Legislature Debates HSR Cap-and-Trade Options

May 27th, 2014 | Posted by

Last week an Assembly budget subcommittee debated options for how to use the revenues generated by the AB 32 cap-and-trade program. And as it turned out, they had a different approach than that suggested by Governor Jerry Brown:

The conflict was aired Thursday as an Assembly budget subcommittee voted to replace Brown’s cap-and-trade plan with a much different, $1 billion version limited to just one year.

While it would allow the fees to be used for the bullet train, it would have to compete with other state projects before an obscure state agency called the Strategic Growth Council.

However, the Assembly plan also would give Brown the power to seek a $20 billion federal loan and float a $20 billion revenue bond issue to finance the train, tapping cap-and-trade funds to repay the loans.

As if that isn’t complicated enough, the Assembly plan would give local governments and private groups a greater access to the funds for their carbon-reduction programs, such as mass transit, solid-waste treatment and “carbon farming.”

“This is worse than the governor’s plan,” Fresno Republican Jim Patterson, a member of the subcommittee and a bullet-train critic, said, but the chairman, Malibu Democrat Richard Bloom, said it has “some superior attributes.”

The Assembly plan drew a negative reaction from Brown’s Department of Finance, particularly its one-year limit.

Thursday’s hearing indicated that the cap-and-trade issue will be a thorny one for Brown and legislative leaders to resolve. It is, in political terms, free money that everyone wants to tap but, as Bloom observed, “there’s never enough money to pay for every project.”

So as a concept, using cap-and-trade revenues to back $40 billion in loans to build HSR is, for lack of a better phrase, completely fucking awesome. Limiting this plan to just one year is indeed moronic, as is the ridiculous idea of making HSR compete for funds before some obscure bureaucracy. The Golden Gate Bridge and the California Aqueduct didn’t have to beg for funds like that.

Some observers are quite pleased with the plan, including Urban Insights:

RRIF, an underutilized low-cost federal loan program administered by the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), has been struggling to attract qualified applicants, and the agency has been reprimanded by Congress for sitting atop $35 billion in largely unallocated lending capacity.

The ability to tap RRIF for high-speed rail in California would be a coup both for the Authority and FRA, as it would accelerate funds for construction on multiple key segments of the system and represent a relatively low-risk deal for FRA, since the repayment source is essentially backed by the State of California.

Contrast this deal with the $5.5 billion loan being sought by Xpress West, the proposed high-speed rail line between Las Vegas and Southern California, that would be secured by passenger revenues that may never materialize. With the Solyndra boogeyman still uppermost in federal underwriters’ minds, Xpress West has a high hurdle to jump with FRA.

A $20 billion RRIF loan for the Authority would, in one fell swoop, significantly chip away at that $35 billion lending cap, also solving FRA’s “do-nothing” image with Congress in the process.

Details will be messy, but this is a promising development for high-speed rail and FRA, if legislators can stay the course in the face of opposition.

Congressional Republicans would lose their shit if this happened, meaning time is of the essence. Whatever the ultimate method by which cap-and-trade funds are used to back a federal RRIF loan, 2014 is the year to get that done.

And that requires Sacramento Democrats to stop worrying about what a fringe political party (that’d be the Republicans) think about HSR. Democrats have large majorities in Sacramento that are not threatened by the GOP. They have the opportunity, and I would argue they also have the obligation, to use those majorities to solve California’s most pressing problems. Global warming, oil dependence, and job creation certainly rank among those.

Sacramento Democrats have absolutely nothing to fear, nothing to risk, by supporting the use of cap-and-trade funds for HSR. Neel Kashkari’s ads smashing the crazy train are airing regularly on Southern California TV stations, but it’s a desperate ploy from a candidate sure to lose big to the very governor who is backing HSR so strongly. Any Democrat in Sacramento who lets GOP fear-mongering drive their strategy or their decision-making is a Democrat who needs to think long and hard about whether they belong in the Legislature.

Still, I fully expect that once the budget is done in a few weeks, it will indeed include enough cap-and-trade funds for HSR that the state can go out and get an RRIF loan, and maybe even float a revenue bond too. The Legislature wants leverage over Governor Brown to force him to restore more funding to services slashed in 2007-09, and HSR is good leverage for them. My guess is a deal gets cut that HSR supporters will still be happy with, even if it isn’t exactly the same as what Governor Brown proposed.

  1. Observer
    May 28th, 2014 at 08:20

    This is a good development. The beginning of obtaining an RRIF loan for HSR is indeed very good. As for the bond, once construction begins on the Merced to Bakersfield section, and the RRIF loan is obtained to continue building, electrification begins on the Caltrain corridor and also in the LA region, floating a bond may work. Things are not as bad as critics make it out to be.

    Zorro Reply:

    Indeed, I like this, a lot, It would be nice if California could get the entire $35 Billion, HSR in CA could certainly use it all. :)

    Tony D. Reply:

    I’ll admit this development is interesting. We shall see…

    Emmanuel Reply:

    Exactly. As I’ve said before, they will take us seriously once we actually begin construction. As long as we still debate about alignments and struggle with the courts they will think we are just another bridge to nowhere. But, once we have that foot in the door the money will come flowing from all sides because if we succeed in HSR, other states will follow.

  2. joe
    May 28th, 2014 at 09:06

    I agree however it’s also a risk – a bird in the hand vs two in the bush.

    I’d propose that CA legislature identify a long term funding stream as was legislated in their creation, Prop1a. They put the requirement in prop1a and created a problem for the executive branch and their Authority. Own it and fix it.

    Approve Cap and Trade for HSR to show a dedicated funding stream, modest as it may be, and spend the ARRA money. Also legislate that CAHSRA forfeits access to cap and trade when a revenue bond and a RRIF Loan is approved.

    That fixes the short term problem so we can use ARRA money and doesn’t let the Legislature off the hook for funding HSR as they wanted it funded – with a long term commitment.

    All sides have a stake in getting the RRIF loan – to build the project and free cap and trade funds for other uses once HSR is funded.

    Alan Reply:

    I wouldn’t block HSR access to cap-and-trade funds for all time. However, if the state pursues the loan and bond issue approach, then the HSR share of cap-and-trade would instead be committed to repaying the loan and bonds. Essentially, HSR still gets cap-and-trade either way, but with the loan and bonds it gets a much larger amount much faster. With the $3 billion of Federal grants already in hand, the $9 billion from Prop 1A, the $40 billion of loans and revenue bonds brings us to $52 billion of the projected $68 billion for Phase 1–and well beyond what’s required for the IOS. Tos and Fukuda and their shysters can go suck it. Even without the Prop 1A bonds, we get close enough to the point where the Authority can seriously solicit private funds.

    I think there’s an excellent chance that the Feds would approve a loan request. The Administration wants this project to move forward, and this is a good way to make it happen which requires no approval from Congress.

    Ted Judah Reply:


    The Devil in your proposal is most certainly in the details:

    RRIF is intended for rehabilitation of existing ROWs and track of legacy carriers to be able to support higher speeds. Part of the reason FRA’s progam has gone nowhere in this regard is that the Class I’s are an oligopoly with geographical segregation. There is almost no incentive to upgrade track unless the government is paying the full cost, which RRIF doesn’t do.

    In California’s case, RRIF would be easiest to approve. along CalTrain’s ROW and between Palmdale and LA/Anaheim/SD/Yuma. The new ROW between Gilroy and Palmdale is not as strong candidate, as is Desert Xpress.

    The revenue bond concept sounds nice, but if you don’t use cap and trade how exactly do you pay on the revenue bond outside of General Fund in the intervening years?

