    The last time gas was 30 cents a gallon was in 1964. adjusted for inflation that’s 2.19 in 2012 according to the inflation calculator I use.

    The price of gas in 1980 was 1.25 or 3.42 in 2012. 1.38 in 1981 or 3.43 in 2012.

    http://www1.eere.energy.gov/vehiclesandfuels/facts/2005/fcvt_fotw364.html

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And a 29 mile segment of easy track with NOelectricity just bid out at 1 billion.

    That’s less than 35 million a mile. Pricey by world standards but California is special

    jimsf Reply:

    yes its analogous. higher speed make longer distances seem closer together, shrinking the world like air travel did.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Are people confusing the ICS and IOS again?

    The ICS is funded; it’s an orphan track. The IOS isn’t funded; it’s more or less functional HSR.

    And as for Eisenhower and the Interstates, the lines that had been planned as state turnpikes but were converted to toll-free Interstates in 1956 before construction started opening around 1958.

    jimsf Reply:

    amtrak is not losing money “hand over fist”

    the 2012 operating subsidy was 466 million, which works out to $1.49 per year per american.

    Further, in california, if you spend 50 billion dollars towards high speed rail, 40 million californians could pay it in full in one year at the rate of $3.42 per day.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or one month of the Defense Budget. Or 8 months of what we have spent in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    466 million is hand over fist for what we are getting. At least the defense budget pays to defend the country, and does a great job, the US military is the undisputed best in the world. We are getting our money’s worth. We are losing 466 million on a pathetic excuse for a train system that trails everyone except 3rd world countries.

    Joey Reply:

    At least the defense budget pays to defend the country, and does a great job

    Does it? We maintain a very large conventional military in a climate where conventional warfare is less and less likely. We’re beginning to see more military technologies and tactics designed for counter-insurgency operations, things aren’t changing fundamentally (and why this shift didn’t happen 40 years ago is anyone’s guess). Military contractors have the exact same problems that transportation contractors have – that is that they continue to get government contracts despite delivering their products late, over-budget, and under-performing.

    We are losing 466 million on a pathetic excuse for a train system that trails everyone except 3rd world countries.

    So by eliminating Amtrak that would put us … trailing everyone including third world countries? Granted no one at Amtrak knows how to run things efficiently or provide useful transportation but eliminating it entirely is a questionable step.

    jimsf Reply:

    so none of the transportation is useful? acela, the nec, the trains that serve communites across the mid and mountain west, the commuter and state partnerships, the millions of annual passengers in california… don’t find it useful?

    Its friday night, shouldn’t all you young people be out at the club doing shots and dancing?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    At least the defense budget pays to defend the country, and does a great job

    “Great job” = “anti-tank RPG runs over budget by a factor of 10 and that’s after scaling down so much it can’t pierce the front armor of a tank”

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The US army took down a 375,000 person army in 1.5 months with less than 175 KIA. You can complain all you want but you can’t name a conventional force in the world that comes even close to that level of performance.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s not a question of effectiveness as a conventional army, it’s a question of efficiency of money put into maintaining that effectiveness, which contrary to your assertions seems to be rather low at times (hint: starts with F and ends with 35). And the fact that most of the wars we have fought in the past few decades and will fight for the foreseeable future are not conventional.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The US army took down a 375,000 person army in 1.5 months with less than 175 KIA.

    The thousands killed since then don’t count?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The deaths during the occupation certainly count. But that says nothing about the effectivness of the US military forces which was the point is question. But even in absolute terms the US military effectiveness including the occupation is astounding. There have been a little over 3500 KIA in Iraq. To put that in perspective there were 1000 KIA in a TRAINING EXERCISE in WW2 for Operation Overlord

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Exercise_Tiger

    And to Joeys comments, it’s not that conventional wars are less and less likely, it is that they are super short or they dont start because it is no contest. By keeping a conventional force that is unbeatable no one wants to start a conventional war. Don’t you think North Korea would attack if they thought they had any chance of winning?

