Bakersfield Californian Asks: What’s the Alternative?

Jan 21st, 2015 | Posted by

The Bakersfield Californian newspaper has been generally supportive of high speed rail, though not uncritically. Their latest editorial on the project makes the right point – HSR opponents have no alternative plan:

Critics have long enjoyed calling the project “the train to nowhere,” and they’re right to question its expense. But if you ask some of these critics for alternatives, be prepared for silence and stammering. Few have credible solutions to solve the state’s mounting problems with traffic and transportation services….

But project opponents offer no real alternatives to our growing cross-state transportation issues. Are we going to build more freeways? How much wider can the Interstate 405 get? Clearly Interstates 15 and 5 could stand to be widened, too. Are we going to invest in smart cars, with tighter driving laws to monitor them?

A lot of questions and not a lot of answers from those in opposition.

One opposition claim is that building a train is relying on old technology, and that’s valid. However, couldn’t the same be said for building new roads to service thousands of cars? Regardless, California needs a sensible plan for its transportation future. We may have to accept that it includes very fast trains.

Of course, smart cars don’t solve the problem. A car is still a car that takes up lane space and creates traffic, whether it’s automated or not, whether it’s powered by electricity or fossil fuel. If traffic is the concern, and if there’s a recognition that widening freeways has its limits, then surely that would lead one to conclude that self-driving cars might be a neat technology but it has nothing to do with solving the state’s transportation woes.

The Bakersfield Californian is right to realize that very fast trains are an essential part of a modern 21st century transportation infrastructure. And they’re right to note that opponents don’t offer an alternative.

That’s because HSR opponents believe that the status quo will last forever. Gas will always be cheap – the ten year long period of high prices was just an aberration, the present oil price crash is seen as a return to normalcy rather than a temporary respite. They believe nobody will ever ride trains, despite piles of evidence to the contrary. They believe global warming isn’t real or isn’t a concern.

Once you accept that the status quo can’t be sustained, and that the state must build new transportation infrastructure, it is impossible to reach any other conclusion: HSR is necessary to California’s future.

  1. Jerry
    Jan 21st, 2015 at 10:46
    #1

    Opponents of HSR usually just want: More Lanes, and No Trains.

    Useless Reply:

    Telecommuting is an option too.

    StevieB Reply:

    Telecommuting is available to a fraction of a very limited number of occupations and is not viable for the vast majority.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Telecommuting is viable for a lot more people than you think. I know three people who work in call centers that only exist on a separate phone in the workers respective home offices and a second broadband modem connected to a laptop with a full sized keyboard so they can type and talk. The call center is spread out all over the country. My husband could telecommute most of the time but management wants to see him sitting in his cube doing his work instead of checking to see he did his work. No you can’t telecommute if your job is delivering packages for the USPS, FedEx or UPS. You can if your job is answering the phone at any of them.

    Andy M Reply:

    I definitely agree that too many companies still pay people to be present rather that to work. There are high levels of mistrust plus the conception that time spent in office = productive work done. Why can’t we be payed per measurable unit of work rather than per hour spent?

    Zorro Reply:

    Well on the i15 in the Cajon pass, there is no room for growth, since it’s up against towering mountains now…

    Zorro Reply:

    Sure there are some areas that might be able to be widened, but it wouldn’t help, the same could be said of the i5 fwy, mountain passes are not exactly always roomy by definition.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    And, if the lanes were provided, more people would drive. Then the probables becomes, where will all the cars be parked?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Cost recovery will increasingly be standard for all transportation modes. That means new lanes and highways will be tolled, parking subsidies will fade away, airport landing fees will increase to pay for what expansions are possible, and landing slots will be auctioned, disproportionately affecting short-haul flights. This all puts HSR on a more level playing field, as it helps fund its own expansion. The ‘status quo’ is just a term for a nostalgia trip.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Cost recovery means BART will be privatized.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Yeah, Neil is correct MTC is trying to institute tolls in the Bay Area to encourage commuters to use BART. But the cost shifting is to make BART rely even more on farebox revenue.

    IKB Reply:

    someone said the other day that BART was overloaded (in reference to adding a handful of folks from Capitol Corridor who take the bus from Emeryville) ; please, please explain why now they “encourage commuters to use BART”. It would seem the opposite, but what do I know (but I’d like to)

    synonymouse Reply:

    One reason that BART is overloaded is that it wants it that way so as to demand all of the transit funding. BART over the years has done everything to create a monopoly for itself with the complicity of its stooge, MTC, and to downgrade competing AC Transit bus service.

    **** BART and the Bechtel horse it rode in on.

    Joey Reply:

    That would makes sense if they were demanding money for core system improvements, rather than outward extensions.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    BART is an expensive system to run and if MTC had their way, they would keep it as full as a commercial airliner 24 hours a day. But the main point is that these new road tolls and bridge tolls are used to offset BART’s operating cost and as a disincentive to drive.

  2. J. Wong
    Jan 21st, 2015 at 11:04
    #2

    The commenters’ arguments to the editorial basically say “everything’s fine the way it is”, which is the essential argument for climate deniers as well. They don’t deserve a future if they’re unwilling to see it barreling down at them.

  3. Reality Check
    Jan 21st, 2015 at 11:10
    #3

    O/T: America’s Finest Transportation Professionals?
    Flaws sideline MBTA’s new commuter rail locomotives

    The 40 new commuter rail locomotives delivered to the MBTA late last year at a cost of $222 million have all been sidelined to have their traction motor bearings replaced after the manufacturer discovered last summer that at least some of the bearings are faulty.

    The MBTA knew about the defective bearings last August, but chose to make no public disclosure until the Globe learned about the problems last week.

    The decision to remain silent followed criticism of the MBTA for another troubled acquisition. The transit system spent $190 million for 75 new commuter rail passenger cars, which were delivered 30 months late by the South Korean manufacturer Hyundai Rotem and so trouble-prone many of their parts have had to be replaced.

    […]

    When the MBTA fined Keolis for not meeting on-time performance goals, Eric Asselin, the executive vice president of Keolis North America, attributed the anemic performance to the aged and unreliable locomotive fleet. He said the new equipment will be needed to resolve on-time issues.

    Asselin’s complaint is borne out by the MBTA’s own statistics. The transit authority sets a goal for its commuter rail locomotives to travel an average of 10,200 miles between mechanical failures. In October, the month for which the fines were levied, that number nose-dived to 3,193 miles, less than half what it was the previous month.

    Half of all local commuter rail delays are caused by substandard locomotives, according to transit officials.

    […]

    The new locomotives are diesel-electric hybrids. Each has a 4,600-horsepower diesel engine that powers four electric traction motors that drive the wheels. The engines and motors were manufactured by General Electric.

    The high-precision ball bearings reduce friction and make possible the smooth rotation of the axles that are driven by the electric motors.

