Four Track HSR on Peninsula Just Got Harder – But Not Impossible

Sep 8th, 2013 | Posted by

On Friday Governor Jerry Brown signed SB 557, authored by Peninsula legislators including Senator Jerry Hill and Assemblymember Rich Gordon, which establishes a number of hurdles that have to be jumped before a four-track passenger rail system can be built between San Francisco and San José.

The four-track alignment, in which Caltrain would occupy the outer tracks and high-speed rail the inner tracks, was initially proposed by the California High-Speed Rail Authority but later shelved in favor of a “blended system” in which both train services share two tracks on the Peninsula.

Hill’s bill creates a steep hurdle for reversing this decision. Though it stops short of codifying the blended alignment into law, it gives nine Bay Area agencies veto power over revisiting the four-track approach. The agencies include the Caltrain board of directors, the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

This is an unfortunate bill, but it’s also better than an outright ban as Senator Hill was originally seeking. It is frankly absurd for the state to pass a law arbitrarily limiting the capacity of a major transportation artery and making it difficult to expand it if necessary. Passenger rail is essential to the future of the Peninsula as it is with the state, and creating a lot more red tape to bog down any capacity expansion is a short-sighted act that the region will quickly come to regret.

That said, it’s not like the hurdles are all that onerous. Governor Brown wouldn’t have signed it if he thought they were. If anything SB 557 supports his overall push for a state rail plan, since it requires nine Bay Area agencies to sign off on a four-track project. Those agencies would need to be engaged to support such a project anyway, and getting them bought in can actually help build political support for it to get done when the time comes.

Peninsula NIMBYs are celebrating the passage of this bill, but it is really just a punt, like the blended plan itself. The idea is that in the near future, when resistance to passenger rail and to taking action to address climate change begins to fade, it will become easier to build the four-track system rather than fighting and losing that battle now and being stuck with the consequences for decades to come.

As with austerity, the goal is for HSR to survive the current NIMBY counterattack and move forward once that attitude has begun to fade. It’s a sensible political approach to dealing with an unfortunate situation.

  1. Jerry
    Sep 8th, 2013 at 23:09

    The CalTrain ROW already has segments with four tracks. Does SB 557 stop any expansion of those four track segments? Would SB 557 stop any additional four track segments added for passing and safety purposes?

    agb5 Reply:

    CalTrain can do four track expansion with it’s own money, but can’t use HSR money without jumping though hoops.

    BrianR Reply:

    I saw the wording that said that as well but guessed I must of misinterpreted it as I doubted PAMPA would be applauding this bill if it still made it that “easy” to do four track expansions.

    So, despite SB 557 Caltrain could still 4-track the line through PAMPA as long as they did it with their own funds? Not that it would be an easy task considering the funding sources. Hopefully that means at least the existing 4-track sections can be remain.

    Despite the MOU could this mean that Caltrain could theoretically have a full 4-track ROW from SF to San Jose but still be defined as a “primarily 2-track system” as long as no HSR funding was used to expand to four tracks at only portion of the line (or less than 49% of the route mileage is 4-tracked with HSR funds)?

    agb5 Reply:

    If the 4-tracking was nothing to do with to the High Speed Rail system, which might be difficult to explain.

    BrianR Reply:

    Caltrain could say the reason for the 4-tracking was so they could add new infill stations and the passing tracks are only needed so baby bullets and skip stop expresses can pass additional locals to be added to the schedule.

    Caltrain could say it is trying to emulate the service pattern of New York’s 4-track subways and explain it away as having nothing to do with high speed rail.

    John Bacon Reply:

    The future computer-controlled single-track minimum line headway for whatever plausible combination of train length, location detection precision, maximum speed, safety braking rate, and speed is not likely to exceed 60 seconds. Compared to a single track station with the same trains with similar operating rules express track throughput is likely to be 2½ times the busiest single-track-for-each-direction station potential throughput. Therefore adding a few miles of intelligently placed express tracks to accommodate the addition of 9 CHSR trains per hour will produce a net improvement in operation speed, flexibility, and reliability for all SF Peninsula corridor trains.
    Service along track sections without stations or rarely used stations, such as the 7.4 mile section between the South San Francisco and 22nd Street stations, will clearly not benefit from more than two tracks. Even after a full-build-out the narrow tree-line Embarcadero to California Avenue section in Palo Alto would not significantly improve mutually independent operation by adding a 4th track. For example the local of a pair of southbound trains making a timed-transfer-stop at University Avenue would lose no more than 30 seconds following an express train on a single track.
    The greater uncertainty in northbound Peninsula traffic arrival times compared to the nearby origin southbound traffic is a substantial reason to give a much higher priority to adding northbound passing-track sections.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    combination of train length, location detection precision, maximum speed, safety braking rate, and speed is not likely to exceed 60 seconds.

