State Asks FRA For Flexibility on Buy America Rules — But Only For Prototypes

Apr 10th, 2014 | Posted by

Currently there are no makers of high speed trains in the United States. Companies like Siemens have US-based facilities, but do not currently build bullet trains there. That presents a paradox to the California High Speed Rail Authority, since federal “Buy America” rules currently prevent them from buying prototype trains abroad to test in this country – even if the plan is to ultimately build those trains here.

So California is seeking a waiver from the “Buy America” rules, but only for those prototypes:

So in late February, the state rail agency and Amtrak each requested a waiver from the Federal Railroad Administration asking to be excused from the Buy America requirements. Each wants permission to purchase two prototype trains that are built overseas, but to American specifications, for testing purposes until the chosen manufacturer can build a production factory — or modify an existing plant — in the U.S. to build the trains….

California’s rail authority “decided to apply for a waiver in the event that the manufacturer that made the best offer wouldn’t have the ability to assemble a prototype in America that meets the Authority’s and Amtrak’s strict schedules for procurement,” said Lisa Marie Alley, the agency’s press secretary.

That is a sensible approach. The Authority wants to comply with the Buy America rules when they actually order the trains that the system will use. But if there are no US-based manufacturers at this time, it is reasonable to allow them to purchase those prototypes overseas. After all, the winning builder will open up a new factory, or a new production line at an existing factory, in the US that will employ a lot of people here. And that’s the entire point of the Buy America rules.

The FRA ought to grant this reasonable waiver, as doing so actually serves the goals of the Buy America program.

  1. Donk
    Apr 10th, 2014 at 21:18
    #1

    Update about biz plan. Also endorsements from OC organizations, including Disney and the Ducks.

    Calif. high-speed rail board adopts new business plan

    Read more: http://www.kcra.com/news/local-news/news-sacramento/highspeed-rail-board-adopts-new-business-plan/25419106#ixzz2yY2XBDfb

  2. Richard Mlynarik
    Apr 10th, 2014 at 21:28
    #2

    California doesn’t need and can’t possibly need any high speed trains for nearly 20 years.

    Any “specification” or “prototyping” or “testing” before then is purest fraud and agency/corporate welfare, not just unrelated to but actively opposed to any public need.

    The trains will be rusted out and obsolete long before the tracks they could use have been constructed.

    “This is a sensible approach”. Right.

    synonymouse Reply:

    My money’s on Bombardier. But just park them in Pueblo and send Steinberg, Perez et al over to take the tour and pictures for the voters back home.

    And thence to the Boeing Vertol Museum.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Bombardier makes good equipment. So does Siemens. So does CAF. So does Talgo. So does Alstom. So do several of the Japanese consortia (which I can never make sense out of due to the interlocking ownership).

    As long as it isn’t Skoda or Breda.

    Nathanael Reply:

    As noted below, Richard didn’t actually read any of the dates: these prototypes are supposed to arrive less than 3 years before high-speed service begins.

    joe Reply:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Development_mule
    A development mule or a test mule in the automotive industry is a vehicle equipped with experimental or prototype components for testing. Automakers evaluate aspects of vehicles before a full pre-production car is built to find problems. Mule cars are drivable, often years ahead of actual production.

    jonathan Reply:

    Please explain, with references, how your quote-diahorrea has *ANYTHING* to do with CHSRA’s requirement for an established, service-proven, train-set with little or no modification.

    joe Reply:

    No thank you. The wiki reference explains that test mules are common and reasonable years ahead of actual production. The article linked by Robert explains their purpose why they are needed sooner. iI you disagree then write why, ask Robert to delete my quote-diahorrea or skip over it.

    jonathan Reply:

    According to your own citation, “test mules” are for *brand-new* designs.

    An of-the-shelf HSR trainset with little or no modification does not require such a ‘”test mule”.

    Honeslty, Joe, you need to learn to read. Your son could teach you a lot about reading for comprehension.

    joe Reply:

    BTW You might want to quote more completely….

    http://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/678/822/Amtrak-California-RFP-HSR-Trainsets-ATK-14-011.pdf
    b>A goal of the procurement is to identify whether established high-speed rail equipment manufacturers have service-proven designs that can meet both the short-term needs of Amtrak and the long-term operational needs of the Authority and Amtrak with little or no modification.

    .. so you don’t miss an important part of the procurement.

    Clear a goal is to determine whether i.e. if it is possible to use a proven design with little or no modification.

    The test mules are needed to determine whether it is possible.

    Andy M Reply:

    Isn’t it clear that the relevant trains can be used. You only need to go to their relative home countries to see ample evidence of that. I don’t see how running tests to prove the obvious will prove anything we don’t know already.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Taking this argument into the past, why did, when Amtrak tested for their new locomotive for the NEC, the French locomotive, which has been a very successful design in France (around 300 or so units built) failed that badly?

    As they say, prototypes are the mother of the china box…

    Eric Reply:

    Because the Acela has nothing more than a superficial appearance in common with the french TGV built by bombardier. The french refer to it as “the pig” because it is so heavy compared with their trainsets, as a result of being built to FRA crash standards.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acela_Express#Train_design

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Eric, I am referring to something way earlier. In 1977 Alsthom borrowed the CC21003 from SNCF and adapted it trials in the NEC, turning it into Amtrak X996 (see http://www.amtrakhistoricalsociety.org/x996.html for more about the history). Nicknamed “French Fry”, it did compete against the “Swedish Meatball”, an Rc4 by Asea, numbered X995.

    FWIW, MFO/BBC were also interested in those trials, and they allegedly tried to borrow a Re6/6 from the SBB, but they refused, claiming that they did could not spare one (so much for helping the domestic industry to be successful exporters…). But IMHO, it would have performed extremely well, and, who knows what had happened.

    Clem Reply:

    Good find, I wrote that article. I am everywhere on the web :)

    jonathan Reply:

    Max,

    yes, but *none* of those locomotives was a heavily-instrumented, pre-production prototype.
    Which is what Joe means by a “test mule”. that’s what Joe asserts CHSRA needs. He’s full of it … as usuall.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    @Clem: yeah, I had a little chuckle when I read the author of the article…

    @jonathan: my comment was an answer to Andy M’s message. Now, just for tests “does it work”, you don’t need to record machine parameters etc. That would be necessary for tests “how exactly does it work”.

    @all: In an earlier message, I mentioned that the design used were built in around 300 units; I was wrong on that, there were about 80 built (I was confused and thought they were sending a BB22200). Note to self: check before you write…

    Andy M Reply:

    That article suggests the French locomotive failed because of the condition of track on the NEC. The Re6/6 also uses quill drives, so maybe SBB was just wise and wanted to avoid a similar humiliation?

    Max Wyss Reply:

    And what is (was) in use on the Rc4? Definitely not nose-hung motors…

    The problem with the Alst(h)om design is that they are using a big motor mounted on the truck frame (making the locomotive C’C'). The advantage is that the wheels do turn at the same rpm (but that can also be the disadvantage). In order to stay within the drive tolerances, the primary suspension must be rather hard in this case.

    On the other hand, the Re6/6 is a Bo’Bo’Bo’ configuration, which means that every axle has its own fully suspended motor. Even with a similar quill drive, the primary suspension can be made softer. And that means that it can take more irregularities.

    The same goes for the secondary suspension, which is also rather hard in the Alst(h)om design, but relatively soft in the SLM design (particularly the secondary suspension of the middle bogie is “very” soft, so that the bogie can follow the track better. (note that SLM did put a lot of effort into keeping the adhesion as high as possible).

    Max Wyss Reply:

    BTW, the TGV has been and is as such always built by Alst(h)om (they dropped the h some time ago). Bombardier’s high speed train family is called Zefiro, and Siemens’ is Velaro.

    Lewellan Reply:

    I say go TALGO Trainset systems nationwide. 200MPH Bullet trains should be banned on most rail corridors. 135MPH Talgo-types go in half the time at half the cost/impact.
    California NERDS want 200MPH type, whaah, boo hoo.
    Nerds like whoever most of yall get your info.
    Talgo Made in USA during/after WWII.
    What, you call yourselves patriotic?
    I don’t think so.
    The Fresno-Madera IOS is stupid, period.
    Drop it quick.
    Go hybrid Sac-to-Bak in Phase 1.
    Go ahead,
    do tell us what you don’t like about THAT IOS?

    Lewellan Reply:

    The plug-hybrid battery pack can be distributed at 5 – 10x the number of households for modest backup emergency portable power supply and better match with smaller photovoltiac solar arrays. PHEVs ‘solve’ this power supply thing far better than Battery EVs, the Leaf, the Tesla.
    The PHEV also leads to shorter routine driving, thus longer tire life.
    Whadjaknow… Hybrids are better cars & trains than all-electric BEVs & Bullets.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    … and what do these message have to do with the statements they are supposed to be answering?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I think it’s as beta test of Turing-test machine to replace Synomouse.

    Eric Reply:

    you’re right, I got mixed up on Bombardier vs Alstom – my bad. They both played a part in the Acela, but I mixed up where they were from :(

    joe Reply:

    They’re asking for a wavier. The US wants to buy product modified for the US market, to test and train on them.

    In the automotive industry, manufacturers own the design and still build test mules when adapting product to meet US market regulations and consumer tastes.

    “Automakers evaluate aspects of vehicles before a full pre-production car is built to find problems. Mule cars are drivable, often years ahead of actual production.”

    It’s not controversial given the size of the purchase.

    Zorro Reply:

    Only nimbies with ulterior motives would be against this idea, I’m for it.

    Lewellan Reply:

    Who here hasn’t been on the Amtrak Cascades TALGO.
    Just give it some thought.
    Hybrid systems can evolve to all-electric in segments.
    Talgo was engineered in the USA circa 1940′s-50′s.
    Why do the Madera-Fresno stretch first and.. superfast?
    It’s bad RR engineering, substandard in specific substantial terms.
    Spend the money on electrifying the Peninsula sure.
    Get LA new grade separation and safety crossings.
    Fix Sacramento-to-Stockton rail with hybrid
    That is the simplest Phase 1.
    Mader-to-Fresno is poorly done and stupid.
    Steve Jobs is rolling over in his magneeto coccoon.

    Zorro Reply:

    Talgo in CA is not going to happen.

    Lewellan Reply:

    Most of you have not given a thought to in all probability the BETTER trainset system. Who hasn’t ridden the Talgo from Portland to Tacoma or Vancouver BC? I’ve been on 40-some times. Only done an Acela trip once, northbound NYC-to-Boston, the 150mph stretch, calm morning/afternoon,
    and was not impressed. Talgo way way better ride. Right or wrong, supposedly sincere HSR supporters would ‘rather’ assume the 200mph Bombardier-type train is better, when it’s not NOT better in many ways, impact mainly, lack of attention to existing rail corridor services, obvious drawbacks to many of us long-time rail advocates, not just me. To not go hybrid in the first phase is absurd.

    According to the new stats.
    Your new train top speed is 165mph.
    Talgo does 125mph – 135mph.
    It’s got to be a hybrid for First Phase.
    All-Electric gets you nutheeng, duuh…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Why not a waiver for the prototype new BARTmobile?

    Emmanuel Reply:

    Why do we need those mules when we can buy off shelf? Let the locomotive manufacturers do the research later on. We haven’t even built a single inch of rail for this HSR corridor.

    joe Reply:

    US can’t buy locomotives off the shelf.
    CAHSRA wrote a set of reasons – like them or not they’re listed in the waiver.

    Reedman Reply:

    In looking at the Texas HSR presentation, even though they have made an upfront decision to partner with Central Japan Railways, even going so far as to pick the N700-I as the trainset, Texas has said that the trains will have to be modified to meet US/FRA requirements. Specifically, there will have to be passenger ingress/egress modifications to support ADA access, and larger windows because of concerns about the ability to use windows as emergency exits. [Apparently the FRA asked about adding a fireproof bulkhead, and Texas asked 'why', FRA said in case the train hits a tanker truck, then Texas said 'but we would be on isolated track with no grade crossings', the FRA made no reply to that.]

    jonathan Reply:

    So CA could by some Deutche Bundesbahn BR 403s really *really* cheap.
    They’re *already* rusted out!!

    http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/DB-Baureihe_403_(1973)

    Max Wyss Reply:

    FWIW, there is an organization which is dedicated to get at least one set back to running order and have it approved for operation. It could be a very interesting offer for chartered tours.

    If looking out for cheap second hand fast trains, there are a bunch of Fyra trains available; only a few 10000 km on the odometer … (g, d & r)…

    jonathan Reply:

    Fyra? For shame, sir, for shame.

    It’d be neat to see a “Donald Duck” running again. i wonder if it’d be restored to DB livery or to the Lufthansa Airport Express livery..

    Max Wyss Reply:

    There are two websites up about the “Donald Ducks”: http://www.et403.com is run by the organization who is involved with the restauration, and http://www.et403.de is a well-informed fanpage.

    In short, it is the German subsidiary of National Express who got the franchise for two regional lines in Nordrhein-Westfalen, and they are now working on one set, as their marketing tool. The livery will not be original, but appears to be decent. There are apparently talks that they may even get the permission to operate the trains in scheduled services.

    jonathan Reply:

    I was thinking of a . RainFaneurope.net? Other? site,which has a whole contact-sheet’s worth of photos of the trainsets, in situ, now. Broken windows, discoloration, graffiti, and all.
    Granted, one can’t see the oxidatoin and ? fractures ? which took them out of servce — IIRC, many nundreds of thousands of Euro worth of repairs, *then*.

