Anti-HSR Forces Renew Call for New Alignment

Nov 5th, 2013 | Posted by

Last weekend a meeting in Hanford brought together anti-high speed rail activists to pitch their case for unnecessary changes that would undermine, perhaps fatally, the California high speed rail project. The only difference is that the meeting was held by those who consider themselves to be supporters of passenger rail.

The Train Riders Association of California (TRAC) and David Schonbrunn, for example, have long opposed the California high speed rail project and worked to undermine it on multiple occasions. So it’s no surprise they’ve joined up with anti-HSR folks from Kings County to make their pitch for sweeping changes to the HSR system. These changes, including a new alignment, are pitched as saving the project. In fact, they would not only repeat the same problems already in existence, they would also create much more serious problems as well.

But rather than simply bash the concept of high-speed rail and the Authority’s plan, which came under intense scrutiny, the approximately 75 participants on hand also reviewed possible alternatives, including a combination freight/passenger route they said could generate the private investment capital necessary to make high-speed rail a reality.

They’re going to combine freight and passenger trains? Like we already have, a system that works well enough but can’t provide true high speed rail service? They’re basically calling for the status quo in terms of rail in California, which does not attract private investment capital.

The focus Saturday was on a combination freight/passenger route that roughly follows the Interstate 5 route over Tejon Pass. The option would require private investment from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe and Union Pacific railroads to succeed, speakers said. Such a plan would close the Los Angeles-to-Bakersfield gap in the Amtrak system and would probably include upgrades to the Central Valley Amtrak track to increase speeds to 125 mph.

“California needs a realistic and achievable high-speed rail plan,” said David Schonbrunn, president of the Transportation Solutions and Education Fund.

California has a realistic and achievable high speed rail plan. It’s just not a plan David Schonbrunn likes.

The concept as I understand it here is something much less than high speed rail. Rather than Japanese or French style bullet trains, the concept would provide slightly higher speeds in the Central Valley and rely on a crossing of the Tehachapi Range at Tejon Pass to connect the Valley to Southern California. The gap in passenger rail service between Bakersfield and Palmdale/Santa Clarita is the main missing link in California passenger rail right now.

But the California HSR project has a realistic plan to close that gap, tunneling under Tehachapi Pass to Palmdale. The Tejon concept being pitched here by TRAC and Schonbrunn is a fantasy.

First, neither BNSF nor UP have shown any interest in helping undertake a megaproject like building a new rail line through the Tejon Pass. Their business model relies on leveraging legacy rail infrastructure to move freight, making upgrades to those tracks and routes as needed but never more than is necessary to keep freight moving.

For those freight railroads, their main routes are west to east. Cargo ships carrying manufactured goods from China arrive at a port on the West Coast, unload their cargo, and then the cargo containers are loaded onto trains than head eastward toward warehouses in the Inland Empire or to other metropolitan areas further to the east. I am struggling to envision the kind of freight demand that would entice these two railroads to suddenly be willing to commit billions to help build a new north-south rail alignment, since a north-south route within California is far from a high priority for either of them.

So without the freight companies, you’re back to seeking other private investors and federal money. Which is exactly where the California HSR project is. Congratulations, guys, you’ve just reinvented the wheel.

Except this wheel has other problems:

[Frank] Oliveira suggested a route along Interstate 5, with feeder lines running westward along existing rail corridors. Such a plan would avoid impacts to Kings County homes, properties and dairies that have earned the current two route options between Fresno and Bakersfield such disapproval in Kings County, he said.

By cutting Bakersfield and Fresno out of the mainline, they’d be reducing ridership and revenues, making the project less attractive to a private investor.

And what “existing rail corridors” is he talking about here? Assuming they exist, preparing them for passenger rail service will entail disruption to someone else’s farmland.

So too will an Interstate 5 alignment. It’s unlikely that the state or federal governments would allow HSR tracks to be placed in the median of an interstate. That means the new tracks would have to go on either the east or west side of the freeway. That in turn means someone else’s farmland will have to be bought to make way for the tracks, and it wouldn’t be a small narrow strip either. I’m sure those farmers on the west side will be happy to experience the disruption just so Frank Oliveira doesn’t.

Ultimately an Interstate 5 alignment would generate its own opposition, its own lawsuits, its own angry public meetings. It wouldn’t be much cheaper, if at all, since there would be numerous interchanges that have to be rebuilt. And bypassing the population centers of the San Joaquin Valley reduces ridership and revenues, making the system a less attractive investment.

None of these proposals are realistic. They lack political support and would be much more difficult to fund than the current California HSR project. The existing project only appears difficult to fund because the Tea Party seized control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, and has been making every aspect of modern American civilization difficult to fund. Once the Tea Party is kicked out of power, then HSR will become much easier to fund again.

But these kinds of vaporware proposals appeal to those who are either put off by the challenges faced by the current HSR project, or who are merely piqued that their own brilliant ideas were somehow and unjustly ignored by those big bad bureaucrats in Sacramento.

  1. Michael
    Nov 5th, 2013 at 14:59

    So, if the BNSF and UP follow I-5, is there also a cut-off built from I-5 following 138 into the Antelope Valley to connect with their lines that bypass the LA basin, or do they run into the San Fernando Valley with the passenger line and then through the LA basin? If it’s the first, they’re only utilizing about a quarter of the new mountain crossing, and BNSF ends up with a longer route to its desert line. Where’s the incentive for their investment? If the freights run all the way into the LA basin, aren’t they just again traveling a longer route, and a more congested route than they already have?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Good points. BNSF has invested in their Transcon line through the Cajon Pass, an existing route that serves the east-west corridor. The Transcon is one of the primary routes by which containers from China make their way inland to other parts of the US after being offloaded at the Port of LA-Long Beach. BNSF didn’t have to create an entirely new route for it, just added a third track within existing ROW. A significant investment but far more affordable than Tejon. The idea floated on Saturday is a non-starter.

    YesonHSR Reply:

    Robert never post anything that I respond to..Enough of your Censors..I gave at least 500 bucks to CAfor HSR and this is what I get?? You let assholes POST AT WILL on this board ..I want an answer.

  2. Joe
    Nov 5th, 2013 at 15:22

    I think this proposal to redo high-speed rail is a clever ploy to drive eyeballs to their blogs so they can make some money with Google ads.

    Kings County has insisted that there is no route in the county that they would support.

    There’s a recent article stating that fact from one of the County commissioners. They are quite adamant and I take them seriously. there’s absolutely nothing this project can do to appease Kings County.

    Opponents of high-speed rail are like cigarette companies. They need to study high-speed rail longer so they can do it right we just need more studies. We need more information more data before we make a rash decision and start regulating cigarettes or start building high-speed rail.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Good analogy. They would prefer a Highway 99 alignment through Tulare County. I believe the problem with that is what happens when you get to Bakersfield. Following the BNSF alignment south of Fresno allows one to approach Bakersfield on an east-west alignment following those tracks. If one came at Bakersfield from the north via 99 you’d have a huge challenge since the ROW along 99 is very constrained in central Bakersfield.

    jimsf Reply:

    99 adjacent would be great, but you still impact farmland, and the towns along the freeway, even you avoid the UP altogether.

    It too bad they can do 99 adjacent south of fresno to the tulare county line, then along the county line south to corcoran to rejoin the bnsf. cutting Kings co completely out.

    This would avoid the county altogether

    datacruncher Reply:

    The cities of Fowler, Selma and Kingsburg to the south of Fresno all opposed HSR cutting thru their towns back in the 2004 Program EIR/EIS. The cities passed resolutions in 2004 supporting HSR but calling for a bypass around their cities.

    Alan Kandel Reply:

    Good point, Joe.

    And, speaking of which, would Kings County, et al. even support a Freeway 41 HSR alignment between I-5 and downtown Fresno on the portion which traverses Kings County? Something on this order would seem minimally disruptive. One has to wonder.

    joe Reply:

    The County Board Chairman say there is no alignment so let’s do what’s best for CA.
    “It doesn’t matter what they want, we don’t want this in Kings County,” Board Chairman Doug Verboon said last week. “Agriculture is the No. 1 source of income in Kings County. We can’t lose one acre.”

    He reminds me of a character in a book I once read.

    A train! A train!
    A train! A train!
    Could you, would you
    on a train?

    Not on a train! Not in a tree!
    Not in a car! Sam! Let me be!
    I would not, could not, in a box.
    I could not, would not, with a fox.
    I will not eat them with a mouse
    I will not eat them in a house.
    I will not eat them here or there.
    I will not eat them anywhere.
    I do not like them, Sam-I-am.

