Et tu, Gavin?

Feb 14th, 2014 | Posted by

I don’t remember the first time I talked to Gavin Newsom about high speed rail. It might have been at the California Democratic Party convention in San José in 2008. Or Netroots Nation in Austin, Texas that same year. We definitely talked about it at the CDP convention in Sacramento in 2009. Gavin was running for governor and held a meeting of bloggers and activists. I asked him about HSR, and he said he strongly backed it. He told the story of his trip to Europe after graduating college, he rode the bullet trains there and then got back to California and wondered why we didn’t have them here. That was similar to my own experience, and so I was glad to see that for Gavin, support for HSR was not just about politics but about an experience of seeing how well it worked overseas and wanting it for California too.

That meeting wound up making it into Gavin’s TV ads for his 2010 campaign for Lieutenant Governor. In the ad titled “Innovator” you can see him chatting intently and expertly, with some blogger dude seated to his left and holding a MacBook in his lap, looking on as Gavin talks about something insightful. That dude was me:

(And that’s David Dayen, author of this Politico article on HSR, seated to my left taking notes.)

I was pleased to be featured in Gavin’s ads, even though I was there only because of the glowing Apple logo. I knew he wasn’t perfect and had a hell of a lot of critics, many of whom had been former allies or employees. But based in part on his backing for HSR, I thought he was a good up and coming statewide politician. Especially given that his opponent that year was the odious Abel Maldonado, I was happy to see Gavin win the seat.

Unfortunately, Gavin’s politics are not nearly as consistent as I’d hoped. In recent weeks Republicans have been stepping up their attacks on California HSR, calling for the money to be spent on roads, just as Wisconsin’s Scott Walker did in 2011. Republican candidate for governor Neel Kashkari has been attacking Jerry Brown over HSR, also calling for an end to what Kashkari calls the “crazy train” and for the money to be sent elsewhere.

Today, Gavin Newsom sided with the GOP conspirators. On a right-wing talk radio show, he abandoned his previous support for HSR and endorsed the Republican attack on the project:

“I would take the dollars and redirect it to other, more pressing infrastructure needs,” Newsom said during an appearance on the Seattle-based Ben Shapiro Show on AM 770 KTTH….

“I am not the only Democrat that feels this way,” Newsom said during his radio appearance. “I gotta tell you, I am one of the few that just said it publicly. Most are now saying it privately.”

I’ll just interject for a moment and say I don’t believe him when he says this. There are certainly some Democrats who are saying this, yes. But not “most.” I’ve heard from enough people in Sacramento to know that Gavin is overstating the case dramatically here.

Over the last few years, Newsom’s public position on the state-spanning bullet train has gradually shifted. In 2011, he pronounced himself “extraordinarily excited” about the undertaking.

“I personally have been supportive of the high-speed rail project since my time as mayor of the city and county of San Francisco,” Newsom said, going on to tout the project’s job-generating capacity and its role in moving goods and people around the state.

By 2013 he appeared distinctly less enthusiastic. During a talk at the Milken Institute Global Conference last May, Newsom said that “more and more legitimate questions are being raised” about the rail project.

“I think we have to be sober about this,” he added.

Why? Does Gavin now oppose reducing CO2 emissions? Does he oppose creating thousands of jobs in the Central Valley? Does he not want better passenger rail connections to San Francisco?

My guess is that this is not really about the merits of the project itself. After all, the HSR project remains a sound concept, with the problems coming from a Tea Party in Congress that is refusing to add more federal funding in order to spawn new hurdles for a project they despise.

No, this is more about Newsom himself. Since taking office he and Governor Jerry Brown have not exactly seen eye to eye. Jerry doesn’t think much of Gavin, and Gavin chafes in an office with no power, no role, and no public profile. Reports indicate that the two have not met face-to-face since 2010. At last month’s State of the State address Gavin gave an extended speech of his own rather than sticking to his introduction of Governor Brown. Brown responded mockingly in his own remarks.

So surely Newsom is taking the chance to poke Brown in the eye by coming out against the HSR project. It will definitely get Newsom some much-desired media attention. But it will cause consternation among California Democrats who will be rightly angry that Newsom is undermining his governor and the party by siding with Republicans on a high profile issue.