    So my conclusion stands, even if you think military spending is wasteful, it produces something. The Amtrak money is just wasted with no benefit. If Amtrak ceased tomorrow someone would buy and run profitably the useful cooridors and the rest (which is most of it) would cease to exist

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But that says nothing about the effectivness of the US military forces which was the point is question.

    Depends on broad your point of view is. 3500 deaths in Iraq is more than the deaths on September 11th. Very effective. Numbers of Iraqis killed since the end of those 6 weeks is hard to pin down. I suspect it’s more than Saddam is responsible for. Very effective.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Why would you compare those numbers…that make 0 sense. And the fact that the US military killed a lot of the Iraq soldiers just proves my point. Are you really going to argue that the US military is not the best military force in the history of the world so far?

    joe Reply:

    The deaths during the occupation certainly count.

    No – they didn’t show up in your body count homage to our defense contractors. Out of respect, can you add them?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    The Iraqi Army was a strong contender for most incompetent in the world and had been crippled by sanctions and routine US military air strikes for the previous 20 years. Compare and contrast with the performance of Serbia which, eight a few obsolete air defense systems, held off the entirety of NATO (90% perhaps of world military airpower at the time), regularly ran unopposed ground attack sorties into Kosovo, suffered hardly any loss to its army, and which was expected by professional military to inflict thousands of casualties if we had gone forward with the threatened ground invasion.

    Bragging about defeating Iraq is like bragging about like a heavyweight boxer bragging about beating up a Downs syndrome child.

    Oh, and the thousand casualties in Exercise Tiger was because of Nazi attack on it, hardly an appropriate example.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Are you really going to argue that the US military is not the best military force in the history of the world so far?

    The best military in the world is one that never goes to war.
    A Tesla is arguably the best electric car in the world. By some measures the best car in the world. That doesn’t mean that using it to run over pedestrians in Brooklyn because there are muggers in the Bronx and Manhattan and a rapist in Philadelphia is a good use of it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If you throw a couple hundred billion dollars a year at a problem, eventually you’ll solve it.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    1. My 2nd post included the total number including occupation. 3500. A historically low number for the longest war in US history. A small fraction of any other war of substance.
    2. At the time the Iraq army was the 5th biggest (or was it 6th). They had battle hardened divisions from winning the Iran/Iraq war. We made them look like chumps but they were the acknowledged best military in the mid-east outside of Israel military.
    3. Yes the Germans attacked operation Tiger. That’s primarily how people die in wars…the enemy kills them. The point is that 3500 total casualties shows how efficient and professional the US military is. When a single disaster in WW2 killed 1000
    4. Serbia did not hold off 90% of NATO. They held off the EU without the US which just proves my point further. The EU said they could handle it without us. Then after the peacekeepers got taken hostage Clinton finally intervened with air power and low and behold the problem went away…thanks for proving my point. PS before the invasion the Iraq Army was supposed to inflict thousands of casualties also. They inflicted 175.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Israeli military only looks good because it fights an occupation war, not a real war. In Lebanon it failed miserably, because it has little experience fighting enemies that shoot back.

    The US, I don’t know – it might be getting good results after those factor-of-10 cost overruns. And if California drowns $200+ billion into HSR it could get a maglev network.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They had battle hardened divisions from winning the Iran/Iraq war.

    The Iranians have a somewhat different view of who won. So does Wikipedia. Wikipedia claims that it was fought with the same techniques used in World War One. Cutting edge tactics there…
    The same ones that so effectively invaded Kuwait? And defended it?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    2. At the time the Iraq army was the 5th biggest (or was it 6th). They had battle hardened divisions from winning the Iran/Iraq war. We made them look like chumps but they were the acknowledged best military in the mid-east outside of Israel military.

