The Truth About Tejon

Jun 16th, 2013 | Posted by

Below is a guest post from Clem Tillier, who also writes the Caltrain-HSR Compatibility Blog

If you try to reach Los Angeles from the Central Valley and points north, the Tehachapi Mountains stand squarely in the way.   This mountain range, crisscrossed by earthquake faults, forms a great barrier to California’s high-speed rail network and will (by geological and topographical necessity) result in one of the highest-elevation high-speed rail mountain crossings anywhere in the world.  Reaching even the lowest passes requires a roughly 1000 m (3300 ft) vertical climb from the floor of the Central Valley, with sustained steep grades and tunnels and bridges of considerable length.  The Tehachapi mountain crossing will surely be the most spectacular, complex and expensive section of California’s nascent high-speed rail backbone.

Crossing the Tehachapis is feasible at several topographically favorable locations, among which are Tehachapi Pass (to serve Palmdale and the Antelope Valley, as selected by the California High-Speed Rail Authority) and Tejon Pass, also known as the “Grapevine” or I-5 alignment.  Two possible HSR alignments through these passes are shown in the map at right.  The map, oriented such that the SF-LA axis is vertical, highlights one of the basic trade-offs of California high-speed rail: detour through the fast-growing but geographically isolated Antelope Valley, or take the direct shortcut to Los Angeles.

This trade-off was never technical.  For political reasons that will not be discussed here, Tejon Pass was never seriously considered for high-speed rail.

During Roelof van Ark’s brief stint as CEO of the rail authority, staff and consultants were directed to reconsider the options and produced the Conceptual I-5 Corridor Study, published at the January 2012 board meeting–the same meeting where van Ark resigned his post.  This study was tailored, rather blatantly as we will see, to reconfirm the route via Palmdale.  The technical rationale for dismissing Tejon Pass alignments was built on numerous contrived assumptions and constraints that warrant close examination.  A sophisticated path optimization tool, known as Quantm, was used to evaluate thousands of possible alignments through the Tehachapi Mountains, giving the false impression that they had been exhaustively researched; however, the tool was carefully tweaked to avoid some of the most promising alternatives.  While thousands of alignments may have been considered, the hundreds that weren’t are far more interesting.

A Good Tejon Pass Alignment

The map below shows a reasonable Tejon Pass HSR alignment, by no means the best, in comparison to the probable Antelope Valley alignment.  This map serves as a key to the rest of this article, and is even more revealing after downloading the KML file and opening it in Google Earth, where many of the locations, landmarks and topographical features discussed below are easily visualized in 3D.


View Larger Map

Myths About Crossing the Tehachapi Mountains

Twelve myths have developed around the complex issue of the HSR southern mountain crossing, and are often trotted out to support the Antelope Valley alignment via Palmdale.  These myths, all of them wrong, include the following:

  1. Tejon Pass HSR alignments cannot cross into Tejon Mountain Village property
  2. Tejon Pass HSR requires more tunneling than the Antelope Valley
  3. Tehachapi Pass is the easier mountain crossing, as the Southern Pacific Railroad figured out way back in the 1870s
  4. Tejon Pass HSR suffers from greater seismic risk, compared to Antelope Valley HSR
  5. Tejon Pass HSR via Santa Clarita would significantly impact Newhall Ranch
  6. Antelope Valley HSR via Tehachapi Pass alignment can just plug into the electric grid
  7. Bakersfield can be crossed at 220 mph
  8. Bakersfield must be served with a downtown station
  9. Tejon Pass HSR is only 3-5 minutes faster than Antelope Valley HSR
  10. HSR can operate at 220 mph on long and steep down grades
  11. Tejon Pass HSR costs about the same as Antelope Valley HSR
  12. Tejon Pass HSR screws Palmdale.  Palmdale will never get a fast rail connection to LA unless it is on the HSR main line

A blog post is the wrong medium to address such complex issues; instead, the following presentation dismantles each of the myths using numerous figures and diagrams to illustrate each point.  These 75 slides are also available for download, 7MB PDF in much better resolution than provided by Scribd.

The conclusions are stunning.  Compared to the Antelope Valley alignment currently being planned with a stop in Palmdale, the more direct Tejon Pass HSR alignment would have the following advantages:

  • 12 minutes faster (7% of the SF – LA trip time)
  • 34 miles shorter
  • 10+ fewer miles of tunnel
  • 20 fewer miles of bridges
  • $5 billion cheaper to build
  • $175 million/year more profitable to operate

You might ask yourself at this point how some guy on the internet can come up with this stuff and claim that it undercuts years of studies by professional consultant teams paid hundreds of millions of dollars.  The point is that when it comes to math and physics, the numbers don’t lie.  The numerous advantages of a Tejon Pass alignment will not be lost on potential private investors, who will spare no effort to produce their own untainted investment-grade analysis of the mountain crossing.  If their numbers turn out anywhere close to this (and they will!) there simply won’t ever be any private investment.

Considering that the 2012 business plan relies on $13 billion of private capital (about 20% of the $68 billion overall budget), choosing the wrong mountain crossing could make or break HSR in California.  If the numbers presented here are to be believed, the smart money will demand a Tejon Pass alignment.  Failing this, private capital will stay away, and California’s high-speed rail system is unlikely to be completed as planned.

That’s why smart HSR supporters, those who are analytically-minded and open to new information, should place their full support behind the re-alignment of California’s high-speed rail backbone via Tejon Pass.

  1. Robert Cruickshank
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 18:51
    #1

    So this is a very interesting, exhaustively researched, and compelling read. It makes a strong case that the Tejon alignment is worth revisiting. I’ll have more to say on this in a post sometime this week.

    A couple of initial thoughts. I don’t agree with the conclusion that unless Tejon is chosen the HSR system “is unlikely to be completed as planned.” That’s a big leap. The costs for both are enormous and potential Tejon savings are not likely to be enough to make or break the overall financing issue. That said, every bit helps, and if Tejon really does save money, then it could certainly make it a bit easier to fully fund the system.

    This will be read with great interest in Bakersfield and Santa Clarita, where residents and electeds would like a different route. Clem’s given them some powerful ammo to make that case. His proposal also includes a greenfield station near Bakersfield which may produce sprawl but also helps solve a political challenge in central Bakersfield. Speaking of sprawl, I do agree that proposed developments in Tejon Pass and the Newhall Ranch should not influence the project alignment.

    A Tejon alignment would complicate connecting the XpressWest Vegas-SoCal HSR project to LA, but certainly wouldn’t make it impossible.

    Resident Reply:

    More to say …as soon as he checks the party line response with his bosses at CHSRA.

    Peter Reply:

    Why you think that someone who works for the Seattle Mayor is subservient to the CHSRA is baffling.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The fact that this post is hosted on this blog at all shows the absurdity of your comment.

    Andrew Reply:

    Yes, this is a day to congratulate Robert, not take a cheap shot. Resident’s comment is an exercise in self-mockery.

    joe Reply:

    That’s why smart HSR supporters, those who are analytically-minded and open to new information, should place their full support behind the re-alignment of California’s high-speed rail backbone via Tejon Pass.

    Hilarious.

    Let’s postpone the sections south including Bakersfield. Bakersfield is clearly not ready to make decisions and may never be with City Manager Tandy in charge.

    Meanwhile follow Jimsf’s advice: Build to Pacheco and reach SF.

    At least until Clem’s next post on Altamont.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It makes a strong case that the Tejon alignment is worth revisiting. I’ll have more to say on this in a post sometime this week.

    In 2013. Which mountain crossing, the second one to serve Los Angeles, do you want to be considering in 2035 when they system is going to be reaching capacity in 2045 or 2050?

    Clem Reply:

    Can you explain your concern in a bit more detail? Are you suggesting the mountain crossing would ever become a bottleneck?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes
    In 2050 there are going to be 5 and half terminals for the lines radiating out from Los Angeles. Irvine, San Diego, Tuscon, Las Vegas, Sacramento and San Francisco. Which mountain crossings keep the most people out of downtown Los Angeles?

    thatbruce Reply:

    @adirondacker12800:

    Keep the most people out of downtown LA? By that measure, you’d be looking at a LA bypass from the Central Valley passing through the Antelope Valley to Victorville and the Cajon Pass down to San Bernardino, thence either to Tucson or San Diego. Both Tejon and Tehachapi options let you easily get to the Antelope Valley from the Central Valley.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yep, Why do people who aren’t in downtown LA and don’t want to go to downtown LA have to go through downtown LA? San Diego to Las Vegas – San Diego anyplace not LA? Or Bakersfield to Palm Springs? Or Fresno to San Bernardino? Or?
    The more people, who don’t want to go to downtown LA, are not in downtown LA, the more people who do want to go to downtown LA can get there.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    San Diego to Vegas means Cajon.

    egk Reply:

    Except San Diego to Vegas via Palmdale is only 400 high speed rail miles (3 hours? 3.5?) which, especially for vacation destinations (as you must know) is entirely competitive with a five to seven hour drive.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Going from Sylmar to Bakerfield via Tejon means you can’t get from anywhere to Las Vegas.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Think on the margins. The marginal cost of a minute is higher when it’s a 2.5-hour trip than when it’s a 4.5-hour trip. The market share doesn’t have a tipping point; it has an inflection point, at which the marginal cost of an extra minute is the highest, but the graphs I’ve seen relating rail/air market splits with rail travel time put the inflection point around 2.5-3 hours. It’s well below the minimum amount of time that SF-Vegas could take even with a Barstow-Mojave connector, let alone Victorville-Palmdale.

    If you apply a gravity model in which ridership is assumed perfectly proportional to (population of city A)*(population of city B)/(rail travel time between cities A and B)^2, then Tejon-Cajon and Mojave-Barstow are exactly even on passenger-km traveling to Vegas. The benefits to SD of Cajon and the benefits to SF of Mojave-Barstow cancel out.

    Andrew Reply:

    You also have to factor in the relative convenience of a flight to Vegas from the two cities in question. Airport check-in, security, and taxiing times are constant, so the shorter flight is less competitive to begin with, meaning that the SD-Vegas RAIL trip is much more likely to happen, if populations were equal. I see a lot more advantages to Cajon, on the whole, one being the capacity to attract Vegas folks (and non-Californian visitors) to our OWN tourist attractions in Orange County, routing the train along the 91 corridor and Fullerton on its way to LAUS.

    Clem Reply:

    Few people realize that Victorville – Las Vegas will take nearly 2 hours due to 150 mph speed limit and the occasional 4% grade.

    Andrew Reply:

    “The marginal cost of a minute is higher when it’s a 2.5-hour trip than when it’s a 4.5-hour trip” – Yes and no. As jimsf points out, for many people a few more minutes make no difference as long as the trip is relatively quick. But once you get over 3 or 3.5 hours, you hit a wall and a few more minutes makes you say The heck with it I’m flying next time. Beijing to Nanjing is a definite yes. Beijing to Suzhou OK, because the options for flying are not good. Beijing to Shanghai, No, it’s just too long to put up with, unless I happen to be going somewhere right near the old Shanghai Station or I happen to be starting off right near Beijing South Station. Now, Beijing to Zhengzhou, Yes, and you could add a whole 30 minutes to it and I would not care at all. That’s the part where I agree with jimsf. So what I’m saying is, if the trip is 3.5 hours then those few extra minutes are the straw that broke the camel’s back, whereas if the trip is 2.5 hours then I don’t give a darn about that extra straw, even though it’s a greater percentage of the total load. This is pretty much the opposite of the quoted statement and this is actually how I make my decisions as a passenger.

    Andrew Reply:

    [Continuing] The point I’m trying to make to jimsf is that the AV detour affects a lot of decisions at the margin, all those people coming from the extremities like SF or Sac or SD who decide not to take HSR to a place like Anaheim or Riverside (from SF or Sac) or San Jose or Stockton (from SD) because it just takes too damn long.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    San Diego to Vegas means Cajon.

    No.

    http://goo.gl/maps/eTmW

    Unless the Federal Government decides to seize the railroads again, it is hard to imagine a publicly funded rival to BNSF’s Golden corridor (the Cajon pass) OR UP’s….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Nobody wants to go to Yuma. They do want to go to Palm Springs.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Palm Springs is Metrolink’s domain. The UP won’t have it any other way. And while nobody might want to go to Yuma, plenty of people in Yuma would like going other places.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why? Would the Metrolink trains give HSR trains that stop there the cooties like the Caltrain trains will give cooties to the HSR trains in Northern California?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The UP and BNSF will not allow another operator to compete directly for the two major bottlenecks that both control respectively. In the case of BNSF, that is Cajon, in UP’s case it is the San Timeteo Canyon that is necessary to link Los Angeles to Palm Springs.

    Metrolink is a subsidy to the freights, just as CalTrain is. Any high speed rail operation jeopardizes the relative monopoly that the freights have.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Running high speed trains over ROW that isn’t high speed isn’t a particularly wise thing to do except in densely populated urban cores.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Running high speed trains over ROW that isn’t high speed isn’t a particularly wise thing to do except in densely populated urban cores.

    Who said anything about ROW? Compete directly with a freight route, even with a grade-separated, high speed rail ROW independent of the freights and the fur will still fly. Why do you think BART never abandoned Broad Gauge?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Freight companies don’t carry passengers, why would they care?

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Ted Judah:

    San Diego to Vegas means Cajon.

    No.

    That map you posted seems to have San Diego to Vegas going through Downtown LA , a place which this subthread is trying to avoid. Not sure whether you noticed that.

    Why do you think BART never abandoned Broad Gauge?

    Because they’ve got some funny ideas about sunk costs and vendor lock-in? As much as some people may wish it, BART going to standard gauge and getting lots of cost savings by being able to get equipment off the shelf instead of their normal custom and expensive builds is not a trivial task. At any hypothetical meeting where the BART board considers changing gauge, you won’t find BNSF and UP heavies glaring menacingly from the shadows, spike hammers in hand to deal with any who vote for standard gauge. Instead, you’ll find accountants who point out the ‘insurmountable’ cost of replacing all the track ties in a short period of time, the costs to the Bay Area Commuters who will have to find other means of transport whenever a BART line is taken out of service, and the inconceivable thought of replacing all the BART trains at once, or at least regauging the traction motors.

    jonathan Reply:

    Metrolink is a subsidy to the freights, just as CalTrain is. Any high speed rail operation jeopardizes the relative monopoly that the freights have.

    You really think so?. Caltrain owns its ROW on the Peninsula; operations south to Gilroy are noise. Freight traffic on the Caltrain line is minimal, and (post-electrification) will be time-separated into a modest night window. It’s typically three short trains a day.

    how is that “a subsidy to the freights”?

    Nathanael Reply:

    If Santa Clarita manages to successfully lobby for a Tejon route which goes smack dab through the middle of Santa Clarita — manages to convince the various Powers That Be in the LA area political world — then there will be a Tejon route. So far, Santa Clarita has tried to keep HSR away entirely rather than doing so. Which means Santa Clarita will be ignored.

  2. jimsf
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 20:16
    #2

    Clem glosses over the issue of the hundreds of thousands of high desert residents’ connectivity. he says tejon doesn’t preclude palmdale from getting a better link to LA.

    But its not about palmdale getting a better link to LA. Its about exisinting and growth regions to one another. People in the high desert don’t just want to go to LA. They are californians and therefore like most californians, they go all over the place. But running the main line through the high desert, the whole regions gets full north south connectivity to the all the other regions to the north and south. THat is the entire point of the hsr system to connect all the regions quickly to each other. so that regardless of which of the “californias” you live in ( with the the exception of the the far north for now) you are within 30 minutes to 3 hours to every single other region with a simple single seat ride.

    That is the brilliance of the system and the route.

    Way too many surburbaphobics around here who really just want to at the least, dismiss people who aren’t part of their hip little oh so cool “we are the saviors” world, and at worst, want to punish them for it. Thats whats really going on.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    That is one of my main concerns with a Tejon alignment. I don’t support simply bypassing large population centers, which the Antelope Valley certainly is.

    When it came to the Altamont vs. Pacheco argument I was neutral on that one. Both had pros and cons. I see the same in Tejon vs. Tehachapi. The time savings may be the most crucial point, especially depending on what the courts decide.

    jimsf Reply:

    For me, and for the average person, 10 or 15 mintues of travel time is not even an issue. Its an issue for the high strung types who are always in a hurry but regular people are far more interested in price, comfort/ammenties, and convenience.

    If the hsr station is closer than the nearest airport…
    and the ticket price for the train is equal to or less than the plane ride from the nearest airport ( which is further away than the train station)
    and boarding the train and being on your way is simpler and more comfortable than getting on to the plane and on your way….

    you could add a half hour to the rail. trip and it would still win.

    Go to your local mall or target, and watch the californians.

    Do they look like they are particularly concerned about doing anything quickly? lol.

    jimsf Reply:

    that reminds me. the seats on the train will likely be much wider than the typical airline seat as well. That gets the vote of half the population right there.

    bixnix Reply:

    We’ll only have bicycle seats on major airlines pretty soon, just you wait.

    Emma Reply:

    Isn’t that the point of HSR? Getting from A to B quick. IF you want sightseeing, I suggest Amtrak. If every tiny section demanded 7 more minutes just because it wants a special detour to XYZ, we would soon end up with a travelling time of 4-5 hours.

    The shortest path should be taken into consideration, especially if it’s more affordable and provides more profit. To me, that’s a no-brainer. Population is something organic. The center of population will slowly shift towards the HSR line once it’s build so I am not worried about that. In fact, aren’t those population centers filled with NIMBYs who want the train to be as far away from their homes as possible anyway? Can you say Win-Win?

    Now all we need is to beat some sense into the decision-making of the authority.

    Emma Reply:

    *12 minutes.

    Andrew Reply:

    Emma, right on

    blankslate Reply:

    you could add a half hour to the rail. trip and it would still win.

    In that case, why is it such a problem to increase the trip for Palmdale residents by about a half an hour (under the Tejon alignment)? Your argument also works in the other direction.

    IMO, making the trip 12 minutes faster trip times for 40 million people statewide (the vast majority of whom are suburbanites) seems like a worthy tradeoff for making the trip a half hour longer for a half million other suburbanites.

    Derek Reply:

    For me, and for the average person, 10 or 15 mintues of travel time is not even an issue.

    False. Every additional minute reduces ridership by a certain number of people per trip. Ridership isn’t quantized with respect to travel time–it’s a continuous slope.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Continuous? Really? How many fractional people do _you_ know, Derek?

    Derek Reply:

    I fly about twice a year. That means I’m 1/6th of a monthly airline passenger.

    jonathan Reply:

    Somehow, I just _knew_ that you”d (a) never read or appreciated “The Phantom Tollbooth”, and (b) you would fail to get the point.

    Hint: there is never, ever, 1/6th of a person on any flight, any month.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes which is why the Regional branded trains in the Northeast are empty all the time.

    Clem Reply:

    it’s a continuous slope.

    Yes indeed. For those who actually care, I referenced two sources that peg the sensitivity at approximately $10 million/year of additional revenue per minute saved.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and you lose the half million, someday to be a million people in the Antelope Valley and the market to Las Vegas.

    StevieB Reply:

    Las Vegas is a drain on the California economy and a rail line that enhances that drain is a specious benefit.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I could not put it better myself, as they say.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Sez you. The people in Las Vegas buy stuff. They buy stuff to stock the restaurants, hotels, casinos and convention centers for the vistors from all over the world. If Las Vegas decided it move itself to North Carolina there would be effects on the California economy.

    blankslate Reply:

    The AV and LV put together have 2 million people. California has 40 million people. Basing routing decisions for CA’s HSR system on the needs of AV/LV is the tail wagging the dog.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Not really.

    The fact is that there’s a convergence occurring between Silicon Valley, Hollywood, and Las Vegas into effectively the same industry, and I’m not talking about gambling.

    Media content is becoming indistinguishable from software and live production is becoming analogous to all forms of entertainment. The delivery system is designed in the Bay Area, the creative content is designed in Southern California, and the simulation is performed in Vegas.

    Andrew Reply:

    Use the delivery system to send the content to Vegas by email.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Use the delivery system to send the content to Vegas by email.

    Wait. What? It’s possible to send porn over the internet?
    Why was I not informed sooner!!!?!

    Andrew Reply:

    @Richard
    X-D

    jimsf Reply:

    hmmm then we need an hsr system that looks like this

    Andrew Reply:

    @jimsf – Yes, the residents of Lake Isabella are just as much a subset of Californians as anybody else! Just kidding, funny map.

    Mike Jones Reply:

    Bakersfield metropolitan area is larger.

    Joey Reply:

    jimsf, that’s a huge amount of well-researched analysis going up against your claim that the only reason to support Tejon is to screw over Palmdale. Do you really see that anywhere in Clem’s post?

    jimsf Reply:

    What I see is the glossing over of the issue of giving the large and growing high desert region the good connectivity to the rest of the state that everyone else is going to get upon full build out, by reducing their perceived needs as being only getting to LA.

    especially when you are only talking about 10 or 15 minutes, something the majority of californians wouldnt give a second thought about. versus, access to a population center that urban elites like to brush off.

    joe Reply:

    I think this sentence was unintentionally satirical and possibly lifted from “Heathers” the Movie.

    That’s why smart HSR supporters, those who are analytically-minded and open to new information, should place their full support behind the re-alignment of California’s high-speed rail backbone via Tejon Pass.

    and I too had this reaction:

    Way too many surburbaphobics around here who really just want to at the least, dismiss people who aren’t part of their hip little oh so cool “we are the saviors” world, and at worst, want to punish them for it. Thats whats really going on.

    Andrew Reply:

    I also am not fond of the language in that sentence by Clem, but I don’t see the urban vs. exurb, us vs. them attitude in it. It seems like you and jimsf are reading more into it than is really there. This reveals more about your own thought process than about Clem’s post, in my view.

    joe Reply:

    Well, I’ve actually seen it written here. e.g. Caltrain service south of Blossom Hill should be terminated.

    Joey Reply:

    The service needs on the Peninsula corridor are vastly different from the service needs south of SJ. North of SJ you want multi-car non-compliant EMUs running on tight schedules and multiple service patterns. South of SJ you want small compliant DMUs on all local service and you need some schedule leeway because of UP. Trying to mix these two types of service is a drag on both of them. So yes, it makes sense to split off the southern end into a separate service, probably with different governance since San Francisco and San Mateo counties are never going to want to put resources into service south of SJ.

    Clem Reply:

    Yes it should, and I made this recommendation after exhaustive research, something I prefer to do before advancing arguments that go against commonly held beliefs.

    You live in Gilroy, so everybody can understand why you might disagree.

    Donk Reply:

    Clem does gloss over the fact that the connection from Palmdale to SF is now longer and maybe the one flaw in the whole report was that this wasn’t mentioned. I don’t know what the correct counterpoint to this is that is “pc”.

    Mine is that Palmdale and Antonovich are being selfish to impose 15 min, $5B, $100+M/year, many more years of construction, and potential failure of the project on the rest of CA for their direct connection to SF and they should be ashamed of themselves.

    How about we instead subsidize flights from Palmdale airport to SFO and SJC and a bus to the central valley.

    wdobner Reply:

    Mine is that Palmdale and Antonovich are being selfish to impose 15 min, $5B, $100+M/year,

    But it’s better to impose a 40+ minute detour for Antelope Valley passengers going anywhere? Those 125mph tilting DMUs aren’t going to cost nothing, especially after UPRR gets done demanding their pound of flesh. $5 billion and a $100 million/yr will undoubtedly look *cheap* when we finally get the bill for a Palmdale-LA regional rail service.

    How is anyone supposed to read this any differently than “To Hell with the fly-over counties, SF and LA über alles”? We’re optimizing the system around a service pattern which we’ll be extremely lucky to operate. We’re not going to get the chance to operate that service if the IOS fails. The surest way for the IOS to fail is run empty trains, and because all trains will be local on the IOS the loading will be entirely dependent upon the potential number of passengers in the catchment areas along the route. Cutting off potential riders is the surest way to get the project killed as soon as the operating contractor is unable to operate without a subsidy.

    blankslate Reply:

    How is anyone supposed to read this any differently than “To Hell with the fly-over counties, SF and LA über alles”?