The question is what actual impact Newsom’s statement will have, aside from a short stroking of his notoriously fragile ego. Newsom has no political base, is not well respected among Democrats around the state or in the Legislature. But the media will likely trumpet this as another blow to a supposedly troubled project, a story the media have liked to create in recent years.

Ultimately California HSR’s fate will be decided between legislative leaders and Governor Brown. If anything Newsom’s words will make Brown more determined to stick with HSR and get it through its current rough waters.

The real question facing California Democrats is whether they are problem solvers and leaders, or whether they are quitters like Gavin Newsom. If they’re problem solvers and leaders, they’ll find ways to ensure that HSR gets built. Other major infrastructure projects had their challenges too, they all do, including the Golden Gate Bridge. Leadership isn’t cutting and running, it’s doing what it takes to get things done.

Or Democrats could decide to quit on HSR. But if they do, they’ll be sending a message to the Tea Party that it is open season on California, that they can destroy anything Sacramento does simply by denying it funding in Congress.

Whether you like it or not, HSR is a central part of California’s future. Gavin talks about change and innovation. HSR is a perfect example of both of those things – and of the challenges that change and innovation often face. For the sake of the state’s economic and environmental future, let’s hope that it’s Governor Brown’s leadership that wins out this year, rather than Gavin Newsom’s craven cold feet.

  1. joe
    Feb 14th, 2014 at 18:28

    I guess we can expect to see the Gavin C. Newson Expressway.

  2. joe
    Feb 14th, 2014 at 18:37
    Gov. Jerry Brown’s administration won at least a partial victory Friday in the legal wrangling over California’s high-speed rail project when a state appellate court said it would hear an expedited review of two lower court rulings.

    Thomas Reply:

    The story says that the plaintiffs have until March 17 to file legal briefs for the case…seriously? They have to go through that process again? So is it going to be sometime in the spring before we get a hearing, and subsequent decision? Wasn’t this supposed to be expedited?

    StevieB Reply:

    From the 3rd District Court of Appeal Docket (Register of Actions)
    California High-Speed Rail Authority et al. v. The Superior Court of Sacramento County Case Number C075668.

    Petitioners’ request for stay of the trial court’s January 3, 2014 order directing issuance of a peremptory writ of mandate in John Tos et al. v. California High-Speed Rail Authority, Sacramento County case number 34201100113919CUMCGDS, is granted and the order is stayed pending filing of opposition and further order of this court. Let an alternative writ of mandate issue. Written return to the alternative writ by real parties in interest is to be served and filed by March 17, 2014. Petitioners’ reply, if any, is to be served and filed with this court 15 days after the filing of the written return.

    Thomas Reply:

    How come they can’t just use the original briefs for Judge Kenny’s hearing? This will extend everything deep into spring.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    because they are not re-arguing the case, they are arguing if the judge made a mistake…completely different.

    Thomas Reply:

    Also, does this mean the case starts from a clean slate, rendering Judge Kenny’s decisions moot? Could there be other possible remedies besides the ones proposed by the judge?

  3. Richard Mlynarik
    Feb 14th, 2014 at 18:38

    Robert, during your San José and other meetings did you enjoy watching the workings of Willie Brown’s arm up the rear end of the almost life-like Newsom doll?

    joe Reply:

    For you

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    If Newsom really were such a Willie Brown puppet he’d have had a much better political career and wouldn’t be languishing in the Lt. Gov. office. Willie Brown created Newsom as a political figure but quickly realized that Newsom wasn’t really all that effective a politician and moved on.

    Michael Reply:

    I never voted for him as mayor, but I’m pretty certain he’ll be US Senator from California for many years once the slot opens up.

    joe Reply:

    Too flaky. There’s a long list of interested politicians. He’s going to need political clout to pull it off.

    Going against Pelosi/Brown on HSR tells me he’s low on that list so he’s probably got little to lose by bucking the system as a maverick.

    I liked him for his decision to allow gay/lesbian marriage in SF but he’s been underwhelming since.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I suspect you are way too young to remember Jerry Brown in the seventies when he was the “dilettante” who acquired the sobriquet “Moonbeam”. Quite reminiscent of Gavin. They are a lot alike, probably that is why they clash.

    The crones and the drone will be pushing daisies in time and Gavin will be a senior statesman of the party. Don’t worry Willie B. put him up to it. Jerry is out on a limb all alone.

