Five Bids Received for Second Construction Phase

Dec 19th, 2013 | Posted by

The California High Speed Rail Authority is moving ahead with its plans for the second phase of HSR construction in the Central Valley – a 60 mile segment from Fresno to the Tulare-Kern County line. Five bids have been received:

• California Rail Builders: Ferrovial Agroman US Corp. and Granite Construction Company

• Dragados/Flatiron/Shimmick: Dragados USA, Inc., Flatiron West Inc. and Shimmick Construction Co., Inc.

• Golden State Rail Partnership: OHL USA, Inc. and Samsung E&C America, Inc.

• Skanska-Ames a Joint Venture: Skanska USA Civil West California District Inc. and Ames Construction, Inc.

• Tutor Perini/Zachry/Parsons, a Joint Venture: Tutor Perini Corporation, Zachry Construction Corporation and Parsons Transportation Group Inc.

The last one, of course, was the winning bidder for the first construction segment in Fresno.

The Authority’s press release includes some more details of this construction project, estimated to cost between $1.5 and $2 billion:

The Authority will now review the applications and establish a list of the most highly qualified firms to provide design-build services for the project. Firms will be selected based on experience, technical competency, ability to perform and other factors. The qualified firms will then be eligible to submit formal design-build proposals in 2014.

The selected design-build firm will be responsible for delivering final designs for bridges, culverts, trenches and tunnels, utility relocations, aerial structures, grade separations, security and drainage. The environmental clearance for the route is already underway and is anticipated to be final by summer 2014.

The $1.5 to $2 billion design-build contract will bring thousands of jobs to the Central Valley, an area with one of the highest unemployment rates in California and the nation. The route will also provide environmental benefits, relieve roadway congestion and spur economic development.

It will be interesting to see if this plays out differently than the previous bidding process. Some of the review criteria were changed before bids were submitted for the first construction segment, leading to some controversy after the Tutor bid was selected despite having the lowest technical score.

What matters most is that this is another sign of progress toward construction of the HSR project in the Central Valley. And despite some of the recent legal setbacks, that progress continues.

  1. Clem
    Dec 19th, 2013 at 20:40
    #1

    Correction: Zero bids have been received. Five statements of qualification have been received.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Are they going to be paid to submit bids?

    Most likely would be a repeat of the first contract. And one should expect “setbacks” if what you are doing is illegal.

  2. Tony D.
    Dec 20th, 2013 at 10:01
    #2

    “Five statements of qualification”‘s have been received, but will they ever be able to build? That is the question..

    VBobier Reply:

    We’ll find out sometime between Jan 2014 and May 2014 I’d think.

  3. Keith Saggers
    Dec 20th, 2013 at 11:07
    #3

    Illinois Department of Transportation announced on December 19 that it had selected Siemens for a contract to supply approximately 35 diesel locomotives with maximum speed of 200 km/h.

    The deal has still to be finalised, but a notice of intent has been issued by IDOT, which is leading a joint procurement on behalf of Illinois, California, Michigan, Washington and Missouri.

    The Federal Railroad Administration has allocated $808m to fund a ‘next generation’ passenger fleet to operate inter-city services in the five states. As well as 35 locomotives, this includes 130 double-deck coaches ordered from Sumitomo and Nippon Sharyo in a process led by California Department of Transportation

    Railway Gazette

    jonathan Reply:

    Hm, Vectron DE machinery in an ACS-64 derived, FRA-compliant body?
    That’s got to really hurt EMD; they have orders for what, 10 F125s total?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Cummins engine

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Siemens Press Release:

    Siemens and Cummins Team up in the U.S. to Provide Advanced-Technology Diesel Electric EPA Tier 4 Locomotives Designed Specifically for Today’s Passengers
    Siemens’ North American diesel electric locomotives will now incorporate Cummins’ new state-of-the-art QSK95 diesel engines for a modern diesel electric locomotive offering that will be made for, and in, the U.S.

    December 3, 2013, Sacramento, CA, Columbus, IN — Today, Siemens Rail Systems and Cummins announced a partnership that will bring one of the most modern and efficient passenger rail, diesel electric locomotives in the world to the U.S. marketplace. Cummins’ QSK95 diesel engines will be used in Siemens’ diesel electric locomotives in the U.S., resulting in one of the most energy-efficient, lightweight, smart, diesel electric locomotives available today in North America.
    Leveraging Siemens proven rail technology, these locomotives will be designed and built specifically for today’s new train passenger, providing a smoother, more reliable and more energy-efficient riding experience. The state-of-the-art locomotives will also deploy a new engine aftertreatment system that will deliver a cleaner ride with better air quality and reduced emission rates. Importantly, these smarter, lighter trains are being developed with passenger and crew safety top-of-mind.
    “Today’s announcement acknowledges a new type of diesel-electric offering, one that is built with the passenger in mind,” explained Michael Cahill, president of Siemens Rail Systems in the U.S. “Our goal is to provide high ride-quality with smooth, safe and efficient performance — for both the locomotive engineers and the passengers– with cost savings for the operators and maintainers,” he continued.
    “Our engines are the perfect answer for today’s diesel electric needs: they’re more efficient, lighter and cleaner than engines of its type in the past,” said Ed Pence, Vice President and General Manager – Cummins High-Horsepower Engine Business. “We believe that our high-speed QSK95 engines will not just bring cleaner operation, but will achieve higher performance and lower operating costs than any system utilizing traditional medium speed powered locomotives,” Pence further explained.
    The diesel-electric locomotive is uniquely designed, based on Siemens’ global rail expertise with input from U.S. passenger rail operators. This new rail equipment can help operators achieve cost savings, while improving reliability and efficiency for its passenger rail service. The lighter weight of these locomotives ensures the ability to safely operate the locomotives at speeds of up to 125 mph more efficiently, requiring less maintenance.
    To further boost American manufacturing through investment in rail, the locomotives will be built and assembled at Siemens’ solar-powered transportation manufacturing facility in Sacramento, California. Siemens has also established a robust and diverse base of U.S. rail suppliers representing all sizes of business across the country that can be leveraged as part of the development of future passenger rail locomotives.
    Cummins diesel QSK95 engines will be made in Seymour, Indiana, representing state-of-the-art, Made-in-America technology at its best. The 4200-hp (3132 kW), 95-liter, prime mover is the most powerful high-speed 16-cylinder diesel to be installed in a locomotive. The first QSK95-powered freight locomotive, with Siemens AC traction equipment and traction control, will begin commercial service operation with the Indiana Rail Road Company (INRD) by mid-2014 as the first heavy-hauler repower QSK95 installation and is ready to meet U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Tier 4 ultra-low emissions regulations.
    May be good for some applications but LOSSAN/Surfliner really needs a hybrid. Note also that Tier 4 is really not very clean compared to truck standards. Still, work for Californians at the Sacramento factory.

    jonathan Reply:

    Okay. Vectron DE (longer frame than E-lok); Vectron machinery; but a Cummins diesel instead of the Maybach diesel in European Vectron DEs.

    Will the loco be FRA-compliant (with heavyweight, ACS-64-style mods) or a regular Vectron frame?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    It has to be FRA compliant, it will be running in mixed traffic.

    jonathan Reply:

    Even with ITCS, and by the time they’re delivered? Oh well,I can see why IDOT has to place an order compliant with current regulations.

    Not that this particular order is relevant to LOSSAN, but what do you think of the VR (Finnish) order of hybrid Vectrons – E-looks, with diesels for “last mile” trips to ports, industrial sidings, etc? I have no idea how powerful the diesel is, or what the range (fuel bunkerage) is, but it might be interesting to you.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    They are dual mode rather than hybrid

    jonathan Reply:

    Uh, so you don’t want an ALP45-DP either? What do you want?

    Michael Reply:

    “Dual mode rather than hybrid”? What are you getting at?

    As I understand it, every “diesel” freight and passenger locomotive you see tooling around on the tracks here is like a “hybrid”. They are all (I don’t think any of the hydraulics form the 60’s are still running) a diesel-fuled engine that powers electric traction motors, same as a Prius with the exception of a different fuel.

    I doubt they’re “dual mode”, as in can use electric or diesel as their energy source, like some locomotives that I think still are used around NYC to haul trains into Grand Central.

    What do you mean by “hybrid” for LOSSAN? Is there a locomotive out there that you can offer, because I’m not understanding what distinction you’re making.

    jonathan Reply:

    I doubt they’re “dual mode”, as in can use electric or diesel as their energy source, like some locomotives that I think still are used around NYC to haul trains into Grand Central.

    NJT uses the ALP-45s to haul trains across breaks iin the overhead electrification system. The AL-45s run off overhead catenary where available; and have a diesel engine and generator for when it isn’t available. Such locos are widely known as “dual mode”, but Paul Dyson says they aren’t the “hybrids” he thinks LOSSAN needs.

    I don’t have a clue what he means by “hybrid”. I wonder if he does himself.

    jonathan Reply:

    … maybe some kind of storage system, to allow diesels to use regenerative braking?
    If so, why does LOSSAN have a special need for that?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Heard of a Prius? That’s a hybrid
    Best application ? Multiple stops
    LOSSAN? Multiple stops ditto Metrolink
    Ergo we need a hybrid
    Technology exists super capacitors
    Just need someone to ask for it then it will be built
    Understand now ?

    wdobner Reply:

    Energy storage will remain a sticking point for any locomotive which will have a high duty cycle on its prime mover, like a passenger unit assigned to a local run. Battery electric and battery/genset locomotives from Railpower and NRE are designed to replace locomotives where the engine spends much more of its time near idle, as on some local freights and switching duties. At least one study focused on the use of a dedicated battery car to house the batteries and supercapacitors, and while this isn’t much of a problem for a freight train, it’s not exactly ideal for passenger use. Squeezing the batteries required to equal current diesel performance alongside a generator capable of recharging those batteries between stations onto the frame of existing (and admittedly very large) passenger diesel locomotives will likely prove exceedingly difficult.

    IMHO the Japanese approach of utilizing multiple unit passenger trains fitted with batteries for trips away from electrification infrastructure may be the best bet. As with the traction equipment being distributed under the train in an EMU, so are the batteries, so that there’s no need for a dedicated car. They’re not worth much now, but with the eventual electrification of the LA-Anaheim corridor a few strategic recharge points could be placed between Anaheim and San Diego, allowing electric operation on the LOSSAN corridor without the supposed visual intrusion of wires.

    Of course all this development of battery powered vehicles should be weighed against simply electrifying the corridor. The simplest way to do regenerative energy storage for a railroad is with the battery bank sitting still in the substation. There will no doubt be a hew and cry as to the impact of those wires, but aren’t there wires along that corridor already?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I think a two unit passenger locomotive is well worth considering. The objective is to improve performance in that first quarter mile out of the station. With 8 powered axles instead of 4 and stored electric power to boost acceleration you could achieve something approaching “electric” performance. I view this as an intermediate step before electrification. Metrolink and the LOSSAN corridor have not even begun to plan for that and we’ll have a whole generation of locomotives before we see catenary. The industry needs to be challenged with the notion that simply building another fleet of similar diesels with only marginally improved performance is not good enough. “Eventual electrification” is about as useful as high speed rail in solving today’s transportation problems. It’s like sitting on a beach waiting for a coconut to fall to provide lunch, not a practical plan for today or for the next decade or more.

    Clem Reply:

    There are several technical misconceptions going on in this discussion.

    1) adding weight and adding axles is nice for maximizing tractive effort, which is what you need for hauling freight. That’s why freight trains have lots of locomotives with lots of wheels and lots of weight. For a high-speed passenger locomotive, it matters far less–what you need is POWER, as in 2000 hp per axle. It’s not just the first quarter mile that matters; the 2nd and 3rd quarter miles matter even more and that’s where diesels fall behind, due to lack of power. So a two-unit passenger locomotive is not at all worth considering. It would not approach electric performance and it should be no surprise that such a unit does not exist in the multi-billion-dollar locomotive market.

    2) In an electrified system, regenerative energy storage is not required. Regenerated energy is fed back into the electric grid, to feed other trains, toaster ovens, air conditioners, etc. right at that instant.