    Meh. If CA really wanted to make money with legacy train-sets, before ~2030, I* think they;d be better off buying a VT 11.5 set from BahnPark-Ausberg. Or assembling another RAm consist, with a re-engined NS power car. I think they’d get more Euro-nostalgia passengers, paying a lot more per seat, than ICS commuters.

    But.,… FRA rules, again
    (yes, a long lead-in to a bad pun)

    Judge Moonbox Reply:

    RailfanEurope.net has been taken down. I used to follow that for the links to the infrastructure webpages.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Richard M: Quite right. This is a combination of jobs for the consultants and Amtrak desperation, trying to get their nose in the CA tent. Total waste of public funds at this stage. If anything the CHSRA should be looking for some kind of mixed traffic unit that can handle conventional corridors and short HS non electrified sections, since that’s all we’ll have for two decades.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They have something that can handle conventional corridors and short HSR corridors

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Superliner_(railcar)

    Emmanuel Reply:

    You better be kidding. Having been on one of those, it’s border-line cattle express.

    joe Reply:

    Do you think it is legal for the CAHSRA to purchase equipment incapable of meeting prop1a requirements. I’m not that sure.

    I do think Amtrak would have trains for the conventional corridors – maybe the new locomotives built in CA/IN and cars in IL or the ones for Amtrak under review in this RFP.

    Finally, what entity is scaring Amtrak? If there’s some operator or train set purchase that’s a rival to Amtrak then maybe CA should partner with it too.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    No real point in partnering with someone if the requirements are so different
    The NEC is mixed traffic medium speed and always will be

    synonymouse Reply:

    Jerry Brown plans for Amtrak to take over PBHSR. Federalize the operating deficits.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Syn, you are totally uninformed on this. Amtrak is simply an operator in California paid for by the State. If Amtrak takes over the HSR in CA the state will have to pay Amtrak to run it. See PRIIA 2008.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The party bosses occupy a different universe wherein the Democrats will take over the national government just as in Xanadu here. The Cheerleaders live there too.

    In their vision a few decades down the road Amtrak will the be umbrella for a nationalized railway system.

    Kumbaya chavismo.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Except where it goes 160mph

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    160mph is medium speed these days. And in the context of the NEC its pretty much a waste of money and done for prestige. They should be investing in “going slow less often”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Where should they go slow less often and how much does it cost to fix? There’s long stretches south/west of New York that have the geometry for higher speeds but are restricted to 135 because the catenary is 75 years old. Should they replaced it with catenary that can support 220 or catenary that can support 135? In very round numbers there’s 90 miles of 135 MPH track west of New York. 90 miles at 135 takes 40 minutes. 90 miles at 160 takes 34 and 90 miles at 220 takes 25. Should they take that 15 minutes or just wait for the 75 year old catenary to turn 90 and fall down? How many minutes of heat delays will that cause over the next 15 years?

    EJ Reply:

    Where should they go slow less often

    Connecticut, for starters. There are some curves, but plenty of straightish bits where all it would take is track and signalling upgrades.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    specifically where? It’s nice an curvy all the way across Connecticut.

    Michael Reply:

    Mr. Comfy Wooden Chair (sorry, but that’s what I always think of when I see Adirondack) is right. The NEC needs to fix the f’d up OCS from NYC to Washington pronto, as we say in the West. The rusted towers that “celebrate” the Penn need to give way to the 21st Century, no pun intended.

    Emmanuel Reply:

    Sorry but that would imply that the people responsible for this would have brains. We would first have to buy test brains and see if they can come up with such a rational conclusion.

    Clem Reply:

    Point of order: the Acela Express doesn’t go 160 mph anywhere in revenue service.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Correct, I misquoted on a section around Trenton that Amtrak is renovating for 160 mph, current top speed is 150mph. I apologise.

    wdobner Reply:

    They did test the Acelas at 160mph, and apparently they were successful. The only thing holding them back from revenue service at 160mph is the catenary and the regulatory environment. Neither of those limitations are going to last forever.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Joe: Amtrak is not purchasing the IL cars and CA locomotives, the States are. Amtrak still owns most of the Surfliner rolling stock but not the Cap Cor or San Joaquin. Given the age of the Surfliners it wouldn’t take much to buy them out, with some helpful legislation. Thus does CA need Amtrak with its multi layered bureaucracy and high cost structure? The answer may be yes given Amtrak’s rights over the common carriers but again that can be solved by contract or legislation if the will is there. Amtrak lost the VRE contract and the Caltrain contract, and New York Joe recently e-mailed his employees saying that dozens of other contracts are in jeopardy.
    Amtrak is in a bind. The NEC is falling apart, 1930s catenary etc. won’t last forever. They have done next to nothing to re-invest in the western l/d trains but still have a federal mandate to provide a national system. They used to rely on cash flow from the states and commuter operations where they had minimal commercial risk and could charge high prices. Now these agencies have seen that there are other operators out there (Herzog, Keolis et al) who will take them on. Not a pretty picture.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Acela has helped Amtrak capture a 75% share of air/train commuters between New York and Washington in 2011, up from 37% in 2000. Due to this competition, some airlines have even canceled service between Washington and New York. Between New York and Boston the Acela Express has up to a 54% share of the combined train and air market.

    The Acela carried more than 3.3 million passengers in fiscal year 2013; second only to the somewhat slower and cheaper Northeast Regional, which had over 8 million passengers in FY 2013. The Acela Express had a total revenue of US$530,820,821 in 2013, up from $409,251,483 back in 2009. The Acelas accounted for approximately 25% of all total revenue generated by Amtrak services. Another 25% came from Northeast Regional traffic, and roughly 25% each for long-distance trains and state-supported corridor services throughout the rest of the country.

    wikipedia

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “Post hoc ergo propter hoc”

    Source: cut and paste [citation needed]

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    ^ “Frustrations of Air Travel Push Passengers to Amtrak”. The New York Times.
    9.Jump up ^ Goldberg, Bruce. “Metroliner’s Amazing Rave.” Trains June 2006 (53)
    10.Jump up ^ “Acela run expected to match U.S. rail speed record of 165 mph (266 km/h)”.
    11.Jump up ^ “Air Travel’s Hassles drive riders to AMTRAKs Acela”. August 15, 2012. for Acela express passenger numbers only[dead link]
    12.Jump up ^ “The Information: Most popular airline routes”. Financial Times. January 17, 2009. Retrieved February 2, 2010.
    13.^ Jump up to: a b http://www.amtrak.com/ccurl/730/658/FY13-Record-Ridership-ATK-13-122.pdf
    14.Jump up ^ “Amtrak Sets New Ridership Record, Thanks Passengers For Taking The Train”. Amtrak. October 11, 2012. Retrieved October 16, 2012

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Not a difficult task given the distance. But barely a couple of percent of the total travel market.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    They don’t have the capacity for more than said couple of percent, hence the absurdly high fares for Amtrak NEC (even the Regionals have yields 30-50% higher than HSR in other countries). Meanwhile they’ve had to pour hundreds of millions every year, money that could’ve gone to the NEC, into the long distance trains.

    joe Reply:

    “The NEC is falling apart, 1930s catenary etc. won’t last forever. They have done next to nothing to re-invest in the western l/d trains but still have a federal mandate to provide a national system. ”

    Given the hostility to Amtrak in Congress, I can’t see why you’d lay blame at their feet for not investing in infrastructure. Mandates without budget are meaningless. We have a few trillion in unmet infrastructure needs so what’s the point of making this national deficiency about Amtrak?

    Breaking Amtrak and selling off the profitable parts is in full swing. It’s sad that transit advocates feel that the solution to transit is some magic rebirth – such a focus on commuter rail and modest instate service. That’s seems to be Railpac’s mandate and it’s a sad one.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I’m not blaming Amtrak Joe, although their misallocation of investment has a lot to do with it, I’m just describing the situation in which they find themselves. I’m glad you acknowledge that the profitable parts of Amtrak are the state and commuter contracts. Acela certainly isn’t. We support High Speed Rail, we don’t support the blended hoax. We submitted comments about the so called Business Plan, if you can’t track them down I can e-mail them. And yes, we do support further investment in regional rail, because that is where the people are and they can use the money now, not perhaps provide a service in two decades.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The Class I’s (the real power behind Amtrak) do not want a viable threat to their business model for freight. Some sort of dismemberment would open the door to real competition and given the geographic oligopoly of the rail business…that last thing anybody from Phil Anschutz to Warren Buffett wants.

    Amtrak could consolidate its long distance routes and save money there. It could expand the use of the Auto Train, and it could phase out the Northeast Regional in favor of Acela.

    But the Class I’s are very eager to make Amtrak be a crummy product because they don’t want other players getting into passenger rail and then taking what is a lucrative business away from them.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The Class Is deliberately hamstring Amtrak service at every possibility, including their 40-year record of illegally delaying passenger trains for freight trains.

    joe Reply:

    Well Paul

    Bridges, roads, sewers water systems … all in the same situation as Amtrak infrastructure. Difficult to see how it’s Amtrak’s fault when our entire society has been underfunding infrastructure investments. Apparently super human efforts were not taken to maintain the Amtrak system.

    Interesting that you want regional improvements for the timely access to better service rail simultaneously call the blended portions are Hoaxes. Blended sections provide service sooner, as the system is being built and demand warrants.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    CHSRA 2014 Business Plan

    To further advance the statewide rail modernization program, Governor Brown’s 2014-15 Proposed Budget, submitted to the Legislature in January 2014, proposes to use $250 million in Cap and Trade proceeds for high-speed rail and, $50 million for urban, commuter and intercity rail projects. The Governor also proposed an ongoing state commitment of Cap and Trade proceeds to facilitate closing the state’s north to south rail gap through the Tehachapi Mountains and implement the IOS

    joe Reply:

    Jerry Brown’s now sunk to trolling Paul Dyson.

    Spending Cap and Trade to fill the state’s N-S rail gap changes the discussion from HSR blah blah and and onto the fact the State needs this infrastructure.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    CHSRA 2014 Business Plan

    SB 1029 also appropriated $2 billion—that will leverage approximately $5 billion in additional funding—for bookend and connectivity projects. The Authority is collaborating with our state and regional partners to begin implementing these critically important projects that will provide early benefits before they are eventually integrated with high-speed rail

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    “I’m glad you acknowledge that the profitable parts of Amtrak are the state and commuter contracts. Acela certainly isn’t”

    The Acela Express had a total revenue of US$530,820,821 in 2013, up from $409,251,483 back in 2009. The Acelas accounted for approximately 25% of all total revenue generated by Amtrak services

    joe Reply:

    “Amtrak is not purchasing the IL cars and CA locomotives, the States are. Amtrak still owns most of the Surfliner rolling stock but not the Cap Cor or San Joaquin.”

    Okay then why this?

    Total waste of public funds at this stage. If anything the CHSRA should be looking for some kind of mixed traffic unit that can handle conventional corridors and short HS non electrified sections, since that’s all we’ll have for two decades.

    The CAHSRA does not need to nor can it buy trains NOT compliant with Prop1a requirements. The State of CA can buy trains and operate them outside of Prop1a restrictions including no operating subsidy. There’s no constructive purpose to directing the Authority to violate or litigate on Prop1a.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Joe, you are right. I should have written that the need is for etc.etc. not that CHSRA should buy. As someone else has pointed out though, perhaps the putative operators should be figuring out what sort of trains they want to run. Why should CHSRA be involved, especially at this stage, except to feather the nests of the consulting community. It’s the same as doing community outreach in San Diego, which will be lucky to see service by 2035, just to feed the consultants.
    Whoever purchases the trains, they are a generation away from being needed and presumably the models available for operation in 2029 will be much improved upon from today’s kit.

    joe Reply:

    “Why should CHSRA be involved, especially at this stage, except to feather the nests of the consulting community.”

    That’s both unfair and counter productive statement. The reasoning is here and it’s a whooping two trains.
    http://www.fra.dot.gov/Elib/Document/3588

    Nathanael Reply:

    Trains don’t improve that fast. The difference between the trains of 15 years ago and the trains of today is…. not that much, really.

    The last major technological change was AC induction motors.

    jonathan Reply:

    GTO thyristors to IGBTs is a significant change. IGBTs don’t need snubber circuits, are more efficent and therefore need less cooling. Which mekes it feasible to integrate transformer, inverters, cooling and motors underneath a powered passenger car, as in the upcoming ICx.
    A big difference from the ICE-3 or AGV. Bolsterless bogies are a major technoogical change too; and those came after asynchronous traction motors.

    15 years ago to “:today” is just after the ICE-2 and just before the ICE-3. And pre-AGV to post-AGV.

    And as for your specific example of “the last major technological change” being asynchronous AC traction motors: wrong. AGV and Velaro-D both have rare-earth permanent-magnet synchronous traction motors. Which allow either more power, or fewer powered cars per trainset for the same power.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Permanent-magnet motors are actually older technology.

    You’re right that IGBTs are sginificant as vs. GTO thyristors.

    Bolsterless bogies… are also older technology. I’m not sure why they became popular lately.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    California doesn’t need and can’t possibly need any high speed trains for nearly 20 years.

    Most likely, these prototype “high speed” trains are actually 160mph. If you believe the Business Plan (I know…) the IOS opens in 2022, and the prototypes are to be delivered in 2019. 3 years is barely enough time to drive the trains around circles in Colorado, verify the “F” is painted properly on the locomotive, and ensure there aren’t any metric conversion errors.

