The Hyperloop Can’t Be Built Between SF and LA

Dec 19th, 2014 | Posted by

Yes, the hyperloop is mostly hype. But some people are trying to turn it into reality, as Wired UK reports:

Fortunately for futurists and people who enjoy picking apart complicated plans, an El Segundo, California-based startup has taken Musk up on his challenge to develop and build the Hyperloop. JumpStartFund combines elements of crowdfunding and crowd-sourcing — bringing money and ideas in from all over the place — to take ambitious ideas and move them toward reality….

The team is split into working groups, based on their interests and skills, that cover various aspects of the massive project, including route planning, capsule design, and cost analysis. They work mostly over email, with weekly discussions of their progress. Hierarchy is minimal, but leaders have naturally emerged, says Ahlborn. And if a decision needs to be made, as CEO, he makes the call….

A lot of the work is being done by 25 UCLA students. The school’s SUPRASTUDIO design and architecture program partnered with JumpStartFund, and now the students are working on all the design solutions the new transit system would require.

They don’t necessarily have the funding to actually go out and build the hyperloop, but this group, including the UCLA students, are trying to find a way to develop Musk’s idea from the conceptual stage to something that could actually be funded and built.

One of the things they tackled was the question of what the route would look like. And they came to some interesting conclusions:

The group working on finding a suitable route used algorithms that account for things like existing buildings, roads, and geography, and optimize the path for speed and comfort. That means keeping the line as straight as possible. Like in a plane, high speeds alone don’t lead to nausea, but if you start turning, you feel the g-forces. The route won’t be completely smooth, Ahlborn says, but contrary to the claim of one transportation blogger, “I don’t think it’s a barf ride.”

Musk’s proposed Hyperloop route running from San Francisco to Los Angeles came under a lot of criticism: What about earthquakes? Right of way? Crossing the San Francisco Bay? How will you avoid the political struggles that have made the region’s in-development high-speed rail system something of a punch line? Ahlborn has the answer: Pick a different route. Los Angeles to Las Vegas is being considered, as are other parts of the US and the world. “We would love to see LA to San Francisco, but our primary goal is to build the Hyperloop.” Yes, there are political hurdles. But not everywhere. Not in Dubai.

This is just fascinating and deeply revealing. Musk’s original hyperloop pitch was a direct challenge to the existing California high speed rail project. He proposed the hyperloop as a better way to connect SF and LA, claimed that his vision would avoid all the same supposed mistakes that the California HSR project planners made.

But as it turns out, those so-called “mistakes” are actually the inherent problems that one has to manage when connecting Northern and Southern California. Earthquakes, right of way, crossing the bay, political struggles stemming from NIMBYs – and that’s before you get to the questions of mountain ranges, elevation gain, tunneling costs, and so on.

If the goal is to “keep the line as straight as possible” then getting from SF to LA via hyperloop is going to be impossible. You can’t even do it without crossing the San Francisco Bay lengthwise, first of all, and then you’ll be following the Coast Range for a few hundred miles on your way to LA. You can get a somewhat straight line through the Central Valley, but that axis is not aligned with San Francisco, so there’s going to need to be a big curve to get from the Valley to the Bay. And that’s before going under the mountains that separate Bakersfield from LA.

So if the answer to the hyperloop’s challenges between SF and LA is to simply build from LA to Vegas instead…then that means the hyperloop is just not credible as a transportation solution for California. And it certainly is no substitute for HSR, as Musk wanted.

Of course, the route from LA to Vegas is no picnic either. There’s significant and rapid changes in elevation, lots of mountain ranges, and major earthquake faults there as well. A straight line is marginally easier, but not by much.

So while the hyperloop is fascinating, and while I’d love for it to be viable, I’m just not seeing it right now. There are very few places in America where you can even build in anything resembling a straight line, unless you’re planning to connect Fargo to Minot.

Let’s focus on building high speed rail, and then maglev. And by the 2050s maybe we’ll be closer to getting the hyperloop to being a practical solution to our needs. We just don’t need to reject the awesome, cutting edge, practical solutions that are already here, waiting to be built.

  1. Jerry
    Dec 19th, 2014 at 16:53
    #1

    Ongoing Research and Development is always necessary.
    Chinese research has come up with a super mag-lev train that could hit 1,800 mph.
    http://www.gizmag.com/1800mph-maglev/32213/
    Combine their research with the UCLA students research and you might come up with something totally workable.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    airplanes have miles of air between them and the ground most of the time. If something happens there isn’t any wall to bang into. It won’t be pleasant when something goes wrong the delicate little vehicle hurtling along at 1,800 miles an hour bangs into the wall. Pesky passengers gumming up the works for passenger trains.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The problem with Hyperloop is not “it can’t be built.” The technology to build vactrains exists. The problem is that building such a system to high enough standards to maintain high speeds, with reasonable forces acting on passengers (i.e. not the 0.5 g barf ride that Musk proposes), requires inordinately expensive civil engineering for viaducts and tunnels.

    Eric Reply:

    So it’s not good for CA. Why wouldn’t it be good for the Midwest? Chicago to Dallas or Houston in 1 hour?

    Eric Reply:

    China and India also have flat areas with huge cities in them, and someday such a method would be welcome there.

    By the way, is there any intrinsic obstacle to putting such a tunnel underwater (anchored to the sea bottom, at a depth of >20m to avoid being hit by ships) with some sort of suspension to dampen waves and smaller impacts? Could you achieve a 1 hour trip between Tokyo and Seoul that way?

    Eric Reply:

    No apparent obstacle (and the NY-London proposal is only about six times as high as the initial CAHSR proposal):
    http://www.popsci.com/scitech/article/2004-04/trans-atlantic-maglev

    TomA Reply:

    Yes – Im sure the proposal, based on completely untested technology would come in right on target.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It would be expensive as well, though not as expensive per kilometer as in California, of course. It’s also slightly problematic to build lines connecting more than two cities, because if trains are expected to skip an intermediate city at speed, the station construction costs grow considerably to allow for a straight ROW; that said, even if all trains make intermediate stops in Houston, the speed is okay.

    The problem: the demand isn’t there in the economic conditions of 2014. Most travel is local. If you bundle a huge number of trans-Atlantic routes into one city pair, connecting an American hub with a European hub, you get New York-London’s 4 million annual passengers. Things are a bit better within the US, but within the US you don’t get this bundling, so traffic per city pair is smaller in nearly all cases. You can connect Chicago to Dallas and Houston, but there isn’t a lot of traffic from Chicago to Dallas or Houston – there is from Chicago to the South writ large, but to access the South writ large you must have multiple trunk lines and feeders. Nor can you start small, as the conventional rail, telegraph, and later HSR networks began, because nobody needs a vactrain at any range where HSR can be competitive.

    Within the US, there are two routes that could plausibly host vactrains in the economic conditions of 2014: New York-Chicago, and New York-Philly-DC-Miami. Both are inordinately expensive, because they’d need to be entirely greenfield in New York and on the route leading out of it.

    Now, if you wait until the second half of the century, or the beginning of next century, things will look different. Construction costs are going to go up because of higher land costs and more development intruding on the ROW, but GDP per capita is going to go up even more. As an example, European subway construction costs today are on average about $200 million per underground kilometer, 2-2.5 times the construction costs of the Dual Contracts 90-100 years ago, but GDP per capita in Western Europe today is 5-6 times what it was in the US when the Dual Contracts subway lines were built, so construction costs as a percentage of income are only one half to one third as high. Moreover, the travel demand on long-distance city pairs and the need for carbon-free alternatives to flying will both increase.

    Between the very long range at which this will be feasible, and the strong network effects, it’s unlikely the private sector can build this. So you need to ask yourself whether it’s a prudent investment for the US federal government to sink on the order of a trillion dollars into a national vactrain network connecting the major cities. And that trillion-dollar figure assumes the US government is capable of building infrastructure at reasonable cost – it’s for 16,000 km of core route, smaller than the fantasy map bandied about for Hyperloop Mark II, crossing multiple mountain chains and going through cities with high tunnel requirements for new stations.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If ya tunnel the whole thing that does lessen the chance of some kid with their Red Ryder air gun punching holes in your delicate vactube. Or a truck careening into your delicate pylons.

    Peter Baldo Reply:

    Hyperloop seems like vaporware to me – intended to slow sales of a competitor with vague promises of a much better product just around the corner.
    Yes, we can make vacuums. But a vacuum system that’s 700 miles long and 10 ft. in diameter? Air will get in. It always does. And when it does, the entire volume of the tunnel will need to be displaced numerous times to restore the vacuum to the original level.
    A battery-powered airplane for a couple dozen passengers, with air bearings instead of wings, propelled by a compressor? Sure. But that’s essentially a battery-powered Lear Jet. How will a $20-dollar ticket pay for that?
    And now compressors, air bearings, etc are being replaced by magnetic fields. It’s good we didn’t start building Hyperloop last year, because it would be obsolete by now.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Sadly, it is just as much vaporware as a traditional HSR project in a red state….

    Edward Reply:

    At that speed you have an apparent reduction in gravity of about 10%.

  2. swing hanger
    Dec 19th, 2014 at 18:12
    #2

    I would rather those UCLA students go intern at a benchmark transportation provider like SBB or JR East, and/or do graduate work at a (important distinction here) non-U.S. school that offers studies in railway engineering/operations (example: TU Delft), they could then actually learn something relevant and applicable in the real world about transit systems.

    Joe Reply:

    Oh, let them lool at and figure out a hard problem and explore.

    Vo tech training isn’t a college responsibility.

    EJ Reply:

    I agree. SBB and JR East should get free labor from American college kids, why, exactly?

    Let them push the limits exploring a difficult cutting edge problem when they’re in college. They’ve got a whole career ahead of them to solve practical problems. Besides, even if they don’t build a hyperloop, if they’re smart people there’s a good chance they’ll come up with something interesting.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I imagine these would be paid entry-level positions. I have no idea whether unpaid internships exist in Japan and Switzerland, but in the US, internships in these industries do pay – it’s stuff like fashion and design and journalism that doesn’t pay interns.

    EJ Reply:

    Still, why shouldn’t they work on more out there stuff when they’re in school? Eventually they’ll get real jobs and then they can spend their careers designing things that will actually get built.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Probably because this is a neat way for Musk to endow funding at UCLA that will benefit him later. He undoubtedly anticipates the day we see the Elon Musk School of Transportation Engineering open at UCLA.

    Andy M Reply:

    Not SBB itself, but I did an internship with ABB Transportation in Switzerland at the time they were build the Re460 locomotives. That business has since been sold to Bombardier and completely reorganized and shrunk down so effectively the department I was with no longer exists. But they were a good bunch of people (many of them are now working for Stadler) and I did get to spend a lot of time on SBB sites and doing test runs on SBB lines and working with SBB people. And actually, for being an intern, the pay was extremely lavish. I enjoyed it so much, I would probably have done it for free mind you.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    If I remember correctly, some engineering is still in Oerlikon, but, as you said, many of the engineers are now with Stadler, FLIRTing and KISSing (one wonders what comes next…). They indeed were good people (among some of them I had the honor to go to school with).

    There is no more locomotive building in Oerlikon, and Tramont, the pride of ABB/Adtranz, got torn down for other developments.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    It depends on the place and duration of the internship, whether it is paid or not. The “base workshop” internship (which is mandatory for mechanical engineering and electrical engineering degrees) is regulated, and does pay a little bit; OTOH, I did not get anything during my 4 week material testing internship (it is quite a long time ago).

    Jerry Reply:

    Certainly very much off track, but while checking TU Delft I came across one of their students video for a High Speed Emergency Network of Ambulance Drones which can rush a defibrillator for use on a heart attack victim faster than any road ambulance.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y-rEI4bezWc
    Best use of drones I have heard of so far.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    One or two exchange semesters at the TU Delft or the ETH Zürich would already give pretty good experiences. For internship, it may be a bit more difficult, but if someone really wants to do it, it is always worthwhile to contact Siemens, Bombardier, Alstom etc., or some of the engineering/consulting firms, such as SMA or Prose, etc.

    One thing I kind of fear about the students participating in this Hyperloop “business” is that their resume might get tainted with this. I hope not…

    Andy M Reply:

    I think not. Universities are doing pie in the sky studies all the time. For the universities its a good way of getting attention. When I was at university I was working on a project to creatze an alternative modulation method for motor drives. Pulse width modulation was then and is still today the standard, but we developed something that created fewer harmonics and required fewer switching edges without calling for any hardware modifications. This was 20 years ago. As far as I know, nobody has commercialized it to this day and probably never will. We basically bought an edge in terms of better harmonics that’s in the region of a single digit percentage but the number crunching power and complexity of the algorithm was orders of magnitude more complex than PWM. So was it a waste of time? Well even today I hear engineers saying there’s nothing better than PWM, and I can proudly tell them no. And of course in terms of honing one’s analytical and algorithm-writing skills, it was a nice little challenge with a clear and measurable objective and one whose result was actually demonstrated to work.

  3. datacruncher
    Dec 19th, 2014 at 19:30
    #3

    Bakersfield settlement announced

    High-speed rail agency settles Bakersfield’s lawsuit against route

    The California High-Speed Rail Authority announced Friday afternoon it has reached a settlement with the city of Bakersfield in the city’s environmental lawsuit over the authority’s Fresno-Bakersfield route.
    *************
    In the agreement, the rail agency “acknowledges that the city is concerned that the Bakersfield Hybrid Alignment analyzed in the May 2014 (environmental report) is unacceptable to the city.” The settlement requires the rail authority to consider a new alternative route south of Seventh Standard Road, at the northwestern fringe of Bakersfield, as well as a new station location in the city.

    The rail agency originally contemplated putting its station in downtown Bakersfield, near the existing Amtrak station near Truxton and Union avenues. The settlement identifies a new station site “in the general area of F Street and Golden State Avenue,” about a mile and a half from the Amtrak station.

    http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/12/19/4294288_hsr-agency-announces-settlement.html

    The full 16 page settlement is posted here:
    https://s3.amazonaws.com/s3.documentcloud.org/documents/1384094/final-executed-settlement-with-city-of-bako-121914.pdf

    datacruncher Reply:

    Here is some coverage from Bakersfield
    http://www.bakersfieldnow.com/news/local/Bakersfield-drops-high-speed-rail-lawsuit-286428321.html

    This report includes a map showing the proposed route and station location to be studied.
    http://kbakbim.s3.amazonaws.com/141219-HSR-map.jpg

    datacruncher Reply:

    Doing a little more reading on this settlement:

    New bullet train path to be developed

    The state’s high-speed rail agency will collaborate with Bakersfield to develop a new path through the city for the multi-billion dollar bullet train, officials announced Friday.

    Under the agreement reached with the California High-Speed Rail Authority, the new conceptual alignment would parallel Union Pacific railroad tracks from where it enters Bakersfield at 7th Standard Road to downtown.

    It would be about 1 1/3 of a mile shorter and impact between 100 and 150 buildings — but almost no residential structures, City Manager Alan Tandy said.

    Just two city facilities would be in its way: Weill Park and a Recreation and Parks maintenance building, both of which can be replaced, Tandy said.

    The conceptual alignment would also locate a train station near F Street and Highway 204/Golden State Avenue.

    By contrast, the current, so-called “hybrid alignment” parallels the Burlington Northern Santa Fe railroad tracks on at least part of its path through Bakersfield.