  4. synonymouse
    Feb 14th, 2014 at 18:51

    Brown is old and there is no clear heir apparent. So a challenge is inevitable.

    Jerry Brown’s inflexibility highlights his age. The project has accumulated opponents if for no other reason than Brown will not admit of any reset or revision. All this is going to do is make the UP and BNSF want all the more not to have anything to do with a turkey they would not buy.

    Has Brown ever heard of Queretaro? And now they will not be able to hang any wire unless they energize it. It will be stolen. Sadly, another point for diesel.

    Mattie F. Reply:

    I have heard of Querétaro yet I have absolutely no idea what you are referring to.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Something to do with a conventional railroad in Mexico. A connection that is only possible to see in his universe.

    swing hanger Reply:

    It’s one of the mouse’s hobbyhorses. Stick around long enough on the forum, and you’ll get it.

    swing hanger Reply:

    *this blog

    synonymouse Reply:

    A socialist tending government in a socialist tending country with a nationalized railroad for like 60 years resolves to electrify a major route which would be a contender for a high speed alignment. In short order there is a political sea change and the line is divested and the wire ripped down and the locomotives sold to, of all places, the US.

    Major underlying issues: lack of popular support for the nationalized railway and chronic government money problems. Point being Jerry’s Legacy could easily and quickly become expendable when it becomes a fiscal albatross. What was in goes out of favor. And the class ones have no use for the line – what’s left but the scrapper? Remember the Milwaukee Road? – how about Raton right now?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Or think of the Las Vega Monorail. Will it be scrapped or will it become a quasi museum op like the Seattle one?

    The DogLeg a meandering detour in the boonies, in seismic country and expensive to maintain and with damn little traffic. It has to be wired and if you turn off the juice the thieves will steal the copper. Sound appealing to your Warren Buffett?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Can we maybe not call the political party that brought neo-liberalism to Mexico in the 1980s socialist? The PRD was formed in opposition to the PRI, not to PAN. Nowadays, neither the progressive social democrats nor the Chavistas care much for the PRI.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Electrifying the NdeM line to Queretaro was definitely not Reaganite. Neither in Mexico nor the US is there the general ongoing political support for a nationalized railway. Especially when you put its subsidy up against for instance food stamps or extended unemployment benefits.

    TehaVegaSkyRail is a nationalized railroad and it is running against the course of history in the US. I suspect the NEC is going to have political problems too in time and it won’t just be coming from Repubs or the Tea Party. When the profits fail and the budget outlays mount it will be Beeching Report time here too. Amtrak will have a rough row to hoe.

    jonathan Reply:

    Jerry Brown’s inflexibility highlights his age. The project has accumulated opponents if for no other reason than Brown will not admit of any reset or revision. All this is going to do is make the UP and BNSF want all the more not to have anything to do with a turkey they would not buy.

    Synon, have you forgotten again that no US freight rail company would ever have any interest in buying a well-designed HSR line? At least not to run freight on it.
    HSR train sets can climb grades about 3x what a US freight train can climb No US freight railroad is going to buy a mountain crossing which is 3x steeper than its trains can climb up.
    Also, US freight trains have axle-loads roughly twice that of a typical HSR train-set. HSR bridges and viaducts will not be strong enough for US freight trains.

    These facts have been repeated again, and again, and again. What is wrong with you, that you can’t remember these facts for more than about a month at a time?

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is not enough passenger traffic to justify a passenger only DogLeg. It cannot be used for freight and it must be electrified, with all the extra static costs. And nowadays it has to be energized, with the attendant losses, at all times and you still need security patrolling to protect the wire. That was not the case in times past, say in the Milwaukee Road era.

    So please answer the question: who is going to want to buy this detour when the State has to divest it because it cannot afford it?

    The DogLeg has Queretaro written all over it. Newsom is correct in questioning the wisdom of nowhere to nowhere. You can figure BART-MTC is hovering over this. BART could spend $9bil with a mere snap of the fingers. Hell, the Bayconic Bridge fiasco takes most of the amount.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Just because you don’t want to go to Los Angeles doesn’t mean other people don’t want to.
    It has Paris-Lyon written all over it.

    jonathan Reply:


    Yes, copper is now a semi-preicous metal. D’oh, Erlich’s argument was right; he just made the bet over too short a time. (Erlich claims he’d have one even over 10 years, if not for the early-80s global recession).

