Help Plan the High Desert Corridor This Month

Jul 9th, 2013 | Posted by

Los Angeles County Metro is planning the High Desert Corridor, a multimodal corridor that could include a new freeway link along the Highway 138 route – and for our purposes, a high speed rail connection between Palmdale and Victorville. That link would help bring the XpressWest high speed trains from Las Vegas all the way into downtown LA:

Recognizing the HDC as a multipurpose corridor with potential to connect to the ever-growing regional rail system, further studies will examine the potential for a High Speed Rail (HSR) Feeder service between Palmdale and Victorville. This feeder service would have the potential to connect to the XpressWest System – a planned high-speed rail service from Victorville to Las Vegas. Towards this goal, the HDC team is already conducting studies to identify viable routes to connect to both the Metrolink station in Palmdale, and the future XpressWest station in Victorville. In essence, the HDC project has potential to provide a one-seat rail trip from Las Vegas to Victorville and Palmdale.

The High Desert Corridor also might include a new bike route (awesome) and green energy generation and transmission facilities (also awesome).

Now you can weigh in with your thoughts on the corridor. Metro and Caltrans are hosting four community meetings in the High Desert next week on the project, two of which will be livestreamed. Here’s the info:

Monday, July 15, 2013 6 -8pm
Lake Los Angeles Elementary School
16310 E Avenue Q
Palmdale, CA 93591

Tuesday, July 16, 2013 6 -8pm
Stater Bros Stadium
Mavericks Conference Room
12000 Stadium Way
Adelanto, CA 92301

Wednesday, July 17, 2013 6 -8pm*
Endeavour School of Exploration
12403 Ridgecrest Rd
Victorville, CA 92395

Monday, July 22, 2013 6 -8pm*
Larry Chimbole Cultural Center
Joshua Room
38350 Sierra Hwy
Palmdale, CA 93350

*These meetings will be broadcasted live. To participate, please go to http://ustream.tv/channel/metro-high-desert-corridor.

So if you can make it out to any of these events, by all means do so, it’s a great opportunity to have some input on this important link in the California high speed rail network.

  1. James in PA
    Jul 9th, 2013 at 22:28
    #1

    Help make a good plan for the High Desert Corridor. Build a functional CHSR system. Build alternatives to cars. We will need all the help we can get.

    Yet the growing need for efficient alternative transportation systems may be dwarfed by other problems over the next 20 to 40 years. The various parts of the economy and the environment are becoming more interconnected. Even if peak oil or peak energy can be deferred for a few decades by development and increasing efficiency, it is becoming harder to ignore peak water which according to this article in The Guardian will be quickly followed by peak grain.

    The Guardian
    ‘The real threat to our future is peak water’
    As population rises, overpumping means some nations have reached peak water, which threatens food supply, says Lester Brown
    Saturday 6 July 2013 09.41 EDT

    A telling quote from the article
    “Since it takes 1,000 tons of water to produce one ton of grain, importing grain is the most efficient way to import water.”

    By the time we enjoy a ride on the High Speed Rail through what is left of the CV agricultural fields, there may be other countries who are also depending on the food from those fields more than they already are. That is if they can afford the market price for the food.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/global-development/2013/jul/06/water-supplies-shrinking-threat-to-food

    Even if the hungry and thirsty people of the world are not visible from the the window of the train, I suspect we will feel their effect. The mining of the world’s aquifers is quite scary. That sucking sound you hear is another ag field gone dry…

    Eric Reply:

    If you have cheap energy then you can desalinate and solve your water problem. Middle Eastern states, including oil-poor ones like Israel, already do that.

    Eric Reply:

    I just feel sorry for Egypt, which is on the brink of collapse, AND it’s a major grain importer, AND it’s about to get its water supply cut off by Ethiopia’s plans to dam the Nile.

    Nathanael Reply:

    If history were a guide to the future, I would expect Egypt to (a) knock down the High Aswan Dam, which is the source of most of its economic problems, and (b) deploy its army to prevent Ethiopia from building any dams.

    However, this would require a government in Egypt run by smart people.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah, and Israel still has perennial water shortages. Desalinization is still expensive.

    And energy is also expensive, in a world in which creating a 9-figure refugee crisis is not an acceptable side effect.

    Eric Reply:

    I assume you are referring to Bangladesh? If the pre-modern Dutch could protect themselves against flooding, then so can the modern Bangladeshis, possibly with international help. No need to evacuate them all.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Bangladesh is bigger and flatter, and global sea level rise is not the same as storm surges. In New York, a geographically small city with enough hills the dikes can connect to, the cost figures bandied are beyond $10 billion. Protecting coastal Bangladesh, and Nigeria, and Vietnam, and Thailand, and India, is likely to be in the trillions.