    It would impact 526 structures including 231 residences, and require demolition of the Bakersfield Homeless Center. It would also come within 88 feet of Mercy Hospital downtown and cross Mill Creek Linear Park.
    http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/local/x34742024/New-bullet-train-path-to-be-developed

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Here is a map:

    http://kbakbim.s3.amazonaws.com/141219-HSR-map.jpg

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    I am confused where the train would switch from BNSF to UP right of way. Actually, the whole thing confuses me.

    Peter Reply:

    It’s described in Section 4.1 of the settlement agreement. The agreed-upon alignment between the BNSF and UP ROW will be either in the median of or just south of 7th Standard Rd north of Bakersfield.

    Howard Reply:

    7th Standard Road.

    Howard Reply:

    I wonder about the vertical alignment. Is it is at grade to get under SR-99 bridge, then elevated to get over Olive Drive and industrial spur track, then only slight raised over depressed Airport Drive and Chester Avenue, then back to at grade to go under SR-178, Union Avenue and Beale Avenue bridges, but then go in a trench under BNSF tracks as they merge with UP tracks (there is not enough room to get up over BNSF tracks after going under Beale Avenue Bridge), finishing at grade under Mt. Vernon Avenue and Orwell Street bridges?

    hank Reply:

    I bet you $5 the locals are seeing this as a way to get the state to tear down and replace Eisenhower era bridges on the states dime. I would venture a guess that only thing that is really controlling elevation is 178 and 99.

    Distant armchair Reply:

    If a new alignment in the built-up parts of Bakersfield appears in the cards, I think there’s suddenly a prickly question of how much of the rest of the alignment north of the city is worth potentially re-opening. CHSRA has seemed keen to go go go on CP4 along in the final certified route (map – http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/programs/construction/CP_4_Map.pdf ), but I think much of it only really made sense from either a political and technical perspective in light of the fact it was supposed to be hooking into the previous path through Bakersfield.

    For example, under the previous and potentially current plans, Wasco and Shafter get bisected with an invasive and expensive grade-separated HSR RoW and, unlike Bakersfield, don’t even get a station for their trouble. What is it about Bakersfield’s lawyers and political influence that means final STB-certified-route-be-damned, CHRSA will reopen it for them, while no similar concessions are made for those smaller communities?

    To my non-local, non-expert eyes, the 7th Standard Road cutover from BNSF/SR43 to UP/SR99 seems like a really suboptimal part of this new alignment, selected purely because everything further north is already in the 11th hour in terms of procurement.

    Making the cross from BNSF/SR43 to UP/SR99 further north might be cheaper, less politically toxic and lead to higher speeds. For example, at the southern end of the Allenworth bypass where it has a reverse curve to rejoin BNSF, the route could instead continue on a diagonal greenfield alignment across BNSF and merge onto the UP/SR99 corridor south of McFadden, then run down that corridor into Bakersfield, without the need for any expensive grade separations through urban areas. Other options might be carrying on with the approved route through Wasco but then crossing over to UP/SR99 north of Shafter.

    Now, I suspect I’m not the only person who’s thought of this, because the Bakersfield-CHSRA settlement notes in Section 4.1 that “The portion of the Initial LGA north of the Bakersfield City limits is conceptual in nature, and will be further refined through a process of engagement with the public and affected stakeholders as described in Sections 4.2 and 5.3 below. Although the City takes no position on the portion of the Initial LGA north of the Bakersfield City limits, the City is in favour of further exploration of the Initial LGA”

    This is where there’s a hard call to make for CHSRA — while intruding further north into the awarded CP2-3 territory would clearly be unwise, is it worth throwing out a lot of the route in CP4, sliding back into the EIS universe for that area, and derailing the timelines that would have had them awarding a contract this coming year?

    Clem Reply:

    The new alignment does have the redeeming quality that it does away with the horribly compromised Hybrid Alignment, which featured a sharp reverse curve with a 115 mph speed limit. That alone will shave off two minutes for non-stop trains, in addition to the 20 seconds saved by the shorter path. It remains to be seen, of course, if trains will ever be allowed to thunder through downtown at 220 mph–in Bakersfield or any other city. From a noise perspective, they should be highly motivated to build at-grade.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s gonna drown out the traffic noise from 99?

    Clem Reply:

    When a train passes, certainly. For overall noise (Leq) I’m not sure, and would need to run some numbers. I wouldn’t assume, as you appear to, that the freeway would be louder.

    Joel Reply:

    My guess is that overall noise matters far less to residents than sharp increases in noise that come each time a train passes.

    joe Reply:

    From Jan 2014. Jeff Morales got what he wanted.

    http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/local/x1210656900/High-speed-rail-agency-rejects-idea-of-bypassing-downtown-Bakersfield

    Morales noted that there are people in Bakersfield who support bringing the project through downtown because of its economic benefits.

    He added that his agency is open to local suggestions on where the train should run. But at this point, he said, they should pertain to how to “straighten” the route from Bakersfield to Palmdale.

    Drunk Engineer Reply:

    Well of course the CHSRA got what it wanted. Without CEQA, Bakersfield was negotiating with a gun to their head.

    joe Reply:

    Oh how Unfair.

    Of course Bakersfield NEVER had a preferred route. They never stated or suggested or draw a line on a map in crayon. No one in any position of authority gave the HSR any alternative route.

    Also, Kern Co and Bakersfield had no consensus of where HSR should be routed.

    Bakersfield put a gun their own head by doing nothing. They thought a CEQA lawsuit would postpone the project but eventually EIR would be approved.

    So boo hoo.

    jimsf Reply:

    yeh here is a map and it turns out theres a great big empty lot right where they want the station to be.

    jimsf Reply:

    not only is there a huge empty lot where they want the station but the entire UP section is in non UP , old industrial row so the hsr could be put in without needing any permission from UP. there is plenty of adjacent room.

    Also just a side note, the latest merced map shows the hsr following the 99 directly south rather than east out of merced. well it so happens that the new 99 portion of hsr alignment out of merced fits into the new 99 construction- where, they have left all kinds of ample row availabe along the side of the new freeway construction, exactly where the hsr would be. I think there is more planning going on than we know of. The row they created along the new freeway has additional row that look just like where you would put a railroad. could they actually be planning ahead ?

    jimsf Reply:

    The new freeway has been moved over completely and you can’t see the finished project on google map cuz the maps have not been updated but the new freeway has been been built with additional wide overpasses pending over the up row and old 99 row. The old 99 row is not being used as access road but instead its 4 lanes of freeway and freeway median just abandoned.

    Again you can’t see the completed project here but I have been driving on it.

    Joey Reply:

    How long is the diverted section? It looks like it’s only about a mile or so.

    jimsf Reply:

    no its quite long. like I said you can’t see it on google yet. hold on…..

    jimsf Reply:

    Its 10-15 miles but since google has screwed up there map making now I cant deal with drawing a line. but the completed section of entirely new freeway runs from just north of campus parkway – south to the truck scales just north of chowchilla at the truck scales so far.

    jimsf Reply:

    Its 11.5 miles and from 300 to 1300 ft wide including the old and new freeways.

    jimsf Reply:

    That also conveniently puts the south end of the hsr from merced right to where the yet to be determined chowchilla wye’s north end would end up. Well, how conveeeeenient.

    jimsf Reply:

    also and not to be all excited, but, the abandond 99 complete with oleanders, still exist in all the way into downtown merced, where, they are currently reconfiguring and widening the elevated section of 99 through downtown. Currently part of the old 99 dead ends and is used as an on ramp. but off and on ramps in merced and atwater are convuluted and being reconfigured. There will certainly be non UP access to the downtown merced station if needed.

    also, the freeway is being completely rebuilt and moved east on the north end between merced and atwater again creating abandond freeway row for hsr north from merced.
    Im specualting but its pretty blatently screaming, “put hsr here”
    I hope they decide on the wye soon.

    jimsf Reply:

    Actually you can see the project if you use the little yellow guy for street view
    There is a large amount of extra row on the east side of the new freeway to the fence line, six lanes of freeway plus wide median, then more space all the over to the old 4 lane freeway to the edge of the UP tracks. Caltrans has really taken a huge amount of land for the 99 between merced and madera. YOu could put 8 hsr tracks in it.

    datacruncher Reply:

    I believe the EIR for that 99 project said they were taking about 850 acres between Chowchilla and Merced for the new freeway ROW.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Where are all the concerned citizens bemoaning that loss of valuable farmland?

    Observer Reply:

    When you have a car-centric culture, pretty much anything gets accepted to accommodate the automobile. We need more of a balance; I think HSR will help with that balance.

    jimsf Reply:

    It seems this development puts and end to the tejon debate. Since chsra and bakersfield have decided to cooperate and bakersfield has chosen a path and a station location, neither of which are conducive to heading towards grapevine.

    Well, they could make a sharp right at 99B and follow 99B through 8 miles of residential neighborhoods, and wind up in Greenfield. ( Where there could be an actual “Greenfield Station” haha) but that doesn’t seem like since the city is making a point of avoiding residential areas and that is a fairly sharp turn.

    Eric M Reply:

    No it doesn’t. You could just as easily have the ROW, after passing through Bakersfield, veer south and follow along S. Edison Rd. with minimal impacts.

    joe Reply:

    Yes it does end Tejon.

    Kern Co wants HSR to avoid Tejon.
    Senator Reid wants HSR to Palmdale. Reid’s letter – http://www.palmdalechamber.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Reid-Brown-High-Speed-Rail-June16.pdf
    Palmdale would sue to keep HSR. http://www.palmdalechamber.org/highspeedrail/
    Plans to build a SouthWest HSR Network linking to Palmdale starting with HSR to Las vegas…http://www.xpresswest.com/network.html

    It’s over and will only be revised when the stars realign and the Nile turns red.

    Joey Reply:

    Still not quite sure why Reid is so fixated. It’s not like Tejon precludes a branch to Vegas.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I doubt Reid is “fixated”. (Our anonymous troll “joe” certainly is, however.)

    Somebody paid him to write a letter, just as other people pay other politicians to write letters on various subjects.

    If somebody pays him enough, he’ll be “fixated” enough to write more letters or twist more arms or invest some real capital, all of which may well happen, but that doesn’t seem to be the case except in “joe”‘s imagination.

    joe Reply:

    Somebody paid him to write a letter, just as other people pay other politicians to write letters on various subjects.

    Fact: Senate Majority Leader who happens to be Nevada’s Senator wrote the letter to the California Governor asking CA keep the alignment through Palmdale. LA County and Plamdale also what the alignment,

    Whether Reid cares or some fat check writer is behind the letter doesn’t matter. Game over.

    Decisions are not made according to your priorities.
    People who disagree with you are corrupt.

    Joey Reply:

    So if the alignment were switched with the understanding that a Vegas connection is still possible, would Reid drop his support entirely?

    Joe Reply:

    No. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush

    Why would the alignment change? LA Co and Palmdale want the current alignment. Kern Co wants it away from Tejon.

    Reid’s helped CA get Billions for HSR now and the plan is to route it to Palmdale. No one is changing the plan. The money was provided. He will protect funding from recision. It’s done.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    A wet bird never flies at night.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I would point out that the compromise alignment suggests that Bakersfield and the County want to develop their airport into something that will siphon passengers from Fresno and Palmdale. The connection to Las Vegas is interesting because if they make it impossible to bypass Bakersfield, that airport could serve Sin City, the High Desert, and lots of people to the north.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Given current situations, I don’t see the Bakersfield airport being able to attract passengers from Fresno. The Fresno airport currently has a similar number of destinations as BUR, although FAT also has international service. BFL has few destinations and little passenger traffic.

    Current nonstop destinations
    Fresno – Dallas, Denver, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Phoenix, Portland, Salt Lake City, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, and Guadalajara, Mexico (GDL is served by two airlines from FAT)
    Bakersfield – Denver, Houston, Phoenix, San Francisco

    2013 Passengers Enplaned
    Fresno – 702,259
    Bakersfield – 143,175

    Bakersfield might be able to attract some Hanford/Visalia air travelers south with HSR even though the Fresno airport is a closer drive to those cities than Bakersfield. But I really don’t see anything that suggests Bakersfield could attract Fresno area air passengers.

    A decade back, there were some in Kern County suggesting Bakersfield’s airport could replace Palmdale as a Southern California reliever airport. But a consultant told them if HSR used Tehachapi it was more likely Palmdale Airport would become the next Southern California airport choice.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I think Bakersfield is changing tact and essentially going for the “empire” strategy we are seeing at the other stations. I would agree, there’s no way Meadows Field really challenges McCarran,

    Ted Judah Reply:

    ….excuse me….McCarran, Burbank, or SFO for passengers. But I think the local establishment has figured out if you can’t beat em, join em. Make Bakersfield into Diridon South with absolutely no way to blow through at 220mph.

    This might seem like an unusual strategy, but remember, SF and LA wants to use HSR to reinforce their power, not weaken it. Bakersfield going rogue is exactly what those power brokers don’t want….

    jimsf Reply:

    hsr will go via palmdale because politics will it to be so. There are no plans to the contrary.

    and

    nobody

    cares about 12 minutes.

    Excatly ZERO potential customers will make a decision based on 12 mintues travel time.

    Even for the most high strung type As, on the train, 12 minutes, is 12 minutes of productive time.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    there might be a few now and then. It’s faster than flying which is the important part.

    Clem Reply:

    There is a demand curve and it is sensitive to travel time. Laid-back types like you may not care about twelve minutes, but in aggregate the average passenger does care. This is a well-established fact and it is reflected in the authority’s own ridership models, showing that every minute of added travel time cuts revenue by about $10 million/year. That’s a lot of lost fares. You are of course free to believe otherwise, and to be ignored as a result…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Well if they burrowed a tunnel and didn’t stop anywhere it would be even faster. They looked at more than one thing and came up with the current plan.

    Clem Reply:

    Indeed they did, but those decisions were not driven by maximizing ridership or revenue, nor by minimizing capital costs or operational costs. They must have looked at more than just those things to come up with the current routing.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes silly them taking passengers into account for a passenger railroad. All of the passengers not just the people who want to get between Transbay and Union Station.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yup, the decisions are political, which are never driven by maximizing ridership or revenue, nor by minimizing capital nor operational costs.

    jimsf Reply:

    relax its all going to work out.

    EJ Reply:

    You’re so above it all, why do you even comment?

    jimsf Reply:

    I find it relaxing.

    Joey Reply:

    I find it relaxing

    Clearly I haven’t been active enough then…

    jimsf Reply:

    lol!

    J. Wong Reply:

    “[E]very minute of added travel time cuts revenue by about $10 million/year”.

    That’s weird because I wouldn’t expect a linear relationship. Is that a straight-line plot through the actual curve?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    tejon get zero revenue from the people in greater Palmdale or that place that is unimportant because it’s not in California.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    That’s weird because I wouldn’t expect a linear relationship

    Amazing!
    But be careful!

    Jerry Reply:

    “end of Tejon debate” ?
    But jimsf, there is a Santa Claus.

    Clem Reply:

    It certainly narrows the gap with Tejon. Compared to the previous baseline, the new alignment in Bakersfield saves 140 seconds. The new tunnel alignment to Burbank saves about 240 seconds. That adds up to 380 seconds or a bit over 6 minutes saved. A step in the right direction, and maybe a sign that somebody in the PB bunker cares about run times.

    So, instead of Tejon being 13 to 18 minutes faster than the Antelope Valley alignment, it is now only 7 to 12 minutes faster. That’s seven minutes faster for an express, and twelve minutes faster than a local stopping at Palmdale. The amount of tunnels and bridges on the Antelope Valley alignment (a major capital cost driver) as well as overall route length (a major operations cost driver) are still significantly greater than Tejon.