    But you’re begging the question. Reputable studies indicate there will be sufficient passenger traffic for California HSR. Why should anyone need to buy it from the state?

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is not even the demand or interest for one passenger train over the existing rail route. The studies are booster agitprop.

    The State will have to spin it off as a loser. Will Branson buy into it? No, because he would never build out that backwoods circuitous route.

    Because who died and made Palmdale real estate developers king? There are plenty of Californians more important than those clowns.

    Clem Reply:

    I would really like to know the history of real estate transactions in the vicinity of the Palmdale transit center, say over the past decade…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Maybe the names of little old ladies in the rest home are on the deeds!

  5. John Nachtigall
    Feb 14th, 2014 at 18:51

    So when you supported him he was an “up and coming politician”

    Now that he no longer agrees with you he “has no political base, is not respected by Democrats, and has a fragile ego”

    Seems like a complete turnaround in a few short years. Makes you wonder how he survived all those years as SF mayor and why he was chosen to run for Lt Governor?

    Perhaps he just realized that the law that was passed can’t be met? Or Perhaps you are right, he is just a quitter. How embarrassing that you helped a quitter get elected. Disappointments abound

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    No, he was always a fringe figure in state politics. I was hopeful that he would overcome his dilettante nature and amount to something more. I wasn’t blind to his faults. Ah well. At least he won’t have any bigger political career, he’s already peaked.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I guess that championing single-sex marriage before it became cool makes him a fringe figure, in the same way that Thurgood Marshall, Emanuel Celler, and Bella Abzug were fringe figures.

  6. synonymouse
    Feb 14th, 2014 at 21:02

    “At least he won’t have any bigger political career, he’s already peaked.”

    That’s a remark to put on ice – for future reference.

    Jerry will be dead and Gavin will still be around. Dead guys get forgotten pretty fast. Remember Gerald Ford?

    My take is that Newson is articulating an opinion that others tacitly hold, say Willie Brown, Heminger, Lee. BART-MTC has no love for CAHSR, with which it will have to compete for tight subsidy monies.

  7. Mattie F.
    Feb 14th, 2014 at 21:07

    I assume his intent is to pander to those who say cap-and-trade funds should be spent on “near term projects” rather than HSR, thus that he means spending the money on local public transit projects instead of HSR.

    Responding to that assumption, I sent an email (to the typical public-facing address – pointless, I know, but it makes me feel better :) ) about why I think HSR, with its current city-center/transit focused route, will reshape development patterns in a way that makes regional and local public transportation viable for far more people than if the same funds were spent on local transit instead.

    Of course, I would rather say “Why not both?” With the prop 1B funds from 2006 running out, looking around San Diego I can already see the pipeline of funded projects drying up. I want that Mira Mesa trolley in 2023, not 2030, and PB/Kearney Mesa by 2025, not 2035!

  8. jimsf
    Feb 14th, 2014 at 21:54

    MEanwhile, at least northern california is moving to single platform regional service and away from separate agencies. the goal is to have capitols, san joaquin caltrain and ace, use a single ticketing, fare and customer service platform, wiht all four routes implemeting coorodinating schedules, and including building station infrastructre to allow easy timed transfers.

    joe Reply:


    If the Capitols extend commuter service to Salinas, it will be very helpful to allow easy transfers onto Caltrain at San Jose.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    A true “Northern California Unified Service” from Monterey to San Francisco to Yosemite to Truckee to Chico and all points in between would be a great asset.

    Extending the Capitols to Salinas is just a subsidy to developers.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Service to Truckee would be an asset but not service to Salinas? Help me understand..

    Alon Levy Reply:

    All they need now is to have unified fares and schedules for BART, Muni, AC, Golden Gate, and Caltrain – in other words, the transit that non-trivial numbers of people use in their daily lives – and they’re set.

    jimsf Reply:

    that will never happen because the bay area is a huge collection of provincial villages – lots and lots of very modestly sized cities, which group together to form a collection of equally provincial regions, each popualted by people who want local control of everything, and who will protect their local interests. Of course thats also what makes the bay area a much nicer place than southern californias characterless morass. (that and the weather and geography and microclimates and..)

    jimsf Reply:

    you know, you all complain about this that and the other needs to be done, so someone finally starts moving things in that direction and instead of being happy about it you just want to bitch about how its still not good enough.

    you know what. you don’t like it… dont use it and go live somewhere else.

