Caltrain Electrification One Step Closer to Construction

Dec 8th, 2014 | Posted by

Caltrain released the final EIR for its electrification project. If approved next month, the design/build contract will be put out to bid, with construction beginning in 2016.

The Final EIR is facing some criticism from rider advocates who argue that Caltrain’s ridership estimates are too low – and that longer trains will need to be accommodated:

But the agency may need to take extra steps to accommodate riders, such as increasing the length of trains, said Adina Levin, executive director of the nonprofit Friends of Caltrain.

“We are concerned that the ridership forecast is unrealistically low,” said Levin, noting Caltrain’s ridership has more than doubled since 2003. “More planning will be needed to keep up with ridership growth.”

Caltrain spokeswoman Jayme Ackemann said the agency is already beginning to study those issues.

Of course, as long as there are only two tracks along this corridor, ridership growth will be constrained – it’s not just a matter of train length. Additional tracks will have to be built along this route, and now is the time to plan for them.

It’s been years in discussion and planning, but it will be great to see electrification finally get underway for Caltrain. It would also be great to see this spur electrification on other passenger rail lines in California – starting with the LOSSAN corridor.

  1. trentbridge
    Dec 8th, 2014 at 09:36
    #1

    Sept 4: Caltrain announced plans to purchase 16 surplus Metrolink rail cars at today’s Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board. The additional cars will be used to extend train sets and provide more capacity for standing-room only peak-hour trains.

    The Bombardier Bi-Level Generation 2 rail cars will be purchased from Southern California Regional Rail Authority, which operates the Metrolink service. While these cars are similar to the Bombardier vehicles Caltrain uses, they have been phased out of use on the Metrolink system. The rail cars will require substantial rehabilitation. Caltrain will determine an exact timeline for placing the cars into service, but expects it could take up to a year.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Now, could you do this with IBG?

    EJ Reply:

    So, your proposal is complete abandonment of BART, including the transbay tube, and rebuilding the entire system to standard gauge, FRA standards with plate K clearances so it can utilize used Metrolink equipment?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Naah, that’s blood under the bridge.

    But no more IBG or, calling upon the source, “BT”

    No BT on Geary and no destroying Muni. BART is after Muni’s passengers and its subsidy.

    One thing about BART, you certainly can’t call it cute.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And any other tube under the bay should be “Caltrain Technology”. CT.

    EJ Reply:

    You realize that a tube under the bay (or any other tunnel for that matter) that accomodates caltrain would have to be about 4 times as big as a BART tunnel.

    Also, who says BART isn’t cute? I happen to think 1970s retro-futurism is adorable. Built to the wrong gauge and using reinvented technologies that didn’t need to be reinvented, sure. But it is cute.

    synonymouse Reply:

    No problem. Chump change in comparison to the Antonovich Base Tunnel and the Mojave Meander.

    IBG – the shortest-lived transit fad.

    synonymouse Reply:

    A T-Rex is cuter than BART.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART “1970s retro-futurism”? More like 1960s Brutalist Jetsons. 450 Golden Gate Ave. Celebrating the pointedly ugly, vacuous, and dehumanized reaching its nadir in the TransAmerica Shaft.

    The Wells Fargo aluminum block building at First and Market.

    EJ Reply:

    Whatever you want to call it, it’s a style. It’s what people in the 1960s thought the future was going to look like. I don’t think they should be in a hurry to build more of it, but it’s got its own charm. Also, if a 2nd transbay tube is going to interchange with a line on Geary, the whole thing should be BART technology, unless it needs to interchange with Caltrain or the Cap Corridor. Better to at least have your whole system be compatible with itself.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Here’s the thing…any new transportation hub built in the last forty years in California is”ugly”. It doesn’t matter what system we are talking about or what type of station we are talking about.

    Much of the angst the Peninsula has over BART is that the antediluvan stations for CalTrain would be demolished and the “character” and “small town feel” would be obliterated allegedly. I think that *could* happen, but I would bet, as many have alluded that if cities ponied up extra cash, BART would be happy to redesign stations to be more friendly.

    The main barrier to this isn’t actually the money per se, it’s that cities are used to the State paying for freeway interchanges…so it puts cities at a disadvantage who have more BART than freeway running through town unless you can somehow make the BART station more valuable in sales tax generation than a strip mall by a freeway. Most people might think that such an outcome would be difficult but not impossible. They forget however, that because cities collect sales tax on new vehicle purchases, the BART station never has a chance.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART is ghetto and the Peninsula is not.

    EJ Reply:

    Ghetto like Walnut Creek and Rockridge?

  2. Jerry
    Dec 8th, 2014 at 11:09
    #2

    Four tracks all the way.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Incompatible with a PAMPA trench.

    Jerry Reply:

    If pampa wants a trench, let pampa pay for their trench.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Only fair, just as with Berkeley and BART.

    And, of course, as with Bechtel, PB will fight it tooth and nail and PAMPA will have to hire their own engineers and lawyer up good.

    Alan Reply:

    Screw PAMPA. If those clowns want a trench, let them pay not only the full cost of the trench, but any additional costs to the whole project that are the result of their f***ing lawsuits.

    Then we can talk about a trench.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They were forced to sue to cope with PB whereas all Barry Zoeller has to do is threaten to sue to achieve his ends.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Exactly. Let them buy their own trench. But don’t ask anyone else outside their cities to pay for it.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Same applies to the Antonovich Base Tunnel and any other civil works mitigations in Palmdale or Sta. Clarita.

    Joe Reply:

    No.