    I guess it all comes down to whether they treat $5 billion as chump change. They would quite literally spend all that digging more holes in the ground.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The capital cost differential must have climbed well past your very conservative $5 billion with those changes.

    Your back of the envelope (based on PBQD’s very own unit costs), sir?

    Jonathan Reply:

    Clem,

    *Why* do you persist in lumping the Bakersfield route into Tejon?
    If Bakersfield had togten an edge-of-town bypass which press reports say they wanted, what would that to do the relative cost of Tejon-vs-Tehachapi? Avoiding a billion-plus dollars of viaduct through downtown Bakersifeld is a billion-plus, let’s call it one-and-a-half billion, *regardless* of how the mountains are crossed.

    jimsf Reply:

    except you folks constantly seem to forget that travel times are not the only consideration. If all that matters are sf to la travel times, then don’t build it at all cuz planes can make the trip in about 50 minutes.

    This porject has never ever been about sf to la travel times. The only reason the SF to LA travel times where ever brought up is to have a “for example” example for people to visualize.

    The project has always been about creating a statewide network serving multiple cities and regions. Im sorry and a little shocked that so many of you are so surpirsed and confused about that but it has always been very clear what the goal is.

    Its irritating to engineer types when everything isn’t “just so”. ( I lived with an engineer roommate once in silicon valley – that was six months of pure hell) so I know the type.

    Oh well. Bottom line this is going to be a very useful and very popular system with californians.

    EJ Reply:

    This porject has never ever been about sf to la travel times. The only reason the SF to LA travel times where ever brought up is to have a “for example” example for people to visualize.

    Travel times were mandated in Prop 1A. I get that, much like the original cost, they were a pack of lies merely intended to get the bond measure passed. But the law’s the law, and those travel times are based on best practices worldwide that will give HSR a significant market share.

    jimsf Reply:

    What Im telling you is that it is going to be what it is and what I said. Just watch and see. Thats how things work here. And, in the end, it will be very useful to millions of people.

    Clem Reply:

    Hey, I know your type too. Can’t we just agree to irritate each other, and move on?

    jimsf Reply:

    yes but we will be moving on via palmdale.

    J. Wong Reply:

    You say that travel time is “not the only consideration”, but then say “[it] has never ever been about sf to la travel times”, which says travel time is not a consideration. The reality is that travel time does matter just as cost, serving the San Joaquin cities, population coverage, etc. all trade-off against each other. Personally, I don’t really care even it was 15 extra minutes through Palmdale, but 7 minutes is better (and I’d take the train even if it was a 5 or 6 hour trip). On the other hand, $5b (or maybe more) extra cost does seem like a larger deal, which would make me prefer Tejon, but in the end even that isn’t a major failing.

    In the end, hopefully, no one will care that much, but just be happy to ride the train.

    EJ Reply:

    Travel time = cost. More time that you have to pay the driver, conductor(s), staff, etc. for the same journey. Less likelihood that you’ll be able to use the same train for a return journey that same day. It all adds up.

    beetroot Reply:

    This would have been much better news had they agreed to avoid going through Bakersfield altogether :/

    Observer Reply:

    Excellent development. Have got to give the CHSRA and the City of Bakersfield credit for this.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    I’m guessing that Bakersfield actually got far less than nothing out of this “deal”.

    It was pretty clear from the PBQD=CHSRA construction segment phasing (CP 1 through 4) that construction south of Shafter into Bakersfield wasn’t something they were in a hurry to undertake. It was especially notable that this wasn’t the first segment put to bid as a way of establishing self-inflicted “sunk costs” (one of very top PBQD rational-thought-exterminating, alternatives-killing techniques: see BART extensions) of the Palmdale detour as facts on the ground. Odd, that, huh.

    My guess is that “Bakersfield” got is what PBQD wanted. Win-win synergy!

    I … drink … your … milkshake! I drink it up!

    joe Reply:

    What did Bakersfield want?

    1. The city council / politicians wanted to avoid responsibility for proposing or preferring an alignment. There was no alternative alignment proposed.

    2. The City refused to cooperate or respond to CAHSRA offers. City Manager Tandy wrote a letter of apology to the Bakersfield City council for withholding a counter offer CAHSRA made regarding the proposed alignment.

    3. They clearly wanted to use CEQA lawsuits to extract concessions from the CAHSRA.

    4. PBQD PBQD PBQD PBQD

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    I disagree.

    While I think there a lot of reasons that it is a real mistake – on many levels – not to seriously look at a Tejon alignment, this seems like a potential huge improvement over previous alignment.

    There were real issues with the original one, from speed to major economic justice issues – and only through the CEQA process – did the Authority and the city sit down and hash this out. The progress reports we look at show this has been going on for a long time. It is not clear to me without the CEQA issues on the table, this would have happened.

    It is faster and less impactful. This seems like a win – win, and what CEQA is designed to do.

    joe Reply:

    It’s the opposite. CEQA causes delay, litigation and cost overruns.

    First Gilroy is a counter example that CEQA is necessary as is most of the nation where CEQA isn’t the law yet people work and collaborate early to reduce costly delay and litigation. We’ve done more than Bakersfield despite HSR being years off.

    CEQA allows opponents time to delay and waste millions and for every year in delay a 4-5% life time cost overrun.

    The City could have engaged CAHSR years ago and saved us millions and months of time. CEQA lawsuits let them sit and do nothing knowing they can wait until the lawsuit.

    City Manager Tandy did withhold CAHSRA offers and apologized in a letter for his insubordination.

    Bakersfield shows all that is wrong with CEQA and anyone who thinks STB’s ruling had no bearing is fooling themselves. Why did the Bakersfield and Kern state there was an end of year deadline for a agreement? CAHSRA set a deadline obviously and they had the SBT leverage.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Years ago Kern County interests were favoring station sites near 7th Standard Road and 99 (close to the airport) which probably would have meant this alignment to serve it. The Bakersfield Downtown Business Association wanted a site near Golden State and M Street which would probably also have required an alignment similar to this. The City of Bakersfield originally preferred station sites in the downtown near Truxton and S.

    There were local station site studies done of those choices in 2001 and in 2003.
    http://www.kerncog.org/images/docs/hsr/BakHSRTerminalAnalysis.pdf
    http://www.kerncog.org/images/docs/hsr/HSR_Terminal_200307.pdf

    The City’s downtown station preference won out and a lot of years were spent trying to find and study an alignment that ran in the center of Bakersfield

    A decade later we are back to sites that require cutting across at 7th Standard Road. It is too bad that the City of Bakersfield originally didn’t agree with the County and DBA about station sites that would have used this alignment north and east of the city.

    joe Reply:

    I’d like to point out that Bakersfield’s City Manager, Mr. Tandy, has been on duty since this all began – Bakersfield has one person at the helm for 20 years.

    That’s part of what makes CEQA so irritating. Bakersfield had all this time to prepare and waited until a a CEQA wsuit in 2014. There’s no penalty for waiting and delaying the project. In fact, CEQA provides an incentive to wait and hold the project to gain leverage.

    EJ Reply:

    So, what’s the point? The current outcome is better for Bako and better for CAHSR as a whole, but we should blow it up because Bako didn’t play the game the way you wanted them to?

    joe Reply:

    What’s the point?

    Bako is merely better off than the alignment CAHSRA was willing to change if given an alternative. What was given to them was there all along. This exercise wasted money and time. Expensive theatre.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    And is that Bakersfield’s fault? They have been very clear about the specific issues of the alignment since 2009, when plans were laid out beyond the crayon on paper level. They have been asking the Authority to consider alternative alignments. The “hybrid” alignment was simply a mish mash of the two on the table.

    Ideally, there would have been a very different planning approach from the get go, but that is not the city’s fault. CEQA and NEPA are there for a number of reasons – one of them is provide some counter-balance to an agency that is in decide – announce – defend mode. There are a lot of reasons we should transition to a more stakeholder, data first type process more similar to the French planning process. Until then, CEQA and NEPA are an important tool.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    so how come in 2012 the city was complaining nobody told them nothin’ about nothin’ ?

    Joey Reply:

    This exercise wasted money and time. Expensive theatre.

    Planning is a tiny fraction of overall costs anyway. Time matters a little more but as long as there sections ready to be built faster than the rate than money is coming in then it’s not a huge issue either.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    The Authority’s planning style was kinda we’ll decide and let you know.

    Every time an alignment decision would be announced, they were a surprise to everyone, including cities. There may be unhappy people, but there really should never be surprises.

    Our group’s initial effort was to advocate for CSS http://contextsensitivesolutions.org/ The Authority actually adopted it, at least for our neck of the woods (memorialized in the 2009 biz plan) but there was never a real commitment from the top, so it never really had a chance.

    I’m even more convinced on the merits of collaborative stakeholder planning for almost every type of civic endeavor. Select stakeholders, find people who really represent the group of stakeholders, define success for the agency and the community/ other stakeholders, educate everyone enough that they can contribute and then work through different ways to meet the goals. I have seen projects now that used some form – they are really solid and ones that don’t – they have issues and don’t have broad buy-in so when anything goes wrong, the whole thing falls apart.

    We need to make it a lot easier to have people participate in the making of policy – right now, it is really exhausting. The Robert Moses style of planning, and blowback from it, have created this us vs them narrative. Developers and others have successfully set natural allies against each other. There is a lack of power – and people naturally react to that.

    We can do and should do better.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s a difference between there being surprises and people avoid paying attention who then complaining nobody told them nothing.
    The Authority has to do what the law requires. If you don’t like the way the law works is to convince the legislature to change the law. If they do more than what is necessary people will then complain that they are doing things they aren’t required to do.

    Eric M Reply:

    @adirondacker12800,

    It’s funny because people did convince Rep. Jeff Denham to change the law by having the STB supersede CEQA as a way to completely kill the project. Well, that backfired and now you reap what you sow.

    joe Reply:

    And is that Bakersfield’s fault? They have been very clear about the specific issues of the alignment since 2009, when plans were laid out beyond the crayon on paper level. They have been asking the Authority to consider alternative alignments.

    Yes Bakersfield’s fault. They are a City government with planners, engineers and the same city manager for 20+ years knowing full well the project is coming.

    Factually Bakersfield changed preference and complained about the downtown station and alignment. They gave NO indication where they wanted HSR to look for an alternative site. They did not even have a common understanding with Kern Co.

    Bakersfield asked CAHSRA to go out and bring them some Rocks. Study those rocks and expend time and money but Bakersfield, made no commitment to select any of the rocks CAHSR brings and studies. They refused to offer any suggestions or indicate general preferences.

    That strategy total bullshit.

    joe Reply:

    The Authority’s planning style was kinda we’ll decide and let you know.

    Really.

    Well, a crappy little town of 50K residents that does have the demographics for a Trader Joe’s can produce this study, planning and outreach over a decade before HSR comes to town. Even get 750K in funds to continue planning.
    http://www.gilroyhighspeedtrain.org/

    Welcome!
    Official Website of the Gilroy
    High-Speed Train Station Visioning Project

    Thanks for visiting our website and participating in the Visioning Project! The City of Gilroy welcomes your participation in this important process.

    Clem Reply:

    Umm, what did Gilroy get that wasn’t already served up by the “decide, announce, defend” guys?

    Joe Reply:

    Apparently the desire to have a downtown station was a Jedi mind trick.

    We used the study to inform the city residents about the project and benefits as well as letting people propose land use improvements. What was recommended will be studied further. All this ahead of time.

    This shouldn’t be surprising since it’s exactly what critics say is needed but never happens.

    Clem Reply:

    “Otherworldly whooshing sound” or thunder on rails? I foresee a change of heart and a lawsuit as soon as the noise impacts are disclosed.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Which reasonable options weren’t offered to Gilroy? Sending the trains over the Amazing Astounding Altamont doesn’t count as a choice. Gilroy would have much to talk about.

    joe Reply:

    And the discovery of impacts will be part of the process in deciding the station site.

    I would not be surprised to see the site change as more is known and shared with residents. It should be moveable by then – way ahead of time What matters is the city is involved and residents participate rther than being dictated to by the CAHSRA or any other interest.

    joe Reply:

    “Which reasonable options weren’t offered to Gilroy?”

    Four choices were presented in depth.
    A Greenfield station near the outlets (NE) with two station options – elevated approach and at grade.
    The Downtown station with berm and the HSR and UP tracks grade separated or trenched approach with HSR only grade seperated.

    The City recommended the trenched approach downtown.

    Clem Reply:

    Gimme a break. That trench is a device to appease Gilroy. The city can recommend it all it likes, and feel itself empowered as a stakeholder. Good for them.

    As for “discovery” of impacts, that’s the wrong word. There is nothing to discover as the impacts are well-known. They will someday be disclosed, and Gilroy’s embrace of HSR will become quite a bit more hesitant, to say the least.

    WHOOOOSHHHHH! Otherworldly!

    joe Reply:

    Hilarious. I thought trenches mitigated noise. What’s an appeasement?

    Gilroy began this because the City knew the State has the power to put HSR where ever the hell they wanted they thought the project had a good chance of moving forward. The Mayor’s said exactly that when asked to stop the study by whiners who wanted to ignore the project and do nothing a la PAMPA or Bakersfield.

    Now the City wants to know the Environmental impacts of their recommendation and alternatives.

    If Gilroy does sour on HSR it will be based on doing things to understand the project impacts and educating the city and residents.

    And discover is the right word. We have discovery museums – that is exactly the right word. The people here need to discover the impacts of their specific choices just as w looked over the station sites and then moved forward without all the bellyaching.

    In the end the City may want HSR elsewhere and if so we will have an alternative site – far different than Bakersfield’s “Bring us a rock” approach.

    joe Reply:

    and from datacruncher below: http://www.cahsrblog.com/2014/12/the-hyperloop-cant-be-built-between-sf-and-la/#comment-243681

    I’m gratified The Californian sought to again mention the state’s intended stop was not Bakersfield, but west of town, probably in the vicinity of Buttonwillow.

    It was our local officials who successfully lobbied for a downtown stop instead of a stop in rural Kern.

    Gilroy’s working through the implications of the downtown station and they have a process that gave the residents information and the city council political cover for the recommendation. The trenched approach offers the best noise mitigation. If the City changes their recommendation to the east greenfield then residents also know that are possible development and landuse for that site.

    Clem Reply:

    What’s hilarious is that you (and the other good burghers of Gilroy) seem to believe a trench has a chance of actually being built.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Fresno, in its draft EIR/EIS comments to CAHSRA, said a downtown trench for that city was an alternative that should be studied. See pages 2 to 4 in their letter and their attached 6 pages of trench design alternatives they submitted for consideration.
    http://www.fresno.gov/NR/rdonlyres/93D5ABCD-6B12-4918-8A56-FF146E21971E/0/MercedtoFresno.pdf

    All Fresno ended up with was an at-grade alignment in the downtown station area. Gilroy should not hold its breath that they will get a trench in their downtown.

    Observer Reply:

    Building a trench through downtown Fresno would have been a bad idea.

    First, it would have crossed the existing Fresno St. underpass for the UP tracks, they would have to fill it in or something and then address how Fresno St. would cross the adjacent UP tracks – leave Fresno St. at grade or construct a new overpass? Building HSR at grade, they only have to extend the existing Fresno St. underpass to go under HSR.