  3. jimsf
    Nov 5th, 2013 at 15:55

    Good grief enough of this nonsense already. THIS IS what was on the table when we voted for pop 1a. Plain and simple. And that is what we expect. End of story.

    Prop 1a PASSED with voter approval based on that. And the state has a responsibility to build that system, serving those cities along that general route, and using existing row when possible ( not everywhere, but when possible) Based on serving the cities shown on that map, along the route shown on that map, californians passed prop 1a.

    so enough already.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:


    jimsf Reply:

    I mean was everyone high when they voted or something. I specifically remember this route and these cities being the deal with 1a. I voted for hsr based on that.

    And yes, the full build out is going to take longer than originally projected. ( La to SF by 2020) I KNEW that would be the case. California can’t even bake a potato in ten years let alone build a project so of course Im not surprised that its going to take longer, BUT, as was said RIGHT UP FRONT before I voted, the system would be build in SEGMENTS and PHASES with SEGMENTS to be constructed based on funding and readiness, seg by seg, which is exaclty what is going to happen. Further, the blended plan, is not the end of the story. so for those whining about the blended plan ( and mind you, the same people who whining about the over building and cost of full blown HSR, are now the same peaople whining about the money saving, initial and temporary, blended plan) you need to take a pill.

    I don’t know if half the people here are just uniformed, or ignorant, or just so busy foaming at the mouth with hate, spittle dripping from their lips, or just what…. but people, this is not difficult to understand. OMG.

    Andrew Reply:

    A one-off vote is not a system that allows for corrective feedback. Iteration and adaptation to environmental feedback are essential principles of successful systems. The logic of “Sorry; it’s already been decided” virtually guarantees failure in any endeavor (whether physical, biological, social, or cognitive).

    Did we get a ship to a specific location on Mars by calculating the perfect trajectory in advance? No; we did it by taking our best shot and then adjusting the trajectory numerous times each day over a period of months.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    We didn’t decide to send it to Venus a year after it was launched either.

    Andrew Reply:

    but it very well could have ended up there without an iterative feedback mechanism…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and when they are out digging holes they’ll do that. If they run into big rocks they’ll break out the jackhammers instead of using the backhoe. they haven’t announced it will start service on the morning of October 28th 2025 it will be someplace in 2025 if everybody is moderately lucky. If you want to spend the next ten years deciding whether or not the concrete should be tinted Mojave Beige or San Joaquin Taupe it will be in 2036.

    Andrew Reply:

    The initial alignment was wrong and we should be willing to change it. Only California puts these kinds of details directly to voters in referenda with no mechanism for their representatives to make adjustments along the way. CA needs a governance reset – a const’l convention.

    jimsf Reply:

    thats what people who dont get their way always say.

    Andrew Reply:

    No; that’s what objectively thinking people say. Sometimes the error works in my favor, sometimes against. But I recognize that the governance system itself is biased toward the non-correction of errors.

    You and Robert are like W – “I decided we need to invade Iraq, now that’s that! I have made up my mind!” Completely closed to new information. Immune to learning.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The initial alignment was, in fact, pretty much correct, and claiming otherwise doesn’t change that fact. The train should run through major cities and stop in the middle of them; train routing 101.

    jimsf Reply:

    I supported the project route proposed then and still do. Not because I don’t want to change my mind, but because it is the correct route to connect the most people in the most places to the most other places.

    jimsf Reply:

    we aren’t building a train to mars.

    This is a very simple proposition.

    Voters, do you want a high speed rail system that follows the route on the map shown serving the cities invovled? yes or no?

    Its not a nuclear fusion. Or a moon base. Or the cuban missle crisis. Its just a train. Its goes from city to city. It picks people up those cities and drops them off in adjacent cities.

    People voted based on an understanding that “oh yeh hey that thing will go near where I live and I can take it to places such as a, b and c! cool, Ill take it”

    They want it. Now build it.

    Andrew Reply:

    Determining an optimal* alignment is a very complex decision that cannot be decided with reliable accuracy in one go years before groundbreaking and with no corrective feedback mechanism.

    *maximally value-creating for Californians

    Nathanael Reply:

    Clouds of bullshit. Of course there are going to be numerous careful refinements of the exact route. That doesn’t change the basic outline of it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and it’s too bad you weren’t paying attention for the past decade when those decisions were being made. They made the decision to go to Mars back in 2008 and what’s happening now are those minor course corrections along the way. It’s too late to decide to go to Venus.

    flowmotion Reply:

    The voters were given completely inaccurate information about construction costs and cost/benefit trade-offs of different routes.

    Even this blog’s posters, who are far more informed than the general public, made numerous wildly incorrect assumptions about how the system would be constructed, while trusting authority studies that turned out to completely incorrect. Since then, some people here have adjusted their opinion to fit the new data. Others seem to wave their hands and say it doesn’t matter.

    In any case, it’s clear now that CAHSR is trying to construct the most expensive, politically difficult system possible. If one was cynical, they could say it’s designed from the beginning to fail, and its supporters have been taken for a ride.

    jimsf Reply:

    Its not the most politically difficult system. It is in fact, driven by politics. Remember politics is the people. The routes were chosen specifically to serve those communites that want high speed rail.

    An -5 alignment would never have passed muster with the voters as it would only benefit people in la and the bay area and would leave out the rest of the counties. Those other counties that voted in favor of the current route did so because they wanted access to hsr.

    The only politically difficult parts are with the wealthy assholes on the peninsula who can’t be bothered by common people passing through their town, and with the hysterical tea party kookoo clocks who live in kings county who have been manipulated by lies from corporate ag. corp ag has seized the opportunity to take advantage of the local fear based conservative mindset.

    VBobier Reply:

    And I’ll add that the CHSRA does not need permission to construct tracks and buy ROW in Kings County, I think State Government ought to start thinking about moving Government jobs in Kings to around Visalia CA, a place that actually would welcome HSR, unlike the Neanderthals in Kings County…

    VBobier Reply:

    That should read:

    “CHSRA does not need permission from Kings County to construct tracks and buy ROW in Kings County”

    joe Reply:

    But we do the calculations to reach Mars beforehand!

    And there is a window of opportunity – make that window the mission is cancelled. It can be years before the orbits align for the next flight.

    The science community does NOT want do overs – they push to get what they can in place for the flight or the project is GONE and the funds go to some other science community or need.

    This argument to re-plan HSR is stupid.

    Jonathan Reply:

    “can be years before the orbits align for the next flight”?
    Huh? Two years and two months, regular as clockwork. Do a Google search if you want an exact number of days. Joe, your ignorance never ceases to surprise me.

    joe Reply:

    Yes, Years is obviously two or more.

    And in my ignorance.

    Here’s a list of Mars Oppositions from 2007-2020 (source)
    Dec. 24, 2007 – 88.2 million km (54.8 million miles)
    Jan. 29, 2010 – 99.3 million km (61.7 million miles)
    Mar. 03, 2012 – 100.7 million km (62.6 million miles)
    Apr. 08, 2014 – 92.4 million km (57.4 million miles)
    May. 22, 2016 – 75.3 million km (46.8 million miles)
    Jul. 27. 2018 – 57.6 million km (35.8 million miles)
    Oct. 13, 2020 – 62.1 million km (38.6 million miles)

    2018 should be a very good year, with a Mars looking particularly bright and red in the sky.

    Read more:

    Ironically my son’s doing English plurals homework tonight. He’s apparently smarter than you and less inclined to immature outbursts. How about a cookie?

    Jonathan Reply:

    Dear Joe,
    Time for an English lesson. “Can be years” means something rather different than “is always two years an two months”. I could say “Synodic period with respect to Earth” but that would apparently be over your head.

    joe Reply:

    An apology is beyond your capacity.

    Two is plural.

    And you insist on pretending the distance does not vary. Nice. How many years until Mars is as cloase as 2018?

    Jonathan Reply:

    As for irony: not only did you get caught out on the facts — you wrote “can be years before the orbits align for the next flight”, now you’re posing tables of oppositions Oppositions are not launch windows — the times when a spacecraft can be launched from Earth to Mars on a minimum-energy orbit.

    You blew it *again*, Joe. It’s obvious that you didn’t have a clue about launch-window periods when you originally wrote that it “[could] be years” between windows. Now you’re just compounding your error.

    Five stars for buffoonery.

    joe Reply:

    Oh god. You’re nuts.
    “can be years before the orbits align for the next flight”
    2 years is plural. Plural. 2 years.