    Or the industrialized world can just get off its ass and stop modifying the world’s climate just because its richer members find driving convenient.

    Eric Reply:

    Just stop modifying the world’s climate? How many trillions will that cost?

    BTW, NYC has 578 miles of coastline, Bangladesh has 410 miles. Construction will be more expensive per mile in NYC, as it always is. So I’m not sure I believe your figure of trillions.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Bangladesh has way, way more than 410 miles once you count flooding riverbanks. New York is not in a floodplain; a few parts of it are, but it’s not the same as the uniform flatness of the Bangladeshi shoreline.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “Just stop modifying the world’s climate” will cost less than $1 trillion. Solar panels and insulation are cheap. Condoms are even cheaper.

    Andy M Reply:

    Don’t just talk costs but talk opportunities. Building flood protection in some place like Bangladesh could put tens of thousands of people to work for decades. Think of the knock-on effects for the rest of the country. Now if they could sue some big oil companies to pay for it …

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What international rule of law is there to allow Bangladesh to sue oil companies headquartered in the US, France, the Netherlands, the UK, Canada, and Saudi Arabia?

    Andy M Reply:

    Hence the qualifier “if”.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s a pretty big if. The reason I’m so gung ho on these issues is that there’s no international rule of law. (Same reason why I have the position I have on Rana Plaza, by the way: I believe Bangladesh should tighten safety standards, but that any attempt to force these on it by first-world government is self-serving and only redistributes money from people making $1,000 a year to people making $50,000 a year.)

    VBobier Reply:

    The area of Bangladesh is being forced down, cause the subcontinent of India is colliding with and rising up over the Asian Continent, but then continental tectonics does happen, that’s why We get earthquakes.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Is there actually an isostatic trend in Bangladesh? I thought tectonics was too slow for that.

    There are a bunch of places with an isostatic trend because of the retreat of the ice sheets following the last glacial period. In Scandinavia and Scotland, land is still rebounding from being pressed down by ice sheets, so locally the sea level is falling. But in southern England, which was ice-free, it’s the opposite because it tilted up when the ice sheet pressed against Scotland, so the local sea level is actually rising.

    thatbruce Reply:

    @Alon Levy:

    Bangladesh itself is one big low-lying alluvial fan, part of the Ganges Delta and is subject to ground erosion and buildup, both through flooding. The Indian Plate is being subducted underneath the Burma and Eurasia Plates, but sea level rise due to global warming is much faster than this process.

    VBobier Reply:

    Here’s something, now I didn’t say that tectonics was directly involved, though the area is subject to numerous earthquakes, the causes are multipronged, tectonics(earthquakes(Sedimentation and tectonics of the Sylhet trough, Bangladesh) and Earthquake in Bangladesh: A natural disaster and public awareness), which causes erosion due to rain, snow and rivers, which normally causes sediment to build up is now cause rivers sources of water are thinner than they ever have been, are resulting in less sediment being deposited in the Bangladesh area, which means the Bay of Bengal is eating away at the land at an increasing rate, this results in less and less land, in effect forcing what was land to disappear down into the sea.

    (Sedimentation and tectonics of the Sylhet trough, Bangladesh)
    Subsidence rates in the Sylhet trough increased dramatically (3-8 times) from Miocene to Pliocene-Pleistocene time when the fluvial Tipam Sandstone and Dupi Tila Formation were deposited. This dramatic subsidence change is attributed to south-directed overthrusting of the Shillong Plateau on the Dauki fault for the following reasons. (1) Pliocene and Pleistocene strata thin markedly away from the Shillong Plateau, consistent with a crustal load emplaced on the northern basin margin. (2) The Shillong Plateau is draped by Mesozoic to Miocene rocks, but Pliocene and younger strata are not represented, suggesting that the massif was an uplifted block at this time. (3) South-directed overthrusting of the Shillong Plateau is consistent with gravity data and with recent seismotectonic observations. Sandstone in the Tioam has a marked increase in sedimentary lithic fragments compared to older rocks, reflecting uplift and erosion of the sedimentary cover of the Shillong Plateau. If the Dauki fault has a dip similar to that of other Himalayan overthrusts, then a few tens of kilometers of horizontal tectonic transport would be required to carry the Shillong Plateau to its present elevation. Uplift of the Shillong Plateau probably generated a major (∼300 km) westward shift in the course of the Brahmaputra River.