    Also a trench would not have addressed the at grade crossings for the adjacent UP tracks at Tulare St. and Ventura Ave. Building HSR at grade will allow Building underpasses at Tulare St. and Venture Ave for both HSR and adjacent UP tracks – much more beneficial.

    joe Reply:

    Gilroy is a small town and the station located at the south east end of town is near open space.

    Recall Hanford’s proposed station was at a greenfield site and had a trenched approach. The site was later discovered to be on a perched water table and not feasible. The trench was offered by CAHSR without Hanford / Kings Co asking.

    datacruncher Reply:

    @Observer, if you open the document link you will see Fresno addressed that in the drawing and analysis at the end of the document. Some alternatives they proposed would have placed both HSR and the UPRR in the trench, others put HSR in the trench and used overpasses to cross both the trench and an at-grade UPRR.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Bakersfield newspaper letter to the editor.

    It was our local officials who successfully lobbied for a downtown stop instead of a stop in rural Kern. It was our own who advocated the dislocation or demolition of significant residential and businesses properties by insisting on a downtown stop. And when the news of the change became widespread, and local folks were upset with the new routing, our same officials, instead of standing up and acknowledging the error of their ways, chose to immediately blame the other guy and file a suit, contending our voice was not heard. It was our voice, articulated by our representatives, which was heard advocating the downtown routing.

    Today, the lack of integrity and civil reasonability infects all level of government. The concocted scheme to blame HSR for arrogantly ignoring the environmental impact on our community was a hoax and an embarrassment.

    http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/opinion/letters/x34743257/Adopt-the-HSR-station-change

  4. john burrows
    Dec 19th, 2014 at 20:04
    #4

    Back in the 1950’s when I was in high school it was the dawn of the atomic age. According to “Popular Science”, much of our electricity would soon be produced by fusion reactors—just as soon as a few details were worked out. We could soon have atomic powered airplanes—And we might even have atomic locomotives. Nuclear explosions might dig canals and carefully controlled underground blasts could do some serious fracking. I even went on a tour of the NS Savannah, a nuclear powered merchant ship. when it was in San Francisco.

    Sixty years later none of this has come to be. Fusion reactors are still a possibility some day. Nuclear powered merchant ships proved not to be economically feasible. The Savannah was scrapped after a few years—It’s reactor I believe is still cooling down. Nuclear explosions have been banned, and the atomic airplane and locomotive went nowhere. A concept for the atomic locomotive used weapons grade uranium Uranium as the energy source—good thing that one went nowhere.

    High speed rail opponents have argued that hyperloop and driver less cars are just around the corner and that we should hold off on building such an expensive project as high speed rail because hyperloop would be so much faster, and with driver less cars there would be no need for a train that barely exceeded 200 mph. But as has been said many times before, the devil is in the details, and I would be surprised if fusion power plants weren’t going to be on line long before those 800 mph trains start running between SF and LA. And truly driver less cars may also be well off in the future. A number of details will have to be worked out before the humans in the car can turn on the TV, open up cold one and enjoy the trip from the back seat. So in the meantime, as the decades pass in which these details may or may not be worked out, lets get that 200 plus mph train carrying passengers from Los Angeles to San Francisco.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    IIRC someone pointed out that shielding the locomotive’s reactor would make it too big. That or training all the engineers to replace the ones who died from radiation poisoning. The passengers and the people along the tracks would find it unpleasant too.
    Everyone “knew” that the Japanese would have a miserable failure with their Shinkansen trains because everyone “knew” that conventional trains could never be run at those kind of speeds, regularly. We’d need maglev which was going to be just around the corner. All the construction materials would be dirt cheap because we’d be making them with almost free fusion power. And the tunnels would be easy to dig because of the nuclear tunnel boring machines which would just melt their way through the rock. But we wouldn’t need as many as one would think because between the SSTs and VSTOLs there would be an airport within easy reach. There were going to be VSTOL ports all over the place.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    To be fair, total government spending on VSTOL planes is higher than total government spending on HSR.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    The problem is that the VSTOL planes seat 2 at most…

    aw Reply:

    This one has a crew of four. It can take along up to 32 others, but in that case, they don’t get seats.

    The US government has spent about much more on this one program than it did for HSR grants.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    I didn’t think of this, yeah.

    Gives about the same capacity and overall speed as a hyperloop pod…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But just like they solved the problem of color television and brought us antibiotics they were going to figure out how to make the VSTOLs cheap and easy to fly. Every third suburb was going to have a VSTOL port and that they can only carry 12 people wasn’t going to be a problem because you’d be able to schedule a flight to hundreds of other VSTOL ports within 1,000 miles. Otherwise there would be flying taxi service to the SSTport where you could catch the 90 minute transcontinental flight. They were gonna put serrations on the edges of the SSTs which were going to break up the sonic booms. Or maybe by making them biplanes and funneling the sonic boom into the wing. All of it powered by cheap semi synthetic clean burning Jet fuel which we would be making with the waste heat from the fusion plants. and using the waste heat from the synthetic fuel plants to desalinate seawater.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Fascinating. Please continue.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    http://www.popsci.com/archives

    It will bring back all those memories you have of fun afternoons at the library.

    john burrows Reply:

    Did a little memory check on Wikipedia. Turns out that the Savannah is still in existence and may some day become a museum once the reactor problem is taken care of.

    EJ Reply:

    There’s no real technical reason you can’t build a nuclear powered cargo ship. It’s just that accounting for all the safety features and technical expertise needed to operate one, fossil fuels pencil out much better economically. AFAIK the only modern non-military nuclear powered ships operating nowadays are a fleet of Russian icebreakers, which need a very high power output and operate in areas where refueling a diesel or conventional steamship is difficult and expensive.

    john burrows Reply:

    Interesting that the Hyperloop concept is being developed with the help of 25 UCLA students. The X-12 nuclear powered locomotive concept got its start as a project for graduate students in a nuclear technology course at the University of Utah in 1953 and quickly attracted the attention of the media.

    EJ Reply:

    The TGV is a nuclear powered train – it’s just that given the economics of building and safely operating a reactor the right size to power a locomotive, you’re better off generating the power in a large plant and building overhead line equipment to deliver it to the locomotive.

    Eric Reply:

    You beat me to writing this comment. :)

  5. jimsf
    Dec 21st, 2014 at 00:46
    #5

    So with the new BFD routing will they still get their iconic bridge?

    Clem Reply:

    I’m not sure that Bakersfield saw anything iconic about a twelve-mile concrete viaduct approaching 100 feet tall in places.

    Observer Reply:

    Agreed. They are probably glad to get rid of that concept.

    hank Reply:

    150′ tall going over the Kern River & Truxtun Ave.

  6. Emmanuel
    Dec 21st, 2014 at 02:17
    #6

    To me Hyperloop was never meant to be built. It was merely a way of demonstrating that practically all alternatives were cheaper than what CHSRA has designed for their contractors.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If by “demonstrating” you mean “making up cost numbers,” then sure. I can one-up everyone and decide that conventional HSR done my way would cost $200,000 per kilometer.

    Randyw Reply:

    The numbers are so phenomenally laughable you just have to guess what the motivation is. The proposal says each train will cost 1.3 million each! — SF just bought Light Rail trains at a cost of 3.3 million each — which is 100 year old tech running at less than 50 miles an hour from lots of competitive bidders. (vs totally new propulsion system, a life support system, structurally able to sustain huge forces, expensive batteries…)

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Correction: trams might have “lots of competitive bidders” (where by “lots” one means half a dozen) outside the USA and far from San Francisco, but we only managed to have two “bidders” and the outcome was completely pre-determined.

    “Phenomenally laughable” is also an excellent way to describe PBQD’s ridership “projections” for CHSR ridership. “Laughable” is a good way to describe the one-“competitive”-bidder lead consultant’s “estimates” of project budget and project schedule.

    Hyperloop’s numbers may be off by a factor of three or four, but, hey, that’s not too far from how far off PBQD=CHSRA’s construction budget and ridership projections will be proven to have been. Let history be your guide.

    Don’t trust a project proponent who not only has massive financial incentives to lie about project costs and benefits (Hyperloop or hundreds of other ready examples), but especially don’t trust one who actively and handsomely profit from cost and schedule overruns (that would be PBQD’s controlling consultant.)

    Randyw Reply:

    There are degrees of WILLFUL inaccuracy. At the most optimistic a hyperloop pod exceeds a private jet in complexity (AND is largely un-invented technology.) Private jets cost about $50 million. So implying that the hyperloopers are ONLY lying by a factor of 3 to 4 is insane.

    Applying the same order of magnitude error (lie) to their overall estimate and the project costs 250-300 billion. It would be built at least 10 years later by the time the technology has been developed and tested which doubles that number again. All for a system which carries at best 1/3 the passengers from the northern edge of LA to SF and doesn’t account for the cost of crossing the bay or either station.

    CaHSR has already priced in most of the costs and is mature technology AND hard bids have already come in much lower than the rail authorities estimates. Steel wheeled HSR may not be 65 billion but it won’t be 600. (Which is about what we’ve already spent developing the Joint Strike Fighter which is less innovative and complex than the hyperloop with no NIMBYs or hard infrastructure costs at all.)

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Cool. So only doubling or trebling costs and having a limitlessly corrupt rent-seeking corporation pocket the excess is OK because …

    IRAQ WAR
    NIMBY
    JOINT STRIKE FIGHTER
    SQUIRREL!

    Keep lowering that bar.

    Randyw Reply:

    You make a red herring argument. If you average two arguments taking no measure of their relative accuracy, you are no closer to the truth. It is as dishonest as a Fox news debate about global warming.

    Examples of other projects of similar levels of complexity and risk are a perfectly reasonable way to determine gross scale and relative risks of a project. It is certainly more accurate at a early schematic phase than Musks assigning dollar figures to the parts of his pods or discussing the issue as being the “Kantrowitz Limit.” (That is the Squirrel.)

    Do you or Mr. Musk really believe a non-designed pod that travels at 760 mph will cost half as much a light rail vehicle? Of course not. (He’s not an idiot, I assume you are not either.) Nor does anyone on Fox news really believe that global warming is a false conspiracy. In both cases they are deliberate lies. Since the proposal is beyond ridiculous, the on reasonable question is why is the proposer lying?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Why is are the Musk people lying about Hyperloop?
    There are lots of ready answers. And there are others, involving “fox news” and “global warming” and fluid dynamics.
    But at least you ought to admin they’re not sucking down $100+ billion of public cash on this particular front.

    In contrast, why is PBQD lying (and it is) about CSHR costs and about CHSR ridership?
    Occam’s Razor suggests “private profit” (tens of billions of public to private wealth transfer) explains it all.

    Joe Reply:

    PBDQ

    Richard’s squirrel.

    Randyw Reply:

    Now we have two real hard money bids, which can’t be faked and in both cases they were significantly lower than the corresponding prebid estimates. This is worth much more than long technical disputes about the details of how the estimates were made or the motivations of the estimators.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “Randyw”,

    Those “prebid estimates”: how do they compare with actual fully completed projects elsewhere in the world? How were they arrived at?

    Now, how do the “real hard money bids” compare?

    It constantly amazes me the lengths to which even our self-described “anti-corporatist” or “environmental” or “leftist activists” types will go to defend incredible amounts of public-private wealth transfer if only if it brushed with the most superficial greenwash. They don’t (or like to believe they don’t) do it for missile builders or private electric utilities, but they will do it for private construction/engineering outfits.

    I honestly don’t get it. Not only do you pay twice as much as what you should, but you actively defend outrageous costs and defend fradulent misrepresentation of costs. This makes sense if you’re on the payroll, it might make sense if (like a couple commenters here) you are simply simple, but just what is it that makes so many turkeys vote for Thanksgiving?

    Jerry Reply:

    RM
    amen
    One of your best comments yet.

    joe Reply:

    I honestly don’t get it. Not only do you pay twice as much as what you should, but you actively defend outrageous costs and defend fradulent misrepresentation of costs.

    That pay twice as much comment assumes CA builds HSR your way on your terms. It does not apply to the project as designed and funded. An adult knows the state’s a messy democracy so I’m happy it got funded over a tax cut or highway.

    Second, you’ve had along history of spending thousands of personal time hours building ideas and designs for PBDQ and then being repeatedly ignored. HSR is the worse most horrible porky corrupt project because your feelings and ego got hurt by the prime contractor.

    Ari Reply:

    3 or 4? As best as I could find, every number is off by a factor of 10 or 20. Their quoted cost of the tube is about 1/20 the cost of a comparable-width pipeline (which is basically what it is). Their cost of a station ($125m) is about 1/40th of the cost of the Transbay Transit Center, but in theory they could build one for half the size. Their cost of tunneling (a risible $50m/mile) is probably 1/10th of what a tunnel would actually cost. And they don’t even price out minor items like, say, a maintenance facility. I agree with Randyw, the numbers are completely made up. Good point, the capsules—for which the technology hasn’t made it off a drawing board—are slated to come in at about the cost of a diesel-hybrid city bus. Sure.

    Lewellan Reply:

    Discussion of the Hyper-loop concept
    would be most productive conducted
    once annually, the 1st day of April.

    TomA Reply:

    Their numbers also of course ignore the fact that its much less useful than CAHSR. With its burb to burb between two major cities with no intermediate stop setups (much like TX HSR was orignially planned), its basically a somewhat faster, but much more expensive, plane.

  7. Reality Check
    Dec 21st, 2014 at 19:36
    #7

    Statue Featuring Rod Diridon Sr. in Works for Diridon Station

    […]

    Members of the Quest Valley Trust have been waiting 20 years to take the wraps off a plan to honor the transportation expert with a statue at the station. Diridon, appointed to the High Speed Rail Authority by former Gov. Schwarzenegger and now semi-retired after 19 years as director of the Mineta Transportation Institute at San Jose State University, apparently put the kibosh on the project, calling it too “self grandiose.”

    But Quest Valley, a locally based, privately held organization [which Google has never heard of] that is dedicated to preserving the history of Santa Clara County, has since authorized another statue, this one representing the contributions of local pioneers in transportation. Dr. Colleen Wilcox, a member of Quest Valley, says that the life-size, three-person statue will feature Diridon, former State Sen. Becky Morgan and old-time railroad engineer Billy Jones.

    […]

    Before the project can advance, members of the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board of Caltrain must approve the sculpture.

    “This statue will be setting a precedent,” says Caltrain spokesperson Mark Simon. “At this moment Caltrain doesn’t have a policy regarding public art.”

    […]

    Former chair of the commission Steve Cohen offers a defense of naming local landmarks after the living: “Maybe the reason the three biggest properties in San Jose are named after people who are still alive is because nobody dead had any real significance in San Jose’s history,” he quips.

    While the original plan called for a “figurative representation of Mr. Diridon,” Halberstadt says, the goals for sculptor Yori Seeger, who was commissioned by Quest Valley, have since been heightened to a tribute to local founders of rail transportation.

    […]

    Morgan, depicted in a take-charge stance, is credited for securing the purchase of the rail line that extends from San Jose to San Francisco. In the mid 1980s, the state senator representing northern Santa Clara and southern San Mateo counties aggressively pushed through legislation to buy the line from Southern Pacific for $218 million. Jones represents the historical side of the railroad, having worked as an engineer during the steam era of trains, as well as starting his own “Wildcat Railroad” on a ranch in Los Gatos. Jones died in 1968. Diridon’s figure portrays him riding the back of a train gazing wistfully up the peninsula.

    The tribute comes after a tumultuous few years for Diridon. While still working part-time as emeritus executive director of the transportation institute, he has had two surgeries on his lungs to remove tumors and undergone chemotherapy. But for a guy who is all about wheels, it’s hard to slow down.