    The oennisyla is an operational 150 year old Row

    synonymouse Reply:

    Equitable treatment. Who died and make the Tejon Ranch king?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The only problem there is that only a few cities can really afford a trench and there might be a safety argument for trenches in other locales.

    EJ Reply:

    So funny how you repeatedly state that cost escalations don’t matter. Except when the PAMPA trench comes up, then suddenly it’s vitally important that CAHSR doesn’t have to pay for it.

    Neville Snark Reply:

    Is that true, Mouse? Too narrow?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The bigger the footprint the more it costs.

    synonymouse Reply:

    A while back Kopp was crowing a BART subway would be cheaper.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Because BART doesn’t do overtakes.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Kopp was referring to the smaller cross-section of the BART tube.

    Derek Reply:

    Or four tracks at each station and two tracks between stations.

    Joey Reply:

    Doesn’t work. You end up with trains sitting in the station for 5 minutes waiting to be overtaken. For reliable and seamless overtakes you need passing sections 3-4 stations long.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’ll buy seamless, but reliable? No. The overtakes on the Chuo Line and the Tokaido Shinkansen, which do involve local trains sitting at the station for a few minutes, are pretty reliable.

    Joey Reply:

    seamless and reliable. You can push the overtake time down to twice the minimum headway, but then if the next train is 30s late it ceases to be reliable.

    Andy M Reply:

    If you could accelerate the stopping trains by using high-performance emus, the speed difference between fasts and stopping trains would shrink and you could consider abolishing the fasts and have a metro style service with high-performance stopping trains at short headways. Most metro lines in the world have only two tracks and carry a multiple of the ridership that Caltrains carries.

    The real challenge is integrating HSR. To me the whole concept of integrating HSR on a busy commuter corridor seems somewhat courageous. I would prefer to see a fully dedicated ROW end to end, and am very much expecting the Caltrains sharing thing to be but a halfway house. When the rest of the system is built and running I expect there will be a push for precisely this.

    Joey Reply:

    That’s accounted for. Metros manage short headways by having only a single stopping pattern. CalTrain arguably has too many stopping patterns, but under the most reasonable optimizations it still has two (and then you add HSR…), so inevitably there will be overtakes. I forget the exact numbers, but IIRC a modern EMU with level boarding will loose about 1:30 by stopping (including dwell time), which is less than the minimum headway between trains (2:30 or 2:00 at minimum). Remember that in order to be overtaken, a train needs to loose 2 headways (plus some margin). So passing either requires multi-station long sections of track or the local train has to sit in the station for longer than normal.

    And re: dedicated ROW for HSR – it’s bad (1) because it increases infrastructure costs (no need to quad-track everywhere, especially the tunnels in SF) and (2) It reduces operational flexibility if a track is taken out of service for whatever reason and (3) It makes HSR-CalTrain transfers harder because then they can’t be cross-platform.

    Evans Reply:

    Two option. One is limit HSR speed same as Caltrain express. No full 4-tracks are needed. The other is full or extend 4-tracks as long as possible.

    J. Wong Reply:

    The northbound local waits at Bayshore for the overtake by the bullet except after 7 when they just run the bullet on the southbound tracks in parallel with the local. Often they’ll both be offloading at 22nd St at the same time. Still the published schedule is for an overtake even if they don’t in practice.

    Joey Reply:

    A freak occurrence of CalTrain’s tangled mess of skip-stop patterns. It probably wouldn’t work with a more regular schedule or with more trains.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    ….”it’s just a flesh wound…”

    The real reason to four track the Peninsula (in my humble opinion) is that it’s going to be the heaviest trafficked HSR corridor in the US beyond maybe NY to DC. You will have trains headed to LA, Las Vegas, San Diego and Phoenix flying down the track will lots of regularity plus trains to Sacramento, Tahoe, Reno, and eventually the Pacific Northwest and maybe even Boise.

    For BART meanwhile, and most the HSR system in CA, the station overtake idea just might be crazy enough to work…especially in places like Diridon Intergalactic where PB envisions 12 tracks at the station…You could literally have each train arrive at the station in one sequence and then dispatch them in a second sequence. Only question is what would you do about Fresno and Bakersfield…

    Evans Reply:

    Look at Keikyu railway in Japan. They have 3 different type of train each runs 10 min frequency under 2 tracks (18TPH). Local (station gap is about 1KM), express and limited express (120km/h). Most of express station have 4 tracks for local-express transfer.

    Jerry Reply:

    Four tracks good, two tracks bad.

    Jerry Reply:

    Of course you already know that the pampa pigs will change that to:
    Four tracks good, two tracks better.

    Eric Reply:

    Haha

    J. Wong Reply:

    Four tracks from south of San Mateo to north of Redwood City: Hayward Park, Hillsdale, Belmont, San Carlos.

    Jerry Reply:

    at J. Wong
    CalTrain should begin the process of building at least that four track segment.
    It includes the highly successful San Mateo TOD at the old Bay Meadows Race Track. (A new private high school in the TOD on 28th Ave. has already opened with an annual tuition of $42,000.) More office space is being added near the Hillsdale Station. Underpasses for 25th and 28th Avenues should have been part of the TOD. And included in the four track and electrification of that segment.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Agreed, but the problem is money. The only reason that Caltrain is able to proceed with electrification is that HSR is funding it. And the developer isn’t going to fund grade-separating.

    Joe Reply:

    Grade separations are controversial. A 4 track grade separation is HSR compatible. The locals don’t want compatible infrastructure. NIMBYS hold out hope that HSR can be stopped at San Jose. Also that current train capacity is good enough.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART holds out hope that HSR can be stopped at San Jose.