    Acknowledged best by who? People who didn’t know anything about the Middle East? Surely the Jordanians at the very least were higher rated. Furthermore, even if they were the best military in the ME outside of the IDF, that does not mean that they were not incredibly incompetent. If you want to speak with any degree of knowledge regarding ME militaries, Arabs at War by Kenneth Pollack is an absolute requirement. The Iraqi military, while they had been in battle, was not competent at any major function (bar logistics, they were always quite good at that), was extremely poorly trained, had crap equipment, and their experience lay in static warfare that was meticulously detailed and planned out in a horrible parody of the First World War. Had they actually been competent, there would have been no Desert Storm: An OMG pushed down to Saudi ports would’ve prevented the buildup.

    3. Yes the Germans attacked operation Tiger. That’s primarily how people die in wars…the enemy kills them. The point is that 3500 total casualties shows how efficient and professional the US military is. When a single disaster in WW2 killed 1000

    Explain to me why you think counterinsurgency operations against lightly armed troops is in any way worth comparing to high intensity conflict against a peer nation.

    Serbia did not hold off 90% of NATO. They held off the EU without the US which just proves my point further. The EU said they could handle it without us. Then after the peacekeepers got taken hostage Clinton finally intervened with air power and low and behold the problem went away…thanks for proving my point. PS before the invasion the Iraq Army was supposed to inflict thousands of casualties also. They inflicted 175.

    Operation Allied Force involved the United States from the very beginning and resulted in an F-117 Nighthawk and F-16 Fighting Falcon shot down (along with at least 47 UAVs) as well as two AH-64s and an AV-8B lost in related operational accidents. A second F-117 was damaged and although recovered was written off. It destroyed a grand total of 22 Serbian armored vehicles and artillery pieces. At no point did the air campaign halt the attacks in Kosovo; as mentioned, it didn’t even stop ground attack sorties by the Yugoslavian air force. Only after KFOR began building up for a ground invasion and strong political pressure from Russia did Serbia agree to withdraw from Kosovo.

    As for expected casualties: That’s based off of post-war evaluation rather than pre-war, as was the case with inflated Iraqi estimates. NATO grievously overestimated the effects of the bombing campaign upon the Serbian army and had narrow penetration corridors along terrain well suited for ambushes. We would have won, no question about that, but it would have been bloody as hell.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Iraqi military had just fought a country so weak that it sent human waves to clear landmines. We’re not exactly talking about experience with a difficult conflict with an advanced country there. Most of the Iraqi troops were urbanites who’d grown up with air conditioning and were less prepared for desert warfare than Americans who’d trained for the possibility they’d have to fight the USSR in southern Italy. They were a lot of things, but battle-hardened they weren’t.

    Eric Reply:

    At no point did the air campaign halt the attacks in Kosovo; as mentioned, it didn’t even stop ground attack sorties by the Yugoslavian air force. Only after KFOR began building up for a ground invasion and strong political pressure from Russia did Serbia agree to withdraw from Kosovo.

    And Germany didn’t lose WWI, after all, no allied troops ever set foot on their soil. Right?

    The Iraqi military had just fought a country so weak that it sent human waves to clear landmines.

    Not weak, just contemptuous about the life of its citizens, and/or confident about the afterlife.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    At least the defense budget pays to defend the country

    It’s primary function is to funnel money to defense contractors. Protect the overseas interests of multinational companies and as a side effect provide national defense.

    Woody Reply:

    You said, “Regardless Obama did nothing either way other than talk. I am surprised that train supporters are giving him any credit, he did not help anything.”

    As a “train supporter” I just showed you how Amtrak is turning around, and how much Obama did to help everything. He did much more than talk.

    Of course, this all takes time. We won’t see big numbers from the investments until 2016. Poor Obama won’t get to do major ribbon cuttings until his last year in office. Then he could be dashing all around, from North Carolina to Michigan to the Pacific Northwest. And passenger train supporters will remember his legacy, no doubt about it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    When the Gotthard Base Tunnel opens, the trains from Zurich to Milan are still going to average less than that.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Ok so that is not HSR then…that proves nothing

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Almost no one takes it between Boston and DC because the average speed is 70 on that city pair. It averages 98 mph between Philadelphia and Baltimore. On infrastructure that is more or less what the Pennsylvania Railroad built in the 1930s.

