Want to Work on the Hyperloop?

Mar 25th, 2015 | Posted by

A new company is setting up shop in downtown LA to work on the Hyperloop:

Now Hyperloop Technologies Inc., one company working on the project, has taken up residence for Hyperloop World Headquarters in a 6,500-square-foot industrial space in a gentrifying section of the Arts District.

Wedged into a corner abutting Interstate 10, the Los Angeles River and railroad tracks, Hyperloop shares a scruffy, graffiti-marked block with a fish wholesaler and a number of garment factories.

More power to them, I suppose, though they’re still going to have to overcome enormous technical hurdles that many have identified to actually making this thing work as advertised. Those hurdles are starting to get wider attention in the media, as this article in the Silicon Valley Business Journal comparing the Hyperloop to HSR makes clear:

Better the devil you know. High-speed rails have been proven to work around the world. The Hyperloop may be nothing more than science fiction.

Critics of the Hyperloop say the low-pressurized tube would overheat and the difficulties surrounding the land acquisition would make the project dead on arrival.

And those are just two of the many problems the concept faces. Despite what Elon Musk thinks, the Hyperloop should not be seen as a substitute for high speed rail. I have nothing against people wanting to see if this is a workable concept, but let’s also keep working to build high speed rail, a technology we know for a fact works quite well.

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  1. Robert Forsyth
    Mar 25th, 2015 at 20:47
    #1

    After watching all of the issues with land acquisition that CHSR has had to overcome, I don’t see a private entity having much success creating a logical path for a hyperloop.

  2. datacruncher
    Mar 25th, 2015 at 21:16
    #2

    Looks like the latest survey from PPIC is released.

    From the press release:

    The survey asks about another transportation issue, high-speed rail. When read a brief description of the project and its associated costs, residents are divided: 47 percent favor it and 48 percent are opposed. Support for high-speed rail has hovered around 50 percent in recent years. When those who oppose it are asked how they would feel if it cost less, support increases to 64 percent. Just 28 percent say high-speed rail is very important for the future quality of life and economic vitality of California—down from previous years (33% March 2012, 36% March 2013, 35% March 2014).
    http://www.ppic.org/main/pressrelease.asp?i=1724

    Full survey at
    http://www.ppic.org/content/pubs/survey/S_315MBS.pdf

    Joe Reply:

    We just had a gubernatorial election. The opponent made high-speed rail an issue. He got nowhere with it.
    One of the better performing Republicans was a proponent of high-speed rail but lost to her opponent who is also high-speed rail supporter.

    The polls taken in November consistently support high-speed rail.

    Zorro Reply:

    And the election counts, ppic polls don’t mean squat.

    StevieB Reply:

    How does that question reconcile with the next question which finds 64% determine HSR is important and 35% not important for California economics and quality of life.

    16.Thinking ahead, how important is the highspeed
    rail system for the future quality of life
    and economic vitality of California—is it very
    important, somewhat important, not too
    important, or not at all important?
    28% very important
    36 somewhat important
    18 not too important
    17 not at all important
    1 don’t know

    joe Reply:

    If only someone took these polls seriously and ran a campaign on this issue.

    Jerry “HSR” Brown (D) 59.4%
    Neel “Crazy Train” Kashkari (R) 40.6%
    Spread 18.8

    But what do voters really think?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What voters really think is that Democrats are better than Republicans. This is not an endorsement of every single policy plank of the Democratic party, at least not by that margin.

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    That’s true, but it’s also true that Kashkari specifically made the election a referendum on HSR.
    As a loyal Republican, naturally I voted proudly for Swearingen, and I hope she’ll run for governor so I can vote for her again.
    But since I’m not crazy I also voted for Brown. Kashkari was a little…um…

    EJ Reply:

    I just vote for the party that I figure is less likely to completely screw the pooch. Which means I vote for Democrats, since even the “reasonable” Republicans, like Swearingen, are generally beholden to a base of reactionaries and religious fundamentalists.

    datacruncher Reply:

    The Tea Partiers hate Swearingen. The was from an Orange County Tea Party blog voter guide in the last election.

    STATE CONTROLLER
    *Ashley Swearengin (R) vs. Betty Yee (D) (OPEN SEAT)
    NO RECOMMENDATION
    Ashley Swearengin is said to be the new rising star of the state GOP, but she’s certainly not the rising star of conservatives! As the Mayor of Fresno, this woman is an ardent supporter of Jerry Brown’s bullet train and she refuses to rule out the possibility that she might even vote for Brown this November! Believe it or not, her opposition to Kashkari isn’t based on the fact that he’s too liberal, Swearengin actually believes Kashkari isn’t liberal enough, particularly on the bullet train issue! She is also said to be very favorable to Agenda 21 policies and the so-called smart growth movement! In addition, she’s in favor of amnesty and was one of Obama’s hand-picked Republican elected leaders to attend his amnesty speech in Nevada a few years ago! This is another race to sit out!
    http://octeapartyblog.com/2014/10/13/orange-county-tea-party-blog-recommendations-november-4th-general-election/

    jimsf Reply:

    yeh whats this agenda 21 thing that my neibghors are all freaked out about. I think these folks just can’t sleep at night unless they have something to be afraid of.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    It’s apparently a United Nations policy that favors sustainable growth.