    3) Hybrid trains with on-board energy storage are in their technological infancy, and are many years from becoming a workable alternative. There are numerous challenges with the energy density of storage (both mass and volumetric), efficiency, durability, and scalability. For now, the hybrid train can properly be viewed as the unicorn of the rails.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Clem, I disagree with your conclusions. Unless you determine that 80 – 90mph is high speed then we are discussing different needs. LOSSAN and Metrolink trains rarely exceed 70mph and top out at 80 (with a brief exception through Camp Pendleton). A key reason that a hybrid loco does not exist is that almost all railroads have moved away from locomotive hauled passenger trains, and few have to deal with the heavyweight cars we have invested so much money in. We’ll see what develops with super capacitors etc. in the next few years. For sure you will not see 2,000hp per axle with a diesel. On the other hand 8 axles driven gives some of the characteristics of mu service. The concept is being pursued, we’ll see how successfully.

    TRANSDEF Reply:

    Unicorn alert!!! My God, there’s a whole flock of them: supercapacitors 1, supercapacitors 2, and flywheels.

    Please note that, in an electrified system, wayside energy storage is useful in preventing excessive voltage drop.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why didn’t the people using flywheels use superduper capacitors? Why didn’t they put them in the vehicles instead of at the substation?

    TRANSDEF Reply:

    Sorry, Bombardier updated the link to supercapacitor 2 since I saved it.

    Clem Reply:

    Paul, there’s nothing to disagree about when it comes to equations of motion.

    A basic surfliner (F59 + 6 cal cars) takes 130 sec to go from 0 to 70 mph.
    Let’s double the mass on drivers at the same power: now it’s 152 sec. The extra starting tractive effort helps, but is swamped by the extra weight (+120 metric tons).
    Let’s double the power with the same mass on drivers: now it’s 78 sec.
    Let’s double both mass on drivers and double power: now it’s 77 sec, because despite the extra weight (+120 metric tons) you have more tractive effort at lower speeds to make up for it.

    Compare to a modern high-power EMU (Stadler KISS @ 6MW): 47 sec

    The solution to your problem doesn’t involve supercapacitors or flywheels or coconuts falling from trees. Stick a diesel on both ends, and you’re done! Granted, that’s not the most energy-efficient solution out there, but performance-wise it gets you what you need. Now. Cheap.

    Hybrid technology simply is not scalable to the train weights we’re talking about here (above 1 million pounds)

    Clem Reply:

    here’s a plot. (Note I threw in an extra 4 seconds above, since the plot represents what would happen if all the power were instantly available… in practice it takes a few seconds to rev up to max throttle)

    jonathan Reply:

    Clem,
    before you can say that there’s “nothing to disagree about when it comes to equations of motion:, first you have to get everyone in the discussion *up* to where they’re discussing equations-of-motion.

    That rules out Paul Dyson, just the same way it rules out Joe.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Jonathan, I am always ready to accept expert opinion, I don’t profess to be a mechanical engineer. If Clem, you and all the gathered wise men say the only way to achieve better performance without electrification, and of course meet AQMD goals, and reduce fuel consumption, is to hang a loco on each end (as Terry Miller did for BR in the 1970s) I bow to your greater experience. It seems a pity that your profession has made no progress in 4 decades but if those are the facts I won’t argue.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    The “last mile diesel” diesel engines are usually rated at 500 to 800 kW, compared to the electrical power rating of 3000 to 4000 kW (example TRAXX), or 360 kW diesel and 1500 kW electric (example SBB Eem 923). This type of locomotive is called “electro-diesel”.

    jonathan Reply:

    Max,
    The ALP-45s have two ~1.6 Mw diesels, totalling 3.1MW at shat, or 4,100shp.

    VBobier Reply:

    At least until 2015, after that even a TGV would be ok to run according to the FRA.

    Joey Reply:

    That’s still pending approval from the host RR. I don’t know what FEC’s stance on this would be, and the only thing we have to go by is UP’s universal no.

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    We have no such thing. In the past, to get a waiver to use a non-compliant design, you had to kick freight off the tracks for the daylight hours. Post-2015, you will be able to run non-compliant designs (with some modifications, though so far they don’t seem huge) *commingled* with heavy freight, no waiver necessary. So it’s really a very different proposition than the old waivers, and unless UP’s said something about their stance post-2015 that I missed, we can’t assume they’d be opposed.

  4. Brian_FL
    Dec 20th, 2013 at 14:03
    #4

    It will be interesting to see what All Aboard Florida decides to go with. They have always said they would purchase foreign designed train sets. They said they were working with a foreign based company on the design of their train. The Siemens locomotive would appear to be a very good match with AAF’s requirements. I believe AAF is trying to obtain an FRA waiver to operate light weight European type trains. Last I heard was that they have been talking with the FRA for most of 2013 about this.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    Meant that as a reply to Keith Saggers comment about the IDOT decision.

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    They needed an FRA waiver when they started looking; now the FRA says they’re going to be allowing off-the-shelf-ish European rolling stock by 2015-ish.

  5. joe
    Dec 20th, 2013 at 19:20
    #5

    http://www.citywatchla.com/8box-left/6184-california-high-speed-rail-revolution-evolution-or-devolution

    The need to escape the giddy atmosphere of the past, and to “smell the coffee” and focus on the realistic future, has never been greater. The adherence to issues long-dead, particularly how to get from Los Angeles to San Francisco via a train as fast as a plane, needs to end. It’s tunnel vision…train-tunnel vision.

    Kind of like how some folks still opine (and whine) about how the right route of the CAHSR project should have been routed via the Altamont Pass instead of the Pacheco Pass, when it’s a dead issue and entirely irrelevant to the immediate problem.

    I doubt I’m the only one sick of hearing about Altamont vs. Pacheco, and the “Aaaaaltamont, Aaaaaaaltamont, Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaltamont!” screams ignore the other, more urgent needs of the transit-riding (and wannabe transit-riding) communities.

    Certainly, it’s OK to admire the Governor for his initiative…but his lack of flexibility and courage makes that admiration harder to sustain. While the hybrid CAHSR project we now have is much, much closer to a project that is more realistic than that presented to the voters, it is still a project that is illegal with respect to the rules and laws in which it was passed, and which will leave it unfundable (and, ergo, unbuildable).

    Clem Reply:

    Suck it up! You’re gonna be hearing a lot more about Altamont.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Go for it, Clem. You are the best friend CAHSR has.

    And if by chance you were ever wondering, as I, where Bernanke was sending that $85bil/mo:

    http://www.pbs.org/newshour/businessdesk/2013/12/what-happened-to-the-feds-tril.html

    BrianR Reply:

    If Altamont is chosen over Pacheco the CAHSR may find that the most efficient and effective alternate means of providing direct high speed service to downtown San Jose would be something along the lines of the following:

    http://farm7.staticflickr.com/6198/6072257511_87584f110d_o.jpg

    That’s just an example of a concept. I am assuming California appropriate “road names” would be adopted to match whatever paint scheme and branding is ultimately realized for that “inevitable” future HSR that could only “possibly be realized” with an Altamont/I-5/Tejon routing.

    Think about all the cost savings that would be realized without the need for any new expensive infrastructure! All it takes is a code-share agreement and paint. Why trek all the way from San Jose to Fremont or Redwood City to connect to a mainline HSR station when there is already an existing and underutilized transportation facility conveniently located adjacent to downtown San Jose and accessible by free and frequent shuttle bus service from VTA light rail, multiple bus routes and Caltrain?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You might ask the same question today: why trek all the way to SFO or Oakland, or drive, when there’s an airport in San Jose?

    BrianR Reply:

    well it’s a matter of where you are headed. If you are booking a flight to Los Angeles or Ontario,CA (CA meaning California not Canada) San Jose should be able to meet your needs well enough unless you are hoping to catch a flight that leaves after 11:00 PM or like at 3:00 AM. Obviously for service to other parts of the country your options are much more limited at SJC but I am assuming the primary subject here is travel between northern and southern California.

    Competition from multiple carriers at SFO or Oakland may lead to cheaper prices but not everyone finds it a good bargain to travel another 50 miles to save 5 to 10 dollars on airfare. Otherwise at SJC it’s the type of situation where you plan around their schedule if it works reasonably enough for you. I’ve taken jetBlue’s daily nonstop redeye from SJC to JFK and at the time it was actually cheaper than the equivalent flight from SFO. I’ve also taken US Airways “faux non-stop” flight from SJC to JFK that stops in Phoenix except you continue on the same plane. It was a relatively cheap flight too. With a guaranteed connection like that who wouldn’t want to stop in Phoenix Sky Harbor! I happen to be big fan of airport architecture so maybe I am just biased! My once and first ever stopover in Phoenix was an experience of personal enrichment I would not replace for anything! I used all the allocated stopover time to explore as much of the terminal as possible. I just hope that route is maintained post merger with American.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, SJC has primarily local traffic, by a large margin. The problem is something different. First, even more people fly out of Oakland. Counting only passengers to the five LA airports, SFO has 3,500 passengers per day in both directions, SJC 4,500, and Oakland 6,700. (For the record, before checking I thought SFO had the most rather than the least LA-bound traffic.) There are more people who live in the East Bay than in Silicon Valley, and for them driving to Fremont to take Altamont-HSR is easier than driving to San Jose to take Pacheco-HSR. I doubt many would take BART, but for them, it’s easier to get to Fremont or Livermore than to San Jose as well.

    As a destination Silicon Valley is more important than the East Bay, but SF trumps both by a large margin. As I like pointing out, downtown San Jose has about the same job concentration as downtown Providence (and is much less walkable). Silicon Valley has a lot of job sprawl, which is going to show up in lower rail mode share and higher road mode share, and many of the HSR riders will have to connect to Caltrain either way. This subtly advantages Altamont in that it’s easier to blend HSR and Caltrain if HSR goes via Altamont, even though the trip to points south of Redwood City would be longer. Within Silicon Valley, the most promising station as a destination is Palo Alto, and serving it requires Pacheco, but the business plan documents suggest that the HSR Authority is going to put the mid-Peninsula station at Redwood City either way, since Redwood City is pro-HSR whereas Palo Alto is filing lawsuits. Riding Pacheco-HSR to San Jose and then connecting to Caltrain to get to Palo Alto and Mountain View is in principle faster than riding Altamont-HSR to Redwood City, but it requires more infrastructure to blend Caltrain and HSR on the full SF-SJ segment.

    If anything, HSR would cause SJC to be closed, under either option. Pacheco serves San Jose better, but Altamont is good enough that people would switch – they’d drive to Redwood City or Fremont, or maybe take BART to Fremont. Nobody lives in downtown San Jose anyway. Under either option, express trains do RWC-LA in about 2:30; under Altamont, subtract a few minutes for Fremont-LA. It’s easily capable of outcompeting air, and then SJC and Oakland are going to see a large drop in passenger volumes. SFO, which has much more long-distance traffic, is less dependent on short-hop flights and more capable of replacing them with long-distance flights. Counting all domestic travel, SFO has 26,000 daily passengers, SJC 13,500, and Oakland 17,500, so SFO has about 13% of its domestic passengers going to LA, SJC 33%, and Oakland 38%. If you add in San Diego, where HSR trains would take 4:00 from Silicon Valley and be competitive, though not enough to wipe the air travel market, then the proportion of domestic passengers rises to 18% for SFO, 45% for SJC, and 48% for Oakland. If you also add in Las Vegas, this rises to 22%, 54%, and 56% respectively. It’s possible the airlines will add in long-distance flights to compensate, but the international flights have large planes and too few passengers who care much for Silicon Valley.

    Tony D. Reply:

    No body lives in downtown SJ? Talk about a straight up lie! Also see two residential high rises being built as we speak and three more in the pipeline in DSJ. Even if what you said was true, you don’t build a major rail passenger system and bypass the largest, wealthiest city in the region; and it’s only getting larger and wealthier!

    Look all, I’m now all for a hypothetical Altamont, I-5, Tejon HSR route, but current plans have such a route terminating at Diridon/SJ, a completely reborn ACE line. Look it up! A Dumbarton crossing would be nice as well and should be the ultimate goal ,but it would not be “phase 1” Altamont if you will..