    […]

    Jonathan Klein, a former chief mechanical officer for Amtrak who has long experience in contracts for new commuter rail equipment, said […] “something is fundamentally screwed-up with a contract to pay nearly a quarter billion dollars for locomotives that immediately go into storage for repairs.’’

    Klein said the transit system has a “dismal history” with its purchases of new commuter rail and rapid transit equipment.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “The bearings, he said, were not improperly installed, but some were damaged when they were shipped from Pennsylvania to Idaho in a way that could diminish the life of the bearings.”

    This sounds weird. They dropped them? They let them get wet and rust? Dirt? If the bearings were in the motors at the time you have to wonder about the whole assembly.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    sounds suspiciously like MPI is using GE Transportation parts and they got damaged in shipment from GE in Erie…..

    Scramjett Reply:

    I can believe it. Bearings can handle extreme loads and undergo stressful (in the engineering sense) cycling. For this reason, they are very sensitive to any damage they may receive, no matter how minor.

  4. Derek
    Jan 21st, 2015 at 12:14
    #4

    Once you accept…that the state must build new transportation infrastructure…

    That’s like saying the owner of a restaurant that gives out 10,000 free hamburgers a day must make more because hamburgers are an important public good but they keep getting taken taken earlier and earlier each morning.

    jimsf Reply:

    That’s a ridiculous statement.

    Derek Reply:

    Exactly!

    jimsf Reply:

    you know I meant your statement right?

    Derek Reply:

    Could you elaborate?

    joe Reply:

    http://www.manifestation.com/neurotoys/eliza.php3
    ELIZA has almost no intelligence whatsoever, only tricks like string substitution and canned responses based on keywords. Yet when the original ELIZA first appeared in the 60’s, some people actually mistook her for human. The illusion of intelligence works best, however, if you limit your conversation to talking about yourself and your life.

    Derek Reply:

    An ad hominem! How clever.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Your analogy of new transportation infrastructure to free hamburgers doesn’t really hold. The reason, of course, is that transportation infrastructure has a long-term benefit to the economy that returns more money than was spent.

    Jerry Reply:

    And I wish that more people would recognize those “long-term benefits.”
    The economic benefits alone of investing in the infrastructure are much greater than the money spent.

    jimsf Reply:

    yes exactly j wong, thank you.

    Derek Reply:

    transportation infrastructure has a long-term benefit to the economy that returns more money than was spent.

    Is the long-term benefit greater than the average stock market return?

    $1.00 invested in infrastructure grows the economy by $1.15 to $1.25. If infrastructure lasts 40 years, then your $1.00 is returning about 1/2 cent every year, minus maintenance costs and forgone tax revenue.

    If you instead invest that $1.00 in the stock market with an average return of 7% annually, then your $1.00 is returning about 7 cents every year.

    It appears that infrastructure isn’t such a smart investment after all.

    joe Reply:

    holy fuck.

    Someone broke ELIZA

    The “you” in the reply refers to a single individual buying stock in private companies.

    The transportation investments refer to government investments.

    Clearly the solution is to stop usings hamburgers and switch over to donuts.

    Derek Reply:

    The “you” in the reply refers to a single individual buying stock in private companies.The transportation investments refer to government investments.

    Where do you think the government gets its money from?

    joe Reply:

    From Hamburgers.

    It’s a national economy, posThumous hamburger stand.

    You conflate actors and mix macro and micro to make ridiculous comparisons.

    Jerry Reply:

    “It appears that infrastructure isn’t such a smart investment after all.”
    Infrastructure is a necessity. A necessity.
    Which in return, helps everything else to work.

    Derek Reply:

    How do you know we haven’t exceeded the optimal amount of infrastructure?

    joe Reply:

    How do you know we have an infrastructure objective function?

    Derek Reply:

    Because the more you have of something, the less value you receive from the next one.

    Jonathan Reply:

    circular argument.

    joe Reply:

    Of course that’s not true becuase that not how the Network Effect works.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Network_effect
    In economics and business, a network effect (also called network externality or demand-side economies of scale) is the effect that one user of a good or service has on the value of that product to other people. When a network effect is present, the value of a product or service is dependent on the number of others using it.[1]

    The classic example is the telephone. The more people who own telephones, the more valuable the telephone is to each owner.

    Jerry Reply:

    Court Systems, School Systems, Prison/Jail Systems, Energy Systems, Medical/Health Systems are ALL part of the infrastructure of a society. (It is more than just steel and concrete.)
    And they ALL have to be “paid” for.
    Some parts are “paid” for with a “profit.”
    And some parts without a “profit”.

    Jerry Reply:

    A for profit company PG&E got a rate increase to pay for gas line INFRASTRUCTURE inspection and replacement. The company used the rate increase money to pay for bonuses. Result:
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2010_San_Bruno_pipeline_explosion
    in which eight people were killed.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’re using a model in which the longer infrastructure lasts, the worse of an investment it is.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …if they had used concrete and steel in the Tappan Zee bridge instead of wood it would have another 50 years in it.. The Brooklyn Bridge was grossly over budget and last time they did a through check on it didn’t find any pressing problems…. The towers, like Roman bridges, should be around for a very long time.

    Derek Reply:

    More like, the more we pay for it up front, the worse of an investment it is. (Opportunity cost of capital)

    joe Reply:

    If we do not pay for it up front then by definition it is not an investment. (Investment is time, energy, or matter spent in the hope of future benefits actualized within a specified date or time frame. )

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Derek, I think you’re misunderstanding my comment. In your 0.5% return comment, your argument seems to be: $1 of investment leads to $1.20 of economic activity, and the asset depreciates over 40 years, so the return equals (1.2-1)/40 = 0.005. The problem with this model is that it implies a piece of infrastructure that lasts 100 years generates half the returns of a piece of infrastructure that lasts 50 years.

    What you’re missing is that the $1 –> $1.20 computation is not based on infrastructure’s long-term value at all. It’s based on its Keynesian multiplier in a liquidity trap (which the US is on the verge of getting out of). The long-term value is completely different, and of course varies based on what kind of infrastructure it is and where it is built. For example, SNCF estimated that California HSR would return about $2 for every $1 invested, and not just $1.20. That $2 in turn is not to be divided by the system’s depreciation schedule, but multiplied by the discount rate, which as I recall is 4%. So the actual return is about 4%, and not 0.5%.

    Now, can you beat that with the stock market? Yes. So what? Bond interest rates are way lower than that. The stock market doesn’t need the government to invest in it; it can get private capital. In countries that are not Singapore, public investment is precisely into the sort of low-but-positive-yield stuff that the private sector won’t touch for various reasons. Infrastructure, especially transportation infrastructure, has huge capital requirements and also requires assembling a continuous right of way, both of which impose large barriers to entry on a private entity that isn’t insanely well-capitalized. Texas Central can do it because it’s backed by a venture that is insanely well-capitalized, thanks to monopoly profits on a high-speed rail line that was built by the government 50+ years ago. There aren’t a lot of these insanely well-capitalized companies around, at least not ones that know anything about intercity rail.