    Tejon would provide longer travel times for roughly a half million people in Antelope Valley, in favor of quicker travel times for roughly 40-50 million other Californians (projection range, 2030), many many many of whom live in exurbs and “fly-over counties.” So this really is not a city-vs-suburb issue.

    wdobner Reply:

    No, it’s about one particular fly over county which, despite being supportive of he CHSRA’s efforts has somehow managed to arouse the ire of the Disciples of the Most Perfectly Designed Alignment. Yes, it would make for a trip which is somewhere between 5 and 15 minutes for 40-50 million people. This proposed alternative would see the half million people of the Antelope Valley will be sitting through a trip which is between 40 and 70 minutes longer than the CHSRA proposed. Meanwhile it would strand XpressWest in Victorville, so the extreme inconvenience to LA-LV trips must be included as well.

    blankslate Reply:

    1. Thank you for agreeing with me that this is about favoring the great mass of suburban Californians over one particular group of suburban Californians, rather than some kind of city vs. suburb culture war as you and many other commenters here previously claimed.

    2. A trip savings of 15 minutes for 40-50 million people in exchange for 40-70 minutes longer for 0.5-1 million people is worth it, especially if the routing involves cost savings and other benefits outlined above.

    3. RE “Disciples of the Most Perfectly Designed Alignment” – Could you tell me why anyone would NOT favor the most perfectly designed alignment?

    4. RE extreme inconvenience of being stranded in Victorville – Wait, I thought XpressWest was some wonderful privately financed project that would be profitable. Now all the sudden if CHSRA doesn’t plan their entire system around making it easier to take a train to Victorville, it will be “extreme inconvenience.” Maybe the geniuses behind XpressWest should’ve thought of that. So much for the glory of capitalism.

    rant Reply:

    WOW….Clem’s post is excellent and has changed my mind . The Antelope Valley should not be part of the Initial Operating Section (IOS). In the future we could build a “138″ to Victorville section for the Antelope Valley.

    Saving money and time for the IOS is the way to go!

  3. jimsf
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 21:01
    #3

    with palmdale you get the half million people, the xwest connection, improved commuter service,… for those living there, and you give everyone else in california a good connection to their friends and family who live up there.

    but. if it doesn’t benefit the hipsters, geeks and yuppies, then its not important. God forbid they have to sit fifteen minutes longer so that “those people” up there can get to fresno to visit their family or something.

    Joey Reply:

    “Hipsters, “geeks,” and “yuppies” being dismissive of “suburbanites?” Isn’t that sort of categorization a rather dismissive in itself? Can’t we have a discussion of the costs and benefits without calling names?

    jimsf Reply:

    the argument has been coming down to this on this blog over and over again. There is a bias against the residents who are not part of the bay area and los angeles and the constant complaint is over the 5 – 15 minutes of travel time. Its ridiculous.

    Joey Reply:

    All other things being equal I would support stopping at Palmdale. But all other things are not equal. We have a significant difference in capital and operating costs to worry about. And while that 12 minutes isn’t going to make a difference to anyone on this blog, there are definitely cases where it will be the deciding factor between HSR and other modes. Now, whether any of this outweighs the prospect of serving an additional 500k people is evidently a matter on which we disagree, but I think it needs to be honestly studied, not politically decided then justified with a sandbagged study.

    joe Reply:

    A bias against those south of Mountain View and definitely San Jose. I think i can guess where most of the live and work.

    Here’s Senator’s Reid’s two cents. http://www.palmdalechamber.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Reid-Brown-High-Speed-Rail-June16.pdf
    Apparently Nevadans like the current alignment. Something about rail to Vegas.

    Clem Reply:

    the hipsters, geeks and yuppies

    I feel you. Those elitist geeks always reveal themselves to be such bigots!

    jimsf Reply:

    I doubt they are bigots. They are just very much more important than people in the valley and the high desert, both groups that would be better bypassed entirely so as not to slow down the people getting from sf to la ( who by the way already have the option to fly, unlike so much of the valley and high desert.. god forbid those regions get any investment or economic benefit.

    EJ Reply:

    That’s some fine California whine right there!

    John Burrows Reply:

    Back about 2 years ago didn’t Palmdale sue to block the Authority from spending Prop 1-A funds to study the Tejon Alignment? And wouldn’t they sue again if Tejon gets any traction this time around? The political implications of cancelling HSR to a growing population center that wants the bullet trains so badly that it has previously sued to keep them could be severe.

    John Burrows Reply:

    political and legal implications

    Joey Reply:

    So they sued the authority for doing their job, i.e. actually studying the alternatives?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Palmdale is an LA basin transport issue, not statewide. End of story.

    Donk Reply:

    Agreed. Palmdale is a bedroom community of LA.

    To jimsf’s argument, why don’t we just have the train weave its way throughout the state and pick up everyone at their front door. It is our duty as Californians.

    wdobner Reply:

    Such hyperbole and strawman arguments should be beneath you. If you don’t serve the Antelope Valley, who is going to ride the IOS? Are you willing to bet the completion of the project solely on the strength of the LA-Fresno market? If that’s the case, you may as well just hand the money from the Feds off to Illinois or the Northeast, because I can think of few more effective ways to kill the project than to force the operator to run empty trains over Tejon.

    What is the point of holding a 2 hr 40 minute express trip paramount if the system never reaches San Fran?

    blankslate Reply:

    Such hyperbole and strawman arguments should be beneath you. If you don’t serve the Antelope Valley, who is going to ride the IOS? Are you willing to bet the completion of the project solely on the strength of the LA-Fresno market? If that’s the case, you may as well just hand the money from the Feds off to Illinois or the Northeast, because I can think of few more effective ways to kill the project than to force the operator to run empty trains over Tejon.

    You start your paragraph talking about hyperbole and strawman… and end with the claim that a lack of direct service to Antelope Valley (half million people) on the way to the LA metropolitan area (18 million people) will result in “empty trains.”

    wdobner Reply:

    You start your paragraph talking about hyperbole and strawman… and end with the claim that a lack of direct service to Antelope Valley (half million people) on the way to the LA metropolitan area (18 million people) will result in “empty trains.”

    Yes, and what of that?

    Merely serving a population center of a given size isn’t going to get those residents to ride the train, particularly if it exists solely for LA-Fresno travel, as an IOS over Tejon would. There must be some inducement to ride the train, and while a few Angelinos may ride it out of curiosity, that’s going to be a vanishingly small fraction of the Metro area’s population, only slightly smaller than the number of Basin residents who will take trips to Fresno. You may see a much larger fraction of Fresno’s population utilize the service, but whether or not that’ll prove sufficient to support the operation without a subsidy would remain to be seen. As you might guess, IMO, it’s extremely unlikely LA-Fresno will provide the riders to sustain the IOS, particularly if Bakersfield is bypassed and Hanford deferred. The trains may not exactly be empty, but with so limited a market it’s going to be extremely difficult to run a schedule that is convenient to passengers without incurring extremely low load factors. Only Palmdale (as well as Lancaster, Victorville, Hesperia, and even Barstow) provides a community with a decently large population, a strong social and cultural link to the anchor city, and can generate the sort of stable revenue stream required to support the operation of the IOS before Bay-to-Basin is inaugurated.

    Clem Reply:

    Given a choice between building HSR via Tehachapi to Palmdale, and building HSR via Tejon to Sylmar, which one do you think would make the more effective IOS? They are about the same length, 105 miles.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The one that also serves Las Vegas?

    blankslate Reply:

    Your estimation of the importance of LV travel to the success of our HSR system is wildly over exaggerated.

    VBobier Reply:

    I think the naysayers think that to achieve 2 hours and 40 mins, one needs to stop at every station, which is not true, as only SF and LA are mentioned, but then Prop1a is vague for the most part. Some think that HSR must do this or HSR must do that, not if it’s not in Prop1a or in AB3034, but then Repubs and Big Oil were against this and funded the NO on Prop1a campaign, they lost and the naysayers are almost out of time and their last lawsuit is it, I’ve been told there will be lengthy lawsuits over eminent domain for HSR, do I know that for sure? No. I’ll just have to wait and see like everyone else.

    VBobier Reply:

    that should be “last current civil lawsuit”…

    VBobier Reply:

    Oh and everyone is forgetting one thing about Tejon, Santa Clarita said NO to HSR, Palmdale said YES, one goes where an alternative exists, Tejon is DEAD and is a Worthless Pipe Dream…

    Nathanael Reply:

    Politics matters. Politics is often a GOOD thing when it means “local people vote for what they want”.

    Santa Clarita said NO. Palmdale said YES. This matters. This *always* matters.

    Don’t be surprised if the northern end of California HSR ends up going not via the Peninsula (NIMBYs!), not via Altamont, not via Pacheco, but via a new Transbay Tunnel, parallel to BART, along the Capitol Corridor communities, and through Sacramento (areas which have welcomed train service). Politics matters.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Not all the Peninsula said “No” to HSR. And SF wants HSR as soon as possible. Plus their policticians wield more power than the few Peninsula cities that don’t want HSR. HSR will come up the Peninsula.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    San Jose is a bedroom community of San Francisco.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The Antelope Valley has something like 500,000 people living there today and could hit 1 million by the 2030s (according to some projections). It’s a statewide issue.

    VBobier Reply:

    To Repubs, CA will not be growing, they only count Whites, everyone else doesn’t count, I think they’d like to deport everyone else and make CA a red state…

    Andrew Reply:

    To Robert’s “It’s a statewide issue”: That means it has to serve the state considered AS AN INTEGRATED WHOLE, rather than specific subunits as if they each had their own unique destiny that is somehow whole and distinct.

    All of this emphasis on Antelope Valley as a distinct unit results from overly concrete-literal-particularistic (rather than abstract-rational-universalistic) reasoning about the ultimate aims of this project. It appears that in the mind of some commenters, the world is made up of MSAs, rather than people. These commenters should learn to think in terms of people, which is a non-discriminatory category. I mean people as an abstract, non-differentiated category, not people who happen to live in X or Y location at the present moment.

    As I wrote elsewhere, a system that maximizes overall value-creation will serve everyone best in the long run. It will help generate a context for a prosperous future, in which the people who currently happen to live in Palmdale, and their children, are just as likely to live somewhere else. We must think in more integrative terms about whom we’re trying to serve. Indeed, from a properly integral perspective, if the system serves other people better, then it serves ME better.

    And again, 500K is just not that high a number, especially in comparison to the number of people for whom this would be a detour, and the lack of density in the Antelope Valley makes that number even smaller in terms of actual ridership.

    bixnix Reply:

    If Tejon is selected, here’s what’ll happen regarding Palmdale/Lancaster/Vegas (#12).

    1) Xpress West is dead. Even if it weren’t, they might build it via Cajon thirty years from now.

    2) There will be talk about sending money to improve the AV Metrolink connection, but it’ll be prioritized at least until after phase 1, if not phase 2, which means “when hell freezes over” as we’re over budget already. DMUs over the existing track – well, there’s no comparison to an electrified Metrolink with double-track and a straightened path for high speed as would happen if Tehachapi is built. They’re screwed.

    3) Any requests from Palmdale/Lancaster for real Metrolink improvements will be met with the current argument – “there’s around 300,000 people, and you want us to spend $$$ hundred million (whatever the cost is) to double-track / tunnel / straighten the route / add passing tracks so you can get to LAUS thirty minutes faster?”. It won’t happen in our lifetime. Reid could sh**-can any funding, anyways. Palmdale/Lancaster is SOL forever if HSR doesn’t go there.

    bixnix Reply:

    Also, I’d imagine that Reid would reply to “Should California taxpayers be funding a casino train?” something like “Should the 49 other states fund a California train?” Since the Feds are funding at least two-thirds of the project, Reid has some big-time leverage on us.

    … which goes to show, as Clem and others have said, that the route choice is really a political and not technical issue.

    bixnix Reply:

    one-third of the funding, I mean. As the costs go up, the Fed’s share will probably be more than a third.

    Emma Reply:

    I like this idea actually. If Reid wants Xpress West to survive, he better gets his butt up and tries to send some federal funding to CHSR. Otherwise it would be the California taxpayer subsidizing the bad planning of Xpress West. Why the hell didn’t they include the last half mile in their cost projections? Oh, right. To appear more affordable to Nevadans. Well, tell Nevada if they don’t want toe walk from Victorville to LA, they better pay more.

    joe Reply:

    @Emma: Reid has and will continue to help CAHSR. CAHSR landed extra funds when FL and WI said “no”. The Xpressswest system will draw additional riders and revenue.

    @bixnix: What’s a casino train? Californian and Nevada are neighbors with extensive travel both ways and Vegas is the largest NV city and airport hub.

    bixnix Reply:

    I was quoting Clem’s study (a line of text under #12). I agree, there’s money as well as people flowing both ways. The connection to Vegas may be as lucrative as any of the other LA rail connections that are planned.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ bixnix

    Obama and LaHood funded CAHSR as a national proof of concept hsr model program. That alone they considered as adequate justification for federal financial involvement.

    I favor funding Deserted Xprss. That folly needs to happen.

    “Some scientists claim that hydrogen, because it is so plentiful, is the basic building block of the universe. I dispute that. I say there is more stupidity than hydrogen, and that is the basic building block of the universe.”

    Frank Zappa

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    “Should the 49 other states fund a California train?”

    Should California be funding roads in South Dakota or cell phone service in Mississippi or flood control in ….. When California starts getting more money back from the Federal government than California remits to the Federal government the other states can start asking those kind of questions.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The 50 states need to fund a massive expansion of electric passenger rail in every state. Like the Interstate Highway Act.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There aren’t enough people in some states to justify running a single car DMU. Maybe someday a trolley car line of two in their “big” city but there are states that are so lightly populated that it doesn’t make sense to have any passenger rail at all. Buses get them there faster and more frequently.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Going through various states right now… obviously, we’re not talking about any state east of the I-35 corridor, since even relatively remote ones like Maine and Arkansas justify some intercity rail. So, west of I-35, we have:

    California: very non-remote, should have HSR, has a city with about 500 fewer route-km of urban rail than it should have.
    Washington: non-remote, should have more urban rail in its largest city, should have HSR to Portland and maybe also Vancouver, should have low-speed intercity rail to Spokane.
    Oregon: not very remote, should have some more urban rail in its largest city, should have HSR to Seattle.
    Nevada: should have HSR to California and probably also urban rail in its largest city.
    Arizona: should have HSR to California and more urban rail in its largest city. Also should be occupied by federal troops on civil rights grounds.
    New Mexico: too remote for HSR, but should have better urban rail in its largest city, possibly even low-speed intercity rail to El Paso.
    Utah: far too remote for HSR, but should have (and is getting) better urban rail in its largest city.
    Colorado: too remote for HSR, but should have (and is getting) better urban rail in its largest city and low-speed intercity rail to smaller cities.
    Idaho: too remote for HSR, but should have some urban rail in its largest city, and maybe also low-speed intercity rail from Coeur d’Alene to Spokane and Seattle.
    Montana: too remote for HSR, low-speed intercity rail, and any other kind of infrastructure.
    Wyoming: too remote for HSR and most other kinds of infrastructure, should have its coal rail infrastructure removed immediately, but could have low-speed intercity rail to Colorado.
    North Dakota: too remote for HSR, but should have low-speed intercity rail from Fargo to Minneapolis.
    South Dakota: too remote for HSR, but should have low-speed intercity rail from Sioux Falls to Minneapolis.
    Alaska: too remote for HSR and any other kind of infrastructure, but Anchorage might justify some urban rail.
    Hawaii: should have (and is getting) urban rail.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    35 million people in California most of them clustered along a corridor isn’t “not enough people”
    To Phoenix and Las Vegas are going to be relatively cheap and easy to build. So is to Tuscon. There’s nothing close enough and populous enough past that to go to with any kind of rail except maybe Amtrak land cruise once a day.
    Metro Seattle is too far away from anything other than Portland and Vancouver BC to ever have HSR other than to those places. Unless cars and airplanes are banned. Spokane is too far away and too small.
    Albuquerque? Metro Albuquerque is the same size as gigantic Metro Worcester MA. Metro El Paso is the size of metro Allentown PA And about the same distance apart. Without anything between them or destinations beyond. With a lovely interstate highway between them. What’s wrong with having a once an hour bus? Which is about how many people you might scare up at ten dollar a gallon gasoline. Sioux Falls has the same problem, there aren’t enough people there for a train.

    Anchorage? So they can take the trolley from one enormous downtown parking lot to another enormous downtown parking lot? Unless you think building enormous park-n-ride lots out in the suburban parts of town so they can take the trolley to the enormous empty parking lots downtown will be attractive.

    Eric Reply:

    If you include Juarez, Metro El Paso is about the same size as Metro Denver.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Interesting comments, Adirondacker, but where do the Alaska Railroad and the White Pass & Yukon fit in?

    Also, have you been following the fight for the Catskill Mountain Railroad in Kingston? (Trail guys want to rip up railroad, railroad fighting back but at disadvantage in that county owns right-of-way and has pro-trail politicians).

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Actually, that first question was directed at Alon, the second goes to Adirondacker. . .ugh, wish we had an edit function!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    There’s really no point in spending money on passenger rail on the Alaska Railroad. Too remote, not enough people.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The bike enthusiasts want to turn everything into a bike path. They aren’t going to have anything done. The railroad brings more money into town than bicyclists would. Same thing with the Saratoga and North Creek and the Adirondack Scenic.

    The population of the whole of Yukon is 34,000. 23,000 of them live in metropolitan Whitehorse. ( Yes Whitehorse has suburbs ) There aren’t enough people out there. Apparently 900,000 tourists a year who are looking for something to do besides look at coast by the time they get to Skagway. So there might be some demand for tourist railroad. Wikipedia says shipping the ore from Whitehorse is cheaper by truck.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Well, Adirondacker, I wish others, as well as myself, were as confident as you about the Catskill Mountain road.

    http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=34339&start=75

    http://www.dailyfreeman.com/articles/2013/06/12/news/doc51b8d5dbbe113062434352.txt

    http://www.dailyfreeman.com/articles/2013/06/18/news/doc51c039aba57d7930062383.txt

    http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=35117

    This has become very, very nasty lately, with the mayor of Kingston and a county commissioner prepared to deliberately junk the railroad. The railroad’s biggest single legal weakness is that their lease requires opening one new mile of track per year, something they have fallen quite short of (currently running 6 miles after 20+ years). Against this are the questionable accusations by the politicians involved (i.e., claiming no insurance, a claim likely to be debunked), and hopefully a strong voter support for the railroad.

    I think this link is also interesting. A couple of outstanding bits: One is that there is a Rails-With-Trails subgroup that has made a little headway, mostly in places where the railroad was a formerly multiple track line. Another is an example from Germany, where a railyard was made into a park and kept most of its rail infrastructure, taking on an “urban exploration” theme. The latter is interesting for the creativity in the approach (which is part of what makes New York’s High Line interesting), and it makes me wonder why we have become comparative dullards in the world, with everyone else being more creative, more original. . .we used to do that, but it seems no more. . .

    http://www.rypn.org/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=34961

    Nathanael Reply:

    Nah, there are probably enough people in nearly every state to justify one single-car DMU. Maybe not South Dakota. Alaska can justify that, if only due to the terrain, which is inhospitable for cars.

    For Wyoming… well… the train would go from Colorado to Cheyenne and stop there. And there are are several other states which can really only support *minimal* service, a train ducking into a city in the corner of the state to whisk people out of state.

    So fine. Let’s say “The 50 states need to fund a massive expansion of electric passenger rail in 40 states.” That doesn’t really change Robert’s point.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    enough people in nearly every state to justify one single-car DMU.

    No there aren’t. The upgrading that would need to be done to get the DMU get there as fast as a bus isn’t worth the investment.

    Jonathan E Reply:

    That’s the key point. Running a DMU isn’t that expensive and it can be done very effectively in urban rail situations (see the O-Train), but for intercity service a basic rule of thumb should be that the train should be at least as fast as a car driving between the two train stations. It’s pretty depressing how few North American passenger rail services meet even that minimal standard.

    VBobier Reply:

    There wasn’t enough people in some states to build interstates years ago, yet the money was spent and the Interstate Highways, otherwise known as freeways were built, rural areas yesterday are todays suburban and urban areas, especially back before 1965.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    IF you want to truck something from Seattle to Chicago the road has to go someplace. Or Los Angeles to New Orleans.

    Eric Reply:

    Exactly. They never built interstates in Alaska, even though it’s the largest state, because there’s no demand for passengers OR freight. Where there was demand, they built. (In urban areas, they built too much and induced undesirable demand.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There are Interstate highways in Alaska. Hawaii and Puerto Rico too. None of them connect to another state. And Puerto Rico isn’t a state.

    From Wikipedia on Puerto Rican Interstates:

    Puerto Rico has 410 km (250 mi) of Interstate highways.There are three designated Interstate Highways in Puerto Rico. As with Interstate Highways in Alaska and Hawaii, these routes do not connect to the rest of the United States Interstate Highway System, but still receive funding in a similar fashion to the Interstates in the contiguous US.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    But the Alaskan highways built with Interstate money aren’t built to Interstate standards.

    Joey Reply:

    Who needs 12 foot lanes anyway?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Wikipedia says there are limited access high speed highways in Alaska.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Only in the urban areas. The intercity Interstate-funded highways are two-lane roads with grade crossings.

    Derek Reply:

    1) Xpress West is dead. Even if it weren’t, they might build it via Cajon thirty years from now.

    Xpress West to Victorville never counted on a rail link to LA. If CAHSR is built through Palmdale, building a low-cost link to Palmdale is a no-brainer for Xpress West, despite the increased travel time. But if CAHSR is built through Tejon, suddenly it becomes more attractive for Xpress West to build a more direct link to LA through Cajon, because the cost is only slightly higher than linking up in Tejon but it would save even more travel time.

    bixnix Reply:

    Higher cost – and also a wait for CAHSR phase 2 construction for completion – Metrolink SB is not electrified and has capacity issues IIRC. If they stop in the Victorville parking lot, would they get enough riders?

    Eric Reply:

    The 4 million people in the Inland Empire wouldn’t appreciate having to drive west to LAUS just to take the train east again to Vegas. Driving to Victorville would be much easier for them.

    Andrew Reply:

    Half a million people is not that many people. And in a sprawling region that is not amenable to being reoriented to public transit, the number is even less than meets the eye.

    wdobner Reply:

    Then what does constitute “that many people”? If the Antelope Valley were all one municipality it would be the fifth largest in the state, larger than Fresno. Even taking just Palmdale and Lancaster together you’d end up right around the tenth largest city in the state, about the size of Bakersfield. Surely if those other areas of comparable population deserve a stop then so does the Antelope Valley.

    And since when does Public Transporation enter into this? The blog post told us downtown HSR stations are bad, and that we must build sprawltastic greenfield stations on bypasses. If that’s not auto oriented then what possibly could be? By comparison a Palmdale station looks like TBT or LAUS in terms of its non automobile accessibility.

    blankslate Reply:

    Then what does constitute “that many people”?

    38 million.

    CAHSR routing should be optimized for all Californians rather than gerrymandered to serve specific small subsets of the population.

    jimsf Reply:

    the antelope valley is nor more a subset than is fresno.

    jimsf Reply:

    Its no more a sprawling region than every other region in the state. the pattern of growth in every flatland city from redding to indio is exactly the same.

    Andrew Reply:

    A quick and dirty Wikipedia check suggests that Palmdale and Lancaster have less than a quarter of the average population density for the main urban areas that would be anchoring the system (and adversely affected by a Palmdale detour): SD, Orange County, LA, San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento.

    joe Reply:

    “Adversely affected” means what? Did you unintentionally omit every CV city aside from Sac.