    People who do this for a living and who have been doing it for decades, are able to get it down to 90 seconds in a very few places. In other places, that are equally rare, to get it down to 120 seconds and in a few other places down to 140-150 seconds.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s 75 seconds in this part of the world, but that’s with a top speed of 80 km/h.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That implies 48 per hour. 80 KPH means a non stop from San Jose to San Francisco would take just under an hour. And there couldn’t be anything ahead of it.

    John Bacon Reply:

    Thanks for your skepticism; it deserves a thorough response:
    The Vancouver BC Skytrain reported 21 years ago that they could operate with a 60 second headway. William D. Middleton in his Metropolitan Railways book reports that 65 trains per hour per track were operated around the Chicago Loop elevated before the opening of the Downtown Subways in 1943 and 1951. The Moscow Subway currently operates with 72 second headways.
    But my 60 second or less headway estimate was for line capacity with each train not stopping but operating at equal constant speeds. This is a frequent afternoon peak hour commuter railroad practice with every leading train having farther to go before its follower’s first stop among a string of zone expresses converging behind their leaders.
    In order to find the minimum safe headway under these conditions one must determine the minimum distance (S) a following train must remain behind his leader at a given speed (v). This distance is the sum of the assured braking distance (v^2)/(2*b) where ‘b’ is the always achievable braking rate in spite of oil, water, and leaves on the track. Plus the minimum allowed distance between trains (so), train length (L), and the braking rate change delay (bd) in order to avoid tripping standing riders. Initial response delay and position uncertainty approach zero due to fast computer response and the accuracy of electronic distance measuring equipment (DME) a mainstay of aircraft navigation since WWII.

    S = (v^2)/(2*b) + so + L + bd*v

    The minimum headway (H) is equal to the track distance occupied by each train plus its required safety margins divided by each train pair’s common speed (v):
    H = S/v = v/(2*b) + (so + L)/v + bd

    A worst case SF Peninsula example would be a series of 400 meter trains traveling at 200 km/hour (200,000/3600 = 55.6 m/s), a safety braking rate (b = 0.671 m/s), and a gradual brake application delay (bd = 1 second):

    H = 55.6/(2*0.671) + (50 + 400)/55.6 + 1 = 41.4 + 8.10 + 1 = 50.5 seconds

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People who live in the real world don’t run trains at 200 KPH with 60 second headways. They people who design those railroads have access to very expensive software running on very expensive computers using software that has been under development for decades. You wanna play with a spreadsheet and calculate how wrong they are go right ahead.

    John Bacon Reply:

    @ adirondacker12800
    In order to minimize parallel express track distances while accommodating a broad-speed-range high-density rail corridor, with little mutual interference the designer should incorporate the enormous number of cost-effective headway-requirement-reducing train control systems that have come into use within the last three decades. The most effective change reducing headways is to essentially eliminate train position uncertainty with continuous electroni c determination of train position. This approach would reduce the BNSF Chicago to Aurora 110 mph line’s position-uncertainty head-way allowance with their 4,250 feet between block signals by 26 seconds or 23 secons at 200km/hr. Instant electric transmission of braking commands to each car and anti-lock brakes enables immediate aggressive braking action without damage. (Once I observed a long slow freight train with flat wheels on every car.) Foucault linear brake action, known for a century but recently being installed on higher speed railways in Germany, is completely independent of rail-wheel adhesion issues arising from rain mixed with oil and leaves. Separation schemes subject to operator response delay will soon be illegal on passenger carrying railways. A train’s 200 km kinetic energy (516*M*G) is 7.6 times that gained from rolling from the highest to the lowest point along the SF to SJ railroad (68*M*G). Therefore significantly reducing safety braking rates to accommodate Caltrain’s exceptionally flat SF to SJ grades should not be necessary.
    TCRP Report 13 on Rail Transit Capacity page 28 when discussing US line capacity calculation practices says: “Braking rates are invariably uniform.” The equation H = S/v = v/(2*b) + (so + L)/v + bd is all that is needed to determine headway where most traditionally incorporated variables such as operator response time and over-speed allowances are attenuated to insignificance by fast computer control or incorporated in the safety braking rate (b), the minimum distance between trains allowed (so), or the acceleration change delay (bd) constants.
    A careful re-examination of the TCRP R 13 suggests so = 200 m and bd should be 2 seconds. I continue to suggest BART’s more cautious 2.2 ft/sec2 safety braking rate = 0.671 m/sec2 rather than the TCRP R13’s 0.975 m/sec2 recommendation. Therefore the modified 200 km/hr headway is:

    H = 55.6/(2*0.671) + (200 + 400)/55.6 + 2 = 41.4 + 10.8 + 2 = 54.2 seconds

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People who live in the real world don’t run trains at 200 KPH with 60 second headways. They people who design those railroads have access to very expensive software running on very expensive computers using software that has been under development for decades. You wanna play with a spreadsheet and calculate how wrong they are go right ahead.

  2. Emmanuel
    Sep 8th, 2013 at 23:16

    We might as well terminate HSR in San Jose now. Anything beyond that is just very expensive, glorified commuter rail. Let’s just build it on the other side of the bay. No. Wait. Better ideas: Let’s build south first. LA-SD is more profitable anyway. If the peninsula wants HSR later on, they can pay for it themselves.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Altamont alignment/Dumbarton. Four tracks at stations only or north of South City. Timed overtakes. Redwood City-Diridon Caltrain only, but with increased shuttle or “piston” service between those two end points, as the pax loads are heavier there already, IIRC.

    BrianR Reply:

    Is it assumed that with an Altamont alignment/Dumbarton crossing there would be no need for 4-tracks north of Redwood City? I would think that’s where you specifically need 4-tracks the most as the stations are so closely spaced together there. All stops local service north of Redwood City barely runs faster than a crawl.

    I would of thought SB 557 would of had more specific language to clarify if it literally means 2-tracks only vs. providing some allowance for 4-track passing segments. Do the existing 4-track sections get grandfathered in or will Caltrain need to remove them to comply with SB 557?

    If they get grandfathered in and Caltrain wanted to add that “midline overtake” north of Redwood City would they need to reduce existing 4-track sections to 2-tracks so the grandfathered in total mileage allowance for 4-tracks can be re-allocated to where it can be most effectively used? Just some speculative questions.

    Otherwise (assuming the HSR project survives) the consequence of this bill may be to require Caltrain to close some stations north of Redwood City to minimize the bottleneck effect. Some communities might lose service thanks to Jerry Hill.

    agb5 Reply:

    to the extent those funds are allocated to projects in the San Francisco to San Jose segment, shall be used solely to implement a rail system in that segment that primarily consists of a two-track blended system with the system to be contained substantially within the existing Caltrain right-of-way.

    So all you need is to pay some lawyers spend years arguing over the meaning of “primarily” and “substantially”.

    primarily = “for the most part”
    substantially = “to a great degree”

    BrianR Reply:

    I think ‘substantially’ = up to 49% and ‘primarily’ = 51% or over.

    BrianR Reply:

    actually I was only thinking in terms of route mile length, not ROW width constraints. Thinking about it more generally I see how the definitions could be difficult to define.

    A 4-track ROW could still be ‘substantially’ within it’s existing ROW even if 25% of the new ROW width extends outside the original 2-track ROW. 25% being just an arbitrary number of course.

    agb5 Reply:

    I think the full 4 track build-out would be “substantially” within the existing ROW anyway, and especially so if the HSR tracks were on stilts above caltrain, so the principal restriction seems to be that the “HSR system” can’t go beyond 2 blended tracks for 51% if the peninsula without jumping through hoops.

    Eric Reply:

    I would say ‘primarily’ = 51% or over and ‘substantially’ = X% or over, where X is less than 49, perhaps 25.