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    This has been talked about and sometimes attempted for years, back since Quentin Kopp was on the SF Board of Supervisors and MTC.

    The Bay Area has some two dozen transit agencies, each with their own (dysfunctional) uncoordinated fare system. Crossing city/county boundaries means people often have to transfer and pay an additional/new fare, making transit costs higher/unattractive to the customer.

    Pretty much every other regional area in the USA has far fewer transit agencies where there are no fare/time penalties for customers crossing city/county, even state boundaries.

    Now MTC’s convoluted, dysfunctional answer to this problem, after throwing a few hundred million $$$ at it is: Translink!!!!!, oh lets spend a few more million $$$ and change the name to: Clipper!!! Whew!!! Now we have one regional transit pass/ticket, good on all Bay Area systems!!!! After all this time and money wasted by MTC, there is still no true fare coordination that truly *lowers* the high cost of transit to the customer who must traverse multiple systems.

    Alon Levy Reply:


    Meanwhile, in my cool-summer West Coast immigrant magnet city, it goes the other way: all local transit services are run by one operator and have a unified fare system with zonal fares and free transfers, but the peak-only commuter service has a separate fare system.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Keep in mind that in LA County had the opposite problem not that long ago. It wanted to sell an affordable monthly pass that was good on all transit systems supported by Metro. However, some agencies were selling express passes and monthly passes for more than the countywide “universal fare media”.

    Guess what happened?

    Notice Metrolink (Southern California’s “answer” to BART) is not part of the countywide pass, but Metrolink riders get free transfers onto local bus service. The difference is that Metro subsidizes Metrolink whereas the MTC has to have BART subsidize local agencies. And given that BART’s transit district boundaries are political, now you can see that there are very few good solutions to these type of situations.

    On the other hand, I don’t know many people that need to take transit to BART, BART to somewhere else, and then another transit agency.

    jonathan Reply:

    Jim, when you say

    the goal is to have capitols, san joaquin caltrain and ace, use a single ticketing, fare and customer service platform,

    What do you mean by ‘customer service platform”? The actual platforms in each station where passengers board and alight? Would that mean all four services would have to shift to HSR/level-boarding-compatible high platforms at the same time; or none of them can?

    jimsf Reply:

    no sorry I didn’t mean passenger platforms. I meant platform as is in whats the word… like program or something. like there won’t be 4 different customer service phone numbers. There will be one phone number. There will be a single format for both paper ticket stock and e ticketing and so forth.

    jimsf Reply:

    so if you want to get from lodi to menlo park you can book the whole trip on one site, or with one call or at any ticket office, and get a thru fare, or at least a total fare by segment. Im not sure of the details I just understand that this is the ultimate goal of unified service.

    jonathan Reply:

    Okay. Single, integrated booking and ticketing service.
    Thank you for the clarification.

  9. jimsf
    Feb 14th, 2014 at 21:56

    I forgot the link

    segregation never! integration now! 2-4-6-8 transit’s got to integrate!

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Timed-transfers with Amtrak!? I guess that can work, if they have 1hr buffer in the schedule.

    jimsf Reply:

    its already being done with the ace transfer at stockton.– sac-skt-sjc amtrak-ace with a single ticket and cross platform transfer.

  10. jimsf
    Feb 14th, 2014 at 22:22

    I am grateful gor Newsom’s action on gay marriage. As a san franciscan who lived in the city during his tenure, I wasn’t thrilled with him as a mayor. While the city went through a revival during willie brown’s time as mayor – post recession/post loma prieta, ( borwn was lucky to preside over some key rebuilding and the money that came with loma prieta recovery) but newsom reigned during a hyper economy when teh city really become overrun with tech money and teh mayors focus seemed out of touch with average san franciscans who were bearing the brunt of the economic changes. Newsome was just a little to hip and fluffy. Willie, god love him, got things done and did it with real san francisco style…. something that evaporated under newsom and the millenials. and will never be seen again. R.I.P. S.F.