    But why would anyone take an hour long train ride when they could fly between Philadelphia and Baltimore?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The point was not if it has riders, the point was it is not HSR. Are you conceding that point?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No because you don’t get to define HSR. The UIC does. They would say it’s HSR. Has been since the AEM7s were delivered and what are now called Regionals were Metroliners.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It does not meet their definition…what am I missing here. You said the definition was 115 and it only hits that in RI in service. So you are saying it is HSR on the whole line because 1 part meets the max speed for a small portion. Come on adirondacker, I know you are not that dense. You don’t really think it is HSR. It may be convenient, it may be profitable, but it is not HSR.

    Joey Reply:

    Much of the NY-DC can hit 125-135 (particularly in New Jersey and between Wilmington and Baltimore). A short segment between Jersey Ave and Trenton is being upgraded for 150, for the whole 2 minutes it will save.

    And it’s 150 not 115 in Rhode Island and a bit in Massachusetts.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    300 KPH and probably 220MPH. They publicize 150 because that’s the commercial speed of Acela.

    jonathan Reply:

    Joey,
    Isn’t that the section which is being upgraded so that the catenary doesn’t sag in the summer, causing speed restrictions and delays? Speed increase is a side-effect of improved reliability, not the other way around ;).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    80 MPH speed restrictions DC-NY when it gets really hot out. The PRR electrification around Philadelphia went into service in beginning in 1915. Some of those parts are still around. It was fully electrified from New York to DC in 1938. Many of those parts are still around. The all parlor car superexpress of 1939 made it between NY and DC in just over three and half hours. Except for the train that runs in the dead of night, todays slow trains make in three and half hours….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I didn’t define it. The UIC did. I’m sorry you don’t understand the definition.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I should have fact checked you before, but I never thought you would sandbag me. You choose one of the easiest definitions to meet

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail

    Why didn’t you pick the EU directive or international union of railways definition. Could it be because Acela does not meet those definitions?

    Joey Reply:

    And the NEC does in fact contain upgraded legacy track allowing speeds greater than 200 km/h. What part of the definition is not fulfilled?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Union Internationale des Chemins de fer, the UIC, is the International Union of Railways. The UIC’s definition is “see EU directives in most cases”.

    jonathan Reply:

    “upgraded legacy track”? You mean the NEC has “high-speed” track? If that newly-built track can’t sustain HSR speeds, then it’s not HSR. You can’t have it both ways. Note that the Wikipedia page says,quite specifically that the UIC does not consider trains comparable to Acela’s speed to be high-speed:

    Many conventionally hauled trains, in different parts of the world, are able to reach 200 km/h in commercial service, but are not considered to be high-speed trains, such as the French SNCF Intercités or German DB IC.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If that newly-built track can’t sustain HSR speeds, then it’s not HSR.

    Go argue with the UIC. Or whoever decided to not call those SNCF and DB trains HSR. I don’t know if those trains aren’t HSR because they make so many stops that it kills their average speed or if they have low maximum authorized speed because the track’s maximum authorized speed is less than 200 KPH or a combination of both. The reason Acela has a maximum speed of 135 between NY and DC is that the 75 year old catenary won’t support speeds higher than that in regular service. ( the higher speed tests the run, they’ve been running them sporadically for decades, happen in the spring and fall when the natural tension of the untensioned catenary is good for higher speeds. and in the dead of night when there isn’t any traffic. but also when the catenary has had time to cool off from sitting in the sun all day )
    I don’t care how many angels can dance on the head of the pin. If you want to worry about if some of those creatures aren’t true angels or maybe it’s not the right kind of pin, go right ahead.