    ” In addition, the lowest available transfer energy varies on a roughly 16-year cycle.”

    You’re nuts.

    wdobner Reply:

    If you’re going to be obnoxiously pedantic for the sake of harassing Joe then you need to mention means of getting from the Earth to Mars other than Hohman Transfer Orbits or the modification thereof required to reach the red planet. For example, the use of trajectories going via Lagrange points.

    To haul this back toward being on topic, there is something to be said for an initial CHSRA service akin to the trajectory provided by solar electric thrusters. Spacecraft using low thrust SEP are required to slowly spiral into and out of the planet at either end, but are extremely fast through the interplanetary portion of the flight. In the same way leaving the bookends virtually unimproved outside of electrification and banking on the FRA’s decision to allow UIC equipment to get trains from Sylmar to LAUS, and from Tracy to San Jose over Altamont could allow the system to get up and operating with a still competitive sub-5 hour travel time much earlier than might be possible if we wait for the route over Pacheco or Altamont to be completed.

    Jesse D. Reply:

    Hear. Friggin. Hear.

    Haven’t these people ever heard of eminent domain? You’re in the path of progress and change, let’s get on Zillow and price your place, and suggest something slightly down the road.

    It’ll cost CHSRA a little, but that’ll easily be repaid in ridership.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    It’s interesting you consider prop 1a so sacrosanct when you argued just days ago that only a “big dummy” would believe everything that was written and promised in the law. So if I am keeping score right

    Route is untouchable
    Money is untouchable
    Time requirements are really suggestions
    Requirement to have all money and EIR before construction starts is a suggestion

    You can’t have it both ways jim. You can’t claim now that the law is “set and voted and can’t be changed” when you also say ” those requirements in the law are not really requirements”. Pick a side

    Myself, I don’t think they can change the route or go to a 125mph system because that is not what the law says

    Of course the democrats are too stupid to just solve this issue once and for all. With supermajorities in both houses and the Govenor they could pass a new law that is identical to Prop1a without all the restrictions they can’t meet. Then just admit that 1a can’t be met so no 1a money will be used.

    However “law 2” bonds have no such restrictions so they can legally use that money. They spin it in the press as an “adjustment” to the law to help progress if the system. No additional money, it just replaces the original 9 billion. They could even “pay back” the prop 1a funds already spent.

    Overnight all the legal objections are now moot. The new law has no requirements to sue against. There will be a human decry from opponents but in the end they could not legally stop it because it is a new law.

    Easy breezy. They are just too stupid to figure it out so they keep getting hammered in court with a law they can’t meet.

    jimsf Reply:

    They have won in court. Thats why the project is proceeding.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    You are awfully confident considering they lost the court case and penalties have not been decided

    jimsf Reply:

    Ive been in california for nearly 50 years now. This project is going to be built. Its going to start out slow. segment by segment. its going to take a long time. then it will be upgraded, then it will be expanded. Thats how it will happen. Once phase one and two are complete to full hsr, plans to add extensions will begin. Those extensions will go through the same long tedious process that this first segment is going through. Thats the way it works. No one is going to stop it. No one is going to change how the process works. and no one is going to make it get built any faster.

    mark my words.

    Eventually, in say, 2075, they will being extending the sac line north to redding. ( due to continued growth along the east side of the sacramento valley and foothills) along the 99 corridor. And that extension will be subject to all the exact same arguments and hand wringing as the san joaquin valley section. 1-5 versus downtown chico, versus , green field statons, etc etc. Just you watch and see. Only by then, they will have an example to follow based on the success or not, of the san joaquin sections.

    Jon Reply:

    Thank you, jimsf, for being a voice of sanity on this blog.

    joe Reply:

    I think sooner. Way sooner.

    In 2006 SF Mayor Newsome was dooming the Democratic party with the unpopular social issue: Gay Marriage in 2004.

    In 1995 is had 26% approval. Now 54%. Not civil unions but marriage.

    Interracial marriage approval in 1958 was 4%, 1995 it was only 48%. In 2013 it has an 87% approval.

    High Speed Rail is a tribal issue – Historically it was a popular issue with the GOP. It is opposed because it’s a signature issue for Obama. That’s irrational opposition and not sustainable.

    Morris Brown is in his 70’s. 2075? How about 2033?

    jimsf Reply:

    I think a more realistic time frame is full hsr between transbay and union station by 2030. ( electric high speed service 125mph bookends and 220 in between)

    Then I think they would fill the gap from sacramento to merced since its so short while extending service south from union station to anaheim. by 3035 is optimistic. Meanwhile union station -riverside-san diego won’t be completed before 2050. although the would likely start with a union station -riverside segment first.

    After 2050 the sacramento valley will have seen enough growth and shift in demographics, to support converting a yet to be funded existing conventional line, to hsr.

    So I think 2075 is realisitc.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I think it wont get anywhere because they dont have the money. Set aside the compliance to the law, they are counting on federal money that is not going to happen.

    If they had a dedicated funding source like a transit tax, then i would agree with you. Until them, they will hope forever for federal money that is not going to materialize

    joe Reply:

    I think it wont get anywhere because they dont have the money.

    We are the Bestest, Most powerful, Moral, Wealthiest Nation to ever exist in History but haz no money for afford HSR.

    Really, it’s peanuts compared to 800B defence budget, 60 B black Intel budget, off the budget war expenses and corporate welfare state.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Oh no we have the money…..we choose not to spend it. Democracy. No votes at the federal level

    joe Reply:

    Well you cleverly decided to punt on the pathetic GOP performance at the State level.
    Thank god they shut-down the government. Now they’re pushing to cancel health insurance policies.

    Sadly, as goes CA so goes the Nation.

    We have the money – just have to push out the Whigs and get back to historical levels of infrastructure spending.

    joe Reply:

    I think rail investments will turn on a dime.
    Kids are broke and fed up with the need-a-car bullshit.
    When Obama leaves office, the GOP will find another hot button issue.

    We are one global oil shock away from a massive investment in alternative transit. It’s $3.50 in Gilroy, now, try 4.50 or 5 per gallon. And congestion here is out of control – it can’t wait that long.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s a tribal issue now, but it hasn’t so far exhibited the rapid shifts of gay marriage. Maybe it will, but I’m skeptical that anything will move until the first line opens. The analogy is that abortion started shifting after Roe, and gay marriage started shifting after 2004.

    Meanwhile, the Bully just won reelection by a huge margin and is considered an effective Governor for canceling ARC and diverting the money to road widening.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    Actually, Governor Christie’s decision to cancel the ARC was timely and right, because if it had been built, it would have been a huge expenditure of money wasted on a trans-Hudson rail tunnel that would have terminated many feet below Manhattan’s West Side in a dead-end station – which was only going to serve New Jersey Transit’s commuter trains.

    What made the ARC project so egregiously bad was that it would have done nothing to alleviate the two-bore, 1910-era Pennsylvania Railroad tunnel chokepoint which is the only way Amtrak’s Northeast Corridor trains can presently cross the Hudson River at New York City. If, instead, the ARC had been planned to augment the Pennsylvania Railroad’s two ancient tunnels, this project would have made far more economic sense, and Christie might then well have supported it.

    Before the fiasco that became the fatally-flawed ARC, there had been plans to construct a pair of new tunnels linking New Jersey to Penn Station, and that project had included building an extension cross-town to connect Penn Station to Grand Central Terminal.

    It’s a good thing indeed that New Jersey’s governor canceled this huge, terribly wasteful and ill-conceived project! There were many pro-rail groups in the New York – New Jersey region who were adamantly opposed to ARC, including the National Association of Railroad Passengers, The National Corridors Initiative and the New Jersey Association of Railroad Passengers, to name just three.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    it would have ended many feet under Manhattan street and actually gotten built. It would have been a dead end until they found the money to continue onto to Grand Central. And being able to send trains to or from Sunnyside only works when the LIRR is on strike. Otherwise it can’t be done because there are too many LIRR trains in the way to make any difference. Not that there would be train in Sunnyside to send to Penn Station if some diaster struck and they needed to send trains to Penn Station.
    The more expensive plans Amtrak are pursuing will have less capacity and end in stub terminal that can’t go farther east unless they start tearing down skyscrapers to make space.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Christie could have announced a change to Alt G. He didn’t; he canceled the entire project and diverted the money toward roads.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    he could have announced that everybody is going to get flying unicorns that fart 20 pounds of gold daily too. Alternate G had flaws, that the people who the make decisions, decided were unsupportable. Notwithstanding the pleas of random foamers who have examined it closely with their simulations in Microsoft Train Simulator.

    morris brown Reply:

    @John Nachtigall

    Your proposal would indeed solve all of the Authority’s problems. What you didn’t mention is “law 2” would have to go to the voters for approval. It would never pass there.