    Bangladesh Is Sinking Due To Global Warming

    Over 150 million people living in an approximate area of 148,000 square kilometres make Bangladesh one of the most densely populated country in the world. The sinking coastal areas are pushing this density even higher. Global warming may be a myth to the rich and prosperous but to the poor and lowly fishermen of Kutubdia, Bangladesh, it is a hard reality. Every month more families are losing their homes to the ever encroaching sea, the Bay of Bengal.

    Kutubdia is an island 15 km off the coastal town of Cox’s Bazar. Abdul Muttalib, who lived here his whole life, saw his mud hut swept away by the sea at the age of 75. The inhabitants of this island are poor and have no other skills but fishing. The island had shrunk from 250 km to 37 km within the last century, but its inhabitants have no where else to go.

    John Burrows Reply:

    Plate tectonics was directly involved when portions of the East Coast of Japan permanently dropped over 3 feet in places after the 2011 earthquake. This happened when the Pacific Plate dove beneath the continental plate which underlies that part of Japan. The plate margin here had been locked up and instead of gradually slipping over the Pacific Plate the land had, over a period of time, rolled up a bit—The earthquake released the lock and flattened out the roll, dropping some of the coastline.

    A somewhat similar situation exists in the Cascadia Subduction Zone offshore from the Pacific Northwest (North of Vancouver to extreme Northern California) where the Juan de Fuca Plate is diving beneath the North American Plate. During the last big Cascadia earthquake a little over 300 years ago there was major land subsidence along the Pacific Northwest Coast, and the same thing could happen again in the next big one which is probably coming in the next 300 years.

    wdobner Reply:

    That’s why there’s nuclear. Carbon free, and, once you get away from light and heavy water reactors, potentially cheaper.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It exists, but isn’t particularly cheap, not by the standards of coal when one is allowed to ignore the costs of pollution and carbon emissions.

    wdobner Reply:

    Yes, water cooled pressurized reactors. Mostly because they’re essentially all hand built and very nearly one-off products. Low pressure, high temperature thermal spectrum breeders create the possibility of smaller, much lower cost, mass produced reactors which can offer rates cheaper than coal. It also helps that high temperature reactors provide useful reaction byproducts which can be used by nuclear medicine, and waste heat can be used for desalination or petroleum fuel production from atmospheric carbon dioxide.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’ll believe it when I see it. Pretty much any alternative energy’s proponents claim it can be cheaper than untaxed coal. Personally if we’re going for that kind of argument I prefer talking about how HSR can charge 5 cents per passenger-kilometer and pay operating and maintenance costs.

    wdobner Reply:

    At least one of the companies pursuing a molten salt reactor have stated their first commercial reactor designs will be commercially viable simply on the basis of the medical and industrial isotopes it produces. The electricity and process heat provided by the reactor could easily provide a profit margin.

    But of course the economics they are projecting requires a fairly widespread adoption such that the can automate the manufacturing process and reduce the installation cost.

    Reedman Reply:

    Actually, if you had been in Oak Ridge, TN between 1965 and 1969, you could have seen it.

    The Molten Salt Reactor Experiment was a 7 megawatt device. It was so easy to use and so stable, the engineers would turn it off every weekend there was nobody using it or watching it. It doesn’t need a pressure vessel, because it uses liquid metal cooling, which is essentially at atmospheric pressure. The fuel is also in liquid form. The present proposals are Liquid Flouride Thorium Reactors (LFTR, pronounced “lifter”).

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Math is hard! But nooclear energy will be too cheap to meter, so there’s no need to think! Also, useful byproducts!

    http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/tag/nuclear/

    wdobner Reply:

    Despite some misunderstanding of Thorium breeders (Thorium breeding has been demonstrated and MSRs don’t use sodium), he seems fairly optimistic about the future of thermal spectrum breeder reactors. After all, he says “In the end, I think nuclear is likely to play an increasing role in our energy story,” and “Of the future nuclear prospects, I am most optimistic about this one—although it’s no nirvana to me.” Seems a far more reasonable response than your scoffing at a useful technology.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The trouble is that most forms of nuclear which *actually exist* are the opposite of idiot-proof — they’re “make two mistakes and you get Chernobyl”. The supposedly safe forms of nuclear power suffer from not actually existing in commercial form.

    I’d rather go with something foolproof, and photovoltaic solar is pretty foolproof.

  2. BeWise
    Jul 9th, 2013 at 22:58
    #2

    A new bike route? Seriously? We’re talking about a new bike route paralleling this new highway through the middle of the desert?