    The city of Palmdale was listed in the Proposition as part of the route. Folks have to accept it’s a state system, not a flyover.

    Andrew Reply:

    1) The meaning of “adversely affected by a detour” is self-evident. 2) The cities listed were introduced as “the main urban areas that would be anchoring the system” – in other words, the primary sources of ridership. If you want to add in Fresno or Stockton or whatever, my statement about average population densities would still hold. Please don’t thoughtlessly dash off comments making people spend time explaining things that are already clear. 3) To your “it’s a state system”: That could also be interpreted to mean it has to serve the state considered AS AN INTEGRATED WHOLE, rather than specific subunits such as AV. If one examines the issue on an integrated and non-discriminating basis within the unit of the state as a whole, one provides non-HSR service to AV, as Clem has so clearly explained. One has to approach the issue with a broad principle of balance, fairness, and overall utility, not with some rigid, simplistic commandment or rule — “Uhhp – ‘it’s a state system’ – gotta make a detour to Palmdale!”

    jimsf Reply:

    In what non sprawling region of california do you live andrew

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Andrew

    You almost have that many in Sucka Rosa and it is a doodlebugburg.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Every region is amenable to public transit. Every single one. The transit may look and operate differently in the Antelope Valley than in San Francisco but they deserve buses and electric passenger trains as much as any other part of the state.

    Andrew Reply:

    The Palmdale connection to Vegas is immaterial because the Vegas line, God forbid it ever be built, should instead pass thru Inland Empire and northern Orange County on the way to LAUS.

    wdobner Reply:

    Why would you set out to construct two parallel mountain crossings when you can consolidate that effort in one project? If traffic reaches the point where two crossings are required then needed, but as with all Tejon arguments, this is putting the cart before the horse.

    Andrew Reply:

    Because it would make most trips way shorter and cheaper. Imagine trying to go to Vegas from Orange County, Inland Empire, or San Diego via Palmdale. The combined population of these areas is much greater than that of LA. Not to mention shorter trips from LA itself, in any direction. This is the way to go (only the thick lines represent HSR):
    https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=205242278980764848338.0004cee1ca9342ce961c8&msa=0&ll=34.052659,-117.80365&spn=1.221972,2.469177

    Furthermore, Palmdale by itself requires two mountain crossings!

    wdobner Reply:

    But again, why does claim Cajon must be the first step? Tejon and Cajon are both predicated on achieving some greatest convenience to the rider assuming cost is no issue. But cost is very much an issue and thus some measure of inconvenience to the rider is warranted in the name of halving the infrastructure to be built. In this case we would be perfectly capable of running XpressWest trains over Tehachapi without any difficulty or any negative impact on an eventual Cajon pass HSL if that were determined to be required. Why build two crossings when one will suffice with minimal inconvenience for all involved for the time being?

    In any event the CHSRA will not be constructed to the Inland Empire, San Diego, or even Orange County any time in the forseeable future, so now we not only have the cart before the horse but I suspect there is no cart to begin with. You’re not optimizing for a second iteration of Phase I (as those here obsessed with express train travel time are), but for a second phase whose construction is doubtful at this point. It’s possible that if things go well we could have service from LV to LA very early on via the High Desert corridor and the CHSRA’s tracks between Palmdale and Sylmar. But insisting on Cajon means you get to start the mountain crossing EIR process, and begin undertaking the difficult process of driving an HSL through the Inland Empire, solely for Las Vegas-bound traffic. While LV can serve as a useful enough draw to bring the CHSRA to Tehachapi from Tejon, it is highly unlikely to attract enough revenue to justify its own mountain pass.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The starting point re cost is that Tejon is $5 billion cheaper than Tehachapi.

    Afterward, the point is that the important trunk is LA-CV and not LA-Vegas, and this means that the purported Phase 2 of XpressWest connecting to Palmdale should be put in the same basket as LA-SD, and LA-IE.

    And because LA-IE is going to be built anyway, Tejon-Cajon does not require more construction than Tehachapis. Victorville-SB is slightly shorter than Victorville-Palmdale, actually. The question then is how much tunneling is required to achieve the ruling grade. Given sufficient compromises on curve radius the answer is zero, but presumably they’ll want to run trains at >200 km/h, requiring some tunneling. However, at the given cost differential between tunnels and earthworks of about $100 million/km, nearly the full route would have to be in tunnel to compensate for the $5 billion in savings of Tejon versus Tehachapis.

    Andrew Reply:

    Right on

    wdobner Reply:

    It’s Clem’s claim that it is $5 billion cheaper. That is not a fact and I’m not quite sure why it is being taken as one because it requires you to believe the conspiracy theories that the entire project’s alignment is being determined by politics. There may be some savings, but it’s most likely that the truth lies somewhere in between Clem’s figures and the CHSRA’s numbers. I know that it is uncomfortable when a favored alternative is rejected, but sometimes it has to be accepted.

    XpressWest’s use of the High Desert Corridor is, at this point, much more likely to happen than any element of the CHSRA’s Phase 2. It is disingenuous to claim LA-LV is will be completed around the same time LA-SD is simply because they both are in the second phase of their organization’s implementation plans. LV can be served via Tehachapi, and that service can get underway relatively early in the CHSRA’s program. Tejon dooms any LA-LV service to the late 2030s or whenever they get around to constructing the Inland Empire, if ever.

    The cost of building through the sprawl east of LA is going to quickly make up whatever difference you claim between the ephemeral “saving” Clem claimed in going over Tejon and your Cajon route.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The $5 billion in “savings” will be eaten up by the “medium speed” connection from Palmdale to LA. Most of the cost of the Palmdale route is in the San Gabriel Mountain crossing.

    Nathanael Reply:

    And this is where we get back to LA area politics. Yes, quite likely it makes sense to run California High Speed Rail over Tejon Pass and to run DesertXpress over Cajon Pass via San Bernadino — and incidentally to have all San Francisco-Vegas passengers stop in Los Angeles on the way.

    However, this cuts Palmdale out completely. Now, perhaps it makes sense to make the High Desert into a nature preserve and quite deliberately cut it out. But the politicos of the LA area have united behind improved service from Palmdale to LA, and that is *extremely expensive*, even if it’s medium-speed.

    The initial analyses found that crossing Tehachapi Pass was billions cheaper than crossing Tejon Pass. Because is *is* billions cheaper. The extra cost is due to crossing the San Gabriel Mountains.

    The thing is, politically, it seems that we have to cross them anyway to provide Palmdale with better service. Therefore the San Gabriel crossing is being (correctly) treated as a sunk cost, causing the Tehachapi Pass route to evaluate as cheaper.

    Joey Reply:

    The amount of tunneling in the San Gabriel crossing can be reduced a lot if you allow sustained 3.5% grades (<125 mph speed limits) and impacts to places like Agua Dulce. Enough to make it affordable on its own, I don't know.

    Nathanael Reply:

    This is worth looking into, given that the politicos are hellbent on an LA-Palmdale connection.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    San Francisco-Vegas passengers stop in Los Angeles on the way.

    Both of the them? Detouring through Los Angeles adds 100 miles to the trip. On the slow tracks through urban-ish LA. They’ll fly.

    Joey Reply:

    I doubt SF-Las Vegas was going to be a huge HSR market anyway.

    Jonathan Reply:

    The starting point re cost is that Tejon is $5 billion cheaper than Tehachapi.

    Alon: No, surely what Clem showed that (Tejon mountain crossing, plus Bakersfield bypass) is $5bn cheaper than (Tehachapi mountain crossing, and through downtown Bakersfield)? See Clem’s Myth #7 and Myth #8.

    That’s a bait-and-switch. You should instead compare the cost (and time savings) of Tehachapi vs. Tejon: either both with Bakersfield bypass, or both with a route through downtown Bakersfield.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Compare all the routes without a priori embargoes. Precisely what PB did not want to do.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s possible to do this, but harder, the way the lines point. Tejon + downtown Bakersfield is awkward; so is Tehachapi + Bakersfield bypass.

    But as a first filter, the bypass removes 12 miles of Bakersfield viaduct, so about $1.2 billion. The rest of the cost savings is then due to Tejon vs. Tehachapi.

    jimsf Reply:

    and what about the landowners . What will they say when you propose going off the bnsf and cutting through their land, they are already anti hsr.

    Andrew Reply:

    jimsf, I respect your point and the way you expressed it, but in my view you are making too much out of the ‘single seat’ issue (earlier thread) and are too quick to reduce everybody’s arguments to this urban v. rural ‘us versus them’ dichotomy. For the most part everybody is just trying to strike a balance between connectivity and other rational concerns (speed, cost, fuel, track maintenance, etc.), and the general verdict is that the palmdale detour is too far from that balance to be worth it. This is a point that you should listen to rather than dismissing it as simple elitism.

    In my view, every point you’ve made in favor of palmdale is adequately addressed by a non-HSR connection to HSR. Yes, it would mean you could not get from palmdale to SF or SD on a single seat, but I think that’s a lot less important than you do. People are spread out all over Antelope Valley, so they’ll need to sit in some other kind of seat to get to the station anyway. They might as well just ride a commuter train with more convenient stops and just make a timed transfer at Sylmar.

    I can’t go with you when you reduce everything to connectivity/access, as if the total travel time between SF/SJ and LA, SD, Anaheim, etc were completely immaterial. Every single day there will be thousands of transport decisions that will hinge on the marginal difference in travel time of Tejon vs. Palmdale, and these numerically predominant folks cannot simply be discounted. Especially when one can make a plausible argument that Antelope Valley folks are actually better off with a feeder line that will have more stops, be less expensive, and not be all that slow.

    You are right that for many people, 10 or 15 minutes is not a big deal. Of course for many people (say San Diego to San Jose, SF, or Sacramento), that would make the difference between riding HSR and flying. But you’re right that many others would not care. But these same people probably WOULD care about paying more for a ticket, which they would have to do with a longer and less fuel efficient route, and ESPECIALLY if the overall system is not doing well financially. So in other words, it IS actually a priority for the laid-back types that the system provide rapid service for “high strung” types, because it’s only by making money from massive ridership by high-strung types that the system can keep prices down for laid-back types. Thus your concern with access is deeply interdependent on the issue of speed, even though you argue that speed should not be of great concern. You should treat the concerns of the laid-back types and high-strung types as one integrated concern rather than dividing them up in your imagination into these mythic primordial groups with identities and destinies that are somehow whole and distinct.

    joe Reply:

    “In my view, every point you’ve made in favor of palmdale is adequately addressed by a non-HSR connection to HSR. ”

    When and how?

    “Of course for many people (say San Diego to San Jose, SF, or Sacramento), that would make the difference between riding HSR and flying.

    Thus your concern with access is deeply interdependent on the issue of speed, even though you argue that speed should not be of great concern. ”

    No. In fact the analysis has nothing to do with ridership – no projects whatsoever. It’s all “physics”. Claims that this 5-10-15 time equates to critical ridership is a leap and strangely attracting HSR investment means we avoid a privately proposed project connecting to Vegas.

    Clem Reply:

    Read myth #11

    wdobner Reply:

    But it’s not necessarily a myth. Saying it’s a myth does not make it so, and you do an extremely poor job making the case that it is a myth because every element rests upon myth #1 being true. But your case for that myth (which actually looks to be the only actual myth contained in your report) is not particularly convincing if you aren’t given to believe whatever conspiracy theory Syn cooked up and repeated long enough for a few people to take seriously. And after that the rest of your argument falls apart. If Tejon Ranch wasn’t the reason for the Grapevine crossing to be “sandbagged”, then there must be alternative explanations. It might just be that Tejon is an unsuitable alignment for HSR. No conspiracy theories, and no cabals of conniving real estate developers required.

    joe Reply:

    “Myth 11 Tejon Pass HSR costs about the same as Antelope Valley HSR”

    Hilarious – we’re now adding new constraints on HSR project.

    Let me be fact based and open minded.
    1.
    Construction costs are NOT to be recovered by the project – Proposition 1A forbids the State from using HSR revenue to pay back bonds. I don’t care which costs more if my goal is to operate on revenue. In fact I’d worry if the primary goal became building the lest expensive system.

    2. Cost of construction and ridership is at best independent. Probably positively correlated !! Building a system that attracts riders should not be the cheapest alignment. So myth 11 is irrelevant at best and minimizing cost can suppress ridership.

    3.
    You can’t make an argument about ridership using physics. There’s no numerical basis for arguing servicing Palmdale is going to cost ridership.

    4.
    The only private investor planned HSR system nearby is the proposed Las Vegas. The current alignment is more compatible with a interstate system at the cost of several additional minutes.

    Andrew Reply:

    @”Hilarious”: The last refuge of someone with an indefensible argument – sarcasm.

    joe Reply:

    Pick a number between 1 and 4.

    Operating revenues are by law disallowed to pay for the construction of the system. The cost differential between the alignments will not matter unless we mistakenly choose to couple them.

    Clem has decided they are to be coupled which is an added requirement/constraint/goal. It’s hilarious because in my professional experience I see this kind of feature creep all the time. And projects fail because of it.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’re misusing the term “feature creep.” Adding viaducts that don’t need to be there just so that Caltrain and HSR can be kept separate is feature creep. Value-engineering, which is what this is all about, isn’t.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    He’s also misusing the term “professional”.

    blankslate Reply:

    I don’t care which costs more

    Then you don’t care whether or not the project gets completed and California ever has an HSR system of any kind.

    Nathanael Reply:

    A “non-HSR” connection to Palmdale, if it is to go at reasonable speeds (rather than the tortuously slow speeds of the current Metrolink line), is going to consume the bulk of the costs of the Palmdale HSR route anyway.

    Most of the cost turns out to be in the San Gabriel Mountains (Soledad Canyon) crossing.

    This is the fundamental error in claims that Tejon will be much cheaper. If it actually allows you to avoid both the Techachapi Pass and the Soledad Canyon crossings, then yes, it might. It won’t; you’ll have to build the Soledad Canyon one anyway.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s going to be HSR speeds because people in Los Angeles want to get to Las Vegas…..

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’ll be surprised how much speed you can squeeze out of a route with high cant deficiency.

    Joey Reply:

    But with UP keeping physical superelevation down?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The line (except through Palmdale itself) is owned by LACMTA, not by any private freight RR.

    UPRR has freight operating rights of some type. I do not know an contract details.

    Besides, Alon was talking about cant deficiency … but you (having a brain and thus bucking the blog commenter ruling grade) understood that anyway.

    Joey Reply:

    UPRR’s recent agreement with the CHSRA et. al. which prohibits any shared track between Palmdale and LA suggests that they have significant influence in that corridor, not that the CHSRA would ever do anything but bend to their demands.

    Clem Reply:

    That’s why in my map you see alternative New AV4, which will look really stupid to tourists from Europe. We are going to build a dozen miles of HSR alignment through homes and businesses in Lancaster and Palmdale, across the street from an existing railroad.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    When superelevation is low, the impact of high cant deficiency is actually higher.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Single-seat ride is extremely important to generating riders. A 10 or 15 minute penalty for going through the Antelope Valley is not a make-or-break for getting people onto the trains, especially when you consider rising oil prices and eventual carbon taxes will make flying uneconomical for most people. Clem argues that Tejon is a significant cost and time savings and those points are significant. But neither am I convinced yet that those factors should be decisive, especially when it comes to bypassing 500,000 people.

    Andrew Reply:

    The point several of us have tried to make many times, and Clem made best, is that they are not being bypassed. They are being served as well or better by a feeder line with more stops and less expensive tickets that connects them efficiently with a high-speed trunk line that operates more sustainably and successfully than it would if it had to detour through their town. A system that maximizes overall value-creation will serve everyone best in the long run, because it will succeed. It will help generate a context for a prosperous future, in which the people who currently happen to live in Palmdale, and their children, are just as likely to live somewhere else. We must think in more integrative terms about whom we’re trying to serve, instead of looking at each town one by one and assuming each one has its own unique destiny.

    Again, 500K is just not that high a number, especially in comparison to the number of people for whom this would be a detour, and the lack of density makes that number even smaller in terms of actual ridership. I too want the area to reorient towards transit, but to me it seems clearly best suited for a commuter/feeder line.

    I am more compelled by the 2m+ population of the North Bay, with an average density in Richmond, Vallejo, and Fairfield/Suisun more than double that of Palmdale/Lancaster. These cities do not require a detour but instead are right on the path between SF/Oakland and Sacramento. Same goes for Pittsburg/Antioch, which would be right on the path for trains between Merced/Modesto/Stockton and SF/SFO, or trains connecting Socal and the North Bay (Vallejo) via the Central Valley:
    https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=205242278980764848338.0004cee1ca9342ce961c8&msa=0&ll=38.026459,-121.69281&spn=1.161804,2.469177

    Vallejo has outstanding potential as a North Bay transit hub (with legacy lines to Napa and Sonoma counties), Fairfield/Suisun has a legacy line that goes right to the heart of Vacaville, and Antioch/Pittsburg can capture CV-Socal bound passengers from Concord and Walnut Creek via BART, and Bay Area-bound passengers from Oakley and Brentwood).

    Andrew Reply:

    Putting that HSR line through Antioch/Pittsburg would redeem the outer stretches of that BART line (by making it double as an HSR feeder line for CV-Socal bound passengers from roughly Lafayette on up) and allow BART to stop there rather than trying to stretch itself out to Stockton, Heaven forbid!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    We must think in more integrative terms about whom we’re trying to serve, instead of looking at each town one by one and assuming each one has its own unique destiny.

    Why do people south and east of San Bernardino/Riverside who want to go someplace other than Los Angeles have to go through Los Angeles to get there? Or people north of Sylmar?

  4. Eric M
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 21:40
    #4

    Clem, that is a VERY nice analysis. Have you forwarded it to the rail authority? It definitely needs to be brought into the light again politically and now is the time with Bakersfield waffling and the proposed construction to end outside of Shafter.

    Posting it on this blog was a good idea as it has a wide reader base. Most people should understand, decisions are going to be political in huge projects such as this and that will not change. As much a people don’t like, the political game must be played in order for changes to be made.

    I respect people like you who make you case in order to dictate change for the better, unlike other groups who are just trying to create controversy to halt and ultimately kill the project.

    Nice job!!

    Donk Reply:

    Agreed, great work Clem. I hope someone outside of this blog reads it. Unfortunately it has too many facts. Thanks Robert for posting it.

  5. Matthew
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 21:49
    #5

    Thank you Clem, nice work.

  6. synonymouse
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 21:50
    #6

    Well done, Clem.

    Don’t get spooked by all the bs “they” are going to throw at you.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I should add Happy Fathers Day to all the fathers out there, whether they know it or not. Your posting capped a very nice day.

  7. datacruncher
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 22:13
    #7

    I recognize the maps are simply rough routings for discussion purposes.

    But two things struck me as I looked at the West of Bakersfield alignment as drawn:
    1) More likely a West Bakersfield station would be located a mile or so south of where shown, closer to the Stockdale Highway. That would place it near the new Freeway 58/Centennial Corridor alignment as shown on this map (you can see part of the cleared ROW on the Google map):
    http://www.bakersfieldfreeways.us/documents/TRIPProgramMap-Mar2012.pdf

    However, more interestingly:
    2) The proposed West of Bakersfield alignment as drawn on the map appears to cross part of the Kern Water Bank (KWB) land.
    http://www.kwb.org/store/files/4.pdf
    http://www.kwb.org/store/files/5.pdf

    The KWB is pretty much controlled (via water districts they control) by Stewart Resnick’s Paramount Farms along with, drumroll, Tejon Ranch. The KWB is supposed to be a major water supply source for Tejon Mountain Village.

    Clem Reply:

    Excellent points. The water bank issue is tough, since hewing closer to downtown Bakersfield starts to impact residential subdivisions. None of these people will want the roar of 220 mph trains in their backyard. Then again, the noise issue seems never to have stopped HSR planning in other locations…

    datacruncher Reply:

    Who knows if the Water Bank would be an issue or not, but some big, connected players are involved in it. It would take some investigating to see if crossing it would be a problem or not.

    But looking at the Bakersfield freeway plans there is the Westside Beltway planned as a 6 to 8 lane freeway to bypass 99 thru the city. It looks like that Beltway plan passes to the east of the Water Bank although it is near/thru some residential areas. Perhaps a straighter routing of it with HSR adjacent to jointly plan mitigation if crossing the Water Bank was a problem?

    Jonathan Reply:

    … is it too uncharitable to wonder whether logarithmic scales are beyond the ken of CHSRA and their staff?

    Nathanael Reply:

    California water politics are whacked. And they’re only going to get weirder as the water supply dries up….

  8. Alon Levy
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 23:23
    #8

    Is there a way to get a little bit closer to Bakersfield, or would that require too much residential impact or too many great separations?

    Ted K. Reply:

    Alon, perhaps you meant “… or too many grade separations?”.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes. Sorry.

    datacruncher Reply:

    I did some checking on Bakersfield planning and growth this morning. Residential growth is already closing in on the location of Clem’s line.

    Bakersfield expanded its Sphere of Influence all the way to I-5, adding over 70,000 acres for future growth (Kern LAFCO approved the larger SOI in 2006). At the time they called it a 20 year growth need. Map of SOI and related article:
    http://www.bakersfieldcity.us/WEBLINK7/ElectronicFile.aspx?docid=991242&&dbid=0
    http://www.cp-dr.com/node/351

    There appear to already be streets cut within 1 mile of Clem’s route (a current project or perhaps a project that stopped in the housing bust?). Zoom into the Google map along Panama Lane to see the construction. Additionally there are many future already-vested subdivisions west of the city on this map (having the vesting also raises the values on currently empty land with it).
    http://www.bakersfieldcity.us/weblink7/0/doc/991245/Electronic.aspx

    Whether it is current or future residential, Bakersfield’s plans result in residential areas needing impact mitigation from nearly any route for a west of the city line.

    Nathanael Reply:

    If you put the Bakersfield station that far west — then the residential area is going to go even *further* west, while hollowing out on the east side of Bakersfield. Don’t encourage *more* sprawl just because there’s a lot of sprawl already.

    Joey Reply:

    Intelligent zoning can prevent sprawl. Not that I’d expect any intelligent decisions.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Is there a way to get a little bit closer to Bakersfield, or would that require too much residential impact or too many great separations?

    Exactly. Just look at Google Earth. (Except that the sprawl is so bad and so relentless that by the time the aerial images get Keyholed the depicted fields have been subdivided for more meth labs.)

    There’s no rail geometrical or rail operational reason not to move it, say, five miles further east (along say Allen Road rather than Greeley Road) or further. Just fire up the old CAD system, drag and drop! You’ll need bigger and more specialized bulldozers to when it comes to ROW preparation, though.

    Andrew Reply:

    Put it at route 119 and I-5 so that it will be below the wye with any potential I-5 route. That would also put the station on the south side of town, which is the direction most Bakersfielders will presumably be heading on HSR. Route 58 would take most riders out of their way.

  9. Paul H.
    Jun 16th, 2013 at 23:25
    #9

    This proposal has multiple lawsuits attached to its implementation. The High-Speed Rail Authority is not going to go LOOKING for another lawsuit. I’m sorry Clem but your entire slide titled “One Slide on Politics” make assumptions about lawsuits from both Palmdale and Tejon Ranch that you must know will turn out exactly opposite from what you hope will be the case. There is more grounds for Palmdale to sue on Prop 1A then there is for Kings County to sue on Prop 1A. Kings County won’t win their court battle on Prop 1A grounds, but Palmdale probably will since its inclusion in the route is very specifically written into that law.

    That being said, I agree with you about the costs savings being more appealing to bring in private investment. Also, lowering the overall cost of high-speed rail will boost public opinion of the project across the board. I think a downtown alignment for Bakersfield is better than the outside of town alignment for the simple fact that it brings development for the city inward and not towards more sprawl which is what your alignment will bring (whether that’s your intention or not, it will bring more sprawl than the downtown alignment).