    J. Wong Reply:

    That’s the point about San Mateo to Redwood City: All inside the existing ROW and at least half in an entity that is supportive of grade separation (San Mateo).

    joe Reply:

    SO there is room along that run. Good.

    Grade separations are not part of electrification – right? Electrified Caltrain will run six trains and keep gates down longer. That’s been the briefing I’ve seen.

    I know Belmont’s against HSR. Cities have to compete for funds to build grade separations and those opposing HSR are scared to open the door. They also try to concoct ways to pit HSR compatible separations against designs with dedicated bikes/bike crossings. At least that’s what I see in Menlo Park.

    Michael Reply:

    Belmont and San Carlos have been completely grade separated since the 90’s. They still have the ROW from the shooflys that were necessary to build the grade seps (although San Carlos and the JPB need to be very careful to not mess them up for “TODs”).

    joe Reply:

    I used to ride from SF South pre and post grade separation.

    A reference to belmont wanting a trench.
    http://archives.smdailyjournal.com/article_preview.php?id=139144

    Here’s the map
    https://goo.gl/maps/behxU
    I’m not sure that crossing is compatible with 4 track.
    or this https://goo.gl/maps/i4gZe
    Maybe it’s not necessary to have 4 track crossings

    Joey Reply:

    What about those is incompatible with 4 tracks? In the first case, put two new tracks on the west side of the existing tracks. In the second case, put one on either side (resulting in the superior FSSF configuration). The new tracks might have to be at a slightly higher level than the current ones to clear the road, but it’s not like that’s a problem.

    Clem Reply:

    San Carlos Transit Village is a done deal. EIR cleared, permits granted, NIMBYs placated.

    Joey Reply:

    Wow. Shout-out to the city of San Carlos for quite possibly fucking over the entire Peninsula corridor.

    Given the importance of that area as a strategic overtake, it might still be possible to take a row of properties on the other side of Old County Road, move the road, and then put the tracks there, but for obvious reasons that’s a whole lot messier than putting new tracks on completely unoccupied land that everyone involved knew might be necessary for HSR.

    Clem Reply:

    It’s worse! SamTrans (the very same transit agency that runs Caltrain) owns the land and has pushed this project forward relentlessly. Heckuva job!

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Death is far too kind a fate.

    J. Wong Reply:

    @joe Grade separations are not part of electrification. It’s weird that Belmont is against HSR since it already has grade separations for all of its crossings. Makes me suspect that it isn’t NIMBYism here just general ideological resistance against HSR.

    jimsf Reply:

    Since there is room for four tracks on most of the row south and north of the pampa area, just four track everything but that, then, runn all the trains on a four track sked, but make them line up at each end of pampa to be fed through one at a time, one behind the other, causing a 14 hour traffic nighmare as all the cross streets are blocked and the gates never go up.
    Do that for a year and then go back and ask them if they would like four tracks and grade seprations.

    Emmanuel Reply:

    I personally don’t see the need for 4 tracks. 3 can do the same job as long as you have some excellent coordination of who uses what at which time. bwahahaha okay, okay, we might as well go with 4.

  3. Roger Christensen
    Dec 8th, 2014 at 14:10
    #3

    I am Caltrain ignorant – never have been on it. How many cars to a train? High or low platforms?
    Can cars be added without major platform changes?

    J. Wong Reply:

    Typically 5 cars. The platform limits are 7 cars at some stations. Low platforms (no level boarding).

  4. Useless
    Dec 8th, 2014 at 14:26
    #4

    Bombardier drops out of Acela replacement bid. The only confirmed intended bidder to date is Hyundai Rotem, while Siemens, CNR, and CSR neither confirm or deny if they have submitted intention to bid. http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/08/us-canada-bombardier-amtrak-idUSKBN0JM20L20141208

    Joey Reply:

    Where’s Alstom? The New Pendolino seems uniquely suited to the NEC’s immediate needs.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s too slow?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Amtrak has no active plans to raise speeds much above the New Pendolino’s maximum. Even if it did, it would need to perform extensive upgrades for non-tilting 300+ km/h trains to outperform the New Pendolino on trip time (now, maintenance costs…). Those 270 mm of cant deficiency are precious.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    East of New York. The standard gauge ones are too narrow too.

    Clem Reply:

    I see what you did there… “the standard gauge ones”. Pendolini are available in whatever width you’d like, and (not coincidentally) the wide-gauge ones tend to be wider. Here’s a wide one, fatter than an Acela Express.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and it will give you a very bumpy ride if you put it on standard gauge track. Probably be very slow too.

    Joey Reply:

    Point being that the width of a given model of train is not fixed – manufactures routinely change it between orders.

    EJ Reply:

    No, it won’t. First of all, Finnish gauge is a whopping 3 1/2″ wider than US gauge. Second, train builders change the width of trains to fit different national requirements all the time. Not all standard gauge pendolinos are the same width.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s not “off the shelf” if you raise the floor and widen the cars. It’s still too slow.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Can somebody stop this robot from clicking on the “Submit Comment” button somehow?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    so the people at Alstom, who routinely make trains wider or narrower or longer or shorter or faster or slower or put a cherry on top of the whipped cream, ignored the RFP and a bunch of foamers on the internet know better?

    EJ Reply:

    Yes. Why, I don’t know. But it’s not because they couldn’t make a train wider if they wanted to.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I suspect someone at Alstom looked at the RFP and said something like “oh gawd the foamers will think Pendolinos make sense for this, they don’t” which is why Alstom didn’t propose them.

