Memorial Day Open Thread

May 26th, 2013 | Posted by

I’m down in Southern California this holiday weekend, writing this post from a northbound Surfliner heading from Santa Ana to LA Union Station. Along the way I snapped a photo of the Anaheim Regional Transportation Intermodal Center – aka ARTIC – under construction:


Construction is slated to be complete in late 2014, and it’s still planned that a streetcar will connect it to the Disneyland resort and nearby hotels – although rising costs from Disney’s request that the power lines for the cars be buried are causing controversy.

In any case, I’m having a great weekend and I hope you are too.

  1. D. P. Lubic
    May 26th, 2013 at 17:42

    Well, it’s maybe kind of grisly, but the tune is catchy, and it’s a public service announcement from a Metro system about being safe around trains, though I’m not sure as to which system it is.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    It comes from Australia, most likely Melbourne, but could also be Adelaide.

  2. StevieB
    May 26th, 2013 at 18:09

    My understanding of the Anaheim Streetcar is that it would have catenary along the line except near Disneyland where it would use batteries. The cost analysis includes the following in Vehicle Requirements:

    The cost analysis considered vehicles such as the Kinkisharyo AmeriTram and the AnsaldoBreda Sirio that have the option for catenary-free operations. A cost of $500,000 was added to the vehicle cost to allow for on-board battery power as the goal of the system was to minimize the use of catenary along the alignment.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    A station should be placed right where the catenary ends, because, ya know…. The battery system will fail or be under designed.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why do the parking lots at Disney need catenary free operation?

    swing hanger Reply:

    “Streetcars are usually powered by what many consider unsightly overhead wires. Out of concern for the look of the resort, the city is proposing a hybrid system in which there are overhead wires in some parts of the route, but not around the resort, city officials said.”

    from Disneyland News:
    (regarding the “Red Car Trolleys of Buena Vista Street”, the replica PE cars running inside the theme park)-
    “Catenary lines – the classic above-vehicle electric cabling ­- have been added above the trolleys to enhance authenticity. The trolleys are actually powered by onboard 12-volt batteries and they
    are fully recharged in the Red Car barn each night.”

    So…if it’s real it’s No Good, but if it’s fake, it’s A-Okay…Disneyland and American thinking, nuff said…

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Somebody ought to bring this very thing up to the Disney people, just to see what the reaction would be.

    VBobier Reply:

    Heck I have a better question, why is this trolley even going into Disneyland? I can see going past their property, but not on to their private property, otherwise that segment winds up being a private branch, when the park closes, so does the branch. If Disney doesn’t like Catenary as it’s designed maybe Disney ought to make it look better for use in the park, it’s that or the trolley should stay out of Disneyland.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I don’t think it is going on their property.

    This was discussed on this forum just earlier this month, scroll down for the discussion:


    Comments by Paul Druce, from the economic development thread above, posted May 11:

    “Disneyland is about 75% of the purpose for the streetcar, the Anaheim convention center is the remaining 25%. If it doesn’t go to Disneyland, it doesn’t have a point.

    “The approach isn’t through a parking lot, there will be a station with pedestrian bridge across the street from Disneyland’s main gate.

    “Personally I’m of the opinion that they should tell Disneyland to take a flying leap and instead coordinate with Garden Grove, Orange, and Santa Ana for a connected and compatible line which would also connect to the Crystal/Christ Cathedral and UCI Medical.”

    From Nathaniel, on the same thread and same day:

    “The approach is through a set of bus pullouts.

    “Disney’s main gate was obstructed by the construction of California Adventure and ‘Downtown Disney.’

    “It would be lovely if the streetcar actually stopped in front of Disney’s main gate… but according to the maps, it is not planned to do so. It is supposed to stop on Harbor Boulevard behind the ranks of stops for tour buses, a bit over 1000 feet from the main gate, but more importantly across a whole lot of car and bus traffic. It’s right next to the Monorail Which Doesn’t Stop There, though!”

    Alan Kandel Reply:

    Bombardier offers a catenary-free system that utilizes electric cables buried beneath the track in the roadbed and through electromagnetic induction, current is transferred from the buried electrical able to the rail vehicles themselves “contactlessly,” the current “picked up” by coils located on the rail vehicles’ undersides. Via this type distribution system, propulsion power is delivered without the need for overhead catenary.

    Bombardier’s system is known as PRIMOVE.


    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It probably costs a bit more than hanging wires between the streetlight poles. If it was cheap they’d use it on the whole line and not have to worry their pretty little heads about trolley cars with two power systems.

    jimsf Reply:

    If they can use a system where the power is underground, then they may as well built the whole thing that way.

    Alan Kandel Reply:


    From the aforementioned Bombardier press release: “Among the advantages of the PRIMOVE catenary-free system are the completely hidden power supply, the irrelevance of weather and ground conditions as well as the easy installation. In addition, the contactless and very safe energy transfer system reduces wear on parts, limiting equipment lifecycle costs. When combined with the new MITRAC Energy Saver technology, the PRIMOVE system can also reduce energy consumption significantly. For historic centres such as Augsburg, one of Germany’s oldest cities, the PRIMOVE technology means that impressive cityscapes can now exist unencumbered by visual pollution from overhead lines.”