    At the end of the day, I think Palmdale is still the better choice. I honestly believe it’s more likely we’ll see Altamont happen instead of Pacheco than Tejon instead of Palmdale. Just the reality of politics in this state. Mark my words, if the alignment is switched to Tejon there will be lawsuits filled that have MUCH better grounds than the current Prop 1A lawsuit from Kings County. In the end, I don’t think the Authority will want to bring more lawsuits onto itself. I thank you Clem for your work here, it is quite excellent. It is a tough call with the apparent financial and time savings you have revealed here.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah well, the cry babies want their Tejon diapers changed to suit their unqualified ideas…

    And it isn’t going to happen, no matter how much they cry, they may as well be asking for a revote, cause it ain’t going to happen, not today, not in a year or ever, their too dense and won’t listen, if Palmdale weren’t part of the law and if Santa Clarita wanted HSR like Palmdale does, then they might have a chance, otherwise that would be Hopeless.

  10. VBobier
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 00:02
    #10

    Tejon Pass Elevation: 4,160′ (1,268 m)
    Tehachapi Pass Elevation: 3,793′ (1,156 m)

    Tejon Pass(Grapevine/i5 Fwy) Grade: 6% for 5 miles
    Tejon Pass Calculated Average Grade(i5 Fwy): 4.2%(No distance given)…
    Tehachapi Pass average grade(Post and link by: AlanF) of 2.85% over 20 miles
    Tehachapi Pass sustained grade of 3.3% over 8 miles…

    Tejon is still too steep for HSR or any train, all the railroads looked at it and surveyed the Tejon Pass and to this day NO Railroad uses Tejon Pass, only the Interstate 5 Freeway does…

    Difference in elevation: 367′(112m)
    Difference in cost(from what I remember posted here): $0.00

    EJ Reply:

    If only Clem had taken the time to put together a 75 page pdf that debunks every single one of these claims.

    VBobier Reply:

    It wouldn’t matter, Prop1a mandates HSR goes to and stops in Palmdale CA, so not going to Palmdale is an illegal act under State Law and the CA Constitution…

    And I don’t see that changing anytime soon, nor do I see HSR being revoted on as some wanted…

    So Clem, Synonymouse, Donk, etc, etc, have no leg to stand on, legally or otherwise, while Palmdale CA does, HSR will go to Palmdale CA no matter how much they all rant and rave, if you think 2 tracks are expensive in the Mountains, 4 tracks is even worse…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Does Prop 1A actually mandate Palmdale service?

    VBobier Reply:

    Be careful what you ask for Alon Levy, yes it is:
    Prop1a Ballot(Supplemental Voter Information Guide) as seen by the voters in 2008…

    VBobier Reply:

    Oh and that’s a PDF file in that link…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Just remember: Prop 1A is Sacred Holy Writ. except when it isn’t.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Jerry & Co. are counting on the courts to nullify and void the provisos of Prop 1A far beyond the notion of changing to a cheaper route away from Palmdale.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not quite. The only mention of Palmdale is the following:

    the Legislature may appropriate funds described in paragraph (1) in the annual Budget Act, to be expended for any of the following high-speed train corridors:
    (A) Sacramento to Stockton to Fresno.
    (B) San Francisco Transbay Terminal to San Jose to Fresno.
    (C) Oakland to San Jose.
    (D) Fresno to Bakersfield to Palmdale to Los Angeles Union Station.
    (E) Los Angeles Union Station to Riverside to San Diego.
    (F) Los Angeles Union Station to Anaheim to Irvine.
    (G) Merced to Stockton to Oakland and San Francisco via the Altamont Corridor.

    Line (D) does not actually mandate a Tehachapis alignment. It is fine to connect Bakersfield directly to LA via Tejon and give Palmdale upgraded medium-speed service. The “Bakersfield to Palmdale to LA” language looks like it indicates it’s not fine, but let’s compare it with line (G): although the language there is “Merced to Stockton to Oakland/SF,” Altamont doesn’t connect Merced to the Bay Area via Stockton, since the wye is located between Modesto and Stockton. So the intent isn’t clearly to put Palmdale on the same line between Bakersfield and LA, but rather to serve Palmdale at the same time that Bakersfield-LA is built, for example by the tilting DMU that Clem’s presentation suggests.

    Notably, in subsection a of the same section, the ballot prop describes its intent to build,

    a high-speed train system that connects the San Francisco Transbay Terminal to Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim, and links the state’s major population centers, including Sacramento, the San Francisco Bay Area, the Central Valley, Los Angeles, the Inland Empire, Orange County, and San Diego

    Antelope Valley is not on the list at all.

    VBobier Reply:

    Antelope Valley is a part of Los Angeles County and since Prop1a is a bit vague, it can be stretched to include all of Los Angeles County. In any case this has been decided by the lawsuit and it landed in Palmdales favor, it’s over and done with and no one is going to vote on that either, short of a violent coup on state government, this won’t change, Clem, Syno de Bergerac, Donk, Drunk Engineer, Richard, etc, etc, can say that this should should be, well I got news for you all, I5/Tejon ain’t gonna happen, as that flies in the face of reality and continuing on this says one is delusional and should be committed when there is no hope of this being changed, but then there is the old saying or should I say taunt: You and whose Army is going to make this so? Cause that’s what it will take and it would have to be a violent overthrow of State Government and We all know that will NEVER happen…

    blankslate Reply:

    Antelope Valley is a part of Los Angeles County and since Prop1a is a bit vague, it can be stretched to include all of Los Angeles County.

    Wow…. just wow.

    Joey Reply:

    Heaven forbid we should skip Pasadena!

    Peter Reply:

    Holy shit, dude, take your meds!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Antelope Valley is a part of Los Angeles County and since Prop1a is a bit vague, it can be stretched to include all of Los Angeles County.

    Two things:

    1. The proposition does not state “Los Angeles County,” but “Los Angeles.” It is capable of stating “Los Angeles County,” as seen in its reference to “Orange County,” but it chose to specify the city only.

    2. The proposition does state “San Francisco Bay Area,” a large region that includes areas that are never going to be served by HSR, such as North Bay. So clearly not every subregion of Los Angeles or of Orange County is required to be served.

    Finally, re,

    You and whose Army is going to make this so?

    Don’t taunt when the state doesn’t have the money to complete the project yet and no clear, publicly stated plan for how to get it. If California had enough money to complete the IOS, then sure, it would build via Palmdale. But it doesn’t, and federal funding isn’t forthcoming from this Congress or (based on current generic ballot polls) from the next one. Clem’s right that potential private investors as well as foreign government investors are likely to demand a change to Tejon.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    the investors are likely to say “the market to Las Vegas makes the parts north of Union Station much cheaper on a per passenger basis if you go through Palmdale. “

    EJ Reply:

    OK, who taught this idiot how to use the bold tag?

    VBobier Reply:

    It’s called emphasis, do you need a dictionary?

    Joey Reply:

    Count the number of times you use boldface in this thread. Count the number of times anyone else does.

    VBobier Reply:

    Bold makes stuff stick out and since underlining is not available, it’s My choice, so there. ;p

    Andrew Reply:

    Nice work

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Thanks.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Alon, I’m pretty sure line (D) does mandate a Tehachapis alignment.

    Yes, it could be satisfied by a “medium-speed” connection from Palmdale to a trunk line… But it would have to connect not only to LA but also to Bakersfield. There’s no reasonable “wye” route to do so with a Tejon mainline since you can’t run along the tippy-tops of the mountains.

    Worse, even if you ignore the requirement to connect Palmdale to both Bakersfield and LA, the expensive part of the Palmdale route turns out to be the mountain crossing from Palmdale to the San Fernando Valley. And the existing Metrolink route doesn’t even qualify as medium-speed.

    In short, this was written this way for a reason. That reason was to serve Palmdale. There is a long list of politicos lined up behind service to Palmdale. If you really want to not serve Palmdale, well, yeah, honestly, I’m OK with not serving Palmdale, but there’s 27 politicians you have to convince first.

    The extremely honest Parsons Brinkerhoff report listed the governments and agencies which were openly backing a Palmdale route, and stated outright that that was the reason why a Tejon route was not worth further consideration. I read it.

    Steven H Reply:

    Someone on this thread suggested a spur from Tejon to Palmdale along highway 138 (my apologies for not citing the source; it’s a long thread and I can’t ctrl+F my phone).

    If possible, wouldn’t that solve a few problems, at least: you would only need one new mountain crossing; Palmdale and Las Vegas would be connected to the Central Valley by true HSR; a local train could still serve Bakersfield-Palmdale-LAUS via the 138 spur and the Palmdale Metrolink corridor; and, with a CV-LV HSR anchor on one end, and LAUS at the other, it seems likely that appropriate improvements to the existing Metrolink corridor would be justified as well.

    Vegas would get full HSR to the West and North, but only poor connections to the South…but that’s probably going to be the case for a very long time anyway; and Cajon is better for trips to all of Southern California, including LA. Palmdale, meanwhile, would get HSR to the North and East, but not to the South…but why would you need to travel at 200-odd mph to get from Palmdale to LA? If they need to go further south than LA, then they should team up with Vegas for a Cajon crossing.

    I don’t know. Y’all are the experts. I’ve assume that a spur along 138 is technically infeasible; but if it is feasible, could it not also be considered an option?

    VBobier Reply:

    True HSR would mean no grade bigger than 2.5% to get to 220 MPH, Search for 4.1-3 in this thread, the pdf file is Here(http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/programs/eir-eis/statewide_EIR_BakeLA_scrn_fullrpt_prt5.pdf), you’ll find a pdf which is the Bakersfield to Los Angeles EIR/EIS, costs are as follows:

    Alignment costs(On page 49 of 166, grades if available are expressed in percent, lower percentage is faster):
    1(I-5 Alignment): 2.5% $8.1 Billion; 3.5% $7.0 Billion.
    1a(I-5 via Comanche Pt.): $7.8 Billion
    2(Soledad Cn./SR-58): 2.5% $6.9 Billion; $5.7 Billion
    2a(SR-14/SR-58): $7.0 Billion

    The difference between alignment 1(Tejon) and alignment 2(Tehachapi) is $1.2 Billion LESS Cost. Like I said this threads Tejon idea is more expensive and a pipe dream, or as the Baggers say: Tejon is a BOONDOGGLE

    VBobier Reply:

    That should read:
    Alignment
    2(Soledad Cn./SR-58): 2.5% $6.9 Billion; 3.5% $5.7 Billion.

    VBobier Reply:

    HSR via Tejon Pass:
    1(I-5 Alignment): 2.5% $8.1 Billion; 3.5% $7.0 Billion.

    That’s $1.2 Billion more than Tehachapi @ $6.9(2.5%)/$5.7(3.5%) Billion…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Isn’t that from 2008, before costs ran over?

    bixnix Reply:

    It’s a technically feasible route, but the jobs are in LA and not Bakersfield, and a 138 spur wouldn’t speed up the commute to LA one bit. 200mph is not really the object with an improved HSR/Metrolink AV corridor – it’s that the current route takes two hours and CAHSR improvements can cut it to something very reasonable. If CAHSR doesn’t come through Palmdale, the funding for the expensive improvements will be extremely hard to obtain.

    Reid wants Vegas HSR to the 13M people in LA and OC; this is his chance with a Tehachapi route; otherwise, he’ll be in the ground before CAHSR gets to the base of Cajon on phase 2. That’s why Reid is pushing hard for Tehachapi, regardless of possible cost. Even though a trip will be five or ten minutes longer on the CA-14 route, it’s the only HSR rail to Vegas that possibly might be built in the next thirty years. Cajon makes geographic sense, but it’s money and time that have Reid favoring Tehachapi.

    And, I believe that Tejon Ranch is developing that corner of the AV valley. That could come into play as well.

    mike Reply:

    I believe it would be feasible. And yes, it would speed up the commute from Lancaster and Palmdale dramatically:

    http://andersonmichael.wordpress.com/2013/06/20/palmdale-spur/

    Joey Reply:

    Yes, obviously HSR would be following I-5 exactly. Did you read the post?

    VBobier Reply:

    It is still not legal to bypass Palmdale as the Supplemental Voter Information Guide above says Palmdale is a part of the HSR system. Tejon is too steep for any train, Tejon would need loops and/or switchbacks to climb a 6% grade, besides I know where Tejon is and that Interstate 5 crosses it, I’m a native Californian who was born in Los Angeles County, nuff said.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Did you look at Clem’s alignment and elevation profile at all? No loops, no switchbacks, just a few tunnels and it adheres to 3.5% and 4 km radius.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And he points out the as yet unpinpointed optimum route could be even sweeter.

    Brown should straightaway order PB to study the best Tejon alignment without any a priori constraints. They can still have their boondoggle but the dissidents will have been accorded the recognition that an inferior route was selected for political reasons. Transparency

    VBobier Reply:

    Oh and so the 6% grade on Tejon just doesn’t exist? 4K radius, sounds loopy to Me… I’ve laid track and I’ve seen how steep the area is compared to Tehachapi pass, it’s cause of a change in elevation of the valley floor, the Valley is lower in relation to Sea Level at Tejon than at Tehachapi, cause Tehachapi is closer to the Sierra Nevada mountain range than Tejon is.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Clem’s report lists 3.5% as the maximum gradient vs. 3.3% at Tehachapi.

    VBobier Reply:

    Tejon short of force, is not going to have HSR there, you simply don’t have the support to make it so and you can’t make it a matter of law either Syno…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    6% grade on I-5 exists, to avoid tunnels. Clem’s alignment has tunnels. That’s why there are bends in the line – a straightaway would be too steep.

    4,000 meters, 13,000 feet, is not loopy at all. It’s still the standard for new-build Shinkansen, it’s the standard for the older TGV lines, and it’s actually a bit looser than the curves on one of the German HSR lines. To put things in perspective, the bad parts of the Connecticut NEC are about 500 meters; the bad parts of California’s legacy lines, including the Antelope Valley Line, are 175.

    VBobier Reply:

    Clem is dreaming, Tejon has never had any rail and where would the tunnels be in relation to the fault lines? Has Clem done this with more than guess work and MS Paint? He can blog all He wants, Tejon will never have any HSR tracks… He can say that until Hell Freezes over, it ain’t gonna happen, no matter how much He and a few others want it, period.

    Joey Reply:

    Clem shows exactly where the fault lines would be in relation to the HSL. If you think it’s incorrect it’s easy to verify. Again, read the post.

    VBobier Reply:

    And Clems unauthorized route will go through an area with at least 2 fault lines, it’s steep and steep is expensive, tunnels or not, where as Tehachapi goes only across one fault line. Clems route is also not buildable since Santa Clarita will not cooperate and Palmdale has already sued and won, this route is a dead duck, no money will be spent or HSR track laid in Tejon…

    Peter Reply:

    Unsubstantiated claim about cost, wildly incorrect claim about number of fault lines, speculation about Santa Clarita, gross misunderstanding of the outcome of Palmdale’s suit. Anything I missed?

    VBobier Reply:

    Peter, the Palmdale to Los Angeles section according to this site Here, was supposed to cost $12.3 billion. I know the cost was mentioned at one time here, but finding the costs for the mountain crossing is just not something I saved and so far I’m having trouble locating it, but I did find costs in the following pdf for 4 alignments from Bakersfield to Los Angeles, alignment costs are below in figure 4.1-3.

    On page 15 if 166:

    In total, the 3.5 percent grade scenario applied to Alignment Option 1 (I-5) would
    increase the number of at-grade crossings of low sensitivity water resources from 2 to 4, low to moderate sensitivity waters from 2 to 7, and moderate to high sensitivity
    resources from 1 to 6. Of course, 3.5 percent grade scenario applied to each of these
    alignment alternative options would also result in a commensurate decrease in the
    number of surface waters that would be tunneled under. However, where extensive cut
    and fill may be necessary, the earthwork could have a considerable adverse effect on
    these surface waters by displacing waters and destroying associated riparian/wetland
    habitat resources.

    On page 47 of 166 is figure 4.1-3

    Table 4.1-3
    Bakersfield to Los Angeles- High-Speed Train Alignment Evaluation Matrix
    Bakersfield-to-Sylmar
    Segment

    Alignment costs(On page 49 of 166, grades if available are expressed in percent, lower percentage is faster):
    1(I-5 Alignment): 2.5% $8.1 Billion; 3.5% $7.0 Billion.
    1a(I-5 via Comanche Pt.): $7.8 Billion
    2(Soledad Cn./SR-58): 2.5% $6.9 Billion; $5.7 Billion
    2a(SR-14/SR-58): $7.0 Billion

    On page 150 of 166 details how many faults HSR would cross over are detailed on this PDF file Here.

    On page 158 of 166 is this:

    POTENTIALLY COMPRESSIBLE SOILS
    Younger, unconsolidated formations such as alluvium exist along generally gentler and
    low-lying areas of the proposed alignments and stations. In areas where these sediments are low density, they may be susceptible to settlement under proposed loads associated with alignments and stations. Therefore, this potential is very dependant upon proposed loads which are unknown at this time. However, relative ratings of alignments/stations can be assessed by comparing the relative presence of potentially compressible formations.
    Compressibility was estimated based upon Jennings (1977) Geologic Map of California
    (Plate 10) which was available as a GIS file with a table of attributes. The attribute table
    was amended to include other data fields pertinent to this analysis. Compressibility
    ratings were estimated for each formation from low to high, defined as follows:

    Low – Generally older, harder formations and rock unlikely to be compressible

    Medium – Intermediate hardness units considered unlikely to marginal relative to
    compressibility

    High – Generally younger, unconsolidated deposits considered most likely to be
    compressible

    Now the costs are known and Tejon via i5 is slightly more than Tehachapi, at least according to the EIR/EIS for Bakersfield to Los Angeles… I don’t see any sandbagging of Bakersfield to LA via i5, just a lot of bagger delusions saying that i5 is cheaper.

  11. Andrew
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 01:29
    #11

    Truly excellent post, and sincere kudos to Robert for posting it in the public interest despite its contradicting his own (previous?) views. Huge credit to Robert – this is exactly what this blog should be about.

    The author is bothersomely hyperbolic and bluff-authoritative in places (“The Truth about Tejon”, “there simply won’t ever be any private investment”, “when it comes to math and physics, the numbers don’t lie”, “smart HSR supporters”, etc.), but on the whole he deserves huge credit and I can only hope that people with influence will pay attention to his meticulous report. I completely agree with the overall thrust of it and especially the point that this whole decision process needs to be subject to re-examination by private investors. If private investors are not part of the decisionmaking process on the route, we are likely to make major mistakes that will reduce the long-term value generated by this investment.

    In the same spirit as the author, I have a couple of suggestions to share that I think should not be overlooked:

    1) Location of West Bakersfied Station
    In my view, the station should be around the junction with Highway 119, not 58: first, because there will presumably be more HSR traffic between Bakersfield and Socal than Norcal, and second, because a station on 119 would be part of any I-5 route as well (see red line in map below).

    2) Tejon Base Tunnel
    I suggest the author need not worry about the steep grades, bridges, and various tunnels. Just take all that money, and a bunch more, and build one, flat, 32-mile base tunnel at 500m elevation, and use that to shift a large portion of N-S/S-N freight hauling from truck to rail. This investment would permanently change the state’s geography in favor of the cheap movement of goods and people, and drastically reduce energy consumption and labor for N-S freight hauling. See the black line here:
    https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=205242278980764848338.0004cee1ca9342ce961c8&msa=0&ll=35.146863,-119.256592&spn=5.056486,9.876709

    To make this work for freight, build one electrified trunk freight line down thru the Central Valley to LA and Ports of LA/LB. In combination with the other regular HSR lines shown and additional feeder lines, this would allow electrified freight transportation at or below 500m elevation throughout urbanized California. Yes, 32 miles is a lot of tunneling, but with this one tunnel we can permanently solve two big problems at once.

    The Palmdale connection to Vegas is immaterial because the Vegas line, if it is built, should instead pass thru Inland Empire and northern Orange County on the way to LAUS, as shown above. And I for one hope that it is NOT built, as a casino train runs against the long-term interests of the people and State of California. Let Nevada return to sand!

    The Antelope Valley would be more than adequately served by ACE-style service to LAUS with transfer service to HSR at Santa Clarita or Sylmar. They don’t need the entire system to make a detour in order to speed up their relatively short trip to LAUS, and for longer trips they can easily transfer to HSR, without having it blaze through their communities. And as the author points out, conventional service would be a lot cheaper for them.

    Obviously a Tejon base tunnel would eliminate all of the Tejon-area impacts that have given CHSRA pause. It would and even compared with the author’s Tejon surface route would allow trains to move much faster, along a much straighter route, and using considerably less energy. My extremely rough and amateurish calculations suggest that the difference in travel time between a Tejon base tunnel (straight, low, flat) and a Tejon surface route (windy and climbing) would be about as great as that between a Tejon surface route and the Palmdale route.

    Again, many thanks to Clem and Robert for this great post.

    synonymouse Reply:

    3 instantaneous off the top problems with a 30 mile base tunnel:

    1. It would necessarily intersect with the 2 east-west faults.

    2. Sticker shock would be killer.

    3. 20 year ETA.

    Andrew Reply:

    1. There’s plenty of tunneling in Clem’s proposal too – perhaps across these same faults?

    2. I’m suggesting this is a long-term favorable investment and the cost of the alternative (bridges, tunnels, ascent & descent, longer route) is comparably high

    3. Let’s get started. Also, see #1.

    Thanks to Clem, today is a good day for Tejon proponents, and Syn deserves much credit for working many months to keep the flame burning. If we do indeed get to move on to Tejon as a first option, I hope the base tunnel option will get a full airing out, just as Clem is giving to the Tejon surface option now. If it ultimately does not make sense, we’ll be that much more certain that we’re making the right choice.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Clem’s primary critique of the PB study is that it added gratuitous tunneling to bloat costs.

    Furthermore he indicates that speeds at the crest will be such that mitigation – vastly, vastly cheaper than tunneling – will work well.

    The wildcard here is extreme and crazy NIMBYism in the TMV boardroom. Morris is a rabid hsr foamer by comparison to these apparent dinosaurs.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    1. There’s plenty of tunneling in Clem’s proposal too – perhaps across these same faults?

    If only somebody had created a 75 page document that provided detailed and ready answers to such blathering questions.

    Andrew Reply:

    OK, OK, I confess I did not read the entire thing. I was just making a quick reply and crowd sourcing the answer rather than pretending I knew it, like most contributors this blog. Since you insist that asking others if they know is a ‘blathering question’, I have checked myself and can now say that the base tunnel would avoid teh fault convergence zone, just like Clem’s route. It would not cross all faults at grade, of course, but then neither would the AV route.

    EJ Reply:

    OK, OK, I confess I did not read the entire thing.

    Then why the hell would you comment? HAY GUISE I’M LAZY AND IGNORANT! HERE’S MY WORTHLESS OPINION!

    Andrew Reply:

    You mean to say that one cannot comment on this post without reading the entire 75-page document? Read again – what Richard took issue with was the fact that I asked a question, not that I offered an ‘opinion’.

    With people of your level of mental development, being forthright and unpretentious just blows up in one’s face. Try to be more constructive. You’ll find more people will respect you and take the time to engage with you, which is what you need most in order to develop.

    VBobier Reply:

    So what are you waiting for? Go sue CA to have this route made the one to build, oh what’s that? You need money to sue with? And you don’t have two nickels to do this with, well then since this design is unconstitutional since Prop1a is a part of the CA Constitution and Palmdale is mentioned as having HSR, then this route as drawn is ILLEGAL and unbuildable claptrap… It will not see one red cent of money, period and there is nothing you can do short of suing the CHSRA to force the issue and that isn’t going to happen as you’d 1st have to overturn the Palmdale decision which has now set precedent in the courts and I think that would require a majority to overturn, doubt that will happen either… Unsupported Innuendo will not help either, you’d also need an engineering firm to confirm this and on the back of a paper napkin does not qualify, not even close, since peoples lives would be at stake.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I welcome posts from anyone who supports this high speed rail project in California. Posts are welcome even if they criticize aspects of the current project, but they need to be constructive, and Clem’s post here is an excellent example of how to do that.