    Jim Reply:

    Actually some of us do take the train between Washington (actually Alexandria) and Boston. I normally stay in Back Bay, a short walk from the Back Bay station. I live a short walk from the Alexandria station. Walk-train-walk is convenient, even if it takes some time. After all, I have my computer, there’s power at my seat and even intermittent wifi. The alternative is walk-Metro-TSA-plane-baggage claim-shuttle bus-T-walk. This is inconvenient, even harrassing and subject to inexplicable (at least unexplained) delays, even if shorter. Mode choice, when there actually is a choice available, is a complicated thing and not reducible to the time taken by the fastest component or even the door-to-door time.

    StevieB Reply:

    Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said “What he said to America is we know you want a different kind of transportation. And Lincoln started the rail system in America. Obama has started high speed rail in America. What a great legacy.”

    Wdobner Reply:

    What does Obama have to do with Acela? It’s in its 13th year of service and is really a product of the Clinton Administration.

  6. Joey
    May 2nd, 2013 at 18:45
    #6

    Since it is relevant to the current discussion of LAUS: LA-Anaheim Supplemental AA. The at-grade option was added in this stage of the process, and all alternatives except for the at-grade and aerial options were withdrawn. The report had this to say about the at-grade option (page 4-10 of the document or 45 of the actual PDF):

    An at-grade HST station will likely result in reduced noise and vibration impacts and reduced community impacts when compared to the LAUS Aerial HST Option. Locating the station directly adjacent to the current LAUS will also create superior pedestrian accessibility and circulation between HST and Metrolink, Amtrak, Metro Red/Purple Line, Metro Gold Line and local fixed route bus service. This option provides equivalent pedestrian access as the underground option with significantly lower costs and fewer constructability constraints. However, this option may have greater Section 106 and 4(f) and ROW issues between LAUS and I-5 heading to the north. In addition, it would require extensive reconstruction of the existing LAUS tracks and platforms.

    Page 10 of Appendix A shows how the tracks would fit at-grade. Moving the Gold line tracks slightly west would allow for 4 Metrolink/Amtrak platforms and 3 HSR platforms (each platform having two platform tracks). 4 shared platforms is fewer than HSR/Metrolink have today (currently 5), but the run-through project and marginally less inefficient operations should allow this to work just fine. Note that the Mozaic Apartments are not listed as being impacted, and in fact with careful planning it should be possible to move the Gold Line tracks without encroaching upon them.

    jimsf Reply:

    wow thats what I just suggested.

    jimsf Reply:

    Question….. the blended approach in socal, so, are the hsr trains actually sharing track with metro link ? If so, then would wouldnt it make sense for metrolink to use emus on the line from palmdale to anaheim? or will there be separate hsr tracks sharing the metrolink row? I mean if they are going to electrify a line from palmdale to anaheim anyway…

    Joey Reply:

    It would make a lot of sense to do that. Unfortunately the current plan isn’t quite so innovative. What we currently see is that Metrolink will continue using it’s own equipment, on shared tracks only between LA and Anaheim. But switching to EMUs would make a lot of sense for this corridor! There’s the minor issue that UP mandates one non-HSR track in the San Fernando Valley, but there’s room for that.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Where by “innovative” you mean of course bleeding fucking obvious and already followed by every non-US rail operator on the entire planet.

    America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals: conceiving novels schemes and executing cunning plans that nobody else could ever imagine, and which nobody else will ever be able to understand.

    USA Number One!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    .. well it depends on which US Transportation Planning Professional is doing the planning. The ones who wouldn’t see it as particularly innovative are all dead.

    … a little something not PRR or NYC..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lackawanna_Cut-Off

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Did they ever have EMUs on the Lackawanna Cut-Off?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    EMUs were innovative when Mr. Sprague figured them out in 1892. They didn’t start laying out the Cutoff until 1905.
    There’s never been any electrification on the Cutoff so EMUs have never run on it in regular service. Hauled around by a locomotive, maybe.

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