    Larry Scheib Reply:

    Under the RRIF program the FRA Administrator is authorized to provide direct loans and loan guarantees up to $35.0 billion to finance development of railroad infrastructure. Up to $7.0 billion is reserved for projects benefiting freight railroads other than Class I carriers.

    The funding may be used to:

    Acquire, improve, or rehabilitate intermodal or rail equipment or facilities, including track, components of track, bridges, yards, buildings and shops;
    Refinance outstanding debt incurred for the purposes listed above; and
    Develop or establish new intermodal or railroad facilities
    Direct loans can fund up to 100% of a railroad project with repayment periods of up to 35 years and interest rates equal to the cost of borrowing to the government. (http://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0128)

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Your comment implies that Harry Reid would have to choose between using the $7.0 billion for Desert Xpress or CAHSRA’s IOS. Given which state he ultimately represents, I don’t think that’s going to happen.

    Alan Reply:

    As I pointed out below, you’ve misread the statement concerning the $7 billion–that’s for *freight* carriers, which leaves out CHSRA, which plans to haul people.

    Giving one project $20 billion out of the 35 is a lot, but since the world doesn’t seem to be beating a path to FRA’s door, not out of the question.

    Alan Reply:

    Actually, that should be “$20 billion out of the 28”, once the $7 billion for short lines and regionals is subtracted.

  3. Travis D
    May 28th, 2014 at 10:44

    Just how much of the system could be built with the expected $40 billion? What should the prioritized construction sequence be?

    Joey Reply:

    Get to LAUS as quickly as possible in order to start generating operating surpluses and attract private investment.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Others who believe the DogLeg will “start generating operating surpluses and attract private investment”:


    I guess they never heard of Enrico Fermi. Or maybe they got into Jerry’s viagra too.

    A question of more immediate interest is whether Jerry & Co. have built up the nerve and the hubris to steer the next contract to Tutor.

    Travis D Reply:

    What the hell is this about?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You don’t have the secret decoder ring. None of us has the secret decoder ring. His hovercraft is full of eels.

    JB in PA Reply:

    On planet Synonymous the synapses fire and the fingers push the keys.
    It would be interesting to have a glossary of terms and definitions in the native language.
    DogLeg, Mind rays, amalgamated, PB, Moonbeam, PB, The Ranch, Doodlebug, detour, Brutalist, stilt-a-rail…
    Would help first-timers with the universal translator. Also a glossary for the other language use here, Richard M.

    Emmanuel Reply:

    Personally I think it would be great to multitask and have a team focus on building south while another focuses on building it up to San Jose. I don’t know about the economics of this but it seems that building it both ways simultaneously will get it finished earlier than if we focus on building south then building north.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Get to LAUS as quickly as possible in order to start generating operating surpluses and attract private investment.

    That is the Willie Brown School of Public Policy approach. Make the project relevant to the largest bloc of voters (LA County in the State).

    Honestly, given the uneven geographic distribution of California’s economic recovery, San Jose to Fresno and Bakersfield would be far more revolutionary as you be taking a high cost, high income region and directly connecting it to a low-cost, land-rich region. Years ago I proposed switching some of the San Joaquin service to end in San Jose instead of Oakland and I would still support that idea too.

    Observer Reply:

    Enough so that people could see tangible progress. Finish Merced to Bakersfield of course. Then probably Bakersfield to Palmdale. Then begin Merced to San Jose. And hey – we got a system. Once people begin to see real progress, and understand that this could work, the critics will begin to fade away. Also, people are more concerned about climate change and the misery of driving or flying than critics will have us believe.

    Travis D Reply:

    Well, let’s see, it’s $6 billion to get through Bakersfield and another $8 billion to Palmdale. Then another $12 billion to get from Palmdale to Burbank (if they go with all those long tunnels). So that is $26 billion. How much more to get to LAUS and north through the wye to at least San Jose? Or might they go another tact and just build up to Modesto?

    joe Reply:

    There are 52 B.

    The advantage of going to SoCal is “closing the gap” in passenger rail service and dedicated track which means reliable travel times. It also brings SoCal to the high desert and I bet NV starts a project building between LAS and Palmdale.

    I’d go past BUR even past LAUS to reach Anaheim with blended service on electrified the ROW. That would connect Fresno to Anaheim in single seat, HSR service.

    Northward I’d build over Pacheco and try to reach run blended on UP ROW or at least transfer at GLY to conventional Capitol Corridor to Oakland-Sacramento & Caltrain to SF.

    Roger Christensen Reply:

    Union Station on track to start run through track construction in 2017 to be completed by 2019-20. HSR to Union Station should mean immediate blended service to Anaheim.

    Joey Reply:

    “Blended” service between LA and Anaheim is not the same as “blended” service on the Peninsula. On the Peninsula the tracks are already passenger primary. Between LA and Fullerton, the track is owned by BNSF and are most certainly not passenger-primary. The “blended” plan there involves two new, dedicated tracks for HSR, Metrolink, and Amtrak California. These tracks will often be on viaducts and will require a fair amount of ROW acquisition. It’s not going to be nearly as simple as you think.

    Joey Reply:

    And blending on the UP ROW is never going to work, mainly because it’s UP ROW. CalTrain does not intend to run it’s non-FRA EMUs south of Tamien either.

    joe Reply:

    The Peer Review Group recommends the State Legislature allow / require blended service to Anaheim to improve ridership and revenue. Then build out later.

    The Caltrain plan – official plan – is to eventually electrify down to Gilroy after completing the initial segment. Shocking no?
    The HSR draft schedule had commuter service starting at 6AM GLY to SJC, RCW, SFO and STF.

    It’s a pity the sovereign Kingdoms of UP and BNSF are at war with the US of A.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    joe, the Peer Review Group can recommend what they like, Joey is right about the realities of blending . Indeed, as I have posted before, the concept of blending is a hoax since it requires new infrastructure and is not, as is being sold, a use of existing facilities. The purpose of blending is to transfer the cost of electrification and other upgrades from the HSR project to the local agencies at each end of the route. The reality is of course that everyone will be dipping into the same pools of funds, ultimately the taxpayer, but it preserves the fiction that we have a $68 billion project and not a $100 billion one.
    As for your other silliness, you surely cannot imagine the city fathers of L.A. building all this “blended” track and then watching the trains go through without stopping en route to and from Anaheim? And when you mention “going past Burbank” do you mean not stopping the trains or finding a route around the city? Either way that won’t happen. Not unless you want to use the 170/101 alignment.
    joe, you have to let us know this secret ingredient in the garlic that does such happy things to your brain.

    EJ Reply:

    I don’t think he meant “go past” as in “not stop.” I think he was just referring to building the lines out beyond LAUS. I don’t have a link, but IIRC a few years ago there was a preliminary plan to build a new ROW parallel to the existing BNSF line down to Fullerton (where the BNSF southern transcon diverges from the Metrolink OC line), and then run blended beyond that down to Anaheim and Irvine. To me that raises the question why not spend a few $billion more and electrify all the way to San Diego.

    EJ Reply:

    Particularly since San Diego plans to double-track the entire line within San Diego county – at that point you’d just have a bottleneck at San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente, and considering that part of the line supports very little commuter service, it doesn’t seem that would be insurmountable.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Southern Orange County is a serious bottleneck and will be expensive to resolve. Another waste is double tracking Rose Canyon inside of a tunnel into San Diego, that is if you want a Modern Railroad. As for the BNSF section, the third track is almost complete. A senior state official opined to me a few years back that they really should have gone for four tracks. It’s mostly doable in the existing RoW but won’t be very fast.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Sorry, should read “instead of”

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The issue is really political more than anything else.