    “I’m returning to form and ready for another hundred thousand miles,” Diridon jokes. His legacy, he hopes, is to have made a dent in the battle against climate change. In a recent trip to Houston, Diridon was inducted into the Hall of Fame for the American Public Transportation Association.

    “I’m hardly an art expert, but both Rod and Becky had a larger than life role in local transportation,” says Steve Heminger, executive director of the San Francisco Bay Area Metropolitan Transportation Commission. “Rod is like a locomotive when he’s focused on an objective. It’s best to be on board rather than in his way,”

    Diridon says he’s grateful to see some of his projects come to fruition during his lifetime, as well as the upcoming electrification of the peninsula rail line in 2019. Once that happens, high-speed will not be far behind.

  8. Jos Callinet
    Dec 21st, 2014 at 20:21
    #8

    We’ve already waited THIS long for HSR – why not just set aside our soon-to-be-obsolete HSR ambitions and wait until the Hyperloop is fully and satisfactorily developed to where it can be built between LA and SL, barflessly (how do you all like THAT for an adverb?) – and THEN we can throw our dollars at it and get it built post-haste.

    All that’s needed for now is A LITTLE PATIENCE, folks, while Hyperloop sorts out its technicalities! Patience is very inexpensive, happy to say!

    agb5 Reply:

    Hyperloop will never be economically viable because, after huge construction costs, it will transport too few people between only 2 points. This is not a ‘technicality’ which is going to get fixed by being patient.
    It is just silly to concentrate on capsule door design and bag security, when the showstopper problem is the infeasibility of making a Y junction in a pipe that can be negotiated at 760mph without breaking the necks of the passengers.

    Without a Y junction there can be no intermediate stations.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You don’t need a Y junction for an intermediate station. Because there is no air, express trains can pass local ones on an adjacent guideway without very wide guideway center spacing. This means that you just need to enlarge the tube to accommodate two guideways, and this boils down to (slowly) varying the size of the tube. It shouldn’t be too difficult: the Space Shuttle is not perfectly cylindrical, either. Guideway turnouts are not really a matter of whether the air is evacuated, and apparently they’re possible for maglev, since trains in Shanghai don’t need to loop around to change direction on double track.

    The issue is constructing high-speed turnouts, i.e. turnouts long enough to allow switching at 1000+ km/h. You can get around that by slowing trains in the diverging direction, but that kills your line capacity (and if you’re not thinking about reaching capacity, why the hell are you building vactrains in the first place?).

    Clem Reply:

    Capacity is the fatal flaw of the Hyperloop concept. They eschew all established notions of what constitutes a safe headway in fixed guideway transportation.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Well, yeah, but a vactrain that used larger tubes and longer trains would be able to have reasonable capacity with safe headways… assuming the turnouts are high-speed, which means long segments of quadruple-track.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How long does it take to accelerate to 700 mph without giving the passengers a cheap thrill? And decelerate? Awfully long section of quad track? Assuming one can switch tracks at speed without careening into the wall. Perfectly every time.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Assuming unlimited power to weight ratio, a 2 m/s^2 acceleration, which I believe is the planned initial acceleration of the Chuo Shinkansen, gets a vactrain to 1,120 km/h in a bit more than 2.5 minutes and 24 km. That requires 620 kW/t at the top end, which starts straining power plants given the mass of a plausible train.

    I do not know what the power to weight ratio of EDS maglev is. EMS (i.e. Transrapid) seems to be a bit more than 60, which substantially weakens the train’s ability to accelerate at really high speeds. Musk’s writeup assumes 5 m/s^2 because he doesn’t give a crap about passenger comfort, and to maintain that all the way to top speed requires 1.5 MW/t.

    agb5 Reply:

    express trains can pass local ones on an adjacent guideway without very wide guideway center spacing

    Ballistic experts suggest that, at 1000kph, it will already be difficult to maintain a round capsule centered in a round pipe without ever touching the sides. How would you make the express capsule stick to one side of an oval pipe? I though the pipe was the guideway.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    By dropping the dopey pipe propulsion plan, which is the least important part of the entire project (if possibly the only one that has Musk’s name on it).

    Andy M Reply:

    Some mountain rack railroads have switches where rather than moving just as the blade as is done on conventional railroads, an entire section of track is flexible and is pulled over between a straight and a curved configuration. The same could be done with a flexible tunnel. Even if this was very long, multiple drives could be used to move it. To prevent problems with pressure loss, you would have to maintain the vacuum in the containing chamber as well.

    Of course no capsules could traverse the switch while it was moving. But capacity loss could be avoided if capsules were pre-sorted into bunches so those going straigh would all come in one bunch, then there would be a gap to move the switch, and then a batch of capsules would come that are going round the curve. This pre-sorting might be the basis of some sort of a timetable with pre-ordained departure slots. It’s almost like a conventional train.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    There is also the principle of Alweg monorail switches. The issue is that for making a switch for a tube with the needed diameter, and still reasonably high speed, you would need a pretty big construction. And then, how would you seal it properly? Feasible, sure. Reasonable…?

    Andy M. Reply:

    That’s why I said that the switch has to be contained in a chamber that is also under vacuum. There wouldn’t be hundreds of such switches, and they wouldn’t contribute significantly to the overall volume needing to be evacuated.

    But my argument was that in adopting such switches, you are enforcing a system whereby capsules are allocated departure slots and capsules going to the same destination would need to depart at the same time, or wait until the next such time slot, and there would need to be a time slot for every stopping pattern so the more destinations or stopping patterns you have, the less frequent your preferred one would be available. What I have basically described isn’t too different from the schedule of a conventional passenger railroad, and out of the window goes the dream of being able to see these capsules as some sort of an equivalent of a private car that you can use whenever it suits you.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    From your description, I have a sudden association with he Pilatusbahn, where the construction of the rack (System Locher) does not allow for “regular” switches. And they do run a “service” with up to three or so motor units.

    The switches they use are either of the sliding table type, or of the flip over type. I could imagine a sliding table switch for the tubes. At the ends of the “line” tubes as well as at the ends of the “switch” tubes, there would have to be a collapsible end seal, allowing to keep a vacuum within the tube sections. When the switch is “thrown”, the seals close, the area at the ends is filled with air, the table moves, the area at the ends is evacuated, and then the seals are reopened. The advantage of the sliding table is that you don’t have a flexible tube, but two rigid tubes with an according radius. That might actually make the switch shorter, but it still would be a pretty big beast. And I have serious doubts that it can be “thrown” within half of the time distance of two pods (which would be in the range of 3 minutes).

    agb5 Reply:

    With a tube diameter of 2.23m and a minimum bend radius of 23,500m, the flexible pipe section would have to measure about 310m long, and might weight in excess of 300t, which would require considerable time and energy to move.

    I can see it taking one minutes to move, lock and verify the flexible pipe section, during which time it would be dangerous to be launching capsules into the tube. (what if the switch got stuck half way)

    With one intermediate station half way, there would be a 15 minute pause while the turnout was changed, with 4 intermediate stops, capacity would drop to near zero, and there would still be no way for travel from, say, Bakersfield to San Jose.

  9. Jos Callinet
    Dec 21st, 2014 at 20:26
    #9

    *—— between LA and SF! sorry for the uncorrectable typo.

  10. Andy M
    Dec 22nd, 2014 at 02:21
    #10

    Please remind me again. Why is/was Musk opposed to CAHSR?

    Is his opposition ideological, or was using something that wasn’t invented here just not geeky enough for him?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    He sells cars.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    He sells cars and wants $Billions of CA State subsidies for his factories. It competes with the future he’s peddling

    Lewellan Reply:

    He manufactures all-battery EVs knowing that Plug-in Hybrid EVs offer many more important advantages/benefits to the consumer, including inherent economic incentives to drive less, whereby more routine trips become possible without having to drive, whereby walking, bicycling and mass transit become viable travel options, whereby local economies may thrive rather than continue to be sacraficed to the global economy. PHEVs should last years longer, be replaced less frequently, are the better match to regional utility grids, rooftop photovoltiac solar arrays, and in an emergency offer lifesaving portable power. Elon Musk knows the Hyperloop idea is a ruse, a distraction.

  11. Neil Shea
    Dec 22nd, 2014 at 10:00
    #11

    OT: http://www.visaliatimesdelta.com/story/news/local/2014/12/19/high-speed-rail-project-settles-bakersfield-lawsuit/20669295/

    “The route previously preferred by the authority ran from the city limit through downtown Bakersfield and would affect more than 500 existing structures, Bakersfield city attorney Virginia Gennaro said.

    City officials’ proposed alternative would run next to an existing freight railroad line through a mainly industrial area and affect about 100 properties. It is straighter, faster, more level and would have fewer grade crossings, so it would be less expensive, Gennaro said.

    “There are some good things that could come of this not only for the authority but for the community of Bakersfield,” she said.”

    So Bakersfield may be engaging at some level now…

  12. synonymouse
    Dec 22nd, 2014 at 12:54
    #12

    http://grist.org/cities/seattles-unbelievable-transportation-megaproject-fustercluck/

    “The viaduct has sunk about an inch in the last few weeks.”

    Jerry Reply:

    It’s a great big sinkhole in more ways than one.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It can be the West Coast’s Big Dig.

    Lewellan Reply:

    The comparison is inappropriate. Wsdot’s Galloping Gerty bridge collapse or their floating bridges across Lake Washington that sank, or their idiotic bottleneck segment of I-5 through downtown Seattle, or even the Alaskan Way Viaduct (piece of crap) that the bore tunnel is intended to replace, are all enormous clusterfuck engineering stunts that condemn Washington State DOT incompetence like none other. A level of reckless incompetence that is malevolently criminal. Incidentally, BART general manager Grace Crunican is complicit in this travesty as Seattle DOT director between 2002-2009 when the viaduct replacement project without her in charge might’ve been conducted competently. She was fired from her previous postion for violations of federal ADA mandate and Oregon State code. I warned Seattlers to not trust her, but they would only listen to the psuedo-progressives crowd who are transfixed with stupid ideas like Hyperloop, Maglev, self-driving hydrogen fuel cell cars. Whee!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The people responsible for letting the engineer/architect get away with the design of the Tacoma Narrows Bridge were all dead by the time someone got the bright idea to fill the pontoons up.

  13. Keith Saggers
    Dec 22nd, 2014 at 13:16
    #13
  14. Reality Check
    Dec 22nd, 2014 at 15:44
    #14

    Despite Cheaper Gas, Public Transit Ridership Is Up, Trade Group Reports

    […]

    The national increase, which follows a 57-year high in ridership for all of 2013, reflects improvements in the reach, trip frequency and quality of public transportation, and weakens a traditional link between gas prices and transit use, said Michael Melaniphy, president of the association.

    While previous spikes in transit use resulted from increased gasoline prices, and people would typically get back in their cars when gas prices retreated, that relationship is unraveling as transit services improve, Mr. Melaniphy said.

    The latest evidence of a break in the link is an increase in ridership at a time when retail gasoline prices have fallen to their lowest in more than four years, he said.

    “People are saying, ‘I came because of fuel prices; I’m staying because of the experience,’ ” he said.

    With 60 percent of transit trips made by people commuting to work, the increased ridership is also fueled by a strengthening economic recovery that generates more jobs, and by improvements such as more frequent service and the availability of apps that offer users real-time updates on transit services.

    [..]

    Increased transit use also reflects an increasingly urban lifestyle by younger residents who demand more walkable, bikeable, transit-friendly communities, Ms. Scott said.

    More transit use is one sign of a shift away from a suburban lifestyle that characterized a previous generation but may not be compatible with newer ones, Ms. Scott said.

    “It’s not sustainable, and people know it now,” she said. “It’s a picture of what America was 30, 40 years ago. We’re painting a new picture in terms of where we’re going, and it’s very consistent with providing quality transit.”

    joe Reply:

    Few years ago a study came out that showed mode switching is more sensitive to price increases than price decreases. That is, gas prices rising from 2.50 to 4.00 per gallon will push more people to mass transit than a price decrease from 4.00 to 2.50 will draw them back to their cars.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The fact remains that in transit circles, higher gas prices being a necessity to embrace transit had reached a shibboleth standard. I was sure Robert would make this his next story, but he’s busy visiting family this week.

    I made this point before however–declining income is driving the switch as we enter year five of a lost decade.

    Eric M Reply:

    So is horrendous traffic on the freeways

    Eric Reply:

    So much for efficient market theory?

    Andy M. Reply:

    It’s called stick factor. There are billions to be made out of selling obsolete equipment to the change averse segment of the market. When was the last CRT made? Or the last fax machine? Maybe not as long ago as you think. Maybe they’re still being made. Ditto for many technologies. Ditto for underperforming behemoth companies that sell overpriced junk and offer port service thanks to the blindness of consumers. It’s the sort of thing air miles and other loyalty programs were designed to encourage. It’s a huge market overall. For years public transit has been the victim of this stick factor with incorrect perceptions keeping people in their cars. For once the tables are turned.

    Andy M. Reply:

    sorry, for “port service” read “poor service”

    joe Reply:

    Not really the same.

    People tend to stick with their transportation choice until the price increases and then they reevaluate their choices.

    Say metro’s fare increase cost them ridership. A cut in fares will not bring all of them back. Raising fares when gas prices drop was a bad move. Cutting fares will not restore revenue so they might consider service improvements instead.

  15. rtaylor352
    Dec 22nd, 2014 at 17:21
    #15

    Is there a minimum length the Hyperloop could be? Because I can’t help but think that if a test track shows it can safely move people from Point A to Point B, then Disney World in Florida could make a great first look at how it can utilized.

    The park likes to think of themselves as visionaries, especially in transportation; the park has one of the original highly utilized monorails in the rail, and they describe their People Mover in Tomorrowland as “Ride this emission free mass transit system of the future”. Now of course that system of transportation hasn’t really taken hold anywhere in the world but airports, but the sentiment the park likes to portray lends itself to adopting an early version of the Hyperloop.

    I’m picturing a 3.5 mile length, going in a straight line between the Carousel of Progress in Magic Kingdom’s Tomorrowland, through the Wilderness Lodge (like the Monorail goes through the Contemporary Resort) and into the Innoventions plaza at EPCOT. If the system can travel 600 mph at that length, the trip between the parks takes 20 seconds.

    It’d be a huge investment on Disney’s part, but if successful it’d bring a lot of visitors. And to think, no NIMBY’s blocking the development.

    The route I described is marked here:

    https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zDflk9o_zTQg.kLBKuw8piDlk

    Edward Reply:

    Ok. Assuming you want to stop at the end of the 3.5 mile track, you have ten seconds to get up to 600 mph. That’s about 3 G acceleration and one heck of a jerk at the 10 second point.

    swing hanger Reply:

    vomit comet

    rtaylor352 Reply:

    Makes sense the distance is too short for full speed, but can the train go slower, in the 100 mile an hour range, or whatever speed it’d take to limit G forces?

  16. MarkB
    Dec 22nd, 2014 at 22:08
    #16

    —Off-topic alert—

    Good news on the [lack of] security-theater front, from George Skelton in the LA Times:

    “[A] recent comment by Jeff Morales, chief executive officer of the California High-Speed Rail Authority, caught my attention. He said: ‘I guarantee that you can keep your shoes on.’

    “Morales was on a panel about the future and asserted that there’ll be a lot less security harassment in train depots than at airports because there’s not the compelling need.

    ” ‘For one thing, you can’t take a train anywhere but on a track…It just is not as attractive a target for terrorists as airplanes.’