    A system on this order, although having potential higher initial installation cost, over the long-term it should be more cost efficient.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    When combined with the new MITRAC Energy Saver technology, the PRIMOVE system can also reduce energy consumption significantly

    Sucking power out of a catenary or a third rail is more efficient than doing it with some new fangled wireless technology. Physics is bitch and always will be unless your catenary or third rail is reallllly reallllly bad. The new catenary powered vehicles can use the MITRAC Energy Saver Technlogy too. If it’s something that’s putting power back into the power supply, catenary will do it more efficiently. If it’s putting it into batteries why do you need the new fangled wireless technology? Use the batteries off wire.

    limiting equipment lifecycle costs.

    Limiting lifecycle equipment costs is not the same as being less than lifecycle costs for catenary.

    over the long-term it should be more cost efficient.

    No it isn’t or otherwise it would be used places where people don’t care if there is catenary hanging over the street.

    Alan Kandel Reply:

    There is expanded explanation of the technology behind – and more on the application of – the PRIMOVE system here:

    and here:

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Using induction to transmit power is going to be less efficient than using a wire. And putting fancy coils under the asphalt or concrete or belgian block is going to be more expensive, much more expensive than putting gravel under it.
    If it was cheaper than hanging a wire no one would be hanging new wires anymore.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Of course. Orange County will simply have to build what they can without Disney and wait for a new and younger management and attitude to come on board. They will.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Interestingly, just today, in conjunction with the UITP Congress in Geneva, TPG, Hess and ABB unveiled a fully electric articulated bus with ultra-fast recharging (15 seconds for a full load). Such a technology could work as well for Anaheim. This would most certainly be cheaper than the underground power supply offered by Bombardier or Alstom. The capacity is said to be sufficient for 4 stops, which translates into maybe 1500 meters between recharging.

    And this reminds me of a system, some 70 years old or so, called Gyrobus (I think BBC (which years later merged into ABB) was involved), where a flywheel was charged at the stops, and that provided enough traction energy to the next stop…

  3. Reality Check
    May 26th, 2013 at 20:16

    Europe’s trainmakers on track for US sales

    Europe’s trainmakers may be about to gain a significant new market after America’s Federal Rail Administration signalled it was seriously considering changing the rules governing commuter trains on the US rail network.

    A change could allow France’s Alstom, Germany’s Siemens and the Berlin-based trainmaking division of Canada’s Bombardier to increase sales to the US of European-style commuter trains. Such trains — known as multiple units — have their motors hidden under the floors of passenger carriages.

    The new trains would compete with the pairing of a heavy diesel locomotive and robust passenger coaches that is currently generally used to run commuter services over US freight lines. The US diesel locomotive market is a duopoly of General Electric’s GE Transportation and Caterpillar’s EMD.

    Multiple units have rarely been allowed to operate in the US on mixed-traffic routes in case they proved too weak in a collision with the country’s many long, heavy freight trains. However, advocates of a change argue that European trains are also designed to withstand substantial impacts with Europe’s high-speed trains.

    The FRA’s rules currently demand that commuter trains show no deformation at all in a crash. European trains absorb impacts through crumpling of areas near the front. New rules are expected to move closer to European standards.

    Commuter services are generally run by either Amtrak, the federal government’s passenger train operator, or local state-owned agencies.

    The Federal Railroad Adminstration said its safety advisory committee was working “very closely” with train manufacturers “around the world” on designs and there was “broad consensus”.

    “We are collaborating with Amtrak, railcar manufacturers, and other partners to establish and implement safety standards that will ensure safe operation of these trains for passengers, employees and communities around the United States,” it said.

    Bombardier, the biggest international passenger trainmaker, said it had participated in development of the new guidelines.

    “Bombardier is fortunate in that our comprehensive portfolio of technologies and products includes many proven designs from abroad upon which we can draw,” it said.

    Henri Poupart-Lafarge, chief executive of Alstom’s trainmaking division, said a change would open the US market up to more and more of Alstom’s international products. The company already supplies metro cars — which have to meet less stringent crash standards — to New York and Washington.

    “The US is becoming more and more a complete part of the global network of Alstom,” he said.

    People familiar with the thinking of Germany’s Siemens, which already supplies electric locomotives to Amtrak, indicated it was interested.

    Henry Posner, a US-based rail entrepreneur with experience of European passenger services, said it would be easier with cheap multiple units to test the market for new, start-up commuter services.

    “It’s an important development,” he said.

    nobody_important Reply:

    I don’t like the word “trainmaker”. Can’t there be a better word?

    swing hanger Reply:

    Butcher, baker, candlestick maker. I guess “rolling stock manufacturer” doesn’t roll off the tongue well enough.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Is there any news there? The FRA said it was working with European and Japanese vendors to establish rules for noncompliant trains up to 125 mph a year and a half ago (link).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And there’s video too

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Yeah, after Stadler helped opening the path with the GTWs for Denton…

    But the crashworthiness standards are the same for all international manufacturers, so, the “big” ones would have similar characteristics.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They have been using Stadler GTWs in New Jersey for years.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    With time separation, yeah. And it’s still considered a mainline railroad for purposes of blowing the horn at grade crossings.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    I know; they are cute (because they are so short). I was specifically referring to the Denton vehicles because they are allowed to operate concurrently with “regular” trains.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    These comments, in particular Max’s calling a DLRC “cute,” got me curious, and so I found some photos that may be of interest here. All of these are from New Jersey.

    I’m not really familiar with these vehicles; it looks to me like they have two passenger sections, and the power is in that boxy middle unit riding on the center truck. Interesting concept, although I wonder what passing through that power unit must sound like.