    LA and Orange do not want the HSR train to be able to bypass each other at LA Union Station or ARTIC.

    If this wasn’t the case, ARTIC would have a slight advantage since it is better positioned to act as the junction for service to Las Vegas and San Diego from Northern California and LA than Union Station. My guess is that we are headed for some weird SF Transbay – Diridon Intergalactic compromise. The law will require all HSR service (even expresses) to stop at SF-SJ-LA-OC and people like Richard Mlynarik will have conniption fits about it for eternity.

    I’m one of those people, however, that doesn’t want a huge HSR dogleg in the Inland Empire. (See Ontario Airport, supra.) Given how air traffic flows between Arizona, Las Vegas, Southern California, and Northern California, it makes way more sense to have one ROW between SJ and Anaheim and then continue south through OC and SD before heading east to Phoenix and Tucson. An Anaheim to Las Vegas ROW would allow direct service from the Bay Area to Nevada, but also shorten connections for the Arizona/SD to Vegas riders who are hardly inconsequential in number.

    EJ Reply:

    @Paul do you know what the latest and greatest plan for Rose Canyon is? Seems like they go back and forward on proposing a tunnel vs. straightening and double-tracking the existing alignment.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Ted, what alignment do you recommend for South Orange County? And what service upgrade do you recommend for the Inland Empire?

    jonathan Reply:


    An Anaheim to Las Vegas ROW would allow direct service from the Bay Area to Nevada,

    Huh? Do you mean “would not allow”?

    Ted Judah Reply:


    Since it’s easier to draw a map than write a paragraph, you can take a look at this purely conceptual design: https://mapsengine.google.com/map/edit?mid=zaqdRYJFwKOc.kd50b0QToeCw

    Obviously there will need to be new track between Camp Pendleton and San Juan Capistrano, probably using tunnels or viaducts along the proposed ROW for the 241. In the case of the Inland Empire, Metrolink can bridge the gap between stations in Anaheim, LA, Riverside, etc. Economic and population growth has been so weak in the IE, it’s really hard to forecast what the needs of the two counties will be.

    Derek Reply:

    EJ, they are currently double tracking LOSSAN from Sorrento Valley to I-805 for $43 million (should be just about done by now), and they’re working on environmental documents to double track and straighten LOSSAN from I-805 to Miramar Rd for $99 million (that document should be complete by the end of this year). The rest of the way around Miramar Hill is double-tracked. I haven’t heard of any plans to double track through Rose Canyon.

    A tunnel through Miramar Hill is expected to cost around $500 million.

    Eric Reply:

    Ted, why must Phoenix service go via SD? Shouldn’t LA/OC have the most direct connection to Phoenix rather than SD? Your alignment *might* be justified if the Phoenix-SD route were much cheaper to construct. But I think on the contrary, it is probably much more expensive.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    One HSR ROW is almost assuredly less expensive than two.

    Even if construction costs are higher for SD to PHX, the benefit is always having full trains, unlike the preliminary alignment that dead ends in OC and requires a dogleg route from LA to SD.

    That is also the reason for having Las Vegas be served past LA and OC. Desert Xpress could pencil if you could use it not only for LA to Vegas traffic but also SF to Vegas.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And no HSR row is cheaper than one. Indio is a lot closer to Phoenix than San Diego.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Indio’s distance to Phoenix is a non sequitur.

    San Diego is closer to Phoenix than LA or OC. The segment from Indio to Phoenix isn’t the pricey part, it’s getting to Indio that will cost a pretty penny.

    The goal here is to have a high load factor throughout the system and avoid bottlenecks.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    I’m interested in Paul’s feedback, but the logical route from Phoenix is through Palm Springs and on to Inland Empire and LA. This should also have the greatest traffic volume.

    I would agree that the OC/Artic route should continue to SD (assuming RoW can be confirmed). Later an I-15 routing could complete a triangle to IE, and continue through the Cajon pass to link to the Vegas route. (PHX-SD traffic can change in San Bernardino.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are going to be building HSR to Palm Springs some day. There are lots of people in Los Angeles and San Diego who like to go to Palm Springs. And lots of people in Palm Springs who like to go to Los Angeles and San Diego. It’s gonna be really cheap to extend it to Indio. Indio is much closer to Phoenix than San Diego is. It gets people between Los Angeles and Phoenix to a lot faster than 100 mile detour through San Diego.

    joe Reply:

    “joe, the Peer Review Group can recommend what they like, Joey is right about the realities of blending .

    joe, you have to let us know this secret ingredient in the garlic that does such happy things to your brain.”

    Certainly go past does mean not stop. I’d go past that proposed terminus and reach Anaheim exactly as the Peer Review Group recommended.

    Dismissal of the PRG recommendations to blend to Anaheim and existing , unfunded plans to electrify Caltrain to Gilroy maybe sincere but that shit’s real and not my creation.

    HSR Peer Review Group is mandated to comment directly to the State Legislature within 60 days of a plan’s release. It shows how CA can save Billions and provide services years earlier to the voters. Anaheim produces ridership & revenue. BNSF might not be happy but….

    Legislature has powers to seize property – the Gov too has powers. Also they coordinate with WA DC and CA Representatives who have powers and bigger check book.

    Here, UP offered to sell the entire Caltrain ROW down to Gilroy. It’s that important to them.

    Eventually electrified service will run to/from GLY. On UP or the HSR ROW – UP makes more sense for the local stops HSR will not service. I think the HSR PRG will also recommend some blended trains to establish service from GLY and attract Monterey ridership rather than wait until a full build to SJC.

    The Silicon Valley population growth and real-estate prices assure it will happen. Home prices are nuts and rents are high. This expansion provides access to housing and jobs.

    Geography, long narrow valley, is favorable to commuter rail. Already two of the 5 stops south of tamien have enough ridership to placate the hard-asses who post here. The final stops are rapidly growing and infill along the rail line.

    Joey Reply:

    UP has previously indicated that they will not allow any HSR infrastructure to touch their ROW, except to pass over or under it. Have they since rescinded this position? When was the last time they offered to sell the ROW?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Joe, I am not dismissing the PRG recommendations, simply pointing out that trains run on track, not the recommendations of the PRG. In the real world, by the time UP and BNSF have been satisfied, and all the infrastructure has been built to allow “blending” we’ll be well north of $100B. Worth every penny….
    As a southerner I find it hard to imagine justifying electrified HSR and electrified Caltrain to Gilroy.

    joe Reply:

    “UP has previously indicated that they will not allow any HSR infrastructure to touch their ROW, except to pass over or under it.”

    So what? CA will indicate a very strong desire to blend on the ROW. There are established ways these conflicts are resolved. They involve money and lawyers.

    The Caltrain ROW was acquired in 91.

    The 2014 HSR plan has a revenue ridership model with schedule and there is commuter/local HSR trains starting out of GLY N at 6AM. Shit’s real.

    joe Reply:

    “As a southerner I find it hard to imagine justifying electrified HSR and electrified Caltrain to Gilroy.”

    Why? They’re going to run HSR service from GLY to SJC, RWC, SFO and SFT when the complete the system – all on dedicated track.

    I suggest they might begin blended at GLY rather than SJC and have service sooner. Then if/when they build a dedicated track, the blended track can be used for commuter service to SFT.

    Connecting across the bay to accommodate growth is somehow more credible than continuing to expand the legacy ROW and improve existing service. If this we SOCal you’d recognize the opportunity and be all over it.

    jonathan Reply:

    Joe, you have a reading-comprehension problem. Joey’s point is that UPRR is not going to allow electrification on UPRR’s existing freight tracks. That means *NO “BLENDING”* on the UPRR-owned tracks from ~Tamien to Gilroy.