    Your neighbors up in black helicopter country would be dismayed to know that a Republican governor already signed into law SB 375 that mandates many of the same things in California…already….

    jimsf Reply:

    let me tell you, Ive lived in a lot of rural ca but EDC takes the cake when it comes paranoia. Yuba, Pleacer and Nevada Counties are all pretty cool and interesting places, but EID is putting something in El Dorado water.

    jimsf Reply:

    the most recent kookalicious thing I came across was the local tea party event where the topic is going to be “chemtrails” and “geo engineering” which is being perpetrated by “insane scientists” “monopolistic corpartions”and “rogue governments” ‘Why and What are they spraying!”

    Now what is funny is that these are also the same people who don’t believe that human activity can affect climate change or that climate change is even real at all, but they DO beleive that insane scientists – apparetnly in cahoots with, alaska airlines I guess, are spraying chemtrails to geo engineer the world. whatever that means.

    Whats the name of that german clock where the the little bird pops out?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Jim,

    I think you have it backward. In parts of the American River watershed, there’s no filter between what people have been drinking for the last 150 years and the type of water-born parasites that can cause brain damage.

    joe Reply:

    She was pro HSR. Her opponent who won was a late convert to HSR.

    If making HSR an issue fails and when HSR supporters win statewide office, we have pretty conclusive evidence.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Republicans have been trying to make every election a referendum on Obamacare. In 2012, they still lost.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The Republicans have made every election a referendum on Obama and it has worked as far as long-term strategy goes.

    In 2012, Obama held on in large part because of his appeal to nonwhite voters combined with the GM Auto Bailout that shielded Ohio from the worst of the recession.

    Come 2016, there’s no person of color to succeed Barack and gin up minority turnout in the swing states…and there’s no relief in sight from Republican control of Congress and most statehouses.

    joe Reply:

    we saw the mushy middle lose. Lieberman is out. Warren is in.
    The God awful blue Dog caucus that gave Nancy so much headache is voted out.
    being republican lite was a dumb strategy.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Bush Lite *is* a dumb strategy…but that’s different than tying together urban liberals, rural populists, and minority special interest groups.

    The Dems are whistling past the graveyard thinking that nonwhite voters are falling all over themselves to vote for Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton or even Joe “Fuck Yeah, Baby” Biden. Even Liz Warren has better pull with younger white voters than nonwhite ones.

    With Nancy and Harry also 70+, Jerry Brown almost an octogenarian, and Obama termed out, the Democrat’s biggest problem is absolutely lack of succession plan.

    joe Reply:

    Dem succession plan is called an election.

    Bill “Come back kid” Clinton was not anointed to be the nominee – he campaigned for it and won over the “conventional wisdom” candidates and TV exposed candidates such as NE’s Bob Kerry.

    “minority special interest groups” are code words – you don’t respect the party or the people who vote.

    That phrase should refer to the most precious minority special interest group: republican southern white males. Special, a minority and with very clear self-interests.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The myth of Clinton and Carter before him doesn’t change the fact that in most instances the Democratic Party in blue states is more obsessed with succession plans than the Hapsburg Empire.

    With Barack and Reid not around come 2017, there will be plenty of intrigue and upheaval as everyone positions into place.

    Joe Reply:

    The obsession is all yours.
    Elections will select the nominee. You can vote for Jeb Bush.

    Zorro Reply:

    Vote for another Bush? I’d rather vote for Bernie Sanders and I gather others do also.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Ted: Who’d your GOP candidate who will galvanize the country in the General?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Neil: There is no secret sauce GOP candidate. I think a guy like Huckabee has the best chance against Clinton, however.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Huckabee’s a nutter though, he would drive away republican moderates and anyone on the fence…

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Huckabee has a comfortable life as a media pundit, he wont run (he may flirt with it to spur ratings and book sales). Who’s your favorite among the crazy GOP politicians who really are running, maybe Cruz?

    joe Reply:

    The GOP holds a freak and then settles on a compromise candidate to apple to the other 70% of the USA.

    McCain was not the front runner in 2008 nor Romney in 2012. They stick around and eventually the nuts run to build a brand name – split the vote and drop out. The party money donors push the palatable candidate forward and throw the base a bone. A nut case as VP.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Huckabee, please note, was actually a Republican governor in a State that is very familiar with the Clintons. He has a built in advantage head-to-head with Hilary for that reason alone.

    He is more economically liberal than most candidates, which is characteristic nearly all the GOP nominees have had recently. He also has the street cred with evangelicals that was crucial for George W. Bush.

    He’s also not a true outside like Scott Walker who frightens the Skull and Bones set.

    He’s not perfect however, and could be easily done in by a solid third party challenger that split the Right.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, it’s almost like… Obama could win an election even when his health care reform’s net approval rate was like -20 because of other factors.

    Observer Reply:

    Both McCain and Romney were totally out of touch with reality old fogeys. It will be interesting who the republicans will nominate this time around. If Bush does not get the nomination (he speaks excellent spanish), they may pick a spanish speaker as their VP choice in an attempt to get the hispanic vote; but considering their extreme and regressive views an immigration, that may be difficult.

    As for the democrats: Obama was able to attract young people to the polls. If Hillary Clinton gets the nomination, I am not so sure she will be able to attract the young people to the polls – I have my doubts. I think that the young people may well stay home this time around, which would benefit the republicans.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Oh, they only need to open their mouths on immigration and the Hispanic vote will get itself out. It just won’t vote the way they hope.