    StevieB Reply:

    The language you refer to that allocating funds to the Peninsula shall be used solely to implement a rail system in that segment that primarily consists of a two-track blended system is for the $1,100,000,000 in the Budget Act of 2012 and expires when those funds are expended.

    The other introduced language binds future funds to the blended system approach identified in the April 2012 California High-Speed Rail Program Revised 2012 Business Plan unless approved by all nine parties to the Bay Area High-Speed Rail Early Investment Strategy Memorandum of Understanding.

    agb5 Reply:

    No problem, the 2012 business plan has no details on what can’t be done, all it says is:

    The existing Caltrain corridor will be upgraded through grade separations, electrification, and passing tracks (to be studied)

    So the passing tracks could run the whole way from SF to SJ!

    agb5 Reply:

    You can’t end it in San Jose, the people voted for a corridor of the high-speed train system between San Francisco Transbay Terminal and Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim where high-speed train system means a passenger train capable of sustained revenue operating speeds of at least 200 miles per hour where conditions permit those speeds. Conditions on the peninsula don’t permit those speeds, but you still need to use a train capable of such speeds.

    Emmanuel Reply:

    The key word is high-speed train. The people never voted to bail out Caltrain and slow the whole network down for a blended system.

    agb5 Reply:

    It is debatable by how much the blended system slows the whole network down. The high speed train was never going to travel fast on the caltrain ROW because of sharp bends, noise etc.

    The people voted for a San Francisco to San Jose travel time of 30 minutes, The Authority claim that can be achieved while going no faster than 110mph.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    It’s debatable whether the expense of 220mph is justified given the minimal time savings.

    Clem Reply:

    The authority claimed 30 minutes under a very restrictive set of assumptions that would also have the oldest and most decrepit diesel train in Caltrain’s fleet make the SF to SJ run in just 39 minutes. In reality, try 42 minutes for the HSR timetable.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Emmanuel

    Four tracks were and are always a possibility. As often the foamers are missing the real story here: CAHSR wanted 4 tracks for the purpose of constructing two totally separate, segregated, incompatible systems. So the blend offers the upside of forcing attention back on to compatibility.

    “just very expensive, glorified commuter rail”

    That would be the whole blinking downgrade as epitomized by the Palmdale Detour.

  3. jimsf
    Sep 9th, 2013 at 10:16

    It would seem that two tracks would be enough capacity at first anyway and later one, as more capacity is needed, it can be adressed. It could even be addressed by sending excess traffic up the east bay since probably have the pax will be from that side anyway. two tracks for hsr and caltrain into SF and two tracks for capitol corridor and hsr into oakland

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    If 4 tracks crosses somebody’s red line, are 3 tracks an acceptable compromise? We have 3 tracks on the BNSF line where I live (near Chicago), and they seem to work OK – the middle track serves mostly as a passing track. For one thing, you can do track work without slowing everything to a crawl. The BNSF serves suburbs which are just as leafy and ritzy as PAMPA.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But California is special. You can’t compare it to Chicago and it’s suburbs. Or anyplace else where the suburbs grew up around the train station.

    joe Reply:

    I get the sarcasm but FYI The stretch from LaGrange – to Hinsdale makes PAMPA look like a bunch of bungalows.

    And that rail line carriers substantial freight traffic.

    EJ Reply:

    Triple track is actually a good example of something which works well in certain specific circumstances. It’s good for train systems with a strongly tidal flow, or when you have a relatively small number of express trains, etc.

    But there’s a reason it isn’t particularly common.

    Jon Reply:

    It was actually considered and rejected in the Caltrain capacity study – they found a shorter 4-track section to be more effective.

    EJ Reply:

    Richard M does this better, and it’s still lame. Give it up.

  4. Paul Dyson
    Sep 9th, 2013 at 11:44

    Similar legislation will be appropriate for the section Sylmar to Anaheim.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Paul, you are from Socal and know the politics. Please enlighten us as to why Santa Clarita is so anti-rail?

    Would it take a base tunnel to bring them around?

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Point being?

  5. J. Wong
    Sep 9th, 2013 at 11:55

    Although it is unfortunate (and I really thought Brown would veto it), it isn’t a death knell for 4-track on the Peninsula by any means. Yes, 9 agencies need to approve any 4-track for HSR, but really which of those agencies have any reason to not do so? Also, some of the agencies (San Jose, San Francisco) have every reason to approve 4-track.