  3. Ted Judah
    Jul 10th, 2013 at 00:19
    #3

    So my opinion has flipped on this:

    CAHSR should focus on going north from Fresno to San Jose before trying to cross into LA County. Instead, LA Metro should close the gap between Palmdale and Victorville to allow Desert Xpress to run from LA to Las Vegas.

    This way the remaining federal dollars could be stretched further. After all, once LA to Las Vegas and San Jose to Bakersfield is operational, the operator/state etc could issue a new bond for the section through Tehachapi. There would still be the need for track upgrades on the CalTrain corridor and to Union Station, but that could be funded both by local transit authorities and HSR revenue service.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    A switch to IOS North means the project dies. SoCal is two thirds of the state’s population and will not be amused by being abandoned for decades.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Furthermore, the political culture in the Bay Area is a complete disaster and has been causing nothing but trouble for HSR. The political culture in SoCal is quite the opposite and is likely to actually get something done.

    Due to the disastrous political culture in the Bay Area, I have suspected for a while that we’ll see Sacramento to LA before we see SF to LA.

    jimsf Reply:

    Afully electrified 220 hsr ios north could be completed sooner the ios south. With caltrain electrification moving ahead, and the high speed core being constructed in the valley, you only need to fill the gap between madera and san jose to have a working high speed system the ties the valley to the bay.

    Joey Reply:

    Source? Tracks already exist SJ-SF but they would have to be upgraded some to even to support a minimal number of high speed trains, meaning at least one more passing segment and some grade separations. And currently the plan is to build several miles of viaduct in San Jose, even with the blended plan. Not that I agree with that but you know how it goes.

    LAUS-San Fernando would need new tracks, but it’s also easy terrain on a wide rail corridor. Grade separations have to happen there too, but it can be done relatively cheaply with unretained fill and you’re much less likely to encounter local opposition. Honestly I think the priority after the ICS should be getting to LAUS as soon as possible.

    John Bacon Reply:

    A TCRP report on rail connections to airports says 24% of Washington National Airport passengers go too or from the land side of that airport on either one of two subway lines for a short ride, around 2 to 4 miles, to downtown Washington or convenient access to most of inside-the-beltway Washington as part of an extensive rapid transit network.
    The same report also outlines the conditions that might explain the 73% rail mode share to Oslo, Norway’s main airport. Their airport is 30 miles to Downtown Oslo but the train makes the trip in 19 minutes. Apparently the city wouldn’t consent to the construction of a more distant new international airport unless the public transport running time between the city to the new airport required a travel period equal to the exiting case for the older closer-to-town airport. Clearly a railway shuttle was the only practical option in order to sustain the 95 mph stop to stop average run speed needed to meet the 30 miles in 19 minutes performance requirement for the new airport connection.
    The strongly positive public response to the high speed illustrated by the foregoing mode-share-connection to an airport are examples that support a CHSR Authority sponsored 2008 revenue and ridership estimate after full build-out in 2030. Their projection says there will be considerably more annual passengers and revenue between the San Joaquin Valley and the San Francisco Bay area, 5.6 million and $402 million, compared to a Los Angeles Basin to a San Joaquin Valley connection: 4.3 million riders generating $296 million.
    How could this be with LA plus Orange Countys’ total population at least twice as large as the SF Bay area plus the LA Basin’s well established extensive entertainment venues? One answer could be the CHSR SF Peninsula route’s potential one-seat-ride access to two major international airports, SFO and San Jose Airport, especially if the designers of a rebuilt Caltrain/CHSR right-of-way have the imagination to establish a CHSR/Caltrain/BART transfer subway station a short elevator ride below the main San Jose Airport terminal. The conversion of the Millbrae to SFO direct link to the Stephenson (1.35 m) gauge, and a dual gauge track where the present Millbrae BART Line and the airport shuttle route use common tracks, would enable CHSR trains containing a significant proportion of their riders headed for SFO to split at Millbrae in order to provide a one-seat-CHSR-ride to SFO.
    The optimal service quality between the San Joaquin and the SF Peninsula could be truly run-time-competitive with auto travel. For example a 120 mile rail distance between Fresno and Gilroy mostly at 220 mph would take 37 minutes; a long enough period to encompass a slowdown to 120 mph for safety while traversing a 6% 3 mile long down-grade off Pacheco Pass, plus the initial acceleration delay, and a 1% schedule pad. (The performance of modern computer controlled pulse-width-modulated traction systems with their high control feedback loop gains can be made largely impervious to power source voltage changes, passenger load, minor grades, or age of components. The CHSR Authority considers a 1% schedule pad an adequate run-time margin for long express segment runs. Their judgment appears correct to anyone familiar with modern electronic control system theory and practice. (A readily observable example: The consistent acceleration performance for BART trains while leaving stations. Their acceleration performance can be accurately measured by observing the minimum period required for 10-car trains to completely exit their stations after their initial start.) A passenger carrying railway with most of its right-of-way constructed over a century ago with numerous sharp curves and single-track tunnels in Switzerland but now double tracked, along the few places where not horrendously expensive, while scheduling far more trains than the present layout can comfortably accommodate heavy schedule padding, up to 10%, would be essential for maintaining a reliable service. Such main passenger route conditions do not prevail in California.
    Fifteen minutes after leaving Downtown San Jose a Central Valley origin CHSR train should take 27 minutes to SFO while making three intervening stops including a train split at Millbrae. A reliable one hour 20 minute running time between Fresno and SFO would be twice as quick as the fastest practical, driving time; 2 hours 40 minutes. Depending on CHSR San Joaquin Valley route design Bakersfield to SFO runs will take 30 to 45 minutes longer than from Fresno.
    CHSR access to the principle Los Angeles Basin airport, LAX, is far more difficult. LAX is 12 miles, as the crow flies, from CHSR’s LA Union Station. You can travel mostly by rail from Union Station to LAX. Just take the Red, transfer to the Blue, then the Green rail line. A ten minute bus ride from the Aviation Green Line Station will finally deliver the CHSR rider to LAX. Seventy to 80 minutes for $1.50 should do it. Driving from Bakersfield to LAX will average slightly under 2 hours except for rush-hour periods when adding another hour to driving time is realistic.
    It appears that building a low cost Bakersfield to Fresno CHSR track parallel to present rail right-of-ways connected north of Fresno to a 220 mph capable line, starting with a mostly single track, without tunneling over the Pacheco Pass to South San Jose connected to an electrified Caltrain to San Francisco could be paid- for with the initial $8 billion in CHSR related construction money now available. This San Francisco to Bakersfield electrified rail infrastructure could be the basis for a Bakersfield to San Francisco 7/14 hourly airport connector service including a Caltrain 9 stop SF to SJ express.