    Anyway, McCain and Romney were far more in touch than Kashkari, who was very much a sacrificial lamb.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    From reading your posts, am I right in deducing that the majority of you view Hillary as far too “GRANDMOTHERLY” to appeal to most Millennial voters, so they’ll sit out the 2016 election (and allow the Koch Bros. and their ilk to get away with buying the election)?

    Observer Reply:

    Hillary Clinton may simply be too conservative for many Millennials. I guess we will have to see what type of proposals her campaign comes up with – that is if they can excite Millennials to get out and vote. I fear that they may just yawn this campaign out – which would be terrible.

    Zorro Reply:

    Republicans are incompetent extremists, who are owned by KOCH Industries..

    Emmanuel Reply:

    Surveys are always touchy things. It’s all about how you ask a question. Sure everybody wants it to be cheaper. But, would you be willing to support HSR if it skipped your town? The route that the current HSR is taking is a well gerrymandered route that maximized support for the project. Sure there could have been routes that are a lot smarter *cough* LOSSAN, Tejon, along the coastline *cough* and it would have been cheaper, but the measure might have failed.

    I think the biggest cause of rising costs is that we have continued delay it. With every year, property prices go up, and it gets more difficult to find an optimal route without tearing down a dozen residential homes and it will only get more difficult and more expensive the longer we wait.

  3. Spencer Joplin
    Mar 26th, 2015 at 06:47
    #3

    Musk has experience seeking tax incentives; that and marketing is the only reason I can think to pay downtown Los Angeles rents. 38,000 square feet is enough space for a few dozen cubicles, some mockups, and some static testing rigs. Any dynamic testing would be pressed for space in the LA basin.

    Donk Reply:

    They are not paying “downtown Los Angeles rents”, if you are implying that they set shop in a high-rise building on bunker hill. They are in the industrial area by the LA River. Rents are relatively cheap there. They have been trying to turn this into an innovation hub zone for a long time now, with basically no success.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Remember, the number of people on this board with a good understanding of Southern California geography can be counted on one, maybe two hands…

    Musk is just looking for a photo-op.

    jimsf Reply:

    in northern california everything goes this way and in southern california everything goes that way. basically thats it with some minor variations.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    I think they are really looking for some gee-whizz technology to move containers to and from the ports. Probably won’t work but good for some grants.

    jimsf Reply:

    I would like to see a trans texas corridor in california. ( as much as it makes me choke to say “like” and “texas” in the same sentance.

    Of course it too late now, but imagine if, instead of the the hodgepodge of freeways power lines, rail, and aqueducts, we had one bigall-in-one corridor from redding to orange county that consited of a massive freeway, a separate, multi lane express truckway, a ten track wide railway to accommodate all the freights, convential and high speed rail, the main power transmission lines, the aqueduct and the central valley project.

    so neat and tidy.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Jim,

    That type of project is basically incompatible with any notion of federalism. California, where there is an almost feudal local structure can’t make that sort of thing happen. The Southern Pacific tried, and eventually was undone precisely because it acted in this sort of comprehensive approach.

    Lewellan Reply:

    The Tesla advanced battery and drivetrain didn’t produce the most practical EV.
    Self-driving nonsense will likewise not happen but innovate new safety tech.
    Hyperloop may run a mile somewhere for some reason other than 700mph 500mile jaunts.
    He’s researching/developing the tech, regardless of the Hyperloop.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    There’s “tons” of empty desert adjacent to Los Angeles where Hyperloop hardware tests can be run.

  4. Spencer Joplin
    Mar 26th, 2015 at 06:50
    #4

    Wrongful attribution; my bad: “Musk is not an officer of the company nor on the Hyperloop board.”

    joe Reply:

    Your autonomous car will drive to the Hyper-loop station. You will be whisked by Hyperloop to your destination where a Personal rapid transit “POD” car completes the journey.

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    Your Google car will offer 50,000 matches for the destination you request. Don’t be surprised if you ask to go to Harry’s Donuts and the car takes you to the gym first. Google knows best.

    joe Reply:

    Harry’s donuts will give search results on hair salons..

    Sorry there are no Hop Spittles near by.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    I LOVE the flavor of ‘Hop Spittle’ – nothing else even comes close!

  5. TomA
    Mar 26th, 2015 at 07:35
    #5

    California is a terrible place for hyperloop. Its got alot of in between between its major cities (SF and LA), and alot of terrain. Plus lots more demand than hyperloop could feasibly deal with.

    At better place would be say Oklahoma City to Dallas – its nice and flat. There is basically nothing in between. It wouldnt get huge ridership, but it would get enough to support a hyperloop concept.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Nope. OKC-Dallas is perfect for HSR, not faster-than-HSR gadgetbahn. Faster-than-HSR trains are ideal for very thick city pairs (to justify the expense), like Tokyo-Osaka, and for longer-distance city pairs, on which HSR can no longer compete. In the US, the top corridors for that are New York-Chicago and New York-Philly-Washington-Atlanta-Miami. You can’t start small with this, which is why the “we’ll do it like entrepreneurs” idea is so bad. You need to be enormously well-capitalized to do this privately; JR Central is, because it has monopoly profits from the Tokaido Shinkansen, but random American tech startups aren’t.

    les Reply:

    Nope, plan is to have tourist ride SpaceX to Mars and then tour Mars via Hyperloop.

