New Year Open Thread

Jan 2nd, 2014 | Posted by

Happy 2014 everyone!

As those of you who follow me on Twitter know, I became a dad on New Year’s Eve. My son, Ian, has not yet taken a train trip but that’s only because there was no train from the hospital to my house. I am hopeful that the LA to SF bullet train is open by the time he graduates high school in 2032. Because that trip would be a completely awesome way to celebrate. (Though I assume we’ll take trips on the segments as they open. He won’t be a stranger to passenger rail.)

Both Ian and his mom are doing well. He came a couple of days early, which means I did not get a chance to write my 2014 year ahead post. I hope to have that up by the weekend. But I am also entering the wonderful world of sleep deprivation, so we’ll see how that goes.

On that note, if anyone wants to contribute guest posts for the blog, let me know, my email is my last name at gmail. I was hoping to produce more posts each month in 2014 but obviously I may be producing less, at least initially.

Finally, I am going to be completely self-indulgent for a moment. The reason I care about HSR at all is because we have to build things like it if we are going to have a better future for people like my son. The 20th century did a lot of damage to our planet, our economy, and our society, particularly in its oil dependence. We now know, without a doubt, that we cannot have prosperity or a livable environment without getting off of oil. High speed rail alone won’t solve the problems of oil dependence or carbon emissions. But it IS a big part of the solution and can help enable other solutions too, as it is part of the task of building a transportation system that does not rely on oil.

I support HSR, and write about it, because I know it’s one of the things we must have if we’re going to have a better future. And I can’t imagine sacrificing that future – his future – just because of concerns about present day costs and disruptions. Readers know I was never shy about fighting back against those who want to sacrifice our future so they can have a little more convenience today. I promise I won’t use my son as justification for why HSR must be built, at least not aside from this one single indulgent post. But he will be in my mind as I think about this project and continue to work to get it built.

OK, time to catch up on sleep.

  1. Nadia
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 16:29

    Welcome Ian and congrats to you and your wife. Wishing you and your family a Happy and Healthy 2014. We may not agree on all things rail, but we agree that finding a better solution is worth squabbling about – so thanks for providing that forum.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Thank you so much Nadia! I think we agree about many more things than we disagree. I do try to remember that.

    Stephen Smith Reply:

    +1! Congrats, Robert!

    VBobier Reply:

    +2 Congratz, Robert.

  2. Eric Fredericks
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 17:00

    Congratulations, Robert! He is a handsome boy. Suddenly having a son changes the way you think about the future. I know it did for me. I hope my son gets to ride CAHSR well before 2032 :)

    Thank you for providing this forum for everyone. There is no better resource for CAHSR issues because of the community around this…there is so much information that everyone collectively posts. Some of it wild and wacky, but some of it is incredible. Look forward to more posts in 2014.

    And remember, always sleep when the baby sleeps!

  3. joe
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 17:04

    Yay! Wonderful news. A great day to have a birthday!

    Here’s a happy video of NYC transformed to be more pedestrian and bike friendly.

  4. jonathan
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 18:44

    Congratulations to you and your partner. May Ian enjoy many, many New Year’s Eves to come!

    My own signifcant-other was doing OB/GYN surgery until after 9pm on the 31st. I hope everything goes well for you all in this New Year.

    Gosh, can we have as many disagreements about diaper strategies as we do about routes?
    (just kidding)

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:


    We did not do an EIS for our cloth diapers. We may have gotten some federal stimulus funding, I don’t remember. I do know that the Tea Party Congress is trying to defund him.

    I have asked him whether he thinks the Tejon option should be selected. All I got was a gurgle. Make of that what you will.

    jonathan Reply:

    you’re welcome!

    I’m .. pleasantly not-surprised about your cloth-diaper decision :).