    “He envisions cops eyeballing passengers, but not screening them. There’ll be security cameras, but no intrusive metal detectors.”

    http://www.latimes.com/local/politics/la-me-cap-bullet-train-20141222-column.html

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Cops eyeballing, huh? Don’t be black!

    Donk Reply:

    This is actually really big news for CAHSR. George Skelton has been a naysayer about the costs of HSR etc for years now. The fact that he is turning around on HSR is significant.

    This is the typical pattern that most of us here predicated, and mirrors the press coverage of the Purple Line subway extension in LA – first it was all doom and gloom and the word “boondoggle” was thrown out frequently. Then, led by Antonio Villariagosa, funding started coming in and the legal hurdles got turned around. Next the press started to slowly support it, and there has been widespread support ever since.

    CASHSR is in the same position. Jerry Brown got the funding and legal questions more or less solved and now the press is coming around, not just Skelton but others. Even Ralph had a couple articles that were marginally positive. There is no stopping CASHR now…if you can wait another 30 years or so.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    “No one will stop us this time!” said Darth Vader shortly before Rebels blew his Death Star to pieces….

    Yes, changing narrative is helpful, w that doesn’t mean the debate is over….

    Donk Reply:

    Doesn’t mean the debate is over. What it does mean is that momentum has been created and it clearly is heading in the right direction.

    Many groups thought they had the secret plans to the Death Star, but turns out they all either misfired their proton torpedoes or couldn’t outmaneuver Vader (Jerry Brown) in their X-wing fighters. The irony is that their target was much bigger than a womp rat in this case, i.e. there were plenty of chances to torpedo the project, but they all blew it.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Interesting that you would think of Brown as Vader…he’s much more Palpetine to Eric Garcetti’s Vader, hoping to use power of the dark side to change cities to embrace density and transit only probably to be done in by the next Governor.

    That said, now the problem for HSR is that every city in CA wants a station and part of this new revenue stream. And the question is going to be asked about how you fold SB 395 into HSR when we wind up with 20 ARTICs and two real downtown stations.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Jerry Brown reminds me of Robert McNamara in his blind devotion to the program, insulated and arrogant, lacking in historical perspective. Unlike McNamara, Brown will not live long enough to survey the legacy.

    Consider that in I915 it was possible to travel from NYC to Chicago using only streetcars and interurbans. Even today some of the intervening territory is quite rural, a lot more so one hundred years ago. But a mere 3 decades later absolute disaster – the decimation of the US electric railway network.

    Or start with 1945 and look at AAR heavy passenger business. Many people traveling by train but only 2 decades later not very many left at all. And most mail and parcels by rail in 1945 but by 1965 the era of the RPO is kaput.

    The point is future generations have not signed any loyalty oath to Jerry’s Crazy Train. Transport is prone to fads and especially public transit, short haul or long distance. The WWI generation was favorable to rail but the WWII was not. Attitudes do not remain the same; there is an inherent tendency for the kids to reject their parents preferences and ideas. There is no reason to believe the shifting currents of public opinion will continue to favor a train that meanders, is expensive to ride, requires a groaning subsidy, and is wearing out.

    Don’t count on any fidelity from the mercenary Infrastructure Industrial Complex, who will sign on to any gadgetbahn, SkyBus, SkyTrain, SkyTube so long as it involves pouring lots of concrete. PB the hollow-core whore.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I never said I thought Brown would be successful. If anything, I think rail is making a comeback because it’s more cost effective and as a nation we are not as affluent as we were in the 1950s when most of our rail infrastructure was abandoned. It’s surprisingly similar to Britain, I think and we will see the same fate.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The rail infrastructure was abandoned because we were poor in the forties and fifties. Wages low, cost of living low, interest rates low. SF was able to save the 5 streetcar lines because Charlie Miller was able to pull off a lease-purchase deal with St. Louis to buy used PCC’s, thus circumnavigating the City Charter. Buses were all the transit companies could afford and soon they scrapped the trolley buses as well so as to ditch any infrastructure, any physical footprint or plant.

    The one car family was typical before about 1960. By that time the streetcars were gone.

    Jerry considers California superrich(like the crowd he hangs with) and accordingly plans to blow $100 billion on a legacy prototype model train layout with a cool detour to Mojave.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Back in the 50s rich people had color televisions. That got up to seven channels in the really big cities. 2 or 3 in smaller ones. They were the ones with two cars. And air conditioning. Automatic washing machines and if they were being truly extravagant clothes dryers. And refrigerators that defrosted themselves. And if they were going to remodel the kitchen, a space to put a dishwasher someday. One of the reasons health care is so expensive these days is that doctors can do a lot more than they could in the 50s. But back in the 50s we were still battling epidemic diseases.
    The middle class did exciting things for their careers like sort canceled checks and calculate your checking statement on comptometers.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electronic_Recording_Machine,_Accounting

    Not that everybody had a checking account. Or even a savings account. Not everybody had dial phones. In most places the way you made a long distance call was to call an operator. By the 60s most people could dial their own long distance calls. The really low rate, after 11 at night, was 20 cents a minute for a coast-to-coast call. There were different rates for different times of the day. And you paid by how distant the call was.

    The air was foul and the water in many places an unnatural color.

    http://gothamist.com/2009/11/24/smog.php#photo-1http://gothamist.com/2009/11/24/smog.php#photo-1

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cuyahoga_River

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I have it on good authority (i.e. my grandmother) that the cost of living was cheaper in the 1950s than any other time in her life. She’s older than synonymouse and perhaps Adirondacker..

    Her opinion was based on everything from housing to health care. She also lived in several states before settling in California. Her anecdotal data matches U.S. Currency strength and manufacturing production to a tee. My definition of affluence appears to bE different than yours is all.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    This is how things were like in the 1960s.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Grannie is looking at things through rose colored glasses.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Household_income_in_the_United_States

    john burrows Reply:

    When I graduated from high school in 1956 we were living in a new subdivision in San Mateo called “Sunnybrae”, one of many subdivisions springing up almost everywhere—

    Houses in the neighborhood were selling for $15,000 ($900,000 today).
    Gas was 30 cents a gallon for regular, 38 cents for ethyl.
    My dad made $10,000 per year as a construction superintendent.
    I made $1.00 per hour working during the summer.
    Tuition at Stanford was $250 per quarter, room and board also $250 per quarter.
    We went to a lot of movies.
    TV was black and white, records were popular
    Vacations were by car—My first plane trip was in 1958.
    We almost always ate at home.
    The Bay smelled like rotten eggs.
    Our neighbors were all white.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Actually, you are proving my point by trying to move the goalposts.

    Median income can skew higher just by the 1% doing better. Secondly, she never said anything about better compensation or income. Her comment was that things were cheaper and that of all decades she has lived in (all nine of em) the standard of living was highest in the 1950s.

    In addition, don’t forget that comparison of income and costs from the Bretton Woods era and before or after are flawed. Floating currencies and fixed currencies aren’t the same thing.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Median income is the person who is richer than half the people and poorer than half the people. How much people on either end make doesn’t affect that number.

    Bill Gates walks into a bar the median income of people in the bar, or the median net worth of people in the bar, barely changes. Median income like the median in the middle of the highway is the thing in the middle. The mean would skyrocket but but that doesn’t affect the next richest person in the bar or any one less rich. Bill Gates goes out and buys an annuity that allows him to live very comfortably for the rest of his life, the same thing for his wife, all their children and gives everything else away, the median stays the same. The mean collapses back towards the median.
    Back in the 50s median incomes were growing faster than inflation. They don’t anymore. They haven’t since we decided that Saint Ronnie and his Holy Laffer Curve would make us all rich. It hasn’t.

    Joey Reply:

    The whole point of a median is that it’s insensitive to outliers. If the super rich start making more money it’s not going to change the median at all.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The median income is affected by outliers. The difference is that it’s not affected by the distribution of outliers, but their inherent values. It normalizes distributions but it does not normalize valuation.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The median is the person in the middle of the list.
    There are 99 people in the bar. The spouse of someone making 80k a year helps her mother with her mother’s Ebay and Etsy shipments in December and makes a 1,000 bucks a year. There is someone else they that does the same for her brother and earns 2,000 a year. Each of them earns a 1,000 dollars a year more than the next until it gets to 45,000 a year at the 45th person and stays at that until the 55th person. Bill gates walks into the bar the median is still 45,000. He’s there to meet Warren Buffet. When he arrives it’s still 45,000 a year. Some Waltons show up and it finally becomes 46,000. A few more billionaires show up and there are 110 people in the bar. The median income is all the way up to 50,000 or so.
    It’s the person exactly in the middle of the list. Bill Gates could quadruple his income and the rest of the billionaires triple their’s and the median would still be 50,000 or so. Make them all the billionaires, trillionaires and the median doesn’t move. Make everybody earning more than 60,000 a year a trillionaire and the median doesn’t change

    Joey Reply:

    Ted: compare this and this.

    Observer Reply:

    That has been my observation too. Press coverage has been more favorable, and some critics are changing their tune. Once the segment from Madera to Bakersfield is completed, I think even more critics will change their tune. (Note that Construction Package 4 to Galpin Rd just north of Bakersfield is coming up also). I would love to see how planning for the Tehachapi and Pacheco segments work out; then things will really begin to get interesting. As you state however, how long will it be? They may be able to start planning and design for Tehachapi and Pacheco; but to build it where will the funds come from??

    john burrows Reply:

    Speaking of CAHSR critics—Gavin may have been spending some time lately holding his finger to the wind. Might be time to re-triangulate his position regarding high speed rail. The ground-breaking ceremony is only two weeks away, and it seems doubtful that Gavin will be attending.

    Observer Reply:

    Mr. Newsom and Fresno are worlds apart; they will never understand each other.

  17. Reality Check
    Dec 22nd, 2014 at 23:00
    #17

    Departing general counsel David Miller leaves lasting legacy at transit district

    […]

    In the late 1970s, Southern Pacific, the longtime owner and operator of passenger rail on the Peninsula, was set to abandon the service altogether, citing suffering profits (the company actually proposed replacing the train with vanpools — that’s how low ridership had fallen at the time.)

    With Miller’s tactful negotiations, SamTrans helped oversee state ownership of the rail line, first through Caltrans, and then through the creation of the Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board, a three-county agency that eventually took over operations. Miller helped purchase the right-of-way from Southern Pacific, saving the rail line and paving the way for the system that now serves more than 61,000 passengers per weekday and is set to electrify its system. Miller established the legal agreement for the governing structure of Caltrain, a partnership with the Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority, the City and County of San Francisco and SamTrans, with the latter taking on the role of managing the railroad.

    “I have so many wonderful memories of my time here,” said Miller. “But thwarting SP’s attempts to abandon the railroad might be my most satisfying one.”

    […]

    Miller said he will continue to advise Caltrain part-time over the next year or so on negotiations with Union Pacific.

    […]

  18. trentbridge
    Dec 23rd, 2014 at 07:54
    #18

    If you look at “archives” top right, you’ll see a persistent drop off in articles by the RC – every year since 2009 has been marked by less-and-less articles about CAHSR. In 2009 – 349 and in 2014 less than half that number 151. You’d expect the opposite. Surely the prospect of actual progress and real HSR stories would be increasing as the years pass…

    I’m wondering if he’s just tired of the whole thing..

    Eric M Reply:

    Or maybe he has a lot of other things to do and can’t write as frequently.

    joe Reply:

    Like parenting.

    Jerry Reply:

    It’s simply more and more acceptance of CAHSR, and the drop off of a lot of the mindless opposition.
    Hey, groundbreaking is next month.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Apparently the entry level for voter generated ballot propositions went down substantially due to the low turnout in the last election.

    Time for Jerry to change the law or get his tame judiciary to invalidate it before some pissed-off one percenter decides to bankroll an anti-JerryRail initiative. The Koch Bros. secretly support any sprawl scheme, but there might be a rogue ritchie rtch out there, say maybe in Sta. Clarita.

    Jon Reply:

    Or maybe that’s a reflection of the fact that not much has actually over the last year regarding CAHSR? It’s not like 2009/10 when DEIRs were popping up left right and center.

    Clem Reply:

    It’s a direct consequence of having a baby. My blog followed a similar trajectory after my last one was born, so I can totally relate. Priorities!

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Robert deserves a massive amount of credit for doing this as long as he has.

    Running a blog that is as trenchant as his is hard work. He’s a pioneer and one of those guys who 100 years from now will be noted in the same breath as other second generation bloggers who have almost figured out how to merge niche, content, delivery, and funding (just kidding).

    But it’s also a hobby because it was a tool for advocacy and something he experimented with. Little did Robert know that all roads in society lead to Rome and that even when the first high s

    Ted Judah Reply:

    *first night speed rail train glides from San Francisco to LA that the story won’t be over.

  19. les
    Dec 23rd, 2014 at 08:08
    #19

    Anybody know what’s up with Marnell Companies? I see they pulled out of the trainset bid. I wonder if the new 2015 budget restricted them from attaining a future RRIF and they are calling it curtains?

    les Reply:

    “The U.S. Department of Transportation has provisionally approved $1.75 billion in private activity bonds for All Aboard Florida” http://www.planetizen.com/node/72989. Come on Marnell get with the program.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    They were the oddball anyways. Maybe they were not properly reading the requirements for participating, or hoping they somehow find a partner later on to actually develop and build the trains. Not providing a partner with several years of experience building high speed trains (and have them in successful operation) was probably the reason why they got persuaded to pull out of that campaign.

    les Reply:

    Here’s a plan for Marnell: (it’s nice to dream)
    The costs for Victorville to LV section is estimated at $6.9 billion. The developer is putting up $1.4 billion in private investment.
    Marnell companies gets a partner. GE and Catepillar are both desperately trying to break into the entry level HSR market but have gotten beat out by Siemens the last few tries.
    GE is flush with cash; they could contribute 2 billion along with new 150mph trainsets which could be ready in 5 years. State of Nevada can kick 1 billion for economic development.
    Marnell secures another 2 billion in Federal Bonds similar to what AAF just completed.
    California extends Metro from Palmdale to Victorville hence cover the cost of tracks for final stretch.

    Observer Reply:

    As I understand it, XpressWest needed to meet buy america requirements. Can they meet buy america requirements without the California, Texas high speed projects or even the NEC trains getting off the ground first? That is – without the California, Texas, or even the NEC trains available, where can Marnell find 150mph trains that meet buy america requirements?

    Clem Reply:

    Colorado Railcar would be the obvious choice.

    Observer Reply:

    I think that ExpressWest will have to wait until California starts to firm up plans for the Palmdale link before they can get started. Once that happens, perhaps investors will get interested??

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, it just means the imposition of a Buy America requirement when the product in question isn’t even manufactured in the US is an excuse not to let the project go through.

    Observer Reply:

    That is why I say ExpressWest needs to wait for California or Texas to get started; once this happens, interest will pick up.

    Also, can Colorado Railcar provide the speed and panache that ExpressWest wants and that a true 150mph train can offer.

    Eric Reply:

    What a stupid law.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I think Clem was pulling your leg.
    Actually an upgraded Siemens ACS 64 plus AAF coaches (135mph) would almost make their spec as an interim choice until HSR sets were available.

    Observer Reply:

    Seems more like equipment that the X-Train people should consider – if they are still around.