    A more interesting question is why it will take 5 years for the vendor to develop these supposedly “off-the-shelf” trains.

    joe Reply:

    Because these are NOT supposed to be off the shelf trains.

    jonathan Reply:

    You forgot the grab-irons. how they’re going to put grab-irons onto aluminium monocoque structures is beyond me, but the grab-irons are required along with painting the “F” on the , ahem, *distributed traction EMU trainset*.

  3. Lewellan
    Apr 10th, 2014 at 21:31
    #3

    Funny that yours truly should arrive upon what I consider a most exellent use of wording by our forum host, Richard Cruickshank, with appreciative regards, thanks, but regrettably with my appeal once again for balanced decisions about which coach to consider: the high-capacity 200mph Bombardier ‘or’ the mid-capacity 125MPH Talgo hybrid XXI-type locomotive with (potentially) 150mph ’tilting’ coaches. I’ve said this many times here before and repeat it again, GO TALGO my friends, my peers, my political adversaries. If you won’t help me stop BNSF from fn hauling more coal/oil/NG, then I won’t be as appreciative on you over-hyped 200mph dream train trip gone fizzle-poop by Valley Biz Boys.

    jonathan Reply:

    [...] decisions about which coach to consider:

    You’re biasing the deck, right there, and in favor of sometihng which has *no* *hope* of meeting the Prop 1A service-time requirements.

    A “(potentially) [250 km/h]” train-set is a non-starter. As Bill Clinton said: *ARITHMETIC*!

    Lewellan Reply:

    How could you leave off “balanced” before your “decisions about which coach to consider” supposedly biasing my deck. Your deck is as biased and moreso, therefore, my premise is proven with your curt reply. No biggie, but you haven’t given a thought to a in all probability THE BETTER trainset system. Have you ridden the Talgo from Portland to Tacoma? I’ve been on it more than 40 times. I’ve only done 1 Acela trip northbound NYC-to-Boston, the 150mph stretch a calm morning/afternoon and was not impressed. Talgo has the better ride. No, right or wrong, you all would just ‘rather’ assume the faster Bombardier-type train is better.
    According to the new stats.
    Your new train top speed is 165mph.
    Talgo does 125mph – 135mph.
    It’s got to be a hybrid for a decent Phase 1
    duuh…

    jonathan Reply:

    your idea of “balanced” is a slope too sleep for even an HSR trainset.

    Eric Reply:

    “Richard Cruickshank”

    Do you mean Robert Cruickshank? Or maybe Richard Mlynarik?
    A chimera of the two would be interesting.

  4. Alan
    Apr 11th, 2014 at 04:00
    #4

    “…If you won’t help me stop BNSF from fn hauling more coal/oil/NG, then I won’t be as appreciative on you over-hyped 200mph dream train trip gone fizzle-poop by Valley Biz Boys.”

    What the h*** are you talking about?

  5. AlanF
    Apr 11th, 2014 at 10:15
    #5

    The Amtrak and CHSRA requests for waivers are available on the FRA website eLibrary section and were posted there on March 14, 2014. I would suggest that people read them to understand the reasons for the waivers and how Amtrak and CHSRA expect their trainsets to differ (depending on who wins the contract). There is a lot of information in the waiver requests. This link should work but it is an embedded search, so it may not: http://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Find#p1_z10_kprototype%20high%20speed%20rail. The documents can be manually found by going to http://www.fra.dot.gov, clicking on eLibrary, and then either step through to the March 14 entries or do a search for “prototype high speed rail trainsets”.

    Amtrak is seeking to receive the prototypes in 2017 and then a production run of 28 trainsets starting in 2018. CHSRA wants their prototypes in 2019. The timing of the Amtrak and CHSRA schedules indicate that their idea is that the Amtrak HSR trainsets (which I expect will be branded Acela IIs) will be built first, then the CHSRA trainsets.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The difference between the requirements for Amtrak and for CHSRA is insignificant. Unfortunately.

    If CHSRA had gotten *Full waivers* from the nonsense FRA rules, then the requirements difference would be substantial. But with the FRA rules the same for both, it’s just a difference in top revenue speed, which is frankly an insignificant difference.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    any day now anything running in the Northeast will have PTC. The M9s, Arrow IVs, Shoreliner V are going to be much different. So will Amfleet IIIs or whatever they decide to call them.

  6. synonymouse
    Apr 11th, 2014 at 11:00
    #6

    Why PBHSR via Mojave could never be profitable:

    http://news.kron4.com/news/bart-board-approves-3-7-percent-raises-for-top-executives/

    Incompetent management gets rewarded in the public owned and operated model. transit welfare

    Zorro Reply:

    I’d rather have that, then CorpoRATe Welfare and insane baggers getting elected to Congress…

    synonymouse Reply:

    VBobier?

    Zorro Reply:

    Who? I saw that somewhere, ok?

  7. Eric
    Apr 11th, 2014 at 14:11
    #7

    I’m hoping that Siemens will win the contract. They have a plant in Sacramento already building light rail vehicles and cars but have space to gear up for HSR. It would be a great boon for the sacramento economy.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Dig a hole, fill it. Jobs for the boys! Watch the cash disappear! Slosh on extra gasoline!

    If you’re hoping that anybody wins a contract for joint procurement with Amtrak (AMTRAK!) you’re delusional.

    If you’re hoping that CHSRA (not a train operator with any sort of clue) itself places an order for any sort of rolling stock, ever, you’re crazy.

    If you’re hoping that any train operator places an order for high speed equipment in California any time in the next decade or decade-and-a-half, you’re completely unclear on the concept.

    California cannot use any high speed trains at any time in the near future. Buying high speed trains is a clear-cut, unambiguous, total waste of money.

    How hard is this to understand?

    How, precisely, are any of these craptastic, built-in-America, Amtrak-tastic, shop-queen, super-priced jalopies going to be used any time before 2025?

    synonymouse Reply:

    static photo-ops in Pueblo.

    therealist Reply:

    better than in ca. !!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Jerry, if he is still with us, will put the mock-up on a semi and pimp it around the State.

    joe Reply:

    How hard is this to understand?

    It’s hard to understand why your argument doesn’t connect to the request and rational given in the waive.

    You don’t seem to have bothered to look at the waiver request. There’s the usual ranting – possibly generated with an editor macro.

    How, precisely, are any of these craptastic, built-in-America, Amtrak-tastic, shop-queen, super-priced jalopies going to be used any time before 2025?

    Well the the waiver request gives the timeline for starting Phase I HSR as 2022, so your eye-rolling date of 2025 is off by three years. BFD.

    Update the act. It’s as fresh as the Bob Hope Christmas special.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Richard’s core point is still accurate: there is no need to procure the locomotives until revenue service is scheduled to begin.

    However, we have to consign ourselves to the fact that a couple prototypes will be acquired ahead of revenue service as a a package deal to secure foreign investment from Japan, China, or the EU. If the FRA dumbs them down with safety and weight restrictions it could get ugly real quick.

    jonathan Reply:

    Locomotives? What is this crap about 19th-century technology? We’re talking about wasting money on HSR trainsets which will be ~20-year-old technology by the time CA has anywhere to run them. That’s *EMU trainsets*, not *locomotives*.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The expensive and lucrative part is the locomotive, obviously. 20 year old rail cars can be paired with much newer locomotives with minimal adjustments. The locomotive is what makes it possible to satisfy Prop 1a.

    jonathan Reply:

    Again: What is this crap about “locomotive”?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I didn’t know VOlkswagon built HSR trains….since I am pretty sure any other firm still puts the engine in first train car, not the last.

    jonathan Reply:

    Ted, which part of “Electric multiple unit’ (EMU) do you not understand?
    They *dont* *have* *locomotives*. Configurations with a power car at one end are technologicallhy obsolete. And as for “first car, not the last”: you do understand that modern HSR trainsets drive in both directions, don’t you?

    No wonder Richard M. goes ballistic about people who want a “choo choo”….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Push-pull_train

    Nathanael Reply:

    Ted, what the hell? You have to have the trainsets the day you start revenue service, which means you have to order them five or more years in advance.

    So yes, you have to procure the locomotives (order them) well before revenue service is scheduled to begin.

    wdobner Reply:

    Jonathan: EMUs are locomotives in the eyes of the FRA and that is unlikely to change any time in the near future. Chances are the CHSRA sets, and the Caltrain EMUs for that matter, will be subject to the same 90 day inspections that the LIRR, MNRR, NJT, SEPTA, and Metra fleets go through.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Actually, no: unpowered coaches need to be built to withstand high speeds as well.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Yes, but the coaches that can do 160mph will likely be compatible with those that can go 220mph….

    jonathan Reply:

    No. High-speed trainsets require what are effectively airtight connections between carriages.
    Even DB’s non-articulated ICE trainsets are effectively permanently coupled. These aren’t compatible with conventional rolling stock for in-service use: the end layouts are different.

    You ‘re just making stuff up as you go along, aren’t you?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s unclear if he means old trains and new trains on the same track, old cars coupled to new locomotives or old cars and new cars coupled together. All kinda academic until someone defines loading gauges and platform heights etc.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Oh for shit’s sake: are you telling me that there is ZERO interchangeability between various train set families from the same manufacturer? I am not talking about hitching up Surfliner and CalTrain coaches, I am talking about the coaches that would come with a train set today versus what came with the same set five years ago etc.

    The technological improvement comes from the propulsion, not from the fabric you use for the seats…if it’s really that finicky than Richard is right about being twenty years away from needing to buy rolling stock.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    are you telling me that there is ZERO interchangeability between various train set families from the same manufacturer?

    Be more specific about what you are proposing to do and the equipment you are proposing to do it with.

    jonathan Reply:

    I am not talking about hitching up Surfliner and CalTrain coaches, I am talking about the coaches that would come with a train set today versus what came with the same set five years ago etc.

    No, that’s not what you said. And please, for about the 4th time, modern HSR trainsets are *not* locomotive-driven; they’re EMU trainsets, with transfomers and power electronics distributed throughout the train.

    It *is* possible to take some older-technology HSR trainsets which are locomotive-hauled (aka “power cars”), and substitute one vendor’s “power cars” for another. EuroTrain did that in Taiwan: Siemens ICE-2 “power cars” and Alstom “coaches”. But that was a prototype demonstrator; they probably custom-rigged a “multiple unit” control between the driving cabs. But, no, you can’t really mix-and-match Alstom TGV coaches with ICE-1 or ICE-2 coaches. The Alstom coahes are articulated, for a start. And, while technically the ICE-1 and ICE-2 coaches are supposed to be interoperable, in practice DB never does that (as far as I know).

    And, yes, you really *don’t* want to mix-and-match half of a Velaro set with half of an AGV set.
    The power buses through the vehicles aren’t compatible. The control systems aren’t compatible.

    Yes, Richard is basically correct. I don’t buy his “+1000″ on buying used DMUs, though.

    jonathan Reply:

    Oh for shit’s sake: are you telling me that there is ZERO interchangeability between various train set families from the same manufacturer?

    Given the consolidation that’s taken place in the European market, with Bombardier, Siemens, and Alstom gobbling up almost all the smaller European players … In the “regional” market, even vehicles from the same manufacturer which are branded in the same “family” aren’t necessarily compatible: Coradia “LINT”, formerly LHB, vs Alstom in-house designs.

    Or look at how Talents can’t operate in MU with Desiro…..

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Well in that case:

    Richard +1000

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The manufacturers don’t even try going for interchangeability. It’s easier to maintain permanently coupled sets because each car in the set has the same maintenance history. EMU sets are the same (Shinkansen are permanently coupled). Even at low speeds, many operators permanently couple trains: NYC subway cars are permanently coupled into sets of 4 and 5 cars (a train consists of two such sets), Tokyo commuter rail EMUs are permanently coupled into sets of 10 cars, etc. S-Bahn systems permanently couple cars into shorter sets because they vary train length a lot based on time of day, but those 3- and 4-car sets are permanently coupled.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Richard +2000:

    No sense having HSR be electrified until it is absolutely certain you can use batteries or regenerative technology for part of the route.

  8. Ted Judah
    Apr 11th, 2014 at 18:11
    #8

    I am left to wonder how the Authority can get a waiver on this but Desert Xpress could not. I suspect this is posturing after the State was cornered about STB jurisdiction and the joint RFP with Amtrak. It wants a way to have the Chinese come in and offer train sets at a fraction of developed world prices with a commitment to contribute money for construction.

    It’s going to be California asking the White House how far it will go to get HSR off the ground before Obama leaves office. Not sure it will work, but at least it makes sense why they are making such a move.

    AlanF Reply:

    Desert Xpress I believe wanted a waiver on the entire HSR trainset fleet along with components of the track and power system. I don’t recall if DX actually filed a waiver request or tried to work around the Buy America requirements in the RRIF loan application.

    Anyone know what is going on with Desert Xpress these days? They have been quiet.

    joe Reply:

    “I am left to wonder how the Authority can get a waiver on this but Desert Xpress could not. ”

    CAHSR wants a waiver for two trains for testing and training. Also want to learn how they are built in the vendors established facility which will not be in the US.

    That’s why they want a waiver.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I don’t think that’s an accurate assessment, joe.