    Regarding Tejon, i don’t have an axe to grind either way. I am interested in total-system costs (dollars, and time); and I am interested in fair comparisons (hence my ragging on Clem, about lumping a Bakersfield bypass into Tejon-vs-Tehachapi; two entirely separate decisions, with different sets of stakeholders and different decision-making processes).

    Mphf. If you like UIC-certified trains, you might look out for a “Maerklin My World” in 3 or 4 years.
    ICE or Thalys, take your pick.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Learned some new tech stuff about BART in a lively thread on the Altamont site:,95958,96111#msg-96111

    jonathan Reply:

    I couldn’t believe BART uses cylindrical (flat) wheel profiles, either, when i first read it.
    I mean, what’s 130 years of engineering to the transport-industrial complex?

    I suppose it could be worse: Becthel et al. could’ve embarked on active damping (!)

    synonymouse Reply:

    Pretty incredible – eventually it tapers a bit from wear. That’s some hubris.

  5. Adina
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 18:55

    Congratulations, and welcome to Ian :-)

  6. Alan
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 19:08


  7. Neil Shea
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 19:53

    Welcome Ian! Congrats Robert and thanks for your tireless advocacy.

  8. Howard
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 20:08

    Congratulations. Someone should record what babys are born in Fresno when the offical groundbreaking happens there and one of those children should be selected to be part of the golden spike ceremony and ride the first train between Fresno and Los Angeles with the other dignitarys like the Olympic Opening Ceremony does with children born on the day that city is announced as selected for the next Olympics. It will remind everyone which generations this project is really for.

  9. VBobier
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 20:15

    Congrats Robert, you have a wonderful looking son.

  10. synonymouse
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 20:29


  11. Tony D.
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 20:30

    Congrats Robert! A future citizen of the great state of “Silicon Valley.” ;)

  12. morris brown
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 20:32

    Congratulations Robert.

    As a friend many years ago told me and he was so right, your life will never be the same (only better).

    John Burrows Reply:

    For once I totally agree with Morris—And the things that your son will see during his lifetime—Wow.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Thank you!

  13. John Nachtigall
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 20:41

    Congratulations and good luck

  14. Clem
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 21:01

    Congratulations to all three of you. Now surrender all your hobbies! Good luck on this crazy new adventure.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Heh, thanks. Let me know if you want to have some posts up here.

  15. Jos Callinet
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 21:13

    What an awesome way to start the New Year, Robert, with such a beautiful son! A Happy and Healthy New Year to Ian, your wife and you.

    Thank you also for making this forum available to us.

  16. Michael
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 21:15

    As I tell all my friends, clip the tail and grind down the horns before any other photos.

    When the bond passed, I told my goddaughter, who is now in 4th grade, that I would take her to Disneyland on the train before she finished high school. Now I hope you can make the same promise to Ian and have it stick.

  17. John G Ellis
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 22:27

    Congratulations and best wishes for the New Year.
    I admire your intelligent and constructive advocacy for HSR and follow your blog with great interest.
    Let’s hope thart this year we see some real progress and start construction!

  18. Ian
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 22:52

    Great name. I may be biased. :)

  19. michael allen
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 23:01

    Congratulations Robert! I have a five year old daughter and I can tell you that you probably won’t have time to post as often as you would like for the next couple of years. But that is OK. It is more important to spend as much time as possible with you new son. Kudos to you for offering your blog to guest bloggers. I am sure you will find strong writers and advocates who can share this burden with you while you are busy parenting your young son.

    Your life has just entered “the chaos of children” zone. You will be constantly interrupted in everything you do – including sitting on the toilet – and at times it will be very very frustrating. Your writing is a product of deep thought and focus. And unfortunately, this is incompatible with small children. But if you sacrifice your needs and wants in the early years to spend lots of time with your son, you will be immensely rewarded as he grows up and loves you back. And as he gets old enough to go to school, he will slowly separate from you to pursue his own friends and interests. And you will slowly get your life back. So the next time you have something very important to write, and your son keeps interrupting you, remember this: Your son is more important. And, you have already contributed enormously to the effort to build the bullet train.