    EJ Reply:

    Yes, I’m sure you’re right. There’s no way they’d be able to make one wide enough, despite the fact that they already do for Russia and Finland.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then why didn’t they submit a proposal?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Maybe entering into contracts with manifestly incompetent people who don’t know what they’re doing, don’t know what they want, and are guaranteed to change their requirements several times can be viewed an excellent way to buy pain, commercial losses, ill-will, and opportunity cost.

    “Winning” some contracts is a poisoned chalice. (SF Muni, as another example, can’t even pay most vendors to bid.)

    EJ Reply:

    I don’t know. I’m not privy to the reasoning of Alstom’s business development people. They don’t submit bids for every rail project in the world. Perhaps it just didn’t fit with their overall goals as a company. Doing business in the US has historically been difficult for European firms – look how Talgo got burned in Wisconsin. Maybe they decided it was too risky.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yet there are other bidders

    Joey Reply:

    Not many, and only one confirmed.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    ah but Pendolinos are the perfect choice for the NEC! Why didn’t Alstom bid even though their competitors are?

    EJ Reply:

    I don’t know, genius. What did Alstom find so technically daunting about Amtrak’s requirements that they didn’t submit a bid?

    EJ Reply:

    They’re only one of the most technically sophisticated engineering firms in the world. What did Hyundai Rotem have up their sleeve that Alstom didn’t even bother?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’m not the one saying it’s a deep conspiracy by the transit industrial complex to make the NEC as expensive as possible. Maybe the simple answer is that Alstom’s evaluation isn’t the same as foamers on the internet.

    EJ Reply:

    I’m not saying it’s a conspiracy either. I’m simply saying that if I had to wager, I’d bet that Alstom’s unwillingness would be based on political and business considerations rather than any technical impediments.

    I mean, the Republicans did well in 2014 and many people are projecting that momentum to carry on to 2016. I’m hoping it doesn’t, but if I was a cold-hearted bean counter at Alstom I’d be reluctant to bet on it. These people read the news. This is the party, after all, where a significant number of them want to kill Amtrak entirely.

    Hyundai-Rotem is young and hungry; maybe willing to take on more risk than Alstom. This is all speculation; I don’t have any inside dirt on any of these companies. But neither do you. What I don’t find particularly credible is that the company that builds the New Pendolino, that built the train with the current wheel on rail speed record, that built the TGV duplex, etc., etc. is unwilling to take on the technical challenge of the NEC.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    why would they be reluctant to take it on? they could just take a few Pendolinos off the lot and sell them to Amtrak couldn’t they?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Is Alstom interested in the Queretaro project?

    EJ Reply:

    they could just take a few Pendolinos off the lot and sell them to Amtrak couldn’t they?

    Oh wow, ain’t I the stupid one. Here I was thinking they’d have to submit a proposal to engineer their trains to Amtrak’s requirements, then get it approved. But apparently you can buy a HSR trainset just like buying a car.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Well that’s what everybody else seems to think even though the standard gauge ones are too narrow and the wide ones are the wrong gauge and all of them are too slow.

    EJ Reply:

    No, that’s something you made up. Every passenger train set built nowadays is customized in some respect. That’s why these things have to go out to bid and you can’t just go to trains ‘r’ us and buy a train off the lot. The question is, does the new pendolino platform lend itself to being engineered for NEC requirements? On paper, it seems so. But you’ve apparently got some inside dope about how it won’t work. So spill it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then what’s the difference between buying Pendolinos or something from Siemens? Or Rotem?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Can somebody stop this robot from clicking on the “Submit Comment” button somehow?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    the rest of us aren’t omniscient like you. Maybe you can mansplain it.

    swing hanger Reply:

    “unspecified changes in the technical specifications” reported in numerous articles- such opacity is not a good sign and likely why some are staying away. Shades of the Mexico cock-up or Brazil HSR?

    EJ Reply:

    Then what’s the difference between buying Pendolinos or something from Siemens? Or Rotem?

    Who said there’s anything wrong with Siemens and Rotem? People were just curious as to why Alstom didn’t bid.

    Joey Reply:

    Siemens actually has access to the same tilting technology. The bogies on the ICE-T were supplied by Fiat Ferroviaria, which was later bought by Alstom.

    Of course, we don’t know that Siemens is even bidding, so…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Joey Reply:
    December 8th, 2014 at 3:13 pm

    Where’s Alstom? The New Pendolino seems uniquely suited to the NEC’s immediate needs.

    The straightforward answer is that Pendolinos aren’t suited to the NEC which is why Alstom didn’t offer them.

    Useless Reply:

    EJ

    > What did Hyundai Rotem have up their sleeve that Alstom didn’t even bother?

    Rotem and the Korea Railway Ministry has been going after US HSR projects for a long long time, going as far as changing their local railway regulations to implement FRA style crash-worthiness into their new-built rolling stocks. For example, KTX-II power cars have 600+ ton static compression load strength(as opposed to 200 ton standard Velaro and 100 ton Shinkansen), and currently all new intercity rail cars(Which includes KTX-II) implement 5 MJ crash energy absorption structures that European rolling stocks lack.

    This rule revision was done in order to give Rotem an unfair advantage over others in US HSR projects, and to keep out European/Japanese rolling stocks out of Korean markets even though European rolling stocks technically have equal access to Korean market via EU FTA, because implementing this extra crash-worthiness feature into rolling stocks make European rolling stocks cost prohibitive.