    Kenny Easwaran Reply:

    That’s a good point about SJC and SFO being on the route. But I think you’re making the wrong assumptions about the connections to LAX. The three-step rail route from Union Station to the LAX/Aviation station is already quite far from the best solution at the moment. FlyAway buses go direct from Union Station to LAX in about 25-35 minutes. (Twice, at rush hour, I’ve taken more like 60-70.)

    The Regional Connector project will also shave time off the rail connection – the Blue and Expo lines will come direct to Union Station, which will allow either Expo to the (forthcoming) Crenshaw line to the new airport station, or Blue to Green to the existing Aviation station. I don’t know if either of those will be as fast as the FlyAway bus, but they’ll be at least 10 minutes faster than the route you cited. And those rail projects will both be completed by the end of the decade.

    Even this might not be the end plan for getting from CAHSR to LAX. If the East San Fernando Valley rail project and the Sepulveda Pass project come together and connect to LAX (which seems to be the general plan, though of course these projects still aren’t at the stage where we have a good idea what’s going to happen), then the most natural route would be for passengers from the Central Valley to get off at Sylmar and then take a single-seat ride down to LAX. Of course, we don’t know how long that ride will take, or how many decades it will be before the rail is completed.

    Kenny Easwaran Reply:

    Sorry – the Regional Connector will only bring the Blue line to Union Station, not the Expo line, at least on the current plan. So it won’t introduce the most direct Union Station to LAX option via Crenshaw, unless they make some changes in the operating plan for either the Green/Crenshaw connection or the Blue/Expo connection.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The connection from Union Station to the Expo line will be truly easy, though. Same-platform transfer.

    Joey Reply:

    But no guarantee about how long you’ll be waiting on that platform…

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Ted:
    Local transit authorities spend money on local transit, as they should. HSR revenue service will not generate any cash until the system is complete, at least phase One. If you’re very lucky it might be subsidy free, but I doubt it.
    The gap to Victorville starts at Sylmar, not Palmdale. The line from Sylmar to Palmdale is completely unacceptable for 21st century transportation, unless you are a double subsidized public employee that sleeps your way to L.A. at 5.00am. LA Metro needs to focus on the core, LAUS and approaches, before we embark on marginal ventures in the high desert. Let’s out our resources into providing improved transportation where the people are and where the needs are.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    For out read put!