    Which part of that is hard to understand?

    Even if we accept Paul Dyson’s premiss, that after spending $100bn, there will be electrified HSR track between San Jose and Gilroy… running local caltrain trains on that HSR track would slow down every HSR trainset in the several train-slots behind that Caltrain local. Why would the Authority allow that?

    Joe, you seem to take CHSRA’s plans as if they were tablets handed down from on high. Even when they assume runinng 200 mi/hr through downtown Bakersfield. Yet CalTrain’s stated plan is to keep (at least part of) their existing diesel and Bombardier fleet, to run service down to Gilroy. What’s so different about the two plans?? Why do you treat one as fact, and the other as something inconvenient to be ignored? Sounds very much like what Richard M. calls “GilroyLogic(tm)”….

    Joe Reply:

    I think UPRR can be convinced to allow electrification.

    Pretty simple and not hard to understand.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Because the trains to and from Sacramento use slots between Fresno and Bakersfield and the track to San Francisco will never be saturated?

    Alan Reply:

    UP is also undergoing management changes as a result of the recent passing of their CEO. There’s a possibility that new management may look at things differently. Or not. Too early to know for sure.

    jonathan Reply:

    Joe writes:

    I think […]

    No, you don’t You *don’t* think. Which is a big part of the problem.

    jonathan Reply:

    Adirondacker writes:

    Because the trains to and from Sacramento use slots between Fresno and Bakersfield and the track to San Francisco will never be saturated?

    Your grasp of the issues lacks opposable thumbs. The issue isnt’ whether the Gilroy-SF tracks are saturated — and the San-Jose/SF tracks are going to be very saturated during rush hour, with both Caltrain and HSR. The issue is *how manyHSR slots* a slow, regional, Caltrain EMU is going to occupy. Even more pointedly, the issue is *HOW MANY HSR SLOTS DURING RUSH HOUR* is a Gilroy commuter train going to occupy. Because early-morning travel — to get to business meetings, at the same destinations commuters are heading to — is at a *premium*.

    Slow down the 7:30am from LA , as it gets stuck behind a commuter train from Gilroy. Are you saying that’s a good idea? Do we need to translate this into NEC/NY/NJ terms, or something? Not that it necessarily does: the obvious analogies are quad-tracked, at least.

    Not to mention that Joe’s fantasy *explicitly* contradicts Caltrain’s stated plans. But that’s par for the course from Joe.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s a solution to slow commuter trains but since you want to be an asshole I’ll just say I’d tell you to go fuck yourself but ya need a dick for that.

    jonathan Reply:

    @adirondacker: yes, there are solutions to slow commuter rail:
    * careful scheduling
    * speed it up to the same speed as high-speed rail
    * strategically placed passing loops
    * quad tracking.

    None of these fit within the scope of rush-hour Calrain commuter EMUs eating several high-speed HSR slots on the Gilroy/SJ tracks, and yet *another* slot on the busy SJ/SF “blended” tracks. Not in a world where CHSRA has to run their own tracks, near UPRR tracks, but *not* electrifying UPRR tracks, and not interfering with UPRR’s drain-bead not-yet-deployed signalling system.
    (Electrification at heights which clear double-stack containers is not practicable for high-speed rail, not even for the legacy 1960s “high-speed” that CHSRA wants to run on the Peninsula.)

    So what’s your solution? Do tell.

    Joey Reply:

    Joe, I’m going to point you to this agreement from 2012. Here are some highlights:

    CHSRA will not ask LACMTA to electrify any of the routes operated by Southern California Regional Rail Authority (“SCRRA”) on which UPRR also operates between Palmdale and Los Angeles Union Station (“LAUS”). CHSRA intends to build a dedicated HSR track between Palmdale and LAUS. CHSRA will not operate on tracks which SCRRA and UPRR both operate between Palmdale and LAUS. Any electrification facilities that CHSRA or the passenger Operations may install near UPRR right of way will be build in such a way that the facilities do not limit UPRR’s use of its property for freight railroad purposes, including safety activities and maintenance.

    (Section 2L)

    Except as provided in this Section, no high-speed rail facilities will be built on and no high-speed rail trains will operate on rights of way that UPRR owns. UPRR will work in good faith with CHSRA with respect to any reasonable property request by CHSRA to acquire the rights necessary to cross UPRR property above or below grade. All CHSRA facilities that may cross above or below UPRR right of way must clear-span the UPRR property…

    (Section 5)

    joe Reply:

    The bottleneck is between SJC and SF, not GLY and SJC.
    The blended starting at GLY to SJC begins service sooner than waiting for funding and time to build dedicated track to SJC.

    Blended Caltrain trains between SJC and SF could just as easily start a few HSR AM trains at GLY instead of SJC. That’s the plan now for 2014 with dedicated tack. T

    They can also run behind them, to please you, trains that make four additional stops before reaching SJC. It’s done now with local and express trains at Tamien and these local trains would stop at Morgan Hill, Blossom Hill, Capitol and Tamien. I’d skip San Martin. Of the additional stops only Morgan Hill fails Clem’s test for warranting service with 2010 census data.

    Single seat to SF sooner but it’s traveling the less than 35 mile commuter distance between GLY and SJC at blended speeds.

    Joey Reply:

    And a similar agreement with BNSF forbids sharing any of BNSF’s trackage. BNSF is however willing to sell parts of its ROW.

    jonathan Reply:

    .. and as for being an asshole; not hardly. Do you want to talk about Operations Research? Multivariate optimization? Or, regarding limits on pantograph height (car to catenary)?

    Clem Reply:

    See latest UPRR antics on my blog. They really really really don’t want wires over or even near their tracks. This is going to be a big fight.

    Of course, the blend makes just as much sense down south as it does here.

    Joey Reply:

    joe: it doesn’t matter it it would work or not, ignoring the fact that there’s currently only one track. The crux of the matter is that UP will not allow it. There’s plenty of evidence for this and I have seen no credible counterpoints.

    jonathan Reply:

    Yes, indeed. In fact Adirondacker has read that,. and started off being rude on your blog, too.

    jimsf Reply:

    @Adirondacker.. gasp! shocking.

    jonathan Reply:


    Yes, you are right. UPRR actively does not want 25kV catenary on their right-of-way. They want to maintain clearance for double-stack containers, and they are making loud noises about the potential effect of “unique, over [[200 km/hr]]” (!!) electric trains on their yet-to-be-deployed, new signalling system. UPRR’s letter to CPUC is the legal equivalent of “Fuck off and die!”

    As for Adirondacker: it’s a *single track*. Owned by UP. Controlled by UP. Scheduled by UP. Caltrain’s FRA-compatible diesels are scheduled to take *50 minutes* between Gilroy and Cahill St station. So .. .just how many HSR slots is that, on this imaginary track?

    What *might* happen, what *might* be worth talking about, is operation from Gilroy to SF *AFTER* CHSRA finishes its own dedicated, electrified tracks. But that takes up HSR slots. It’s competing for both slots, and trainsets/bums-on-seats, with LA-SF, anytime after .. 7:30am.

    Adirondacker, do you remember that ocnversation about prices from .. was it Trenton to Grand Central? Comparing Acela, NEC Regionals, and NJT? It’s the same issue writ large.