    Tony D. Reply:

    Look up Altamont HSR Commuter Overlay from a few years back.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    By the standards of how many people live within easy commute distance of downtown San Francisco, nobody lives in downtown SJ. I’m not counting buildings, I’m counting how many hundreds of thousands of people might be interested in flying out of SJC.

    And yes, you totally bypass the largest city when it’s only the largest because it amalgamated with the right suburbs. Just like you totally bypass the largest county in New York when riding Amtrak.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And Amtrak passes through but doesn’t stop in the second biggest or fifth biggest and doesn’t even pass through the fourth and sixth biggest.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    Regardless of new development, the number of people who live in San Jose, by standards of similarly large cities, is miniscule. Alon is correct-saying that San Jose is the 9th (or 10th, whatever) largest city in the country is disingenuous. San Jose is an amalgamation of suburbia without a proper downtown.

    Tony D. Reply:

    You are more than entitled to your opinion. So who made you and Alon experts at defining cities?

    Tony D. Reply:

    BTW, it appears that none of you urban “experts” are aware of the massive AM/PM commutes on 880/680 to/from Silicon Valley/San Jose. But yet you laugh at the BART to SV/SJ extension and claim SV/SJ doesn’t need a HSR connection via Altamont. Silly us, what were we thinking by improving/advocating access into our region…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Tony D.,

    It’s odd that you feel that this is all about you, and all about personal insults to your “hometown”.

    The laughing! The “experts”! Our region!

    Yes, they’re all out to get you. The East Coast Intelligensia. The Nattering Nabobs of Negativism. The Pencil-Neck Geeks with their Slide Rules. The Shiftless Urban Cosmopolitans. The Foreigners Abusing the US Census Web Site.

    Oh, how they all chortle at you and your SOV commuting. So droll!

    Joey Reply:

    The problem isn’t that San Jose doesn’t have jobs, or people, the problem is that they’re spread out, and thus very difficult to serve effectively with transit.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s not about how many people live in SJ, it’s about how many people live close enough to the airport that they’d find it more convenient to drive to the airport than to drive to RWC or Fremont.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    Ironically (or is that perversely?) the best way to serve Silicon Valley’s transit needs is by the VTA actually doing its job (and totally reworking the LRT system), not Pacheco or the VTA spending money on being BART’s Santa Clara County booster.

    jonathan Reply:

    Amanda,

    what do you mean? Sounds to me like a VTA that isn’t VTA anymore. “Reworking the LRT system”? You mean abandoning much of the current trackage and laying more sensible routes elsewhere, or what?

    egk Reply:

    [Can’t beliwve we are back to this, but..]

    Pacheco DOES NOT serve San Jose better, it serves trips between Southern California and San Jose (slightly) better.

    But since Sacramento, not Southern California, is by far the largest travel market for San Jose (both as origin and destination) an Altamont alignment clearly serves the total travel needs of San Jose (and the entire Bay Area) better.

    Weekly commuters – who make up much of the Sacto/San Jose travel market – are very good HSR customers (as anybody who has lived in Germany knows).

    Tony D. Reply:

    Agree.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The comment I was making was specifically about air travel out of SJC. Altamont’s better service to Sacramento is irrelevant; nobody flies between the Bay Area and Sacramento.

    joe Reply:

    Yes, SJC has primarily local traffic, by a large margin. The problem is something different. First, even more people fly out of Oakland. Counting only passengers to the five LA airports, SFO has 3,500 passengers per day in both directions, SJC 4,500, and Oakland 6,700. (For the record, before checking I thought SFO had the most rather than the least LA-bound traffic.)

    Why the surprise? SFO has limited capacity. Airlines defer less profitable flights to other airports.
    That’s why SFO doesn’t dominate the market for local flights from SoCal. It’s also a sign that SFO has little if any capacity room to accommodate additional flights and HSR will not do much to relieve SFO air traffic since SFO has so few % of local flights.

    Bigger planes can help SFO (they use larger planes now mostly) but these planes take longer to board which reduces the number of open gates available per hour. Most air traffic growth ove rtth next few decades will happen by adding and shifting flights to OAK and SJC.

    So no HSR is not going to put SJC out of business unless SFO adds more runways.

    BTW, Palo Alto RWC is not the center of the SV – it’s further south. It’s closer to San Jose SJC than SF SFO. That matters in the alignment decision.

    The most obvious problem is snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

    CAHSRA has a ROW from San Jose to SF all lined up. Morris Brown and CARRD are gadflies on the Peninsula. The Pols all support the Blended plan. It’s all done.

    Altamont throws all this hard work out and reboots the bay area. It attempts to bring HSR to SF via a new route in the East Bay and throws in a new bay crossing. Also, it requires track to San Jose and eliminates the argument for HSR to co-pay for blended Caltrain.

    No one can show the impacted East Bay cities would welcome HSR. Such a non-trivial oversight to throw out a sure thing and try something better because politics are always stupid and engineering is the end al and be all.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Also, it requires track to San Jose and eliminates the argument for HSR to co-pay for blended Caltrain.

    No it doesn’t the train can either go across the bay and then go down to San Jose or people in San Jose can just get on BART and go to Fremont.

    jonathan Reply:

    Go across the bay? ROTFL. Trains flying over empty space? Shades of Terry Pratchett!

    Clem Reply:

    You would impact Fremont, period. Instead of Gilroy, Morgan Hill, San Jose, Santa Clara, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto and the affluent parts of Menlo Park and Atherton.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s gonna be in a tunnel from Fremont to the mainline out in Stockton? Or is it that the people on the other side of the pass aren’t really in the Bay Area and therefore don’t count?

    joe Reply:

    So Fremont’s okay with it – great. For a moment I thought the alternative alignment wasn’t vetted with the Easy Bay cities.

    Interesting that San Jose will not be impact by the Altamont alignment.

    Clem Reply:

    What people? The people of Pleasanton and Livermore would only be impacted if you ran the train right through their towns, which is the only option that CHSRA and PB studied so as to get maximum justification for withdrawing Altamont alternatives. The SETEC route is in the boonies as soon as it departs Fremont, all the way to the Central Valley.

    San Jose gets a fantastic BART connection, what more could you wish for?

    jonathan Reply:

    San Jose gets a fantastic BART connection, what more could you wish for?

    I’m looking for the irony and still not seeing any.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    OOOOOO sounds like a plan put the passenger railroad where there are no passengers. Why bother to go all the way to Stockton? Swoop around all those pesky people and use something out along 580 to avoid them all? There’s a whole lot of nothing out in the Delta, build it out there when the time comes to build to Sacramento. A beetfield station for Sacramento halfway to Davis and it will make it easier to get to Davis!

    Clem Reply:

    Could you repeat that with words strung together in such a manner as to make a point?

    Joey Reply:

    Stations need to be where people are. The track between stations is ideally far away from where people are.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Alon’s analysis neatly leaves out that the only two airports in California seeing passenger growth are SFO and LAX.

    The reason is pretty simple: the more the industry consolidates, the less of a reason there is to compete. If we end up with four major airlines nationally, HSR is going to be the tool that airlines use to expand stagnant market share. Much of San Jose’s or Oakland’s market share is going to be gobbled up by an ever expanding SFO. Expect Sacramento and San Diego’s share to also grow.

    So how does this relate to Altamont? Even if BART didn’t oppose Altamont 105%, even if San Jose rolled over and agreed with it, even if it wasn’t totally unworkable for Sacramento, Altamont would keep alive San Jose’s airport as a viable rival to SFO. And doing that would pull ridership off the whole CAHSR system and probably to the point where it’s not economically viable.

    In fact, Altamont is the Northern California version of Palmdale. There is a big incentive to develop it for commuter traffic, but it’s no help for statewide service.

    Clem Reply:

    How would Altamont impede service to Sacramento? Trying to follow your logic…

    jonathan Reply:

    In fact, Altamont is the Northern California version of Palmdale. There is a big incentive to develop it for commuter traffic, but it’s no help for statewide service.

    Amen!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Trying to follow your logic

    Category error.

    Clem Reply:

    SJ to Sac would be extremely well-served by Altamont. It is not at all in the same category as Palmdale, which puts all NorCal destinations an extra 13 to 18 minutes away from all SoCal destinations.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Until they build Cajon when everything not Los Angeles is much faster since it’s not toddling along for 50 miles on either side of Los Angeles.

    Joey Reply:

    adirondacker: The time difference between SF-Tejon-LA-IE-SD and SF-Tehachapi-Cajon-IE-SD is negligible.

    Clem Reply:

    He probably does have a point, Joey, but nobody is talking about punching a second hole through the San Gabriels (a.k.a. Cajon). It’s right up there with Las Vegas. $$$$

    Joey Reply:

    Probably? I did some (admittedly handwavy) analysis a while back that said that Tehachapi-Palmdale-LA-IE would be 15-20 minutes longer than Tehachapi-Cajon-IE. Subtract off the time savings from Tejon and what do you get? Do you have more accurate time estimations?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Altamont necessitates a south to north alignment for HSR to serve Sacramento. However, that sets up a real problem given that Sacramento’s existing train station faces east-west. Unlike most cities in California, you have a very compact city center that also has a lot of historic architecture that would stand in the way of building a fast viaduct.

    The other option is to do what the San Joaquins do and run at 15mph or so through the city limits. Personally, I think this is unacceptable because CAHSR needs to be able to serve Tahoe (some day) and Oregon and Washington. Just like with the Phase 2 extension to San Diego, I think the alignment is really misguided. But I think Phase 1 is more or less what needs to be built.

    Joey Reply:

    I don’t think building a new ROW between Elk Grove and Sacramento is really going to be much of an issue. Some houses would have to be taken but there’s only one area where a lot of property takes would have to occur between CSU Sacramento and the I-80 crossing. Curve radii near the station itself don’t have to be huge, and the only other problematic curve near I-80 could be realigned easily. Where exactly are you anticipating problems?

    You can also enter Sacramento from the west even if you’re coming through the Central Valley. Stick to I-5 coming out of Stockton and then transition to the ex Sac Northern ROW in West Sacramento. You’d have to bridge a few wetlands but so would any SF-Fairfield-Sac upgrades.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Some houses would have to be taken but there’s only one area where a lot of property takes would have to occur between CSU Sacramento and the I-80 crossing.

    Oh, you mean the most desirable neighborhood in all of Sacramento, the Fabulous Forties? Good luck with that. Maybe you can use the same tunnel design as in Palo Alto….

    You’d have to bridge a few wetlands but so would any SF-Fairfield-Sac upgrades.

    The Fairfield area wetlands are going to suffer massive subsidence from pumping to the Peripheral Tunnel and Clifton Court Forebay. The Sac Northern ROW is actually a great idea otherwise.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Ah, our old friend the Altamont vs. Pacheco debate, just in time for the holidays- the whole thing has come full circle, it’s deja vu all over again, and all that. And some airplane stuff too- maybe another profane ex-pilot will join in on the conversation. Carry on, gentlepersons!

    Howard Reply:

    HSR can go to Sacramento from Stockton via the unused old Central Califonia Tracktion ROW, then turn north onto the 83rd Street spur, then turn west on the publicly owned Sacramento- Folsom track and stop at a station at the Power Inn light rail station. This alterate route can be built without effecting the UP mainline. Riders can transfer to light rail to go downtown and the HSR station is close to Sac State. Lots of Europen train stations are not in downtown. Later a subway could extend HSR downtown.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    If you put the HSR station there, good luck extending it anywhere. I know Sacramento is out of sight out of mind for most people on this board and in California generally. But my guess is that in the Bay Area BART and CAHSR will share ROW but not tracks or stations. I think this allows Capitol Corridor service to survive and limit the number of stations between San Jose and Sacramento.

    Joey Reply:

    Oh, you mean the most desirable neighborhood in all of Sacramento, the Fabulous Forties? Good luck with that. Maybe you can use the same tunnel design as in Palo Alto….