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Paul, it’s okay. I don’t expect the Southern California contingent to warm to this idea.

    But given that Antonovich probably already has decided he wants high speed rail lines encased in freeways from Santa Clarita to the county line going east AND north…

    I’ll throw out five reasons out to switch it IOS North/ DX:

    1) It’s cheaper. And if it can be financed by Prop 1A dollars only, the price is right.

    2) San Jose to Fresno doesn’t compete with an existing freight railroad for business. And as time goes on, I get the feeling this is a bigger and bigger issue now that the STB has injected himself. I also think Chairman Shuster won’t hesitate to use the STB as a cudgel in this regard.

    3) It buys us more time on the Tejon debate. I am not hoping for a reversal of fortune, but at least the more time we have the more the dust can settle.

    4) Just as Carl Hayden made the Central Arizona Project his dying wish…Desert Xpress will be Harry Reid’s crowning glory.

    5) Antonovich (excuse me, Chairman Antonovich) knows he can’t demand the type of freeway expansion for his district that he wants and engenders suburban growth without making some sort of honorarium to the environmentalists and unions. Enter freeway-encased high speed rail. Florida tested, Caltrans approved.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Why doesn’t Brown simply appoint Antonovich to the CHSRA board where he can dictate policy more directly.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    After the stink Elizabeth raised over Richard Katz and Curt Pringle being on the board as “incompatible offices”, do you really think Brown is so dumb?

    Joey Reply:

    Sarchasm!

    Joey Reply:

    A 3.5% graded railway with low axle load limits and low wires isn’t going to pose much threat to the Class Is any time soon.

    VBobier Reply:

    Probably not, though the converse can’t be said of the Class 1 RR’s…

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Yes, but keep in mind that existing Amtrak California routes have to take existing freight tracks. And what the Class I’s get out of the arrangement is payment to use their tracks. Plus, no matter how irrational it is, the Class I’s have an airtight oligopoly that is very attractive to investors. When you introduce any competition, stock prices drop.

    Joey Reply:

    But it isn’t any competition. They loose a bit of revenue from ending the state routes but I don’t think that’s a significant source of income for them anyway. The new high speed railway will never be used by freight trains, and everyone knows this. And their reaction is telling – UP is generally uncooperative but has never opposed HSR outright. BNSF has been more cooperative than the FRA. If they wanted to oppose something, they would have opposed it already – there’s no conspiracy to keep a parallel set of tracks from being built for a different purpose.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Class One RR Stock prices should increase if Amtrak departs as it frees up capacity for more freight. Incidentally, try looking at the RRs 10Ks for info on passenger revenue. UP used to line item it but now it’s bundled in with misc. Amtrak’s fees are a fraction of a percent, while both BNSF and UP have lucrative commuter rail contracts. What the RRs do like is public money for upgrades to Tehachapi and the Colton flyover, more or less freight only investments which some buffoons among our public policy makers seem to think the taxpayer should pay for. I don’t think the boys from Fort Worth or Omaha are so strapped for cash that they couldn’t fund those projects themselves.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BNSF financed the second track at Abo Canyon internally AFAIK.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Correct. That’s in New Mexico of course. I should have qualified my statement to restrict it to California.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Honestly, the real reason why the Colton flyover needed to be state-funded is that neither BNSF nor UP was willing to fund it, because half of it was for the benefit of *the other guy*.

    This sort of nonsense is one of the many many reasons why a nationalized track network, such as they have in *nearly every other country in the world*, is the only thing which makes sense.

    Andy M Reply:

    We haven’t even yet determined whether all low speed rail will cease once HSR is fully built out. I doubt that it will, not least because the HSR proposal does not fully duplicacte the present passenger rail system, and that demand for passenger rail is likely to increase. There may in fact well be more passenger rail routes by the time HSR is complete.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Just like the stagecoaches and canal boats are still filled with passengers?

    Mike Jones Reply:

    Pity those stupid Germans, keeping their IC, IR, S-bahn, U-bahn, Tram and even buses when they have ICE.

    Eric Reply:

    We’ll keep BART and LA Metro once we have HSR, we won’t keep 11 hour long trips from SF to LA.

    Andy M Reply:

    Passenger trains in California connect a whole lot of city pairs other than SF to LA.

    Nathanael Reply:

    What 11 hour trips from SF to LA?