    TomA Reply:

    I guess it depends on whether Musk’s original cost estimates are anywhere near realistic.

    I see Hyperloop, assuming it would ever become reality, as something close to a plane than a train – end to end, with no branches or intermediate stops, and much lower capacity than HSR or other train technologies.

    So to me there are two places it works well. Long sets without much in between. NY to CHicago, or CCHicago to Dallas or something. Or short segments with limited ridership.

    Of course again, that is assuming that Hyperloop itself ever became real and was due to its inherent flaws, cheaper than HSR.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No need to guess: Musk made up the cost figures. Actual cost per unit length is higher than HSR, because of the required higher construction standards – more, taller viaducts, principally. I am constantly floored by the way intelligent people take his word for it, or, if not, let it anchor their expectations with “even if it costs five times as much.” Well, no. Look at actual construction costs around the world. Transrapid is not five times as expensive as Musk’s hatchet job per unit length; try seven times or even ten times, in tunnel-free environments (i.e. not California), with much smaller curve radii than Hyperloop would require. You could build California HSR, Palmdale detour and iconic bridge and Millbrae tunnel and all, and it would be cheaper than a faster-than-HSR system.

    The capacity issue is a matter of Musk’s complete incompetence when it comes to technology he didn’t invent himself. Faster-than-HSR trains do not have to be low-capacity. They can be built with a larger tunnel diameter to enable trains of comparable size to conventional HSR; the growth in cost is minimal, while the gain in capacity is large. For example, the Chuo Shinkansen, which unlike Hyperloop is actually happening, will have 4-abreast seating, vs. 5-abreast on the conventional Shinkansen, and 12-car trains. Transrapid has 5-abreast seating.

    Maglev technology is actually friendlier to intermediate stops than HSR, because the trains have very fast acceleration rates. If I understand its acceleration chart correctly, the Chuo Shinkansen can stop for a station and accelerate back to 500 km/h, losing only 3 minutes in the process; for California HSR, with a top speed of just 350, the stop penalty is 7 minutes. At higher speeds the penalty is larger, but it still makes sense to have intermediate stops. Again in contrast with Musk’s disaster of a plan, the planned acceleration and deceleration rates are 2 m/s^2, which maintain passenger comfort enough to allow multiple stop cycles per trip; planes take off at about 3.5 m/s^2, and Hyperloop plans to accelerate at 5 m/s^2.

    NY-Chicago would be either nonstop or with one stop in the Cleveland area, if only because there would be continuous conventional HSR between the two cities first, providing the requisite service to the major intermediate cities. Chicago-St. Louis-Dallas-Houston is also possible, but with all these cities getting stations, and behind the New York-Chicago and New York-Miami lines. Dallas and Houston are growing fast, but so are Atlanta, Washington, and Miami, while New York is more than twice Chicago’s size.

    Zorro Reply:

    TGV(HSR) speed record at 574.8kmh – 357.16mph, 3/04/2007, HSR is just as fast as Maglev.

    World Record Speed is on Video & is in English, Here.

    Joey Reply:

    By the same logic cars are as fast as HSR because specialized race cars can reach 200 mph.

    Zorro Reply:

    Only if you are rich and have roads that can support 200mph safely, show Me one public road in California that can handle a Super Car safely.. There is no such thing, not anywhere outside of a racetrack.

    Joey Reply:

    And the TGV world speed record used a modified train and overvolted the power supply, plus numerous other modifications. It’s not practical to do that on a regular basis. Depending who you ask, the realistic limit for HSR in revenue service is somewhere between 320 and 400 km/h.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Who thinks it’s higher than 360?

    Joey Reply:

    You’re right, I was probably thinking of design speed.

    Eric Reply:

    What exactly prevents a modified train, with a modified motor, from reaching 574kmh or higher in revenue service? Is it air resistance? Wheel/track wear? Vibrations?

    Joey Reply:

    I believe the main concerns are track wear and drag (aka electricity consumption).

    KT Reply:

    Other limitations for trains in revenue service are:

    -External noise and the related environmental impacts/standards
    -Braking Distance (aka safety standards for emergency response).

    As an example, E5/E6 series in Japan is in a revenue service with max speed of 320 km/hr, even though their prototype was tested at 360 km/hr. One of the reasons they are limited to this speed is because the noise level of this train traveling at 330 km/hr or faster will be greater than the noise level of its predecessor at its maximum operating speed (E2 series with maximum revenue service speed of 275 km/hr).

    Max Wyss Reply:

    @Eric: mainly line profile (you’d have to build a new line designed for 630 km/h, which includes suitable catenary systems, signalling, etc.). Then energy consumption would be extremely high (drag). Braking distances have been mentioned (but that would also be built into the new line). Overall, it would not really be possible to operate it at a reasonable price.

    @KT: In many places, a vehicle has to prove that it runs stable at 10% above the speed to be certified. That’s why the E5/E6 had to be tested at 360 km/h, otherwise, they would not have been certifiable for 330 km/h.