    Nippon Sharyo, Talgo, Siemens, Alstom, & Bombardier have US factories where these prototypes can be built even if it requires retrofitting. The manufacturer that can’t pull this off is the Chinese obviously.

    And the test track argument is questionable: the reason CHSRA needs to buy locomotives is that it sets the specifications for future orders and locks in technology transfers.

    joe Reply:

    Both desert express and CAHSAR claim their are not HSR manufacturing capabilities in the united states.

    The waiver discusses plans for observing and learning about the process for HSR manufacturing of the prototypes in an established facility that builds reliable HSR systems. Retrofitting a US facility here takes time, there are no skilled US staff to do the work and this defeats the ability to evaluate the design and quality while holding factors constant – al this is stated in the waiver.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Joe,

    I read the letter. I know what the Authority said. But it’s a weak argument because they wants deliveries in 2019, which is more than enough time to retrofit existing US facilities.

    joe Reply:

    That’s not the full explanation of why they want prototype product from a proven facility.

    In fact the precursor activities to building a US facility include training workers and transferring best practices and monitoring the practices and quality with the baselines from the overseas facility.

    So you read the letter and decided to ignore their argument.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Amtrak’s train sets are scheduled for delivery two years BEFORE CAHSR yet there is insufficient time to train staff and learn best practices between 2017 and 2019?

    joe Reply:

    The question indicates you still haven’t read the entire waiver.
    It’s explained in the waiver.

    How do you train staff and from where does the knowledge needed to oversee and evaluate product come? I bet the waiver explains how that’s to happen.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    joe…

    Do you get that Amtrak is going to procure, without suspending Buy American rules, a trainset for delivery in 2017?

    That manufacturer will have a factory which if the Authority orders rolling stock from would meet their order by 2019.

    So what this means is that CHSRA is NOT going to buy the same train sets as Amtrak for the NEC. Almost certainly that means a foreign off-the shelf trainset which will have no benefit until electrification is done but will lock in the specs for the future. That’s all this is…we buy an Alstom trainset, they help with building the track…we buy Chinese trains and they help with the construction etc….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Alstom has an American plant that spits out all sorts of things. They’d be able to wedge in two trains in between all the other stuff they produce.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    > They’d be able to wedge in two trains in between
    > all the other stuff they produce.

    That made my day. There is exactly one plant in the whole Alstom conglomerate who has the knowledge and is allowed to build the carbodies for TGVs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s only a few plants in the whole world that make car bodies.

    Nathanael Reply:

    This sort of waiver has been granted repeatedly — IIRC, SEPTA got a couple of prototype EMUs on its Silverliner Vs which were entirely built abroad, before the mass production started.

    By the way, setting up a production line to build something different is the time-consuming and expensive part. It is difficult and expensive to build a prototype on a production line which is producing something else — it wastes months of retooling. You do not do it.

    For a full order, the companies are happy to do the American retooling. For a prototype, no way.

    Nathanael Reply:

    From the waiver request:

    “Interviews with HSR trainset manufacturers have identified a 1-1/2 to 2 year time period to establish the required facilities to support a domestic high-speed trainset assembly capability.”

    Which is probably optimistic.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Its not as though they have a prototype production line laying around. Why would retooling in the US cost more than retooling in Japan, Germany or France?

    Joe Reply:

    Well, you have to get a supply chain spooled up and there’s no pool of trained manufacturing skill to hire. The manufacturing equipment is not domestic.

    Joe Reply:

    And of course the waiver explains they want the prototypes built in established facilited with experienced workers.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    None of these comments address my point to joe:

    If a prototype takes a long time to make even overseas, why seek the waiver if you will use the same manufacturer as Amtrak? If the prototype can be cranked out from anywhere, why seek the waiver if the firm has a domestic plant?

    The train sets are clearly leverage for foreign investment. If a $1 billion order yields $50 billion in money for construction, worthy trade off. If not, we get stuck with proprietary technology that May or may not satisfy Prop 1a.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    there’s no pool of trained manufacturing skill to hire.

    The usual suspects have manufacturing plants in the US with experienced staff.

    Joe Reply:

    You guys need to read the waiver.

    If you disagree with their arguments then fine. In not going to convince you otherwise.

    For example if you don’t think there’s much skill or training necessary to build a evaluation prototype of a complex system like a high-speed rail engine then fine.

    I’m okay with you thinking that that’s an off-the-shelf skill that we could readily plug in US workers. I don’t think that’s true. The waiver says it’s not true. You can believe otherwise. There’s no problem with you thinking its trivial and can done easier.

    Evaluating prototypes requires controlling for the variability introduced by workers and the manufacturing system. It’s an experimental design. That too is described in the waiver.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Ted, Adirondacker, plants are not interchangeable. Boeing can’t crank 747s out of plants that manufacture 737s, and Alstom can’t crank AGVs out of plants that manufacture subway trains.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why not? What’s the difference between building subway cars, commuter cars, conventional intercity cars and HSR cars?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    What’s the difference between building subway cars, commuter cars, conventional intercity cars and HSR cars?

    Other than different tooling, different materials, different systems, different subsystems, different quality control, different corporations, different suppliers, different production runs, …, why nothing.

    That’s why “factories” that “manufacture” plastic baskets for retail sale of strawberries are exactly the same “factories” than “manufacture” solid propellant stages for space vehicles. It’s all just “stuff” made out of “materials” involving “production” of a “design”, after all.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You are so full of shit your heart pumps piss. Bombardier, Alstom, Siemens, Kawasaki, Rotem etc. manage to cope with different tooling, different materials, different systems, different subsystems. different quality control – though plants in North America are ISO certified so I don’t know how much different the quality control will be, different corporations, different suppliers and different productions runs all over the world including their plants in the US.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Alstom has a ton of factories all over Europe. Only one builds Pendolini if I’m not mistaken. Only one (La Rochelle) builds TGVs. There are advantages to cranking out large numbers of one class of trains at one place. The corporate philosophy and such is the same across factories, but the specific details, such as tolerance standards and industrial processes, are different. For example, from pictures I’ve seen of Shinkansen fabrication, there’s a separate process for the train nose; this is of course irrelevant to low-speed EMU factories, especially ones that produce trains in which every car has more or less a separate nose.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Ted: There are no domestic plants with the sort of expertise needed for prototyping.

    Bluntly, the domestic passenger rail manufacturing plants in the US are “final assembly plants” — they can do “trained monkey” work of copying existing designs, but they can’t design anything. It’s sort of unfortunate, but that’s where we are right now. All the companies have US manufacturing plants, but all of the companies their “HQ” factories, the ones with the expertise to build and debug prototypes, elsewhere.

    This actually has caused a lot of problems with Amtrak’s order from CAF.

  9. Brian_FL
    Apr 11th, 2014 at 18:37
    #9

    Not to beat a dead horse but here is the FRA document that was received from the CHSRA back in February. This was posted back on the Mar 21 Blog here on Mar 25th.

    http://www.fra.dot.gov/Elib/Document/3588

    This letter more clearly spells out why the CHSRA (and Amtrak) is requesting the waiver. I just wish Robert Cruickshank would have spent more time to investigate the details as the FRA letter pretty much explains it all more clearly than the Fresno Bee article does. It also details a timeline of expected delivery and testing.

    Jerry Reply:

    Thank you Brian FL
    After reading the request document I have a dumb question. Why does the Amtrak NEC operate with three different voltage systems for their trains? (The CAHSR will have only one voltage system and will need a different train set design.)

    AlanF Reply:

    The NEC has 3 different voltage-frequency configuration because it is a corridor created from different railroads. The southern NEC from DC Union Station to NY Penn Station to New Rochelle NY was built by Penn Railroad. From New Rochelle to Boston was owned by the New York, New Haven, and Hartford Railroad. The Penn Railroad section was built at 25 Hz, 12 kV. The New Haven line which was electrified to New Haven was originally 25 Hz, 12.5 kV, but was converted to 60 Hz. The NEC from New Haven to Boston was not electrified until the late 1990s when it was built as modern constant tension catenary at 60 Hz, 25 kV.

    Converting the southern half of the NEC to 60 Hz was in the 1970s NEC Improvement Plans, but it was never done because it would be an expensive and challenging task. All the SEPTA regional rail lines are at 25 Hz, so the entire SEPTA regional rail system would realistically have to be converted as well. Then there are the NJ Transit electrified lines. The main difference for 25 Hz operation is bigger transformers, so Amtrak and CHSRA can have the same design and platform, but the NEC version would have different transformers. The CHSRA trainsets would only see modern 60 Hz, 25 kV power.

    The wikipedia entry on the Northeast Corridor explains its complicated history and infrastructure.

    Jerry Reply:

    Thank you Alan.
    I would assume that CalTrain will be using the modern 60 Hz, 25 kV power when they electrify their system.

    jonathan Reply:

    You could always check CHSRA’s Technical Memoranda, which spell this decision out very clearly.
    No assumptions need apply.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    These voltage/frequency changes have become much less of an issue with modern (3 phase AC driven) rolling stock. For sure, the transformer may be a compromise, but the power rating under lower voltage (12 to 15 kV) may be about 10% less than under 25 kV). Fact is that you nowadays almost have to pay more for a strict single AC voltage/frequency locomotive than for a dual voltage/frequency unit.

    However, more critical might be the effects of modern rolling stock on the signalling system (that’s why Communication-based signalling systems have their big appeal)…

    jonathan Reply:

    Max,

    I recall reading that the 16.7 Hz systems had a slight advantage over the 50 Hz (European grid frequency) systems, because of inductance of transformers. I’d have to go dig it up to be sure.

    Any savings on single-voltage Loks is purely an artifact of volume. It’s cheaper for the vendor to produce,and stock inventory for, a single series-oroduction unit. Excluding different pantos, single-voltage vs. multi-system is a component and software issue.

    The _real_ cost driver is installing all the different, legacy, non-ETCS signalling systems. That cost dwarfs multi-system vs. single-system costs; at least for Siemens products.

    Not that I’m a buyer; just an informed spectator.
    Hey, if you ever visit the Bay Area, do get in touch.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    jonathan,

    The advantages of the low frequency systems had (a good 100 years ago) something to do with the commutation (if I remember correctly). I too would have to look it up.

    Note that at that time, 3-phase installations running at 50 Hz existed (Marienfelde – Zossen, the first “high speed line”, where 200 km/h were reached in 1903, and some cog railroads (Brunnen – Morschach – Axenstein, Corcovado). The more famous cog railroads (Jungfraubahn and Gornergratbahn) were running on 40 Hz (reason: to be in synch for the maximum allowed speed downhills on 25% grades). Interestingly, the big 3-phase network in northern Italy ran at 16 2/3 Hz…

    Aside from motor-generator applications, it was only in the 1950s when 50 Hz installations started to come up. And then, of course, with the development of railroad-enabled rectifiers (beginning with mercury vapor tubes, and then solid state devices), the advantage of high voltage, higher frequency started to prevail. The advantages are, however, not that important to justify a conversion of the existing 16.7 Hz networks. And, as said, nowadays you can feed more or less anything into your locomotive, and it can deal with it.

    I fully agree with the cost of the legacy signalling systems, and not only that, they take a lot of space and weigh quite a bit.

    Actually, me too, I am not a buyer nor vendor, but just an informed spectator. I take you by the word when ever I make it to the Bay Area (well, get enough people together for a smart PDF workshop, and I will hop on the next plane…), and offer the same whenever you can make it to the Provence…

    jonathan Reply:

    Max,

    … it’s not that straightforward, but the details are probably beyond this forum

    yes, low-frequency Ac made the impedance issue much more (ahem) tractable, 90-odd years ago.
    (yes, before that there was the Siemens-Shuckert 1903 experimental/early 3-phase; it’s 4am here, I’ll dig out references tomorrow. Do you have more detail than Horst j. Obermayer’s Taschenbuch? I don’t think I have more data on that installation. I’d forgotten about the scheduled-service in northern Italy.

    I take some small issues with your chronology of mercury-vapo[u]r rectifiers.

    But the point I was originally making, is that the 16.7 kHz German/Swiss/other systems, currently (no pun intended) actually have a small advantage over the French/world-wide systems, when it comes to transformers to feed into rectifiers for a train-set/Lok DC bus of ~3 kV.
    Before that: yeah, SNCF BB 12000 vs. 13000 vs 14000 vs 14100, usw.

    Thank you for the offer. Growing up in New Zealand, I find the Bay Area rather ho-hum. I suspect you’d enjoy my Spur-1 collection more than the scenery, but maybe that’s my own bias speaking.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    On the other hand, higher frequency means slightly smaller transformers. The 50 Hz Pendolino weighs less than the 16.7 Hz one. On Metro-North, the M8 is so heavy that they could only give it a 60 Hz transformer rather than a 25 Hz one without being even more overweight, and therefore the train can’t run south of New York (whereas it can run under both 12 kV and 25 kV all the way from New York to Boston).

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Maybe put the M8 on a diet. And suddenly the multifrequence transformer fits…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They don’t need to run on 25Hz. There’s third rail anyplace they plan on running where the catenary is 25Hz. Not that they have enough M8s to do that regularly. Or that they could do that regularly until after East Side Access opens.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Rumor has it that SEPTA can run on 25Hz or 60Hz and if Amtrak decided to go to 60Hz it won’t be a problem. NJTransit does the same all day every day as does MARC. Metro North and SLE are already converted. The MBTA doesn’t have any electrics and anyplace they could run electrics is already 60Hz. Conversion wouldn’t be a problem.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s generally easier to raise frequency than to reduce it. So a 25 Hz car train be modified to run under 60 Hz, but the reverse is more difficult because of transformer size.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    None of the ones in service now need any modifications to do both.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I read through the gory details a while back. Supposedly NJ Transit’s oldest Arrow EMUs can’t change voltage (or was it frequency?) *on the fly* (although they can do so when standing still in the shop, with the flick of a switch) and so NJT doesn’t want conversion to happen until they retire them. Which is planned for “soon”.