    Only on an imaginary electrified-UP-freight line (not going to happen) or on dedicated HSR-only tracks with commuter/regonal trainsets 9eats too many slots after about 7:30am), or on dedicated HSR tracks with HSR trainsets — *way* too expensive. Far too much capital cost tied up in a few short runs per day. Makes no sense, not if those trainsets could be earning much, much more revenue running LA-SF instead. And then if they stop at Gilroy, you’re into the same problem as why Acela tickets within NJT territory are prohibitively expensive: opportunity cost.

    jonathan Reply:


    If you ask someone some factual, on-point, factual questoins, obviously seeking more information, and that person replies “no, no no and no” (note: wrong number of answers for the questions)… are they being an asshole?

    EJ Reply:

    Electrification at heights which clear double-stack containers is not practicable for high-speed rail, not even for the legacy 1960s “high-speed” that CHSRA wants to run on the Peninsula.

    Really? I was under the impression that you could run catenary with a contact wire 23 feet over top of rail, and that would both satisfy AAR Plate K, and be usable by most HSR rolling stock, albeit some might require specially adapted pantographs. Am I wrong? (I could be wrong, not an expert). Aren’t there areas outside chicago where they run double-stacks and electrified passenger trains on the same lines?

    joe Reply:

    “The crux of the matter is that UP will not allow it.”

    The mid-term rail plan says they’ll double track the UP ROW to Gilroy.

    I get it – you are hung up on UP granting unrestricted permission in a memo and that they are both unwavering and have absolute power over the state and federal government.

    I think it’s a crummy corporation that is profit driven and understands if they push too hard they can be compelled.

    joe Reply:

    None of these fit within the scope of rush-hour Calrain commuter EMUs eating several high-speed HSR slots on the Gilroy/SJ tracks, and yet *another* slot on the busy SJ/SF “blended” tracks.

    You are massively confused to think a GLY train is another train between SJC and SFT. It’s the same train only originating at GLY, not SJC. No new traffic north of SJC. That’s how it happens today – a GLY Caltrain is part of the SJC to SF service.

    The only HSR schedule I saw has HSR starting trains at GLY Northbound @6am to make all HSR stops. Then Fresno trains that disembark @6AM reach GLY, and make all HSR stops. Finally trains from Bakersfield and Palmdale make it north.

    Adding four stops at Morgan Hill, Blossom Hill, Capitol, Tamien isn’t going to undermine the system in the AM or PM. They planned to run some local HSR service that starts (6AM) and ends (PM) at GLY. Just add four stops at south county and run 125 MPH for 35 miles to get service billions sooner than a full build to SJC.

    Joey Reply:

    The federal government can exercise eminent domain on UP. The state cannot. Unless it becomes a national issue there’s nothing that can force UP to allow it short of buying them out (UP is worth ~$40B IIRC). Exactly what ideas do you have about “compelling” them to allow this?

    Clem Reply:

    @EJ: there is that annoying matter of tunnels and bridges…

    jonathan Reply:

    By “legacy HSR” I meant speeds of 125 km/hr or more. It’s certainly not practicable to run HSR at 350 km/hr with a panto that’s 10 feet high. IIRC you want pan height to be about 1.5m (call it four feet) above the top of the car.

    And .. according to Caltrain — ccording to Clem’s blog, oh, some 5 years ago now!), Here’s Clem’s post . http://caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/2009/11/electrification-blues.html ….

    Caltrain’s proposal for electrification with catenary at 23 ft. clearance *also* assumed that Caltrain could de-energize the overhead catenary during windows of freight operation. (Strict time separation of freight and passenger traffic on the Peninsula was a given, under Caltrain’s FRA waiver). Good luck getting *that* to work for a “blended” corridor on UPRR-owned right-of-way.

    So, technically, we have the loading gauge – the maximum permissible dimensions of a railway vehicle. And we also have the “structure gauge” — the minimum clearance for things like bridges and tunnels and plaforms and what-have you. The structure gauge is somewhat bigger than the loading gauge. How much bigger depends on speed; faster trains are going to wobble around more than slower trains. And CPUC — and, in Clem’s post, apparently Caltrain — suggest that maybe *live* 25kV AC overhead catenary needs a little more clearance than the non-electified structure gauge.

    What does CPUC think the extra clearance (over and above structure gauge)? I have no idea. How much will UPRR and BNSF accept? I have no idea, but if it has an extra couple of feet of clearance, then the total height goes over 7.000 metres. TGV POS power cars are what, 4.1m tall. So that’d be roughly 10 *feet* of pantograph. And that’s a nominal height: given the nature of catenary, there’s gong to be some variation. But that’s the *maximum* extension of the pantos on an HHP-8.

    i don’t see how you can get pantos that tall to run at 350 km/hr on dedicated-HSR track built within the envelope which PB has specified for CHSRA. High-speed pantos are designed to be low height, and low cross-section, to minimize noise. (Panto noise is a significant fraction of total noise at high speeds; that’s why the Japanese spend so much effort designing queit pantos).
    On HSR trainsets, the panto is actively regulated. The panto isn’t kept up by a spring. Instead, it has a computer-controlled pneumatic system which keeps the pickup at a constant pressure against the contact wire. But if your “blended on freight’ pan height is 2x or more the nominal height on HSR lines, then your panto arms are going to be twice as long as a normal HSR panto. And weigh twice as much. Actually more than twice as much, to allow for movement and variation. That will change the whole dynamics of how the pan moves on the contact wire. And the taller the pan, the more it gets unstable at high speed. I could be wrong, but as far as I know, that’s a problem no-one in the world has solved yet.

    And yeah, you *could* run pans really high at restricted speed — but that’s well below even 200k/mr or the ~110 Peninsula “blended” scheme.

    iIve seen a claim that the “new” constant-tension catenary on the NEC is at a standard height of about 16 feet, versus the 22 feet of the old PRR variable-tension catenary. If so, double-stacks can’t run under the new catenary. But I don’t pretend to know details about the other coast.

    jonathan Reply:

    You are massively confused to think a GLY train is another train between SJC and SFT.

    No, Joe. *YOU* are the one who brought up “blended” operation. if you think such trains are going to run on a “blended” corridor owned by UPRR, you are delusional. If you think any operator is going to urinate away money by buying extremely capital-intensive HSR trainsets before there is a vialbe, profit-making route to run those trainsets on, you are delusional.

    Your “blended HSR to Gilroy” fantasy *cannot work*, however you slice and dice it. End of story.
    I know *you* think Gilroy deserves special treatment. OTOH, non-Gilory residents don’t think Gilroy deserves such exceptional treatment.

    Zorro Reply:

    Jonathan, Caltrain, aka the state of California, aka Caltrans owns the right of way on the peninsula and has since 1991, at least according to the Wiki, Not the UPRR.

    jonathan Reply:

    Joe’s fantasy involves a “blended” electrified system from *San Jose* to *Gilroy*
    UPRR still owns the right-of-way from Tamien (more or less) southwards to Gilroy and beyond. Wikipedia says exactly that.

    I think the agreement mentions Lick milepost, but I’d have to look it up. I know some regulars here don’t have to look it up ;) After this i won’t have to, either.

    Clem Reply:

    @Zorro: that doesn’t matter. Ownership is irrelevant! See my blog to read why (trackage rights and CPUC)

    jonathan Reply:

    Not exactly. UPRR owns the trackage rights which Caltrain gave SP as part of the purchase agreement. But that’s very different to a right-of-way owned by UPRR.

    Caltrain can always apply to the STB for partial abandonment, restricting UPRR’s rights to the same height limit in effect in those NEC regions which have new, constant-tension catenary. Or for total abandonment, citing “different technology”. The original wording may be inteded to allow BART, but nothing in the document mentions BART by name. And UPRR isn’t allowed to object to an abandonment due to technology change. Does that apply to a partial abandonment? Ask a lawyer. I’m too tired to parse it all right now.