    I was agnostic on Altamont versus Pacheco – I would have been fine had Altamont been chosen instead. I will admit to being a bit more biased toward Palmdale here only because I am generally opposed to bypassing population centers, but I would not oppose Tejon if it were built along the lines Clem describes.

    Nathanael Reply:

    You should oppose any proposal which bypasses Bakersfield that far west. Clem really does not understand urban planning.

    The rest of Clem’s Tejon plan — omitting the Bakersfield bypass and instead running up 99 to a station somewhere a lot nearer to downtown Bakersfield — is viable from an urban planning perspective. It is politically hopeless because Palmdale has a lot of political support behind it, and Palmdale *would* be omitted forever if Tejon was built. (Now, perhaps Palmdale should be omitted forever and there should be more nature preserve in the High Desert. I could be convinced. But I doubt the LA politicos could be convinced.)

  12. Emma
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 02:45
    #12

    Let me sum up the Xpress West debacle.

    1. Let’s propose super-cheap HSR line so that we get support.
    2. Plan from Vegas to nowhere in CA hoping that California will pay the other mile.
    3. ???
    4. Profit.

    In a perfect world where the federal government covers half of the bill, Palmdale would have been a non-issue. But, this is reality. Unless CHSRA finds ways to save $5 billion and 12 minutes of travelling time at other sections of the project, it should be Tejon.

    bixnix Reply:

    If Xpress West pays for track usage and Reid finds $5B more under his mattress, would that change your mind? It would help pay for maintenance on the portion of the track that needs the most upkeep. Trains to the Central Valley will probably happen, too – helping to cover Tehachapi pass. It would also save more than 12 minutes for folks going to/from Vegas (which a lot of people do).

    Not that I’m all in favor of Tehachapi … but it can have some advantages.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Note that AFAIK none of the moguls – Wynn and Adelson most notably – have fronted any money for this project. They are old hands and have better use for their money.

    But by all means build it – the foamers simply cannot conceive of hsr failing – they need an object lesson in fiscal reality.

  13. wdobner
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 04:28
    #13

    Shouldn’t this be called The Opinion About Tejon? The entire premise of the argument is that there is some cabal dedicated to keeping Tejon Ranch free of an HSL, despite there being no direct evidence that this is the case. There are plenty of other areas the CHSRA has avoided which do not arouse the same paranoid claims.

    And even if the CHSRA is kowtowing to a politically powerful developer, so what? You claim some tremendous cost to the state, but even that isn’t clear. Your numbers are extremely optimistic for the Tejon alignment while being overly conservative for Tehachapi. You’re doing exactly what you accuse the CHSRA of doing to obfuscate the issue.

    But more importantly, why would we concern ourselves with express travel times at this point? The CHSRA is unlikely to operate a train between San Fran and LA before 2030. For at least five years the CHSRA’s operating contractor will have to try to turn an operating surplus on the IOS. If that IOS avoids Palmdale, whiffs on Bakersfield, and lacks a Hanford station it will *never* carry enough passengers and thus garner enough revenue to generate that surplus. We’ll be looking to serve only Los Angeles and Fresno directly. That is a recipe for empty trains, and empty trains will see the Northern mountain crossing, be it Pacheco or Altamont, canceled.

    If you want the northern end of the IOS to be stranded in the Central Valley then Tejon is undoubtedly the way to go. But if you want a completed project then it is essential to emphasize ridership and revenue from local trains early in the project. It doesn’t matter whether the express between SF and LA will take 2:40 hrs, 3 hours, or even 3:30hrs if the project is canceled before the project gets to the Bay to Basin stage.

    Clem Reply:

    Your numbers are extremely optimistic for the Tejon alignment while being overly conservative for Tehachapi

    I should point out that the profile data backing up Myths #2 and #3 was produced by an algorithm with no tweaking of any results. An algorithm is neither optimistic nor conservative.

    Tunnel lengths are not the province of opinion.

    wdobner Reply:

    Tunnel lengths are not the province of opinion.

    When your engineering analysis begins with “Because of conspiracy…” everything that follows thereafter is opinion regardless of whether the numbers are grounded in reality.

    Joey Reply:

    Okay, where specifically do you disagree?

    wdobner Reply:

    Start with “Myth” 1. The case is not made that TMV has exerted undo influence on the process. If that is not the case, then the CHSRA’s analysis cannot be dismissed nearly as easily as so many of the contributors here seem to have no problem accepting. It’s easy to look for bogeymen responsible for whatever problems we perceive with the project, but we’ve reached the point where these conspiracy theories rival those involving JFK.

    But in dismissing out of hand the political consequences of bypassing Palmdale, who have shown their willingness to defend their inclusion on the HSL through litigation, Clem shows that he is somewhat lacking in comprehension of the politics in Southern California. Except that the basis of his argument that the CHSRA Tejon study was flawed rests on his being a canny observer of the same politics. And if he is wrong about the politics involved in depriving Palmdale then what are the chances this elaborate conspiracy theory regarding Tejon is any way correct?

    And if the political observations that underpin the case are likely flawed, then how can the math be trusted?

    Clem Reply:

    I never claimed political influence. I merely pointed out that in avoiding TMV (as stated in the I-5 study), certain consequences are incurred that cost more than the entire market cap of the Tejon Ranch Company. Those facts are easy to establish and are laid out in detail.

    You will be hard-pressed to find the word “conspiracy” anywhere in my post, maps, or slides.

  14. Peter
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 07:36
    #14

    Clem, quick question. In PB’s study used to admittedly sandbag Tejon, they constrained viaduct height to less than 150 feet, I believe. At the same time, I think the Tehachapi “New T3″ had a viaduct height greater than 200 feet. How high would viaduct height be in your proposal.

    Clem Reply:

    New T3 has lower viaducts than the other options. You can measure height in Google Earth. Right-click the ‘Top of rail’ element, and click ‘Get Elevation Profile’. Then find your viaduct, and measure its height on the elevation profile vs. height of terrain in the main window.

  15. Realist
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 11:27
    #15

    Thank you Clem, if only you were in charge. And, thank you Robert for posting it.

    I like the idea of trying to get the private capital people involved early in the design process, so if there are decisions as clear cut as this appears there would be much less chance for silliness.

  16. rafael
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 13:13
    #16

    @Clem -

    Very nice analysis, but allow me to sound two notes of caution.

    1) Earthquake risk: the Garlock fault did produce a 5.7 quake near the town of Mojave in 1992, probably an aftershock of the Landers quake two weeks earlier. Some sections of the fault feature aseismic creep and are therefore unlikely to experience major sudden unloading. Other sections, especially the one close to the intersection with the San Andreas near Tejon Pass, are locked and therefore accumulating stress.

    There was also a substantial quake on the White Wolf fault along the northern foothills of the Transverse Range in 1952. It’s epicenter was located between Bakersfield and Tejon Pass.

    http://www.sjvgeology.org/geology/bakersfield_earthquake.html

    Does that mean a Tejon Pass alignment would be at greater seismic risk, or at a lower one? Unfortunately, no-one really knows. Earthquakes often happen in swarms, with unloading in one part of a fault complex accelerating stress accumulation in another. The individual events can be anywhere from days to decades apart, each with its own set of aftershocks. In some cases, swarming is focused on secondary faults running perpendicular to the primary one. In others, the epicenters are located along the primary fault (e.g. the North Anatolian Fault in Turkey, also a slip-strike type). Many fault systems are incompletely understood, e.g. to what extent are quakes along the White Wolf fault and the Garlock/San Andreas complex linked?

    In any event, I’d be careful not to make overly sweeping statements about the risk of future major events on any California fault or complex. The truth is, the best scientists can do right now is provide estimates of the risk that a certain event might occur in the next e.g. 30 years, based on their current – incomplete – understanding of the geology and state of accumulated stress.

    I do agree that expensive underground “fault chambers” are best avoided by choosing alignments that cross faults at grade. It’s much easier to rescue passengers and crew from a stricken train that way and, repairs to a damaged rail line can be completed much sooner and at lower cost. This argument also applies to the Hayward/Calaveras fault system in the East Bay, which all of the Altamont Pass alternatives would have had to cross in some manner – and to the Ortigalita fault near Pacheco Pass, the San Gabriel fault near Santa Clarita etc.

    2) Another issue the tunneling workshop considered but that appears to be absent from your homebrew analysis is pockets of underground water, oil and/or natural gas in fault systems. You may not have access to that data (to the extent it is already known at all) nor to the tools that can take it into account for alignment optimization. That’s ok, but you may want to hedge your conclusion that Pacheco is both technically feasible but much better than the currently preferred AV route. Poorly managed risks have a way of coming back to haunt engineers and construction crews, cp. Valle del Abdelais (AVE Madrid-Malaga) or the South Pacific Coast Railway’s tunnels through the Santa Cruz mountains.

    VBobier Reply:

    And the fact is these “fault chambers” could possibly collapse during or after an earthquake and anyone inside reduced to crushed meat pudding… I’d rather be far away from the locked section of the San Andreas fault, the wolf fault and the garlock fault, over in Tehachapi Pass instead, instead of doing major rebuilding in Tejon Pass after every last Quake there and any washouts from the reservoirs that are located in the area, then HSR would have to be rebuilt from the ground up, no exception as the ground would have changed…

    Tehachapi Pass has no reservoirs last I looked and I’ve seen the map and driven through both areas, so I do know, Tejon is too much of a gamble and too dangerous and unbuildable cause of both Santa Clarita and Palmdale and I’d think they’d team up to stop any Tejon route, Oh that’s right, there was already a lawsuit, Tejon as a result is DEAD…

    Joey Reply:

    The updated Tehachapi alignment crosses faults below grade, while Clem’s alignment does not. This is all covered in the post.

    Nathanael Reply:

    More specifically, the Soledad Canyon alignment crosses a fault below grade.

    Tehachapi Pass is easy. The problem is actually Palmdale to LA.

    Clem Reply:

    Correct. For about the same investment as building HSR to Palmdale, you can build HSR directly to Sylmar, and that will do wonders for the IOS.

    VBobier Reply:

    Wrong the Bakersfield to Los Angeles EIR/EIS states this:

    Alignment costs(On page 49 of 166, grades if available are expressed in percent, lower percentage is faster for speed and time):
    1(I-5 Alignment/Tejon): 2.5% $8.1 Billion; 3.5% $7.0 Billion.
    1a(I-5 via Comanche Pt.): $7.8 Billion
    2(Soledad Cn./SR-58/Tehachapi): 2.5% $6.9 Billion; 3.5% $5.7 Billion.
    2a(SR-14/SR-58): $7.0 Billion

    On page 150 of 166 details how many faults HSR would cross over are detailed on this PDF file Here. Of course if one doesn’t mind spending $1.2 Billion to $1.3 Billion more, then go ahead, build Tejon and possibly destroy sensitive plant & animal habitat and absorb costs like building for soft soils that could be subject to liquefaction during an earthquake.

    Clem Reply:

    Again the costs you cite are from 2001, when the HSR pricetag was less than $33 billion.

    Clem Reply:

    Those of you interested in the geography of faults in southern California can overlay these nice KML files provided by the USGS.

    http://earthquake.usgs.gov/hazards/qfaults/google.php

    In Google Earth, you can see how these interact with the various HSR alignments.

  17. Nathanael
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 13:50
    #17

    I realize you don’t know anything about population geography. But allow me to point out two things:
    (1) Tejon screws the Vegas HSR project, which then has no route into LA.
    (2) If you don’t give Bakersfield a downtown station, but you put a Bakersfield station way out somewhere, you are encouraging sprawl. If you don’t give Bakersfield a downtown station, you might as well not give Bakersfield a station at all.

    I also urge you to read Rafael’s comment about the geotechnical risks.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The problem is that all the geotechnical risks they were afraid of with the Tehachapis actually happened, because of the need to tunnel through Soledad Canyon. Back in 2008 Tehachapi seemed less risky, but based on today’s state of knowledge it’s not.

    Nathanael Reply:

    *Tehachapi* is less risky. *Soledad Canyon* is worse.

    The thing is, everyone in the SoCal political world is determined to provide better Palmdale to LA service. Don’t ask me why. Given that, they have to do something to get from Palmdale to LA.

    I personally would propose thinking outside the box — trying to find a different route from Palmdale to LA, so that “medium speed service” would be doable. The Devil’s Punchbowl route hasn’t been examined carefully, though it’s probably terrible. Honestly, would it be best to just go all the way around to Cajon Pass? Or perhaps a route following CA-138 out of Tejon Pass?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Honestly, Palmdale’s not important enough for more than minor track realignment, double-track passing segments, and maybe electrification. The problem with these exurban commuter rail projects is that to the extent people ride them, they just induce more sprawl – instead of driving an hour and a half to LA, people might drive half an hour to Palmdale and then take a train for an hour. The required investment in suburban rail is the kind that helps densify inner suburbs.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    1. Screwing over the Vegas project is a net plus.
    2. Bakersfield doesn’t have an actual downtown and, unless it massively up zoned, would sprawl regardless if people and businesses decided to locate there due to HSR.

    Nathanael Reply:

    (1) Matter of opinion, can’t argue with that.
    (2) Going 20 miles west of downtown Bakersfield will make the sprawl problem substantially worse.

    To show that I’m being fair here, I will propose a Tejon route which actually does have a Bakerfield station — which would be OK.
    (1) Run up SR-99 from Tejon into Bakersfield. Run down the median of the highway. They seem to love widening highways around there, and the noise issues are insignificant where there is already a highway. For the conspiracy theorists, there’s lots of concrete to pour modifying or replacing all those highway overpasses.
    (2) Fly out of the highway median onto an elevated alignment (ooh, more concrete pouring!) and curve west just south of the railyard. You’ll have to buy a number of hotels and fast food chains, as well as a few office buildings. Then fly over the river and rejoin the CHSRA planned alignment.
    (3a) Locate the station near the intersection of CA-99 and CA-58. There are available vacant lots nearby, and it is in fact in Bakersfield.
    (3b) Or locate the station near the parking wasteland (uh, mall) near Ming Avenue.
    (3c) Or locate the station south of White Lane.
    Whichever you do, you’re locating the station *in the actual city* rather than in farmland, and you don’t need many if any residential properties.

    Nathanael Reply:

    In short, bypassing Bakersfield discredits Clem’s proposal. Which is silly because there’s a perfectly good Bakersfield-Tejon route.

    Clem Reply:

    So we can agree on something, at least.

    The only issue with downtown is that it adds miles, and miles add minutes.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    It adds miles, and reduced miles per hour. (Along with billions of construction pork.)

    A synergistic win-win value proposition!

    Clem Reply:

    I haven’t gone through the map and counted how many roads are crossed (over or under) by each HSR alignment. It would be an instructive exercise.

    jonathan Reply:

    So we can agree on something, at least.

    The only issue with downtown is that it adds miles, and miles add minutes.

    Yes. Exactly. Which is why it’s blatantly dishonest of you to call this “the truth about Tejon”, when significant fractions of both cost savings and time savings come from bypassing Bakersfield. Not Tejon. (A Tehachapi mountain route could bypass downtown Bakersfield; that is the appropriate comparison.)

    Joe Reply:

    Good point.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Re 2, it’s an empirical question: have edge-of-urban-area stations promoted more sprawl in France and Japan? That is, is there more suburban sprawl near e.g. Aix-en-Provence TGV?

    Nathanael Reply:

    To the degree to which this depends on zoning law, we can’t consider places with different land use laws to be a comparable experiment, unfortunately. :-P

    That said: it sure looks like it has to me. Also, don’t get confused by the scale difference; Aix-en-Provence TGV is closer to the various urban areas there than Clem’s alignment is to Bakersfield.

    wdobner Reply:

    We do not have their zoning laws. If you’d like to come down from the ivory tower Vancouver to help fix Southern California’s zoning laws then by all means, I’m sure they’d really value your input.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Do French zoning laws actually limit sprawl more than Californian ones?

  18. thatbruce
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 16:06
    #18

    @Clem:

    Myth #6 seems to be driven by the windfarms off Oak Creek Rd west of Mojave and associated power lines around the area, all of which can be seen from SR-58 as you drive west from Mojave.

    Clem Reply:

    There doesn’t seem to be a plan to supply the area between Bakersfield and Tehachapi. This remains a gap in the CA grid, mostly because there isn’t anything that needs power around there.

  19. jonathan
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 18:57
    #19

    Clem,

    This piece is atroccious. Just atrocious. The kind of junk one might expect from the usual _Reason_ hacks. Even CARRD ususally does better than this!

    Here’s why i say that. You change two independent variables — the route across the Tehachapis, and the route through, or around, Bakersfield. Then — at least in the summaries — you attribute the upsides from _both_ changes, to just one change, the one you are arguing for. Yes, you do say in one point that most of the gain in bridges/viaducts (20 mi, iirc?) comes from bypassing Bakersfield, which saves 12 mi (again, from memory) of viaduct. But one has to read the entire piece to find that fact, and it’s completely buried in the editorial introductoin and in the overall conclusions.

    That’s disingenuous laziness at best, and plain flat dishonest at worst. And I have this nagging feeling that this exact issue — conflating Tehachapi vs. Tejon, with bypass-or-dont-bypass-Bakersfield — has come up before (though I confess I don’t recall where, which makes it hard to search).

    Clem, please do me — if not all of us — a favour, and show the gains (in time and $bn) from Tehachapi-vs-Tejon, and downtown-Bakersfield-vs-bypass-Bakersfield, separately. And don’t try to conflate them.
    We’re too smart for that (Nathaniel has seen it too, though I’ve been biting my tongue all day).

    Andrew Reply:

    The overall quality of the criticisms of Clem’s post speaks eloquently in its favor.

    jonathan Reply:

    Facts are facts. Numbers are numbers.

    I’m always saddened when people close their eyes to facts.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    First, Reason’s sin is not just “playing with two independent variables at once.” It’s a lot worse than that.

    Second, the two variables aren’t entirely independent. Tejon is west of Tehachapi and the bypass is west of Bakersfield, so it’s easier to pair Tejon with the bypass and Tehachapi with downtown Bakersfield than the reverse.

    synonymouse Reply:

    On the other hand it you proceed straight ahead on I-5 on thru to Altamont you are looking at approaching a half hour time savings LA to the central Bay Area.

    Tejon works well with all routes thru the Valley but its greatest asset is its uber-express travel times between the two deep pockets markets.

    Clem Reply:

    I’m not really on board with the whole I-5 through the Central Valley thing–unlike Tejon, it’s water under the bridge by this point in time. It’s a separate issue, and to conflate I-5 CV with I-5 via Tejon does nothing except give those who oppose Tejon a stick to beat you over the head with.

    The tie-in from the ICS to Tejon is still very much feasible, especially if they coincidentally run out of ICS money somewhere near Shafter.

    Paul H. Reply:

    Your station location for Bakersfield is pretty bad. Would you mind addressing that? I mean, even bringing it eastward a mile or two would be much better than where you currently have it located. It’s hard to look at it on a map. It goes against pretty much all of the principles of building a HSR system in the first place. It would be the furthest station from a city center by far in its current location. If you want people to take this seriously, you’ve got to find a better route in the valley for the Bakersfield station. Right now, that’s all people have to look at to disregard it because it’s so far outside of the city.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Paul,

    1. Five billion dollars. Minimum. (Clem has intentionally, carefully, and grossly conservatively understated the cost differential.)

    2. There is no point 2.

    But if there were, “new transit links to downtown” says Clem, and he’s right.

    Frankly a bus every half hour would be overkill.

    If you want to go nuts, build a 12 mile elevated people mover over Hwy 58 all the way to “downtown” and you’re still billions ahead of the game.

    It you want to go nuts, build a 4 mile connecting chord (2750m radius) arcing from the HS alignment just N of the Bakersfield West Station back to the BNSF line heading to “downtown” and run something or other along it. Note that the line doesn’t have to be engineered for 220mph, and could be nearly entirely single-tracked (if not shared with freight.) You’re still billions ahead. Bakersfield S-Bahn: a nice regional thing for Bakersfield (not HSR) to fund, just as Caltrain electrification is a nice regional thing for Caltrain (not HSR) to fund, etc. Surely if the benefits to the city of downtown rail service are so immense the city will easily be able to justify and fund such a vital link.

    Fundamentally, anybody talking about urbanism and Bakersfield (and other related mush-brainedness such as transit and Bakersfield or TOD and Bakersfield) is committing a fundamental category error. A “downtown” station is all downside: for Bako, for California, for federal taxpayers, for the global environment, for everybody except PBQD and associated concrete-pouring mafiosi.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    From Clem’s carefully and helpfully annotated (really, spend some educational time exploring it: Click on Stuff) Google Earth map:

    Bakersfield Bypass
    This alignment splits off the baseline CHSRA Shafter bypass alignment (WS2) and shoots south, around the western outskirts of Bakersfield, to join I-5 into the Grapevine. [...] A downtown Bakersfield rail connection can still be provided in the style of an electric “airport express” along SR 58, except the airport is the HSR station.

    Go nuts.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Richard’s last paragraph about Bako and urbanism pretty much gets to the crux of the matter. Which is why I don’t understand the concerns some voice about a greenfield station in that region encouraging sprawl- does it matter, I mean really??

    Andrew Reply:

    I expect it would contribute to a large net reduction in sprawl by making the line more efficient and therefore more valuable to the larger cities on the line.

    joe Reply:

    It is a contemptuous comment – as usual.

    Remember. Run HSR to Livermore BART. It would save tens of billions. Another money saving feature.
    Does it matter, really?

    It’s up to Bakersfield to make that call – and they should without the Calvinist deciding why they are undeserving. If there’s a reason to HSR it out of the city it is when City is unable or unwilling to resolve what it wants and sues to halt the project.

    I’m just waiting for Richard to demand money when his city shakes and needs fixing.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Well, they aren’t exactly begging to have HSR run through their town. Oblige them. At this point anything to attract private investment is a plus.

    joe Reply:

    The County can’t reach consensus on where to put the station.

    Bakersfield was involved and representatives knew it was a downtown station. Now it’s happening and they’re poorly prepared and blaming the CAHSRA.

    The City Manager didn’t even share a counter offer alignment from the CAHSRA with the City until a newspaper printed a story a offer was made months later. He apologized. Still they wasted months doing nothing – saying nothing.

    The best reason to move out of the City is to avoid the City’s dysfunctional management and City Manager’s Tandy’s attempts to extract money from the Authority while threatening to undermine the project.

    Snaky comments on what constitutes a downtown have no place in the discussion.

    Clem Reply:

    I’m not claiming the location is ideal. It’s a trade-off between residential noise impacts (systematically glossed over around here…), eminent domain, transportation links and access, zoning, the cost of grade separations through developed street grids, train speed, and most importantly trip times. Any way you slice it, some of these factors are going to come up short.

    HSR express trains should not be forced to slow down when they pass stations without stopping. See Myth #7 for an example.

    And have you opened the KML in Google Earth (not Google Maps) to contemplate the sheer magnitude of the viaduct being planned through Bakersfield in 3D? It is drawn to scale. Zoom down to street view to get a good look. No wonder Bako is getting riled up.

    Eric Reply:

    Also, bypassing Bakersfield now does not preclude later building a loop through downtown Bakersfield which non-express trains would take.

    Joey Reply:

    That doesn’t really make sense geometrically though. What right-of-way would it follow?

    joe Reply:

    It makes sense in that it offers speed and service to the city with a single seat. I prefer this be done in Gilroy. A bypass and local segment to the city station downtown.

    jonathan Reply:

    I’m sure you would. I’d prefer other peope’s money to pay for nice things in my backyard, too.
    The fact remains that Gilroy is tiny; about three-quarters the population of Palo Alto. Joe, please explain why Gilroy deserves so much more consideration and expense than Palo Alto.