    Eric Reply:

    So maybe 574kmh is too high. But if there are already trains in revenue service at 320kmh, and the maximum speed has increased steadily without yet reaching a plateau, it seems unlikely that the maximum we’ll ever achieve is 320kmh.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Am I totally mistaken that the Chinese were running 350 km/h commercially, but then lowered the maximum speed for economic reasons?

    I believe to remember that Hannover – Würzburg is all certified for 280 km/h, but normally, they run the ICE-1/2 at 250 km/h. However, if there is a delay to catch up, the driver is allowed to do 280.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    @max
    I think Chinese HSR speeds were lowered following that horrific accident, nominally for safety reasons (i.e., they realized maybe some corners had been cut….). Maybe economics was a factor too though…

    joe Reply:

    Travel time might have been shorter still, but for controversy over the train’s speed. Journeys of 350km an hour had been promised. Then a system-wide slowdown to around 300km an hour was announced. At the time, the government insisted this was to save energy. It strenuously denied that safety was a factor, despite concerns from Chinese and foreign engineers. But now an official at China’s Railway Electrification Bureau admits the slowdown was based on concerns over safety after all.

    http://www.economist.com/node/18898016

    Eric Reply:

    Sad. HSR in China might have been less safe than HSR in other countries, but it was still much safer than driving in China. And now it’s less competitive.

    KT Reply:

    @max
    FASTECH 360 (Prototype E5 and E6) was tested at 405 Km/hr max for the 360 km/hr operation.

    Also, operating max speed of E5 and E6 is 320 km/hr, not 330 km/hr. To clarify the post above, 330km/hr is a noise level of FASTECH360 approximately equal to that of the preceding commercial train (E2) at the maximum operating speed (275km/hr).

    Miles Bader Reply:

    @Eric
    It is sad, but given China’s reputation for corruption and poor quality in such projects, maybe it’s just amazing that they did as well as they did. …and even at reduced speed, it’s still vastly safer, quicker, and more reliable than driving…

    Roland Reply:

    Here is one: http://www.corvetteblogger.com/2015/03/26/video-199-mph-in-a-2015-corvette-z06/

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    Chuo Maglev = first generation technology.
    TGV record train = High performance race car in tightly controlled conditions.
    The comparison is like comparing the top speed of a Curtis JN-4 Jenny to the latest Ferrari F-1 racer and proving that cars are faster than planes.

    Zorro Reply:

    TGV HSR is proven Technology and takes less money to build than Maglev, Maglev will not be built until Superconducting can be done at temps up to at least 150F, so far that isn’t possible.

    Maglev is not practical currently, otherwise China would be laying Maglev tracks all over China..

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Maglev is being built (the post you replied to even mentioned it by name, the Chuo Shinkansen)…. ><

    [Whether it makes sense for other locations is of course a separate issue.]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    they are still arguing over what route it’s going to take and how it’s going to financed.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    @andirondacker
    The route selection and financing was settled some years ago.

    …and now:
    http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/high-speed/jr-central-starts-construction-on-chuo-maglev.html

    Alon Levy Reply:

    TGV with 2 power cars and 8 coaches is proven technology. That TGV speed record is from a train with 2 power cars and 3 coaches, so that the power cars are a majority of the train by mass.

    Clem Reply:

    The coaches were powered too! Two prototype AGV bogies were fitted.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Oh, right, I forgot about that! I misremembered that the train was only 50% powered.

    Eric Reply:

    So run revenue trains with 5 power cars and 5 coaches. The extra power cars are cheap compared to the 574kmh ROW you’d have to build to run the trains on.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, conventional 500 km/h trains would require new ROW, too. SNCF picked a straight segment for the 574 km/h run; the LGV curves designed for 300 km/h are incapable of supporting 500 km/h, so new ROW is required. If anything, the ROW requirement is worse for conventional trains than for maglev trains, which both tilt heavily (at least, Transrapid does – not sure about JR-Maglev) and can climb much steeper grades.

    Reedman Reply:

    I think you meant “until Superconducting can be done at temps up to at least 150K”.

    Eric Reply:

    Superconductors have been found at up to 138K. I don’t think it is practical to make them in large quantities yet though.

    Zorro Reply:

    No I said up to temps of 150F, and I did mean what I typed out, that would be about 1,216.64 degrees Kelvin.

    Eric Reply:

    150F=65.6C=338.7K
    This is a bit hotter than a summer day in Riyadh :)
    I assume you mean that the superconductor can operate without any cooling whatsoever, even on a hot day.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    So, we might have to take the ‘terrain’ to the terrain!

  6. Useless
    Mar 26th, 2015 at 11:31
    #6

    Alstom announces the next-generation TGV model ordered by SNCF. 40 sets for 1 billion euros, or 25 million euros per train set. Seems that SNCF will stick with TGV and TGV will stay as Alstom’s primary bullet train product, instead of AGV which was never adopted by SNCF.

    http://www.connexionfrance.com/TGV-Alstom-SNCF-iDTGV-Ouigo-train-16778-view-article.html

    Eric Reply:

    interested to see what the final trainsets will look like.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    That must be olds (the opposite of news); the order for 40 Euroduplex TGVs was set almost 2 years ago, and the order for the next generation of TGV from 2018 was given then as well. In fact, I could not find anything newer then from September 2013 searching the French sites.

    I will, of course, stand corrected if newer references come up.