    As of now, KTX-II is the closest “off-the-shelf” high speed train set to FRA’s Tier II passenger rail rolling stock regulation, and therefore it is not surprising that only Hyundai Rotem claims they could meet Amtrak’s tight schedule.

    EJ Reply:

    @Useless – well I’ll be damned! An actual interesting response that tells me something I didn’t already know.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, also west, until Elizabeth and Metuchen get fixed.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Elizabeth is unfixable until they build the tunnel from North White Plains to Linden. IIRC Metuchen is 110 MPH which is good enough until they build the tunnel. Extend it to Edison.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    This again? No, Elizabeth is not unfixable. Knock down a garage and it can support 220 km/h service.

    Metuchen is good for 160 km/h right now, but lies right between two high-speed segments, and can be eased to 240-280 km/h (depending on takings). The general problem with NY-DC is slow zones right in the middle of fast segments, of which Metuchen is one. NY-Boston is different – Connecticut west of New Haven is slow zones one after the other, but east of New Haven the route’s fast with no significant slowdown except in Providence proper.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And screw up traffic in half of Union County for years. There are actual people in Elizabeth.

    http://www.coachusa.com/CoachUsaAssets/files/95/route24.pdf

    JB in PA Reply:

    127,558 (2013)
    Elizabeth, Population

    127,763 (2013)
    Visalia, Population

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Somebody is realigning the railroad ROW that is on top of a perpendicular railroad ROW that teeters over downtown, in Visalia?
    The population density of Elizabeth is 10,144 per square mile. Visalia’s is 3,433. The population density of Union County is 5,216. I suspect that carving a two track ROW through Tulare County will be a bit easier than through downtown Elizabeth.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Huh? Lose the garage, build viaducts just west of where the current tracks are, and realign the tracks. Might need to single-track for a weekend, and do a lot of construction disruption right where the viaducts are, but much of where the viaducts would be is where the garage is right now, so…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Twice an hour from Washington DC, once an hour from Chicago via Indianapolis and once an hour from Detroit via Cleveland and once an hour from Harrisburg and once an hour from western Virginia and once an hour from eastern Virginia and twice an hour from Trenton and once an hour from South Brunswick and once an hour from Bay Head and once an hour from Matawan.. ya can’t single track.

    During peak when it’s twice an hour from Chicago and twice an hour from Detroit and twice an hour from Harrisburg and twice an hour from eastern Virginia and twice an hour from western Virginia with two an hour from Philadelphia and four an hour from Washington DC, Trenton, South Brunswick, Matawan and Bay Head four tracks isn’t enough. not if you want to run local service between Newark and Rahway. Ya need a tunnel from North White Plains to Woodbridge. Especially since the trains from Washington DC to Toronto, Montreal and local service along the New Haven line will be using it too.. along with the 6 or 8 or 10 merging in just north of airport.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The single-tracking would be about now, when weekend traffic is a couple trains per hour including NJT.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They aren’t doing it now. Maybe, just like have done in Connecticut, they’ve decided that it’s not worth it for the local traffic in New Jersey and Pennsylvania and will just use the tunnel from North White Plains to Woodbridge.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I’m not inclined to trust any decision Amtrak has made on any issue, down to and including the color of the paint on the trainsheds. (The trains themselves look okay, even if I’d rather they were painted white like most Shinkansen.)

    EJ Reply:

    Any HSR on the existing NEC is going to have to be a tilting train, right? What’s the New Pendolino’s top speed? I know the ICE T’s is 230 km/h and the UK pendolinos are designed for that speed (but they max out at 125 mph in regular service b/c the West Coast Main Line doesn’t have cab signaling). Is there any technical reason it couldn’t be upgraded to 150 mph?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are busy upgrading it to 160 in the short term and 190 in the medium term. With 220 in their long term plans.

    Joey Reply:

    What’s their timetable for 190 and 220 upgrades? Given the tradeoff between cant deficiency and speed, it doesn’t make sense to buy faster trains until you have a lot of very fast track.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    2040. Trains delivered in 2020 will still be running in 2040. West/South of New York there are long stretches that are straight enough for 220 the catenary isn’t up to it and the track needs to shifted a bit.

    Joey Reply:

    Trains delivered in 2020 will be halfway through their useful lifespan in 2040. Very high speed trains available for delivery will be more advanced and efficient than very high speed trains available for delivery in 2020. Trains with a high degree of cant deficiency will beat very high speed trains on NY-Boston for a very long time to come. And on NY-DC, there are a few sections which could support higher speeds, but only one on which they would actually save a meaningful amount of time – Newark (DE) – Baltimore. It’s often said that upgrading the slowest sections first gives the most cost-effective trip time savings – though I doubt Amtrak understands this…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes trains will be more advanced in 2040. That doesn’t mean the trains delivered in 2020 will be made into reefs.
    The only way Amtrak can get Boston to DC down to three hours in 2040 is to get rid of all the squiggly bits in Connecticut.
    If Newark to Baltimore is straight enough so is Newark to Philadelphia except for the squiggly bits in downtown Wilmington. Wilmington is almost exactly halfway between NY and DC. If only one or two trains an hour stop in Wilmington, that they have to go slow in downtown isn’t all that much of a problem.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Then they can run the trains from 2020 in regional service or on other lines they might electrify, and order 2040 models for the full-speed service. Sheesh.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Six tracks from NY to DC so they save a few million dollars in 2020 doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. Or turning them into reefs in 2040 so they save a few million in 2020.