    From an indirect source, but an example of how these units look alongside freight trains.

    Finally, a photo of one of the new electrics for Amtrak on its way to Pueblo for testing, in tow on the California Zephyr. Richard M. will like the idea that the big flag that was on the side of this unit was apparently temporary and has been removed.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    I call the River Line GTWs cute because they are short, compared to “normal” GTWs; as the pictures for the Denton operation show, the low floor section is only 3 sections long on the River Line GTWs, compared to 5 (which is normal). And then, there is the “long” version with an extension between the Power Cube and the end section, called “AKL” by their operator, the Swiss Thurbo regional operator. This picture shows a long GTW plus a short one in MU:

    Actually, Thurbo has a whole bunch of nice pictures, starting from

    And some videos from the cab (although they do have a title over the instruments (speedo etc.)); chose from

    About the noise in the passage of the diesel Power Cube… they are pretty well insulated, and it is not noisier than near the power block of a bus. And the passenger sections are really quiet.

    For the historically interested, the concept of the GTW has its roots in the Rowan trains used on some rack railroads about 70 years earlier.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Thats partly because the FTA – Federal Transit Adminstration – predicted it would only get 1,300 riders a day and NJTransit said it would get 3,000. 9,000 showed up.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Some material on the Denton operation:

    I don’t know what to make of these units as far as appearances go. Personally, like the photographer in one of the photos below, I don’t think they are the best looking rolling stock around, and I would say that half of that is the goofy paint and logos on the cars. A 1930s “streamliner” style color scheme might improve things considerably. However, I have to confess I’m really, really retro on things like that, so I may not be an appropriate judge.

    A look at what the Denton Stadlers replaced:

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Except for Californians who get all misty eyed when they see a BART logo, most people don’t care what the train looks like, how it’s painted or what it runs on. They care that it gets them to where they want to go.
    … Metro North runs single levels on the New Haven line. Amtrak runs single levels on the New Haven line. There are videos rail fans took of the first NJTransit bilevels running on the New Haven Line for The-Train-To-The-Game. It stops a station that only has Metro North service. All the trains headed to Manhattan all go to Grand Central in people’s minds. So people who want to go to Grand Central try to board the bilevel with NJTransit logos plastered all over it…. Most people don’t care.

  4. BMF of San Diego
    May 26th, 2013 at 21:42

    The ARTIC looks much smaller than the early renderings.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    It looks like that’s because you’re only looking at a small part of it:

    I can’t say I care for it; looks like a giant glass beetle to me, maybe even that pest, the Japanese beetle, but then I’m really, really traditional, really old-fashioned, so perhaps I’m not one to judge.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Looks like half a blimp hangar to me. Or half a college gym. At least they aren’t building a 4 billion dollar stegosaurus or getting the urge to put a park on top of it.

    bixnix Reply:

    yep, a glass half-scale version of the Moffett hangar. The train station counterpoint to the Crystal Cathedral that’s about a mile away – “Hour of Power”.

    VBobier Reply:

    Since it’s not done yet, I’ll withhold any thoughts on ARTIC…

  5. John Nachtigall
    May 26th, 2013 at 22:35

    I can’t believe Syno has not posted this yet

    The trains are rising up to claim what is right (of way) theirs. (Bad Pun)

    Its like Maximum Overdrive II (Google it)

    swing hanger Reply:

    Likely the UP train did a SPAD (overran a red signal). Hello~ PTC!

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    It’s not just American Class Is:

    VBobier Reply:

    Cause it was caused by a Freight train ramming another Freight train and a Highway bridge maybe?

  6. Andrew
    May 27th, 2013 at 04:33

    Open thread=Open season for one monomaniacal fantasy mapper. Re the photo of ARTIC construction, wouldn’t we be better off routing socal’s hsr this way, with OC’s station at Fullerton?,-117.971191&spn=1.28251,2.469177

    This would put OC at the center of the network, rather than off on a dead-end. It wouldn’t preclude a short spur to Anaheim, but ARTIC is actually not that much closer to Disneyland than Fullerton Station in any case.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I think I’ve mentioned before here that the quickest way by train to Disneyland is Fullerton then the OCTA bus down Harbor Blvd.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …and when the system is at capacity in 2050 building Tehachapi doesn’t give you much more.
    Build Tehachapi first and then play with which crossing gives you more capacity, Tejon or Cajon. Keep in mind that Cajon moves anyone not in downtown LA or the San Fernando Valley going someplace other than downtown LA or the San Fernando Valley off the tracks through LAUS.

    bixnix Reply:

    The CA-91 route would avoid the San Gabriel valley and the Rancho Cucamonga / Ontario area and go through a relatively low-populated pass through the hills. You’d be losing significant ridership. ARTIC is Disney’s only chance to build a direct people mover to the resort – shortest route, single city. It sure ain’t gonna happen down Harbor Blvd.

    Andrew Reply:

    “You’d be losing significant ridership” …The suggested network works well for folks in the I-10 corridor, who can use local rail to connect quickly to HSR in either direction, making excellent connections for Norcal, Vegas, Phoenix, or San Diego. By contrast, using the I-10 route, people in OC and bordering portions of LA County would not have reason to ride HSR unless going to Norcal.

    bixnix Reply:

    The OC will have a good HSR connection on the present plan. It’ll connect to Vegas via Xpress West. I can see Xpress West starting the trains in Anaheim if there’s demand. It’ll be a little longer than the Cajon pass, but there is no funding for Cajon, and there won’t be funding for that for the foreseeable future. Tehachapi is basically two birds (HSR and Xpress West) with one stone.