    Without voter approval, the Legislature has absolutely no authority to tamper with Prop 1A, restrictions and all.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    You don’t need the voters if you pass a new bond measure with a 2/3 rd majority. They would not tamper with prop 1a in any way, they would just never execute it. So 1a would never be executed. Law 2 would

    morris brown Reply:

    @John Nachtigall

    Sorry, but you do need voter approval for a bond measure… thank heavens… otherwise, the legislature would go nuts with the ability to pass bonds without voter approval.

    morris brown Reply:

    @John Nachtigall

    You might want to look at:


    John Nachtigall Reply:

    They only have to add 1 step. So they raise a tax

    then use it to fund a bond without voter approval (from your link)

    A city could fund a sewage treatment plant by selling “revenue bonds” backed by the revenues from the monthly sewer fees paid by citizens. The state could fund construction of a prison by agreeing to lease the prison and selling shares in the flow of lease revenue, an arrangement called a lease revenue bond, a leaseback, or certificates of participation. The state tends to use revenue and lease bonds for projects which are necessary but not particularly popular, such as state office buildings and prisons.

    If you never use the original bonds you can sell it as no revenue change. Also has the advantage of being able to extend the tax in the future when no one is looking to get more money.

  4. J Tucker
    Nov 5th, 2013 at 16:05

    I don’t think the I-5 alignment is a terrible idea, but it should not be considered as the initial build. As HSR gains in popularity, we could maybe then consider a bypass line down the I-5 corridor for express runs between LA/SD and SF/SAC. Also, I don’t see why Caltrans would be so apposed to this idea. There seems to be ample room in the center median that could easily fit a couple tracks and access roads. There could even be room left for future road widening. I’m know there are other logistics that I am not aware of but I don’t see the level of public resistance that the original routing has brought.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    My understanding is that the median of interstate freeways in rural areas has to be a certain width for safety concerns – enough room for someone speeding along at 70 mph to be able to swerve into the median and come to a stop without hitting other vehicles. But even if that issue were overcome, and perhaps it’s not a high hurdle to clear, you’d still likely have to rebuild most of the overpasses.

    joe Reply:

    The law gives the Illinois State Toll Highway Authority power to design and construct railroad tracks and charge access fees to passenger or freight operators who use them subject to the governor’s approval.

    The change may seem like a stretch for an agency charged with running toll roads. But supporters said it makes sense in the case of the soon-to-be widened Jane Addams Tollway (I-90), where plans to build a parallel commuter railway line have fallen by the wayside because of a funding shortfall.

    It’s also a tool to expand high-speed rail in Illinois, one advocate thinks.

    “There’s an incredible economic corridor that goes from Chicago to O’Hare to Schaumburg to Hoffman Estates, Elgin and Rockford,” Midwest High Speed Rail Executive Director Rick Harnish said. “If you take each of those individually it adds up to an incredibly powerful service.

    I used to ride I-90 between Rockford (2nd largest city in IL) and Chicago. It would ideal to have rail from West to Rockford, then follow I-90 N to Madison and east to Milwaukee and South to Chicago. That route would run through Paul Ryan’s WI district and of course Gov Walker’s vetoed their State rail project and damaged Milwaukee efforts to keep the Talgo facility open.

    Ted K. Reply:

    Per A Policy on Design Standards : Interstate System (AASHTO / FHWA) :

    Medians in rural areas in level or rolling topography shall be at least 11 m (36 ft) wide. Medians in urban or mountainous areas shall be at least 3.0 m (10 ft) wide. AASHTO’s Roadside Design Guide should be consulted to determine the details and warrants, based on consideration of average daily traffic, median width, and crash history, for barrier installation in the median. When economically feasible, consideration should be given to decking over the opening between parallel structures and extending a median barrier across the deck. Where continuous decking is not feasible, median barriers or guardrails should be installed to stop or redirect an errant vehicle safely.

    AASHTO bookstore page :
    NB – twelve (12) pages, $25/$30 (members/non-members)

    Also, vertical clearance has to be at least 16′ (sixteen feet) plus a margin for future repaving. This applies to ALL rural routes and to at least one route through any urban area.

    P.S. Google is prominent in my searching toolkit.

    jimsf Reply:

    i-5 is no where near as straight nor level as people think it is in their imaginations. Its no good for hsr. To put HSR down the i-5 corridor you would either have to do hundreds of miles of of cut and fill on the west side, or if you wanted level ground, on the east side, you would have to impact the very same farmers. Its a total myth that i-5 is somehow an easier deal. Californians have a fantasy in their minds about how straight and flat the 5 is. It isn’t. At all.

    flowmotion Reply:

    That is true, I-5 runs through the foothills and there’s quite a bit of terrain around the road. If you look at maps of the California Aquaduct, it S curves all over the place to stay roughly ‘level’.

    However, agricultural usage seems much less intense along 5 and it comes near no major settlements. So it’s certain there would be far less political opposition. (Not that CAHSR seems to care.)

  5. Andrew
    Nov 5th, 2013 at 16:24

    Shun Kings County by moving the IOS to Fresno-Stockton-Oakland Harbor BART (served by all 4 transbay BART lines; under 5 minutes from downtown SF), then watch them beg for a Hanford Station:

  6. morris brown
    Nov 5th, 2013 at 17:16

    The State Attorney General has filed with the Court a set of last minute objections in the Tos et al lawsuit.
    The key hearing is set for this Friday, Nov 8th, 2013.

    These objections can be viewed at:

    Nathanael Reply:

    The AG objections appear to all be legally correct — straightforward principles of law. The Tos et al lawsuit is a last ditch effort to throw things at the wall and see what sticks; the judge should not tolerate that.

    Alan Reply:

    The State’s objections are well-founded. Brady and Flashman were trying to make new arguments and introduce new evidence in their reply brief, which goes against well-established court rules and precedent. They’re desperate, and completely out of their league going up against the AG’s office.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    If they are so out of their depth, then why did they win?

    You understand they won the case right? The judge sided with them.

    Alan Reply:

    On a technical issue with no likely remedy, the Brady/Flashman blathering notwithstanding. Tos, et. al., haven’t won anything unless they can actually stop construction. Brady and Flashman have been trying that for years with various puppet plaintiffs, and have only managed to delay things and drive up the cost.

    But the court has already noted that it cannot overturn a valid appropriation of the Legislature, and certainly has no authority to stop any use of Federal funds, much less try to interpret the provisions of the ARRA grant.

    Face it, Prop 1A provides no remedy, and the CCP 526a part of the case has no merit.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    so I am confused…the AG is kicking them around…but the AG lost on a technical issue? Arn’t all laws “technical”? What is a non-technical issue? It has nothing to do with the players, the AG is on the losing side because the authority really did break the law. its that simple

    As for remedies, we will see. he cared enough to call a hearing and ask for briefs so apparently it is not so obvious that you dont need to argue it.

    Alan Reply:

    You really don’t get it, do you? The plaintiffs are obviously seeking to have the project enjoined. If that fails to happen, their technical victory is meaningless. In any event, nothing has really been “won” until the appellate courts have their say.

    The district court made its position fairly clear, but it’s also clear that the court wants to compile a complete record before issuing a final ruling. Thus the hearing on remedies.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So they won…but it’s meaningless. I thought they were stupid and outclassed?

    I guess I will just wait until the remedy is decided. But just so we have the acceptance criteria defined beforehand. If the judge enjoins the project then the plaintiffs “won” even though the AG is beating them. If nothing is enjoined they really “lost”.

    And even that does not “count” because it will then be appealed.

    VBobier Reply:

    That’s called an Empty Victory or a Pyrrhic Victory, the enemy is defeated and has committed suicide rather than be enslaved, as was the usual treatment of people from a defeated country like Carthage or of rebels like in Masada…

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    A Pyrrhic Victory is one that costs the winner as much as or more than the loser.

    morris brown Reply:


    Simply not true. The AG tried to get the Court to agree to having it file a sur-brief. The court simply did not respond to their wish. Instead the AG sent out a list of objections, which they had the right to do. We shall indeed at sometime in the future, see who is “completely out of their league” won’t we?

    Alan Reply:

    The court may simply have determined that there was no need to allow the sur-brief, because the violations of rule and procedure by the plaintiffs’ counsel is so obvious that the court does not need to be briefed.