    Derek Reply:

    The problem with this model is that it implies a piece of infrastructure that lasts 100 years generates half the returns of a piece of infrastructure that lasts 50 years.

    Not if they both return $1.20. Do you mean half the returns per year? Then yes, a piece of infrastructure that returns $1.20 over 100 years returns half as much per year as one that returns $1.20 over 50 years.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’re completely misunderstanding the $1.20 computation, then. It does not say infrastructure returns $1.20 in nominal dollars after 40 or 50 or however many years. Why would it? Different infrastructure projects have wildly different benefit-cost ratios.

    The benefit-cost ratios, in turn, are computed relative to a discount rate, so if you see a rate of 1.2, it doesn’t mean that $1 returns $1.20 after 40 years, but that $1 returns $1.20 after discounting – if the discount rate is 4%, then a $1 return actually means each $1 invested returns $2, broken down as $0.05 for each of 40 years (put the numbers into a mortgage calculator), and a $1.20 return means each $1 invested returns $2.40, broken down as $0.06 for each of 40 years.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Rolling a septic system and a well into my 30 year conventional mortgage means they are paid off right around the time I need to go get a home improvement loan to pay them off. If I roll city water and sewer into my conventional mortgage instead of paying higher rates to pay it off I still have 70, 80, 90 years left of use in them. I don’t have to maintain much of anything unlike septic and well. On the whole I would prefer to roll it into higher rates because when something happens to the water main the water company pays for it not me. Me and the other rate payers pay a very small amount on our bills for unusual events. My mortgage doesn’t include insurance against my well going dry or my septic field needing to be moved after 27 years.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The pieces of the infrastructure depreciate at different rates. The Parthenon is holding up quite well considering it was bombed in the 1800s. So is the Pantheon and that’s concrete. The accountants won’t let you put things on the books for more than 100 years.
    Doesn’t mean they get replaced either. Even when they need it.

    Jerry Reply:

    Hope you all enjoy the money spent on the infrastructure in Iraq and Afghanistan.

    Two years of air conditioning for troops in Afghanistan at $38 billion could provide 40 years of federal Amtrak funding.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The reparations the US would owe Iraq for invasion and post-invasion deaths, if an Iraqi life were worth as much as an American life, would run up to $3-6 trillion.

    The reason we don’t look at benefit-cost ratios of American foreign policy is that war crimes are war crimes regardless of how efficiently the money for them is spent.

    Eric Reply:

    What about pre-invasion deaths?

    J. Wong Reply:

    I wonder what the stock market returns would be if Amazon and UPS couldn’t ship you anything because a bridge was no longer safe or the roads were not passable?

    You’re being very obtuse in thinking that the stock market doesn’t depend on infrastructure. According to you, a company should not invest in new equipment simply to replace existing functioning equipment because said existing equipment will continue to work indefintely until it doesn’t, but that won’t impact the company’s returns because hey we don’t need anything to function.

    Derek Reply:

    Is there no middle ground between overinvesting in infrastructure and building no infrastructure?

    Travis D Reply:

    Typically, no. People that usually talk about too much infrastructure want absolutely nothing built anywhere near anyone. Complete heads in the sand syndrome.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Not always. In some areas, building any roads is overinvesting, in the sense that they don’t have the population to support them. So the options are overbuilding and not building anything.

    Sometimes, you can’t split the difference.

    Derek Reply:

    How about a 1-lane gravel road to an area that doesn’t have the population to support a 2-lane paved asphalt road?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Often, these preexist. The basic issue is that it’s very easy for a town to be of such size that a 30 km/h gravel road is too little but a 50 km/h paved raved will still be uncongested.

    Derek Reply:

    Define “too little.”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s usually paved for services. Mail, garbage, other deliveries. Emergency services at 30km means your house burns to the ground or you die of a heart attack before the responders arrive…. It can be plowed where it snows and the salt doesn’t drain into the aquifer before it melts a lot of ice.

    Derek Reply:

    What if the residents of the town can’t afford to maintain a 2-lane paved access road?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If they can’t afford to maintain a paved road eventually they have a gravel road with chunks of crumbling asphalt on top of it.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Ok, yes there is a middle ground. The problem is deciding what is overinvesting in infrastructure. I suppose you’re arguing that HSR is overinvestment.

    An interesting consequence of infrastructure is the “build it and they will come” effect. That is, you build a freeway that at first no one uses until maybe a developer decides to build a housing development that can take advantage of the freeway, and voila, the investment starts returning.

    I don’t think we overinvest much in infrastructure in a representative democracy. It more likely occurs in more top-down political environments such as a dictorship. For example, building some fancy modern airport where you don’t have the economy or flights to support it. (Maybe you could argue that the signature span of the Bay Bridge was “overinvestment”.)

    I certainly don’t think HSR is overinvestment. It’s investment in the future where population growth will not be supported by our existing infrastructure. And unlike our existing infrastructure (roads, airports) it scales much more easily for continued growth. That is, it will induce and handle increased traffic better than roads or airports.

    Derek Reply:

    An interesting consequence of infrastructure is the “build it and they will come” effect.

    When you depend on growth to fund infrastructure, you’ve setup a Ponzi scheme.

    J. Wong Reply:

    “When you depend on growth to fund infrastructure, you’ve setup a Ponzi scheme.”

    Um, no, unless you want to argue that _all_ investment and economics is a Ponzi scheme.

    Derek Reply:

    Not all investments require growth just to break even.

    joe Reply:

    a Ponzi scheme does not do any investment. The scheme fakes the investment to appear profitable.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’re right that democracies are less likely to overinvest in infrastructure than dictatorships! Dictators love their signature infrastructure – their modern-looking capital cities, their airports, their shopping malls, their towers, the whole nine.

    The problem is that even in democracies, there are democratic deficits, with elites getting what they want over popular desire. Overinvestment in premium airport connectors is a global problem, and happens even in first-world democracies with generally solid infrastructure plans like South Korea. The US tends to have more of this democratic deficit when transportation infrastructure is involved than most other democracies, for political reasons that cause urban politics to be tribal and feudal more than ideological and democratic.

    To partially agree with Joe in another thread, this democratic deficit is less likely to happen with water works than with transportation, since water works are less politically visible. It doesn’t mean that a TBM bore for rail is materially different from one for water, but it means that overall, water projects have lower cost overruns – no need to overpromise for them, because they’re unnoticeable anyway. That’s how New York’s Water Tunnel 3 is on-budget and on-time, over decades of work, whereas rail tunnels like ESA and ARC routinely go 3 times over budget.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Water tunnel 3 ( or water tunnels 1 and 2 for that matter ) don’t have sophisticated life and safety systems attached to them either.