    Anyway, “extend-the-blend” from SJ to Gilory would requires UPRR to forgo rights to UPRR’s *own* right-of-way., by restricting the loading-gauge on that UPRR line to allow world-standard-envelope 25kV AC overhead catenary. *That* would set a precedent which UP will fight, tooth and nail to avoid. And understandably so. They’d be deficient in their fiduciary duty to their shareholders if they didn’t.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Johnathan there are people in the world who don’t iive in their Mommy’s carport. If you want to be treated civily behave civilly.

    jonathan Reply:

    Et tu, Adirondacker. You use your “no dick” comment as a regular response anytime you luse an argument. Not just to me, either. And the “Mommys’ carport is another example’.

    Would you prefer ‘You don’t what you’re talking about”, when in fact you don’t have a clue?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Unlike you Mommy some of us don’t bow to your omniscience and infallibility. Ever time I tell ya go fuck yourself it’s an attempt to get through your haze of Asperger’s masturbatory self congratulation – let some reality seep through. And always after you’ve been uncivil. If you want to be treated civilly be civil.

    jonathan Reply:

    Unlike you Mommy some of us don’t bow to your omniscience and infallibility.

    Unlike you, I *admit* when I’m wrong. I usually acknowledge it, and apologize. I cannot say the same for you. I’m not the only one who you have insulted. And every time I’ve seen you do it, its because you’ve lost the argument. Oh, and do grow up and drop the references to my family, will you? You’re not in grade school anymore.

    If you want to be treated civilly be civil.

    Yes. Exactly.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Jonathan Reply:
    May 28th, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Joe, you have a reading-comprehension problem.

    jonathan Reply:
    May 28th, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    Your grasp of the issues lacks opposable thumbs.

    We bow to your omnscience and lack of a dick to go fuck yourself.

    jonathan Reply:

    Why don’t you look at those in context whilst you’re about it.

    I didn’t directly insult you, I said you failed to grasp a particular point. Do you see the difference?

    jonathan Reply:

    Adirondacker, if you think you have a solution for “slow commuter trains” go ahead and share it.

    It _still_ can’ rescue Joe’s fantasy, because Joe’s fantasy relies on UPR allowing Caltrain to run catenary over UPRR tracks on UPRR’s right-of-way. UPRR has made it explicilty clear that they’re *never* going to do that. Joe seems to think that that problem can be solved by the State of California, using “money and lawyers”. You know better: UPRR is subject to the STB. UPRR can tell the State of California to go hang, and the STB will go along with it.

    As Joe knows, Caltrain’s plan is *not* to “blend” to Gilroy. Calrain’s plan is to run their existing diesels and Bombardier cars between SJ and Gilroy. But let’s ignore that for the moment and consider:a ‘blend”. That would mean running Calrain EMUs over the HSR line from Gilroy.
    Caltrain EMUs top out at less than half the speed of the required HSR trainsets.

    But even if Caltrain runs EMUs only SF-SJ, there iare *barely* enough slots for both HSR and Caltrain during rush hour. Extending Caltrain EMUs south to Gilroy aggravates and exacerbates that problem. The HSR trainsets will be slowed down during the rush-hour even more The “slots” begin at Gilroy instead of San Jose, and HSR is slowed down to “caltrain’speeds for longer. Which makes LA/SF in 2:40 even more intractable.

    *That* is why Joe’s fantasy is unworkable, even for Caltrain-running-on-HSR tracks between Gilroy and San Jose.

    So… what the *hell* is your comment about trains to Sacramento supposed to mean?
    On its face, it’s such a bizarre statement, it’s worthy of Synonymouse!

    jonathan Reply:

    … . of course, there’s a much simpler way to deal with incompatible pantograph requirements:
    multiple pantos, one for world-standard-25kV envelope (either Euro or Shinkansen); and completely separate pantos for PRR-ish-height catenary. Much more elegant solution.
    But prone to catastrophic failure if the train-driver forgets to lower the ~25-ft panto, and accelerates to HSR speed.

    Joey Reply:

    The Eurostars had both pantographs and third rail shoes for a while, both of which had to be retracted when not in use. There are instances of both destroying equipment because they weren’t retracted when they should have been.

    jonathan Reply:


    That was before HS1 opened, when the Eurostars were running on ex-Southern-Railway 750v suburban third-rail electrification. Then, the London Eurostar station was at Waterloo. The standard UK loading-gauge is small compared even to the smallest UIC gauge. I’m not surprised if an accidentally-raised panto hit a bridge or some other structure: the normal pan height is above the old UK loading gauge.

    Accidentally leaving a ~25ft panto up, and trying to accelerate to ~350 km/hr, could rip down miles of catenary behind the panto….. if the panto didn’t rip off first.

    jonathan Reply:

    and of course Eurostar speeds on Southern third rail were restricted by the limited power they could draw from 750V DC.

    California HSR is supposed to run at 350 km/hr or more. At those speeds, pantos need to be dynamically adjusted, on-the-fly, to maintain proper pressure of the pickup against the contact wire. A 25ft pan is likely to use springs, with a pneumatic cylinder to force it back down (and unlock a latch to let the panto up). If a train starts acceleratingto 350 km/hr with the passive sprung panto up, instead of the actively-controlled “world-standard-HSR-envelope” panto, it’d be much, much worse than Eurostar mistakes.

    I recall reafing about 3rd-rail pickup accidents, at the time; but not panto accidents. Thanks for that.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’d explain it but since you are omniscient why bother?

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    The ability to tap RRIF for high-speed rail in California would be a coup both for the Authority and FRA, as it would accelerate funds for construction on multiple key segments…

    build key segments at the same time

    Observer Reply:


  4. Brian_FL
    May 28th, 2014 at 12:51

    Would be interesting to see how the congressional Repugs react to a RRIF loan application by CHSRA. Especially a very big request – say 20+ billion or so… Even the AAF request here in Florida of $1.6B has attracted some negative attention from the usual tea partier and NIMBY elements. But so far politicians from both parties appear for the most part to support the project and the loan request.

    The design for the new AAF Miami terminal was released today. I happen to like it, nice white angular beams and an open/airy feel from I can see in the renderings that were released. 3 million sq feet of development and 4 track train platform 50 ft in the air.


    Alan Reply:

    That’s what makes it so sweet. The RRIF funds have already been appropriated, and there’s not a thing that the teabaggers or NIMBY’s can do to prevent DOT from making the loans.

    My response to the teabaggers would be short, sweet and only require one finger.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I do not know if the authority exists though for brand-new tracks. What is appropriated is money to rehabilitate and modernize existing tracks.

    Alan Reply:

    From http://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0021 :

    “Railroad Rehabilitation & Improvement Financing (RRIF) Program

    “Provides direct loans and loan guarantees to acquire, improve, or rehabilitate intermodal or rail equipment or facilities, including track, bridges, yards, buildings and shops; refinance outstanding debt incurred for the purposes listed above; and develop or establish new intermodal or railroad facilities. Currently Accepting Applications”

    Sounds like the authority is there.

    Larry Scheib Reply:

    Under the RRIF program the FRA Administrator is authorized to provide direct loans and loan guarantees up to $35.0 billion to finance development of railroad infrastructure. Up to $7.0 billion is reserved for projects benefiting freight railroads other than Class I carriers.