    Joey Reply:

    Not every service pattern requires its own set of tracks. Surely you are aware that the Acelas, Regionals, and MBTA share tracks between Providence and Boston.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    In 2040 NJTransit is planning on having 50 or more trains an hour running into Penn Station. Many many of them will be on the part between Newark and New Brunswick. If the Regional is toddling along the express tracks and the Trenton Express is toddling along the express tracks the trains to Washington and Cleveland have to go as fast as those trains or they need their own tracks. Take your pick, fast trains or more track.

    Joey Reply:

    The top speed between Penn Station and New Brunswick isn’t going to exceed 150 mph for the next half century. It doesn’t matter if the top speed of the train is 150 mph or 200 mph – on 150 mph track they’re both going to go 150 mph.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then ya don’t get 3 hour travel times between Boston and DC.

    Joey Reply:

    NY-Brunswick is highly urbanized which makes the feasibility of very high speed operation on that corridor questionable. At the very least it’s one of the lowest priorites on the entire corridor, certainly not to be completed within the lifespan of the Acela replacements.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s been highly urbanized since the 1840s and not many people were stupid enough to build houses right next to the tracks.

    Joey Reply:

    Sound carries, and very high speed trains are loud. In the rest of the civilized world, high speed trains through urban areas are typically limited to 270 km/h – still Pendolino territory.

    EJ Reply:

    With any luck by 2040 NY will get its head out of its ass and upgrade NY-Albany (and possible Buffalo) to overhead electrification. At that point remaining Acela II sets could be cascaded to that line.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And Pendolinos can’t go fast in the places where different trains could go faster.

    Yes build a 220 mph ROW across Upstate New York – they have to build a new ROW because the existing tracks are the main freight route in and out of New England – and then run slow trains on it. Because they make sense someplace else. Sounds like a great plan.

    EJ Reply:

    To get to Albany from NYC, you’ve got to go up the Hudson line – you know, the one that comes up right near the top of the list every time someone looks at railroad lines that would be great candidates for “higher speed” rail (ie ~110 to ~140 mph).

    But you seem like you have it all figured out. Spit it out, son, what’s the plan?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Trains that can go 220 MPH can travel at lower speeds. Trains that can only make 150 can’t go faster than that on track good for 220.

    EJ Reply:

    I was under the impression that the designed top speed for the Acela was 165 mph, but the FRA won’t allow anything over 150 on a shared track. Am I wrong? Or is the FRA set to change that rule?

    Useless Reply:

    The current Acela is certified for 160 mph revenue service operation on certain segments of the Northeast Corridor. Accordingly, the Acela II will have to have a revenue service of 160 mph or faster, but more importantly, a faster acceleration/deceleration rate in order to make the most of what’s available.

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Amtrak are upgrading 23 miles of track on the NEC from Trenton to New Brunswick NJ to 160 mph

    Joey Reply:

    For a time savings of less than two minutes.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How much cheaper would it be to upgrade it to 140 instead?It’s limited to 160 until they find the money to upgrade the tracks. Then it will be 190. I suppose they coulda just let the 80 year old catenary go until it collapses into a pile rust and then do something.

    Joey Reply:

    If the catenary is falling apart then they should have replaced the catenary for the sake of replacing the catenary. I know catenary replacement was the bulk of the cost but they made other changes to reach 160 on that short segment. Any additional money beyond the catenary replacement should have gone toward upgrades elsewhere, such as replacing more catenary because there’s a lot of it that needs to be replaced.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Just how much cheaper is 140 MPH catenary versus 190 MPH catenary? I suspect that taking a track out of service to replace the catenary and upgrading the track at the same time is cheaper than taking the track out of service to replace the catenary and then coming back in a few years and taking the track out of service to do the track work.

    Joey Reply:

    Probably not that much cheaper, but again it’s not the catenary work I was complaining about.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So they then have 190 MPH catenary hanging over tracks that can’t handle it. Sounds like a great plan.

    Joey Reply:

    What’s the problem? It’s not uncommon to build a line for high design speed but commission it at lower speed until higher speeds are justified operationally. The first segment of Madrid-Barcelona operated at 200 km/h initially.

    EJ Reply:

    The shinkansen also initially operated at 200 km/h.

    As for the catenary, once you’ve built constant tension catenary (which you need to go above 135 mph); isn’t it basically the same thing whether or not you’re going 150 mph or 200 mph?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    As for the catenary, once you’ve built constant tension catenary (which you need to go above 135 mph); isn’t it basically the same thing whether or not you’re going 150 mph or 200 mph?

    I know almost nothing about Amtrak’s made-up “standards”, but looking at some DB-Netz standard design information I have to hand, I see that in going from the 200kmh standard design to the 350kmh design (“Re200” and “Re330” respectively) the decrease in various geometrical tolerances means that the maximum span length goes from 80m to 65m (meaning perhaps 23% more foundations, masts, hangers, etc), the nominal tension in the conductor wire goes from 10kN to 27kN (meaning a different cross section and alloy composition), the catenary wire tension from 10kN to 21kN, the spacing between dropper wires goes from ~9.2m to ~10.2m, separate tensioning pulleys are required for the conductor and catenary wires, etc, etc.

    It all adds up.

    Of course given Amtrak’s out-of-this-world consultant and construction costs, Amtrak’s bang-two-rocks-together maintenance practices, and Amtrak’s trade-exclusionary anti-competitive least-qualified-wins procurement system, “little” things (things that make a real difference to professional organizations with economic and engineering controls) like 20% more foundations and masts aren’t going to even appear as a rounding error.