    Trading HSR stations in the SG valley and Ontario for Anaheim Hills and Corona … well, that won’t happen – there’s way more people on the north side of the hills. You could also argue that Anaheim Hills and Corona could take local rail (Metrolink 91) to get to HSR just as you’re saying the SG valley and Ontario should.

    San Diego – speed up Amtrak. Phoenix (in forty years) – HSR through LAUS.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    That would require XpressWest to ever be built, which I’m strongly doubtful of.

    bixnix Reply:

    I have doubts, too … but it’s more likely than Cajon happening.

    Andrew Reply:

    bluff authoritativeness=self-mockery

    bixnix Reply:

    your point is … ?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Have you submitted your resume to the Fullerton City Council yet? They eagerly signed a deal with the X Train in the hopes of burnishing their role in Southern California’s burgeoning transportation network.

  7. D. P. Lubic
    May 27th, 2013 at 05:09

    In the just-plain-pleasant-news department, we have a classic 1897 Baldwin 4-4-0 about to be returned to active service at the Henry Ford Museum’s demonstration railroad:

    And in Pennsylvania, we are about to see another 4-4-0–a BRAND NEW 4-4-0–go into service on a line that was used by Abraham Lincoln on the way to Gettysburg:

    Isn’t she a beauty?

    Where she’ll be working:


    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Steam at speed, test run for the 75th anniversary of the speed run of London North Eastern “Mallard” (which holds the official steam speed record) by a sister LNER A4, “Bittern:”

  8. D. P. Lubic
    May 27th, 2013 at 05:28
  9. Roger Christensen
    May 27th, 2013 at 12:06

    Friday is our court date in Sacramento. Carloads of opponents will be making the journey.
    My question is how does the ruling work in that court?
    Could the Judge make a ruling that day? Will we be waiting a long time for a ruling?
    Might we see 11th hour settlements a la Madera or Chowchilla?

    joe Reply:

    I can’t see this being one day or see a settlement happening.

    Opponents will try to get the judge to rule not only on Prop1A legality but issue an injunction to stop any spending of ARRA funding. They’ll argue that ARAR spending de facto commits prop1A funding and thus is “spending” Prop1a funds prior to his deciding case in litigation.

    Another possible attack on HSR would be to follow up on the Prop1A legitimacy and go after the ARRA funds since they’ll lack guaranteed matching funds from Prop1A. I don’t see him going there.

    The judge will be asked to rule on Prop1A and not become involved in the execution of the executive and legislative branches’ responsibilities. The executive and legislative branches both proposed and approved the acceptance of ARRA funds for the HSR project and if the Prop1A funds are withheld by the court, the State can match ARRA spending with general funds.

    Travis D Reply:

    I’m nervous. I’ve been quite down lately and the possibility of this high speed train being built is damn near the only thing that keeps me from giving up on life these days.

    synonymouse Reply:

    No need to be nervous – these are obsequious machine judges who will simply not rock the boat. To accurately and dependably secure compliance of the current scheme with the provisos of Prop 1A the court would have to engage outside independent engineering evaluation. First they will consider that outside of their job description and authority and secondly professional courtesy between engineering consultants would weighh against any negative findings.

    But they might require more legislation to specify and reaffirm the CAHSR project. Not a problem for Jerry.

    In any event when the DogLeg hemorrhages red ink the Legislature will have to scurry about for some serious subsidy money and if and when the project fails they will have to moot the details of disposing of it.

  10. Keith Saggers
    May 27th, 2013 at 12:28

    What they really said about Shafter

    CHSRA June 6th

    Staff will present technical information and request Board concurrence with the staff-recommended preferred alignment and station locations between Fresno and Shafter to be designated in the Fresno to Bakersfield Final EIR/EIS.

    joe Reply:

    The agency in charge of coordinating regional transportation in Kern County is struggling to find common ground on a project that was supposed to unite the state: California High-Speed Rail.

    “If this is an attempt to portray a uniform front or position on the HSR alignment among the three cities, that is arguably not the case,” Allen wrote.

    Bakersfield staff have complained about the proposed train route through the city, while Shafter officials have criticized a plan to avoid the city center and instead run through farmland and industrial property.

    Clem Reply:

    It’s nice that they’re stopping short of deciding anything about Bakersfield, let alone building anything there. The best they could come up with so far is a ten mile viaduct flying high over all intervening infrastructure, with 115 mph reverse curves that kill 2 minutes of express run time. Nearly as horrible as the “iconic” approach to San Jose. Heckuva job.

    Mac Reply:

    Have you seen the actual “technical info” or the report regarding the CHSRA recommendation on this? Usually it is on their website, but the only thing I see is the agenda. No accompanying info/reports

    Clem Reply:

    I’ve seen the preliminary engineering for the B3 alignment. It’s in the revised DEIR.

    wdobner Reply:

    I’d rather they build the 115 mph alignment through Bakersfield now and then concentrate on bypassing it later if faster trains are desired, especially if the alternative involves having locals creep down a non-grade separated track at 80mph for more than 10 miles. If the CHSRA express trains don’t exactly achieve the maximum speed along the entire route that’s not that big a deal because steps can always be taken to improve travel times once it’s build, operating, and generating a surplus.