    The funding may be used to:

    Acquire, improve, or rehabilitate intermodal or rail equipment or facilities, including track, components of track, bridges, yards, buildings and shops;
    Refinance outstanding debt incurred for the purposes listed above; and
    Develop or establish new intermodal or railroad facilities
    Direct loans can fund up to 100% of a railroad project with repayment periods of up to 35 years and interest rates equal to the cost of borrowing to the government. (http://www.fra.dot.gov/Page/P0128)

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Already responded above but in case people don’t see it… your comment implies only 20% of RRIF funding can be used on a Non Class I railroad. Given that both Desert Xpress and the IOS would be competing for this very small slice of the pie, it’s probably more realistic to use RRIF funds for the segments that will be blended.

    Alan Reply:

    The quoted text implies nothing of the sort. The $7 billion is set aside for regional and shortline *freight* carriers. That definition does not include high-speed passenger rail. It would appear, then, that CHSRA and DesertXpress would be seeking funding from the remaining $28 million.

    Fake Irishman Reply:

    Right. That 20 percent is a set aside to make sure the small fry don’t get locked out. But the RRIF is really under subscribed — the biggest loans have been to AMTRAK for about $500 million and there are literally billions just waiting to be tapped.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Notice the words are “acquire, improve, or rehabilitate” not “construct” or “build”. RRIF is a good solution for some of the costs for the blended segments, but not the Central Valley portion.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Looks like the Port Authority Bus Terminal, one butt ugly building, in white. Either that or a 60’s highway rest stop gone bad. All it needs is an Esso sing and some faux tile roof in Howard Johnson orange.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    Haha no the bus terminal looks like a freakin steel girder bridge! I need to see more plans to see how the internal areas interact: retail to ticketing to platforms. But IMO this looks good. Not sure what you would like to see…

  5. Keith Saggers
    May 28th, 2014 at 15:56
  6. Gianny
    May 28th, 2014 at 19:25

    L.A. transportation officials plan to install four sections of track that will enable Amtrak and Metrolink trains to run straight through Union Station, where all tracks now dead-end. That would enable trains to avoid the 15 to 20 minutes it now takes to enter and exit the station at its lone entrance.



  7. Clem
    May 28th, 2014 at 20:58

    Does everyone understand the difference between a loan and a grant?

    jonathan Reply:

    Why do you ask?

    Eric Reply:

    If the biggest obstacle to CAHSR is political not financial – then it is advantageous to get it built right away using borrowed money. Somebody will have to pay off the debts down the line, but it doesn’t really matter who, at that point nobody will be willing to shut down a piece of key infrastructure.

    Travis D Reply:

    Exactly. So many of the opponents have no idea what HSR actually is. If we can find someway to built it, let everyone see how different it is from Amtrack and how successful it will be then the gig is up. The loans get repaid and in a few decades everyone denies having been opposed to the project that at that point will be looking to expand because of high use.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Ahhhh. The Wille Brown school of infastructure management. Dig the hole deep, sink in a ton of costs, and then tell them it is more expensive to stop/shut it down than continue. A highly effective but completly unethical strategy.

    I propose we actually follow the law and have the money and EIR before we build. That what we build require no subsidy. That what we build actually meet the time requirements…all the time requirements including SF to SJ. How about that?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Like we were going to be met with chocolates and roses, ( where they were going to get the chocolate since they were embargoed is a question no one asked ), it was only going to take six months, cost 150 billion which we would get paid back from the oil that would begin gushing almost right away?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    ahhhh…the joe school of debate. Where every point can be met with

    1. “GOP sucks”
    2. Bush did it worse
    3. The tea party is to blame
    4. The wars in Iraq/Afghanistan spent way more money/were more poorly managed
    5. All the above

    So here in reality, my comments had nothing to do with any of those things. My point, since it seemed to be too abstract, was to disagree that “it is advantageous to get it built right away using borrowed money” That is short sided and they money (which is not even available) is not enough to build the system.

    jonathan Reply:

    Oh dear! Calling Adirondacker on a non-sequitur? How “uncivil” of you.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    We spent 8 years of the Bush administration listening to people not recalling anything expect when they were mumbling something about how Clinton did it too. Why are relatively minor things Democrats do the the end of the world but anything Republicans do is not to be talked about?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    i didn’t say don’t talk about the GOP. I said it is not a generic boilerplate response to any statement.

    How is the Iraq war relevant to the state of CA borrowing money to build an HSR system? It isn’t.

    The universal answer is not 42 either.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You never do though, on the other hand Democrats are evil.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I have never said that and in fact if look back a few posts I said I like Jerry Brown…a liberal Democrat

    joe Reply:

    The spending of 1 trillion on the Iraq war is exactly why CA has to borrow money for infrastructure.

    Larry Scheib Reply:

    could you imagine if they had to do the transcontinental railroad this way, it never would have been built. What if they were to build enough highways and airports to handle an equivalent amount of passenger traffic? Would it be phased in or would the same expectations as you propose be applied?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    no, I cant imagine building any large infrastructure project this way. Which makes you wonder why they specifically included these things in the law. Because these aspects of the text and requirements of prop1a were advertised during the election.

    So why did the supporters handicap the HSR system with such a dysfunctional law? It want the GOP that wrote it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Because they didn’t think there were people in the world who would think they intended it to all erupt from the bosom of the earth instantaneously?

    joe Reply:

    ” So why did the supporters handicap the HSR system with such a dysfunctional law? It want the GOP that wrote it.”

    John’s wrong – the GOP did contribute to the proposition with the stipulation their required handicaps were required for some GOP members to join in a super-majoirty to place Prop1a on the ballot.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Feel free to look back at ballotopia. The supporters argument centered around these very requirement that are now being ignored and minimized. They happily used them to sell to the electorate there would be no stranded investment, etc.

    Larry Scheib Reply:

    At the time I don’t think early planners realized that Tea baggers were going to handicap Obama’s HSR initiatives at the federal level and real estate prices would balloon as much as they have from 2008 prices. I think the authority is trying to make the best of it but the headwinds of the opponents keep making it harder and more expensive (pushing for both federal and state environmental reviews, gutting of federal rail grants, stalling with legal battles while real estate inflation goes unchecked and etc). The legislator is attempting to mitigate these forces as they would if it was a highway or any other major project. I think they should have this authority to do so on a project of this magnitude regardless of what was exactly put in the prop 1a ballot; 2014 realities are not the same as pre-2008 realities. We elect our officials to remedy shortcomings in propositions which they continue to do so. 80 billion over 20 years or 4 billion is reasonable for HSR. $21.1 billion is currently spent annually on Cali Transportation. Currently NEC contributes 300 million of profits annually to Amtrak long haul routes. If CHSR could just break even it is moving a lot a people for 21.1 billion less than other transportation expenditures. A combination of Cap & Trade, rail loans, bonds, easement grants and private investment will suffice to bring project to fruition.

    joe Reply:

    HSR can move people without needing to be repaired and resurfaced at regular intervals with taxpayer money. HSR operations and maintenance are paid by fares.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Only if you sell enough tickets joe, which means you have to provide a service at the right price that is attractive. There are no “givens” in this business. You make statements like that and the only reaction is laughter, usually of the derisive variety. If you want to persuade people to support this thing you had better get your head out of the clouds.

    joe Reply:

    “there are no givens in this business” Oh my that’s serious.
    Serious people form a group consensus which is right because it’s serious and the opinion of serious people.

    CA has a ridership and revenue model and maintenance and operations model which are under constant refinement and improving.
    They make estimates and show the HSR system will cover operating and maintenance costs.

    What do you have to counter it? Scepticism.

    Roads don’t pay for them selves and they plain do not cover costs. Never.