    EJ Reply:

    SNCF, for capacity reasons, is committed to duplex trains on core TGV routes, and Alstom has, for now limited the AGV development to single level train sets. They’ve brought up the idea of a bi-level AGV, but have never produced a prototype, and seem content to focus on the export market for the AGV. The question, at least in Europe, would seem to be if it can compete with the Siemens Velaro platform, what with Velaro derivatives in use in Germany, Spain, Russia, China, etc. The next generation Eurostar trains are also Velaro-derived.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    It is likely that a bi-level AGV would become too heavy, with a maximum allowable weight of 68 tonnes. The duplex are borderline as well, but they have shorter carbodies, and no “technical” equipment.

    However, the Velaro also has some issues, as the trainsets are around 2 years delayed (but I don’t know who is most to be blamed… DB, Siemens or EBA).

    EJ Reply:

    It is likely that a bi-level AGV would become too heavy, with a maximum allowable weight of 68 tonnes.

    That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense to me. Surely it would be easier to keep an EMU under the weight limit vs. the traditional TGV format, given that the driving weight is spread throughout the train, rather than concentrated in the power cars?

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Actually, not really. The reason is that in modern configurations, one or two trucks have one complete drive train, which includes a transformer, rectifier, converter, plus all the auxiliary equipment. Sure, it may be more in the 4 MW rating, as opposed to the TGV locomotives with 8 MW. But that does add considerable weight. A full length (26.5 m) bi-level car weighs empty around 50 t. Then you fill it with 125 people, giving another 10 t. That means you have about 8 t additional leeway for the drive train(s). And that is pretty tight.

    I tried to get the actual weight of a KISS motor car, but a quick search did not come up with any usable numbers. But just FWIW, the FLIRT 3 has 20 t axle load on the driving trucks.

    OTOH, if you have a dedicated power car, you won’t have the payload, and that gives you enough reserves for the higher power equipment, plus all the signalling equipment (which also has its weight).

    EJ Reply:

    I tbought the axle load limit for the TGV was 17t? Hence 68t for the power car?

    TGV sets have Jacobs bogies, so that means to axles per car, so a 50t bi-level car would well exceed that, even when empty.

    EJ Reply:

    to=two

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    Got here two late to add my own 2 cents’ worth!

    Max Wyss Reply:

    It just gets there (17 t axle load), because the carbodies are shorter (around 18 m). However, they did squeeze out as much weight as they could, just to not get over the maximum load.

    Clem Reply:

    Weight saving on the TGV Duplex already resembles aerospace projects. The seat shells are made of magnesium (lighter than aluminum). The reason that Alstom hasn’t produced a bilevel AGV is simple, such a train is not feasible at a commercially feasible price point.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    And yet …
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E4_Series_Shinkansen
    Yes, no longer in production.
    Yes, different service market.
    However, 1990s technology, which ought to have been bettered.
    Yes, 240kmh max speed (because that was the service need) (Compare 320kmh TGV Duplex)
    Only 6.7MW power for 400m set (compare 18.6MW for 2x 200m TGV Duplex “Dasye”)
    But … 428t!!! for 400m set (TGVDuplex x2 760t)
    16 powered axles (same as 2x TGVDuplex)
    15.7 kW/t (TGVDuplex 24.4kW/t)
    1634 seats (yes, some in tight commuter configurations) (TGVDuplex x2 1032 seats)
    0.26t/seat!!! (TGVDuplex 0.74t/seat)

    The low total E4 service weight and the low weight/seat are truly extraordinary.

    Hmmmm but maybe (guessing!) is might be substantially in power system equipment weights.
    If one omits the 4 x 67.8t TGV locomotives per 400m, weight/seat comes down to 0.11t, which is indeed impressive.

    But looked at the other way, if one coupled on 2.6 TGV Duplex locomotives to a Shinkansen E4 “Max” to make up for the comparative power deficit of 11.86MW, the frankenstein train mass would be 601.3t, still far short of the 760t of two Duplex sets.

    Or another very rough comparison: lose the two middle middle Duplex locomotives and replace them by two trailers, something like the concept “TGV grande capacité” but without the necessary extra powered axles. That would subtract 9.3MW of power and about 75t and from the train while adding 176 seats, meaning 485t (heavier than E4 Max 428t), 9.3MW (higher than E4 6.7MW), 1208 seats (E4 1634!), 19.1kW/t (not shabby, and above E4 15.7kW/t), but at 0.40t/seat it’s still 54% above E4 max.

    This last comparison makes me think there might be some Hitachi/Kawasaki “aerospace” technology which has not been exploited by Alstom, despite not exactly being apples-to-apples comparison, and despite different crash standards, comfort levels, etc. (I also might have made some arithmetic errors.)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Richard, 428 t is for a 200-meter set, not a 400-meter set. Single-level Shinkansen weigh about 360 t for a 200-m set, and twice that for a 400-m set.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Alon, I am an idiot. Take away my Wikipedia browsing card.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Not commercially feasible?

    Given that nearly all buyers of their product are monopsony’s in foreign countries, it’s more that the buyers can’t create the circumstance for HSR that would make it commercially viable.

    As an example, a double decker AGV could work well on the route Acela serves between NY and DC…both because of frequency needs and total population and demand. But the upgrades and other adjustments (like staffing) while not commercial decisions, make it impossible to embrace that technology yet.