    Regardless of how high property values are, the cost of acquiring them isn’t going to be much. People will complain (as everywhere else), but there’s not much they can do in the end. And it’s a lot simpler than Palo Alto – there are no crossings to deal with so everything could be at grade. Though the neighborhood would probably be improved by a new pedestrian crossing or two.

    The Fairfield area wetlands are going to suffer massive subsidence from pumping to the Peripheral Tunnel and Clifton Court Forebay. The Sac Northern ROW is actually a great idea otherwise.

    What are we comparing to then? You have to get to Sacramento somehow. If you’re proposing to follow the Capitol Corridor route then you have to deal with the same wetlands.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Joey,

    If you look at a map, you will see the Capitol Corridor route fords the Delta north of the proposed intake tunnels for the Peripheral Tunnel. Altamont is below the Delta, so it is easier to cross the San Joaquin River. But Sacramento’s core grid is so old even using the existing ROW would present challenges.

    Also, I think the water table is to high to use tunnels in a meaningful way.

    Joey Reply:

    Okay, but I still think you’re overstating the challenges of either route, especially compared to your stated alternative (CC route). How do you propose to deal with the challenges of ROW in the East Bay (noting that the existing one is UP-owned), particularly north of Richmond, necessary tunneling north of Hercules, either urban construction through Vallejo (Vallejo route) or crossing huge swaths of wetlands (Benicia route)? I’m purposefully ignoring the second transbay tube because that will probably happen under any scenario.

    Joey Reply:

    By contrast, other than the minor issues you have stated, it’s a flat, straight shot north from Stockton to Sacramento. A few miles of urban construction at the north end (or shoring against future subsidence), and nothing else. No tunneling, intermediate slowdowns, few to no wetlands to cross, no regional trains to compete for capacity with in the second transbay tube. What makes you think that Stockton-Sacramento is going to be so much harder than San Francisco-Oakland-Sacramento?

    J. Wong Reply:

    Hmm, given Tehachapi vs. Tejon and Altamont vs. Pacheco and supposing you can only choose one, which one would you choose? That is, is Tejon more important than Altamont, or visa-versa?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Ted, Sacramento is supposed to be served from LA on the exact same alignment regardless of what mountain pass is used to get to the Bay Area. North of Manteca and south of Chowchilla, nothing changes either way.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The surprise comes from the fact that SFO is the region’s primary airport. At the LA end, LAX is the plurality airport for Bay Area-bound fliers, although not overwhelmingly so (about 4,600 vs. 3,200 for each of Burbank and Santa Ana). In both regions, the secondary airports have a much larger share of their traffic going to cities at HSR range, but I thought that the plurality airport would still be the primary one. It turned out to be true in LA and false in the Bay Area.

    Re Silicon Valley, I think PA is about the center – it certainly is as a destination – and RWC is a bit too far north and MV and SJ too far south. It doesn’t have a definitive center the way SF does, but instead has a string of secondary job centers, ranging from RWC to SJ. Stanford just has a central location in that string.

    I’m purposely avoiding political alignment questions (Caltrain vs. Altamont options) in this subthread. Plenty of other places to discuss Dumbarton tunnel options. I’m saying something narrowly related to blending, which is that it’s easier to blend for 45 km than for 80.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    So there’s no surprise:

    Southwest is the dominant intrastate carrier. Southwest, with Wal-Mart like precision, finds the airport in a region with the lowest landing fees and uses that as the base of its operations. Unlike most primary airports in the US, LAX has the lowest landing fees in Southern California. Ergo, Southwest uses LAX as its base and is the plurality airport.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Why does LAX have lower landing fees than the secondary airports, out of curiosity? It’s an unusual situation.

    BrianR Reply:

    Interesting: I didn’t realize SJC had just a bit over half the daily passengers as SFO. If those numbers are still current I would say that’s not half bad considering SJC’s diminutive size. I always assumed passenger counts were significantly less in proportion to SFO. Even considering Google’s proposed executive terminal on the west side of the airfield SJC still has room to expand (on the east side). Terminal B was originally planned to have twice the number of gates it currently has. The limiting factor of course would be runway capacity and runway length but it seems unlikely that would be a threshold SJC would bump up against. That is unless the age of single aisle jets comes to an end. If that were the case SJC would need to revisit the prior proposals to extend the runways over the 880 which I think were last considered back in the 90’s.

    Howard Reply:

    The best way to expand the San Jose Airport would be to move it to Coyote Valley where there is room for two main runways. The new terminal could be directly served by HSR (instead of unwanted MV/PA/RC station), Caltrain and Capitols. The rest of the Coyote Valley could be preserved as an airport safety and noise control measure. There could also be night flights. The old San Jose airport could be torn down redeveloped as a whole new dense downtown. Moving San Jose airport would also remove the building height limits in downtown San Jose, allowing taller building to make downtown San Jose more dense, urban and transit friendly.

    BrianR Reply:

    If HSR came through Coyote Valley via Pacheco there would be very little need for an expanded San Jose Airport. HSR alone with a stop in San Jose would significantly reduce flight demand at SJC.

    A move to Coyote Valley would put the airport outside the range of useful distance not only for people on the lower peninsula and south bay but for those within San Jose itself. Remember, it can take a long time just to drive from one end of San Jose to the other. Many who currently find SJC a convenient alternative to SFO would likely find it easier to travel to SFO instead.

    And besides, I thought Coyote Valley was a significant part of San Jose’s “green belt” as designated in the 1970’s. Few things seem more inconsistent than building a brand new commercial airport in a green belt.

    BrianR Reply:

    I also want to add that SJC currently has no need for expansion. It is currently underutilized and can easily accommodate additional traffic with no new facilities or additional runways. From what I last heard due to the prior recession and other issues it had actually seen a decline in traffic in recent years.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    These are just domestic O&D passengers. International and connecting traffic isn’t counted. By the same methodology, there’s more passenger traffic at LaGuardia than at JFK, even though JFK’s actual passenger count is about double that of LaGuardia. And if you’re comparing post-HSR traffic, then the gap grows considerably. It doesn’t really matter whether HSR takes 2:10 or 2:25 to get to LA; there’s some marginal difference, but in either case, LA-bound air traffic will take a major hit.

    wdobner Reply:

    Why can’t CHSRA HSTs servicing San Jose simply use UP’s Alviso Line, or something constructed next to it to get from the HSL’s northern end in Fremont down to Diridon? Now is the time to start working on the FRA and UP to electrify the route, add tracks as required, and set up some sort of blended operation. I would think San Jose would stand to benefit tremendously from being a northern terminal rather than another station along the route, and rather than refusing to serve the Bay Area’s third city simply because the HSL does not pass directly through town it is well worth bringing the trains to them regardless of where the HSL ends up.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    Environmental issues going through the wetlands at the southern tip of the bay.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Would it really hurt the wetlands that much if the existing Alviso line were widened by 2-3 tracks? Just asking..

    joe Reply:

    California Environmental Quality Act.

    @wdobner: “would think San Jose would stand to benefit tremendously from being a northern terminal rather than another station along the route, ”

    I don’t get the benefit. What is it?

    I can see why being a stop before SF puts SJ at an advantage – the trip is that much shorter so locations at SJ are closer to LA than SF.

    I can see why HSR between SJ to SF line connects SJ to SF and helps SJ.

    Also a SJ stop puts it as the gateway to the bay area, and not a Bags End.
    An East Bay stop to two means the East Bay has advantageous connections to SoCal and to SF.

    I can see why San Jose would object. I can see why the powers want the Pacheco route so the arguments against Pacheco need to recognize the interests and what’s at stake. It ain’t simple.

    Observer Reply:

    Also agree. Having to make a loop up at Altamont and back down to get to Los Angeles from San Jose does not seem to make sense. Same could be said for getting to San Jose from Los Angeles, that is – again having to make a loop up at Altamont and back down to San Jose. Advantage Pacheco.

    Observer Reply:

    The East Bay could also be served very well this way – using San Jose as a gateway – thru Pacheco to get to Los Angeles or any other point south.

    Clem Reply:

    It does cost 10 extra minutes for SJ riders, but does not impede any other markets (in the way that Palmdale puts all NorCal destinations an extra 13 to 18 minutes further from all SoCal destinations). San Jose riders would also be many more than 10 minutes closer to Sacramento, to make up for that.

    The downside for SJ is way overblown! Imagine the loop to go from SJ to Sac via Pacheco.

    joe Reply:

    Clem

    Certainly you’ve both thought about it and done analysis. I respect that work and your approach. The quotes I found mocking the debate interested me because even HSR opponents/critics are tired of the argument. That expression of fatigue was interesting to me.

    I was writing (above) about the San Jose perspective. What are their interests in the alignment debate and why I think the area would oppose a realignment. Also, consider the positive impact Gilroy sees’ (so far) on the alignment so it is not a negative and there is a minimal impact on Morgan Hill since it is not going through town…

    A general impression I have of the San jose area is that being closer to Sacramento isn’t a plus. Maybe it should be. It’s a consolation prize IMHO. Both San Jose and Sacramento get tagged with Cow Town labels. We might call it the Cow Town express.

    The realignment means a New Bay crossing, redoing the Caltrain electrification, throwing away the effort local Pols who secured the approved alignment from SF to San Jose and the reshuffling of geographic/infrastructure towards the East Bay. The East Bay many oppose this plan. It all makes a realignment a difficult sell.

    I can see it happening but ironically the greater the fight over, IMHO bogus issues, the less I see The State conceding any ground right now.

    Joey Reply:

    @Clem:

    It does cost 10 extra minutes for SJ riders

    10 minutes was using the program alignment, wasn’t it? Using a highly unoptimized alignment through Fremont and Pleasanton. With SETEC it might be under 5 minutes.

    @Joe:

    The realignment means a New Bay crossing

    Yes, but it’s not as bad as you make it sound. A new crossing near San Francisco (which will need to happen at some point) would be quite an ordeal. Near Dumbarton, the bay is much narrower and shallower. The ecological impact is an issue for a bridge, but not for a tunnel. A tunnel could be bored parallel to the recently completed water tunnels, making soil conditions nearly 100% known, a major factor in the higher cost of tunneling.

    redoing the Caltrain electrification

    Why? CalTrain electrification still needs to happen, and HSR will still be sharing half of it. It does bring into question whether HSR funds could be used for the other half (since IIRC all of the connecting transit funds are programmed already), but if we have trouble putting together such as small amount of money for a reasonable and long overdue transit improvement, we might as well give up anyway.

    The East Bay many oppose this plan.

    Do they? Back before the Pacheco decision was finalized, the only major opposition I recall was coming from Pleasanton, which would be bypassed under SETEC.

    Observer Reply:

    I think we need to look at the entire statewide rail modernization plan. Remember that both the Altamont and Capital Corridors will both eventually be upgraded; this, together and in conjunction with the HSR section between Merced to Sacramento will provide very fast and efficient connections between the bay area and Stockton/Sacramento. To me the primary goal of HSR is to provide a high speed connection between the bay area and Los Angeles (San Diego also) and in the process get HSR service to the isolated and much more poor central valley (and also future growth area); Pacheco along with upgraded Altamont/Capital Corridors will do this. Granted I am still wondering about Tehachipi vs Tejon; but, I will accept Tehachipi.

    In other words let us get this funded and get on with building it.

    Joey Reply:

    I’m not quite sure what “upgrades” to Altamont everyone seems to be talking about. The curves in Niles Canyon and the Altamont Pass itself effectively mean that you can’t speed things up much if at all without boring new tunnels.

    Joe Reply:

    Caltrain electrification requires HSR funds.

    It’s simple to offer hypothetical and make counter factual arguments. Replacing a funded electrification plan with funding with a empy promise is what Aaaaaatamont does to Caltrain.

    Clem Reply:

    Aaaaaaaltamont still requires Caltrain blending, so I don’t know how it would jeopardize the funding package for electrification (which is far from a done deal by the way)

    jonathan Reply:

    If HSR is routed via Altamont, then spending HSR dollars on Caltrain electrification south of the HSR junction is in flagrant violation of Prop 1a/AB 3034. Unless you can show that spending HSR dollars on a never-to-be-HSR suburban shortline, does not impact or slow down HSR construction elsewhere. Which, in a world where funding is _the_ main constraint, is impossible.