    But so many of he self described experts around here want to build a high speed rail network which locks the local service in as a subpar alternative. Almost every day we’re being told how Fresno should be served via a 50 mile spur, which can be “cheaper”, because it doesn’t need to allow for high speed operation. Now we’re advocating for much the same thing at Bakersfield (or simply whiffing, missing the city’s center, which I’m sure would please NIMBYs like Mac enormously). All this is going to do is saddle the local with a travel time a hell of a lot longer than the express service. You’re going to end up with severely asymmetric loading of those trains, and that will lead to demands for limited services which stop a Fresno, but not Bakersfield, or vice versa, and that will in turn make travel on the CHSRA system through the valley much less convenient.

    So many here wring their hands over a ten minute delay to the express, but are perfectly happy to weigh the local down with upwards of an our additional travel time. But it’s that additional travel time on the local which poses the bigger threat to the profitability of the HSR system. 10 minutes on an express isn’t going to make or break the HSRA, but shutting whole travel markets out by making the trip as inconvenient will go a long way toward ensuring its financial dissolution.

    synonymouse Reply:

    San Valley AmBART is a certain money loser just as with Deserted Xprss.

    Building out the Vegas line is probably in everyone’s best interest. There is no cure or medication for stupidity other than rank failure. The machine hacks are oblivious and the only way they are going to wake from their fantasy-coma is a total bomb of their pet project.

    synonymouse Reply:

    San Joaquin Valley

    wdobner Reply:

    You do realize that the maxim “If you repeat a lie long enough, it becomes truth” is not actually a good idea, right? Why do you persist in posting this counter factual drivel?

    Jon Reply:

    Completely agree.

    Certain people are focusing on express runtime not because they really care about it, but because they see it as a way for the project to be declared illegal under prop 1A, so that their pet alignment of Altamont/I-5/Tejon can be revisited, or the whole thing cancelled altogether. The same folks who complained the original Peninsula plan for four tracks everywhere are now claiming that the blend is illegal under prop 1A! It’s really just a case of opposing everything about the project until CAHSR picks an alignment they approve of.

    That said, it’s good that CAHSR are bumping Bakersfield to the next EIR because the high viaduct over the planned centennial freeway project (itself on a viaduct) is just ridiculous. HSR should be at grade as much as possible with the freeway passing overhead. The current plan seems like lazy engineering to me; talk to Caltrans and coordinate the two projects rather than just blasting over the whole thing.

    synonymouse Reply:

    No matter how you improve the engineering details of Valley AmBART it is still going to lose money and require a sizeable subsidy. Think connecting the most remote outposts of BART but without the revenue-rich urban core.

    I-5 is not only cheaper to build but much faster due to long sustained speeds. The CHSRA is going to have a great need for that speed to be competitive.

    I’d like to see extreme fasttracking of Deserted Xprss since it is quasi-private so the monumental degree of failure of concept can be seen quickly and the CAHSR suspended and placed in moratorium.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The CHSRA is going to have a great need for that speed to be competitive.

    With what? At three hours the only thing that is more competitive is living in an airport hotel room and flying to another airport. Anything else and the trip on the train is faster.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It won’t make 3 hours. Especially when TWU-Amalgamated goes on strike.

    You are assuming that air-auto has reached a tech concrete wall. Big assumption. But steel on steel rail is likely close to its technical apogee. Next ramp will be maglev.

    Hey, vac-tubes for BART replacing broad gauge. Just as promised in 1962 pr bs.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Syn, what are you talking about in regard to air-auto NOT hitting a technical wall? As far as I can tell, they have.

    Automobiles are currently limited in real, regular service performance by (a) the limitations of drivers, and (b), the huge increase in power (and fuel consumption) needed to go above 60 mph or so. This isn’t to say there are no further improvements to be made (self-driving cars are the most obvious example, along with improvements in fuel economy), but overall performance gains will be modest, if any at all. Even the self-driving vehicle will still have to deal with human drivers for some time, which again limits what the machine can do.

    Aircraft have essentially the same problems. Supersonic flight is still uneconomic due to high power demands (and accompanying fuel consumption), there are performance limits (called “congestion”) in airspace around airports, the airports themselves have to be out of the city for some distance, and commercial air service doesn’t handle a lot of intermediate stops very well for a variety of reasons, part of which is high fuel consumption on take-off and attainment of cruising altitude, and part of which is the necessity to taxi an airplane off the runway for some distance to an air terminal to pick up or drop off passengers. (Contrast this with a train, which can stop, drop off passengers, and pull right out again; the closest you could come with an aircraft would be to have the air terminal at the center of a runway long enough for a plane to land, stop, and take off again, all in the same direction, no taxiing, no turning.)

    There has been some talk of an alternate air traffic control system and pocket jetliners that essentially work as a type of taxi service, but that requires the development of that alternate air traffic control system, and even small airports are often out some ways from the towns they serve, and you still have to taxi to the terminal.

    Rail, as you’ve noted, may well be nearing, if not already at, maximum service potential for speed, and even that has a lot of compromises (i.e., a dedicated right of way straighter than a highway by far), but at least for this country, the jump in performance will be huge because of the lack of investment for the last 50 years. Combine that with the train’s better comfort levels, and the ability to serve smaller intermediate cities that air can’t do very well, and you still have a winner even with the “dogleg,” or at least I think you do. . .