    Clem Reply:

    That probably won’t cut it. The ExpressWest alignment has grades of over 4% on which a loco-hauled train could easily get stuck, should it ever need to stop and restart.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s not actually the law. Buy American only applies when an American product exists. As an example, academics who use NSF funds to fly to conferences must use American carriers, as long as there are American carriers that fly the route (or that codeshare with partners that do). American academics using NSF money to fly to a conference in Paris have to book their flight with an American carrier – if they’re flying Air France, they must book it as the Delta codeshare. However, at a conference some of my colleagues went to in a small town in Greece, there were no US carriers flying the last leg of the trip from Athens to the conference site, and there they could get reimbursed for tickets on Greek carriers after showing documentation that US-based carriers were not flying that last leg.

    In addition, the stimulus included a Buy American provision, with a side rule saying that it was okay to import goods even if they’re made in the US, provided that the cost premium of the American product is more than 25% over the imported one. I don’t know if that’s the general law or whether it was in place just for the stimulus, but in the arguments over that provision on liberal economists’ blogs, nobody argued in favor of the measure on the grounds that it’s generally the law.

    Not that the Sprinter or the CRC meets the requirements of XpressWest, but they both have a higher than 25% cost premium over equivalent imports.

  20. Joel
    Dec 23rd, 2014 at 15:27
    #20

    OT: http://www.latimes.com/local/politics/la-me-cap-bullet-train-20141222-column.html

    Interesting that Morales is giving a “no shoe removal” guarantee. I’m curious to know how the large station mezzanines will be put to use, if this is the case.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Passenger circulation?

    Joey Reply:

    You don’t need a lot of room for that. It’s not like Penn station where everyone will be waiting for their track number to be announced or lining up to have their ticket checked.

    MarkB Reply:

    See comment #16

    Travis D Reply:

    No stations have actually been designed yet. There are renders and concepts but no real designs. I don’t expect there will be any until all the details on just how the stations will work is known. And at that point the stations will be designed in concert with the communities involved.

    jimsf Reply:

    Im sure that the big stations, mainly SF and LA which serve multiple carries will be complicated but all the other stations should basically be covered platforms with a parking lot and either a ticket agent or a tvm or both. No need for much else unless cities such as fresno and burbank and riverside etc, want to include retail in the design. I would imagine that any such attached retail would be built as a seperate but attached private project.

    jimsf Reply:

    something like this in fresno could bring the money back downtown – if they can do something about the crime first.

    Eric Reply:

    You mean like San Jose with its 14 tracks and giant elevated viaduct?

    jimsf Reply:

    San Jose is another station that will serve multiple carriers. VTA BART AMTRAK long distance, CCJPA, ACE HSR and CalTrain.

    Joey Reply:

    It really doesn’t need that many tracks, especially considering how expensive it is to construct elevated tracks over an active station.

    jimsf Reply:

    they should use the existing ground level tracks for existing service and two elevated tracks for hsr that should be enough. or they could have two tracks each for amtrak ace and hsr and put a storage yard before or beyond the station where the equipment can dwell ( ACE trains sit around all day)

    Joey Reply:

    They need 2-3 tracks for ACE/Amtrak and 4-6 for HSR+CalTrain. That can all fit at-grade.

    Clem Reply:

    Right. And the practice of parking out-of-service trains in the station can be discontinued, with great prejudice.

    jimsf Reply:

    isnt hsr going to approach that station via elevated at both ends?

    Joey Reply:

    Why should it? There’s plenty of room for more tracks north of the station and not many CalTrain runs south of the station.

    Clem Reply:

    That elevated will be value-engineered out of existence, if it hasn’t already been.

    jimsf Reply:

    isnt it going to be elevated above the 280?

    jimsf Reply:

    how do they plan to get it from diridon to over by tamien? I don’t think it can use the at grade row because that neighborhood won’t allow it. what about the iconic bridge over the freeway isnt that still the plan

    Joey Reply:

    The neighborhood previously fought a plan to put a full 4 tracks in which would have required major property takes. Three (one UPRR+Amtrak and two HSR+CalTrain) would not require any. Remember that this is south of Diridon so there are many fewer CalTrain runs even if service is expanded.

    Joey Reply:

    Well actually it might still require slivers of backyards along Fuller Ave but not much.

    jimsf Reply:

    and evryone is ok with the curviness of that row? I guess since its likey all trains will stop in san jose ( although I do hope for some true sf-la express) the slowing down doesn’t matter there

    Clem Reply:

    Get with the plan Jim, their proposed iconic viaduct over the freeway exchange is even curvier, with 50 mph reverse curves. As you might suspect, everyone is not ok with the curviness of that particular concrete wank-fest, especially when a far better way to go from “Diridon” to Tamien is already available.

    jimsf Reply:

    well they should keep it all at grade then. Everyone is just so concerned about 2.8 seconds and 4.3 seconds there….

    but if the neighbors only allow three tracks… and two of those are hsr is one track enough capacity for future ccjpa expansion and ace trains to the storage area ( i just realized they already have an off site storage area next to the 101 near tamien)

    still san jose is going to want a signature station. they could keep all the tracks at grade and put the ticket/mexx area above then people could take the appropriate escalator down to the appropriate track.

    personally im fine with a simple glass box

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They already have an iconic train station.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diridon_Station#mediaviewer/File:Diridon_Station_San_Jose_November-2005.jpg

    jimsf Reply:

    well it is a nice station I like that style myself including the earthquake cracks in the floors ( the floor is so tilted in the ticket office things roll away when you drop them)

    But the city, you know, will want to build something big and fabulous.

    I think a glass box stuck on the back of the existing building would be nice.

    Jerry Reply:

    ACE trains sit around all day.
    Isn’t that a waste? Couldn’t a train like that be worked into a short haul such as a trip to Martinez and back to San Jose, or some other such routing?

    Clem Reply:

    It’s not that the train sits around all day, it’s where it sits around all day.

  21. Robert S. Allen
    Dec 23rd, 2014 at 20:07
    #21

    2008 Prop 1A was for “Safe, Reliable” HSR. Unless the track is securely fenced and grade separated, HSR will be vulnerable to accidents, suicides, or sabotage, – to mishaps and trains delays – NEITHER SAFE NOR RELIABLE. HSR cannot safely roar at 125 mph past Caltrain stations or across its dozens of road crossings. Initial HSR to the Bay Area needs to end at San Jose with near-seamless transfers there to Caltrain, Capitol Corridor, Amtrak, BART, and VTA rail.

    Later it could well upgrade UP/Amtrak rail from San Jose to Oakland and Sacramento, with a new transfer station at the BART overpass in Oakland. Some 16 trains per hour from there run to four downtown San Francisco stations six to ten minutes away. and all of BARTland. Much better, safer, more reliable, and lower cost than the “Blended Rail” plan.

    Amtrak hit a heavily-loaded truck 15 years ago at a Bourbonnais, IL, grade crossing, derailing two locomotives and 11 of 14 cars. That was just on 79 mph track, not even HSR. CHSRA needs total grade separation and secure fencing against intrusion wherever it plans to run.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So instead of dying on an HSR train they’ll die on a Caltrain train when some idiot goes through the gates.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, no, they won’t use Caltrain – they’ll transfer to BART and die of police shooting.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If BART is so safe how come it needs Amalgamated chauffeurs at an exorbitant scale?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Is this a rhetorical question?

    Eric Reply:

    When all you have is a hammer, everything looks like Bourbonnais.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    I guess you refer to the (in)famous 0-6-0 T of the PLM, called Bourbonnais, built from 1857 on. PLM did a lot of hammering with these engines, such as adding tenders, adding another axle, adding Schmidt superheaters, transforming them into 4-cylinder compound machines etc. etc.

    Ted K. Reply:

    0-6-0 Bourbonnais

    Ted K. Reply:

    1999 Bourbonnais, Illinois, train accident (Wikipedia article)

  22. Reality Check
    Dec 24th, 2014 at 12:36
    #22

    Surprise!? Off the Rails: Honolulu Transit Project Up to $700M Over Budget

    […]

    On Thursday, Honolulu Authority for Rapid Transportation Executive Director and CEO Dan Grabauskas told the HART board of directors that construction delays and the current building boom have hurt the project’s bottom line.

    A lower-than-expected collection of general excise tax revenue has put the project’s financing even further behind schedule.

    Grabauaskas said there are several options to make up for the increasing costs, including extending the half-percent surcharge on the state’s general excise tax to help cover design and construction costs.

    […]

    The Federal Transit Administration has been warning HART for several months that it needed to take aggressive cost containment measures to ensure the project would come in on budget.

    But what added to the alarm bells was a recent station construction bid that came in 60 percent higher than anticipated, or about $110 million more than what was budgeted.

    […]

    City and HART officials have blamed the development explosion in Kakaako for cutting into the contractor pool and driving up prices.

    But the biggest scapegoats they pointed to were the delays caused by two separate lawsuits that halted construction and the premature notices to proceed that were issued to contractors before building could actually begin.

    While those delays cost the project an estimated $190 million, the lawsuits in particular caused HART to push back its bidding process as the building market began to heat up and drive prices even higher.

    […]

    Joey Reply:

    So that brings the cost from $163m/km to $184m/km? A bit higher but still not outrageous for elevated construction.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Vancouver built the half-underground Canada Line for about $100 million per km. And Vancouver isn’t a cheap place to build in – its subway construction costs are about average for non-English-speaking Europe while its light rail construction costs are much higher.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Transit BC did the Canada Line at a time when the Canadian dollar was appreciating against the US dollar in part of because of rising oil production. The $100 million per km estimate is sort of apples to oranges as a result although it would still indicate HART’s coming in at higher costs apples to apples.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s adjusted for PPP.

    Eric Reply:

    Plus, everything is more expensive in Hawaii because they lack resources and economies of scale.

    synonymouse Reply:

    HART should have gone with rubber tyre or monorail since it wanted a Disneyland-Sin City elevated style gadgetbahn. At least it would have been quieter on an all aerial system. BART-noisy steel wheel a dumb move for a tourist area.

    If they wanted practicality and versatility(appealing to local riders)they should have built “trolley”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are building a trolley. It has it’s own right of way in the places where there are too many automobiles.

    Joey Reply:

    If it’s not at-grade with trolley poles (pantographs are too new), then he doesn’t like it.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Preferably a PCC without any electronics in it.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Too modern; Peter Witt type cars imported from Milano…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Adirondacker – HART is most definitely not a trolley. You can appropriate the term “light rail” for whatever you want – BART, Amtrak, you name it.

    Trolley or streetcar refers to a rail vehicle that can run in the street and utilizes OC. It requires an operator(at least in 2015).

    You guys have not figured me out very well. If I had been running Muni in 1946 I would have bought more double ended PCC’s and outfitted them with pantographs and MU’d them Toronto style. Trolley poles have numerous shortcomings tho Toronto has stuck with them until quite recently.

    I favor the most modern rolling stock, AC motors and controls, 100% lo-floor with outboard motors if they prove functional and reliable.

    On the other hand bicycles should be considered as luggage and treated likewise. Same size rules. They are not wheelchairs.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Max, I never would have bought those Milano cars. But I believe Porto was standard gauge and theirs were of Brill manufacture. That would have been something to look into.

    Or perhaps the Illinois Terminal double ended PCC’s, but I think Jack Woods nixed that in 1973 as being too far gone stored in a junkyard under a bridge and bought some operable ex-Kansas City PCC’s from Toronto. A few of them may have gone to museums. They were narrower than the rest of Muni’s PCC’s.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They can run in the street. Honolulu has so much traffic that they decided that would be a bad idea. That doesn’t make them not-streetcars. Until very recently PCC cars ran in regular service in Newark. On a separate ROW. That didn’t make them not-streetcars either. NICTD was an interurban line. They run regular Metra trains on the street in places. That doesn’t make them streetcars. Or the Amtrak trains that run in the street in Oakland. The cars on the Norristown High Speed Line don’t have catenary, they use third rail. And level boarding at all the stations. The ROW is totally separate. That doesn’t make them not-streetcars either. Especially since they ran used streetcars on it for many years. Ones that had been converted from overhead to third rail. When they finally wore out they went and got new streetcars that use third rail.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I am pretty sure the Brill Bullets were always 3rd rail, from the time of purchase.

    HART cannot run in the street as it is 3rd rail, all elevated and driverless.

    To be a streetcar it has to be electric traction; otherwise you could call a cable car a streetcar. It is what the term has denoted and connoted from the beginning.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The water table in Honolulu requires an aerial solution for the alignment they wanted. Rubber is also not a great fit because of sea air.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Miami is saltair:

    http://www.miamidade.gov/transit/metromover.asp

    But it makes a good cover story for dealing with Amalgamated. Wonder if they can get the decibels up to BART standards, say at Daly City. It should be audible for blocks in Honolulu.

    Joey Reply:

    Rubber tires make sense over short distances where you don’t need much top speed. Over larger distances you need rails. This particular driverless system has been deployed in several locations in the world and is pretty reliable (despite AB’s involvement). The noise issues you speak of are unique to BART.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes it’s awful the way Vancouver BC regrets using rail instead of rubber.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Oahu is short distance. French rubber-tyred metro or monorail would have been more appropriate to a resort destination, which is Hawaii. Steel wheel hollow core elevateds down city streets are so urban ghetto. Shades of 19th century Manhattan

    Wait until you get flatted tires, corrugation and worn out dampeners on the trackbed. From the construction pictures the trackage looks to be pretty rigidly mounted. If you deploy resilient wheels speeds won’t be that high, not much more than people mover and certainly no higher than French rubber tyred metro.

    If you are not negotiating curves in streets you don’t need articulation.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Rubber tires go flat and bring the whole system to a halt.

  23. Reality Check
    Dec 24th, 2014 at 12:48
    #23

    LA mayor halts theft arrests of Metro riders caught charging their cell phones

    Alon Levy Reply:

    There might be job openings in Ferguson for the Metro officials who decided to arrest people over that.

    jimsf Reply:

    AT least with a private contractor providing official charging stations, people wouldn’t have to clandestinly covet outlets and steal electricy.

    jimsf Reply:

    why not hire a private vender who can install charging stations and people can use their credit or debit cards to buy electricty on platforms

    Zorro Reply:

    Sounds like a better solution Jimsf, than arresting people.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Because the fee the bank whacks the provider for the transaction is much greater than the cost of the electricity? Every last outlet accessible to the public has a cell phone or whatever plugged into it, may cost a whole dollar a day. It costs more to have someone keep track of the contract.

    jimsf Reply:

    yes but it stimulates the capitalism thing that americans are ever so fond of! After all, private business and capitalism can do no wrong. The market is always right. Supply and demand!

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Way less than a whole dollar. If you charge a 12 W laptop at a public outlet for 18 hours, you’ve consumed a bit more than a fifth of a kWh, and at current rates it’s about 2-3 cents. And cellphones require less electricity than laptops.

    That’s why the whole “stealing electricity” line reminds me so much of Ferguson: the authorities, in this case Metro rather than LAPD, view their own users with pure antagonism. Ferguson isn’t special for its police brutality – that happens in New York, too. It’s special in how it self-funds out of parking fines and court fees.

    jimsf Reply:

    Well the outlets are not there for the public to use so how about just following the rules ( just like how bout not being surprised that you get shot at when trying to grab a cops gun – and no big fan of cops and their attitude, but how effin stupid do you have to be to pick a fight with one?) If the metro can raise money by selling electiricy via a private provider, or by selling parking spaces, or by leasing real estate, or by advertising on board or by wrapping trains and stations in advertising, then good raise that money instead of raising fares.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    People on the street try to grab cops’ guns about as often as people in prison slip on a bar of soap.

    Eric Reply:

    Thanks for the sarcasm. Here’s some data.