    And then there’s this … America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals wuz heear.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And the 80 year old stuff hanging there is good for 217 km. On moderate spring and autumn morning they run test trains with at 270.

    EJ Reply:

    And then there’s this … America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals wuz heear.

    That’s… quite an achievement. I was gonna say, well at least it’s probably a high speed junction but then I zoomed out and realized it’s just outside South Station, so, wow.

    Joey Reply:

    The top speed of the New Pendolinos is about 150 mph.

    EJ Reply:

    Yeah but is that a hard design constraint or could they be reengineered with motors and brakes that would permit higher speeds?

    Andy M Reply:

    Pendolinos are cheesy enough at lower speeds. I wouldn’t want to see that envelope pushed.

    EJ Reply:

    What’s wrong with them? I’ve ridden the UK ones and they seemed pretty solid. Bit cramped but that’s because they needed to fit a tilting train into the tight UK loading gauge.

    And when there was a high speed derailment a few years ago it held up pretty well.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The tilting mechanism is expensive to maintain.

    Observer Reply:

    To me Talgos have the best tilting mechanism in the business. But are they too low for the high NEC loading platforms?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Talgos do not tilt as much as the Pendolinos, and therefore are restricted to medium levels of cant deficiency. The mechanism also can’t be fitted to powered axles, only unpowered ones, which forces the trainset to be loco-hauled.

    The production models so far have low floors, but raising floors is easy, especially on a design with such a low center of gravity as the Talgo coach. Talgo’s never bothered doing so since pretty much every buyer of Talgo products has low or medium floors.

    EJ Reply:

    But some sort of (probably expensive) tilting mechanism is a given no matter who gets the contract, right? You can’t run a non-tilting high speed train on the NEC as it currently exists.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    which forces the trainset to be loco-hauled.

    So what?

    A competent (non-Amtrak, non-CHSRA=PBQD, non-US) open procurement process would be neutral on that sort of technical detail, except inasmuch as it may affect passenger flow and distribution at extremely crowded stations (which we don’t have, other than as self-inflicted gaping wounds.)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    So, it has lower capacity per unit of train length than the standard EMU sets (Velaro, Zefiro, etc.).

    Emmanuel Reply:

    Then again, you forget Amtrak wants a prestige train, so they will probably buy something that can go up to 360 kph even though their tracks will never support that speed.

    Emmanuel Reply:

    That being said, I would suggest a TGV Duplex. You might as well get two floors to cover the high demand on one trip. But, then again, Amtrak will probably choose something really really stupid not thinking about the future.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The passengers would be really really annoyed about the gap between the platform and the cars. And clambering up and down from the platforms and the cars. Amtrak is aiming for an MU.

    Useless Reply:

    Emmanuel

    There was a reason why Alstorm wasn’t the sole contractor of the first Acela; Acela doesn’t have a rolling stock manufacturing operation in the US.

    Observer Reply:

    Might Alstom team up with another manufacturer that does have facilities in the USA such as CAF which has facilities in Elmira, NY?

    Useless Reply:

    Observer

    Well, the deadline for submission of intent along with technical documents already passed. Bombardier couldn’t meet the deadline and gave up when their request for deadline extension was denied.

    This is the reason why other bidders, namely Siemens, CNR, and CSR are ambigious about their intents on Acela II bidding, when they have done so for the CAHSRA bid invitation.

    Accordingly, the Amtrak must be on an aggressive roll out schedule and most bidders with the exception of Rotem may have decided that they could not meet the target service date of 2019.

    Eric M Reply:

    Alstom has a “warehouse” at Mare Island. They could expand to manufacture train-sets there.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Alstom manufactures trains in the US.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R160_(New_York_City_Subway_car)

  5. Jerry
    Dec 8th, 2014 at 16:17
    #5

    With more than Eleven (11) daily trains at over 100% capacity there is an IMMEDIATE critical need for 8 car trains. This will however, be a problem at a number of stations.
    http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/Caltrain+Modernization+Program/Presentations/Caltrain+Longer+Platform+and+Trains.pdf

    Joey Reply:

    How is Mountain View “difficult” to lengthen? There’s nothing south of the station.

    Jerry Reply:

    They forgot to look south. They may have to bring in a consultant to study the problem. This obviously calls for a blast from RM.

    William Reply:

    Lengthening the train to 8-cars, and move the at-grade pedestrian crossings further out will make a long walk for most to the north-bound platform.

    Of course the access issue can be solved by making Mountain View an elevated station.

    Joey Reply:

    The access issue could be solved in any number of ways, none of which make Mountain View “difficult” to lengthen.

    Evans Reply:

    Good opprotunity to build “glade separated” station. Close some of parking lot and build 2 platform and 4 tracks with pedestraina tunnel.
    Mountain View station have nearly 5000 daily ridership which should not rely on pedestrain crossing. 4- tracks station will provide local-express transfer and turn around pocket track will be used for LEVIs special train and peak period train turn around (not all train need to go San Jose).

    Jerry Reply:

    You are correct. All trains do not have to go to San Jose. I always wondered why turn arounds did not take place. San Francisco to Palo Alto and back for example.
    ACE could do a turn around at Santa Clara and head north to Redwood City and turn around and go back to someplace else.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Because if they didn’t run all the way to San Jose it would be like the dreaded Metro North. Or almost any other commuter agency.

    Joey Reply:

    The commute/reverse commute balance is a lot less directional on CalTrain than on many of the Northeast commuter RRs. That might change when Transbay is added though, given that there are more jobs within 1/2 mile of Transbay than the rest of the corridor combined.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That doesn’t mean it’s a good idea to run all the trains to San Jose.