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    pocket jetliners that essentially work as a type of taxi service

    Very very expensive even when it’s “cheap” and doesn’t have much capacity. It’s great when you wanna go from the middle of nowhere that’s big enough to have an airport to some place so obscure that it doesn’t have commercial service and isn’t close to someplace that does.

    synonymouse Reply:

    around 250mph – competitive with the DogLeg.

    Steel on steel has enjoyed a guidance system for 150 years, but don’t rule out rubber tire acquiring it in the near future. 150mph down I-5 would come pretty close to DogLeg times when you factor in you will have to connect(read drive)at either end.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Question–How much is that Bugatti? How much will it cost to run it down that road at those speeds? Can you run it at 150 mph in daily service with trucks, old grandmas, drunks, and the distracted? Can you do that even if it is self-driving?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Most people don’t drive Bugattis and I-5 isn’t the Bonneville Salt Flats.

    wdobner Reply:

    Aside from other more practical concerns, at 250mph the Veyron will empty its 26 gallon tank in 12 minutes. Admittedly it’ll cover 50 miles in that time, but stopping 5 times an hour to refuel will play havoc with the average speed.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You want performance… get a Datsun with a few mods.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Up against the question “How much is that Bugatti” stands the question “How much is that Bombardier-Breda neo-quasi-proto Acela?”

    Your Tesla of the near future will do the 150 and being electric is more remote controllable. The means of adding fixed guideway characteristic to auto are already present theoretically and the concept is not inherently infeasible. The market for a safe, reliable above 100mph freeway is quite real and there is toll money to be made. SF to LA in approx. 4 hours by would be a real sap of potential hsr traffic.

    Ergo the need for Tejon, I-5 speed.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    “How much is that Bombardier-Breda neo-quasi-proto Acela?”

    Since they aren’t going to be buying whatever those are, it doesn’t matter.
    What does matter is that as a railroad passenger, not a car owner, you only have to rent a seat for a few hours. Like when the same people sit in a seat on 150 million dollar 767 airplane. Though you can buy a lot more seats for 150 million if they are inside trains instead of inside planes.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    “SF to LA in approx. 4 hours by would be a real sap of potential hsr traffic.”

    Hrmmph! Four hours in a car, even a self-driving one, leaves you sore in the seat, stiff getting out of the car, and in my case, results in leg cramps. I’ll still take the train, thank you.

    Joey Reply:

    SF to LA in approx. 4 hours would be a real sap of potential gas mileage.

    Clem Reply:

    If I can summarize, let’s build it wrong now, let it make tons of money, and use the profits to build it right later. Why didn’t I think of that?

    wdobner Reply:

    If you can create a strawman, I guess you can argue with it all you want. But that’s not what I said. It’s not wrong to directly serve the maximum population early in the project when the number of express trains will necessarily be quite limited. Quite the opposite in fact. If you bypass those areas to begin with you’re never going to get direct service to those cities, but you can always build the bypass at some point in the future when funding is available.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Don’t confuse the Tejon-istas with the facts!

    They sidestep the fact that if you rely only on the LA to SF passenger, you are going to have less demand that still will require the full infrastructure buildout, and using 220mph power requirements which are pricey. It’s entirely possible that the Denis Douty, SNCF-endorsed plan would have yield very expensive tickets which would have diminished ridership demand before the plan could break even.

    Meanwhile, the Fresno to Bakersfield segment will always have a high load factor that can be incrementally mitigated as you say.

    Joey Reply:

    Don’t confuse the Tejon-istas with the I-5-istas. One does not necessarily imply the other.

    Clem Reply:

    Right. The Central Valley I-5 ship has already sailed, while Tejon is still in the realm of possibility once the money people do a proper analysis of it, minus the lies, errors and distortions of the CHSRA’s I-5 conceptual alignment study of January 2012.

    synonymouse Reply:

    All due respect, Clem, and I do hope you are right, but I am thinking ahead as to how they are going to deal with the very substantial subsidy burden in a few decades.

    I won’t be around but my kids will probably have to live in a Taxachussetts iteration of the Golden State. After the next downturn some takedown of the huge student debt load will probably occur and the cops on full retirement at 50 just won’t finance in most towns and that will be ugly.

    My kids might have to decamp from the State if the tax load is too high – worst case scenario for CAHSR would be the Queretaro formula.

    wdobner Reply:

    That only assumes they prioritize the SF-LA express travel time above all else, but that won’t be happening for another 15 to 20 years. LA-Fresno service *could* be operational via Palmdale in less than a decade, perhaps even less if they get creative and are willing to accept that it won’t be high speed everywhere. The five to ten years between the start of operations on the IOS and the completion of the Bay to Basin phase will be absolutely crucial to the success of the project. Having empty trains scooting over Tejon, missing Bakersfield by 15 miles, and then terminating in Fresno or Merced would be absolutely disastrous for the project’s long term prospect. Project opponents would screech about the project’s “failure” before it was even completed.

    And at this point Bay to Basin depends entirely on the northern mountain crossing, be it Altamont or Pacheco, so going with Tejon over Tehachapi does nothing to help the situation. All Tejon can do is hurt the project by bypassing the 300,000 some odd potential passengers living in Lancaster and Palmdale. Antelope Valley and Bakersfield residents may not fill the trains, but they could mean the difference between a narrow operating surplus which buys the project the decade needed for completion and the termination of the project for the foreseeable future. I’d rather spend another ten minutes on the train traversing the dogleg than have no train at all.

    wdobner Reply:

    That only assumes they prioritize the SF-LA express travel time above all else, but that won’t be happening for another 15 to 20 years. LA-Fresno service *could* be operational via Palmdale in less than a decade, perhaps even less if they get creative and are willing to accept that it won’t be high speed everywhere. The five to ten years between the start of operations on the IOS and the completion of the Bay to Basin phase will be absolutely crucial to the success of the project. Having empty trains scooting over Tejon, missing Bakersfield by 15 miles, and then terminating in Fresno or Merced would be absolutely disastrous for the project’s long term prospect. Project opponents would screech about the project’s “failure” before it was even completed.