    Joey Reply:

    They also don’t have manually excavated underground station caverns.

    Derek Reply:

    Speaking of water works, here’s a town of 704 residents who spent $5.5 million (about $31,250 for each family of four) to build a water and sewer project in order to try to attract a residential subdivision that never materialized: http://www.denverpost.com/news/ci_23349963/kiowa-treading-water-after-going-debt-water-and

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Amortized over 40 years of not replacing pumps and pressure tanks and having the septic tank pumped out and the septic field moved it’s probably cheaper.

    Derek Reply:

    The typical total cost for individual systems over a 20 year period is $6,300 to $13,000 for trenches and mounds, or $13,500 to $32,000 for alternative treatment systems.

    So a septic system can be anywhere from 40% to 200% of the cost of the new project, not adjusting for inflation or opportunity costs.

    Jerry Reply:

    Cost per student
    v.
    Cost per prisoner

    Jerry Reply:

    Life is full of choices.

    synonymouse Reply:

    France is preparing to spend quite a bit of money to brainwash schoolkids not to go all-jihad on their teachers. The teachers union has been complaining. La laicite – bonne chance.

    Jerry Reply:

    @synonymous @ 1:45
    A lot of brains need washing. Not just school kids.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Or adjusting for the life cycle costs. Sewers and water mains typically last for 100 years. So if you have to replace your septic system every 50 it costs twice as much as getting the sewer put in once. Once every 33 and 1/3rd years three times as much. The pump on you water well doesn’t last very long compared to having “city” water. City water and sewer are cheap.

    Derek Reply:

    You can pay the city a one-time fee of $30,000 for a city sewer system that lasts 100 years, or you can pay $10,000 to build and then replace the septic system every 25 years plus $600 per year to pump it out. Assume zero inflation and 4% opportunity costs. Which do you choose?

    Seems simple, right? $30,000 for city water versus ($10,000 * 4) + ($600 * 100) = $100,000 for the septic system. City water is a no-brainer when you ignore the power of compound interest.

    Plug the figures into a savings calculator. For city sewer, use Initial Amount=$30,000, Monthly Deposit=$0, Annual Interest=4% compounded annually, Number of Years=25. For the septic system, use Initial Amount=$10,000, Monthly Deposit=$50, Annual Interest=4% compounded annually, Number of Years=25.

    In 25 years, the city sewer will cost you $79,975, and for the septic tank, it’s $52,101.

    This is why the more we pay for infrastructure up front, the worse of an investment it is.

    Derek Reply:

    In 100 years, the city sewer will cost you $1,515,148.45, and the septic tank is $1,548,318.87. Oops, the city sewer wins, but only just barely.

    joe Reply:

    Because septic systems work with No risk of failure and epair and the owner need not maintain a contingency to repair their system.

    Jerry Reply:

    Sewage?? Septic Systems??
    Apply some of that crap to High Speed Rail for God’s sake. (Whoops. I forgot. La laicite)
    How does the economics of high speed rail change when it could include package and less than truckload business? What are the opportunities? Would a combined service make more sense than exclusively passenger?
    Extra income from the ROW?? Fiber Optic Cable? Natural gas pipe line? Oil pipeline?
    Keystone Pipeline?? How much income are we getting from that?? Can any of it go to HSR??

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    In 30 years the water main and the sewer is fully amortized and it would be time to move my septic field because it’s no longer draining like it did 30 years ago. I’ve probably replaced my water pump at least once. If I’m really unlucky the well ran dry and I had to have another one drilled.
    I lived in a neighborhood that was subdivided from a farm in 1898. The water main and sewer came down the street in 1899 and the water company replaced the water main in 1998. The gas company replaced the gas main at the same time because demand had increased so much since it was installed when people used gas for lighting. And cooked with coal. And didn’t have automatic thermostats connected to a gas fired boiler or furnace.

    Jerry Reply:

    More Trains
    Less Lanes

    Alon Levy Reply:

    More rhyme, less crime

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Burns night is approaching, better practice your Auld Scots.

    Jerry Reply:

    Two Routes Good
    Two Wars Bad

    joe Reply:

    We have Bubbles which are over investments driven by the private finance sector.

    I don’t know of over investments in bridges, roads or water systems.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Cuomo’s proposed 8-lanes-on-paper-12-in-reality Tappan Zee Bridge replacement.

  5. Reality Check
    Jan 21st, 2015 at 12:25
    #5

    Private Dallas-Houston TCR HSR says it has eminent domain power

    Texas Central Railway‘s privately funded bullet train will need to buy private land as it makes its way from Dallas to Houston. For landowners in the path of the tracks, the first-of-its-kind project will have eminent domain powers as a last resort.

    The $10 billion project would use Japanese N700 Shinkansen trains capable of going more than 200 mph. More than 60 trains a day could be making the 90-minute trip between Dallas to Houston by 2021.

    The majority of the route will follow existing utility lines or freight tracks. But the tracks will also cross private land.

    […]

    When asked about its eminent domain powers Monday, the company updated its website to clarify its stance and provided an emailed statement.

    TCR cites the Texas Landowners Bill of Rights, which says “Your property can only be taken by a governmental entity or private entity authorized by law to do so.”

    TCR, a Texas-based company with offices in Dallas, Houston and Washington D.C., qualifies as both a railroad company and an interurban electric railway company, giving the company certain rights and powers, including eminent domain, the company posted to its website.

    The ability of a railroad to use eminent domain is “well established and understood in Texas law,” officials from TCR responded via email.

    Officials said eminent domain would be used as a last resort after voluntary options have been exhausted, TCR posted on its website.

    joe Reply:

    Voluntary options to acquire land unless landowners refuse to volunteer. Only then is it mandatory.

    Can we try this in Atherton?

    Useless Reply:

    Taiwan HSR’s fate awaits Texas Central HSR.

    IKB Reply:

    not sure Taiwan HSR has a fate; it’ll be running successfully for the next 100 years. Texas Central has the fate; it won’t run at all because – go pick your own words

    Miles Bader Reply:

    … and “fate” is an odd word to pick, as THSR isn’t going away, and will just get better over time: any stations placed in non-optimal urban locations (Useless’s earlier complaint) will tend to drive infrastructure development to remedy that (e.g. with increased development around the station and improvements in local transport connections).

  6. Being deceptive again, I see, Robert.

    An alternative plan is presented in the centerfold of http://www.calrailnews.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/crn0813.pdf.

    There is also the SNCF America plan presented to the CHSRA board, which would have provided an opening to obtaining proposals from the private sector, which the insiders at CHSRA and their lackeys rightfully feared.