    As I pointed out up the thread, the state’s objections are well-founded. Brady and Flashman simply have no clue how to handle things in the big leagues. Heaven help them if this ends up in the appellate courts.

  7. joe
    Nov 5th, 2013 at 21:05

    They’re going to combine freight and passenger trains? Like we already have, a system that works well enough but can’t provide true high speed rail service? They’re basically calling for the status quo in terms of rail in California, which does not attract private investment capital.

    This meeting is about scrapping dedicated tracks and subsidizing rail companies with public track.

    High Speed rail on dedicated tracks will cost freight operators billions. Railroads depend on public money to maintain tracks for passenger service. It’s no surprise the solution to HSR is for CA to build a system for freight-passenger.

    In IL, improving track for 115 MPH passenger service is de facto billions in free upgrades of track and crossings for the freight operator. Had IL decided to build true HSR with dedicated track, they’d leave the freight operator to maintain that line themselves and pay no user fee.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Do passenger railroads actually pay freight railroads billions per year in track access fees?

    joe Reply:

    I doubt it is even close to that significant or the major factor in how they benefit.

    I think it’s the maintenance of track for passenger service. There’s a billion plus IL is spending on the track to make it 115 MPH capable.

    Robert had a post about a consultant that made the claim it would cost the companies billions. Robert did a calculation of the fees paid to freight operators and it didn’t add up to that figure at all.

    I’m looking for his post or the original article.

  8. synonymouse
    Nov 5th, 2013 at 22:14

    The PB-CHSRA Palmdale-Tejon Ranch scheme is not high speed rail either, but rather regional commute. Not even TEE but Boonies AmBART.

    The “anti-hsr forces” are the ones who fired Roelof Van Ark.

  9. Clem
    Nov 5th, 2013 at 22:30

    Concepts rated on my scale of 1 to 10

    Mixing HSR and freight on the same corridor through mountains? 0 (WORST IDEA EVER!)
    Las Vegas as the focal point of the California HSR system? 1
    HSR over Tehachapi (note, not tunneling under, but cresting OVER at altitude 4073 feet)? 2
    Pacheco Pass alignment with a disconnect for SF Bay – Sacramento? 3
    “Blending” HSR and commuter trains over 50 route miles? 3
    Spending billions to pour concrete that avoids millions in property impacts? 3
    I-5 down the Central Valley? 5
    Altamont Pass for 580 corridor relief and fast link between SF/SJ and Sac? 8
    I-5 over Tejon with 3.5 – 4 % grades? 10

    I think they are right, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. The next opportunity for a top-to-bottom re-plan will be after enough of the system is built to enable the sunk cost argument (“give us more money since we must finish it”), say in 5 years or so.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Wasn’t expecting to see Tejon eclipse Altamont in your ratings. I figured you would seek to protect CalTrain and Palo Alto before switching to Tejon. But hey, it’s downright fun to listen to your assertions. Hollis Mulwray would be proud.

    Joey Reply:

    Most of the good reasons for Altamont aren’t between Redwood City and San Jose.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    why shouldn’t the people in Palmdale get all the oggly goodness from the HSR system that Altamont could bring to Stockton? Who knows it could eradicate world hunger and bring world peace just as effectively as Altamont

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Because Altamont is not primarily about Stockton, but about SF-Sac.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s about the people of San Jose, navel of the universe and shining star of the Bay Area comparing what it’s like to catch a intercity train in Trenton to what it’s like to catch in an intercity train in White Plains. and they like being in an analog of Trenton versus an analog of White Plains.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Where would you class switching the LA-SD route to a coastal (LOSSAN/I-5) route?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I would put that as my “10”.

    My “8” would be switching the SF-Sac alignment to San Jose-Oakland-Benicia.

    “6” would be to eliminate the Palmdale and Sylmar stations for a Santa Clarita one.

    “3” would be building any greenfield stations and

    “0” would be putting the Peninsula station anywhere but Palo Alto….

    Joey Reply:

    You can get very fast SF-Sac travel times (and incredibly fast SJ-Sac travel times) at zero additional cost compared to Phase 2 CAHSR under Altamont. In fact, it would cost less, since there is less track to build in Phase 2. The times quoted in the EIR were just over an hour for SF-Sac and under an hour for SJ-Sac. How many billions would you have to pour in to get those sorts of travel times along any other alignment?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    You say this, of course, because the Authority has not released an EIR that shows how they would demolish half of Sacramento to bend the route from going north to west where the train station is. You think it’s bad in Bakersfield, just wait.

    Joey Reply:

    Yes, I am vaguely aware of the fact that the program alignment follows a highly constrained, but already highly divided UP corridor into Sacramento, and that a large number of property takes (mostly tract housing) would need to be taken to make that alignment work. It’s still going to be massively cheaper than tunneling through the hills between Richmond and Martinez.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Under Pacheco, yeah, Palo Alto is clearly the optimal HSR station location. That’s one of the fringe benefits of Pacheco over Altamont.

    But Altamont has more substantial benefits, and in that case Redwood City becomes the only option.

    Jon Reply:

    My “0” would be prevaricating over the route any more than is currently being done.

    People are losing sight of the fact that when this thing is built it will be a game changer for travel in California regardless of the route, much as BART was for travel in the Bay Area. Providing it does SF to LA in less than 3 hours, no one will care whether it goes via Tehachapi or Tejon, or via Pacheco or Altamont, or along I-5 or the Central Valley proper.

    People still use BART to get between Richmond and SF despite the fact that it detours to downtown Berkeley, which probably adds 10 minutes to journey time vs. a more direct route. No-one even thinks of that as a detour now that it’s built.

    jimsf Reply:


    Alon Levy Reply:

    Palmdale’s statewide importance is much less than Berkeley’s regional importance.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Citation needed. :)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    First, Berkeley’s current share of Bay Area population is about the same as Antelope Valley’s current share of the state’s population. In the 1960s, it was larger.

    But second, Berkeley is a job center, whereas Antelope Valley is a bedroom community.

    jimsf Reply:

    None of that has anything to do with anything.

    Palmdale was chose, rightfully so, to provide service to a growing part of LA county. LA county has a lot of influence in california politics. shocking I know. Like it or not.

    the high desert the antelope and victor valleys, are going to see a lot growth over the next 30-50 years and it makes sense to make sure they are accessible, and more importantly, have access, tothe rest of the state in order to be brought into the transportation and economic fold, as is the goal of hsr via the san joaquin valley, and the inland empire. Its not hard to understand.

    There are those who still imagine that the main goal of ca hsr system is get the fancy pants from sf to la quickly. But that is not the case.

    the main goal of ca hsr is connect all the regions to one another so that everyone has convenient access to everyone else. Thats what it is. Some don’t like that. But thats what it is. sorry.

    Joey Reply:

    Would it be the end of the world for Palmdale to get service once Las Vegas is added to the system? From Tejon, a wye near I-5 and SR-138 would lead to a line across the Mojave desert, with a potential stop in the Antelope Valley.

    I mean, I know we’re all super excited about the sprawltastic, water guzzling, ecosystem-destroying, auto-oriented (HSR isn’t going to change that) development that’s going to happen there, but maybe it shouldn’t be our number one priority?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The development is going to happen whether or not they have HSR. Just like it’s happened in the past and is happening now.

    jimsf Reply:

    It would not be the end of the world. However, that is not what was voted for and more importantly, that is not what is going to happen. So wish in one hand but its a waste of time.

    I realize that bay area and la people think they are the only people in california who actually matter, but many millions of other californians will tell you otherwise.

    Joey Reply:

    When have you ever seen me argue against serving Fresno and Bakersfield? I might argue against express alignments through downtown, but I have always supported serving them in some capacity. Then again, both Fresno and Bakersfield are larger than Palmdale.

    joe Reply:

    Living in glass house and throwing stones.
    Santa Barbara is sucking from the State water system.

    The City is a participant in the State Water Project and receives State Water via the 102 mile Coastal Branch of the State Aqueduct and the 42 mile Santa Ynez Extension that was completed in July 1997 and ends at Lake Cachuma. When needed, South Coast participants receive State Water through the Tecolote Tunnel, intermingled with Cachuma water, but accounted for separately.

    How dare Palmdale use other people’s water.