    Further, part of the southern end of the NEC is supplied by a dedicated 25Hz hydroelectric turbine, which would need modifications.

    It would certainly simplify future NJT orders to convert to 60 Hz, because nearly all of NJT’s lines are 60Hz.

    Zorro Reply:

    Here’s a Quote of the text from that pdf file:

    The correct integration of trainset design and the execution of proven manufacturing and assembly processes mitigate risk and maximize the potential for properly functioning, safe trainsets to be delivered ready for commissioning and introduction into revenue service. The timely delivery of prototypes supports a robust testing process, which facilitates the early discovery of latent defects. The identification oftrainset performance matters, including potential safety issues realized during prototype testing, will allow designs to be modified prior to the start of serial production- thereby alleviating the need for postproduction changes and their respective impacts on cost and schedule. Though the Authority’s trainsets are to be as off-the-shelf as possible, the trainsets will be compliant with the new FRA Tier III rulemaking and FRA Buy America criteria, and will meet ADA requirements – attributes which necessitate modification of current service-proven designs. It is imperative that these modifications are correctly integrated into the overall trainset design. The verification and validation of the trainset design and assembly is critical at the prototype stage to ensure issues are found and corrected early. Performing this at an established HSR equipment manufacturer’s facility, which provides a service-proven high-speed trainset manufacturing and assembly environment and where experts in HSR trainset design, manufacture, assembly, and testing are resident, will significantly reduce the risk and will facilitate a seamless transfer of design and manufacturing technology to the U.S. for the manufacturing and assembly of the production trainsets. Allowing the prototypes to be assembled at such a facility will facilitate training of Authority and manufacturer resources abroad (during the prototype trainset assembly, inspection, and testing processes), and of operating and maintenance (“O&M”) personnel in the U.S. (post delivery). Authority resources responsible for performing oversight of the assembly and testing processes will be properly educated at this time, and resources responsible for O&M will be dispatched to interface with the appropriate specialists. In parallel, U.S. labor resources will also be dispatched to witness and participate in the proper assembly and testing of high-speed trainsets in advance of domestic final assembly occurring. Two prototype trainsets are required to support the Authority’s program. The Authority trainsets will consist of trainsets proven in overseas service that have been modified to meet FRA Tier III requirements and the Authority requirements. During assembly, the first prototype trainset will be used to verify proper design and component/system integration. Upon delivery, it will be used to support trainset testing, core system commissioning, trainset commissioning, and O&M training. The second prototype trainset will be used to validate the manufacturing/serial production processes and procedures that will ultimately be transferred to the U.S. facility. Upon delivery, the second prototype trainset will first be used to support the training of domestic manufacturing and assembly resources, and will be used to validate the layout and function of the U.S. assembly facility, and the Authority’s heavy maintenance facility (“HMF”). In addition, the second prototype trainset will provide guaranteed availability of equipment to continue testing when the first prototype is undergoing maintenance, modification, etc. Having two trainsets will guarantee that testing and training can be carried out at the same time. In addition, as failures/defects are identified during testing, having two trainsets available to evaluate performance will enable the Authority and the manufacturer to determine if a failure/defect in a trainset is “infant mortality” related to that specific trainset or a precursor to an endemic problem.

    Mr. Joseph C. Szabo
    RE: Request of the California High-Speed Rail Authority for a Buy America Waiver for the Domestic
    Assembly of Two Prototype High-Speed Rail Trainsets

    page 3
    The approach described will minimize risk of significant delay to the prototype testing stage and will
    facilitate timely completion of core systems and trainset testing and commissioning. Contracting for two
    prototypes permits an additional benefit where one trainset can be used as a demonstration unit in the
    U.S., while the other trainset is undergoing testing. This unit will be a fully validated trainset, and will be
    used to support the training of domestic manufacturing and assembly and O&M resources, and to garner
    public support for HSR as the lOS is being completed.

    Clem Reply:

    He could have said it with fewer words: leverage the synergy to promote technology insertion.

  10. Donk
    Apr 11th, 2014 at 21:08
    #10

    I hate these discussions about train sets. They are pointless. They should just buy a couple used DMUs from somewhere to drive around the 15 passengers they will have until the system connects to either LA or SJ/SF. There is no reason for CHSRA to even have discussions about train sets right now.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    +1000

    jonathan Reply:

    +1k on which part? Buying used DMUs, or CHSRA having no reason to even discuss buying train-sets?

    Going outside the ICS requires FRA-compliant rolling stock. “Used DMUs” which are FRA-complaint means… buying clapped-out Budd RDCs and re-building them. That’s a waste of money, too.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    -1000

    jonathan Reply:

    Nett: zero.

    Jon Reply:

    “Going outside the ICS requires FRA-compliant rolling stock.”

    By the time the ICS is built, there will probably be PTC on the BNSF and UP lines, and reformed FRA rules allowing “alternative compliant” DMUs to run to PTC lines. That would be the most sensible use of the ICS – Oakland/SJ/Sac to Bakersfield using DMUs. No point electrifying the ICS, buying high speed trains, and forcing a transfer at Merced just for the sake of running true high speed service for the last 100 miles.

    wdobner Reply:

    I’d argue for the inverse situation. If the FRA is going to allow alternative compliance then why not run the HSTs off the ICS? Specify an HST which can accept HEP from a coupled diesel locomotive and pull them off and on at Merced, Modesto, or wherever the HSL ends. Service from San Fran to Bakersfield in around 4 hours can begin as soon as the electrified ICS is completed and some trackage rights are secured over Altamont Pass.

    Getting to LA to provide a 5 to 6 hour one seat ride between the two anchor cities would require the completion of the southern mountain crossing over Tehachapi or Tejon to Palmdale or Sylmar, but that provides a marketable service between the two cities years before its currently contemplated. Further improvements, including the northern mountain crossing over Altamont or Pacheco, and the bookends would serve to reduce the travel time. But at least they’d have an operator in place and there’d be some demonstrated capability for the line to prove its ability to support itself. If private funds are going to be required it’s unlikely they’ll be particularly forthcoming until some sort of revenue is being generated by the line.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    wdobner: I don’t disagree with the concept, indeed a one seat ride will be the only way to persuade a large percentage of travelers to even consider rail. However, I think your journey time estimates are a bit optimistic. It seems to take anything up to 30 minutes to couple locomotives or cars to trains in the USA, especially once PTC is installed. In addition the existing routes from SF to Merced (via San Jose?) will bring the total time up closer to 5 hours to Bakersfield. As for the southern end, once again I have to remind one and all that Palmdale to L.A. is just not viable as a connection to HSR. The current route through Soledad Canyon (30 – 40mph) mostly single track does not have the speed or capacity. IF a High Speed route is planned then any money put into the existing line is a waste.
    I have written to the authority asking why they do not plan to loco haul the HS trains into LAUS from the proposed interim SFV station. I asked this of Dan Richard at the recent LA Rail Summit and he replied that the AQMD would not approve. Since the plan is to transfer passengers to diesel Metrolink trains this is clearly not the reason! Since Richard gave his response “on the hoof” I followed up with a written question to which I received the reply “we’ll take your comments under advisement”. I kid you not. I repeated the question in a follow up e-mail and have as yet to receive a response.
    Those of you that spend most of your time agonizing over the Peninsula, BART etc. and Altamont vs Pacheco need to start considering what is going on at the southern end of the line. While “blended” service over electrified Caltrain tracks has a certain logic to it there is no such equivalence with Metrolink and access to LAUS.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The requirement of forced transfers makes very, very fast travel times indeed on the new dedicated portions all that more crucial.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Those of you that spend most of your time agonizing over the Peninsula, BART etc. and Altamont vs Pacheco need to start considering what is going on at the southern end of the line.

    Some of us confine ourselves to talking and writing about only things about which we know something.
    Some of us.

    Those of you with information ought to be the ones making the observations and proposals.

    FYI In my limited-research and limited-field-trip opinion, the correct Tejon—Santa Clarita—Burbank—LAUS—Anaheim—Orange thing to do is run dedicated Metrolink on dedicated non-FRA electrified passenger-only non-Amtrak track, compatible with HSR and not sharing any track with freight (small possible exception in narrows around Anaheim.) LAUS should, obviously, be a single level station, with HS platforms shared with electrified Metrolink.

    As with the rest of any shared corridor state-wide, one should do exactly the opposite of what CHSRA=PBQD proposes, and grade separate freight and HS/passenger track together, rather than the clusterfuck they propose with HS up in the air on stilts somewhere with freight and commuter rail shitting all over the ground level and appalling pedestrian inaccessibility for everything.

    I simply don’t have any opinions about LAUS approaches and “river”-side parks and other local hot button issues.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The concrete version of the river is a historic landmark by now, immortalized in classic films like Terminator 2.

    I may or may not be trolling.

    Clem Reply:

    You should start a blog on these crucial issues. Us NorCal folk have already gone to the limits of our SoCal knowledge with analysis of the southern mountain crossing. The San Fernando valley needs a local expert to cover the details.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Your Southern California has no opinion on Tejon or Palmdale. He is too busy asking how much longer until the subway to the sea is done.

    When you get on your NorCal high horse, the LA transit person gets only more bewildered that you don’t think Bay Area transit isn’t the be all and end all of existence.

    wdobner Reply:

    Paul:

    However, I think your journey time estimates are a bit optimistic.

    That depends largely on the assumptions made as to the length of the ICS and, as you say, the time to change locomotives. With an ICS restricted to the Merced-Bakersfield segment and 30 minutes allotted to doing the locomotive swap at two points it starts out as a 6 hour SF-Bakersfield trip (60 min SF-SJ, 30 min to change at SJ, 93 minutes to Tracy, 90 minutes from Tracy to Merced, 30 minutes to change at Merced, 60 min Merced-Bakersfield). But if the ICS can be extended a few miles north to Modesto, Manteca, or even Tracy, and the diesel swap can be completed in 15 minutes, then you can rapidly get it down to around 4.5 hours (as above, but 15 min for swaps, 15 min Tracy-Manteca, and 75 min Manteca-Bakersfield). IMHO my numbers are pretty conservative.

    It seems to take anything up to 30 minutes to couple locomotives or cars to trains in the USA

    Amtrak may schedule trains for 30 minutes for an engine change, but that’s largely because they’re using it as a convenient mid-timetable schedule pad. I’ve seen them do an engine swap in less than ten minutes on a late train. With automatic couplers it’s easier, and rolling stock make-ups can be accomplished with just 10 minutes on the schedule and the actual coupling done in less than 5 minutes. But of course doing HEP jumpers requires a bit more than simply banging two scharfenberg couplers together.

    especially once PTC is installed.

    What does that have to do with anything? Most of the systems I know which rapidly make-up and split trains use cab signals and other PTC-ish systems. The E/R or operator simply calls for permission to cut out that system, be governed by a signal, and move to couple to the standing equipment. It’s not like Amtrak’s ACSES has proven to be an impediment to their engine swaps on the NEC.

    As for the southern end, once again I have to remind one and all that Palmdale to L.A. is just not viable as a connection to HSR. The current route through Soledad Canyon (30 – 40mph) mostly single track does not have the speed or capacity.

    Even with the 2 hour travel time for a local from Lancaster to LAUS that results in a 7 hour travel time if added to the more optimistic assessment for SF-Bakersfield travel above (with the ICS to Manteca, and 15 minute engine swaps). Using the 1 hr 37 minute express running time from Palmdale to LAUS yields a roughly 6 hour 30 minute travel time, a vast improvement on the 13 hour Train+Bus journey the San Joaquin creates, and very competitive with direct bus links between LA and SF.

    IF a High Speed route is planned then any money put into the existing line is a waste.

    I’d be surprised if they ran more than 6 to 10 trains per day between LAUS and SF with this arrangement. If worse came to worse, schedule the SF-LA and LA-SF trains such that the HST can be fleeted through single track segments a Metrolink train, or simply couple the HST to the Metrolink train.

    IF a High Speed route is planned then any money put into the existing line is a waste.

    IMHO that’s not necessarily true. If anything, improving the existing Antelope Valley route may strengthen the argument for the HSL to go via Tejon. Build the Palmdale spur from south of Bakersfield to Palmdale at this time, double track and straighten as much as possible the Antelope Valley Line, and much of the argument in favor of sending the main HSL route over Tehachapi (the ‘regional connectivity’ I’ve argued for) evaporates. We’d effectively get a large triangular junction, with Newhall Pass, Bakersfield, and Palmdale at the vertices.

    I have written to the authority asking why they do not plan to loco haul the HS trains into LAUS from the proposed interim SFV station. I asked this of Dan Richard at the recent LA Rail Summit and he replied that the AQMD would not approve. Since the plan is to transfer passengers to diesel Metrolink trains this is clearly not the reason!