    And at this point Bay to Basin depends entirely on the northern mountain crossing, be it Altamont or Pacheco, so going with Tejon over Tehachapi does nothing to help the situation. All Tejon can do is hurt the project by bypassing the 300,000 some odd potential passengers living in Lancaster and Palmdale. Antelope Valley and Bakersfield residents may not fill the trains, but they could mean the difference between a narrow operating surplus which buys the project the decade needed for completion and the termination of the project for the foreseeable future.

    I’d rather spend another ten minutes on the train traversing the dogleg than have no train at all.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    There is no HSR ridership model I am aware of in which the Bako-Fresno distance has a higher mode share than the LA-SF distance. This is completely independently of city sizes, driving costs in the US vs. in South Korea and Japan, and traffic and parking issues in Bako and Fresno vs. in Seoul and Tokyo. (Well, Seoul has plenty of parking, it’s just called “expressways.”)

    wdobner Reply:

    I might be wrong, but i do not believe that’s what Mr. Judah said. He said the load factor of trains traveling between Fresno and Bakersfield will be greater than for points north and south of those two stations. That is distinct from mode share, where it’s quite readily apparent their mode share would be much worse than for, say SF-LA. But Fresno – Bakersfield provides some passenger traffic and revenue which might otherwise be eliminated or severely marginalized if the CHSRA opts for a station well outside the city or on a slow spur.

    Why do so many here want to discard potential travel markets along local trains in order to optimize the express travel time when that express service will not be available for at least 15 years? The project is going to sink or swim on the strength of the IOS’s commercial viability, assuming they can get it over the San Gabriels and Tehachapis, so why marginalize any possible market?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If the track is out on I-5 the mode share between Fresno and Bakerfield will be nearly zero except for people who don’t drive. People without cars who can drive will rent one and get there faster. It’s 110 miles between Fresno and Bakersfield, in nice round numbers. Going 50 miles to or from the station and 15 miles to or from the station on the other end means you are on the road for 65 miles.
    Or 35 miles less than just driving there… Or 35 miles less than getting on the bus for people who don’t drive.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “the Fresno to Bakersfield segment will always have a high load factor”

    If you give away the tickets for free. You might as well have subsidized flights.

    Mac Reply:


    Clem Reply:

    It’s entirely possible that the Denis Douty, SNCF-endorsed plan would have yield very expensive tickets which would have diminished ridership demand before the plan could break even.

    It’s entirely possible that SNCF Americas had more of a clue about HSR than the CHSRA, Parsons Brinckerhoff, Cambridge Systematics and Ted Judah put together.

    I love the Tejonista label. I will wear it proudly.

    wdobner Reply:

    They wanted a ten year cost plus operating contract, or penalties paid by the CHSRA if they were not selected as the operator. That’s not just a shitty deal for California, it’s incontrovertibly illegal per AB3034. It is absolutely hilarious that in spite of what SNCF wrote on their own presentation some here are so desperate for the CHSRA and PB to be the only bogeymen in this saga that they continue to lionize SNCF’s extremely blatant rent seeking as “proof” of whatever corruption they wish to see in the project.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The SNCF did not stand a chance. They would have had to payola the patronage machine with very, very large contributions and over an extended period.

    You have to out-graft and out-kickback the competition to undo the fix.

    Jonathan Reply:

    No. Wrong. SNCF did not stand a chance because the contract they asked for was illegal.
    They didn’t even to the gate, never mind sweet-talking the decision makes.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    the contract they asked for was illegal.

    Proposition 1A is scared holy writ.

    Except when it isn’t.

    FOUNDING FATHERS! MOSES! PBQD! HOLY PROPOSITION! THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN! OBEY GIANT! (Disregard speed, budget, schedule, subsidies, ring-fending, overheads, … and that man behind the curtain).

    synonymouse Reply:

    Tutor is way ahead in taking care of the bosses and clearly has a working mastery of the “public works industry”. And why not entrust it all to him? It is all about quickly blowing public funds and why throw it away on gold plate when the scheme details are inherently such a piece of mierda.

    In re any fantastical transport tech gadgetbahns coming from Musk, et al, never fear there will be an equivalent “SkyBus” in your boondoggle future. In time PB and the gang will turn on steel wheel hsr for vactrain or solar-powered monorail or other such drivel. And there will be a blog site for new order cheerleaders to decry the skybus gap.

    Just don’t about driverless in the presence of the apparatchiks and cadres.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Just don’t talk …

    synonymouse Reply:

    wind-powered aerial tramways

    wdobner Reply:

    Proposition 1A is scared holy writ.

    In what way is the current CHSRA plan anywhere near as clear-cut an abrogation of the requirements set forth in AB3034 as the SNCF rent-seeking?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Start out with 2:40 and end up arbitrarily with does not require a subsidy.