    Oh, I forgot, you think trenching the HSR line in Palo Alto is a waste of money, but Gilroy asking for a trench is…. a fine example of democracy at work. Did I get that right?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Gilroy is the gateway to 500k residents in Monterey county, plus something like 9m visitors/year. TAMC is already working on connections to Gilroy & SJ.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Monterey is the Gateway to Lucia, which is the Gateway to the Sand Dollar Picnic Area.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    This fascination with Monterey is on par with the Las Vegas fetish some people have as the most bizarre railfan brainbugs out there. At most I could imagine a Capitol Corridor style Amtrak California train, perhaps from Gilroy to Monterey (after you’ve spent all the money and political capital laying down new track in Marina/Monterey/Castroville, etc since that line has either long since been abandoned or is now a popular trail in downtown Monterey). If we could abandon Caltrain service south of Tamien or Blossom Hill, I’d think that’s an acceptable trade off.

    Andrew Reply:

    @Amanda: Gilroy is indispensable because it brings the whole Monterey Bay Area into the HSR system (Santra Cruz, Monterey, and San Benito Counties, in addition to Gilroy which will become a node of growth. The key is a rail line linking Salinas and Castroville (workers) with Santa Cruz County towns (work), sharing tracks with the Gilroy-Monterey line between Castroville and Watsonville. Transfers at these last allow both Salinas and Santa Cruz County communities to access the rest of the state (and vice versa) via Gilroy. The two local lines would permit Monterey Bay-South Bay commutes, feed HSR, and connect nearly all the communities in the area with each other.

    The Gilroy stop also offers access to the seacoast for residents in the South Bay and Central Valley. Commuting + tourism/leisure visits + just using HSR to get somewhere from this isolated area = more than enough ridership to justify a non-express stop.

    jonathan Reply:

    Andrew, do explain why both a downtown station _and_ a bypass are warranted for Gilroy.

    Joe Reply:

    Jonathan

    Trenching a station is not the same as an aligenment running along a city.

    Hanford will have a trenched station.

    Small city might be a snub but also means short trench for the downtown station.

    With CC conventional service planned from sac oakland san jose to Monterey, a downtown Caltrain location allows transfers from HSR to CC.

    jonathan Reply:

    Joe, you arent’ addressing the question: why does Gilroy, pop. ~50,000, deserve both a downtown station — with a huge trench! — AND a bypass? (Let alone a trenched downtown station, which is a separate issue and not one of the options offered to Gilroy by CHSRA.)

    joe Reply:

    Not both!

    Gilroy’s station is due to geography & downtown station due to zoning and open space policies. It’s a strong recommendation, not a demand. We support HSR and the reality it will happen on their terms.

    As for “deserve”, that’s a moral term.

    If they made a magic bypass (I doubt it will happen) then the trains into and out of Gilroy following the UP ROW should be done cheaply and at grade.

    If no bypass we recommended a trench. And we are nice about it spending our own money to do the initial study and socializing the City to the reality.

    I understand Hanford’s station is trenched so probably I’d add “precedent” to why the station will be trenched.

    Joe and selected Gilroy for the geography and climate. It is natural cross roads for east west and north south. Bleating about why Gilroy leads to the geography.

    jonathan Reply:

    ’m not claiming the location is ideal. It’s a trade-off between residential noise impacts (systematically glossed over around here…),

    You mean glossed over by Robert?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The I-5 Valley route is dead in the water absent some sort of ARRA deus ex machina.

    At this point I think a hastily deployed and utterly imploded Vegas line is probably for the best. The CAHSR Jerry intends to construct will prove a fiscal albatross around California’s neck and they will be forced to divest it.. Just maybe a quick fiasco will open some eyes in time.

    I consider Brown too far gone to be capable of reset.

    Andrew Reply:

    If and when you do a report on Altamont vs. Pacheco, which would be most welcome, I would be very interested in your comparison with this non-Altamont, non-Pacheco alignment, which would cut the LA-SJ time to well under two hours:
    https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=205242278980764848338.0004cee1ca9342ce961c8&msa=0&ll=36.487557,-120.973206&spn=1.243195,2.469177

    It approaches the San Andreas fault south of Paicines (at grade), but separated from it by a distance twice that of the Caltrain segment in Millbrae. It requires at least 10 miles of tunnels between Gilroy and Bakersfield, and tops out at roughly 520m altitude (climbing, perhaps too quickly, from 180m along I-5). The longer tunnel comes within about 10km of the San Andreas. No doubt it would not work exactly as drawn, but the Panoche Road corridor does offer two remarkably clear and well-aligned flat sections.

    Joey Reply:

    If you import into Google Earth you can actually generate an elevation profile and see where steep grades will require tunneling. There’s something odd about the way it calculates grades itself but it gives scales on both axes so you can easily figure out what 3.5% for instance looks like.

    Andrew Reply:

    Thanks, I will try to figure out how to do that. That said, if anyone has a screenshot of this they can post…

    Clem Reply:

    The grades in Google Earth are fine, but it will give you the linear distance along the terrain, not as the crow flies. On very steep relief, this is significantly longer. The terrain profiles used to generate my data were all extracted using the API, which spits out latitude, longitude and altitude points that can be computed on in a suitable environment, in my case Octave.

    Clem Reply:

    Do your own guest post, Robert’s a very nice host.

  20. Ted Judah
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 19:45
    #20

    The *real* weakness of Clem’s argument is the part that he omitted. (Quelle clever!)

    Sidestepped is any mention of how much REVENUE the two system would internalize. In Clem-landia, the HSR project is presumed to be a money-loser, so using the least amount of upfront capital is highly preferred. However, if you presume that in effect, someone, anyone, would be willing to take a concession for more than say, $1, then you have to consider the ramifications of a cheaper to build system that will realize a far lower rate of return.

    No matter how you slice it, cutting off three separate destinations (Bakersfield, Palmdale, and Las Vegas) isn’t going to add value to the worth of the system. Yes it will COST less, but investors/concessionaires are going to be concerned with return on investment not how much the government subsidized the project.

    Clem Reply:

    The CHSRA’s own ridership and revenue models do not bear this out. See Myth #11. Also, I never said HSR via Palmdale would make an operational loss. That being said, a private concessionaire is going to be less interested if the system makes $175 million/year less profit due to lost ticket revenue, increased maintenance cost, more energy use, and needless wear and tear on the trains.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and less interested in one that does not serve Las Vegas

    Clem Reply:

    Your Vegas obsession, shared by many others, is puzzling to me. Where in the CHSRA ridership and revenue forecasts is Vegas mentioned? Are you perhaps implying that these studies are flawed, and the entire California HSR venture flawed for not including Las Vegas?

    Andrew Reply:

    I suggest selectively responding based on the seriousness of the commenter. I am convinced that this is not the same person as the original “adirondacker”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Just because Las Vegas isn’t to your tastes doesn’t mean it isn’t to other people’s tastes.

    Private investors, the Federal Government for that matter, don’t have an obsession with spending money on Californians. The private investors don’t give flying leap about your citizenship, they care about whether or not your debit/credit card works. They don’t care if Las Vegas in in some place not as blessed as the the Golden State. And the two Senators from Nevada get the same amount of votes as the two Senators from California.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    hat being said, a private concessionaire is going to be less interested if the system makes $175 million/year less profit due to lost ticket revenue, increased maintenance cost, more energy use, and needless wear and tear on the trains.

    That statement is baseless. You serve fewer stations, yet you claim Tejon would produce lower ticket revenue. You rely on more aggressive viaducts to ford Tejon (including a six-mile long roller coaster track from the Valley floor to the summit) and then cite higher maintenance cost. You cite more energy use and wear and tear and then embrace an alignment that will require more electrical infrastructure in more hostile weather and deeper tunnels.

    You talk like you have never driven the 58 through Tehachapi or the Grapevine from SF to LA, but I don’t want to second guess you so fast, but it’s difficult to tell if you have seen enough of the state to know when to deviate from the modeling.

    Clem Reply:

    The slides state (with references) that Tejon would produce higher ticket revenue. The CHSRA’s own ridership and revenue reports show this.

    As to roller coasters, the southern mountain crossing is going to be spectacular. Few people realize how much more spectacular than anything you see in Spain or Japan. Have you seen the roller coaster track they are planning up Tehachapi? That one goes even higher, all the way up to 4073 feet. And there’s a second hill for even more amusement to cross the San Gabriels, inside a nice 7-mile tunnel.

    Maintenance cost scales with track-miles and also very strongly with train-miles… these 220 mph trains are very expensive depreciating assets that consume a not-insignificant amount of energy.

    The Tejon alignment will not require any more electrical infrastructure; read again Myth #6.

    And hostile weather? Why are you even mentioning this if there is more snow and ice up on Tehachapi? It doesn’t matter either way because the trains will not be particularly affected by it… HSR will continue zipping right through even when I-5 is closed.

    Sometimes I wonder if people even read the stuff that I wrote…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Some predictions foresee less snowfall in LA region:

    http://blogs.kcrw.com/whichwayla/2013/06/climate-change-may-mean-less-snow-for-socal-mountains

    Presumably this would up fire danger. The Tejon alignment is closer to urban fire fighting resources.

    And shorter translates to a smaller window of opportunity for bad things to happen.

    Clem Reply:

    Speaking of bad things happening, I didn’t highlight how important it is to provide good emergency access to the right of way. The proximity of I-5 makes it easier to bring 50 ambulances and 20 fire trucks to whatever evacuation may be underway at some tunnel portal. That’s the whole reason my Tejon alignment crosses over I-5 halfway up the Grapevine.

    Joey Reply:

    Isn’t it mostly just a function of maximum tunnel length?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Clem, I did bring this general argument up a number of times.

    I am certain Van Ark was aware of every point you have made and perhaps a few we have yet to learn.

    Brown so far is such a disappointment. And I met him once at at a party before he became governor the first time and was quite impressed. I just wish he would wake up and at least offer a real response that did not just come from the handlers and toadies.

    Clem Reply:

    Somewhat. It is possible to do the climb up the Grapevine to Lebec with a single tunnel about 7 miles long (similar to the one planned south of Palmdale). This tunnel is shown in the CHSRA’s I-5 study in figure 5.6-2.

    Clem Reply:

    Speaking of roller coasters… fun with simulations:

    Scenario #1: you’re blasting northbound past Lebec at 180 mph just as you start down the 3.5% down the Grapevine in a sleek AGV train, and all your brakes suddenly fail inoperative. Runaway train! It turns out the train will accelerate to 260 mph during the 16-mile down hill, and that’s with the open-air drag equation. Tunnel drag is a bit higher. So let’s say maybe 250 mph. Probably not enough to wreck, even if some of the curves are traversed at uncomfortably high speeds. The train is still coasting at 60 mph by the time it reaches Shafter.

    Scenario #2: you’ve built the Tehachapi HSR alignment to Palmdale and you wish to extend the diesel Amtrak San Joaquin to LA, for whatever interim reason. The train (1 diesel + 5 cars) leaves Bakersfield and heads for the mountains. It accelerates to 100 mph before the hill starts to win. The speed drops to about 35 mph for the long slog to the summit. The Antelope Valley is crossed at a nice 110 mph (the locomotive’s top speed), with arrival at Palmdale 68 minutes later. For comparison, an AGV does the same trip in 29 minutes.

  21. Clem
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 19:47
    #21

    Thanks for everybody’s comments. I wanted to make a few general points.

    (1) I meant no offense in the last sentence of the post. As amply demonstrated in over 200 comments, there are folks whose beliefs are so deeply held that they are hermetic to rational argument. And that’s OK.

    (2) I recognize that the politics are very important, and that Palmdale deserves better connections to the rest of the state. I believe it is possible to establish those connections sooner and with better adapted solutions than HSR, and I described in my slides why HSR service to Palmdale will probably suck.

    (3) I am amazed by the sheer number of references to Las Vegas and other far-flung destinations. Prop 1A was about linking California cities with HSR. Las Vegas was never part of the package we were sold in 2008, and those who now advocate for a Las Vegas connection should realize that they are going far outside the scope of Prop 1A and the 2012 business plan… certainly that is a far greater excursion than simply suggesting a realignment of the southern mountain crossing. We seem not to agree on what is being built and why.

    (4) The key to HSR in California is attracting private capital, and large amounts of it. I think this can be done, but not with the Antelope Valley route. I have laid out why I think this is the case. I believe HSR is financially doomed as currently planned, and I care enough to suggest an alternative.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Las Vegas is outside of the scope. So is San Jose to Sacramento.

    jimsf Reply:

    Well, I see your point but disagree and I feel stongly that

    I can’t imaging a situation where someone would make a travel decision based on 10 minutes difference.

    I think that the high desert region, which is gowing to continue to grow, deserves to be on the mainline.

    I think the advantage of the possible xwest connection + the population+ the commute upgrade is = or > the minutes saved via tejon.

    I also don’t see that part of LA county being left out as being politically realistic no matter the technicals.

    Further, I don’t believe the system should be handed over to a private operator for profit. Another case of private profit / public debt. As a taxpayer I am happy to pay for building the system but I want to own it, not hand it over to some private company so they can suck their own profit out of my investment. That goes for a lot of things not just hsr. I believe it should be built by the people, owned by the people and operated by the people for the benefit of the people.

    I believe in an hsr system that serves as many places as possible, and which serves as a way of bringing economic investment to parts of the state that have historical gotten the short end of the stick.

    And if the trade off is a few minutes of travel time its well worth it, especially when they can build a schedule that includes express trains sf-ls nonstop- that can make the trip in a reasonable time with unrivaled comfort and ample amenities- which can be the case if the operator so chooses.

    But thats my philosophical point of view on it. Its why I voted and how I read and envisioned the end product prior to voting.

    VBobier Reply:

    Actually according to the EIR/EIS pdf above it’s either 11.1 or 11.2 minutes, but you’re right, most wouldn’t care or notice, they’d be too busy watching the terrain zip by to care. Shock and Awe HSR style.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “Further, I don’t believe the system should be handed over to a private operator for profit. Another case of private profit / public debt. As a taxpayer I am happy to pay for building the system but I want to own it, not hand it over to some private company so they can suck their own profit out of my investment. That goes for a lot of things not just hsr. I believe it should be built by the people, owned by the people and operated by the people for the benefit of the people.”

    These government run operations are not primarily for the benefit of the “people”; they are dedicated to the benefit of the staff – that is the managers and the operating and maintenance unions. Consider the exorbitant cost of BART and Muni – and these will only bloat even more with the imminent BART strike. 40 no-shows. The only reason this is being tolerated is both have managed to create and erect monopolies and sweet political connections and that the Bay Area is much richer than other locales. Poor SEPTA cannot even afford to repair the Norristown bridge.

    But the DogLeg and Deserted Xprss will enjoy no such monopoly nor political lock-in. Air and auto competition cannot be quashed and technical developments could quite possibly make these two even more competitive. Misconceived and poorly planned hsr will bleed red ink to the point the State will have to privatize. Look at Canada and Mexico, both richer than California. The NdeM and the Queretaro electrification just disappeared – so much for your nationalized, staterun rr.

    And Brazil, perennial country of the future and putative model for Jerry-ismo, is rioting.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Actually, @syn, most private corporations also seem to be run for the benefit of upper management not the customers nor the lower-echelon employees. The fact that occasionally this aligns with either customer service or providing some benefits for the peons is happenstance.

    synonymouse Reply:

    True, and some of the money goes to the stockholders, occasionally. Why else would a capital-rich company like Apple sell stock, except to raise billions to cash out upper-echelon execs and hush money dividends to stockholders when it is already sitting on 150bil, plenty for all the R&D and M&R imaginable?

    But somewhere along the line the Apples, etc. have to produce something and sell something. But no matter how badly BART and Muni non-perform they get off scott free. No penalties whatsoever. Gravy train.

    The maintenance dumbos at Muni could not even give Lee a functioning “hydrid” bus for the press show and tell. These have to be unusually complex vehicles – not something you want to turn over to the 13 undocumented no-show bunch. Recipe for missed runs.

    jimsf Reply:

    bart and muni provide a public service to millions of bay area residents, both those who use the systems, and those who benefit from the cars being taken off the roads bridges and parking spaces. They also provide a livable wage for workers versus a poverty wage. Would you rather be a bart station agent or a walmart greeter?

    Those wages go directly back into the local economy in the form of rent mortages shopping and dining.

    Andrew Reply:

    I would rather be a walmart greeter, because I would know I am creating value for people. The average bart station agent diminishes value. Work that does not create value contributes to impoverishing everyone and should not exist.

    jimsf Reply:

    how on gods green earth does a walmart greeter create value? I find them to be an annoyance.
    The bart agent at least dispenses information, solves problems for customers, assists them with ticketing, and performs routine maintenance on machines. Ive been help far more times over the years by bart agents than ever by a walmart greeter.

    please.

    just stop it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Wizards of Bentonville have decreed that greeters are the most wonderful thing ever, how dare you utter the heresy that they aren’t.

    Andrew Reply:

    Businesses depend on creating value to survive. If a position does not maximize value, they will eventually alter or eliminate it. The market is a much better judge of whether a job creates value than a politically biased discussion between you and me.

    jimsf Reply:

    yes, the market has done a fabulous job.

    Andrew Reply:

    The market is not a sufficient system to realize our most important values. But it IS our best TOOL for creating value from work. We must INTEGRATE it as we transcend it. If we simply oppose it, we go backwards rather than forwards, and defeat the very goals we think it overlooks. You meant your last comment sarcastically, but in fact it could not be more true, when you compare the outcomes achieved by using the market with the outcomes of despising the market. Don’t just despise it; use it to its fullest capacity and then go beyond it to compensate for its shortcomings.

    jimsf Reply:

    gobbledygook.

    Andrew Reply:

    OK, you win.

    swing hanger Reply:

    I don’t know about BART (which seems to be a popular whipping boy here, dirty carpets, lack of passing tracks and broad gauge notwithstanding), but where I live, you need at least one station staffer, to handle ticketing issues, help the wheelchair user who needs assistance, and to provide first response in emergencies. The key point is let the machines do the tasks they do best- routine tasks like dispensing tickets to 95% of customers, and have the minimum number of human staff for SAFE operation of the service. Safety is paramount, and that’s something you can’t put a price on.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Over here, stations are unstaffed, and people in wheelchairs seem to be able to take the elevators and board the trains unaided. But traditionally there are no faregates here either. The newly-installed faregates are going to have a wide gate per station for wheelchairs; it’s stupid and multiple people will be able to go through on one ticket, but that’s a separate discussion.

    Joey Reply:

    @Alon: A huge amount of money is spent worrying about the fact that someone somewhere might be getting away with something. Things like multiple people going through a wide faregate at once probably cost more to fix than the revenue lost by letting it happen.

    jonathan Reply:

    Joey, exactly the same argument — your argument — applies to having faregates at all.
    (Except in the very highest passenger-density environments, like Tokyo subways)

    Peter Reply:

    So, Future-California is now an amalgamation of Greece, Mexico, France (the parts with significant social unrest), Cyprus, and now Brazil? Did I miss any?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Australia and Canada also come to mind for ecological comparisons and Stockton for everything else.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Brazil riots were started in response to fare increases and spread to discontent over a collapsing infrastructure.

    http://ireport.cnn.com/docs/DOC-988431

    In the US a major factor in high fares is bloated compensation for house unions and lax management. In re BART and Muni, start by imposing a wage and benefit freeze and begin firing employees who abuse sick leave. Make room for some new blood.

    My local Walmart does not have greeters anymore.

    There is no known cure for rampant and egregious stupidity. That’s why we need to build out the line to Sin City post haste so the foamers can experience reality. Some mistakes just have to happen because those intractibles in authority are blindered or impaired. Ergo BART broad gauge despite many protests. Bechtel was never punished for its gross incompetence and betrayal of public trust.

    joe Reply:

    (1) I meant no offense in the last sentence of the post. As amply demonstrated in over 200 comments, there are folks whose beliefs are so deeply held that they are hermetic to rational argument. And that’s OK.

    One might interpret the 200 comments as evidence the last sentence was offensive.

    Joey Reply:

    Of they were all negative comments, sure.

    Joey Reply:

    *If

    Andrew Reply:

    He made a bit of a mess of the last sentence but let’s cut him some slack.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Hey look, I’m sure that all HSR manufacturer/operator consortia are just like SNCF. I mean, God forbid you draw the conclusion that Japan, Korea, China, Taiwan, Sweden, Germany, Spain, Switzerland, Italy or Canada might actually want an alignment different that Allah and His Most Excellent Prophets Denis Doute and Roelef van Ark.

    No, can’t be. Since the French wanted it a certain way, that means ALL PRIVATE CAPITAL in the world dries up and never comes back for CAHSR.

    Clem’s next post: The Truth about Altamont!!!!

    Clem Reply:

    Show us the private capital, Ted.

    And that’s a fine idea for a next post…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You planning on writing checks?

    Clem Reply:

    I already write checks to the government every week, thank you very much

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    so do the people in Antelope Valley. The private investors with big fat checkbooks aren’t concerned with 12 minutes, they are concerned with how many passengers they can get warming seats, going across Tejon misses 2.5 million people.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The private investors with big fat checkbooks aren’t concerned with 12 minutes

    It has to be said: you are a truly, truly, truly stupid individual.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @adirondacker12800:

    Personally, I think going across the Tejon Pass near I-5 is a stupid idea solely because of the three fault junction right there. But, there’s nothing in the proposed routes through the Tejon pass that precludes a wye at the top for a branch heading into the Antelope Valley via SR-138 to serve 2.5 million people and Vegas.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and the horse too Richard

    swing hanger Reply:

    With the political clusterf**k that is CAHSR and national passenger rail policy, no private investor is going to pony up, regardless of the route selected (Tejon, Altamont, I-5 et al…)

    jonathan Reply:

    +1

    jimsf Reply:

    That why it should remain in public ownership and operation

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Okay, let’s talk about Japan, where Shinkansen lines do go through cities at full or almost-full speed. The prefectural governments prefer that lines go through them, and the lines that the national government built go through intermediate cities, but the privately-funded Chuo Shinkansen, not so much. JR Central chose to build a straight-line route from Tokyo to Nagoya, and is not going to build intermediate stations unless prefectural governments pay for their construction. Expect the Japanese government to behave similarly when funding a line in California.

    jimsf Reply:

    if noise is a problem through city centers just dampen it with insulation or enclose the tracks for those critical stretches.

    jonathan Reply:

    You cannot be serious.

    jimsf Reply:

    i am.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I doubt this would be the snap you envision.

    1. Some vibration would still be communicated thru the ground.
    2. Aerial structures would propagate noise regardless of enclosure and/or “insulation” of indeterminate nature.
    3. Enclosures would require maintenance, constant surveillance for damage, and would attract graffiti.
    4. Enclosures would definitely produce air pressure phenomena at high speeds that could prove problematical and themselves require “mitigation”.

    Peter Reply:

    Agreed. Why on earth would you want to build above-ground tunnels? That is officially insane.

    Derek Reply:

    Tubes would be much cheaper. Walls would be cheaper still.

    Peter Reply:

    At-grade or bypass of Bakersfield even cheaper yet!

    synonymouse Reply:

    HSR does not come cheaper than down the I-5 median in the Valley. We own the ROW and it is a matter or re-channelization and raising the overpasses.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Not to mention “free” security patrols aka the CHP up and down the freeway 24/7.

    Not to mention “free” effective freeway billboard advertising, grosso modo illegal for everybody else.