    The existing Amtrak routes in California follow these routes:
    (1) San Diego, coastal route, to LA — this will continue
    (2) LA, coastal route, to San Jose — this will continue
    (3) San Jose to Oakland to Sacramento — this will continue
    (4) Sacramento to Oregon — this will continue
    (5) Sacramento to Nevada — this will continue
    (6) LA to Arizona (two routes) — these will likely continue
    (7) Bakersfield to Sacramento — this may be discontinued
    (8) Bakersfield to Oakland — this may be discontinued

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Ted:

    I don’t understand your item 2 “competing with a freight railroad”.
    Re 5, Antonovich is termed out, dead meat. He just lost his Gold Line extension to Claremont.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There is, in fact, a case for extending to Pomona Metrolink, and I think it may still happen.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    And BTW Antonovich is no longer Chair of LACMTA as of last week. It’s now Diane DuBois, Mayor of Lakewood.

    synonymouse Reply:

    By all means build out Deserted Xprss ASAP – it is the Lone Ranger bomb on rails.

    With the Cheerleaders Palmdale is Mecca. Revealed dogma, so no use arguing reality.

    VBobier Reply:

    Mouse speak with forked tongue… ;p

  4. Andy M
    Jul 10th, 2013 at 02:54
    #4

    I don’t think peak water as such is a problem, at least not in developed countries, but more the choices over where things are done. For example the vast movement of productivity and population from the Rust Belt to places like California and Texas was only possible because of energy-sucking air conditioning. Rising energy prices may ultimately reverse that trend. Similarly, climate change may unlock fertile agricultural land further north with an abundant water supply and weaken the case for doing intensive agriculture on land that is clearly not naturally suited to it, or at least switching that land to less water intensive crops.

  5. TGVRenfeBahn
    Jul 10th, 2013 at 04:45
    #5

    Can Qatar finance all our projects already?
    Qatar to spend $200 Billion on 2022 WorldCup
    http://ftw.usatoday.com/2013/07/qatar-will-spend-200-billion-on-the-2022-world-cup/

    http://tinyurl.com/d6geoyl

    Qatar to spend staggering £134 billion on World Cup
    http://uk.eurosport.yahoo.com/blogs/world-of-sport/qatar-spend-staggering-134-billion-world-cup-101315417.html

    DAMM!!!

    Eric Reply:

    What else are they supposed to do with our oil money?

    nick Reply:

    funnily enough they probably think that it is THEIR oil money as it actually you know, comes out of the ground there ! If we are so worried about it we could use less oil then they wouldn’t get so much of “our” oil money as you say !

    Eric Reply:

    I agree, they are morally justified in taking it, we are just stupid to give it to them.

    TomA Reply:

    What an f’in waste.

  6. Keith Saggers
    Jul 10th, 2013 at 07:36
    #6

    http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/passenger/single-view/view/experimental-430-kmh-high-speed-train-unveiled.html

    jimsf Reply:

    nice! maybe they could use this trainset in cali and run it at 230 instead of 220 and make up 15 mintues of travel time

    Joey Reply:

    Sorry, but 230 instead of 220 through the entire Central Valley would save less than three minutes, and that’s if you ignore acceleration. Actual time saved is probably less than a minute.

    Clem Reply:

    Speeding up travel times is always done more effectively by speeding up the slow bits, not by raising top speeds further into the stratosphere. For example, there is a 115 mph curve planned in Bakersfield that could save a whole two minutes if removed.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Pendolinos?

    Joey Reply:

    Pendolinos are currently limited to 260 km/h and it’s not worth the extra cost to maintain the active tilting mechanism if you don’t have to. In California’s case we’re building an almost 100% new line, so tilting trains shouldn’t be necessary to begin with. If the choice is to bypass Bakersfield or find an esoteric solution like tilting trains, bypassing Bakersfield is preferable.

    Joey Reply:

    250 I mean. Something like the Talgo AVRIL might be able to get a fair bit of tilt at higher speeds, and we’ll see how Bombardier’s WACO system turns out on the new Frecciarossa 1000 trains. But again none of this should be necessary for California.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    If you refer to the WAKO system by Bombardier, then it is not really a tilting system, but it prevents the carbody from leaning outward in a curve at speed, thus keeping the carbody within the standard loading gauge. But this does already allow for higher curve speeds.

    In fact, it is under development for the TWINDEXX bi-level EMUs for SBB, where the loading gauge is rather tight. The idea is to use WAKO instead of spending much more money on adapting the existing infrastructure.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    There is/will be a class of 249 km/h trains, as represented by Pendolino, Avril, Regina etc. because 250 km/h is a threshold for stricter (and more expensive) level of standards by the UIC. That means, if that maximum speed is acceptable, there is a relatively low cost possibility for higher speeds.