    The only given – roads are going to cost us billions in repair and maintenance.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    This has nothing to do with roads joe, as you will understand from y comment. It is entirely about naive statements from so-called supporters of HSR who do their cause a disservice by divorcing their remarks from reality. CA has a model. That’s real? it’s a real model! Estimates are real? They are real ESTIMATES! Believe me, if you look at the history of projects such as this, and if you look at great works of fiction such as Amtrak accounting, there is a great deal about which to be skeptical.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Like road and airport construction budgets come in on time and on budget.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    There are legal ways to remedy any shortcomings…pass a new or modified law. Don’t just ignore the existing one

    joe Reply:

    Party of NO isn’t responsible to fix shortcomings because it’s not responsible.

    I suggest this is why it’s sunk to 29 percent statewide registration,

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Oh how unique. The “GOP sucks” argument from joe. Again with no relevance to the question at hand.

    joe Reply:

    The GOP has no relevance to legislating or fixing any short comings in the laws or HSR Prop1a. The GOP is so irrelevant that suggesting a GOP legislature member collaborate or propose is fix is seen as having

    no relevance to the question at hand.

    Pathetic and why 29% of people identify with this do nothing worthless collection of complainers.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Doesn’t suck. Not officially anyway. that’s not missionary position. In the men’s room at the Minneapolis airport on the other hand. I guess what happens in Minneapolis stays in Minneapolis. Until the locals start to complain about all the out of towners getting some in the men’s room. And with sundry prostitutes. One of them needs diapers for that to work. No one asked about what goes on with their mistresses when they are found to have one. Thank the FSM for little favors. I thought it was especially rich when the Newster’s second wife, who he was boinking while married to his first wife, was indignant when he told her he was boinking someone not his wife. Well that’s what happens when you marry a man who cheats on his wife…. The GOP sucks, they just don’t admit it unless caught red handed. Or in that particular case with their mouth full.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You aren’t the attorney general or a judge, the people who decide if the law is being complied with.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    You are so right. A judge already said it wasn’t in compliance. But you choose to ignore that

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and the state has decided to appeal that decision.

    jonathan Reply:

    What’s the difference in interest rates between T-bills and California-issued bonds? About 1.9% versus 3.9% for 10 years, but I didn’t see recent data on 30-year bonds on the state website.

  8. jimsf
    May 28th, 2014 at 21:01

    Isn’t this thing done yet?

    jonathan Reply:

    When are they going to break ground, this time around?

  9. synonymouse
    May 29th, 2014 at 10:05


    “At [the current] usage rate, California has less than two years of water remaining.”

    Ah, that’s ok. Send the water down to Palmdale to irrigate Jerry’s new ranchitos.

    StevieB Reply:

    80 percent of the water used in California flows into agriculture. About 6 percent of the state’s water is consumed by industries, commercial operations, and governments. About 14 percent is poured into bathtubs, toilets, and washing machines or sprayed over residential lawns. Landscaping accounts for nearly half of all residential water use.

    The Metropolitan Water District of Southern California, which includes Los Angeles, distributes 20 percent less water than it did in 1990, even though the population has grown by some five million people.

    Southern California… “ is so far ahead of Northern California in taking good care of water and using it carefully. The Central Valley doesn’t even have water meters.”

    In that farming region of California, where one-third of all jobs are tied to agriculture, local officials are bracing for an increase in unemployment and the prospect of fields being left fallow this year.

    The people in Palmdale know how to live on less water.

    synonymouse Reply:

    So you are going to pave ag and seed instead tracts, malls and high-rises?

    Who needs another LA in the high desert, other than Jerry and his crooked pals?

    StevieB Reply:

    Los Angeles does a good job of conserving water with residential usage of 152 gallons per day. Wealthy homes use far too much water. According to data compiled between 1995 and 2010 by the California Department of Water Resources, working-class Bellflower residents use an average of 128 gallons of water a day. Per capita water use in Pico Rivera (126 gal/d), Norwalk (119 gal/d) Inglewood (114 gal/d), and Compton (106 gal/day) was even less.

    Water use in Palos Verdes (282 gal/d) and Beverly Hills (284 gal/d) was markedly higher.

    If the wealthy did not landscape as if all of California were an English garden there would not be nearly as much water usage. Agriculture, which uses over 80% of California water, can implement practices which use less water and they will as the financial incentive increases.

    joe Reply:

    My inlaws are in Palos Verdes. It’s the lush tropical vegetation. I see ferns and moss.

    For those interested in drought tolerant natives, (or lazy since they are adapted).

    They ship and I’ve not had one problem ever with a plant.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    The shortage of potable water has been so severe that California is now investing in long-term solutions, such as desalination plants. A facility that is expected to be the largest in the Western hemisphere is currently under construction in Southern California, and another desalination facility is under consideration in Orange County

    Read more: Seven States Running Out of Water – 24/7 Wall St. http://247wallst.com/special-report/2014/05/23/seven-states-running-out-of-water/#ixzz3388txMvM
    Follow us: @247wallst on Twitter | 247wallst on Facebook

    datacruncher Reply:

    We have to look at the overall picture not just one location or one player. Otherwise the game pieces (water) simply get shifted elsewhere.

    Tejon Ranch, like Stewart Resnick and others, is becoming a power player in the water markets. From Tejon’s Q1 financial press release:

    The improvement in net income attributable to common stockholders is primarily due to $3,002,000 in net income received from sales of water during the quarter,

    That is $1 million/month net from selling water.

    Remember the 8,393 acre feet that DMB long-term leased a few years ago from a Kern County farmer to back the 12,000 homes DMB wanted to build in San Mateo County? It also was planning to sell the water it didn’t need for that project to others in the Bay Area.

    DMB back in November sold 6,693 acre feet per year of that water to Tejon Ranch. Don’t forget DMB is Tejon’s partner in Tejon Mountain Village.

    Focusing only on growth in Palmdale, Southern California or places in the Central Valley simply means the players will shift water to growth somewhere else like the Bay Area, the Central Coast, Tejon, etc.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sorry to be so ill-informed but DMB? When I google it I get Dave Mathews Band.

    Your point is well-taken – the development pressures and profits are enormous.

    Meanwhile LAX public enemy #1:


    PBHSR useless to displace air traffic – as intended in Prop 1a – due to being deviated to Palmdale and Mojave tossing out 2:40.

    I love Gen Prayuths remark: “Don’t bother to protest; it won’t do any good.” So Cheerleader, so PB, so party boss.

    synonymouse Reply:

    yeah, cool

    PB aka Party Boss

    Ted Judah Reply:

    DMB is a master-planned community developer based in Scottsdale, Arizona. The D in DMB refers to Dorrance Bennett, heir to the Campbell Soup empire.

    Datacruncher has it backwards though. The most important factor in homebuilding profit is the home price. Developers are shipping water to San Mateo County or San Diego County because homes will sell for much more there. It’s the exact opposite of the William Mulholland/Noah Cross idea that subsidized water can make cheap land worth a lot more. Now the State’s geographic inequality means that now access to cheap water is more important than access to cheap land.

  10. Derek
    May 29th, 2014 at 21:06

    We all know Jerry Brown supports high speed rail, and he’s running for governor. And here are the positions of Ron Nehring, Gavin Newsom, and David Fennell on high speed rail. Does anyone know the positions of the other candidates for lieutenant governor?

    joe Reply:


    I also checked Gov candidates and the Green Party candidate for Gov doesn’t mention HSR in his essay on why he should be elected.

    An interesting bellwether on on Cali politics would be watching how hard Gavin pushes his HSR opposition after the summer budget. I think he’ll bend with the wind. His primarily opponent post Brown in 2018 would the AG and she’s defending HSR in court.

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