    Or is that you’re afraid that the current HSR scam would coming crashing down if consortiums of experienced HSR operators from around the world are given a chance to submit proposals in place of the current insider plan, as quoted in TRAC’s priorities, particular these statewide points (from http://www.calrailnews.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/TRACPriorities2pager1.pdf):

    2. Advocate for a “doable Plan B” for High Speed Rail (HSR) to replace the current plan should it fail as many expect due to very likely delays from protracted eminent domain and other . If this happens, California should solicit new proposals from experienced HSR operators that may be able to attract major private sector financial participation in ways the current CAHSR plan cannot.

    3. Advocate for a new California Rail Commission with Governor and Legislative appointees, but also with full representation for regional rail providers (including the three corridor JPBs) serving at least two counties over passenger routes connecting to the national rail system.

    joe Reply:

    The choices are:
    1 Give CA’s money to a private foriegn interest because they made a powerpoint chart slide deck.
    2 Stop HSR and start over with a sheet of paper and title “Doable Plan B”
    3.Stop and appoint a Commission.

    Come join in the discussion. The next TRAC meeting will be at the Gilroy Olive Garden.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The next Cheerleaders conclave will be held at the PB-Bunker.

    Alan Reply:

    Olive Garden would be overkill. There’s a rest area on 99 south of Turlock that would be large enough for TRAC.

    datacruncher Reply:

    That is advocating for an alternative that Kern County says it does not want.

    After discussing its lawsuit and the STB decision during closed session Tuesday, Leticia Perez, chairwoman of the Kern County Board of Supervisors, wrote a letter to CHSRA Chairman Dan Richard informing him the board has no position on any route the bullet train would take through Kern “other than to object to it running through the Tejon Ranch.”
    http://www.bakersfieldcalifornian.com/special-sections/rail/x945007772/No-resolution-yet-in-citys-bullet-train-lawsuit

    IKB Reply:

    that’s interesting. How much of the development is in Kern County (I don’t mean the ranch, the proposed Tejon Mountain Resort development)? Somewhere I read the town center was at SR138/I5; that’s Los Angeles County unless my geography is mistaken. Any reason Kern County has an opinion? The remainder of the ranch property is not developable. For further interest to those who may not know, the Bakersfield-Palmdale alignment, as does SR58 and UPRR, cuts significantly thru Tejon Ranch property (it’s huge, but not developable). Ms Perez may want some education prior to sending that letter

    synonymouse Reply:

    My reading is that is very “developable”. Who is going to stop it?

    joe Reply:

    They HSR is an unknown of where it will go and what impact on the area.

    See all the pretty people in nature posing? This is Tejon.
    http://tejonoutlets.com/information.php?tscid=NDE4MjM=

    HSR cannot harsh that mellow.

    BTW Things to do in Bakersfield: http://tejonoutlets.com/information.php?tscid=NDE4MjM=&ciid=66066

    datacruncher Reply:

    Tejon Ranch is working on another development in Kern County at the base of the Grapevine. Currently the location is the site of warehouses and the Tejon Outlets. But the new proposal is for 12,000 housing units.
    http://tejonranch.com/news/tejon-ranch-proposes-12000-unit-project-at-foot-of-grapevine/

    joe Reply:

    LA by car is moving further and further away.

    IKB Reply:

    so I repeat a statement “other than to object to it running through the Tejon Ranch.” really needs more qualification. The current Bakersfield to Palmdale alignment runs thru Tejon Ranch property, as does sr58, UPRR/BNSF, I5, and SR138. Under this dictate, the only way into Southern California is along the coast or thru Yosemite, or by bus BK-LA which takes your precious 2hr 40 mins. Hardly what some had in mind for high speed SF-LA.

  7. The complete plan for HSR that works, of course, is Tolmach’s “infamous” map of August 2011, also in the centerfold of http://www.calrailnews.net/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/crn0811.pdf.

    jimsf Reply:

    oh go away.

    Observer Reply:

    Well said.

    BMF of San Diego Reply:

    BS!

    An HSR alignment was vetted thoroughly. That plan didn’t have the legs. What a whiner.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    I stopped renewing my old TRAC membership after that issue — congratulations, you guys really ‘Jumped the Shark’ there

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I am sure my good friends at TRAC are sincere. However, the likelihood of any in Washington DC or Sacramento taking up the cause of HSR in the event of the failure of the CA project is zero. We have what we have, warts and all, and we’d better make the best of it. It’s also interesting that, since moving to France, Mr. Tolmach has become increasingly critical of the European railway administrations. Anyone reading Cal Rail News these days must surely think that it’s an anti-rail publication.
    TRAC must also consider their relationship with the various NIMBY groups that I believe are using them for their own agenda. It’s naive to think that San Joaquin farmers will support an I-5 HSR or enhanced San Joaquin corridor service. They want the current project killed and is soon as that happens, if it does, then they will be clamoring for 12 lines on the 99.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    lanes, not lines.

    Jerry Reply:

    Right. They want traffic lanes. And not rail lines.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Tomlach moved to France? Talk about quid pro quo…he turns TRAC into Astro-turfers and then conveniently relocates to SCNF’s home country when their coup d’état does not work?

    I too think TRAC is well intentioned but completely unrealistic that the federal government would accept a route like that. SNCF was never going to put on the table so much funding to make federal dollars irrelevant.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Some people just emigrate. I wonder what conspiracy theories people could spin about my constant moving.

    joe Reply:

    No kids in school.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’re the person here who’s least likely to get it wrong. (Okay, together with Clem and Richard.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’d hazard a guess that you are going to the place with the best post graduate program. And that most people would have taken that job offered from Lehman Bros. and settled into a job by now. And a green card instead of a student visa. But I’m just speculating because I have no idea what kind of passport you use. Or if you have just one.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I use a sado-monetarist German passport. I also have another passport, issued by a country most famous for a military occupation of another country, hummus, settlements, and ancient historic sites.

    In math, once people start grad school, usually academia is everyone’s first choice. Some people voluntarily leave, to go to finance or private school teaching or some random industry job. Most try to stay in, and most end up washing out at some level and, instead of fulfilling their dream of a $90,000 a year tenured professorship, they end up with a $200,000 a year private industry consolation prize. Krugman had a post about that a few years ago, about how, traditionally, the most successful students became professors, judges, and other well-respected and well-paid but not humungously-paid jobs, but now it’s changing and people actively chase those deep-six-figures jobs. In grad school, in math, at research universities, that tradition still reigns, at least in the US.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    well, yeah, if you wash out, you don’t get offered something post-post doc or even post masters you look at the job in government or private industry much differently than if you do have a offer from some university somewhere to maybe someday get offered a tenured position.

    joe Reply:

    You should combine mathematics with transportation and seek a position in a geography dept.