    Michael Reply:

    Maybe first Acela could run longer trains, or are the platforms only 700′?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, the platforms are all longer. If I’m not mistaken, they’re all at least 16 cars south of New York, or capable of being lengthened to 16 cars easily, going back to PRR days. The Acela can run double traction south of New York and single traction north of New York – it has the equipment already. But it would require 100% equipment availability at the peak and short turnaround times.

  7. Reality Check
    Mar 26th, 2015 at 14:15
    #7

    Another Reason to Love California High-Speed Rail: It’s Drought-Friendly
    Despite what critics say, the project will encourage higher-density growth—and save precious water over the long term.

    synonymouse Reply:

    This page of disinformation brought to you by your local developer and the pols he owns.

    Zorro Reply:

    Unless you have something to back up that dubious claim Cyno, that claim makes you look like a LIAR..

    Zorro Reply:

    Roberts was one of several to write in to frame high-speed rail, and the development that is certain to accompany it, in the context of the the state’s historic drought. The American Farmland Trust and agricultural representatives in the SJV have made similar arguments. The drought is likely to last for years, foreshadowing even more devastating dry spells in the future. Does high-speed rail—a money-hungry, high-intensity mega-project—spell sustainability, from a water perspective?

    Yes, it does. To pan high-speed rail (HSR) on the basis of the drought is short-sighted. Low-density development uses more water than high-density development does. HSR will encourage the latter, and not just in terms of accommodating induced growth.

    Here are some things to understand about the San Joaquin Valley, where HSR construction recently kicked off. Even without the fancy train, tremendous population growth is certain to occur there. Currently, the SJV’s eight counties are home to 4 million people, a number that’s projected to growth to more than 7.5 million by 2050. It’s the fastest-growing region in California, whose overall population (currently 38.8 million) is expected to grow by about 12 million in the same time-frame. Also of note: the SJV is also overwhelmingly farmland, grows the vast majority of America’s produce, and plenty of the world’s. It is also among the absolute poorest regions in the country.

    Those millions of people coming to the SJV are going to set roots somewhere. No matter what, hundreds of thousands of acres of land that are currently used by agriculture are going to be sold to developers and become urbanized. And if California had no big infrastructure project planned, and merely allowed historical patterns to unfold, urbanization of the Valley would continue in its current shape: sprawling, low-density development, with greater quantities of farmland swallowed up. Think “ranchettes,” the bane of every SJV farmer’s existence: non-farming, suburban-style homes on ten-plus-acre parcels. A 2005 report from the Public Policy Institute of California projected an idea (not a precise forecast) of what urbanization might look like by 2040, if the SJV developed in business-as-usual form:

    Fresno, where HSR construction broke ground, adopted a new “smart growth” general plan in December that will corral half of the city’s future growth within the existing city limits, supporting more people per acre. Fresno is the SJV’s largest city, and will hopefully set a precedent for other towns by tightly regulating how development unfurls. But according to research from the HSR authority, market forces will also help encourage increased density and a mix of land uses near rail stations.

    Urban sprawl, intuitively, affects water consumption. Typically, low-density development (with the large lot sizes and more landscaping) results in higher total water use as well as higher per capita water use. And not only does sprawl contribute to traffic, air pollution, and lower health outcomes, it also threatens the quality and availability of water itself. A report from Smart Growth America writes, “As the impervious surfaces that characterize sprawling development—roads, parking lots, driveways, and roofs—replace meadows and forests, rain no longer can seep into the ground to replenish our aquifers.”

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The harsh reality is like BART… HSR can either encourage density or sprawl. It’s all about the land use around the stations.

    Zorro Reply:

    Correct, Passenger Rail Transit and HSR no has control of land use, Cities and Counties are responsible for issuing permits to build, so developers can build, the State Government has no control over land use that is not State owned land.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Not quite, the MTA in Los Angeles, for example has comprehensive transit planning authority in the County.

    It is true that in California, cities have almost total autonomy in zoning decisions, and the State and others have to resort to asking nicely. But it is also true that blowing apart settled neighborhoods with big construction is also not preferable for cities, and they have an incentive to also work with transit districts.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Zorro,

    There is no such thing as smart growth or better growth; only more growth or less growth.

    Same for population – no smarter or better growth; only more or less. Unless I guess there are some smarter or better people you would rather have more of than the other kind.

    No more growth at Palmdale nor in the Valley – that’s the best plan. We were better off when they both were smaller.

    Growthmongers like Jerry Brown are the gauleiters of Global Warming.

    Zorro Reply:

    Cyno, that is not a State Responsibility, it’s called local control.. Local is Counties and Cities, that is where permits to build come from. Don’t like that? Take a hike.

    Zorro Reply:

    It’s also called Zoning, that is a County or City issue, that’s not a State problem, Cyno.

    Zorro Reply:

    Zoning

    The general plan is a long-range policy document that looks at the future of the community. A zoning ordinance is the local law that spells out the immediate, allowable uses for each piece of property within the community. In all counties, general law cities, and the city of Los Angeles, zoning must comply with the general plan. This rule does not apply to charter cities.

    The purpose of zoning is to implement the policies of the general plan.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Gauleiters, Syn? Really?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yeah, it’s harsh. I thought about it but Jerry really pisses me off. What a disappointment – he went to work for the Tejon Ranch Co.