    As for the rest of Aaaaaatamoooont, … why are East Bay residents going to be any more accepting of HSR noise than Peninsula residents? Any less worried about the trainsets jumping off the rails and hitting schools?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Altamont requires blending north of where the important people who are very concerned about it all being done right live. they will get to keep their beloved grade crossings and diesel fumes. Because as we all know as soon as the first train travels over Altamont all construction on anything anywhere will stop as we all bask in it’s glory. And wallow in the world peace and end of hunger. Probably cures teenage acne and halitosis too.

    BrianR Reply:

    if past actions are any indication I would think PAMPA and it’s lawyers assisted with “watchdog group” CAARD will fight to the death to make sure that no Prop 1A money is spent on the electrification of Caltrain south of Redwood City (given selection of an Altamont alignment). They will surely find a provision in Prop 1A that could be interpreted as prohibiting upgrades not exclusively serving the requirements of HSR. It would be inconsistent for them to not do that.

    It will be like the brouhaha over the ‘Blended Service Plan’ repeated all over again. Their mouthpiece; Palo Alto’s Daily Post will be sure to spin every “scandal” it can think up about it. So far I am led to believe that PAMPA and CAARD are not only Pro-Deep Bore Tunnel but Pro-Diesel, Pro-Level Crossing, Pro-Loud Horns, Pro-Hyperloop and Pro-Rails to Trails conversion for the Caltrain ROW (and for their part there is no inconsistency there). It’s like “I got my Tesla Model S, I am doing my part so FUCK YOU ALL!”

    Joe Reply:

    Aaaaaaaaaaltamont would start in San Mateo Co thus cutting out all of Santa Clara Co so no it’s not going to get the full system electrified. Tamien is much further south of that crossing.

    Now if they run south on the Caltrain RoW I’d have to laugh at all the NIMBYs south thinking that alignment would keep the trains away. There we’d have the same impact on Caltrain cities plus a bay crossing.

    I still think Pachecoooooooo .

    Clem Reply:

    Since HSR dedicated infrastructure starts just south of Lawrence station, should HSR dollars be strictly prohibited from paying for Caltrain electrification from Lawrence to San Jose and Tamien? Isn’t the current plan in equally “flagrant violation”?

    Joe Reply:

    Remember. HSR has the green light in the peninsula. It’s a done deal. Electrifying Caltrain is what it took to get that approval. Thunderbirds are go!

    All bets are off in the East Bay.
    Toss away a sure thing for a sure unknown.

    Joey Reply:

    As for the rest of Aaaaaatamoooont, … why are East Bay residents going to be any more accepting of HSR noise than Peninsula residents? Any less worried about the trainsets jumping off the rails and hitting schools?

    Where would it be an issue? The SETEC alignment bypasses Pleasanton and Livermore and there’s plenty of room for a relatively cheap cut-and-cover tunnel through Fremont (not the case in PAMPA, plus hydrology issues).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Jonathan, spending money on fully electrifying Caltrain south of the junction allows it to run EMUs all the way. This means reduced HSR construction costs north of the junction: the EMUs accelerate faster, so there’s less need for overtakes, and can also climb steeper grades, so the grade separations can be shorter. Electronik vor Beton, etc.

    jonathan Reply:

    Why? CalTrain electrification still needs to happen, and HSR will still be sharing half of it. It does bring into question whether HSR funds could be used for the other half (since IIRC all of the connecting transit funds are programmed already), but if we have trouble putting together such as small amount of money for a reasonable and long overdue transit improvement, we might as well give up anyway.

    Then we should give up now. MTC has already decided to put their money elsewhere.

    joe Reply:

    “Since HSR dedicated infrastructure starts just south of Lawrence station, should HSR dollars be strictly prohibited from paying for Caltrain electrification from Lawrence to San Jose and Tamien? Isn’t the current plan in equally “flagrant violation”?”

    Yes, the current plan is controversial with the HSR board and critics. So let’s not mess with it and see what happens.

    After HSR Board approved Blended (it took two votes) an additional concession was made to Jerry Hill that now limits track to the current ROW with expansion veto power given to any one local interest.

    And the current plan does not fund electrification at 100%. Asking HSR to build elsewhere and use less of the ROW with the additional restrictions to expansion, reduces if not eliminates the rational for the project and easily would cost hundreds of millions in electrification cost sharing.

    I think a reasonable State centric approach would look to drop the blended, eliminate any dependencies with Caltrain and cross elsewhere and/or run dedicated track. Where or how? I don’t know but politics are statewide, not just local.
    None of this however, would stop CBOSS.

    jonathan Reply:

    Jonathan, spending money on fully electrifying Caltrain south of the junction allows it to run EMUs all the way. This means reduced HSR construction costs north of the junction: the EMUs accelerate faster, so there’s less need for overtakes, and can also climb steeper grades, so the grade separations can be shorter. Electronik vor Beton, etc.

    Alon, just *where* is any of that relevant to AB3034? Under an Alatmont alignment, there’s no compelling need to “blend”or to electrify Caltrain. Just quad-track from Redwood City north.

    Alon, I know you like to invent facts out of thin air to support your positions, but here there are facts. Article 2, sec 2704.04 (b) 3. The wording leaves it up to the Authority, so a legal challenge’d be needed to stop any such CHSRA finding. It’d be perversely interesting to see whether CARRD acutally gives a damn about “responsible design” provided any and all designs stay away from their back-yard.

    Clem Reply:

    there’s no compelling need to “blend”or to electrify Caltrain. Just quad-track from Redwood City north.

    That’s ridiculous. “Just” quad track through downtown San Mateo? Sure… “Just” quad track tunnels 1 through 4 in San Francisco? Sure… I’ll have some of what you’re smoking.

    In general, from the foregoing discussion it seems that Pacheco boosters think that Caltrain electrification depends solely on that alignment having been selected (thanks entirely to MTC kicking the project to the curb…) and that bringing up Aaaaaaltamont is tantamount to yelling “fire” in a crowded theater. I disagree on both counts. Electrification is getting to the point where it’s far enough into the public’s consciousness that it’s going to happen, HSR or not. Look at the Bay Bridge: they found an extra $5 billion between couch cushions to finish it. If $700 million of HSR funding suddenly goes “poof” (and it may anyway, due to ongoing litigation) I think the project will still survive.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Jonathan, the last two times you accused me of inventing facts out of thin air I asked you to point out when I’d done that, and you didn’t respond. The first of those times you were accusing me of inventing facts about a topic I don’t remember ever having written about, namely the aerodynamics of FRA-mandated bells. The second time was when I talked about Anglophone political culture vs. Continental European ones; at least there you can quibble that there are differences between the US and Australia and New Zealand, although if you read the right sources (for example, French politicians and pundits) you’ll see serious people lumping the Anglosphere together.

    As for “just quad-track from Redwood City north,” if that’s more expensive than electrifying from Redwood City south, which it almost certainly is, then there is a compelling need. At least, it’s no less compelling than the need to electrify the local tracks on any four-track overtake segment. After all, the NEC has segments with some tracks electrified and some not, for example the T. F. Green Airport station’s platform track is not electrified and only sees MBTA trains. What is the legal difference between the plan to electrify tracks adjacent to HSR tracks and a plan to electrify tracks hosting trains that run through to HSR tracks?

    jonathan Reply:

    @Clem

    *shrug*. if there are tunnels where it’s not practicable to quad-track, then electrify and interlock the tunnels. There is _no_ need_ to electrify all of Caltrain, merely to “blend” from Redwood City north. iIf necessary, eat some of the time savings from spending longer at high-speed in the Central Valley, by running at lower speed for the “Blend”. Much of which has speed restrictions due to cuves in any case.

    And please, there’s no need to disparage anyone who disagrees with you as a “booster” of something else.

    jonathan Reply:

    @Alon: you really need to look at a map, or a globe. Lumping Australian and New Zealand into an “anglophone” vs. Continental European is just plain ignorant. If French pundits do it, then that only underscores my point. (Hm, how do you like your state-sponsored terrorism?)
    But when you say the range of points on “gun culture” in New Zealand or Australia, is the same as or comparable to the US, you are *making shit up*. And that’s the *nicest* interpretation.

    Re Caltrain electrification: don’t be obtuse. Electrifying tracks 50 miles south of any HSR, and calling that an “HSR expense” isn’t gong to stand up in the court of popular opinion, never mind lawyers and judges.

    jonathan Reply:

    @Clem:

    regarding whether the Caltrain “blend” is in “flagrant violation” of Prop 1A: you should know I think spending HSR money on CBOSS is just that. I’ve said so enough on your own blog. Heck, even Caltrain employees have made that exact argument — though they’re so irredemably ignorant about their own program, they used the argument to insist that CBOSS *must* compatible with HSR signalling, or HSR wouldn’t give them money for CBOSS ….. was it you who reported that? I confess I forget.

    jonathan Reply:

    And lest Clem or Alon or anyone else take “quad-track it all the way” too literally:
    what I meant by that, was :
    build “full-fat” HSR along the Peninsula right-of-way, north of Redwood City, exactly as would be done for a pre-“blend” HSR north of Redwood City.

    There. Simple. Rod Diridon’s “our tracks’ and “Their tracks” — shared wherever those tracks would have had to be shared anyway. No need for HSR dollars to electrify Caltrain. Endit.

    joe Reply:

    I disagree on both counts. Electrification is getting to the point where it’s far enough into the public’s consciousness that it’s going to happen, HSR or not. Look at the Bay Bridge: they found an extra $5 billion between couch cushions to finish it. If $700 million of HSR funding suddenly goes “poof” (and it may anyway, due to ongoing litigation) I think the project will still survive.

    Bay bridge is being paid by tolling the bridge. Caltrain cannot recover costs at the fare box and lacks a secure funding source. We call that soft money in academics. Bay Bridge is a tenured faculty.

    The fact electrification is not easy is demonstrated by the fact it has not been done and that Caltrain routinely plans (costly) due to unstable budgets and possible service cuts.

    The basic toll (for automobiles) on the seven state bridges was raised to $1 by Regional Measure 1, approved by Bay Area voters in 1988.[63] A $1 seismic retrofit surcharge was added in 1998 by the state legislature, originally for eight years, but since then extended to December 2037 (AB1171, October 2001).[64] On March 2, 2004, voters approved Regional Measure 2, raising the toll by another dollar to a total of $3. An additional dollar was added to the toll starting January 1, 2007, to cover cost overruns concerning the replacement of the eastern span.

    joe Reply:

    and…
    Due to further funding shortages for seismic retrofit projects, the Bay Area Toll Authority again raised tolls on all Bay Area bridges (excluding the Golden Gate Bridge) in July 2010.[66] The toll rate for autos on other Bay Area bridges was increased to $5, but in the Bay Bridge a variable pricing tolling scheme based on congestion was implemented. The Bay Bridge congestion pricing scheme charges a US$6 toll from 5 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Friday. During weekends cars pay US$5. Carpools before the implementation were exempted but now they pay US$2.50,

    jonathan Reply:

    at least there you can quibble that there are differences between the US and Australia and New Zealand, although if you read the right sources (for example, French politicians and pundits) you’ll see serious people lumping the Anglosphere together.

    So Alon, you;re saying that the most authoritative source for comparison of gun culture, between the US and Australia and New Zealand, isn’t facts, or Wikipedia, or academic articles, or deaths by firearms, or even comparing actual *laws*. No, the accurate source is French Politicians. That’s priceless. Almost as good as “Yes, Prime Minister”. I’m going to have to share that with friends.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Jonathan, gun politics is a fifth-rate issue, and I said nothing of it in the original thread. It’ll be helpful if you stick to things I actually say when you accuse me of things. I talked about health care outcomes (where the Anglophone countries lag Western Europe, e.g. check infant mortality statistics) and immigration. The French pundit cites is specifically about immigration politics; French people distinguish French assimilationism and monoculturalism with Anglo-American multiculturalism, except they do it to talk about the primacy of France (30% Algerian-French unemployment for the win!). It’s very obvious in Canada – the PQ racists propose different laws from the CPC ones, based on French rather than American racism.