    Joey Reply:

    Don’t let it get to your head. It’s beautiful here, but not the kind of place I could allow myself to stay once I graduate. If possible, I’m moving to somewhere I can live without a car. Admittedly I considered none of this when I decided to go here but a lot can change in 2.5 years.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Palmdale service is strictly an LA County affair. Let them create a use district and slap some taxes on themselves and build a standard gauge contemporary tech version of BART to LA.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Skipping over the Central Valley is strictly a Bay Area-LA basin thing, let them slap some taxes on themselves.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Bay Area – LA basin pay most of the taxes so they can do whatever they want.

    Like overturn Prop 1A at the polls.

    San Francisco voters just turned down a Burton-Pelosi Machine backed development scam-scheme on the waterfront. Has that same fishy smell as Glengary Glen Palmdale or Tejon Mountain Village Ranchitos.

    synonymouse Reply:

    think there should be 2 r’s in Glengarry.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Feel free to go out and collect the signatures, you should be done collecting them a few years after the first trains start running.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Spoken like a person who does not understand the sine non qua of California. The wrong project can but bury us. Just ask Stockton.

  10. morris brown
    Nov 5th, 2013 at 22:39


    Way off topic, but now that your boss has lost his re-election bid, presumably you will be looking for a new job. Coming back to California?


    Alon Levy Reply:

    He could move to a real city instead, where a progressive just won by a margin of 3 to 1.

    nslander Reply:

    A real city doesn’t let a non-progressive near its mayoral runoff, much less holding office for two decades.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    That was just Bloomberg’s money subverting the process (plus 9/11 before Bloomberg had incumbency advantage). Without that New York’s history would’ve had Democrats since 2001 and Giuliani would’ve been the aberration rather than Dinkins.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Bloomberg is still popular, especially among Democrats

    He has just been a good mayor, he has done a lot for NYC even if i dont agree with a lot of his crazier policies (like the soda ban)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Bloomberg was good about throwing money at buying votes. In a city where he had an approval rate of 60%, he beat a generic Democrat who ran on a platform of not being Bloomberg 50-45 because people were pissed at his subversion of the city’s democracy. That’s why he didn’t run for a fourth term – he knew he couldn’t beat stronger challengers than Thompson. Two thirds of the voters this time wanted a change in policy direction, and when the large majority of the city that’s Democratic had a chance, it voted for de Blasio and Thompson in the primaries and rejected Quinn.

    In terms of actually being responsive to the needs of city residents, Bloomberg was not good. The good things he did didn’t come from a political movement, but from a personal whim. The failure of congestion pricing came partly because he did it his way (e.g. exempting taxis from the charge) instead of listening to pro-transit activists like Ted Kheel and Charles Komanoff or imitating the full details of London’s plan.

    His transit record is dismal. He spent $2 billion of city money on a subway extension to nowhere, to an area where the city has to subsidize developers to get them to build; when an underserved neighborhood on the way demanded to get a subway stop, Bloomberg rejected it on the grounds that the area is already developed. He did nothing to obtain money or push for subway extensions that are more useful and more supported by the pro-transit community, such as future phases of Second Avenue Subway, the new proposals for Triboro RX, or the old proposals for subways under Nostrand and Utica. Under his appointee Janette Sadik-Khan, NYCDOT’s latest plan to speed up some buses speeds up the only bus on 125th Street that predominantly serves white people (the M60, between Columbia and LaGuardia), and doesn’t do much for the other bus routes on 125th that serve Washington Heights, the South Bronx, or other parts of Harlem.

    Likewise, his urbanism record is bad. He gets credit for Times Square, but did very little to make the poorer neighborhoods of the city more livable. East Harlem had to beg for bike lanes for years, while the Upper West Side, Chelsea, and the East Village got them without needing to ask.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    No credit for crime? No credit for the economy? You are a real tough grader.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s easy to have a booming economy when there’s a bubble being expanded by people who live your city. Crime tends to go down when people are too busy working to go out and mug other people.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    If it was easy, Detroit would not be bankrupt. It’s not easy at all

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It was prescient of Bloomberg to get in his time machine and have the shysters trading stock under the buttonwood tree up near the wall formalize what they were doing so that in 2002 he could take credit for an artificial market inflation.

    joe Reply:

    Crime in NYC is legalized. Wall St is full of criminals. Police frisk people based on skin color.

    Conservatives repeat Detroit Detroit Detriot Squawk. I think it’s also the name of a biscuit.

    Crime has been going down nationally. I think it’s a dividend from liberals pushing the EPA to remove lead and related side effects fro lead exposure that include violence.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …and horny young men don’t have to leave home to satisfy themselves anymore. It was much easier to tidy up Times Square when first the porn movie houses went out of business and then the porn stores that sold the videotapes that replaced the porn movie houses.

    John Nachtigall Reply:


    You guys will do anything not to admit that a conservative policy worked

    Fine, it was lead paint, internet porn, and legalized abortion. Giuliani and Bloomberg just got lucky for 20 years in a row.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Giuliani and Bloomberg and also the other 97% of the US.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If the stalwart patriots of Arizona are so good at keeping down crime why is Phoenix’s crime rate similar to New York’s?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Bloomberg understood all too well the need for gentrification to restore the City’s fortune. Bloomberg didn’t understand at all the consequences of using gentrification to restore the City’s fortune.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Nope, no credit. Crime went down somewhat under Bloomberg, same as nationwide. Per capita income in the city grew slightly, same as regionwide. (The metro area had faster than average income growth, but so did the rest of the Northeast.) In no meaningful way was there an economic boom in the city, unless you’re counting things that don’t actually mean much for the average person’s living standards, like real estate price inflation.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    when crime goes back up due to those “progressive” ideals we will see how progressive the city remains. It is easy to be liberal when crime is at all time lows

    joe Reply:
    Conservatives Big on Fear, Brain Study Finds

    Peering inside the brain with MRI scans, researchers at University College London found that self-described conservative students had a larger amygdala than liberals. The amygdala is an almond-shaped structure deep in the brain that is active during states of fear and anxiety. Liberals had more gray matter at least in the anterior cingulate cortex, a region of the brain that helps people cope with complexity.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Oh joe, wrong study.

    So I am happy and right…it rocks

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    some people find pissing in their pants everytime a commie under the bed whispers “boo” pleasant. And it’s very very easy to happy when you live in an alternate reality.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Read the article, that part of why you are unhappy, because it pisses you off that conservatives like me are happy. It awesome, the more happy I feel the more unhappy you feel and the gap keep getting bigger.


    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    A worm in the vinegar thinks life is sweet. If you convince yourself the stuff that’s been tricking down for the past 30 years is honey it will seem the same way.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I felt the happiness gap grow there

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Or maybe it’s because half of US liberals are of the skin color that gets them shot by police or vigilantes for walking home in the dark with Skittles. In New York those people are a majority of the city’s population, which may have to do with why de Blasio’s promise to end racial profiling is so popular.

    Eric Reply:

    Half of liberals are black? You are saying that liberals make up less than 25.2% of the population?

    Joey Reply:

    Black is a subset of not white, which is what Alon was presumably talking about.

    Eric Reply:

    Alon referred to “the skin color” and “not white” includes many skin colors.

    Joey Reply:

    Yes, but he was referring to the fact that the majority of NYC’s population was not white, with no reference to how many of them are specifically black.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I meant black + Hispanic. The newsworthy hate crimes are usually against blacks, but in New York, stop-and-frisk targets both blacks and Hispanics, to the exclusion of whites and Asians. The demographics of New York are about 54% black + Hispanic and 46% white + Asian. On issues of fear of crime, police brutality, and school segregation, the two basic castes in the Northeast are white + Asian vs. black + Hispanic, even though Hispanic crime rates are far lower than black crime rates and even though Asians vote the same way as Hispanics in national elections.

    joe Reply:

    Conservative spin vs science study.

    My anterior cingulate cortex is larger than yours.

    nslander Reply:

    John – that’s just nonsense, on many levels. Assuming progressive politics promotes criminality is just inane. Eg, crime rates have plummeted in Los Angeles while conservative politicians have been banished. It’s also ridiculously overly-broad: a rising crime does not translate into a mandate for cutting taxes. Raise your game.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s been going down in cities with very progressive policies and going down in cities with very conservative policies. It’s been going down in blue state and going down in red states.
    …isn’t it odd that blue states have lower incidences of indicators like murder and divorce and teen pregnancy and drug addition and….

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The policies that Gulliani and his cops instituted truly changed the game. The broken windows theory of crime fighting worked and got implemented in a lot of other places.

    Look at the 70s and the early 80s, people were betting that NY was going to be what Detroit is today. They prevented that and provided real advances in crime fighting.