    IKB Reply:

    Sorry I’m dumb, but I can’t work out your second passport. I thought it may be Greek, but who did they ever occupy? But I should warn you per multiple passports. Most everyone working in the Middle East has or would like a second passport, just in case (I do). So my British buddy discovered his grandma was born in Belgium, applied for dual citizenship, and got a Belgium passport. A few months later the Belgium government asked when he planned to fulfill his military service commitment, which all Belgium citizens are required to do. Never heard the end of the story (he was in his 40’s, they may not have wanted him), but always remember there is no free lunch. Good luck in your studies

    Zorro Reply:

    I’m not dumb, but then I do know where those words and phrases come from…

    a country most famous for a military occupation of another country, hummus, settlements, and ancient historic sites.

    Sounds like a middle eastern country, I know of two countries that might fit the description, one is Syria and the other Syria is still technically at war with, Israel, though I don’t know if Syria is still in Lebanon or not, considering Syria’s present problems and all, those are My guesses. Hummus according to the wiki is a common everyday meal in Israel and popular in Syria, your name sounds like it’s Jewish of course(not there is anything wrong with that, it’s a name), but I could be wrong.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s Israel.

    Syria isn’t militarily occupying anyone, except part of its own territory, depending on which side you believe is the legitimate government there. Even when it was in Lebanon, it wasn’t building settlements for Syrians.

    Also, at my place, I periodically talk about Tel Aviv.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    You talk about a lot of places on your blog.

    IKB Reply:

    Alon, after your response to Zorro I’m sorry I asked. It was a simple question and deserved a simple response, or none as you choose for those too dumb not to know without asking. Please remember, it’s what you learn after you know it all that counts, which is why some of us will continue to ask – it helps for lively and rewarding discussion

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The law school joke Krugman is bastardizing is:

    The A students becomes the judges, professors and elected leaders

    The B students becomes the top litigators, counsels, and advocates.

    And they all end up working for the C students (who have better social skills or devotion to personal relationships and this advance).

    In my own discipline, money has always affected what jobs people have taken and it’s causing a big crisis right now as far as bringing effective talent aboard, getting schools to serve workforce needs, and generally making career paths recognizable.

    synonymouse Reply:

    French news reports that the Hollande government is considering re-instituting a 1945 law of “indignite nationale”. This law was used to strip Marechal Petain and Charles Maurras of all rights, rank, honors and throw them in jail for the rest of their days. Some newsreel footage of Petain and Maurras doing the perp walk.

    Maybe not the quietest time to be an expatriate.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    100-some odd countries in the world and Tomlach picks the one that happens to be connected to the ill fated Plan Douty? Um, that’s not a conspiracy theory…more like a smoking gun….

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Ten months ago, there was a decent chance I would have ended up in France this year and not Sweden. Could be a smoking gun regarding SNCF. Or could be a postdoctoral move. Your pick.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I’m not Dinesh D’Souza but I think we are getting close to an age of state capitalism where business and government are going to be two sides of the same coin. Yonah Freemark is another guy I wonder about….

    But no, you are still making a living as a student and not as a shill. So move wherever you like, I would hold it against you.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I graduated nearly 4 years ago. I started my blog a few days before defending. The situation I’m in is “eternal postdoc hell” and not “grad student stipend pretend-poverty” (pretend, because US grad student stipends are lower middle-class, not poor). Grad students live in the same place for years, postdocs don’t.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    No quibble with that distinction, but people who make a living off a blog know where their bread is buttered. Tomlach’s problem is that train riders are a pretty small and irrelevant group to elected officials in CA, but have lots of prestige because of Southern Pacific’s outsize role in the State’s history.

    The key to be effective is to have a lobby groups with a few members with deep pockets. That way, there’s minimal chance someone goes off message and maximum chance the legislator et al. will listen.

    Blogs, while adding a sort of guerrilla element to this, are only as effective as the people behind them being able to sustain the assault. This is why even if TRAC had nothing to do with Le Plan Douty and SNCF, they would have been a perfect match because NARP/RailPac is attached in such a way to Amtrak that they would never have advocated the bypass alignment.

    Poor Paul Dyson is still trying to save Metrolink for God sakes.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Ted, most elected officials have no idea about Southern Pacific and its role in state history. SP died 20 years ago, a week is a long time in politics. Where do you come up with this stuff? And even further off base, I have actually been suggesting that Metrolink (SCRRA) disband itself as it is a failed agency, not trying to save it. Regarding Amtrak, you obviously don’t read anything we put out in print or on line. The last issue of Steel Wheels was deeply critical of Amtrak management. Still, thank you for the entertainment value of your parallel universe musings.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Paul, I know that in the insular and highly disambiguated mindset of the Southern California (where I was born, raised, and got my degrees from) Sacramento has no character of its own but it is a sort of fictional place that people freely attribute paradoxical realities…

    1) Elected officials might not know how to spell SP, but teain advocates get far more traction than advocates for other groups. Sure your personal experience might lead you to think otherwise but remember we have a tiny Legislature and state bureaucracy compares to our population, even the Feds are proportionally bigger. No one has time for yor pet issue, even if you are a top lobbyist..

    2) How you implement your “Electrolink” recommendation without a Regional agency beats the hell out of me. I understand both statements are taken separately consistent, but you really should clarify your thoughts.

    3) Talk is cheap. Your newsletter matters little; where do you get your funding from and what do you invest staff time in. I don’t have any ill will towards Amtrak either. I am not sure outside of the Acela where they own the track if it makes sense for them to do high speed rail when they could continue to do commuter rail as long distance trains. As you know, Amtrak problem is the pensions it holds for the defunct railroads it absorbed. If you fix that problem and don’t make them pay capital costs out of passenger revenue–they would be in a lot better shape.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Ted, (in random order) I have told you before about our funding, there is none, or almost. Our annual budget is in the low 5 figures and we donate our time and take in members’ contributions. That way we stay independent.
    Of course Electrolink needs a regional agency, but Metrolink won’t do it. Regional and County agencies are a dime a dozen here.
    Your degrees are obviously not in English.
    What do you mean by “do commuter rail as long distance trains”? Amtrak did not absorb any defunct railroads, but does of course contribute to Railroad Retirement. Again, where do you get these ideas?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Conrail owned it did and then divested the track to Amtrak or state agencies. Amtrak or state agencies own the track from just west of Schenectady to Manhattan, Springfield Mass to Manhattan and from Washington DC to Boston. And a big chunk of the line from Detroit to Chicago.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Quite so but ATK did not inherit any obligations such as pensions from Conrail or its predecessors

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No they didn’t considering that they took over the pensions when Amtrak was created in 1971 and Conrail didn’t come into existance until the PennCentral went belly up and yahoos in the hinterlands got it through their heads that not having railroad service for one quarter to one third of their customers wouldn’t be a good thing.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Paul,

    My iPhone hates me.

    Here I am doing the right thing taking rail-based public transportation to work and Siri constantly autocorrects my words on this tiny ass screen so I have no idea I made a typo until I press send. I apologize, but as soon as I find a way to fix this…

    RailPac is affiliated with NARP, which in turn seems to be the cheer squad for Amtrak at the federal level. I understand if RailPac is autonomous, but many of your comments echo Amtrak’s official positions.