    I could cite comparative politics articles if you’d like, although the references I know best deal with party politics rather than political culture, and certainly not social policy. Patterns of Democracy is your friend on that last point. New Zealand changed its electoral system twenty years ago, but I’m not sure how much of its political culture has changed as a result.

    Or maybe I could point that the Five Eyes strangely enough do not include France or Germany. Remember that next time you talk about state-sponsored terrorism. Key is far more of an American lapdog on that issue than Merkozy ever were.

    Or, if you want a specific issue relevant to this blog, Brisbane’s tunnel is really expensive. The Sydney CBD Metro would’ve been more expensive per km than the Central Subway. The worst Continental boondoggles I know of are cheaper than the Sydney CBD Metro. Auckland’s electrification is cheap, but the UK electrifies for cheap, and the US electrified the NEC north of New Haven for cheap, and don’t tell anyone but the LIRR, SEPTA, and Metro-North pay the same for EMUs as Auckland. The LIRR + Metro-North PTC installation cost per km and per trainset is actually a hair less than Denmark’s ERTMS cost – it’s an inferior system, but it’s not a cheap freight-based system but is rather similar to ACSES. The big difference in cost is not the electronics, but the concrete – there’s an almost perfect separation of subway tunnels into “English common law” and “rest of the world” based on cost. That’s what makes CBOSS and Caltrain electrification so frustrating; in the World’s Freest Nation, these are done for like one third the cost elsewhere. The Central Subway is a stupid project but it’s not more expensive than any other American equivalent.

    As for “electrifying tracks 50 miles south of any HSR,” I’m not sure what the length of a mile is where you’re from, but if 1 mile = 1.61 km, then RWC-SJ is 22 miles, a hair less than half the length of the corridor.

    jonathan Reply:

    Alon,

    The article you link to is not the one I’m alluding to .If I could find it, I’d give you a link.
    Frankly, if you want to conflate NZ or Australian politics or culture with US culture, on either healthcare or guns, purely on the basis of what French politicians or pundits say, then go right ahead. From where I came from, you’re well into either riotous laughter or fighting words, depending on how your audience takes it.

    t’ll be helpful if you stick to things I actually say when you accuse me of things. I talked about health care outcomes (where the Anglophone countries lag Western Europe, e.g. check infant mortality statistics)

    You might like to check NZ infant-mortality statistics . NZ had the lowest infant-mortality rate in the world in the first half of the 20th century, and the second-lowest in the 1950s. Look, I caught you at it again: you are *making shit up*. Do you understand why that’s offensive?

    New Zealand’s infant-mortality rate has continued to drop since then, but not as fast as other countries; so NZ’s infant-mortality rate is now about the same as the UK or Greece. (We could have a discussion about Maori vs. non-Maori rates, but that’s beyond this disagreement, never mind Rober’ts blog). Now, if you want to talk about correlations, I wonder where I could find data relative decrease-rates of infant mortality, with the French-imposed restrictions on NZ trade with the UK? There’s one in your eye.

    “Five Eyes”? Five Eyes? You mean you never heard the US declared ANZUS “inoperative” with new Zealand after the Lange government refused to accept NCND. Are you saying Key is a US lapdog because the RNZN started exercises with the US again after an 27-year hiatus? Maybe that’s a fair cop. You know that Key is such a non-entity that the British press described him as an “unknown” guest, in a photo at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, right?

    And As far as I know, I’ve never said that the Bay Area’s — or California’s — problem with infrastructure costs, or at least rail infrastructure costs, is a US-wide problem. It does seem to be a real problem in the Bay Area. And as for state-sponsored terrorism? Can you say “Rainbow Warrior”? Sure you can. And NZ political culture changed a lot since PR.

    And yes, i meat 50 km, not 50 miles. Thanks for correcting that.

    But yeah, anytime you say NZ or Aus has the same range of views as the US over gun politics, or over health care, you’re making shit up. And if you say that *there*, and say that “French politicians ay so”, you’re likely to get a couple of litres of beer emptied over you. And for “assimilationism” (your word)… don’t you dare lump New Zealand and Australia together. Those are fighting words. If you knew *anything* about the 27 million people you malign, you’d know that.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Would it really hurt the wetlands that much if the existing Alviso line were widened by 2-3 tracks?

    Note that you’re talking about widening a freight railroad berm through the wetlands.

    So, two choices:

    Either you end up with two freight/Amtrak tracks, connecting (especially on the northern end) to a completely suck-tastic, super-low-speed freight line with sharp curves and no grade separations, snaking and crawling through Fremont, [in summary, completely worthless, except to foamers] or …

    You’re building a new non-freight non-Amtrak pair of tracks, which UP will require are separated from the existing derail-o-riffic freight line by 50 or 100 feet … and which still connect to nothing of any rapid rail transportation value in Fremont.

    So, yes, it does hurt wetlands to dump extra fill, and more importantly, it gains nothing at all to do so in along the Alviso—Drawbridge—Newark line. What’s the point? All pain, no gain. (Doctor it hurts when I do this. So Don’t Do That.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But but but there’s an alluring irresistible BART station in Fremont. They can then take HSR from San Jose to Fremont and transfer to BART instead of just getting on BART in San Jose.

    Clem Reply:

    That’s right, just like Metro North riders take the Acela Express to Stamford and then transfer. The many layers of sarcasm are just indecipherable.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    “They” can always drive, and probably will!

    wdobner Reply:

    Sounds like you have it the wrong way around. The Alviso line looks to be more constrained at the San Jose end than the Newark end. That is of course so long as you use one of the SETEC alignments and diverge from the UP track south of the water tunnels. Even with the southern end being more congested there are clearly provisions built into bridge abutments and even the bridges themselves to extensively double track the alignment through Santa Clara county.

    As for the environmental impact, it’s not going to be any worse than either what is there now or the impact of the eventual Dumbarton connector through the same wildlife refuge. We’re constantly hearing how the wildlife refuge is a nonissue for Dumbarton, so you can’t change your tune and claim that the same EIS process will now prohibit construction just south of there simply because you don’t like the project.

    San Jose becoming the second northern terminal is an ideal solution to the problem created by the lack of capacity at Transbay and on the Caltrain corridor. Bypassing San Jose forces Transbay to take all the LA-Bay Area traffic, potentially to the detriment of Caltrain corridor commuters. With the addition of Sacramento it’d be easy to alternate express/local trains between LA and SF/SJ with SF/SJ trains to Sacramento, such that there’d always be either a direct train to the destination or an easy cross or same platform transfer available at Fremont, Livermore, or Tracy. Relying on the (extremely slow) BART connection between Livermore/Fremont and San Jose cannot offer that sort of flexibility in routing trains into the Bay Area while fully utilizing the high speed trunks.

    There’s no need to try to hide your hatred of San Jose behind handwaving explanations.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    There’s a wye with a sharp turn that really slows down the train heading into Fremont.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Excellent wdobner! Could not have said it better myself!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    San Jose becoming the second northern terminal is an ideal solution to the problem created by the lack of capacity at Transbay and on the Caltrain corridor.

    Yes, that was the case.

    And guess what? People have been raising this issue at every opportunity for fifteen years. Thanks for belatedly getting on the clue train! Enjoy the ride.

    But sadly PBQD wanted a PBQD-profiting BART extension to SJ as well as a PBQD-profiting statewide HSR alignment, and so there’s no way that can be on the table any longer. So enjoy the BART connection; you bought it, everybody else paid for it, everybody (except the corrupt contractor mafia) comes off much worse.

    There is simply no way to build or justify a second parallel, redundant passenger rail line in the Fremont—SJ corridor. It’s all over. It fucking sucks, it’s completely the wrong outcome, but it’s what PBQD and their paid-up stooges and their idiot sycophants wanted.

    it’s not going to be any worse than either what is there now or the impact of the eventual Dumbarton connector

    The question was about “the existing Alviso line were widened by 2-3 tracks”.
    A Dumbarton connection, which I have reason to believe would be below grade for all of nearly all of the distance between Fremont and Redwood Junction, and TBM-bored across the width of wildlife refuge, is a quite different matter from what would amount to a new surface line of twice the length.

    you can’t change your tune and claim that the same EIS process

    No cigar. Not even a nice try. (You know, I don’t just type random shit but do try to think things through, generally years in advance. Try it some time.)

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    There’s no need to try to hide your hatred of San Jose behind …

    No cigar. Not even a nice try.

    I was on on record for over a decade with the position that San Jose—Livermore—Tracy should be the very first section of CSHR constructed anywhere in the state.

    (For basic Californian political reasons I knew this would have to be balanced by a project of some type in SoCal but, preferring to keep my mouth shut about things I don’t understand, I had no concrete suggestion, other than suspecting that LAUS—Palmdale or LAUS—Tejon—Bakersfield were likely too big to bite off at once.)

    jonathan Reply:

    There’s no need to try to hide your hatred of San Jose behind handwaving explanations.

    There’s not enough to San Jose for it to be worth hatred.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Richard M. is entirely correct.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Re SJ; some of you just won’t stop (or can’t help yourself). Oh well, to quote the great Mr. T., “I PITY THE FOOL!” No, Richard M. is not right syno, but it’s your world; reside in it as you see fit..

    joe Reply:

    Richard forgot to put the bolded accent on San Jose this time.

    Wanting to start HSR in the East Bay over the Aaaaaaaaaalmont Pass to Tracy doesn’t invalidate a long list of silly derogatory directed at San Jose.

    Tony D. Reply:

    Agree.

    jonathan Reply:

    Followed by imperatives to spend money on the Expo Line and fixing LA Metro;s buses and their “miserable commute”, before spending 80-$100 bn on HSR.

    joe Reply:

    Great Idea. Let’s hold up everything until we build out LA.

    We can use the savings with the Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaltamont alignment to buy metro buses.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    That’s right
    Spend the money where it’s needed
    Not on your Lionel set

    joe Reply:

    Hello Judge Kenny, Paul Dyson’s given me a permission slip to spend HSR Prop1a on LA Metro.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Divisa et victa.

    This is how it starts. Convince a quarter of the State they will never see a benefit from HSR. Then have this bloc of voters demand all State taxpayers subsidize a transit system they would be certain to never use.

    L.A. needs to pay for its own transit. Most of the light rail construction has been a waste. The Expo Line has finally opened eyes and people are upset that it took this long. Southern California has no one to blame but itself for going cheap and getting surpassed by the Bay Area as a result.

    joe Reply:

    LA will. They missed it by that much. 66.11%

    http://www.metro.net/projects/measurej/
    The ballot effort to extend the Measure R transit sales tax by another 30 years fell just short of the necessary two thirds voter approval. In the final vote tally, 66.11 percent of voters

    Requiring super majorities to fund transit is dumb.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “L.A. needs to pay for its own transit.” Right on – that would be Palmdale in spades

    “Southern California has no one to blame but itself for going cheap and getting surpassed by the Bay Area as a result.”

    Are you referring to wretched BART, who runs over its own employees and is illiterate? The “surpassed” of Dugger, Crunican, Billy Ray Stokes, the Bechtels, PB, Willie Brown, Heminger et al and ad nauseum? They make Mayor Rizzo of Bell look good.

    Think of it this way:

    cable cars = narrow gauge(3’6″)cute museum pieces.

    BART = broad gauge(5″6″)ugly museum pieces.

    synonymouse Reply:

    5’6″

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The Bay Area is much healthier economically than Southern California and part of that economic vitality is to due to BART, which allowed more controlled development patterns.

    You are always worried about the sideshow, the stuff that doesn’t matter. BART’s sister systems like WMATA and MARTA have the same type of problems despite having no broad gauge and no sign of Willie Brown’s palm prints.

    L.A.’s weakness (and San Jose’s, San Diego’s, and now Sacramento’s) is that “light rail” ain’t going to cut it as the transit-using population explodes because Millennials can’t afford two car payments. MUNI is going to have lots of competition for ineptitude. BART, at least, threads the S-Bahn design to help minimize infrastructure costs.