    In 2011, 72 policemen/women were killed in the line of duty. 5 had their guns stolen, 3 were killed with their own guns.

    http://www.fbi.gov/about-us/cjis/ucr/leoka/2011/officers-feloniously-killed/officers-feloniously-killed

    As an absolute number 3 is very low, but out of all the possible ways for a policeman to die, it’s not a negligible one. And of course there are many more cases where someone stole or attempted to steal a policeman’s gun, but the policeman was not killed in the encounter.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Of those 3 cases, how many involved guns being grabbed on the street? It’s a lot easier to break into someone’s house and kill them with their own gun, as sometimes happens to civilian gun owners as well.

    Paul Druce Reply:

    Those all would have been grabbing wherever the officer was on duty (street, correctional facility, wherever); the list doesn’t include non-line of duty killings.

    And of course it’s worth noting that there should be a rather higher number of officers who may have been injured by people stealing their guns and shooting them with them but who survived the attack; in part because of the prevalence of body armor on US cops.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …how many police officers committed suicide with their service gun?…

    Jerry Reply:

    @ Eric
    A most interesting link to a set of statistics regarding the 72 officers feloniously killed in 2011.
    Thank you.
    Another interesting link to officers and fatalities is at:
    http://www.nleomf.org/facts/officer-fatalities-data/causes.html
    In 2011, the chart shows 44 officers killed in car crashes, 5 in motorcycle accidents, and 2 killed by being struck by a train.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    All sorts of interesting things in statistics. In very very round numbers 3,000 people were killed on Sept. 11, 2001. and 4,500 people died, at work, in “transportation” accidents in 2001. The majority of those are going to be motor vehicle accidents. “Transportation accident” is the leading cause of workplace fatalities today. In other interesting statistical tidbits, the death rate for motor vehicle accidents, per 100,000, is the lowest it’s been since the ’20s.

    Jerry Reply:

    @ adirondacker12800
    Interesting question – how many police officers committed suicide with their service gun?…
    Sadly many stressful (physical and emotional) occupations do have a high suicide rate.
    Another interesting question is how many police officers are killed by friendly fire from other police officers? The statistics for such questions are not readily available. But in one city it was one out of seven (14%) officers.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But the charger isn’t 100% efficient and it’s using 13.25 watts at the meter!
    Fraction of a cent here and fraction of a cent there making each outlet supply a penny’s worth of electricity with 100 outlets over the whole system comes out to buck. It would cost more to administer it than it’s worth. $366 a year in leap years. It would take decades to recoup what it costs to issue the Request for Proposals much less evaluate them.

    jimsf Reply:

    or people could make sure their phones were charged, or go without a phone for a minute (gasp!!! the horror!) Many of lived for decades without cell phones and laptops and lived to tell about it!

    Of course it is a waste of time to arrest people but maybe they could just issue a small citation. ( which people could use their freshly charged phones to pay instantly with apple pay!)

    Eric Reply:

    Many phones nowadays only have 6 hours of battery, and many people use their phones for work.

    If a transit agency wants to invest a little money to improve their passengers’ experience, allowing cell phone charging at existing outlets is about the absolute cheapest and highest-return-on-investment thing they can do.

    jimsf Reply:

    Since the vehicles are electric they could put power strips along the sides by the seats like the amtrak train have. That would be even better.

    joe Reply:

    or USB 3 ports that charge small devices. These are multi device compatible, would draw less power and remove the need to carry a charger.

    Today a smart phone is a phone, email, work texting, map/directions, schedule, itinerary, boarding pass, wallet, contacts……

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Do people actually carry USB cables more than they do regular chargers? (Both my phone chargers are USB chargers that I keep permanently connected to a USB-to-outlet converter.)

    Matthew Reply:

    I tend to carry a USB cable along with a small pocket-sized battery pack that you can get for $10, but no wall charger.

  24. Alon Levy
    Dec 24th, 2014 at 19:03
    #24

    I finally read the new Hyperloop plan. It addresses none of the criticisms of the original: the cost estimates are still full of magic asterisks, the acceleration rates felt by passengers remain higher than on planes taking off, and there is zero attention paid to construction techniques, as opposed to materials.

    A better question than “why don’t they intern at SBB first?” is “would SBB even want them as interns?”.

    Donk Reply:

    I don’t know why we are even talking about a report that was put together by undergraduate students as part of a design project. I taught both undergrad and grad engineering students for several years and can say first hand that anything they come up with as part of a design project has negligible value. With undergrads, you might get a yield of 1 in 20 that actually do anything meaningful – they are there to learn, not to work on reports for the public to draw conclusions from. And MS and PhD students have to spend at least two years on something before they produce anything meaningful.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yeah, I think you’re right, in retrospect. Initially I read the “it’s done by undergrads” descriptions as code for “we’re getting free labor” and not for “it’s a school project.”

  25. trentbridge
    Dec 25th, 2014 at 11:45
    #25

    2015: California will experience three rail projects that have will transform from construction to “test mode” where the general public sees actual train-sets running back and forth instead of a construction site: Gold Line Extension, Expo Line to Santa Monca and SMART line from Santa Rosa to San Rafael. They will not be in revenue service but the sight of trains will convince many that the investment in pubic transportation is “worth it”. Like Airbus/Boeing when the prototype finally climbs into the air – the first flight of the Dreamliner 787 or the Airbus 350 was a transforming event. Suddenyl it’s real. IMHO it doesn’t matter how long the IOS is or that it may only go from one anonymous CV location to another fifty or sixty miles away – as soon as the general public sees a HSR train topping 200 mph they will climb onboard. If it ends in San Jose or Burbank is not going to change the excitement of riding brand new technology.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The Expo Line extension isn’t going to get anyone behind high speed rail. Light rail trains that ride for two hours end to end are not the best ambassadors.

  26. Reality Check
    Dec 26th, 2014 at 10:55
    #26

    California carbon funds are an uncertain benefit for high-speed rail

    It was a major lift for high-speed rail when Gov. Jerry Brown and the Legislature this summer pledged future proceeds from California’s carbon-reduction program to help underwrite the state’s $68 billion project.

    The bill included not only one-time funding of $250 million, a relatively small sum, but also 25 percent of future revenue from California’s cap-and-trade program, the money industries pay to offset their air emissions. Long-term funding, rail officials said, could be leveraged to secure private investment in the project.

    […]

    The Brown administration projected generating about $550 million from cap-and-trade auctions in the current fiscal year, but the Department of Finance refuses to estimate future revenue, arguing doing so might influence the market. For investors looking for a reliable return, the uncertainty of future proceeds is concerning.

    “Cap and trade is a potential good solution, but it’s still not quite certain,” said Michael Liikala, a consultant who advises foreign companies on infrastructure projects in the United States and who has been involved in high-speed rail talks. “It’s like if you went to the bank for a mortgage and promised to give them 25 percent of your income, but you didn’t know what the income would be.”

    […]

    The project is a priority for Brown, a Democrat entering his fourth term. Dan Richard, chairman of the rail authority board, said Brown wants project construction to accelerate. Richard, who piloted the private aircraft that flew Brown around the state in the final days of his re-election campaign, said “cap and trade was a tremendous thing for us because it gives us a long-term revenue stream.”

    However, he said, “it’s not automatic.”

    Because the state is unwilling to estimate future revenue, Richard said, “I think it’s up to the private sector, maybe with some ideas from us, to try to take a stream that is variable and somewhat hard to predict, and try to turn it into a financing mechanism. … Everybody’s still quite enthusiastic about the prospect of it.”

    […]

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Among companies that contacted the state when cap and trade materialized was Sener Engineering and Systems Inc. which called cap and trade “a turning point” for high-speed rail.

    Spain’s Sacyr USA said in a letter that ongoing funding represented “the signal the private sector has been waiting for as it shows the state is committed to getting this project done and moving it forward now,” and ACS Infrastructure Development Inc. predicted “this commitment by the state will in turn motivate private-sector involvement in the financing and development of the program

    Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/transportation/article4956447.html#storylink=cpy
    Sacramento Bee by David Siders

  27. Peter
    Dec 26th, 2014 at 11:53
    #27

    Did I miss the discussion about HSR considering funding Caltrain level boarding so that HSR and Caltrain would be compatible?

    Eric M Reply:

    And it looks as though Clem is running into the same problem with people posting in the comments, as is the Caltrain staff with understanding capability and transition. They don’t and aren’t open minded about it.

  28. jimsf
    Dec 26th, 2014 at 23:52
    #28

    This whole compatible platform height things is really annoying. How in hell can caltrain be so oblivious? And why even be hell bent on the bi level emus. Just lengthen the platforms and use single level emus that resembme the hsr trainsets ( just not a s fast for top speed) Then you have matching trains using matching platforms and matching everything but with different liveries.
    The whole issue is idiotic. How on gods green earth do these bumps on a log earn six figure incomes?

    J. Wong Reply:

    How does lengthening the platforms solve the incompatible heights? Caltrain doesn’t have the money to replace the platforms with higher ones, period. It’s only out of Prop 1A that they’re even getting money to electrify.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    jimsf, the High Speed Trains have not been been yet, so compatibility is not a one way street. And of course nothing has been done in Southern California about the issue, except to terminate HSR at a station next to Burbank Airport and forget about going further south for a generation. That way you don’t have to think about compatibility at all and just “enjoy” modern diesel locomotives.
    We need some leadership from the agencies involved. Oh, I forgot. Scanlon has just left, as has DePallo, not to mention Art Leahy has one foot out of the door, (announcement imminent) and Peevey has gone. At least Peevey has been replaced. Otherwise it will be interim appointments, long term planning meaning looking a week ahead. It doesn’t get much better.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    for been read built, sorry.

    jimsf Reply:

    Ill say it again… Why are we paying people multiple hundreds of thousands of dollars a year in salaries when they are unable to solve basic common sense problems. People who make 6 figures are suppose to justify that salary by being smart and capable and able to solve problems not by saying, we don’t know, or we can’t or but you can’t or by demonstrating zero basic comprehension skills and zero creative ability. Its money down a shithole and it makes all public employees and all public projects look bad in the eyes of the public.

    Anyone on this blog can come up with better common sense, straightforward solutions for what needs to be done. What exaclty DO these guys DO to earn 6 figures?
    My patience for this project and the people in charge of it has officially run out. They have no leadership qualities, they have no communications skills for leading and explaining the project to the public, and they have spent almost 7 years sitting around with their thumbs up their butts and not a shovel of dirt has been turned. They havent even bought up the land yet.

    6 fucking figures people. how many of you make that?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    At the work I’m trying to get, people with about 10 years more seniority than me make about $100,000, in an expensive area. Multiple hundreds of people are pursuing each position in my field.

    jimsf Reply:

    Do they actually have to accomplish something to get the 100K I assume they do.

    jimsf Reply:

    at least the people in charge of SMART which was approved at the same time HSR was approved, have actually built something and will have trains running in 2016.

    Joey Reply:

    Perhaps now you have a glimpse into the mind of Richard M ;)

    jimsf Reply:

    yes well I always knew he was right about the transportation professionals he just seemed to miss the part about how theres nothing you can do about it so why bother. but at this point, I’m ready to join him.

  29. datacruncher
    Dec 27th, 2014 at 17:38
    #29

    New long article by Tim Sheehan.

    In California’s high-speed train efforts, worldwide manufacturers jockey for position

    Across Europe and Asia, more than 1,300 trains routinely carry passengers at speeds of 186 mph or faster, and about 400 more are on order.

    But none of those trains run on tracks anywhere in the United States, and none of them are being built here, either. Around the world, the high-speed rail industry is dominated by corporate players in Germany, France, Spain, Italy, China, Japan, South Korea and Canada.

    So next spring, when the California High-Speed Rail Authority hopes to start the long process of buying rolling stock for its statewide rail system, it might just touch off a bidding frenzy as firms jockey for a contract to build dozens of the sleek, all-electric vehicles. An initial order could be 15 to 20 trains, and the contract could potentially call for as many as 95 trains over the next decade. A hint of the enthusiasm surfaced in late October, when nine manufacturers responded to the rail agency’s request for expressions of interest in building its trains and initial specifications.

    http://www.fresnobee.com/2014/12/27/4303458_in-californias-high-speed-train.html

    Clem Reply:

    Very detailed and accurate article. The guy knows his beat!

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Yes I’m not sure why Tim hasn’t been hired by McClatchy Sacramento bureau or by one of the other bigger paper. He is the best HSR reporter in the state, with Juliet Williams a solid second.

    datacruncher Reply:

    According to Sheehan’s LinkedIn page, he attended Madera High School, Fresno City College, Fresno State and Fresno Pacific University. He then worked at several small papers in towns around Fresno before going to the Fresno Bee.

    He may be a local who does not want to leave his roots in that area.

    Observer Reply:

    I always look forward to Tim Sheehan’s articles. Some reporters, especially local TV/radio types just repeat the same tiresome talking points: “boondoggle” train to nowhere” etc. But Tim Sheehan does not do that, solid analysis all the way.

  30. Observer
    Dec 27th, 2014 at 21:06
    #30

    There are some very good off the shelf products out there that the manufacturers should be able to easily adapt for California’s needs. It will be very interesting to see what incentives the manufacturers offer. Will this give us the first inkling of private sector interest, and what manufacturer has the financial wherewithal to offer the best incentives – and the willingness to use that financial wherewithal? Also, might the Heavy Maintenance Facility double as a manufacturing facility??

    jimsf Reply:

    Has the heavy maintenance facility location been chosen yet

    Observer Reply:

    No. But might a manufacturer possibly get creative with incentives and offer a HMF/manufacturing facility as part of the deal???

    jimsf Reply:

    like taking yourcar back to the dealership for maintenance! but the state might be locked into always buying trains from that company if they own the hmf
    i think they should put it near the wye

    Observer Reply:

    Good point about the manufacturer owning the HMF, and the state being locked in with the same manufacturer. Would that stop any manufacturer from offering it though? Also, just a thought, does not Talgo maintain its own trains – if any other manufacturer would do that, I am wondering how that would come into play.

    jimsf Reply:

    If a builder wanted to they could offer to help pay for the hmf then lease it from the state for as long as they have the contract. I think the state actually wants to own the facility but that doesn’t preclude any creative kind of deal from being made. I did read where Fresno has said aside actual money to help pay for hmf if they put it in fresno.
    chsra, fresno and the chosen train maker should make a deal to split the cost of the hmf. then everyone is happy

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s pretty common for trains, too, although not for HSR. There are lots of regional train orders in Europe where the agency buys both the trains and maintenance for however many years from the vendor.

    Observer Reply:

    The order(s) could be for a potential 95 trainsets! Per the article the cost per trainset could be between $30m and $70million each – do the math. Has there ever been a single high speed trainset that has sold 95 units?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N700_Series_Shinkansen

    Don’t underestimate the size of Japanese train production orders.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It can double as a maintenance facility if you don’t want to manufacture anything there anymore.

    Observer Reply:

    For some manufacturers a joint manufacturing/HMF may be their best hope, not that it may be the ideal solution. Siemens ability to manufacture in Sacramento sounds like a very good ,sensible, and safe choice. Then a HMF in the Central Valley somewhere like Fresno that can offer good logistics sounds very good also.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You can’t do both in the same building at the same time.

  31. Robert Cruickshank
    Dec 27th, 2014 at 22:00
    #31

    New post coming tomorrow, more coming soon after that. Lots to discuss, as folks here have noted in the comments. Hope everyone had a good week.

Comments are closed.