    As for your comments about Regional agencies being a “dime a dozen”…now I understand why you can’t get much done. Metrolink was created to be so weak because the counties feared an MTC like solution in the early 90s, when Pete Wilson engaged in the last round of consolidation and realignment at the state level. Now the chicken comes home to roost.

    Amtrak is well positioned to act as a contractor for states for local and long distance service, the question is how much of that share should the state’s pay given that the Feds created the sweetheart deal for Railroad Retirement? I think if a route is interstate, state should pay 0%, but if it is intrastate, states should pay 100%. Why, because otherwise urban areas will see Amtrak as a cheap subsidy for commuter rail instead of making tough choices on building fixed guideway transit like BART.

    Just my two cents though….

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Compose it someplace else. Maybe even have the phone read it back to you from someplace else before you paste into here. Or hear if autocorrect still dozen funky thinks.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Paul is right of course that killing this project is killing HSR in California (and likely the US) for a generation, 15 years or more. So it’s one thing to advocate for changes within the overall project but when you advocate for ‘starting over’ as TRAC did, you have to know you are fighting to kill HSR in the US — either that or you have no inkling how government works. In either case it makes TRAC a lobby for automobiles and petroleum. I’ve been surprised to see how many supposed rail advocacy organizations are just aging steam train buffs.

    Alan Reply:

    Exactly. TRAC’s idea of HSR would be second-generation GS-4’s.

    Zorro Reply:

    Not to mention adding dozens of fwy lanes to existing fwys and building new fwys, these people think fwys are perfect, just Adolf Hitler liked the Autobahn over trains, fwys are an obsolete concept, they were sold for National Defense at a time when aircraft could not haul more than infantry, jeeps and light artillery around, tanks were simply too heavy, though Germany did make one attempt at a Flying Tank worse than a swimming tank, at least 27 sunken Sherman Tanks are off of Omaha beach in Normandy France.

    Now the US has aircraft that can haul M1 Abrams 70 ton Main Battle Tanks around with ease, all thanks to German Jet Technology and the slave labor that built Jets in WWII Germany.

    Just saying of course.

    Peter Reply:

    Seems to me that Tolmach is having something similar to buyer’s remorse. He seems to be just very upset that politics are a factor in rail planning and operations, whether here or abroad.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Retirement has a strange way of letting people open up about how politicized decisions might be…

    joe Reply:

    Let’s chip in and buy Tolmach a copy of Sid Meier’s Railroads.
    http://www.2kgames.com/railroads/

    Eric Reply:

    I prefer the bigger maps of railroad tycoon 3. Older game though.

    Donk Reply:

    Well at least TRAC is advocating something. Robert’s post is about people who are against HSR. TRAC doesn’t exactly fit into that category.

    joe Reply:

    They are?

    The options were:

    1. Give CA’s money to a private foriegn interest because they made a powerpoint chart slide deck. A powerpoint slide presentation isn’t enough tot get a small NSF grant let along a 68B award.

    2 Stop HSR and start over with a sheet of paper and title “Doable Plan B”. Even Morris Brown would expect more.

    3.Stop and appoint a Commission. Yes, a Commission to write a report and make hard choices of where to meet next.

    Donk Reply:

    Hey I saw a map. That’s at least something. Most haters don’t have any alternative. I never said that what they were advocating was viable.

    And if you want to get a small grant with a powerpoint slide presentation, you need to go to the DoD. Sure you need to turn in a full proposal, but that is just a formality.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    True, and at least TRAC made sure the map had none of the original French on it….

    Alan Reply:

    It still looked like kids scribbling on maps with a highlighter.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Tolmach is a bright guy and knows how railroads work. Maybe 10 years ago with a better sales job the I-5 route would have been the one chosen. I think that politically it’s dead. I was briefly on the TRAC Board and hoped to persuade them of this, but was unable to do so. Time will tell. We can still end up with nothing.

    Jonathan Reply:

    Tolmach is a bright guy and knows how railroads work.

    Rail*roads*? Well, that’s a problem, right there.

    Jerry Reply:

    Yes, time will tell.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Paul — Thanks for your balance and your contributions

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Tomlach had plenty of persuasive arguments about Pacheco for example, but he swung for fences and struck out.

    We aren’t going to end up with nothing, but we could end with something not worth the money.

    IKB Reply:

    which be real is the same as nothing

    Ted Judah Reply:

    No, because what we are building can be used for some purpose…even if ridership collapses an electrified railway could be sold or leased to freight companies that need to cut emissions, for example.

    IKB Reply:

    Ted, that’s an interesting plan B that you should probably keep to yourself – our legal experts (that is most everyone who joins in this conversation) will have fun determining if that meets prop 1A.

    They will get ridership, but it won’t come as fast, or reach the levels, to pay for itself in strictly commercial terms. The Channel Tunnel, Taiwan HSR, NEC didn’t (or BART, or Muni). I’m not sure the French or Japanese have – there are certainly numbers that show they did (ROI in 20 years, etc), but other numbers that could be included that show they didn’t. But ridership won’t collapse, and all should be considered successful, and you’d miss them if they weren’t operating.

    Change subject, on this blog how come some discussions get a [reply] button and others don’t?

    synonymouse Reply:

    No, Ted, the rr Jerry Brown is currently building cannot be repurposed to freight.

    The DogLeg as presently envisioned by PB comprises up to 3.5% gradients, unacceptably expensive for freight in the 21st century. When railroads had a monopoly on transport in the 19th century 4% was feasible(all over the Colorado 3′ gauge empire)but internal combustion put an end to that halcyon era.

    Generally class ones have a deeply engrained aversion to catenary; they don’t like fixed plants, expensive infrastructure hard to shuck when business goes bad. See the Milwaukee Road and Queretaro.

    Even the Orphan ARRA nowhere to nowhere might not be particularly palatable to the UP or Santa Fe. Expensive to monitor and maintain aerial structures not needed for slow freight and inability to add spurs, for instance. And only the most trafficked class one lines merit dual trackage.

    Jonathan Reply:

    ven if ridership collapses an electrified railway could be sold or leased to freight companies that need to cut emissions, for example.

    Nope. A well-designed HSR line will have bridges and viaducts which are engineered for HSR axle loads of ~17 tonnes, not for US freight trains with axle loads up to 33 tonnes — double the axle load, double the weight per unit length. A well-designed HSr line will have gradients anywhere up to 4%. I am very, very skeptical that electric locomotives can either start US freight trains from a standstill on such a gradient, and also very, very skeptical that electric locomotives can brake such a train on descent.