    Just imagine if Metro cuts back the subway to La Cienega and uses the extra cash to build branches from the Expo Line to Venice, Westwood, and the Marina. Conventional wisdom says no one would ride it, but I think it would end up doing better than the Subway to the Sea.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    BART most definitely does not minimize infrastructure costs. It may be operationally an S-Bahn, but the costs are much higher because it can’t run on legacy infrastructure anywhere. If BART were a proper S-Bahn, then it would’ve had the key downtown tunnels in SF and Oakland just the same, but then it would’ve cut through to an electrified CalTrain, with the grade crossings, and run similarly on legacy lines to Fremont and Richmond. Maybe it would’ve had the extra Berkeley subway and the tunnel to Concord for more direct service, but outside those tunnels it would’ve leveraged legacy infrastructure to reduce construction costs. The BART to San Jose tunnel would’ve been unthinkable.

    WMATA has the exact same problem. Some of its lines clearly want to be S-Bahns. For example, the Yellow and Blue Lines in and south of Arlington look a lot like a mainline with some short detours, like how there’s a detour in the Zurich S-Bahn network to serve the airport. The Maryland lines also follow legacy railroads for the most part, and Bethesda, the most important Maryland suburban destination not on or near MARC, is on an abandoned B&O branch line.

    jonathan Reply:

    BART most definitely does not minimize infrastructure costs. It may be operationally an S-Bahn, but the costs are much higher because it can’t run on legacy infrastructure anywhere. If BART were a proper S-Bahn, then it would’ve had the key downtown tunnels in SF and Oakland just the same, but then it would’ve cut through to an electrified CalTrain, with the grade crossings, and run similarly on legacy lines to Fremont and Richmond.

    And just how would this “run on legacy infrastructure” — freight railroad tracks, owned and operated by UP (formerly SP, but JPB bought the Peninsula right-of-way”)?

    Buildling to FRA “safety” (really, vehicle-survival-after-crash, the regulations are about preserving RPOs in a collsiion, not people) costs mass. A *lot* of mass. How exactly would those massive FRA-compatible dino-trains run on aerials through all the greenfield areas in the East Bay and elsewhere? Answer: they couldn’t.

    How exactly would that crazy side-running third rail work on non-grade-separated crossings? Answer: it wouldn’t.

    Someone might have designed a very different system, with a different route, different track gauge, and much, much heavier cars, with a completely different electrification system, which might meet your goals. But that system would’ve necessarily have had very different routes, and would look nothing like today’ BART. And if that hypothetical system were to be operated under the same practices (both labo[u]r and management) , as today’s BART, it’s still have very high running costs.

    Is it true that BART’s wheel-profile is flat, not coned (or canted)? That’s so special, it almost justifies Richard M’s rants about AFTP.

    Do try to keep up with the facts.

    Jon Reply:

    I think we have a new candidate for the title of “Most Pompous and Condecsending Commenter On This Blog”!

    Pretty sure Alon was assuming that FRA regulations could be reformed and the electrification system could be overhead rather than third rail. And that the end result would necessarily look a little different than today’s BART. Ergo, you’re not telling him anything he doesn’t already know.

    jonathan Reply:

    You’re missing the point: even grant all of Alon’sfantasy was doable in the 1960s — which is granting an awful lot — it wouldn’t make a fig of difference to BART’s operating costs.

    If the best Alon can do is reasoning-by-analogy, “BART is sorta like a European/German-speaking S-Bahn; make it a little bit more lke an S-Bahn and Presto! — it will cost the same to operate as an S-Bahn ” then Alon deserves ridicule.

    One might as well argue like this: electrification is done on S-Bahns, therefore if Caltrain electrifies (sort alike an S-Bahn, except at 25kV, obviously), it will cost about the same as electrifying an S-Bahn”.

    Totally vacuous.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why would costs be higher in California?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yay, at least I’m being criticized for things I actually said. That’s an improvement.

    Well, sort of. I did mention “infrastructure costs,” as opposed to operating costs. The problem with BART isn’t operating costs. It’s construction costs. Tunnels would cost pretty much the same, but the above-ground infrastructure could be made cheaper. There is such a thing as third-rail grade crossings. The LIRR has them, the Chicago L has them, and at the time BART was built, New York had just grade-separated the last ones on the subway and Staten Island Railway.

    Using fright lines was not deadly then, when many freight railroads were collapsing and would’ve been happy to sell secondary ROW. Caltrain is an insignificant freight line, and given the Port of San Francisco’s decline, I doubt it was a major freight line when BART was built. At the Marin County end (which, you may recall, was part of the plan until fairly late in the process), there was a railroad that’s now abandoned that it could hook into. In the East Bay, there were two parallel railroads much of the way and one could be acquired. The central tunnels would’ve had to be built either way, but the outlying lines probably wouldn’t have had to be aerial – and the probably isn’t about third rail grade crossings, but about the rail-must-grade-separate-on-its-own-dime attitude of the era.

    Ad the FRA, regulations change. They’re changing now, which nobody seems to notice. I’m not 100% sure why now and not, say, in 1996, but I suspect that Caltrain’s waiver request has to do with it. And as for the dino-trains moniker, the lighter FRA-compliant EMUs today are only a bit heavier per unit mass than the single-level RER trains and a bit lighter than the bilevels. The compliant EMUs of the 1960s were actually a good deal lighter, if you believe this. The really big weight difference is in things other than EMUs, because then the US market is either basically nonexistent (DMUs) or basically freight vehicles with streamlining (locomotives, especially diesels). Based on the state of the technology of the 1960s, FRA regulations weren’t a huge deal. Today, they’re a much bigger deal.

    jonathan Reply:

    BART most definitely does not minimize infrastructure costs. It may be operationally an S-Bahn, but the costs are much higher because it can’t run on legacy infrastructure anywhere.

    Alon, given the above introduction, i thought you were talking about operational costs.
    iIf you weren’t, if you were talking about infrastructure costs, then I misunderstood you, and not only apologize, I’m embarassed for ridiculing a strawman of my own concoction. That said, BART does have operations-cost issues.

    I don’t know why you say no-one is noticing that FRA regulations are changing. I see several posters here, not just me, applauding that fact (and lamenting how slowly it’s happening).

    I stilll sincerely don’t understand how you think an S-Bahn-like infrastructure could have been a feasible design-point in the US of the late 1950s and early 1960s. The Rohr cars have an axle load of 20,000 lb )10,000lb/wheel); call it 10 tonnes. Just where are the contemporary freight-rail-compatible vehicles with 10-tonne axle load? Metroliners are a tad more than twice that

    I think you’re just plain flat wrong that BART could have been built in an S-Bahn like fashion.
    Double the axle-load, double the weight-per-unit-length, and you’re going to roughly double the weight requirements for the aerial construction. (Which *has* to be a lot more than you assume, because the freight railroads don’t want pesky commuter trains, and aren’t gong to play nice in dispatching passenger-cooties trains on their tracks.)

    And you’re the one who says the concrete is where the cost-inflation comes from! Boggle!!

    bixnix Reply:

    There’s good reasons why Expo branches won’t be built.

    Metro’s current gameplan (as evidenced in the long-range plan) is for geographic equity – a rail line for every corner of the county. If it has high density, it’ll get a subway. If not, light rail. The Venice branch would’ve be cool, but the route has been set. Westwood will be served by the Sepulveda pass project and the subway. Marina del Rey isn’t even on the radar. There will be no Expo branching until the completion of the rest of the LRTP.

    The Purple line will possibly have the biggest ridership in LA – perhaps more than the Red line (currently ~150K/day). It will serve the street in LA with the most destinations and jobs as well as development opportunities. Expo branching wouldn’t match that in the slightest.

    The subway extension is the top project for Metro and all the pols are behind it. It’s happening, no doubt about it.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Metro’s current gameplan (as evidenced in the long-range plan) is for geographic equity – a rail line for every corner of the county.

    Define “current”. Back in 1968, the LA Transportation Commission laid out a 5 spoke plan that would have a mass transit line running from … wait for it… downtown to each of the supervisor’s districts.

    Approaches like that fly in the face of how land use in California is changing. Agglomeration is concentrating wealth and traffic in a very constrained area geographically.

    Ten years ago, I was a die-hard Wilshire Subway supporter and though it was THE solution to the awful traffic I had to contend with for over a decade. But I look at the land use patterns in the Bay Area today, and I look at what is starting to happen in L.A. now from afar and I realize things are on the precipice.

    Notice that SF is the “hot” place to live for Googleistas and Facebookers even though it’s nowhere close to the mega-campus locations in Santa Clara County. Notice the “hot” places to live in Southern California like Venice and Silver Lake share the same DNA of mixed use, but also an older, pre auto age design. Is it any wonder that LA’s new mayor was a councilman from Hollwyood.

    Meanwhile, it’s perfectly fine to maintain a large fleet of buses and other rail lines to make sure there’s equity between low, middle, and high income neighborhoods. But the cleaning lady riding the Blue Line to downtown LA doesn’t have the means to go explore Claremont, Palmdale, or the South Bay Galleria. That’s why BART was the right design.

    bixnix Reply:

    Yes, the 5-spoke has been around for a while, and it is a geographic equity that is being implemented. I support that equity because, without it, there would be no county-wide support for Metro and the funding propositions that have passed. Do we run a subway or build elevated LR with viaducts everywhere? Obviously, no. We run a cheaper, at grade, light rail to get something reasonable done with the money we have. More money will be spent on the built-up areas by building subways.

    Remote areas like Palmdale are staying with Metrolink, and the Claremont Gold Line will be funded only after the next ten or so projects on the table now are funded, so I don’t know where you’re going with that.

    Take a look at population density in LA County. Note that the densest areas are actually around downtown, and south and east of downtown. They are not necessarily the hottest neighborhoods in town, as they are largely minority. But they have filled in over the years into the densest tracts in LA County – and they might get even more dense. Yes, the traffic in the Westside is awful – the worst. Yes, the money is on that side of town. But auto traffic is now bad all over the county, and telling the huge populations on the eastside that they’ll have to do with buses won’t fly.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I support that equity because, without it, there would be no county-wide support for Metro and the funding propositions that have passed.

    Can’t say I agree. You are describing the sort of abject dysfunctionality that always compromises public policy in Los Angeles County and by extension, California. It’s the single biggest argument to break up LA County and install Bay Area style regional governance.

    bixnix Reply:

    Geo equity may not be the best way of doing things, but it’s a way to unify political districts towards a common goal. It’s also essential unless the supermajority rule on taxation is relaxed. On breaking up the county, transit-wise, we’ll just have to disagree. From what I see, LA Metro is moving forward faster and more effectively than the Bay Area. For other LA County issues, there may be other solutions, but that’s a discussion for other websites.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I think I understand your argument now:

    Something is better than nothing. And if money isn’t spent wisely, at least we have something.

    Eric Reply:

    “telling the huge populations on the eastside that they’ll have to do with buses won’t fly.”

    The midday frequency on the Blue Line is just once every 12 minutes. If that’s all they can support, than then adding more lines there does not seem like a priority.

    bixnix Reply:

    @Eric – And goes to every 6 minutes during rush hour. Metro would run more trains, but is limited because they’re short of trains (there are more on order now) and the combined track with Expo, which means 3 minute headways at rush hour on the shared downtown track. IIRC, they will move to 2.5 minute headways on the shared track once the new trains are received. And, if you get a chance to ride the Blue – you’ll notice that the trains are packed.

    bixnix Reply:

    @Ted – Google is 1.6 miles away from the Santa Monica station of the Expo line. They can always move closer if they wish, or use bikes. In the meantime, there are better routes for rail construction, with huge ridership possibilities, both in the urban core and outside of it.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Here’s the thing: there’s a racial element to your theorem.

    You can’t presume heavily populated neighborhoods will respond to light rail like white ones. Extending trains to an area where no one has a car to park and ride makes little sense. I really think as executed the Blue, Green, and Orange lines will prove to be big failures while Crenshaw, Expo, and the Gold line will succeed. The subway will work if it is repuposed as a circulator.