  11. morris brown
    May 27th, 2013 at 21:39

    LA Times: Builder of 1st phase of California’s bullet train faces scrutiny,0,4908429.story

    joe Reply:

    U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R–Atwater), a critic of the state’s high-speed rail project, is expected to demand a detailed explanation of how Tutor Perini was selected to build the first phase of the line.


    His [Ron Tutor,] team is “light years” ahead of the Spanish in construction competence, he argued. He’s never built high-speed rail structures, he acknowledged, but said the initial construction work is akin to a routine highway project.

    Installation of more technically specialized track, signals and electrical systems will be the responsibility of later contractors, he said.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Oh good God, they’re completely delusional. No wonder they’re so bad at what they do.

    Travis D Reply:

    I see nothing delusional there and they often do excellent work.

    Joey Reply:

    They often go over budget.

    StevieB Reply:

    How many design-build projects have they done and how many have gone over budget?

    joe Reply:

    Good question.

    Tutor has won accolades for performing well on such projects as the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters, the Alamitos Corridor rail link, and elsewhere. But he became embroiled in lawsuits with the L.A. County Metropolitan Transportation Agency over construction issues on the Red Line subway in Los Angeles and with UCLA over delays in construction of the Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center.

    UCLA project explained here: But the opening has been thwarted by cost overruns and delays, which hospital officials have blamed on the rising costs of building materials and design changes to accommodate medical advances.

    Red line here:

    Both seemed to involve changing designs and poor planning on part of stakeholders. Not to defend the contractor, but “they often go over budget” is simplistic.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    You don’t think that the 2nd lowest scoring team for competency claiming that they are “light years ahead of the Spanish in construction competence” is delusional?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Whatever are the shortcomings of Tutor they pale in comparison to the mountain of errors that is the CHSRA scheme.

    Tutor is perfect suited to a boondoggle. They pretty much are going to get the whole thing if they want it and payola the bosses accordingly. And why not?

    Stupidity is unstoppable, as with BART Indian broad gauge.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Lowest scoring

    Joe Reply:

    Thank you CARRD!!

    Clem Reply:

    Facts can certainly be pesky…

    Joe Reply:

    So too can dogma.

    Lots of luck beating back a few years of irrational opposition to rail projects when they start building in the peninsula.

    Joe Reply:

    And this lowest cost, highest scoring bid the the fruit of hard work by CARRD.

  12. D. P. Lubic
    May 28th, 2013 at 06:06
  13. morris brown
    May 28th, 2013 at 07:51

    In a few hours, Rep Denham is holding a hearing on the HSR project in Madera. There has now been posted a 6 page PDF summary of the project at:

    Should be an interesting meeting, which unfortunately does not seem to have any audio or video broadcasts.

    Elizabeth Reply:


    Try this

    Mac Reply:

    I would be interested to hear what transpired at hearing…impressions from those who attended/were able to access video stream live.

    StevieB Reply:

    Rep Denham has hand selected witnesses of which he says, “I think we’ve got a variety of witnesses that will be very critical and some who will be less critical.”

    Joe Reply:

    If successful, he’ll create solid opposition in his base against this active, job creatibg construction which will make it impossible for him to support in an election year.


    StevieB Reply:

    “I’m going to work with my colleagues to make sure that money is held up until there’s a full business plan and a private investor,” Denham said after he and Reps. David Valadao, R-Hanford, and Jim Costa, D-Fresno, listened to a panel of six witnesses for about two hours Tuesday.

    Read more here:

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’m sure he’s doing all he can to assure that the plans for SR99 are held to the same high standard.

    joe Reply:

    Held up How? He can’t legislate that objective given Reid in the Senate would not let such legislation pass the Senate.

    He will be opposing an active project in summer 2014. This project will be hiring and training CV workers.

    If he waivers, the base will turn on him and some fraction will withhold their vote.

    There is no goldilocks stance.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Why is it interesting?

  14. Peter
    May 28th, 2013 at 13:17
  15. Neil Shea
    May 28th, 2013 at 15:43

    Braymer offering back up that CA-NV-AZ offer the best potential for HSR

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    This is interesting

    Los Angeles becoming a high speed rail hub

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Widely followed blogger Sullivan continues on the theme of the decline of driving

  16. morris brown
    May 28th, 2013 at 16:22

    Fresno Bee:

    After hearing, Denham remains skeptical of CA high-speed rail plans

    Peter Reply:

    Sorry, that’s just funny.

    Walter Reply:


    Let me get this straight…you’re telling me that the guy who has publicly denounced the project at every opportunity didn’t change his mind today?

  17. D. P. Lubic
    May 28th, 2013 at 16:35

    Keeping an eye on the competition–a flight safety film (Delta) with touches of humor, courtesy of William Draves at NineShift:

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    In other news–there is what’s shaping up to a fairly extensive discussion of Amtrak on Railway Preservation News, a site normally more concerned with historic preservation and heritage railroads.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Continuing in other news, we have a “Whine-O-Meter” from the pro-bicycle site that looks quite adaptable to HSR:

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    I’ve had this up before (in fact, it’s just above), but there is continuing discussion of Amtrak here, with what I think are some interesting turns:

    And then there’s apparently been some sort of competition or conceptual showing of what a new Penn Station could be like:

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Not enough stairs in any of them. If you want to go to 23rd street from two of them and your train comes in on the southernmost track it’s a longer walk to the subway on 34th than it is to walk to 23rd. And just who is going to lounging on the spiral lawn in another?

Comments are closed.