    Joey Reply:

    True, and in fact it probably isn’t a good idea. Just saying that the comparison doesn’t capture everything that’s going on.

    joe Reply:

    First, which city will allow a diesel train turnaround? CEQA baby.
    Second, San Jose is so aggressive about growth that VTA isn’t going to let Caltrain spend VTA money running trains between San Mateo and SF County. The governance model is not going to allow it.
    Third, what Joey wrote.

    Evans Reply:

    Joey,

    First, Levis studium special train idles between Lawrence and Sunnyvale. Is this under CEQA or irregular basis?
    Second, reasonable turn around location is Mountain View or Sunnyvale because of ridership density gap. In the traditional commute direction, ridership density out from San Francisco maintains until Mountain View.
    Redwood city seems reasonable location for turn around because of space in Redwood junction. If we do so, Calfornina Ave->Palo Alto and Redwood City ->Menlo park bacome most congested section.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    Jerry, I’m surprised that Elon Musk hasn’t jumped into the Caltrain electrification fray and offered to use the Caltrain route as a real-life test bed for his hyperloop. After all, there’s nothing like turning an idea into reality, as well as starting small.

    If Caltrain commuters flock to it in droves, then Elon can take his superb idea to greater heights (and lengths)!

    swing hanger Reply:

    Yeah, where is that Silicon Valley “best and brightest” + “can do” attitude that boosters always like to tout??

  6. synonymouse
    Dec 8th, 2014 at 17:11
    #6

    China still wants to go to Queretaro:

    http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/12/01/us-china-mexico-railway-idUSKCN0JF1D720141201

    “The company said after the cancellation of the contract that it was “exceptionally shocked” by the decision and that it was looking at taking legal action to protect its rights.”

    Andy M Reply:

    Wel, they were expecting to be shocked, but not this exceptionally.

  7. les
    Dec 8th, 2014 at 17:25
    #7

    And Denham is still up to his old tricks:

    http://www.progressiverailroading.com/federal_legislation_regulation/news/Rep-Denham-seeks-to-stop-federal-funds-for-Californias-highspeed-rail-line–42820

    “U.S. Rep. Jeff Denham (R-Calif.) last week wrote to House Appropriations Committee Chairman Hal Rogers (R-Ky.) and Committee Ranking Member Nita Lowey (D-N.Y.) to request that end-of-year appropriation measures include provisions to prohibit federal spending on California’s high-speed rail program.

    synonymouse Reply:

    He’s right. The 2:40 and no subsidy provisos of Prop 1a need to go thru the courts before any construction is undertaken.

    How about PB’s “old tricks”, lying about Tejon?

    les Reply:

    courts? i don’t recall anybody filing legal claims against CHSR in the courts. why start now.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Tos et al before Judge Kerry

    Joe Reply:

    He’s not issued an injunction halting the project. No more Creative Law by Kenney. By the book this time.

    les Reply:

    Quit talkn trash. nobody ever going to sue CHSR. not even those guys. NIMBYs love choo-choos in there backyards so they don’t need roosters to wake them up, and farmers love their land divided, better to isolate aphids and gophers. CHSR is as contentious free a project as can be. 2:40 requirement and Tejon issues are mythical, only something I read about in a Guatemalan press release once but nothing about it here in California. Sorry but I don’t see any litigation in the foreseeable future.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The second phase in court will begin next spring.

    Emmanuel Reply:

    Of course, of course. Didn’t expect anything other than that. The Republican House and Senate majority will mean a lot of pain for years to come.

    Joe Reply:

    Jeff also demands moaare and faaasster ACE to San Jose train service for his constituents.
    The HSR segment is supposed to feed riders to ACE on to San Jose until Pacheco is built out.

    That’s some tap dancing.

    les Reply:

    i’m sure Jeff would have been against ACE only to jumped on the bandwagon after its’ success. That’s a repub for ya, always late to the party.

    Joe Reply:

    He’s held town hall meetings on the ACE commuter system.

    State rail plan vs Jeff’s world. He’ll lose that divisive argument. All state wide offices are Dem.

    Question is will jeff convert by 2016 or vote to kill jobs.

  8. Reedman
    Dec 10th, 2014 at 10:14
    #8

    FYI, two days ago the US Supreme Court heard oral arguments about whether or not Amtrak is a private company, and whether it has undo influence in setting performance standards for freight railroads. The transcript:

    http://www.supremecourt.gov/oral_arguments/argument_transcripts/13-1080_4f15.pdf

    No. 13­-1080
    DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION, ET AL., Petitioners
    v.
    ASSOCIATION OF AMERICAN RAILROADS
    Monday, December 8, 2014

    Joey Reply:

    The way Amtrak is structured is stupid anyway. It’s a nominally private entity which gets large government subsidies which gives you the worst of both worlds – it’s not operated efficiently but it also isn’t accountable to the public.

    jimsf Reply:

    actually you have ti backwards. Its doubley accountable to the public as private company with public subsidy. Its accountable to customers directly by way of sales, revenue, service. YOu have to give people what they want or they won’t come back just like any other private business. And they are accountable to the public via elected representation (congress) Amtrak has to try twice as hard to please everyone including non customers. Verizon does not have to answer to the taxpayer via congress.

    joe Reply:

    Congress has to answer to Verizon.

    jimsf Reply:

    ( i like verizon though- best coverage)

    Joey Reply:

    I really think that a full public agency would be better though. Board meetings would be viewable by the public and all plans would be subject to public comment, not just the ones they feel like.

Comments are closed.