    Donk Reply:

    Agreed. Just one minor correction though – Marina del Rey isn’t completely off the radar – they do have that 1990s Metro/MTA/RTD plan for the Lincoln extension of the Green Line that terminated in Marina del Rey. But yeah, it isn’t on the LRTP. Hopefully they update the LRTP at some point and add the complete 405 line (starting from LAX) and add the Norwalk Green Line gap.

    Eric Reply:

    What exactly makes Marina del Ray such an important destination? Its population is low and it’s dissected by waterways, making it pedestrian-inaccessible. Is it just that Culver Blvd is a wide ROW? I think Venice Bvld is a better one.

    bixnix Reply:

    Are you aware of the LA County Props A, C, and R that pay for LA rail construction? Voters approved Prop R five years ago with a two-thirds majority. BTW, the author of the Citywatch article (Ken Alpern) is very aware of this funding – he is involved with the Transit Coalition, which pushes better public transit in LA — his eyes certainly weren’t just opened by the Expo line.

    Based on the amount of upcoming rail construction, LA will be surpassing the Bay Area. I do agree that the rest of southern California is mediocre (San Diego) to poor (OC, IE), transit-wise.

    StevieB Reply:

    Los Angeles is in construction on four rail segments, in design on three and in planning on five more possible lines.

    synonymouse Reply:

    San Diego is mediocre? Have you ever ridden Muni or AC? Even BART – be sure to bring along your industrial strength ear plugs.

    BrianR Reply:

    re: BART:
    industrial strength ear plugs are better than nothing but you would be even better off with over the ear industrial grade ear muffs. That high pitched squeal can pierce anything. It should be mandatory for there to be warning signs at the the entrance to every BART station warning of high noise exposure. Kind of like the way the state of California requires warning signs at the entrance to buildings containing trace amounts of lead and other toxins dangerous to pregnant women.

    Donk Reply:

    Ted you have no idea what you are talking about. LA is funding a large chunk of its transit on its own already. LA has been more forward looking than the Bay Area in terms of transit since 1990 and will soon “surpass” the Bay Area the way things are currently going up there.

    And your discussion about the Purple Line and light rail is just nonsense. If you have ever driven or taken transit in LA before, the Purple Line HAS to go to Westwood and this will be one of the most valuable transit lines in the country when build.

    Currently the light rail system in LA is relatively well designed, with the exception of the Blue Line (which is old and slow) and a couple short segments of the other lines. The Crenshaw Line will be a complete waste since it was only chosen for political reasons. But once we get a 405 Line from the Valley to LAX, LA will be back in business.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    My comment was directed at the op-ed that joe put up there. I am fully aware that LA County has ponied up multiple ballot measures in addition to the myriad of other funding streams Metro has at its disposal.

    But I support the Governor and think that shifting General Fund bond debt from a statewide project to local projects is an overreach. I am know there is unmet need for both the Bay Area and Southern California but this is not the way I think you meet those needs.

    This isn’t 2001. I think the economy and land use patterns have changed enough to force a total re-think of Southern California transit planning. SCAG and the others need to crack open Plan Bay Area and figure out what to do.

    Donk Reply:

    Yep, once they finish the Regional Connector, the Purple Line to Westwood, and the 405 Line, it will probably become a free-for-all with politically chosen projects. Right now the needs are so obvious that the planning (with the exception of Crenshaw) more or less makes sense. Hopefully by the time the planning for next wave of projects starts, the country will have evolved enough to not make the same mistakes again. Unfortunately I am not too optimistic.

    StevieB Reply:

    The next rail projects will most likely follow the Metro owned right of way extending the Green Line south on the Harbor Subdivision and something on the old PE Santa Ana right of way.

    jonathan Reply:

    joe writes:

    Great Idea. Let’s hold up everything until we build out LA.

    We can use the savings with the Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaltamont alignment to buy metro buses.

    Joe, that’s from the EXACT source which YOU quoted:

    http://www.citywatchla.com/8box-left/6184-california-high-speed-rail-revolution-evolution-or-devolution

    The one with the

    “Aaaaaltamont, Aaaaaaaltamont, Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaltamont!” screams

    Your reading-comprehension skills are atrocious.

  6. Tony D.
    Dec 21st, 2013 at 16:35
    #6

    Hey Richard M.; You’re a funny guy! Thanks for bringing comedy to this forum..

    BrianR Reply:

    I was just thinking Richard M. should publish a book of original catch-phrases, new terminology and memorable quotations. He could even go on the circuit promoting it. It may run the risk of having limited appeal but there got to be a few “crowd pleasers” in there.

    swing hanger Reply:

    “Death is too kind a fate- My journey through the underbelly of the Bay Area Transit Cabal”

    BrianR Reply:

    I look forward to reading his list of people deserving ‘fiery deaths’ and description of various levels of punishment to be meted out according to a given “crime”.

  7. Bus Nut
    Dec 21st, 2013 at 21:28
    #7

    From the Hyperloop to the proposal to split CA into 6 states, it seems like this HSR project terrifies Silicon Valley “thought leaders”. Just like in the 1980s when they fought to prevent conventional commuter-oriented rail service.

    I wonder why.

    BrianR Reply:

    the problem is that these Silicon Valley “thought leaders” that might make pretenses of being “socially responsible” (because it “tests and markets well among consumers”) are in reality very libertarian and don’t care much for the role of government unless they have something personally to gain from it in terms of contracts.

    These “thought leaders” also fetishize Ayn Rand too much who in reality had a fascination for serial killers, using them as models for her characters demonstrating the “unlimited potential of mankind” based on people “not being constrained by empathy”.

    If you really want to make yourself vomit watch a non-stop string of TED talks. Neo-Randian thinking is rampant there.

  8. Donk
    Dec 21st, 2013 at 23:23
    #8

    While we are sort of still on the topic of LA County rail, here is a quick summary of where things stand at the end of 2013 with LA’s transportation network:

    http://thesource.metro.net/2013/12/20/the-sources-big-honkin-2013-roundup-post-has-landed-take-it-its-yours/

  9. John Burrows
    Dec 22nd, 2013 at 01:36
    #9

    If you draw a 5 mile radius on a map of Santa Clara County with Diridon station as the center you get a population that is more than miniscule. I would guess that around half of the 1,000,000 who live in San Jose would be within this circle, in addition to over half of the 160,000 who live in the adjacent cities of Santa Clara and Campbell. Altogether somewhere around 600,000—roughly equal to the number who live within 5 miles of the San Francisco Transbay Terminal.

    And San Jose is growing at a pretty good rate—over 15,000 between July 1, 2011 and July 1, 2012. At this rate of growth, the population would be between 1.2 and 1.3 million by the time high speed rail arrives, hopefully on schedule.

    And from what I can see a lot of this growth is going to be downtown and in the adjacent Midtown section which is actually closer to the train station. Tony D mentioned the 2 highrises (close to 700 units) going up downtown plus the projects working their way through the permit process. Within walking distance of where I live (Midtown) two medium-rise projects totaling 500 units are half finished, and another 880 units that I know of are in the pipeline.

    One of the drawbacks to public transit that I have seen in this area is that unlike San Francisco, it is just too easy to get around by car. If you can drive to your destination quickly and if parking is not too much of a hassle when you get there, then chances are that you are going to drive. It does seem like the last 6 months or so driving has become more of a hassle. If over the next few years the high-rises and the mid-rises keep going up at the current pace, driving may become enough of a hassle that we will make much better use of public transit, including VTA light rail.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I would guess that

    http://www.census.gov/main/www/access.html

    And from what I can see

    The plural of anecdote is “data”, after all.

    much better use of public transit, including VTA light rail.

    Just give it another three decades or so and it might achieve its ridership projections … for 2000.

  10. Reedman
    Dec 22nd, 2013 at 11:52
    #10

    Santa Clara County ponied-up it’s own money in 2008 to get the BART extension built. It met the two-thirds majority — 66.781 percent (passed by a margin of 711 votes out of 620,431 total).

    Joey Reply:

    And after all, it’s not twice as expensive as the next reasonable alternative, nor is it competing with other more useful projects for funding.

    joe Reply:

    How does this competition work?

    Citizens vote, a super majority no less, to tax themselves to bring BART to their county.
    No BART, No tax.

    The counter-factual arguments run like this:
    Twice as expensive as …. [reasonable alternative]
    Competing with …. [reasonable alternative]
    Not as compelling as …. [reasonable alternative]
    Not as useful as …. [reasonable alternative]

    What reasonable alternative and didn’t anyone put that reasonable alternative on the ballot?
    The reasonable Alternative was both a BART alternative and reasonable, and also has all the other characteristics.

    Joey Reply:

    The alternative is standard gauge, 25kV OCS regional rail. No world proprietary 1000 V DC power or world proprietary signaling, full HSR and CalTrain compatibility (preventing that they came to their senses about CBOSS for the moment), off-the-shelf rolling stock.

    Of course, I’m not blaming Santa Clara County voters for any of this. They were never offered an alternative. But that doesn’t exonerate those in charge at the MTC and VTA who put together the plan.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Firstly, Santa Clara County taxpayers voted for a whole pile of non-BART stuff that has pretty much all been cancelled subsequently to fund BART and nothing but;
    secondly, they mostly voted for other people’s money, not their own. Federal funding that could instead go to non-worse-than-useless projects; state funding that could instead go to non-worse-than-useless projects; regional bridge tolls(!!?!!) because that’s the slush fund that MTC’s ultra-corrupt chief uses to cash-up all his very very very very very very special friends, despite less than zero “nexus” between a BART line that doesn’t cross the Bay and a BART extension; San Mateo County(!!!) sales taxes; dedicated Dumbarton Rail cash; Flood Control District cash; VTA sales tax funding supposedly dedicated to Caltrain electrification; etc etc … the list is almost endless.

  11. Lewellan
    Dec 22nd, 2013 at 15:00
    #11

    HERE ARE MY MAIN POINTS OF DISAGREEMENT:

    1)Debate on 200mph vs. 125mph not honestly forthcoming…
    2)Debate on all-electric vs hybrid Talgo-type also lacking…
    3)Debate on 1st Phase electrified SF-SJ-Sacramento Line via Altamont, why not?
    4)Debate on 2nd Phase Stockton-Bakersfield with Talgo XXI hybrids, again, why not?
    5)Debate on fixing the San Juaquins vs. fast viaduct rail elsewhere.
    6)Debate on 3rd Phase Tejon Talgo Hybrids vs. Bombardier Tehachapi.
    7)Debate on CalRail south to Gilroy/Monterrey.

    8)Debate conduct: publicize, invite public participation, promise an “Immediate” and open public review aferwards. Until these debates are settled, the sensibly slow alternative (believed impossible among 200MPH holdouts who write more words than make fair debate), the 125MPH TALGO XXI hybrid.

    Incidentally, the world’s 1st true HSR, engineered in the good old USA circa 1940s-50s. Yea! Us!
    The Initial Operable Segment Madera-to-Fresno COST & IMPACT can be reduced/minimized and SHOULD be preferred. Rail advocacy groups are split on the CAHSR Project as/is.
    Central Valley Interests OUGHT to do the same as Peninsula & LA County communities
    with satisfactory rail upgrades for ‘their’ Initial Operable Segment.

  12. Lewellan
    Dec 22nd, 2013 at 15:25
    #12

    One particular text error to correct, sorry:

    I wrote, “The Initial Operable Segment Madera-to-Fresno COST & IMPACT can be reduced/minimized and SHOULD be preferred.” I meant Madera-Fresno IOS SHOULD NOT be preferred.

    Let’s have the better rail projects built first, shall we?
    Electrify SF-SJ-Sacramento with the electric infrastructure, uh what?
    Bombardier @200MPH Vs Talgo-type @125MPH.
    The debate WAS held and Talgo WON in Oregon, Utah, Colorado, Nevada and yes, California.
    Stop writing the checks to the wrong philosophy, or the casual professionals who dismiss sensible alternatives, disregard valuable advantages. I’ll say it again, “200MPH holdouts who write more words than make fair debate,” probably won’t say much nor write a word about the 125MPH point of view.
    It just do not compute.

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