    I’d suspect it’s a matter of those emissions now being someone elses’ problem once they ditch those passengers on Metrolink. It’s absolutely ridiculous to approach the problem in that manner, but it wouldn’t particularly surprise me. I’m reading EISes where most of the passengers are expected to transfer to reach their final destination, yet while there are pages upon pages regarding grade crossing gate dwell times, the impact on those systems to be transferred to is given a pittance. Those passengers become someone elses’ problem once they cross the door threshold.

    Those of you that spend most of your time agonizing over the Peninsula, BART etc. and Altamont vs Pacheco need to start considering what is going on at the southern end of the line.

    Some of that is undoubtedly due to how tiny and seemingly inconsequential the segment from Sylmar to LAUS actually is. It’s just 20 or so miles, around the same distance from San Francisco to Redwood City. The very prospect that things are so idiotically backward that we cannot manage to simply provide a double track electrified route for less than a tenth the route length over existing rails and use some form of alternative compliance to get from Sylmar to LAUS makes every other problem facing the southern end of the line look impossibly intractable. If the only solution the CHSRA and potential freight hosts can come up with is “CHSRA digs a 4 to 5 track Alameda Corridor style trench” before direct service to LAUS can begin, then that’s such a sad commentary on the state of affairs I’d just as soon avoid contemplating it. OTOH, Northern California is in a position to integrate well with the HSRA years before anything in the south can be attempted, so it’s necessarily going to be commented on a great deal more.

    While “blended” service over electrified Caltrain tracks has a certain logic to it there is no such equivalence with Metrolink and access to LAUS.

    That’s at least in part because Metrolink is not master of their own house. Caltrain has the advantage that they own their own railroad, while Metrolink is UP’s tenant on the Antelope Valley and Ventura County lines. As UP is at best intransigent, and at worst hostile to the CHSRA, Southern California’s integration into the HSL becomes far more difficult. Northern California has been able to cooperate with the CHSRA and are potentially going to reap the rewards of that fairly early in the process (assuming they figure out how to write a better schedule). Southern California is stuck with the freight railroads calling the shots and may have to wait for the CHSRA to build their own grade separated route into the city if they’re unable to do something like making an engine swap.

    IMHO the advantage of the engine swap approach is not that it’s particularly fast. As you stated and I showed, it may not be. But it gets the trains on the HSL being utilized as HSTs connecting to an anchor city at an earlier point. They’d be unlikely to generate an operating surplus at that point, but it gets people using the system as it will be utilized after the full build out of Phase 1, for at least part of the ride.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    wdobner: You made a lot of sense and seemed to know something about the topic, until you stated that “Metrolink is UP’s tenant on the Antelope Valley and Ventura County lines”. You really need to inform yourself about the facts of RoW ownership which are critical to this discussion. Briefly:
    LACMTA owns the Antelope Valley line from the junction of the Colton cutoff south (timetable east) of Palmdale to LAUS. UP has trackage rights over that line.
    The RoW from Burbank Junction to the LA County line on the Ventura route is split. The north 60ft is owned by UP, the south 40 ft is owned by LACMTA.
    While UP has to be accommodated on the AV line there are some complications for electrification, but it could be handled by leaving a single freight track without wires. But otherwise LACMTA calls the shots and as one of the member agencies of SCRRA you would think that they would be able to come up with a solution that permits a one seat ride into LAUS. That the CHSRA business plan calls for an interim terminus in the San Fernando Valley is significant, and I have yet to flush out the underlying reason for it.
    As for your other comments, I appreciate your analysis and I hope you are right. So far, from what I have been told by operations managers here, it takes about 30 minutes to reverse an arriving train at a terminal with PTC and they think it would be similar with an engine swap. Why the loco could not be pre-programmed with its new route before the arrival of the train it is to haul is not clear, and it is a difficulty which should be overcome before operation begins.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    And incidentally, your description of a journey from SF surely makes the case for linking San Jose to the new construction at Merced or Fresno before building south from Bakersfield. I believe you could make a better commercial case for SF to Bako with bus distribution from there than Merced to the San Fernando Valley mystery terminus.

    Joey Reply:

    Do you have a source on split ownership of the Ventura County Line? Everything I’ve seen said that Metro owns the whole ROW as far as Moorpark.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Joey: Only the track charts that the City of Burbank has. It’s not on the Metro website. Burbank Airport is in negotiation with UPRR to purchase the RoW strip alongside Empire Avenue which provides parking for the Airport station.
    When SP sold the lines to L.A. County back in ’93/’94 the thought was that Gemco yard and almost all the freight customers were on the north side of the tracks and somehow needed protecting. Why that could not have been done with a simple trackage rights agreement I have no idea but as you can imagine it’s yet another impediment to improving passenger facilities.
    Here’s your reference, LOSSAN North 2007 strategic plan page 28 3.1 Corridor Ownership

    wdobner Reply:

    Ah, thank you, I guess I did fall behind in what was happening with the Antelope Valley line. When was it that the LACMTA acquired the Antelope Valley Line? And now that I know that is the case I really don’t see why they’re not planning to electrify from Sylmar to LAUS to provide the IOS from Sylmar to Merced with a direct link to downtown LA.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    SP sold the AV line along with the rest of the portfolio in 1992/3. After the traffic surge caused by the Northridge earthquake almost nothing has been done to upgrade the line. IMHO SCRRA/Metrolink is a condemnation of the JPA system. The counties fund minor improvements within their own territories but there is little regional vision. And of course LACMTA has to build the subway to the sea and many other local transit and highway projects. Not surprising that inter-county services fall by the wayside.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Thanks wdobner and Paul Dyson. It is interesting to imagine what rail services may exist after this first phase of construction — and then what might best be done with ~$8B+ of securitized cap and trade revenue.

    Assume we have a new, grade-separated, wide-radius, non-electrified track from Bakersfield toward Merced. At a minimum I’d expect ~1 hour savings on the San Joaquin, from ~3 to ~2 hours by top speeds of 110+ mph and by (forced) skipping of Wasco and Corcoran.

    That reduces BKRSF to ~5:30 assuming a 15 minute transfer in Richmond and 35 minute BART ride to Embarcadero. Or if going to SJ, 90 minutes via ACE to Stockton and ~4:15 via San Joaquins to BKR, plus ~15 mins if a timed transfer (total 6 hrs) or 5:45 if a new ‘unified norcal service’ can run through to BKR. San Joaquins SACBKR could save an hour to 4:15.

    All this is good, not huge, but it will win increased market share from driving (and waning air options). Now if we imagine we find $8B or more. Assuming we leverage some commercial funds, there are modest new Federal appropriations in the next 5 years, or other state funds are identified, maybe we can imagine what we would do with $15B+.

    I guess we’d come back to crossing the mountains to LA. Clem, Syn and others will remind us that a Tejon crossing may be more achievable with this budget. If a Vegas train is funded we may end up building HSR track to Palmdale with a somewhat upgraded route to Sylmar.

    Or?

    jonathan Reply:

    *Locomotives*? *Swap* *locomotices*? Head-end power?

    You guys really should limit yourselves to discussing things within your domain of knowledge.
    Modern HSR trainsets *do* *not* *have* locomotives. There is nothing to “swap”. The trainset is a semi-permanently coupled unit, with pantographs, transformers, inverters, and traction distributed throughout the train. Future trainsets will be even more modular, with a single (non-double-deck) passenger car as a self-contained motorized unit, with its own transformer, inverters, and traction.

    I don’t even know if you *can* supply what Richard M. calls “Ye Olde Tyme Railroad” head-end power to such a trainset.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Jonathan: But as Richard M. also said, don’t buy ‘Modern HSR trainsets’ before you need them. That certainly is not before there’s a mountain crossing to LA and perhaps not even then. So in the meantime the San Joaquins will be an hour faster and ACE may get extended, while people put together the funding for a mtn crossing. Right?

    wdobner Reply:

    Thank you Paul. I was in Santa Clarita at the time Metrolink was inaugurated and dealt with Northridge, but was unaware that LACMTA had purchased the line from SP.

    Neil, I’m not quite sure I get the point of spending the money on non high speed, non-electrified tracks at this point. The tracks aren’t going to be significantly cheaper, so we may as well build for 220mph, and use them at that speed at the earliest opportunity.

    Jonathan, I don’t know if you’re being obtuse on purpose, but you can rest assured that when I mentioned locomotive swaps I was referring to locomotives being coupled to the power car or cab car of an HST. France coupled diesels to TGVs and hauled them off the LGV to reach destinations beyond the LGV Atlantique at the time service began on its initial iteration. California clearly should consider doing the same with the ICS. Any attempt to fully utilize the HSTs and the ICS after their purchase and construction will require some operation beyond where the wires will reach at that time. That will require purchasing HSTs capable of receiving 480 volt 3 phase AC power for the lighting, HVAC, and ancillary loads from a coupled locomotive, but that’s hardly an insuperable barrier in purchasing HSTs for the CHSRA.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    That’s at least in part because Metrolink is not master of their own house. Caltrain has the advantage that they own their own railroad, while Metrolink is UP’s tenant on the Antelope Valley and Ventura County lines.

    An interesting theory, but in practice Caltrain chooses to put UPRR, the mightly Port of San Francisco, the mighty Port of Redwood City, and any tiny lumber yard anywhere along the line ahead of all passengers. And of course it puts its staff and contractors ahead of everybody, always.

    Having freight around to drive up capital spending, immensely, is what it is all about at Caltrain. CBOSS is immensely profitable! CBOSS plus freight ITCS “ionteroperability” is double profitable, with scope for years of “debugging” and “testing”. Doing all of the Caltrain platforms the entire length of the line over two or three times, minimum, at two or three different heights is profitable. AREMA dino-rail “interoperability” design and “extensive testing” is profitable. Non-UIC is profitable! One-of-a-kind local “standards” are profitable! Doing grade separation projects over is profitable! Doing things wrong the first three times and doing them slightly less wrong the fourth or fifth time is hugely profitable.

    And the great part is that they are forced to be profitable, because the mean ol’ Port of Redwood City leaves them no alternative! “Only please, Brer Fox, please don’t throw me into the briar patch!”

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Using the 1 hr 37 minute express running time from Palmdale to LAUS yields a roughly 6 hour 30 minute travel time, a vast improvement on the 13 hour Train+Bus journey the San Joaquin creates, and very competitive with direct bus links between LA and SF.

    No, not in reality. Two transfers, and certainly triple the cost. (Amtrak is already double or more the cost of Megabus; there’s no way that this CHSRA joyride in what are guaranteed to be the world’s very most expensive trains can possibly be anything but much more expensive.)

    This is only an “improvement” on a trip that only a crazy foamer or a confused tourist would choose to take. But not an attractive improvement on something that in fact exists right here right now today, running right along I-5.

    Fundamentally, until the LA Basin and SF Bay approaches are done (via Tejon and Altamont), there’s no there there for CHSR. Any claim to the contrary is at best wishful thinking, and in practice shilling for the bottom line of the agency contractors.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    I omitted another ~$6B in Prop. 1a funds, assuming the courts don’t stand in the way. So now we can imagine perhaps up to $20B which could build HSR track over the mountains from BKR to Sylmar/Burbank. Now we have the IOS. (You could structure something that builds most of it and getting the last several $B as the operator contract is signed.)

    Then you’d think about raising funds beyond this 2nd phase. Here you could make a good argument for investing $1B in and ACE and/or San Joaquin route before finding $15B+ to build from the Wye to San Jose. You could also imagine spending ~$3B to extend HSR track toward Sac (even though it was technically listed as a “phase 2″ destination in the now long moot Prop 1a). By the same token, funding Pacheco may end up being part of a bargain between No. and So. Calif, with similar large investment building track to Ontario/San Bernardino and/or San Diego.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Neil: That’s a lot of imagining of money. Depending on actual funds available my preferences woulf be 1. Direct to L.A., 2. Direct to San Jose, 3. to L.A. via Palmdale. Worst case scenario is to have money only to Palmdale, that would be a commercial disaster. You have to get to SF or LA asap and start making some money.
    Please don’t buy into this IOS crap, it’s a money loser. CHSRA is “hoping” that LA will fund LAUS to Burbank as a separate deal, pretending that the HSR project is $68B, not $100B.

    joe Reply:

    Money only to Palmdale could draw federal support for the LAS NV project that Reid is hell bent on securing FRA loans. *

    In fact I am pretty sure that’s the plan.* Joe Biden’s no fool. He lets things slip on TV and he misspoke about CAHSR to LAS. That’s probably because Reid’s and the CA Senators have those common political interests and lobby the Admininstration and Joe Biden would have the cycles and interest to carry this issue.

    Now TX might also want FRA loan waivers for US content for HSR train sets.

    * I am not endorsing the idea as mine so don’t go postal on me.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Paul: I meant it as a hypothetical and your answers make sense. I’m guessing you’d like to fund San Jose first to give more time for folks in SoCal to switch their thinking to Tejon?

    I’m guessing Wye to SJ will cost ~$15B which is too much to fund when we still don’t have a mtn crossing to LA, and when we can use existing slower tracks to Oakland and SJ now. Especially if ~$2B matched locally could shave several more minutes off either or both of these routes.

    So I do think the next project for the CHR project has to be the crossing into LA. You’ve even said it should be the top priority. A Palmdale routing is not armageddon. $20B would build it through to Sylmar I believe. The Vegas forces are powerful here (Syn knows that Sheldon Adelson is the real reason we can never consider Tejon.)

    If you want to move from diesel locomotives you then need to plan for a 3rd tranch to include electrification, rolling stock, and probably _some_ investment in track in NorCal.