    And I don’t think it’s liberals in general that promote or allow crime. The new mayor in particular has been hostile to these policies that worked. I think if he goes through with what he is saying, NYC will see crime rise

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Was this before or after Giuliani sacked Bratton for getting the credit for the crime drop in 1994 and 1995?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m confident that de Blasio is capable of returning to the policies of Dinkins, under which the crime rate went down after 2 decades of increases. People forget that and remember Crown Heights, but the reduction in city crime rates began in 1991, not 1994.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Of course not because Herr Rudy runs around telling people he did it all single handedly. He’s able to leap tall buildings in a single bound and faster than a speeding bullet when he has to mold his opinion to the whims of the Tea Party.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Twice as long and twice as fast as other cities

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and Herr Rudy would be more than willing to tell you he did it all himself.

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    Hmmm, didn’t the crime drop start in the subway, under the administration of David Gunn? Went to work on minor things like turnstile jumping, combined with a bit of high-tech in the form of computers linking databases, finding that the turnstile jumpers were often wanted for other, much more serious things.

    For a time, the subway was safer than the city above it. The management eventually didn’t like Gunn telling them what they really needed to do and fired him, but I understand they had the sense to leave what he did do alone.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Shhhhhhhh it was all the valiant efforts of stalwart patriotic Conservatives taking credit for it all that was responsible.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, and the chief of the NYCT police then was Bill Bratton, who got early credit for reducing subway crime in the early 1990s (and is currently on de Blasio’s shortlist for new police commissioner).

  11. morris brown
    Nov 6th, 2013 at 06:33

    Robert continues to repeat again his so often stated reason by HSR is not being funded:

    None of these proposals are realistic. They lack political support and would be much more difficult to fund than the current California HSR project. The existing project only appears difficult to fund because the Tea Party seized control of the U.S. House of Representatives in 2010, and has been making every aspect of modern American civilization difficult to fund. Once the Tea Party is kicked out of power, then HSR will become much easier to fund again.

    To begin, the US House is hardly in control of the Tea Party. But more to the point, looking at Federal Funding, the Democrat controlled Senate failed to keep even a $100 million placeholder in an appropriation bill. Face up to it, HSR is not popular at the Federal Level by either the Democrats or the Republicans. It seems to be popular only with Pelosi, Feinstein, Obama.

    The California project is particularly disliked on the Federal level. It well should be. The Feds have provided almost $4 billion in funds with the promise that Phase I would be built with no more than a total commitment of $12 – $15 billion. Now the Authority wants federal funds in the amount of $50 – $60 billion. It isn’t going to happen.

    At the California State level, where Democrats have a huge majority in the legislature, SB-1029 passed with a 1 vote margin. It passed only because of the diversion of $1.1 billions to the “bookends” for regional transportation (completely illegal under Prop 1A, but Steinberg and Leno don’t give a damn about such trivialities).

    So Robert, get off this non-sense you keep spewing. HSR funding in not popular by either party.

    joe Reply:

    At the California State level, where Democrats have a huge majority in the legislature, SB-1029 passed with a 1 vote margin.

    HSR passed with the necessary votes to pass. Bills to tax or borrow are not popularity contests. You don’t run up the vote. The Dems lined up the needed votes and passed the Bill. It would pass again and agin, by the margin and not one vote more.

    What’s impressive wis the LAO is not being asked to attack HSR, the Legislature isn’t joining GOP attempts to “investigate” or scandalize the project. These are GOP attempts to stall or stop HSR and go not where with Dems because the HSR project is popular.

    Alan Reply:

    You don’t get out much, do you? Trying to assert that the tea party does not control the House is one of the most ridiculous things I’ve seen you write. And that’s saying a lot. You simply have no grasp of reality.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah right Morris, then why are H.R. 1601 and H.R. 3118 still bottled up in the House Ways and Means Committee since they were introduced on Apr 17th 2013 and Sep 17th 2013? Hmm?? Cause Repubs/baggers control the House and the chairman of this committee Rep Dave Camp(R-MI4) does not like any bill related to Social Security and yet some people still vote for people like this, even though Repubs/baggers only want your votes and insist that people shut up and do as their told(that’s been My experience)…

    Walter Reply:

    I don’t even know where to begin with this one.

    Congrats, Morris, you’ve really outdone yourself.

  12. TomA
    Nov 6th, 2013 at 06:45

    The US House is hardly in control of the Tea Party?

    Are you seriously stating that? Have you not been around for all of 2011-the present.

    They might not formally control the House, but they make up a big enough part of the majority part, and are obstinate enough that they de facto control the agenda. If things get dire enough Boehner will buck them (Debt Ceiling show downs, fiscal cliff, etc), but otherwise they control things.

    joe Reply:

    My government was shut because the Tea Party Caucus bullied the House Speaker.

    If that’s not control, then what is?

    But you are right their grip on power is tenuous.

  13. datacruncher
    Nov 6th, 2013 at 09:06

    Tejon Ranch’s third proposed residential project (after Centennial and Tejon Mountain) is preparing to move into the environmental study phase. The project, called Grapevine, consists of 12,000 homes and apartments at the base of the mountains along I-5.

    The project is being touted as workforce housing for Tejon Ranch’s expanding industrial/warehouse complex already there and the under construction 500,000 sq ft Tejon outlet center along I-5.

    But I would not be surprised to see some of the housing snatched up by long-distance commuters once it is built. (Last December Tejon Ranch was touting that I-5 sees fewer annual hours of closure for any reason than the Inland Empire freeways. The same info could be marketed to residential customers.). The early lobbying for approving Centennial said it was going to be the housing for the warehouse/industrial complex. Now a different residential plan is claimed to be needed to house that workforce.

    Donk Reply:

    Imagine what commuting from Grapevine to LA every day would do for your brakes.

    VBobier Reply:

    Yeah, I’m sure the auto part places and such would be making a bundle of money off of them…

  14. Ken
    Nov 6th, 2013 at 10:44

    I don’t know why we pro-HSR groups can’t create our own organization to buy out all these anti-HSR homes.

    Buy out the anti-HSR’s homes, make NIMBYs move out of CA, land value rise when HSR comes along, we all win.

    Travis D Reply:

    I’d support any group that will make anti-HSR people homeless.

    But that is just out of spite.

    But as an actual tactic I would have to see some numbers. That sounds like it would cost a lot for a private group to try and tackle.

  15. morris brown
    Nov 6th, 2013 at 11:08

    Authority Chair Richard sent out a letter dated Nov 4 to State Senator Vidak regarding issues in the central valley.

    The letter can be read at:

    An article in the Fresno Bee on this can be read at:

    High-speed rail board defends route in letter to Vidak

    Alan Reply:

    Richard certainly wasn’t defending anything, just educating yet another clueless Republican about how the process works. Big flippin’ deal.

  16. joe
    Nov 6th, 2013 at 12:41

    No one’s saying that the high-speed rail plan isn’t a controversial subject. Although prep work on the first section from Madera to Fresno has begun, actual construction has been on hold while the state tries to deal with a Sacramento Superior Court decision earlier this year that questioned whether the current plan is the same as the one that was approved by voters when they overwhelmingly approved a $10 billion bond measure in 2008.

    A September poll by the Los Angeles Times and the University of Southern California found that 52 percent of Californians no longer approved of the high-speed rail project, with many calling it a waste of money.

    Although in true California fashion, even larger majorities approved of the benefits to employment and transportation the project would bring, they just didn’t want to pay for it.

    In 2008, voters decided that the statewide benefits of a high-speed rail system outweighed the inevitable localized dislocations and other problems that were guaranteed to be part of such a huge public works project. – See more at:

    and the first comment from a mbrown5:

    mbrown5 (signed in using yahoo)
    The author here really should devote more time to studying the HSR project, because many of his comments just don’t “hold water”

  17. morris brown
    Nov 6th, 2013 at 16:08

    Plaintiffs in the Tos et al lawsuit against the CHSRA have now responded to the Attorney General’s objections that were posted on Nov 4.

    The response can be viewed at:

    or at the Court’s website


    Enter Case # 34-2011-00113919

    For those following, usually by 2:00 PM on Thursday, 1 day before the Nov. 8th hearing, there will be posted a tentative ruling from the Judge.

    Joe Reply:

    Billable hours.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    well if the suc… concerned citizens are willing to pay for it…

    Joe Reply:

    There is no tenantive ruling.

    Parties are requested to attend a 10 AM hearing Friday the eighth.