  6. synonymouse
    Sep 9th, 2013 at 11:57

    @ Robert

    “Peninsula NIMBYs” are the same ones who stopped BART in 1962 and saved the SP commute trains. Without that “Nimby counterrattack” there would be no ROW for PB-CHSRA to exploit. All PAMPA wants in a nice, modern electric commute railroad they can live with. Nothing abnormal here.

    Your real Nimby problem is at Santa Clarita, a natural transfer point from points west, like Ventura and Santa Barbara. It would appear the locals do not want any rail service at all. That is truly and extraordinarily “Nimby”. How come these rich folk are so anti-rail? Why are they not convinced that hsr is fabulous?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It would be a real PITA to get from the station in Burbank, where the rail line that goes to Ventura and Santa Barbara turns to go to Los Angeles, to a station in Santa Clarita.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I was referring to bus-auto connections to Santa Clarita from points west.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The extra few miles to get to Sylmar will keep them all home. On your planet anyway.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If you enjoy a base tunnel mountain crossing Sylmar will do. To detour to Mojave – not.

    It is nutty to even contemplate on to 30 miles of tunnel on the DogLeg. Equivalent to the much faster and cheaper to maintain and operate vastly shorter base tunnel alternative.

    But as Clem has documented so well the prime Tejon two 6 mile tunnels route has by far the best cost-benefit ratio. And that means Santa Clarita. Ergo it is appropriate to ask what is needed to mollify Santa Clarita.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I don’t think Santa Clarita is anti rail. They have 3 Metrolink stations (av weekday boarding total about 1175). Their city council is also a member of OLDA. It is a republican stronghold, Antonovich’s power base, and therefore has a lot of tea party type anti-rail sentiment. As far as HSR is concerned they, and So Cal in general, don’t give it a lot of thought. Most pols either think it will be cancelled or will be so long in coming that they will have changed office three times before they have to pay attention to it. For Santa Clarita it’s a choice of a “parkway” station somewhere off to the SE or no station at all, at least given what they have been told and what is in the plan. There may be three people in Santa Clarita that exercise themselves about Tejon and Tehachapi but I don’t know them personally. That may change once construction begins and if Bakersfield is ever reached.
    The real opposition today is further east, around Acton and Agua Dulce, also Repub/Antonovich territory of course. No one seems to like any of the routes proposed through Sand Canyon and Soledad, and of course there is nothing in it for them.
    Meanwhile flights out of BUR are reduced again (SW cutting 42 flights per week) and Ontario is empty. Megabus will get you to San Jose from Burbank in 6 hours, which is likely to be the best public surface mode offering for the next 20 years.
    Where’s the demand?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The State and Amtrak ought to press UP-BNSF about some kind of passenger train over the Loop. Every now and then you hear the freight traffic is down from before. I dunno is that is really true.

    The San Francisco Chief, as I recall, had pretty good ridership. Nice ride to Flagstaff in a roomette, I remember well in the winter of 1971.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Ah, nostalgia. It’s a thing of the past…
    Train movement totals are subject to the vagaries of international trade amongst other factors. It’s about a 4 hour ride so not very competitive. Will there be shale oil in the central valley to haul to L.A. refineries?

    synonymouse Reply:

    I don’t know if the time of day has any impact on contemporary train operations, but the San Francisco Chief went over the loop around midnite as I recall and had you in Flagstaff in the morning. It managed to last up to Amtrak and I remember there was quite a bit of activity at Fresno. Roomette definitely a nice way to travel.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Amtrak and the state don’t see a point in running trains that would take longer to get to Los Angeles then using the buses they currently run.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    This would not be Amtrak’s decision as this would be a less than 750 mile train intrastate. Read your PRIIA before bedtime. I don’t know the economics off hand but CA DoT could eliminate 4 at least of the connecting bus routes. It might take a bit longer but you would save the connecting time and people would prefer to ride through than transfer. The rolling stock that lays over at Bakersfield could work through. So it mostly comes down to crew costs and track fees. The San Joaquin regional rail board supported a RailPAC resolution to “bridge the gap” and the new LOSSAN JPB will be asked to do the same. Of course, don’t look to them to cough up any dosh, it has to be other people’s money!