    John Bacon Reply:

    There are surer and cheaper ways than to erect sound-walls, enclosures etc. in order to reduce CHSR noise to nearly all California residents near many proposed Central Valley routes between the Tejon Pass and the approach to Gilroy. A rail-route close to the great circle path between these two points is not only the shortest route between these two points but this route also happens to have the lowest intervening population density along any plausible fast rail-right-of-way between LA and San Francisco. This route is at least 50 miles shorter than the proposed connection from Tejon Pass through Bakersfield and Fresno to Gilroy. A West San Joaquin Valley right-of-way avoids the soft soils and high water tables that support transportation facilities along the Central San Joaquin Valley. Such unstable ground conditions amplify potential earthquake damage to structures supported by such liquefaction-during earthquakes-prone foundations. Long viaducts supported by deep foundations can mitigate soft footing problems but this approach is expensive compared to open cuts through rolling hills. Above-grade height viaducts also tend to broadcast train noise. On the other hand there are few residents living within earshot of I-5 and SR 152 which are close to a practical San Joaquin West Valley rail shortcut. Sound-walls and tunnels for noise mitigation along this parallel to I-5 & SR 152 shortcut would be unnecessary.

  22. bixnix
    Jun 17th, 2013 at 21:59
    #22

    Thank you for the study. It certainly brings forth a lot of good discussion, too. There is probably no single correct route, just ones that best address all the factors in HSR, such as routing, ridership, legalities, money, and that mysterious and unpredictable art known as politics. Your study and its route certainly has merit.

  23. jimsf
    Jun 18th, 2013 at 09:38
    #23

    HSR has nothing to do with sprawl. sprawl is the jurisdiction of city and county planning departments. they are the ones who make the growth decisions based on supply and demand and public input.

  24. Realist
    Jun 18th, 2013 at 11:05
    #24

    I’m surprised more people aren’t amused by the inherent contradiction of the two main criticisms of Clem’s conclusion that Tejon is better. Most of the criticisms can be lumped into two categories: (1) it’s bad to leave out Palmdale and not support the high desert region and (2) the Bakersfield station promotes urban sprawl which is bad.

    Promoting Palmdale and growth in the high desert, however, is promoting the urban sprawl of Los Angeles. I see little need to promote sprawl in the high desert so people can take an expensively subsided train to the Los Angeles basin for work (which why Palmdale is politically supported). I think we’ve already done enough in this country to subsidize urban sprawl. If, alternatively, people want to add Palmdale to the route to add people, it seems that there are far cheaper ways to do that by expanding to other cities already in the Los Angeles basin (e.g. you could probably get to Long Beach for the extra cost of going to Palmdale).

    The only criticism I’ve seen that made sense to me is that maybe (and I’m doubtful) increased revenue from including Palmdale and a very uncertain Las Vegas connection in the future will increase revenue and profits enough to make the Palmdale detour worth it. Otherwise, it’s hard to disagree with Clem’s PowerPoint unless you just want more HSR everywhere no matter the cost (and off subject, while the train tunnel to Bulnes in spain is awesome, the town has 34 people and not that many tourists; ultimately it’s just not possible to provide service to everyone).

    As a final note, it’s not like Bakersfield is having or wants a downtown renaissance that a HSR station will make flourish.

    jimsf Reply:

    sprawl has nothing to do with hsr. sprawl is decided by city and county planning departments.

    EJ Reply:

    And LA exurbs are some of the worst examples of sprawl in the country. What, do you think people are moving to Palmdale to live in high-rise townhomes?

    jimsf Reply:

    but it has nothing to do with high speed rail. Those are the homes that are built because those are the homes people want to buy. In fact I hope to buy one myself soon. ( not in palmdale, but somewhere in cali)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are the houses people buy because it’s a choice between a McMansion or living under a bridge. IF all that is being offered is single family houses on quarter acre or larger lots that’s what people will buy.

    jimsf Reply:

    thats not true. people want large homes with yards. the demand is there. if people wanted something else, developers would build whatever would sell.

    Joey Reply:

    Well then obviously someone wants condos in Mission Bay…

    Joey Reply:

    Oh right … those aren’t real people. Sorry.

    jimsf Reply:

    those are wealthy people who can afford 500k, for a tiny space. Singles, corporate types etc. The ca median income is 57k. Household median income is 61k.

    jimsf Reply:

    in places like manhattan and san francisco, there are enough wealthy people to support a market for high end luxury condos.

    Joey Reply:

    So all the middle income families who might want to live in SF (and believe me, they do exist) simply get the finger because someone wants to preserve the “character” of parkmerced?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, why not? The cost of building a condo in New York is $210/ft^2 (link) and the cost in San Francisco is similar. It’s only fair that developers get to sell said condo for four times that price. If you’re not for monopoly rents, you’re for communism. Affordable city housing is just an elitist conspiracy to make Americans more amenable to collectivism anyway.

    jimsf Reply:

    it doesnt matter how many units you build in sf the price will never come down just like it has never come down in nyc where building units is a free for all.

    joe Reply:

    Alon needs to earn more or adjust expectations rather than complain about zoning and prices in highly desirable places. Ave salary for an IT professional in SV is 170k. Post doc or research aid doesn’t cut it.
    Shit’s been this way since humans began to build cities and mint coins.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Building in New York is not a free for all. Not even in Manhattan. In Chelsea, NIMBY complaints about out-of-scale constructions result in new buildings that actually have less floor area ratio than the nearby buildings in the same neighborhood.

    There are only so many assholes making $170,000 a year who think that making housing affordable to the peons is communism. After cities exhaust the supply of people in the top 5% of the income distribution, they end up building for the rest of the population.

    jimsf Reply:

    yep no one help us when we were young and wanted to live in SF. it was take it or leave it so we figured out how to make do.

    joe Reply:

    There are only so many assholes making $170,000 a year who think that making housing affordable to the peons is communism.

    They don’t care about your problems. It’s their chance to live in SF and they can afford it.
    If you want to live in highly desirable places you have to manage expectations.

    They built MUNI for the labor and then BART. Take a short ride in from Oakland and work in SF or ride in from Richmond or Heyward.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I know they don’t. And I don’t care about their gated community when deciding what to tell my friends to vote on when someone proposes to tax them 70% and integrate their public schools with those of East Palo Alto. It’s perverse that you need to be this rich to live in the city. (Or to be an Old Economy Steve kind of person.) Private jets actually cost $40 million to build. San Francisco apartments are surprisingly affordable to build – there’s just a monopoly supported by those rich people.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Go down to the building permit office and ask them where you can build townhouses with 20 units to an acre. One bedroom with utility and garage space on the first floor and three bedroom on the second and third floors.

    jimsf Reply:

    ok whats your point? In nearby santa maria there are several single family projects and townhouse projects in the pipeline..

    Andrew Reply:

    This one doesn’t make points.

    jimsf Reply:

    There are also plenty of condo and townhouse options available in every city in california by the way and they do not offer the space that a family wants and for the price plus HOAs, people can get a house with a yard. Price is the driving factor. Safe schools away from urban areas is also a factor. Room for the pool, bbq, two cars, all the camping junk, and the rv. just regular homes

    Joey Reply:

    I’m pretty sure that given better schools (a government matter) and better prices (a zoning matter) there would be a market for family living in cities. It isn’t really a question of what people want or what developers want to build. Huge houses and lawns are expensive and time-consuming to maintain. Gas is expensive and your kids needing you to chauffeur them around everywhere is a pain.

    jimsf Reply:

    still, americans like their space. and you can never get prices in places like sf down to an affordable 150k. Its not going to happen.

    And I have to wonder why its a good idea to serve the 300k people in the livermore valley while taking the 2 million in the santa clara valley off the mainline but its not ok to serve the 400k in the antelope valley. Last I checked there was more sprawl in the livermore valley than the antelope valley ever dreamed of.

    Joey Reply:

    Tehachapi bypasses Santa Clarita. Tejon doesn’t.

    jimsf Reply:

    um, the tehachapi route goes right through the city of santa clarita and the sf valley station choice could be a close as 8 miles from there. santa clarita doesn’t want hsr. palmdale does, livermore doesnt, san jose does, tejon ranch doesn’t.

    i mean really. you know everyone has an opinion.

    Peter Reply:

    @ jimsf

    Tehachapi does not give Santa Clarita a station, Tejon might.

    Joey Reply:

    The Tehachapi alignment skirts the Santa Clarita region, mostly following SR-14. The Tejon alignment has several options for a centrally located station.

    And Bakersfield doesn’t seem to want HSR. How does that fit into your argument?

    jimsf Reply:

    I dont see any plans for a santa clarita station anywhere do you? and if they really want one, they can ask for one to be included off the 14 or they can use one at san fernando. the plan we voted for had stations at palmdale and sylmar originally.

    jimsf Reply:

    we are talking about 11 minutes to get access to another half million people. You are likely to spend more than 11 minutes getting your latte at Peets on your way to the train so obviously its not critical.

    joe Reply:

    There is an underlying assertion a critical ridership threshold is dependent on 10-15 minutes. it is opinion based AFAICT.

    The bill for constructing the system is sent to the general fund for payment.

    The bill to operate and expand is paid by HSR’s operating revenue.

    The rules defining success favor designs that generate operating revenue.

    While not part of the design criteria – designs that can be expanded or connected to other regions shouldn’t be ignored – again the cost to build is not part of the systems responsibility.

    Those are the rules defining success and it is best to not confuse success criteria with personal preferences or interests.

    Joey Reply:

    It would be interesting to see a study on the ridership impacts of the additional 12 minutes vs the additional 500k people. I don’t think any of us really have the tools to answer that question.

    joe Reply:

    http://la.curbed.com/archives/2013/05/bullet_train_could_be_a_problem_for_santa_clarita_home_sales.php

    and

    Meanwhile, Santa Clarita city officials say they remain hopeful they can convince authorities to tunnel the train underground through Sand Canyon to avoid the problems cited by realtors and homeowners. Councilwoman Marsha McLean noted local hardships during the realtors’ meeting.

    They sound excited by the prospect of a HSR subway. Can we add the tunnel to the physics model?

    Joey Reply:

    That’s on the Tehachapi alignment, which can’t avoid cutting through a couple of residential tracts. The I-5 alignment mostly avoids that issue. Look at Clem’s map.

    Clem Reply:

    The Sand Canyon tunnel is precisely why I stated on slide 15 that the tunnel length totals do not include NIMBY tunnels. The only tunnels that I added up are those imposed by the interaction of topography and rail alignment constraints.

    joe Reply:

    Oh yes you were clear. NIMBYs were not part of the solution.

    Unless we want to go all Keystone Pipeline and have a foreign company run roughshod over CA, we’ll need to include what’s politically achievable.

    And before anyone mentions CARRD – just read the Palo Alto/Meno Park news papers online to get calibrated at how outraged residents become at any development. They scream even when the City unanimously approves a project.

    For example:

    Contentious Maybell development wins approval
    City Council green-lights controversial proposal that includes 60 units of senior housing, 12 single-family homes
    http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/show_story.php?id=30021
    The council’s vote concluded one of the city’s most rancorous zoning disputes in years, a schism that brought hundreds of residents to the City Council over two meetings last week and that led the council to delay a decision on both occasions.

    12 homes, 60 senior units and Palo Alto is BEHIND in meeting it’s required housing growth with the risk of losing state funding for non-compliance. Senior housing is the least disruptive.

    jimsf Reply:

    and sprawl in california is much denser than in other states because single family home lot sizes are much smaller here than they are in the south, texas and midwest.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Sprawl in the desert parts of California is Texas-bad, though.

    VBobier Reply:

    In the Desert lot sizes can vary, in the county areas their larger, in the cities the lots are smaller, like 1/2 acre or less in the cities, more than 1/2 an acre in the county areas, though there are exceptions.

    Derek Reply:

    Promoting Palmdale and growth in the high desert, however, is promoting the urban sprawl of Los Angeles.

    False. Sprawl is low density residential. HSR stations attract high density, transit-oriented development.

    Joey Reply:

    Proof? Particularly in Palmdale’s case there’s so much open space that they can extend outward for a long while and still be within a short driving distance of the station. If Palmdale was getting serious about mixed use rather than tract homes then maybe it would be different but that’s not happening.

    jimsf Reply:

    Its not HSRs fault that its not happening.

    J. Wong Reply:

    That’s true, but putting HSR there will enable more sprawl.

    joe Reply:

    Placing HSR in undeveloped Bakersfield City limits obligates the City to build infrastructure and provide services to the station.

    Gilroy noted in its recommendation to the CAHSRA that the proposed greenfield station NE of town, not recommended, would cost the CIty tens of millions in infrastructure.

    jimsf Reply:

    the growth is going to happen with or without HSR.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    HSR stations attract high density, transit-oriented development.

    Lost teeth attract tooth fairies.

    joe Reply:

    HSR blogs attract lunatics.

    Gilroy’s already planned some possible high density transit-oriented development for our downtown.

    Joey Reply:

    HSR blogs attract lunatics.

    Said the kettle to the pot.

    Gilroy’s already planned some possible high density transit-oriented development for our downtown.

    It’s a good start, but has Gilroy taken any steps to stop outward expansion?

    J. Wong Reply:

    HSR stations attract high density, transit-oriented development.

    A non-snark response is that well-designed and situated HSR stations will attract high density TOD.

    The counter-example to this is Bakersfield, who have pretty much decided that they don’t want high density TOD, which is why they want the station in a greenfield so it won’t be high density or have any transit oriented development at all.

    J. Wong Reply:

    The reality of it is that Fresno is going to become the gateway to the Sierras and attract significant tourist traffic while Bakersfield will not, i.e., no one besides residents (or relatives) will want to go there. The end result is that Fresno will attract more business and better paying jobs that will raise their GDP.

    It’s ironic that @synonymouse argues that viaducts through central Bakersfield will attract the poor (and vagrancy) while the reality that by choosing to situate HSR outside the city will keep housing costs low and do more to attract the poor than viaducts ever would.

    joe Reply:

    Where will the Authority place the maintenance facility? I doubt in Kern or Kings Co.

    Andrew Reply:

    I would like to see them place maintenance facilities in otherwise station-less towns with high potential as long-distance commuting bases, and let the facility double as a barebones station for several commuter trains that feed trains into the system in the morning and then pull them back out in the evening. These towns would only have service at the beginning and end of the day, but would at least be on the system, would not have to deal with trains blowing thru town at high speed, and would get a bunch of good jobs for locals. For example, you could put one at the NW corner of Hollister (pop. 35,000), 11+ miles from Gilroy Station on an old legacy line. It’s a short walk to downtown, which could develop some nice medium-density housing for people who commute on HSR to San Jose (2 stops) or further up. The Authority could pay for the facility and Hollister/San Benito could pay for 11 miles of track to Gilroy (regular speed?). Vacaville (pop. 95,000) is a North Bay analogue (in my fantasy world where there’s an SF-Sac line). Similar locations would be Lodi (pop. 62,000, commute to Sacramento), Hemet (pop. 80,000, commute to LA), or Tijuana (pop. 1.3m, commute to SD).

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ J. Wong

    I fail to follow your reasoning. Low housing costs are precisely what poor people need and what they seek. The last thing you want, tho, is high rise as its sterile, out of human scale, threatening ambience quite commonly deteriorates to crime-ridden. These aren’t luxury hotels. All things considered, ordinary detached houses even in a ghetto are muchmore inherently liveable and safe than a blinking skyscraper. Little kids can simply walk out and fall over the edge.of a high rise housing block. Natural born Scampias.

    Viaducts, especially massive urban ones, are slumdog dystopian pure and simple. Even Hollywood recognizes this intuitively. Check out the elevated hsr in “Hunger Games”. Particularly noisy, the writers mujst have experienced BART. Dark and ominous with plenty of places for lowlifes, junkies and muggers to lurk, viaducts are.

    Andrew Reply:

    Crime mostly results from culture; high rises have little to do with it. East Asia is full of high rise dwellings. Compton is full of single-family homes.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And if they built high rise housing blocks in Compton, I assure you from experience all over the country, they would have to dynamite them in short order.

    In the US you need wealthy people in high rise housing to keep it from deteriorating.

    As I recall some of the HK housing blocks have serious crime issues.

    Andrew Reply:

    “As I recall some of the HK housing blocks have serious crime issues” – also attributable to culture, if you examine it more closely. East Asia is not without its own pre-high-rise traditions of crime.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Serious by HK standards, which aren’t the same as American standards. There’s also crime in (mostly low-rise, single-family) Tokyo – just less than in American cities.

    What leads to crime isn’t high rises. It’s demolishing intact neighborhoods and forcibly moving all their residents to a new environment where the community ties are weak.

    Andy Chow Reply:

    Many of the HK public housing complexes are very livable: http://goo.gl/maps/JVdZR

    People can walk safely on the streets and there are plenty of parks and playgrounds.

    Also many middle class and upper class folks live in highrises. The difference is that middle/upper class highrises are built by private developers and highrises for the low income are built by government. Other than that government units are smaller, they all feature shops, parks, playgrounds below, some type of transit (bus if not rail), and schools nearby.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, most likely Fresno is going to be a bustling city like Lille, and Fresno County is going to be a bustling region like Nord-Pas de Calais.

    Brian Reply:

    This is not true. As Kern COG and Bakersfield pointed out at the HSR board meeting, they have never said they do not want a station downtown. They have said they want the Authority to go back and look at multiple alignments including bypasses, but have not said they prefer a bypass.

    Ten years after picking downtown they want another several years to look at more alignments without saying want they prefer, or even committing to ever pick a locally preferred alignment and station option.

    Kern COG is planning for TOD and a commuter rail system centered on the downtown Amtrak station as well. http://www.kerncog.org/publications/rail-studies
    Looks like downtown next to Amtrak would be well-situated.

    Joey Reply:

    No, they’re just opposed to every alignment except the one which imposed a 115 mph speed restriction, and that one they’re ambivalent about.

    jimsf Reply:

    majority of trains will stop in BFD anyway.

    Brian Reply:

    And that is the one that Authority staff recommended to go ahead with. The 115 mph speed restrictions solves the whole noise impacts problem too.

    The point is, opposing current alignments is not the same as SUPPORTING a bypass. They are clear that they have not endorsed a bypass, nor opposed a downtown station.

    Clem Reply:

    Taking the ‘H’ out of HSR. That’s the staff recommendation. Authority members, please prepare your rubber stamps!

    jimsf Reply:

    The trip times will be plenty fast enough for everyone. relax. People who are worried about can fly but they will be missing out on the comfort and productivity. Once they discover that the not only will train be more convenient and more enjoyable, and that the train can pick them up closer to their origin with more options, and drop them closer to their destination with more options ( not just tbt and laus but tbt to bur or sjc to ana etc they will drop the airlines in a heartbeat. 11 minutes and all.

    Clem Reply:

    Take a clue from the French. Two-hour lunches, savoir-vivre, and yet they run 200 mph trains that avoid downtowns and do not under any circumstance slow down for anything until they get to where they are going. If the French had your attitude their HSR would be the abject failure that California is headed for.

    swing hanger Reply:

    The French approach to HSR operations is indeed running at high speeds for extended periods, which is good for nonstop services or limited stop services (and this suits the geography of France very well). However, it is not the only service pattern that is effective and generates profits for the operator- there is also one of running trainsets with high power to weight ratio with high acceleration as well as tilt, which is suited for services with numerous stops, as well as speed restrictions. You run trainsets and services matched to the geographic and market realities of the area in question.

    Clem Reply:

    All the simulations I showed you use the highest power-to-weight ratio available on the market today. It does not get any better. Even the Ferrari of trains loses 12 minutes in the Antelope Valley.

    jimsf Reply:

    ITS TWELVE FREAKIN MINUTES for gods sake.
    omg. Im going to stab myself in the head with a pencil. I cant even take this blog anymore.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    It’s 7.5% of the legally required time. It’s two additional stops.

    jimsf Reply:

    ok so. the only people who might possibly even give a crap about 12 mintues would most likely be some tbt-laus business folks- so all you have to do is give them a couple of peak hour true express trains.. as in no stops at sfo or sjc or fno just depart tbt and go all the way to laus without stopping. skipping sjc and fno should save at least 6 of the 12 minutes.

    jimsf Reply:

    its not two additional stops. its the stops that were part of the plan when we voted. and the train doesn’t have to make any of the stops.

    Maximizing the infrastructure investment means serving as many of the populations as possible with local service and interim city pairs, maximizing the avail city pairs, and still being able to provide express service for those who need it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Even the Ferrari of trains loses 12 minutes in the Antelope Valley.

    And generates how many trips?

    Paul Druce Reply:

    1. There is a legal requirement to meet 2:40 LA-SF and the Authority is currently unlikely to meet that requirement; Tejon makes that significantly more likely.
    2. It allows you to run trains at Palmdale express speeds while also serving Bakersfield and Fresno.

    Andrew Reply:

    jimsf, if 12 extra minutes is no big deal, then why can’t AV folks just ride a quick train to sylmar and transfer to hsr? We keep saying that they WILL be connected to HSR, and you keep ignoring it. You want no delay for them and delay for everybody else.

    jimsf Reply:

    are you going to include high speed rail from the antelope valley to the san fernando valley? and if you are, then you might as well build baker-palmdale.

    but, if you can include a victorvill-palmdale- sylmar high speed line that gets the high desert folks to slymar in say 20 minutes from victor and 15 from palmdale, then Id go for that.

    of course, even if you could promise that, you still have the issue of the time you waste trying to re align things. Its bad enough that I will never see an hsr ride from sf to la in my lifetime, thanks a lot, but if you try to make these changes now, with the string of lawsuits to follow, including lawsuites from la county and palmdale and all the new nimbys along tejon and santa clarita, you aren’t going to ride hsr in your lifetimes either I promise you that.

    quit screwing with stuff and get them damn thing built.

    Joey Reply:

    Weirdly enough, I don’t think any delays to the project are the result of blog comments.

    Andrew Reply:

    jimsf, don’t think about creating a system for where people happen to live now; think about creating a context in which future people will have the most valuable overall set of choices. An AV detour downgrades that overall set of choices, on net.

    The key is to imagine that you’re just trying to create an ideal bullet-train system from scratch without regard to the way things happen to have developed based on cars (which make it logical to spread population out like shot, rather than lining it up like a bullet’s path). Start from the idea that the future settlement pattern will be different from the present one in any case.

    bixnix Reply:

    It would cost megabucks to build a good quick AV route plus Tejon. I’m guessing billions on top of Tejon alone. It might be more expensive than Tehachapi.

    jimsf Reply:

    give me this and ill give you tejon

    and thats xwest thru at 150 all the way and includes barstow.

    bixnix Reply:

    Option 1: Altamont and Tejon are selected, bringing it realistically bring it under 2:40. Shared sacrifice.

    Option 2: Go with Tejon and make Reid happy. Use Altamont, but mitigate San Jose’s loss by promising it that at least half of all SF bound trains stop there, give it other quality of service guarantees, and build them a nice new train station. Take the money saved from Pacheco and use it on Tehachapi. Will that get under 2:40?

    Option 3: Put the blinders on and build as planned. When we get to the end of phase 2, we can act surprised and add a phase 3 – Build a Tejon route with I-5.

    Clem Reply:

    There is no Option 3. Option 3 is run out of money before anything useful is completed.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Please, folks, pay attention to what Clem is saying about financing this scheme.

    This is a statewide project, not pertaining to LA and SF alone, as the Cheerleaders are wont to say. The downside of this observation is that the State cannot spend endlessly and compulsively on animal faith the way the City and LA do. Examples, WillieBridge in the north and Wilshire subway in the south.

    When the hsr line, or part of it, fails convincingly, and continues to do so despite all vain attempts at rescue, the project will be suspended and the remnants disposed of, as in spun off.

    Andrew Reply:

    @”Its bad enough that I will never see an hsr ride from sf to la in my lifetime”. Can one identify himself with other people, future people, people *abstractly*, or must one only identify with the *concrete* ‘me’? You moan about NIMBYs, but their mindset is yours.

    Clem Reply:

    If we didn’t care about trip times we’d end up with Acela West. That’s not what I voted for.

    Minutes matter, and the law of diminishing returns means the next minute saved will be more expensive than the last. We need to invest wisely, and if we do then private investors will see the value of what we are trying to achieve.