  18. trentbridge
    Nov 6th, 2013 at 17:50

    Adding CAHSR to freight railroads is like putting Windows 3.1 GUI on the original MS/DOS architecture. You might as well suggest “upgraded” steam locomotives as the motive power source. If the freight railroads are so enthusiastic why is there no Coast Daylight yet?

    A bunch of “foamers” advocating a souped up Amtrak service isn’t that compelling an agrument.

    joe Reply:

    But that worked. Win 3.1 on the x386 clobbered DOS and OS/2 with the Presentation Manager API.
    Try MS BOB. That innovative Social Interface.

    Freight on HSR is more government hand-outs to freight carriers.

    HSR is a problem for UP and BNSF – its dedicated track which means passager rail isn’t subsidizing the freight.

    Extending Amtrak CC from San Jose to Salinas is $138M of which funds go to improve UPs track for passenger service. That’s free stuff and the passengers sit when they conflict with UP.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    You seem to have a strange idea about RR economics. ATK pays a very low per mile rate to the common carrier railroads. If ATK went away they it would hardly cause a rounding error in their bottom line from that point of view. They may also save some money in track maintenance as they could drop the standard a notch or two. Look in their annual reports under “miscellaneous” income. One impact it might have is if HSR operators were able to hire their employees under Social Security rather than Railroad Retirement. That might cause the Class Ones to have to kick more into the system to keep it solvent. With freight traffic holding steady and Class One employment holding up this is less of a problem than it used to be but RRR has the same demographic challenge as most pension obligations.

    joe Reply:

    ATK pays a very low per mile rate to the common carrier railroads.


    So what does the rate per mile fee have to do with my tax dollars paying for track and crossings improvements to Salinas so conventional rail can run on the UP ROW or between St Louis and Chicago? The later is well over a billion dollars, 1.6 total. Is that peanuts?

    Please enlighten us on who pays to keep track suitable for passenger service and then pays the fee to use that track.

    Much of the remaining work for 110-mph service includes track upgrades, bridge and crossing improvements, siding construction to improve train traffic flow, and culvert and drainage improvements.

    Hypothetically, if IL had committed to dedicated HSR track then this awesome free work we’re doing to run 110 Mph trains on the ROW would be spent elsewhere and the railroad have to pay their own way.

    synonymouse Reply:

    A class one moves to spin off a Raton(Murdock’s sainted BNSF)whereas PB wants to build another one to and thru Mojave.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Hey, get Jerry, Nancy and Barack to force the UP to sell the Loop to your “friendlier” Santa Fe.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    for the 537th time they aren’t trying to buy the Loop. They aren’t even interested in the Loop. What they want to build is barely in the general vicinity.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Joe, the deals between IL and UP, and CapCor/CA and UP are freely entered into contracts and not part of the original Amtrak deal. One could argue that as a common carrier UP has an obligation to accept more passenger trains and one could also argue that they are squeezing the states and demanding more capacity enhancements than are justified. Perhaps we (the public) should employ better negotiators, or demand legislation that provides better passenger access on all of these rights of way? Good luck with that.

    Joe Reply:

    Bill dedicated track between St. Louis and Chicago. There is a study to build that system and I hope that it is built and then the private railroads can pay for their track.

    joe Reply:

    HSR on freight tracks is a de facto big subsidy for rail-roads.
    High-speed rail will impact the freight industry to a degree that will rival the impact of the interstate highway system. Improved infrastructure and technologies will benefit freight railroads in several ways, including greater capacity and higher revenue. Trucking companies will benefit from expanded capacity to transport intermodal freight via the railroads. There are hurdles to overcome, including extra steps required to ensure safety in a high-speed environment. But with greater cooperation between freight and passenger railroads, high-speed rail will help our nation expand its economy, save fuel and cut carbon emissions, to the benefit of all.

    According to recent comments by the head of the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), little of these federal monies may go toward “real” HSR but instead appear likely to benefit some of the nation’s for-profit freight railroads to achieve modestly higher speeds for existing, half-full Amtrak trains running on their tracks. Given the extreme need for federal budget deficit reduction, these HSR programs — in whatever form — should be eliminated in the FY 2010 budget, and the T&I plan should be vetoed if it ever gets to the President’s desk.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    The JoC piece is just too silly to justify comment.
    Are we talking about HSR or enhanced mixed traffic railroads? If the latter then yes, the public are paying far too much for limited access to RR rights of way, with no reimbursement in the form say of track fees for freight use of an added second track.

    Joe Reply:

    Enhanced speed rail on freight track is a de facto subsidy for the freight railroads.
    They stand to lose billions if the USA builds a dedicated HSR system.

    In IL, 1.6 billion spread over 300 miles of track comes out to something like $5.3 million per mile. That’s not all row improvements but still significant amount of money for 110 MPH service on private track.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Looks like IL made a bad deal. No one “stand(s) to lose billions” that they haven’t been given. This country has made the decision in the past to leave most RR RoW in private hands. Now you pay to use or buy your own. Not my choice, but very hard (and expensive) to change.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’m not going to go look at the 143 different proposals for HSR between Chicago and St. Louis. They are probably going to select one remote from where they are improving things now. Taking the 110 MPH train from somewhere along the route is still going to be their choice after the HSR trains start running 40 miles away… going to the station ten minutes away and taking a two and half hour train ride is “better” than driving an hour to the train station where the train takes an hour and a quarter to get there.

    joe Reply:

    Oh god Paul.

    i) IL makes the same deal made over and over. If US wants 110 train service on existing ROW we have to pay to build that capacity on freight ROW. Freight gets the benefit. There’ no negotiating on that point.

    ii) IL’s HSR the study has track running from the Main airport to Union Station to the U of IL and State capitol on to St Louis. That’s a train from somewhere to somewhere.

    Move passengers to a dedicated HSR system and the freight rail industry loses billions in subsidies. And this system proposed is well connected.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Still not sure what you are ranting about, and I don’t know any gods.
    I’m just pointing out the reality. As things stand, if you want to use a railroad’s right of way you have to pay for it. Since they have a monopoly you have to pay what they ask. If the electorate wants to change that they are free to pursue that course.
    As I have stated above there are common carrier obligations but they have been obscured over time. I think that IL could go to the STB and claim that UP’s price is unreasonable. I’m not a railroad attorney. Perhaps someone on this blog has better info. My belief is that UP lobbying is strong enough to prevent any legislative body from testing those waters and to the best of my recollection it has not been tried. But it should be.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It’s more effective for the passenger operator to buy the tracks outright, *even if* it’s going to continue being a mixed passenger/freight corridor, but IL hasn’t done so. This is why it is possible for IL to be held up for more money over and over and over again, rather than just once.

    VBobier Reply:

    Passenger trains or freight trains don’t or shouldn’t matter, as rail maintenance is still rail maintenance, as both are a train and rail wears no matter which is run on the rails.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Groups like TRAC are advocating for a system that should have been built 40 years ago. The window of opportunity was wasted then. Time to move on.

  19. synonymouse
    Nov 6th, 2013 at 19:09

    Time to move on to what? Diesel BART with toilets in the boonies? SubsidyRail with the taxpayers coming up with 50% of every ticket on the very occasional train rattling over the DogLeg?

    The time for the PB-CHSRA hitting every Valley podunk was more than a hundred years ago. PB wants to build a TEE but instead of right thru the centers(like 99 where the freight rr’s are located)they are going to lay hollow core(wait and see)thru Valley backyards and almond fields. They missed their chance for TEE; they had to nationalize the class ones like the Europeans.

    Time to move to the real thing – Musk is smarter than Moonbeam and Richards even if his exotic tech is far removed from prime time. He has the core concept right(uberfast between Sf and LA upending air)and the routing right.

    **** Palmdale
    **** Tejon Ranch
    **** PB

    Leave their horses alone.

    VBobier Reply:

    HSR will be built through Tehachapi and to Palmdale, you will be dust soon enough, old man…

    synonymouse Reply:

    And in good time will be liquidated at auction by a State in fiscal crisis and reduced to austerity – with no buyers except the scrapper.

    VBobier Reply:

    That’s pure BS Syno, the phrase is ‘you and whose army will do that?’

  20. D. P. Lubic
    Nov 7th, 2013 at 22:16

    A bit off topic, and a bit old, but it’s interesting still for its comparison to SBB (Swiss railroad system):

    D. P. Lubic Reply:

    It will take more time, but sooner or later Amtrak will get an operations-only ratio in excess of 100%. I wonder what would happen after that.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The people in THAT age bracket will try to cut capital subsidies, so the operational profit will all sink into making up for that. :-( In other words, nothing much will change until the generational change finishes.

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