    BrianR Reply:

    I could see a new concept in ‘very slow speed’ passenger rail where you take a double stack container train and convert each container to a luxury dwelling unit. It would be a like a play on the “converting containers to housing fetish” that (despite immense impracticality) never seems to die off in architectural circles or among readers of Dwell magazine.

    I think a container housing unit would just be a lot more cooler in concept if it still functioned as a container in a full practical sense rather than being butchered up to resemble something that could of been built with normal building materials anyway. These would be like mobile homes that are actually ‘mobile’ and can be added and removed from the consist like regular containers.

    You would get to know your neighbors and the next day you would never see them again as a container crane lifted them away. It would be a beautiful way to see the Tehachapi Loop. It would be very peaceful and quiet except for the jarring stops and coupler slack slinky effect that send everything flying. You would get used to it though. You might just be spooked by the disclaimer the UP and BNSF would make you sign to acknowledge they would not be responsible in event of your accidental death or dismemberment.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    You are clearly not up to date about container transportation. Container well cars have near rigid couplers within each set and slack action is minimal. APL did a video years ago of a dining table set up inside a container and shipped from LA to Chicago. The place settings were intact upon arrival.
    Of course it would be much more productive if passengers were chloroformed and then stacked inside the containers. On busy routes they could be pre-loaded to specific final destinations such as Wall Street. Opportunity for a high degree of automation.

    JB in PA Reply:

    Shipping passengers like freight has been done before. Still happens occasionally. Not pretty.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are already tightly packed to destinations like Wall Street and Midtown Manhattan. One might say “packed like sardines”.
    Packing them vertically instead of horizontally has it’s charms. Since they are self loading, assuming you don’t make them unconscious, they load and unload much faster than could be achieved horizontally.

    BrianR Reply:


    Actually I did think about the couple slack issue (or non-issue) but it was one of those “after the fact realizations while brushing your teeth.” I’ve seen quite a few modern double stack unit trains but guess I subconsciously associate freight trains with slamming coupler box noises but that is usually from gravel cars that also produce an ear piercing flange squeal passing through crossovers. I hear that almost every evening while waiting for a bus at the Santa Clara Caltrain station. It makes me very anxious for that bus to arrive and get me out of there ASAP!

    If or when the Hyperloop becomes a reality having the passengers chloroformed could become a necessity or it would become the “First Class Option”. Second Class passengers will be awake and conscious for the whole trip but can their memories of the experience erased afterwards. Third Class passengers will just have to deal with the experience. All passengers will receive complimentary diapers with a new innovative liquid and solid waste management system designed and perfected by Elon Musk.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Adi: Please explain about getting from Burbank to Santa Clarita. What combinations of services and station stops are you discussing?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    silly me, I assumed that if the train from San Francisco got as far as Santa Clarita, someday it would go all the way to Los Angeles. The line going to Ventura and Santa Barbara would probably meet up with the HSR line in Burbank. It’d be a pain to change from the eastbound/southbound train in Burbank to a northbound train and then change trains again in Santa Clarita. Normal people would just change to the train going to Bakersfield and points north, in Burbank. I have no idea why he thinks people have an unrequited desire to use a train station in Santa Clarita.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    People in Santa Clarita would, as would drivers from Ventura along 126. There are dreamers who think that the original main via Santa Paula would be reopened to connect at Newhall or somewhere with HSR but that’s highly unlikely given the commercial development along Magic Mountain Parkway.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I believe an hsr station at Santa Clarita would be very busy as the travel times to that part of the LA Basin would be especially competitive as no airport nearby.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The people in Santa Clarita who are inclined to get on a train for a 400 mile trop aren’t going to be deterred by the few miles it would take to get to Sylmar. Put it in Santa Clarita the people in Sylmar won’t get a station. some compromises have to be made.

  7. joe
    Sep 9th, 2013 at 21:03

    Prop1A case 9/27/13

    The same Sacramento County judge who last month was critical of the California High-Speed Rail Authority’s 2011 funding plan will soon decide the agency’s request to approve the sale of Proposition 1A bonds for the statewide rail project.