  11. jimsf
    Feb 14th, 2014 at 23:13

    I remember newsom having this program of putting these urban garden palnter box things around civic center, for organic vegetables or something. of course that was a pointless waste of money when there were many potholes that needed to be filled.
    Then there was the so called TEP transit effectiveness project that was really designed to shifts funds and service away from the people who needed it most, seniors, disabled, etc, and putall the focus on getting the newly priveliged to and from work. Taking away bus stops and making little old ladies walk four blocks up hill with their groceries wasn’t considered too cool by many.

    On a positive note though, the city did reach pretty amazing waste/recycle/compost goals that was something everyone seemed to be on board with.

    And they cloroxed that UN plaza and market street nearly every night Cleanest its been in decades.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The little old ladies aren’t stupid. They’d take the bus to the next stop and walk downhill both ways.

  12. Useless
    Feb 15th, 2014 at 05:33

    A train crash in Kawasaki Japan shows the dangers of non-UIC compliant train designs.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    No it doesn’t.

    Useless Reply:

    The impact speed was only 40 km/hr, or 25 mph. It was shocking how easily the train crumbled under such a low speed.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Please show that it was in fact shocking.

    Useless Reply:

    Compare that Kawasaki(township) crash to Kawasaki M8 crash at Farfield, Connecticut.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    I don’t see any valid points of comparison.

    jonathan Reply:

    Case A: one train ran into a stopped train at 40 km/hr.
    Case B one train derails, a train on another track, travelling “at least 60 mi/hr [96 km/hr]”, strikes the derailed train.

    I’d like to see a photo of the driver’s cabs of the Japanese collision. Did they crumple as designed?

    Just in terms of fact, a UIC-compliant train does, by design, not meet the buff-strength requirements of the FRA If UIC-compliant MUs collided like the Fairfield, they’d be more deformed than the FRA-compliant rolling stock.

    So it’s very unclear what point Useless is trying to make. Compare two crashes, of non-UIC-compliaint rolling stock, then say: see how bad one of these non-UIC-compliant designs crumpled?

    Useless Reply:

    The point I am trying to make is that anything with a static load strength of less than 200 tons should not be allowed on Northeast Corridor and California High Speed Rail tracks.

    jonathan Reply:

    Oh. You are in error about what “UIC complaint” means.
    You actually meant “FRA compliant, not UIC-compliant.

    UIC was the (western) European rail authority. It’s been supplanted by TER regulations, but people still talk about UIC and it’s understood what it means.

    That said.. buff strength is orthogonal to actual safety. A vehicle with crumple zones is a lot safer than on which doesn’t deform. The history of the ICC/FRA regulations has nothing *directly* to do with safety; it’s a requirement that the Railway Post Office vehicles, which typically were placed directly behind locomotives, survive a crash undamaged. These cars, if present in a train, were the ones most likely to be damaged, or even telescope. But the buff-strength requirement doesn’t provide much actual *safety* at all. Crash-energy management is in direct contravention of FRA buff-strength requirements, and even the US government says that crash-energy-management is safer:

    jonathan Reply:

    Oh, I forgot (sory): there will be no freight trains, repeat *none*, on actual high-speed tracks.

    For the “blended” track at the :bookends”, Caltrain will have time-separated freight — when freight is running, no passenger trains will be running. At the southern end: if (very dim) memory serves, Metrolink shares tracks with freight; but the HSR trains will not run on the same tracks as freight trains, though they may run adjacent. But I could well be wrong about Metrolink — it’s not something I follow closely.

    Useless Reply:


    Read this to get more info.

    And it is a joint procurement between AMTRAK and CAHSRA. Accordingly, the train sets that CAHSRA buys will have to share tracks with cargo trains, in the Northeast Corridor.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The cargo trains are limited to 50 MPH. It’s the commuter trains going 100 that will be the problem. There’s lots of them.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Nobody died.

    Now compare this to what happens when the signaling system sucks and the trains rely on buff strength for protection.

    Useless Reply:

    Well, the Positive Traffic Control system was on, but snow made breaking difficult so the train coming in from behind couldn’t stop in time.

    So buff strength do matter, because there will be accidents not anticipated by PTC engineers like this one where breaking fails due to heavy snowing.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    …except that despite your image of a destroyed cabin, nobody died.

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