    At this point you will have HSR trains from Merced to Vegas with a station in Sylmar.

    Extending “the last miles” into LA and to SF are going to be very expensive and political, but politically you can now project this system getting finished, no doubt more slowly and expensively than we would want.

    From here I think building north toward Sac might prove to be one of the faster, more economical way to get HSR trains closer to more people. (Of course 1a rules become moot after that money is spent.) Do we then get a Livermore BART transfer station?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    While “blended” service over electrified Caltrain tracks has a certain logic to it there is no such equivalence with Metrolink and access to LAUS.

    What on earth makes you think that?

    I’m assuming (assuming!) your assumption is that Metrolink continues to operate dino-trains separately and unequally, within spitting distance of, but isolated from, the shiny new segregated HSR-only tracks that soar and and burrow beneath it’s wheezy old diesely chug-chugging freight-blended tracks.

    Why assume that?

    Why not assume that freight does whatever it does, while passenger rail, through the magic of timetables and high performing rolling stock and carefully and strategically planned infrastructure investments run on the passenger tracks, serving the passenger stations, regardless of how pointy-nosed the train might be? Why condemn Metrolink to crap level of service forever, looking up at but never allowed to make use of zoomy tracks and shiny stations?

    “Blending” over the last 20 miles is, in fact, the only thing that makes practical sense in the urban approaches to both LA and SF. It’s blending with freight and blending with FRA and, worst of all, blending with crappy olde tyme “commuter rail” that makes no sense.

    Stop boxing Metrolink — or at least an Orange–Anaheim–LAUS–Burbank–Santa Clarita piece of Metrolink — into the unnecessary and unhelpful ghetto of “olde tyme commuter railroading, never ever to be improved” and “blending” makes perfect sense. It’s how pretty much everybody else in the world does it, after all.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s worth noting that the CHSRA’s agreement with UP mandates a non-electrified, non HST track between Palmdale and LAUS. Not that there isn’t room for 3 (or more) tracks for most of the route between Sylmar and LA.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    True, but it’s an MoU, not exactly written in blood. As noted above, leave one track without wires and an electrified double track for HS and modern commuter.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Richard M: Calm down. My apologies for lack of clarity. Should have stated: “Metrolink, as it is today and as it is planned for the foreseeable future…..”. Absolutely yes it should be blended but there is no plan to do that thus far, only sticking the blended label on it and carrying on business as usual. I am doing my best to change the thinking at SCRRA but it is a totally orphan agency; its members don’t give a damn about it and leave it on a starvation diet. No plans for electrification, finally getting round to double track at Van Nuys and Raymer to Bernson, still single track Brighton to Sylmar and most of the I-10 corridor. But celebrating extending the service to Perris!!!! Hard to make this stuff up…. At least I’ve managed to get a few of you thinking about life south of Gorman.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Paul,

    Caltrain is exactly as forward-thinking as Metrolink.

    It’s all America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

    Caltrain is (or claims it is, as it has for the last 30 years) electrifying, but not in order to improve service. It’s just a capital spend, with massive agency “overheads” that come along with it. Same as any other capital spend.

    No plans for any service improvements, ever. “Blending” in Caltrain-speak means “operate exactly as we to today, forever [but with wires on top].” Blending the past with the present, tomorrow!

    It would be wonderful if the grass were in fact greener.

    Best of luck.

    joe Reply:

    No plans for any service improvements, ever.

    Oops.

    Caltrain’s FAQ and Draft EIR states they have not released schedules showing the benefits of electrification.

    As Paul suggests, calm down.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    The benefits are so unbelievably awesome, that Caltrain must keep them secret. Because prematurely releasing top-secret info would cause panic.

    joe Reply:

    They keep them unpublished because the hotheades and Electrification opposition (Menlo Park for example) would misrepresent any changes as de facto schedules to screw up the project.

    You do know that Richard Mylnarik’s feeling have been hurt and it’s all about screwing Caltrain.

    Why He flys off the handle at the VTA when he misreads a BART schedule and accuses there VTA of lying to the public about the BART extension.

    I’ve had enough experiences with the public/students to know it’s a bad idea to add a draft schedule in an EIR.

  11. morris brown
    Apr 11th, 2014 at 21:49
    #11

    The AG has filed its reply brief in the Tos et al case before the appeals court today (4-11-2014)

    The attempt to have Judge Kenny’s rulings overturned is now fully briefed. Those interested can view this reply to the opposition brief at:

    http://www.scribd.com/doc/217762039/Reply-to-Prelim-Opp-appeals-court-C076042

    With this statement from the brief:

    The Legislature and the voters have given the Authority discretion to
    decide how to implement the requirements of the Bond Act.

    the AG is claiming here the Authority gets to decide what Prop 1A mandates and nobody, certainly not the courts, not the public has any right to tell the Authority what they can and can not do. Amazing!!!

    joe Reply:

    That’s a misrepresentation Morris.

    The AG writes:

    The Authority’s exercise of that power may only be reviewed for abuse of discretion based on the administrative record.

    Clearly the courts have a role but not the one you want — to micromanage the project.

    The public does NOT have any right to tell the Authority what they can and can not do. The Authority was given quasi-legislative power to direct the development and implementation of the high-speed-rail system.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Your version of carte blanche does not appear in Prop 1a. TehaVegaSkyRail with large and ongoing subsidies and government operation will have to be specifically authorized in new legislation approved by the electorate.

    joe Reply:

    The State AG is explaining case law for the legal team of Laurel & Hardy.
    It’s not in the Prop 1a Song Book.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So for prop 8 and homosexual marriage the courts can step in (rightfully) when the public and legislature are opposed.

    But when it comes to prop1a the CAHSR authority has complete unfettered authority?

    Tell me joe what legal principle allows this because I was under the impression that judicial review was available for all laws, not just the ones you dislike.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The public and the legislature aren’t opposed to same sex marriage.

    joe Reply:

    Right.

    Furthermore, there is no claim that Prop1a is unconstitutional. No claim that Prop1a or the CAHSRA taking a way a civil right or discriminating against a class of individual.

    Unhappy citizens want to sue to delay and kill the HSR Project. The intention is to misuse the courts and laws against wasteful spending to argue HOW the Authority complies with the law.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s violates the right of rich straight old white guys to try to convince themselves that it’s still what they think 1955 was like.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    A failure to follow any law, not just the constitution, is subject to judicial review. And Citizens have the right to sue and see laws enforced even if it does not regard human rights

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Prop 8 passed a public vote.

    The legislature still has not changed the law to allow for marriage ( the court just ruled they had to allow it)

    So yes, the public and legislature both opposed it

    joe Reply:

    When a law is struck down by the court and appeal are over, it’s no longer law.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Which has nothing to do with the original statement that the public and the legislature both opposed gay marriage.

    I remember the vote. No one thought it would pass in CA but the black vote put it over the edge. It was a whole kurfuffle.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/06/AR2008110603880.html

    joe Reply:

    But when it comes to prop1a the CAHSR authority has complete unfettered authority?

    Tell me joe what legal principle allows this because I was under the impression that judicial review was available for all laws, not just the ones you dislike.

    You need to quote – I dislike you making up strawmen and arguing with me about your made up nonsense. So quote me – no paraphrase or silly examples.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Every time you don’t want to actually respond you accuse me of making a strawman or a silly example.

    Your quote was that the public does NOT have a right to tell the authority what they can and can not do, That was the direct quote.

    The direct evidence contradicts that, Tos is a private citizen. He was granted standing to sue. His case resulted in the court telling the authority not to use the bond funds (despite the authority to issue them remaining). So just based on the facts already in evidence, you are wrong

    That’s not a straw man, that’s not a silly example, that’s the facts

    I am actually happy the State’s argument boils down to “courts can’t stop us”. Courts, even liberal courts, take a dim view of that argument. Other than foreign policy at the federal level there is very little that has not been subject to judicial review. Certainly if the state and it’s agent are not following the law they are subject to court review. This is a serious breech of the law, not some day to day micromanagement issue.

    joe Reply:

    But when it comes to prop1a the CAHSR authority has complete unfettered authority?

    I never wrote that statement.

    In fact I posted from the legal brief and commented the courts have a role.

    The Authority’s exercise of that power may only be reviewed for abuse of discretion based on the administrative record.

    Clearly the courts have a role but not the one you want — to micromanage the project.

    Easy and viola.

    And the ruling and Tos standing is being appealed so it’s not evidence- the appeal by the AG is evidence the issue is not settled.

    Section 526a does not allow the judiciary to exercise a veto over the legislative branch of government merely because the judge may believe he expenditures are unwise, that the results are not worth the expenditure, or that the underlying theory of the Legislature involves bad judgment. [...] The wisdom of the Legislature’s decision to allow federal grant funds to be used to construct a portion of the high-speed rail system is a political and legislative one, not subject to judicial review.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    The ruling has not been overturned or stayed. The ruling is the current state of law.

    And way to avoid what I actually wrote. You stated the public has no right. I quoted you and gave an argument why you were wrong, and you as usual ignored it.

    At least you didn’t accuse me of making a straw man again.

    You are wrong about the publics rights…admit it

    jonathan Reply:

    Joe,

    The AG lost that appeal. The parties get to try the Sec 526a claims before Judge Kenny.

    How are you going to explain *that* away?

    joe Reply:

    They failed. It was a good try and smart tactic.

    The AG can appeal to the supreme court. “Laurel” thinks the AG will. I’m not sure it’s a good use of time.

    In general, Courts error on the side of the plaintiffs right to be heard. In fact Kenny made that comment in his ruling to hold trial.

    As you know, because you pay attention, Kenny’s not ruled on the likelihood or even possibility that Tos can prove their claims nor on the admissible evidence or ripeness of claims – he wants to decide at trial. The Appeal also ha snot ruled against any of the AG’s arguments besides not needed to go to trial at this time.

    The AG has cleverly used their appeal to establish arguments and case law against the use of extra record evidence and ripeness of claims. Kenney’s going to know what was argued and he’s going to be prepared to hear case law and work to have a ruling that will appealed.

    Judge Kenney is going to be very cautious given he knows the State is fully behind the CAHSRA.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “Judge Kenney is going to be very cautious given he knows the State is fully behind the CAHSRA.”

    By State you mean of course the Brown-Pelosi patronage machine, PB-Tutor, Amalgamated and the construction unions, Tejon Ranch Co.

    Ergo a sliver minority, an arrogant entrenched entitled corrupt power elite. Basically establishment cartel.

    Who knows if he even wanted this case; certainly no matter how he rules all sorts will be unhappy. Even an establishment mainliner like Quentin Kopp recognizes PBHSR is a far cry from Prop 1a HSR. The upshot of this squalid affair is enabling legislation is not worth the paper it is written on. As for me I was a yellow dog democrat for 40 years but now I vote strictly no on any infrastructure bullshit. Rizzo and Yee are pikers by comparison to Brown and cabal. Phoney eco’s transmogrified into developer shills.

    joe Reply:

    and

    Section 526a does not allow the judiciary to exercise a veto over the legislative branch of government merely because the judge may believe he expenditures are unwise, that the results are not worth the expenditure, or that the underlying theory of the Legislature involves bad judgment. [...] The wisdom of the Legislature’s decision to allow federal grant funds to be used to construct a portion of the high-speed rail system is a political and legislative one, not subject to judicial review.

    If Real Parties [Tos et al] were correct, then Section 526a would be an open invitation to avoid the boundaries of mandamus review. Under Real Parties’ logic, any agency action could be labeled a waste of public funds, since even a small expenditure or threatened expenditure of public funds suffices to provide section 526a standing. […] All administrative agency decisions would then be subject to challenge in trial complete with percipient and expert witnesses. [to allow action for waste alleged mistake of public officials in matters involving exercise of discretion “would invite constant harassment…by disgruntled citizens.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    That is the State’s argument. The argument that Judge Kenny rejected.

    joe Reply:

    The argument the Supreme Court requested the Appellate Court consider.
    The argument the Appellate Court agreed to expedite and hear.
    The argument the Attorney General made on behalf of the public and legislature.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    PS. The ruling did not prevent use of the federal funds, hence the reason the project continues for the moment. So the argument is moot and hopefully the court will once again confirm that,

    The ruling is very simple, they can’t spend the prop1a money until they meet the terms of the law. Kenny didn’t stop them from spending the fed money

    joe Reply:

    They argue there is no injury because Petitioners have not been enjoined from spending federal grant funds (or any other funds). This argument, however, fails to grapple with the practical consequences of the superior court’s erroneous ruling. Specifically, Real Parties fail to address the shortness of time. It is due to the Tos litigation that the Authority cannot access Proposition 1A, the safe and reliable high speed rail train bond act for the 21st century) Real parties do not contest this fact. As a result, there are no funds committed to meet the State’s matching obligations under the federal grant agreement. If the state cannot meet its matching obligation, it could lose the federal grants funds not spent….

    Real parties distort the record when they assert that “Petitioners have themselves stated that they will continue to spend those grants funds and expect to fully expend them prior to 207, regardless of the continued trial court proceedings in this case…..

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    So lying then

    Hedlund and California High Speed Rail Authority’s board chairman, Dan Richard, told lawmakers that there was no reason to stop federal payments to the project in spite of the setbacks.

    “We are going to be building high-speed rail in California,” Richard said. “We believe we have the funds in hand.”

    http://www.mcclatchydc.com/2014/01/15/214651/despite-legal-setbacks-officials.html

    Or lying now

    joe Reply:

    “Real parties distort the record” and you did too.