    Judge Michael Kenny will hear arguments from attorneys for the rail authority and from opponents, including the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, on Sept. 27 in his Sacramento County Superior Court courtroom. The California High-Speed Rail Authority wants the judge to validate the sale of bonds from Prop. 1A, the $9.9 billion high-speed rail bond measure approved by voters in 2008, so that it can move forward with construction of its first 29-mile segment from Madera through Fresno.

    Read more here:

  8. joe
    Sep 9th, 2013 at 21:04

    New actions for HSR

    Two other big-ticket items on Tuesday’s agenda are:

    -Authorizing agency CEO Jeff Morales to make agreements with AT&T and Pacific Gas & Electric Co. to cover the costs for the utility companies to relocate cables, switches, pipelines and other equipment to make way for construction of the Madera-Fresno section.

    The agreements would reimburse AT&T up to $18.4 million for relocating equipment at 54 locations in the 29-mile segment, and PG&E up to $50.4 million for relocating gas and power lines at 85 locations in the section.

    -Allowing Morales to sign agreements with Union Pacific Railroad for up to $39.4 million for engineering, construction and maintenance of the high-speed rail line that runs adjacent to or near the UPRR freight tracks through Fresno.

    Read more here:

  9. Wells
    Sep 10th, 2013 at 16:50

    Mister Cruikshank, you sir are The NIMBY defiantly undermining passenger-rail progress in California.
    For all your expertice, you refuse to consider contrary viewpoint. Your purist sentiment on some supposed necessity to build 200mph HSR has more than doubled its cost, multiplied its impacts, stirred rightful opposition and condemned whole cities and neighborhoods to hardship and exclusion from rail progress. Thank you, but your advice is no longer credible. Either accept a 5-hour LA-to-SF trip time on a imminently practical 135mph Talgo-type system, or forget it. Be careful what you ask for, NIMBY.

    jimsf Reply:

    Why should we build a 135 mph train when we can build high speed rail, like every other industrial nation and when the voters voted for high speed rail. Are you conceding that the united states can no longer keep up with the rest of the world? Should we just hang it up? No, it mostly small thinking, chicken littles and negative nancys who think we better not get in the pool cuz it might be cold, or deep or wet.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    seeing that there is little difference between building a 135 MPH railroad and a 225 MPH railroad, especially in flat places like the Central Valley, why not?

    Elizabeth Reply:

    there is actually a big difference. Even when flat there are still a lot of structures which have to be built to withstand particular beating that high speed inflict.

    The CV has soft soils -the work you will have to do because of high speeds to make them competent is not insubstantial.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Those same structures have to be built to travel at 135.

    joe Reply:

    …and multi-storey buildings and road over-passes are hard to build too.

    No one put a 135 MPH train on the ballot. It wasn’t compelling and would have lost.

  10. Donk
    Sep 10th, 2013 at 21:26

    If they are going to sign this bill then lets also pull the $400M from the Transbay Terminal and put it back into something useful.

    Clem Reply:

    What, like filling the hole?

  11. Sic Transit Philadelphia
    Sep 11th, 2013 at 21:32

    It’s worth noting that, if HSR on the blended plan succeeds to the point of being a victim of its own success, expanding to four tracks along the Peninsula at a future date will take the agreement of either the nine entities named in SB 557, or just two others: the Assembly and Senate of California.

  12. Adina Levin
    Sep 16th, 2013 at 00:27

    It seems to me that the more important part of SB557 is the provision that nails down the funding for the “bookends.” If there are delays and cost overruns in the Central Valley, the HSRA might be tempted to take advantage of the loophole in SB 1029 to take money from northern and southern california. The bill closes the loophole and says that the money needs to spent on the “bookends” as the legislature intended.

    As for expanding beyond the “primarily 2 track” blended system, this provision is unlikely to come into play for decades. If things go smoothly (and there are already delays) High Speed Rail would arrive on the Peninsula in the late 2020s. The Blended System will allow 3-4 High Speed Trains trains per direction per hour – by comparison, New York to DC and Paris to London provide three high speed trains per hour. So, unless there is major change like serious spikes in fuel prices, the provision would come into play decades from now, if SF-LA needs more rail service than NY-DC.

    That will be a different world, with a different set of economics, and a different generation of decision-makers and voters.

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