    @IKIB: you are conflating Prop 1A requirements, which require actual HSR and actual funding plans in place before Prop 1A HSR money can be spent; with requirements in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) for “independent utility”. ARRA funds, used to match Prop 1A funds for the ICS, require that the ICS have “independent utility” even if CHSRA never builds anything more than the ICS.

    This blog is configured to allow nested replies up to 4 deep. Beyond that, replies are sequential, not nested.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Change subject, on this blog how come some discussions get a [reply] button and others don’t?

    There’s a limit to how far comments nest. Beyond it, as is the case for this thread, comments just go in chronological order within each subthread.

    IKB Reply:

    Alon, thx

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Not to worry IKB, I have pissed nearly everyone off here (including Robert) at one time or another. I’m all about throwing out ideas even if tey get rejected. Communal learning is better than ignorance.

  8. Useless
    Jan 22nd, 2015 at 11:05
    #8

    Moscow to Beijing in 2 days: China to build $242bn high-speed railway. The railway will be 7,000 kilometers long and go through Kazakhstan, reports Bloomberg

    http://www.newsweek.com/242-billion-high-speed-beijing-moscow-rail-link-approved-301302

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It costs a lot of money to rent a seat on a train for 48 hours versus renting one on a plane for 6.

    Useless Reply:

    adirondacker12800

    They usually have something other than passengers in mind when they build a 7,000 km long railway. Another thing is that a 7,000 km long railway creates millions of construction and railway operations jobs.

    les Reply:

    but where will they find the labor…ouch.

    Useless Reply:

    Chinese migrants, of course.

    And this is why China’s spending $242 billion to build this thing, to put Russian Siberia under its indirect control through a mass migration, so that China could pull a Crimea on Russia. Historically Russia was wary of this obvious Chinese intentions, but the current Western sanctions are driving Russia toward China.

    Eric Reply:

    Except that by going through Kazakhstan the route will entirely skip Siberia…

    Incidentally there are opinions that China has no interest in taking over Siberia and few Chinese are actually living there…
    https://www.opendemocracy.net/od-russia/ben-judah/why-russia-is-not-losing-siberia

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The “Chinese migration is dominating Russia” bit is pretty stupid, and possibly racist. There’s an obvious reason why China wants to dominate Siberia – natural resources – but why does it need an ethnic Chinese migration wave for that? Europe dominated Africa and Asia with tiny numbers of emigrants, using military and economic power instead. China’s forming colonial relationships with various resource-rich countries, mainly in Africa, again with practically no migration. It’s just like how the US could dominate a country using economic power alone, with trade policy and small amounts of aid for rebellion suppression. No need to go through the motions of annexation or invasion, which threaten the world and annoy rival powers, who, unlike the natives, have the ability to shoot back.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Trucking creates more construction work, more maintenance work and needs more people actually touching vehicles than railroads. Bureau of labor statistics says there are 113,800 railroad workers in the US. Roughly one per mile of track. I think but I’m not sure that includes the people who answer the phone in telephone call centers and the people in accounts payable and recievable etc. It’s going to create jobs and those jobs will create non railroad jobs but they aren’t doing it to create millions of jobs. Get cheap Chinese…. stuff… to the EU maybe. and raw materials from along the route to China so they can make more cheap stuff. Maybe.

    Michael Reply:

    It’s easier to own/control what runs over a railroad than a road. Who controls the seas and what does it take to do that? Who could ignore all that? Previously posted here about how many players are hot about moving freight from Asia to Europe by rail, not ship. Germans move freight at night on most of their high speed lines, so a mixed traffic line all the way across Eurasia is a logical extension. (My syntax in this post is veering alarmingly toward the fringe. Apologies.)

    Ted Judah Reply:

    If there was ever an argument for the Hyperloop…

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    The Dzungarian Gate (Chinese: 阿拉山口; pinyin: Ālā Shānkǒu; Kazakh: Жетісу қақпасы or Жоңғар қақпасы) is a geographically and historically significant mountain pass between China and Central Asia.[1] It has been described as the “one and only gateway in the mountain-wall which stretches from Manchuria to Afghanistan, over a distance of three thousand miles.”[2] Given its association with details in a story related by Herodotus, it has been linked to the location of legendary Hyperborea.[3]

    The Dzungarian Gate is a straight valley which penetrates the Dzungarian Alatau mountain range along the border between Kazakhstan and the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region.[4] It currently serves as a railway corridor between China and the west. Historically, it has been noted as a convenient pass suitable for riders on horseback between the western Eurasian steppe and lands further east, and for its fierce and almost constant winds

  9. datacruncher
    Jan 22nd, 2015 at 22:03
    #9

    Another View: Debate about high-speed rail should be based on facts
    By Jim Costa, Janice Hahn and Zoe Lofgren – Special to The Bee

    Each of us is entitled to our own opinion, but as Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan famously said, we are not entitled to our own facts. Unfortunately, after reading the opinion pieces by Reps. Jeff Denham, Kevin McCarthy and Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association President Jon Coupal (“California should halt high-speed rail,” Jan. 8; and “High-speed rail goes off the track without funding plan,” Jan. 18), we felt compelled to set the record straight about California high-speed rail.

    http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article7972092.html

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Nine companies, mostly large construction, engineering and infrastructure firms that have worked on high-speed rail elsewhere, have written letters expressing their interest in financing a portion of the project

    Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/california-forum/article7972092.html#storylink=cpy

  10. Michael
    Jan 22nd, 2015 at 23:40
    #10

    Enjoyable German high speed line testing video. It’s the weekend.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kB4evywL0yo

  11. jedi08
    Jan 23rd, 2015 at 01:58
    #11
  12. Robert S. Allen
    Jan 24th, 2015 at 00:02
    #12

    Bakersfield Californian: Just make sure the track for High Speed Trains is securely fenced and grade separated. Prop 1A was entitled: “The Safe, Reliable High Speed Passenger Train Bond Act…”

    We fence 65 mph freeways against intrusion and cross-traffic. In order to cut costs, CHSRA plans “Blended Rail”, with trains going at up to 125 mph, crossing public highways at grade. And trains take longer to stop than rubber-tired vehicles.

    Amtrak in 1999 on 79 mph track hit a heavy truck at a Bourbonnais, Illinois, grade crossing and derailed two locomotives and 11 of 14 passenger cars. Trains are vulnerable to accidents and delays in grade crossing accidents, suicides, and sabotage, especially higher speed trains. HSR on commuter rail tracks as conceived in “Blended Rail” would be NEITHER SAFE NOR RELIABLE! It needs to be fenced and grade separated.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    HSR to the Bay Area should end at San Jose, with near-seamless transfers there to Caltrain, Capitol Corridor, ACE, Amtrak, VTA rail, and BART. Beyond San Jose it could well follow the UP-Amtrak route to Oakland and Sacramento with a new transfer station at the BART overhead in Oakland. From that point 16 BART trains per hour reach four downtown San Francisco BART/Muni stations in six to ten minutes.

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