    Best of wishes and good luck!

  20. Donk
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 23:45

    Congratulations Robert! And thanks for all of your hard work running this blog for all of these years.

  21. Alon Levy
    Jan 2nd, 2014 at 23:59

    Congratulations, Robert, and a belated happy birthday to Ian.

  22. Travis D
    Jan 3rd, 2014 at 01:46

    To get us back on trains.

    Does anyone have any idea on when the AA will be done for the Merced to Sac segment?

    And with property acquisitions now furiously underway I suspect we will be seeing much dirt being moved as soon as spring comes.

  23. Max Wyss
    Jan 3rd, 2014 at 04:38

    Congrats, and all the Best!

  24. Keith Saggers
    Jan 3rd, 2014 at 07:42

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    tried to copy a map of Phase 1/Madera-Fresno

  25. trentbridge
    Jan 3rd, 2014 at 08:19

    Obviously Ian is a genius – arriving on the last day of the year – bringing his Dad an extra tax deduction for 2013 as his first dependent.

    Judge Moonbox Reply:

    Most babies due about that time go for the vanity project of being born on Jan 1, hoping to get their pictures in the papers for being the First Baby of the New Year.

  26. Roger Christensen
    Jan 3rd, 2014 at 09:51

    Congrats. It is our goal that as a young adult Ian will enjoy a sophisticated California rail infrastructure.

  27. Brian Stanke
    Jan 3rd, 2014 at 11:34

    Congratulations Robert!

    I too was inspired by the birth of my daughter back in 2005, several months before co-founding Californians for HSR. I am working each day to try and make sure she can ride the IOS to college.

    Keep the faith in their future, and thanks for all your hard work on this blog and elsewhere.

  28. EJ
    Jan 3rd, 2014 at 16:06


  29. Lewellan
    Jan 3rd, 2014 at 16:35

    The engineer in that boy is visable on Day 3.
    Best wishes.
    This contrarian analyst agrees,
    his generation will ride fast trains not too fast.
    Both speed regimines are valid.
    Which works best where?
    In California: Talgo125mph RULES, baby!

    (To the tune of “Viva LasVegas”)

    glitter, shiny things, bright lights.

  30. Lewellan
    Jan 3rd, 2014 at 18:37

    A 4th July night
    A starlit sky
    A swirling spiral torch
    Across a steaming sky
    Across the night mind’s eye
    Across the generations
    To meet my baby’s prize.

  31. YesonHSR
    Jan 3rd, 2014 at 20:29

    Congrats..and a New Years eve baby to boot!!! hopefully this young lad will as an adult.. live in nation that cars and planes are not the only way to travel for business or pleasure..

  32. Ted Judah
    Jan 3rd, 2014 at 21:19

    Wishing you the best, Robert, from yet another Southwest flight delay.

  33. Reedman
    Jan 4th, 2014 at 10:37

    RC — great news.

    Based on the existence of this blog, I assume Ian already has his own copy of THE LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD.

  34. D. P. Lubic
    Jan 4th, 2014 at 14:12

    Congratulations from West Virginia, too–and I bet Ian will not only have “The Little Engine That Could,” but “Thomas the Tank Engine,” too.

    Ah, and speaking of the land that was the inspiration of Sodor, check out how the two-foot gauge lines of Wales are now running at 186 mph:

  35. Joseph E
    Jan 4th, 2014 at 21:46

    Don’t worry about taking a few weeks off of the blog, or posting less frequently for a couple of months.
    I’m sure people will stick around and fill up the comments section without much prompting.

  36. Back in the Saddle
    Jan 5th, 2014 at 12:08

    Robert–Congrats. Maybe Ian will be the designing engineer on many great HSR programs.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Why so pessimistic about when the US is going to build HSR? Or on whether the US is going to decline so much that Ian is forced to emigrate?

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