    Andrew Reply:

    “give me this and ill give you tejon” That seems reasonable. I would connect Vegas thru Cajon, but your idea at least obviates the extra local line for AV. It’s worth a close look.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Clem, the AGV is not the Ferrari of trains; it’s just more powerful than the Velaro and the Zefiro. The N700, which has been in service for 14 years, has slightly higher P/W ratio. The Talgo AVRIL has much higher P/W ratio. I can’t tell what the HEMU-430X‘s P/W ratio is, but judging by its acceleration profile, it outperforms the AGV somewhat: it loses only 117 seconds accelerating from 0 to 350 km/h.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and includes barstow.

    There aren’t enough people in Barstow to spend 100 million on a station or enough of them to be stopping there frequently enough that the few people in Barstow won’t just drive to Victorville.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I would connect Vegas thru Cajon

    Means everybody in Southern California who wants to get to Northern California or vice versa has to go through Los Angeles. If Tehachapi is built first they do until Cajon is built. Then they don’t have to go through Los Angeles. Which means the only people who have to go to Los Angeles are people who are coming from or going to Los Angeles.

    VBobier Reply:

    There were 22,639 people living in Barstow CA at the 2010 census, ‘Desert whatever’ doesn’t want to stop there, plus there are people living nearby in Daggett, Newberry Springs and in Yermo, plus out at the Yermo Annex(the Marine base in Yermo). But then a Desert HSR stop in Barstow would only encourage people to possibly commute to work in Las Vegas NV and therefore possibly evading CA income taxes, so I can see why possibly the CA state Government really doesn’t want that Desert HSR…

    Joey Reply:

    Adirondacker: how much time is saved on Tehachapi-Tejon-San Bernardino vs Tejon-LA-San Bernardino? How many trains would go that way given that LA is the hub of the entire system?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    V, when the 24.000 people in Barstow come up with the 100,000,000 dollars to build a station hey can have one. In the meantime they can get on the bus and go to Victorville like people all over the state will be getting on the bus or train and going to the HSR station 30 miles away.

    Joey, how many high speed trains can you shove through Los Angeles per hour? In 2050 when the population of the state is 50 million and there’s 4 trains an hour to Las Vegas, 3 trains an hour to Sacramento and 4 trains an hour to San Francisco. Where do the people in San Diego go to get to Bakersfield? Or Sacramento?

    Joey Reply:

    Adirondacker: where’s the capacity constraint? 3 tph Sacramento + 4 tph San Francisco go north, 4 tph Las Vegas + 4 tph San Diego + 2 tph Palm Springs/Phoenix go east, 4 tph Anaheim go south. None of those routes are at capacity. Trains are through-routed from south and east to north, and most trains don’t terminate in LA. What’s the problem?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    how many high speed trains can you shove through Los Angeles per hour?

    At least 12 (not much stretch to 16) train pairs per pair of approach tracks, through running, even with with even the most rudimentary (by non-US, non-PBQD, non-LACMTA, non-PTG, non-TJPA, non-CSHRA) amounts of skill in rail alignment and track configuration.

    Works in Japan, works in France, works in Spain, works in …

    Work anywhere that truly, truly, truly stupid individuals aren’t involved.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Joey, how many trains an hour can you shove through an HSR line? The Japanese manage 12 and since that’s at capacity they are contemplating buiiding a maglev llne to get the express passengers off the more conventional line. The French put in a bypass at around ten an hour. What do you do when the peak on an average weekday is 11 and the projections for holiday weekends is 15 at peak? Tell three trainloads of people to drive instead?

    Joey Reply:

    4tph Vegas is optimistic. 2tph Phoenix is optimistic. That line still only has 10 tph. If its really an issue some trains can be routed via Corona or Claremont during holiday peak periods.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The Japanese manage 12 and since that’s at capacity

    Terminal capacity, not line capacity. That’s Terminal Capacity, for the terminally and willfully (Milpitas is between Fremont and Redwood City after all) ignorant.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    2tph Phoenix is optimistic

    What’s the population of metro Phoenix going to be in 2050? Bigger than the Bay Area if they slow down somewhat from what they’ve been doing for the past 50 years.

    Terminal capacity, not line capacity.

    So the Chuo Shinkansen is just for show? The horse too btw,.

    Joey Reply:

    So even assuming 3 or 4 tph to Phoenix, where’s the capacity constraint?

    Joey Reply:

    That’s assuming that Phoenix is still habitable in 20 years. Not that it’s particularly habitable today.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    where’s the capacity constraint?

    Burbank

    Joey Reply:

    More trains are routed through Burbank with Tehachapi compared to Tejon. What are you advocating again?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Chuo Shinkansen is for bypassing what was 14 tph peak pre-recession, but it’s not the same as in California, for 2 reasons:

    1. Terminal vs. through-station capacity, as Richard said.

    2. The Tokaido Shinkansen has 12-13 tph peak heading into Tokyo using the track over a long stretch, from Mishima, including overtakes (link). Between 8:56 and 9:53 Tokyo gets 12 trains, of which 8 come from at least Shin-Osaka. This constrains capacity in a way that sharing tracks from Sylmar to Redondo Junction or even Sylmar to San Bernardino does not.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I really don’t give a flying leap anymore. I’m gonna be dead before any body builds anything so it doesn’t matter to me. Go play with your worksheets and daven schedules until you are all blue in the face.

    Joey Reply:

    You don’t have to participate in these discussions.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The Chuo Shinkansen is for bypassing what was 14 tph peak …

    Alon, a big part is also massive renovation and rebuilding required on Tokaido Shinkansen where many systems and civils are approaching end of life. Huge decadal construction site bypass: “seek alternate route”.

    The Tokaido Shinkansen has 12-13 tph peak heading into Tokyo using the track over a long stretch, from Mishima, including overtakes (link).

    If you haven’t seen it before you might enjoy this graphical representation of the Tokaido awesomeness I made five years ago.

    Turning all those trains ins Tokyo is quite the thing to see, or just to contemplate.

    But ignore all that: the World Class Transportation Professionals of PBQD, PTG, TJPA, etc, will show them how it’s REALLY done. Starting with CBOSS and feet and inches.

    jonathan Reply:

    .. and furlongs per fortnight, and “pounds-force” nonsense.
    And don’t forget the wholly arbitrary decision to use only AREMA standard turnouts on all “non-high-speed” areas of the HSR line. (That’s the root explanation for a lot of the TBT throat design).

    jimsf Reply:

    well obviously you’re all gonn screw around with trying to change the project to the point its never gonna get built. So Im cancelling my support of. Just kill it.

    and adiron- it doesnt cost a bizillion dollars to have xwest stop in barstow. all you need is a concrete platform. not fancy station.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There won’t be an Amtrak in Bakersfield once the new tracks are connected to San Francisco or Los Angeles.

  25. jimsf
    Jun 18th, 2013 at 15:32
    #25

    city of palmdale housing element update and eir:

    • Promote higher density residential uses in close proximity to existing transportation
    infrastructure, including the Palmdale Transportation Center;
    • Provide for higher density residential uses close to support services for residents, such
    as commercial uses, schools, parks and open space; and
    • Provide development standards and design guidelines that provide a safe environment
    for residents and will direct transit and pedestrian oriented development.
    Palmdale today[edit]

    Over the last 25 years this city has consistently been ranked in the top 25 fastest growing cities in the United States (based on percentage change). As of the 2010 census, the population was 152,750, sixth largest, and fastest growing city in Los Angeles County. With 106 square miles (275 km2) of land in its incorporated boundaries, the city is the second largest city in Los Angeles County, 6th largest in California, and in the top 100 largest cities in the United States in geographic area. Palmdale is also one of the largest cities in the United States that is not currently served by either an Interstate Freeway or a U.S. Highway. Sierra Highway was at one time labeled as U.S. Highway 6 until the State of California truncated it at Bishop.

    Looking south from the hills near Tierra Subida Avenue, late January snow can be seen at the higher elevations.
    The city is known as a family-oriented community with a high quality of life. Palmdale Regional Medical Center, a first class medical facility opened in 2010, includes an emergency department, a helipad, medical office towers, and a senior housing complex. A new multimodal transportation center, serving local and commuter bus and train services, opened in 2005. A voter-initiated and approved tax has funded major park and recreation expansions, including the Palmdale Amphitheater (capacity 10,000), two new pools, other recreation buildings, satellite library and Dry Town Water Park. Downtown revitalization includes hundreds of new senior housing units, a new senior center, and expanded open space. A new 48,000 sq ft (4,500 m2). Sheriff station opened in July 2006, the largest in Los Angeles County. Two additional fire stations have been built, one on the east side and one on the west side.

    Joey Reply:

    So are they going to get serious about rezoning and curbing sprawl? If so Tehachapi deserves serious consideration.

    jimsf Reply:

    I only know what it says in their housing element eir. Most cities area already making these changes, even as they conintue to build single family homes. The goal is have more options. I think you will see changes as the market rebounds. Developers have pulled back plans because they can not make enough profit right now. Once the building begins again you will see more types of housing in all california cities. Another, style growing in popularity is the Next Gen home, a home within a home, a studio unit with kitchen and bath and seperate entrance, built into a single family home for the purpose of housing the aging family member. I have looked at the models. very nice idea. plus you can use it as a rental unit which also increases density – and makes the home more affordable.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Next Generation if the next generation is the baby boomers who will be arriving after the Depression ends and the War is over. They call them Granny Suites in the UK and Mother-in-law-apartments east of Denver.

    StevieB Reply:

    Palmdale has one project currently under construction within the Palmdale Transit Village Specific Plan, which consists of 198 units for very low- and low-income and 79 dwellings for moderate-income. The site may be at the location of the HSR station depending on the route selection.

  26. J. Wong
    Jun 18th, 2013 at 16:24
    #26

    I’m open minded, but it seems pretty much a political decision to prefer Tehachapi (through Palmdale) over Tejon. Pretty similar to how it’s a political decision for Bakersfield to want a suburban station rather than a downtown one.

    That said, it’s not going to kill HSR to go through Tehachapi rather than Tejon.

  27. Joey
    Jun 18th, 2013 at 17:20
    #27

    Sprawl in Bakersfield or sprawl in Palmdale. Take your pick.

    jimsf Reply:

    the only way you can stop it is to have a statewide mandate on density and apply it equally to all cities and counties and it would probably be ruled unconstitutional.

    jimsf Reply:

    as for bakersfiled and kern county
    To contain new development within an area large enough to meet generous projections of foreseeable need, but in locations which will not impair the economic strength derived for the petroleum, agriculture, rangeland, or mineral resources, or diminish the other amenities which exist in the County.” Goal 1, Kern County General Plan (KCGP), at 52

    you acutally have pressures from ag and oil – who are power match for developers – to contain sprawl and push higher density. This is apparently part of a joint general plan between the county and city.

    VBobier Reply:

    Some parts of Kern County I would think are not livable, cause the ground water there in some parts is contaminated with Arsenic, enough to where it’s not safely drinkable, along one stretch of highway CA58 is where I’d looked to move once, no thanks. Supposedly one can wash with the ground water and wash dishes, but drinking and cooking demand bottled water, I have a cat as company, I didn’t want to expose My cat to Arsenic(Rat Poison)… Plus bottled water for an aquarium? Forget it…

  28. synonymouse
    Jun 18th, 2013 at 23:11
    #28

    Curious we have not heard from Paul Dyson on Clem’s firstrate study. He is the one poster who is more pointedly and vocally aware of the ARRA error. The CHSRA is going to rue the day they pushed that idea.

    Most people are not native railfans and will have a much more jaundiced attitude toward “nowhere to nowhere” than foamers. In their estimation it is a nice fast train, but pretty damn noisy, and they won’t find the track as attractive or interesting as rail buffs do.

    When they see very few riding on the orphan segment they will expect better results at the outset and not be convinced by the pat argument you just have to make it longer. Their opinion, and a reasonably sound one, will be why did you not build it where there is some business. Survey says: thumbs down and Paul Dyson’s worries are well founded.

    And nobody buys the assertion that our huge and almost all Demo congressional delegation could not cut a deal to move the money to a more utilitarian location. Stupid.

    Clem Reply:

    I don’t want to put words in Paul’s mouth, but he has advocated in the past for “closing the gap” in California’s existing passenger rail network, which essentially means building Bako – Tehachapi – Palmdale first. It has a nice ring to it (so nice that it shows up in the HSR business plan), but for about the same amount of money you can build Bako – Sylmar right off the bat for a much better IOS. So my post may have thrown him a wrench. I am also curious to hear his thoughts.

    Joey Reply:

    Tehachapi might have made more sense if that segment was built first.

    VBobier Reply:

    The Bako–Tehachapi–Palmdale EIR/EIS at the time wasn’t ready, so the CV was it, since the EIR/EIS for the CV was ready. And yes it would have been nice, but one works with what is available.

    Joey Reply:

    Yes and yes. My point is that the Central Valley ICS diminishes the case for Tehachapi.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The agenda did not come down from On High, but was fabricated by the CHSRA. PB chose the order of things and EIR’s.

    For my own part, I like to think nowhere to nowhere, aka Borden to Corcoran, was a semi-humorous ploy that Van Ark came up with to gore the ox and get things moving. Big mistake to take it seriously.

    At this point it seems the general plan is to spend the money as fast as possible and see what the future brings. The economy is very sketchy and geopolitical too. In California the leaders of the laundromat – Brown, Pelosi, Feinstein, Boxer, and Reid next door – are all in their mid-seventies or older. It is the last hurrah for them and their replacements are strictly junior grade. Don’t count on Gavin, Harris, Perez, Villa et al to be able to handle or navigate turbulent times. You might end up with a Mega-Meg type yet. Support for the hsr megaproject could peter out quite abruptly with a steady litany of bad news.

    Ergo, dedicate what money you have to the standalone piece de resistance, the mountain crossing at Tejon. Forget orphan segments that will only prove political embarrassments.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Like you got megameg last time?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Hey, we got Schwarzie and Ronnie. Never know, when the people are in a bad mood and an attractive celebrity comes along.

    Italy almost elected Bepp Grillo. And Berlusconi is wackier than any Mega-Meg.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Italy did not almost elect Grillo. The second highest vote count was for Berlusconi; Grillo played a huge spoiler rule, denying Bersani-Monti a Senate majority, but did not come close to winning the Chamber of Deputies.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    I don’t think he cares if Palmdale gets served along the way, the bridge the gap thing is always about a train between LA and Bakersfield.

  29. synonymouse
    Jun 18th, 2013 at 23:36
    #29

    I hate to come off as hopelessly contrarian and cranky but at this point if one is going to waste money on something I suggest it should be on the most likely blatant failure that might serve as some kind of wakeup call.

    Namely Deserted Xprss as they can get it up and running and flopping the fastest

  30. Alon Levy
    Jun 19th, 2013 at 00:20
    #30

    Clem, based on the published unit costs, how much do you think Bako-Sylmar should cost in total?

    As a first filter, there are 39 km of tunnel, 2 km of viaduct, and 128 km of at-grade track with earthworks. If the unit cost is $120 million/km for a tunnel, $60 million/km for viaduct, and $30 million/km for at-grade, then this is $8.6 billion, which is a good deal less than what “$5 billion less than the published estimates for Tehachapis” will give you.

    VBobier Reply:

    $1.7 Billion more than Bako–Tehachapi–Palmdale(Soledad Cn./SR58) route @ 2.5% grade @ 220mph($6.9 billion), 6 tunnels. Highway access to portals.

    or

    $2.9 Billion more than Bako–Tehachapi–Palmdale(Soledad Cn./SR58) route @ 3.5% grade @ 195mph($5.7 billion), 7 tunnels. Highway access generally available to portal sites.
    The facts I just quoted are from the EIR/EIS(page 48/49 of 166).

    —–

    The Tejon alignment(i5) has either 4 tunnels(220mph @ 2.5%, $8.1 Billion) or 13 tunnels(165mph @ 3.5%, $7.0 Billion). Limited access – some areas adjacent to I-5(2.5%), Limited access for portal construction(3.5%).
    Potential to avoid tunnel at San Andreas fault – although still fault zone issues.

    Joey Reply:

    How does this differ from Clem’s alignment?

    VBobier Reply:

    Clems route is essentially the i5 alignment and the more expensive alignment, plus when tunneling one has porous rock to deal with and impervious rock, the porous rock will cause problems, but then if the tunnels are above the lake level that shouldn’t be a problem, otherwise one could start draining a lake through a tunnel and that would be a disaster.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The facts I just quoted are from the EIR/EIS

    Welcome to PBQD’s Wonder-World of Facts!

    VBobier Reply:

    The facts I just quoted are from the EIR/EIS

    Welcome to PBQD’s Wonder-World of Facts!

    Ah yes, of course all you lack is PROOF, like emails, phone records, taped conversations, just the thing for lunatic conspiracy types…

    synonymouse Reply:

    If you haven’t figured it out yet, PB is notorious for adjusting facts to fit pre-set political agendas. The BART to SFO project was a fiasco for the ages. It set a new standard in hype.

    Bechtel before it was equally bad – how do you think they sold Indian broad gauge in direct contradiction to a hundred years of realworld railroad experience.? Pure bs. And every traction company that had been saddled with an oddball gauge had to cope with its downside every time they had to buy or sell equipment. They specifically designed the PCC truck to be able to be gauge adjustable. But it must not been that easy because I know in the fifties LA(probably the PE)borrowed some standard gauge PCC trucks from Muni, to put under an LARy PCC, I believe, as an experiment.

    But I digress. PB lives to disinform via errors of commission and omission.

    VBobier Reply:

    And you are a ‘conspiracy’ nut Cyno de Bergerac…

    EJ Reply:

    You still haven’t read Clem’s presentation, have you? It’s been up for three days. It’s 75 pages, but it’s not like it’s single spaced 9 point type, it’s a slideshow.

    I mean if your ultimate argument is that this is politically a done deal, fine. But the “facts” you’re quoting from the EIR are addressed in the presentation.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Costs have run over a lot since the EIR/EIS. The PB study about Tejon vs. Tehachapis quotes the cost of Bakersfield-Palmdale-Sylmar as $15.5 billion. The 2010 business plan pointed to a large overrun coming from the need to tunnel through Soledad Canyon because the area is ecologically sensitive, whereas in 2008 the HSRA thought it could stay above ground.

    Andrew Reply:

    With that much money you could almost pay for a Tejon base tunnel. This would get you from SW Bakersfield to LAUS in about half an hour and, at low elevation, could also be used for freight, which is very expensive to haul between the Central Valley and LA.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But they want the freight route to access the eastern link at Mojave.

    And then there is the question of hazmat, which is important cargo for the class ones.

    jonathan Reply:

    With that much money you could almost pay for a Tejon base tunnel. This [...] could also be used for freight, which is very expensive to haul between the Central Valley and LA.

    No, Andrew, it cannot>be shared with fregiht . Not for US FRA-compatible freight trains. Run just *one* FRA-compatible freight consist over an HSR line, with all the flat wheels, out-of-gauge wheelsets, and the other crap considered “normal” in US freight practice — aggravated by 33-tonne axle loads — and you take the “HS” away until the line is re-inspected (and possibly maintenance work is done on it to bring it back into spec). That’s going to be fun, in a tunnel.

    Clem Reply:

    The screening report that you cite dates from August 2001 (think back to that time, when the towers still stood) and was used to prepare the statewide program EIR/EIS, eventually published in late 2005. By 2005, the entire HSR system was slated to cost $33 billion.

  31. synonymouse
    Jun 19th, 2013 at 15:06
    #31

    @ Clem

    Mook on the Altamont site mentions a “new conservation easement” on the Tehachapi route?

    http://www.altamontpress.com/discussion/read.php?1,87820,87961#msg-87961

    synonymouse Reply:

    Mook tipped me off to the Nature Conservancy article on its major conservation purchases in the Tehachapis:

    http://magazine.nature.org/features/the-missing-link.xml

    “All told, the Conservancy has protected nearly 32,000 acres on three neighboring ranches in the Tehachapis. In 2008, the Conservancy purchased a conservation easement on the Parker Ranch, allowing ranching to continue but forever limiting development of the land. Two years later, it bought the Caliente Ranch from a developer who had already won county approval to subdivide part of the ranch into 20-acre parcels.

    These three properties link in the south with the massive Tejon Ranch, where 240,000 acres was protected in a landmark 2008 conservation agreement reached by the Sierra Club,”

    According to this lengthy article extensive sprawl and wind farming has already occurred in the Tehachapis. I suspect high speed rail is going to look pretty industrial and urbanizing to these environmentalists and conservationists.

  32. joe
    Jun 19th, 2013 at 17:54
    #32

    http://blogs.sacbee.com/capitolalertlatest/2013/06/house-transportation-bill-denies-hsr-funding.html

    The bill from by the transportation subcommittee of the powerful House Appropriations Committee declares that “none of the funds made available by this act may be used for the California High-Speed Rail Program of the California High-Speed Rail Authority.”

    Denham said Wednesday his intent is to ensure that “Valley dollars stay in the Valley.”

    “We’re working together in concert with the other concerned members from the Valley,” Denham said.

    From the Valley of the Jolly Jeff Denham comes a talking point. “Valley Dollars stay in the Valley”
    Problem solved.

    No 2014 federal dollars funds for the Valley HSR construction project, that will be gainfully employing Valley residents in 2014.

  33. jimsf
    Jun 19th, 2013 at 20:44
    #33

    maybe when the NEC gets new trains they can send us the old acelas to use on our IOS. SInce it won’t be entirely ready for full 220. The acelas are ok for the fra so all youd have to do is tring some catenary and the trains could run on the ics, and on legacy track.

    Andrew Reply:

    I wonder, could they just get tugged along the rails coast to coast? I would pay to ride that!

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Andrew:

    There’s no FRA reason why they couldn’t be put behind a regular Amtrak train for such a hypothetical delivery run. Providing HEP to run the airco during the run, and the fact that they have no provision for low platform boarding would be the only reasons to not carry passengers across the continent.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I would assume PB would cast the orphan segment initially barebones diesel to simplify operations and placate the class ones and Amtrak.

    It all seems pretty jury rig and tentative – that’s what the BNSF letter was complaining about.

    Clem Reply:

    That would give you a 68-minute trip from Bako to Palmdale, at 110 mph max (but mostly 35 mph up the grade)

    synonymouse Reply:

    I was thinking of the Valley segment north of Fresno. Diesel on the mountain crossing would be, to put it mildly, “challenging”.

    But an offroute 7 mile tunnel primarily to benefit Palmdale is just sleazy.

  34. D. P. Lubic
    Jun 20th, 2013 at 15:49
    #34

    Wow, well over 500 comments, I think this may go higher than the famous Bakersfield page, and it’s almost all regular posters to boot! But then, maybe Bakersfield is still great because of all the outside interest that came in that thread.

    Clem Reply:

    I’m all for setting records. What Bakersfield page was that?

  35. frozen
    Jun 23rd, 2013 at 16:35
    #35

    I was wondering if there exist a hybrid alignment– both Tejon and via Palmdale? I think it can be done, the area east of Gorman slopes down to Palmdale quite smoothly. Of course, having said that, I may get mobbed with dissenters.

    frozen Reply:

    I mean, follow Clem’s alignment up to Castac Lake and have the next tunnel curve to the east so it exits in the region of the spilt in the California Aqueduct (or is it Los Angeles Aqueduct instead?), then follow 138 or Avenue D to Lancaster, swing south on the existing Metrolink tracks, then back to LA. Adds a bit more time, but miles saved compared to Techachapi pass?

    VBobier Reply:

    It’s the California Aqueduct, at least everytime I’ve ever crossed it.

    frozen Reply:

    http://goo.gl/maps/ml8ef I made a half-assed job using Clem’s map to show what an alternative could be. Not a technical analyzed s Clem’s, though.

    Thanks, Vbobier. I for one cant remember where I went across the Los Angeles Aqueduct, though…

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