    Joey Reply:

    The AVRIL is intended to have an operating speed of 380 km/h.

    VBobier Reply:

    267Mph, nice, Cali could use that.

    John Bacon Reply:

    Cruising at 267 mph according to a train power consumption function: P = V[R + W*(V^2)*M*G where R = .001 and W = 200E−9/(ft/[sec)^2] when using the foot pound second system the train power must be 77% higher than required for sustaining 220 mph on level ground. The greater power to weight ratio would enable a steeper straighter route across Tejon and Pacheco Passes along a path far from most noise-sensitive residents with little tunneling required. The resulting route could be a few miles less than the parallel minimum road mileage between SF and LAUS, 389 miles. The higher speed along a more direct route, largely close to I-5, plus straighter below grade alignments through San Jose, and while approaching both San Francisco and LA would reduce the noise foot-print and therefore the maximum practical speeds through those major urban areas. Under these revised conditions you have a shot at scheduling one intermediate-stop runs between LA and SF in two hours flat for a power cost that will not exceed one-cent per seat mile.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Apparently the HEMU (also means “sea fog” in Korean) accelerates 2 min faster to 300km/h than the predecessor KTX Sancheon (given, since the HEMU is distributed traction vs. the TGV style layout of the KTX), and has a 5% lighter carbody structure. But I wonder if this and any other improvements are adequate enough for viable regular operations above 320km/h, or if it’s just ad copy for possible future foreign sales.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    At least according to Wikipedia, the train accelerates to 350 km/h pretty fast, too.

  7. Reality Check
    Jul 10th, 2013 at 14:39
    #7

    Quebec tragedy unlikely to slow oil shipments via rail
    With shipments of crude rising, some say an accident as happened in Quebec was inevitable, but others say trains are the only — and safest — way to move the fuel

    The tragedy in Lac-Megantic, Quebec, has focused attention on the rapidly increasing use of rail to transport oil. Just five years ago, fewer than 10,000 carloads of crude were carried by rail; last year, nearly 234,000 carloads were transported, according to the American Association of Railroads, a trade group.

    At approximately 30,000 gallons per car, that means about 7 billion gallons of crude oil are shipped around the country. In a recent report, Raymond James & Associates Inc., a St. Petersburg, Fla., consulting firm, estimated that the volume of crude shipped by rail could increase by 150 percent over the next two to three years in the United States.

    Meanwhile, the number of serious train accidents in the United States has declined significantly, from 867 in 2008 to 552 last year. Holly Arthur, a spokeswoman for the American Association of Railroads, said 2012 was the safest year ever for the railway industry.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Are these worse than coal trains?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    When coal trains wreck they don’t explode as easily.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m asking about the consequences of what happens when the trains reach their destination safely and the product is used as intended.

    VBobier Reply:

    CO2 is released into Earths Atmosphere as a result of burning coal, then the CO2 helps the Earth retain solar heat, much like the atmosphere of Venus does and temperatures keep rising and glaciers melt and deserts expand…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Chances are very good if they reach their destination they haven’t derailed , burst into flames or exploded?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The argument will be made that a pipeline would be safer.

    VBobier Reply:

    Tell that to parts of the midwest where oil pipelines have already burst…

  8. Paul Dyson
    Jul 11th, 2013 at 18:42
    #8

    Looks like the High Desert Corridor will not need a rail link. DoT has “indefinitely suspended” consideration of the loan application for XpressWest.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Paul, do you have any info on the politics of this decision? Reid has been powerful enough to tweak the CAHSR far to the east at Palmdale so I am at a loss to explain what happened here.

    The orphan trackage, aka the ARRA or IOS, is every bit as dubious as Deserted Xprss. Essentially it is a San Joaquin Valley BART at the embryonic stage and there exists nothing close to the ridership to justify such grandiose infrastructure, if it turns out isolated. Picture BART without San Francisco: residual rural, exurban or suburban traffic shifted from existing buses or Amtrak. Not even that much commute business.

    It is hard for me to process this development given there is so much free-floating stupidity abounding. And I would anticipate some more brain-dead fluff from Jerry Brown – “W”-like bs like “stay the course” when we need to change the course.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Don’t despair, we still have the party train coming up to beautiful North LV. Who’s buying the kegs?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Graton Casino plans to open on November 1st, but I would think All Saints Day a poor choice.

    Opening the Flamingo on Christmas Day was one of the gaffes that got Benjamin Siegel shot in the eye.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I read your comment as “Grafton Casino.”

    Sigh.

Comments are closed.