    The brief continues and explains the common sense situation. I’m not going to type the entire brief into the comments field. Call them liars and be proud of it.

    When I feel like it, I may type the rest of the brief.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    They should really pick a narrative.

    In public they claim “all is calm, carry on”

    In the filing they claim the federal funds are at such urgent risk that the court has to superceed regular procedure and rule now.

    I have no respect for people who lie. They are specifically trying to make it appear to the public that there is no issue to keep the political costs low while claiming urgent disaster to win the court case

    Joe Reply:

    Sure.
    Well they don’t have your respect.

    The most recent legal brief calls your phraphrased criticism a distortion and lays out the facts to the appellate court.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    They can call it a distortion or whatever they like.

    The truth is the Tos case hurt them. Without access to those bond funds they don’t have a plan B. Even with the funds they need the legislature to pony up the 10-15 billon more they need for the IOS. Without those funds the legislature is not going to give them that. Even with those funs it’s a tough sell.

    In short, the court filing is true, and what they have been saying in the papers is just PR to keep the legislature from breaking ranks. The filing makes an excellent case on why the funds are critical, what it lacks is the logic behind why the authority does not have to follow the law. It basically boils down to “the plan is not done yet, trust us we will make it work somehow, they can’t sue us until we actually break the law.”

    We will see if the appeals court is more accepting than Jidge Kenny

    joe Reply:

    “In short, the court filing is true, and what they have been saying in the papers is just PR to keep the legislature from breaking ranks”

    What have they been saying in the press?
    1. No contracts were invalidated.
    2. Work was not halted (not injunction)
    2. The appropriation is legal.
    3. They can continue to build the project with federal funds.

    The legal filing explains why time is important and consequences of letting the appeal run thought the courts. It explains the long term consequences which Laurel and Hardy misrepresented as inconsequential running into 2017.

    The legal filing explains:
    o Delaying the project with this trial and appeals process is a de facto ruling to stop the project and undermines the voters, legislature and costs the star billions in funds.

    o why 526a does not provide standing to hold trial and introduce new evidence

    o why the issues in this new lawsuit are 1) already litigated and ruled on in the lawsuit under appeal or not ripe (that is they are litigating issues which are not yet decided and therefore cannot be litigated).

    o why the petitioners (state) does not have to hold trial to show issues are not ripe.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I showed you the direct quote above

    Hedlund and California High Speed Rail Authority’s board chairman, Dan Richard, told lawmakers that there was no reason to stop federal payments to the project in spite of the setbacks.

    “We are going to be building high-speed rail in California,” Richard said. “We believe we have the funds in hand.”

    Unless the term “funds in hand” mean something different to you. To me it means they have the money to match, which is in direct contradiction to the filing

  12. Robert S. Allen
    Apr 11th, 2014 at 22:44
    #12

    I asked CHSRA yesterday to defer Peninsula service and truncate HSR for now at San Jose, with transfers there to Calttrain, Capitol Corridor, and the planned Silicon Valley BART.

    Grade crossings are hazardous at 79 mph (witness Bourbannais Train Accident), and much worse at higher speeds (110-125 mph+?). Unless Caltrain were completely grade separated, HSR there would be highly vulnerable to accidents, sabotage, and significant train delays; it would not be the “Safe, Reliable” HSR of 2008 Prop 1A.

    CHSRA should stop squandering HSR money on Caltrain for “Blended Rail” that HSR cannot safely use.

    jonathan Reply:

    Mr. Allen, take your propaganda, and your explicit desires to “annex” the Peninsula, and stuff them.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Mr. Allen, the schtick is annoyingly repetitive. Why don’t you start with an acknowledgement/apology about the non-standard BART design choices that make it so inflexible and expensive to maintain?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yes, indeed, “an acknowledgement/apology about the non-standard BART design choices that make it so inflexible and expensive to maintain” is decades overdue. But don’t hold your breath, BART’s idea of innovation and modernization is plug doors instead of dumping signature-Bechtel aluminum sandwich wheels and cylindrical contour in favor of solid steel wheels and conical contour. Legendary hubris.

    But how about an apology from Mssrs. Richards and Zoeller for the exorbitant and pathetically misconceived Tehachapi Detour which equals Indian Broad Gauge in irresponsibility and betrayal of the public trust? At least BART at the time had the excuse the SP was way too powerful to stop with its two Bechtels as moles and assets.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Syn – we agree about BART. About Tehachapi/Palmdale I’d suggest you bide your time. We’ve all heard it from you like a billion times more than our friend Mr. Allen.

    Once the CV track is built and Calif. is working to fund the mountain crossing the time will be ripe to see if funders see things as you do. Until then, give it a rest (for crying out loud).

    synonymouse Reply:

    The mountain crossing issue is many orders of magnititude more important than any other pertaining to PBHSR. It presents the opportunity for a monumental error tantamount to the the compounded tech botches committed by Bechtel in the founding of BART. And the genesis is the same: self-appointed wunderkinder “experts” ridiculing the little people and common sense.

    But we are coming to some element of resolution – the courts will have to rule on the general question of Prop 1a compliance. And apparently the class ones are making it known they are being played by Jerry Brown. WYSIYG – according to Morris the Brown government had better be afraid of them. But I won’t agree with that until we see who is the paper tiger – the class ones or the Ranch. If the appellate court rules in favor of Moonbeam the rr’s will have to sue big time or bend over.

  13. Max Wyss
    Apr 12th, 2014 at 01:17
    #13

    Dear Mr. Allen, as I understand it, you are active in the industry. I really hope for you that your current position is your last one before retirement, because the repetition of all the same message at fitting and not so fitting places may seriously hurt your professional reputation (if it hasn’t done so yet).

    synonymouse Reply:

    Mr. Wyss -

    Do you know BART top staff do not even know how to read a labor contract?

  14. Robert S. Allen
    Apr 12th, 2014 at 17:33
    #14

    HSR needs a secure route: no grade crossings.
    Caltrain has scores of grade crossings.
    “Blended Rail” is neither safe nor reliable.
    “Safe, Reliable” HSR cannot use “Blended Rail”.
    Hence:
    CHSRA should not squander bond funds on Caltrain for “Blended Rail”.
    HSR to Bay Area should stop at San Jose until a secure route north is feasible.
    Plan nearly seamless transfers at San Jose to Caltrain, Capcor, and planned SV BART.
    Forget “One Seat Ride” from San Francisco for now.
    Make HSR better, safer, more reliable, and less costly. This is about HSR, not BART, guys.

    Jerry Reply:

    CalTrain crossings were recently eliminated in San Bruno. As they will be in other locations. Then as you say: a secure route with no grade crossings. It will be safe and reliable.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Therefore, if she weighs the same as a duck … she’s made of wood … and therefore …

    Who are you, who are so wise in the ways of science?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    HSR needs a secure route: no grade crossings.

    Why can’t it have grade crossings?

  15. Robert S. Allen
    Apr 12th, 2014 at 18:51
    #15

    Jerry, that’s great, as were closing of the Lenzen and Stockton crossings near College Park. Usually the train in pull mode – with a locomotive in front – survives a crossing accident with little damage and few passenger casualties. Then there is Bourbonnais, where two locomotives and 11 of 14 cars were derailed on 79 mph track like Caltrain’s. Amtrak hit a truck loaded with steel.

    When Caltrain approaches full grade separation, that’s the time to talk of “Blended Rail”. But how could trains run safely at 110 or more mph past a suburban station? I’d still be dubious of HSR on Caltrain’s tracks. A near-seamless transfer at San Jose might well serve more people better than a “one-seat ride” for San Franciscans.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But how could trains run safely at 110 or more mph past a suburban station?

    the same way they do in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Maryland?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Except they need to run at 165 to hit the time from SF to SJ. Or are we just forgetting that

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Wait, what? When they run at 125, they almost make it. Why do they need to run at 165?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    My mistake, I meant 125

    Max Wyss Reply:

    And 125 mph happens routinely between Hamburg and Hannover, between Strasbourg and Mulhouse, and in several other places throughout Europe. They used to do test runs with TGVs at higher speeds between Strasbourg and Mulhouse, but in these cases they put up signs to stay back a bit further.

    So, what’s the problem?

    AlanF Reply:

    A through train passing through a suburban station at 125 mph, 135 mph, 150 mph (in RI and MA for the Acela) is done every day on the NEC.

    There are more than a few who post to this blog who could learn about how higher speed trains operate by taking the NEC a few times. Or observe NEC operations from stations and various popular vantage points. The NEC is constrained in many ways by the state of it physical infrastructure with old catenary and power system designs, many curves, moveable bridges, slow speeds, capacity chokepoints, wide range of station platform lengths, stations which were rebuilt or modified in the 1960s-80s in a downsizing era that now need to be expanded to handle ever more passengers. But the NEC does work on a daily basis.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Express trains will routinely pass locals at Fresno, Bakersfield, Palmdale CHSRA stations. What would Robert SFB Allen propose to do about that?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    I’ll agree with Syn – Allen’s solution is Indian Broad Gauge on the Peninsula – he won’t deny it will he?

  16. joe
    Apr 12th, 2014 at 19:03
    #16

    “Bourbonnais ! Slowly I turned … step by step … inch by inch …”

  17. Donk
    Apr 12th, 2014 at 22:19
    #17

    This blog has turned into the joe vs John Nachtigall show. Maybe you guys should team up and get a show or something, like Hannity and Colmes.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    No we are just the only people up late on Saturday with nothing to do but write in a blog….I feel really really depressed now…really depressed

    therealist Reply:

    hookup with the mouse&RULE THE WORLD !

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Why would you want to rule the world? I manage 11 people and it’s hard enough. 7 billion would be a huge headache.

    I would settle for a mid to upper level henchman position in the new cabal. Like evil assistant sub-overlord of food production for the western US. High enough to get perks, low enough to avoid the headaches.

    therealist Reply:

    ’nuff said…forget it !!

    Ted Judah Reply:

    It happens. Santa Clara County (where joe and John live) isn’t known for nightlife.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    I think Donk has a point, maybe we could limit ourselves to 2 or 3 posts a day each.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    And readers could take overposters seriously again?

  18. leroy
    Apr 13th, 2014 at 09:23
    #18

    Good HSR article from the Badger State. Walker will beat her 52% to 48%, baked in the cake.
    http://www.maciverinstitute.com/2014/04/mary-burke-supports-high-speed-rail/

    Nathanael Reply:

    That’s too close to be predictable this far out.

    Unfortunately it does seem like that scumbag criminal Walker — most of his friends and subordinates from Milwaukee County have already been arrested — is likely to get re-elected. But he might get beaten. He sure deserves to; he’s lost the state hundreds of millions of dollars on the rail project alone, he’s trying to break treaties with the Native American tribes in order to build strip mines, he’s selling off hunting on public lands to private out-of-state “canned hunt” companies, and so on and so on,…

    The article you linked to is, by the way, a garbage article.

  19. Keith Saggers
    Apr 13th, 2014 at 15:10
    #19

    http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/news/asia/single-view/view/solar-power-at-valley-metro-depot.html

    wdobner Reply:

    Is the 16% figure for the whole depot facility, or just the depot’s HVAC, lighting, and shop loads? I seriously doubt whatever traction power substations are located on the site are included in that figure. That means the solar installation will account for a few million KWh at a facility that is consuming millions of MWh (if not GWh) per year, and even with that restricted scope it’ll take 30 years to pay for itself. Of course the panels will likely be worthless 20 years in, but that’s clearly beside the point. It’s almost worse than useless.

  20. Reality Check
    Apr 15th, 2014 at 18:05
    #20

    Is USDOT about to stop the growth of commuter rail?

    The U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) today announced its intention to issue a proposed rule requiring two-person train crews on crude oil trains and establishing minimum crew size standards for most main line freight and passenger rail operations.” The rest of the press release is about the safety risks of big oil trains, which gives the appearance that this reference to passenger rail was added at the last minute.

    The language creates a reasonable suspicion you are about to ban one-person crews on urban commuter rail services regulated by the FRA, which usually fall within FRA’s use of the term “passenger rail”.

    joe Reply:

    Press release and the Briefing.

    http://www.fra.dot.gov/eLib/Details/L04999

    Two of the Working Groups produced recommendations that were adopted by the full RSAC for consideration in future rule makings. In light of the working group’s failure to reach consensus on crew size, the FRA took action today to move forward with a rule making.

    Briefing

    Power Point
    https://rsac.fra.dot.gov/document.php?type=meeting&date=20140306&name=Engineering%20Task%20Force%20II%20Update%20Presentation.pdf

    FRA does not intend this to mean two persons must be located at all times in the operating compartment of every freight or passenger train.
    Examples:
     Conductor “shadows” train in a motored vehicle.
     Passenger train attendants.


    Additionally the regulation provides general and specific staffing exceptions for passenger and freight trains.

    No exception will be provided for:
    (1) The train contains one or more tank car loads of any one or any combination of materials poisonous by inhalation…..
    (2) The train contains 20 rail car loads or intermodal portable tank loads of any one or any combination of materials listed in paragraph (b)(1), or, any Division 2.1 flammable gas, Class 3 flammable liquid or combustible liquid, Class 1.1 or 1.2 explosive, or hazardous substance listed in 49 CFR 173.31(f)(2).

    Looks like there’s no commuter rail impact.

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