    What we have is what I term a soft dictatorship; my neighbor calls it totalitarian democracy. All the power is in the hands of a tiny group of insiders – your solicited input goes right into the circular file. The decisions have already been made in the current version of the smokey back room. You know they have already decided how to proceed at Sta. Clarita – it is just a question of how best to ram it thru.

    I guess we should be grateful – and indeed I am – that we live under an oligarchy that lets us spout off harmlessly. They don’t kick the door in, drag us out, and shoot us in the street. That’s for the progeny.

    I guess I am really bummed today with that German pilot thing. Looks like some schizzy spontaneous compulsion to destruction. Really sad. If there were prescription drugs involved some pharmaceuticals could get sued. Nobody can afford to go on the couch, I guess.

    Harry Reid’s gone. But his state deserves somebody more interested in the residents than the casino moguls and their boondoggles.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Wake me up when they arrest several hundred people for (collectively) murdering 13 people, finding them all guilty, and executing them.

    (No, even that’s not Nazi Germany; it’s another regime that’s been in the news for wasting obscene amounts of money on an urban infrastructure boondoggle.)

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sorry to be detached – the news has become more depressing to me of late and I have cut back to the business sites – but it to took me a while to recognize Mexico.

    In any event we’re are not in one of those 3rd world hellholes as yet and I don’t want to be ungrateful for that. It really can get worse.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Stasis is not an option, @syno, it isn’t even possible.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yeah, it is; it is just going to be rather static and frustrating for the young.

    Otherwise think “The 100”. I like that show; the teenagers in detention are smarter than the adults and expendable. The writers don’t hesitate to knock off main characters. Life is cheap when cancellation looms.

  8. datacruncher
    Mar 26th, 2015 at 16:58
    #8

    The new Census Bureau population estimates were released today.

    Their estimate is that California grew by 1.5 million new residents in the four years between 2010 and 2014. That is the net population growth (including out migration). Estimates by county at:

    datacruncher Reply:

    Link to the estimates is at

    datacruncher Reply:

    http://factfinder.census.gov/faces/tableservices/jsf/pages/productview.xhtml?src=bkmk

    Reality Check Reply:

    O/T: Speaking of immigration, check this out:
    200 Years of U.S. Immigration, in 1 Colorful Infographic

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I hate this infographic with such passion.

    First, it only measures people who get permanent residency, which is a problem because after Reagan’s amnesty there was a wave of people rapidly getting permanent residency who should have counted in the statistics of earlier decades.

    Second, having the chart center-aligned and not down-aligned is stupid, especially when they’re labeling it from down upward.

    Third, the 2009-13 statistics are not adjusted for the fact that it’s a shorter period than the rest, so it looks like there was a collapse in immigration to the US.

    This is a good reminder that PR people can foist their social media marketing upon us even when the actual product is terrible.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    But that’s not the real reason you hate it…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You flunked telepathy class.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Oh really? How many years do I have to read your comments before I can detect your gut reactions?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    A few more, presumably. Why would I have any political disagreement with the chart? It’s not showing any trend I’ve said doesn’t happen or is unimportant. And if you read what I say on Twitter (occasionally), or what I say on Facebook (which is nothing, because I ragequit six months ago over the feed manipulation algorithm) you’ll see that my opinion of clickbait and glossy charts is perfectly in line with this.

    Sometimes, a spade is just a spade. Or something.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I guess so.

  9. Reality Check
    Mar 26th, 2015 at 20:29
    #9

    O/T: Hey look! Denmark-Germany link to be longest immersed road-rail tunnel in the world!

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I saw that too…and wondered…just how is that such a game-changer?

    EJ Reply:

    What don’t you understand? The linked article actually explains it pretty well.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I understand it would change how people travel from Scandanavia and Germany…but not many people live in Scandanavia…

    TomA Reply:

    But there are alot of Germans. Presumably the traffic flows both ways.

    ComradeFrana Reply:

    it will also save road freight 35+ minutes and rail freight a 160 km detour

    Reality Check Reply:

    Anyone remember how much Bay Area-Sac’to detour and how many HSR network track miles Altamont saves over Pacheco?

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    depends on how you measure it but it is probably over 100 miles

    Clem Reply:

    Altamont saves about 50 route-miles of HSR. Details here.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Only if you believe nothing anywhere any time will ever be done to anything anywhere after the grand and glorious Altamont is built. There’s a much shorter route to Sacramento.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    One can argue that the east west miles are also a waste as Altamont would be built anyway.

    Clem Reply:

    The Capitol Corridor would be extremely expensive to upgrade to HSR. It requires a far more complex new Transbay tunnel and cuts through extensive urbanized areas with difficult topography. Altamont, like Tejon, is a cost-saving way to build as few track-miles as possible while still serving the vast majority of California travel markets. Of course not everyone agrees with this optimization goal, least of all those who are paid by the mile.

    Joey Reply:

    There’s a much shorter route to Sacramento.

    In the same sense that NY-Buffalo is shorter via Scranton than via Albany.

    Joe Reply:

    The Santa Clara County bypass alignment will cool off Silicon Valley expansion.

    Save Palo Alto from nasty trains while fully funding caltrain electrification to tamien San jose because entitlement and privilege.

    Joey Reply:

    Joe, if I didn’t know better I’d say you’re running out of legitimate arguments…

    Neil Shea Reply:

    The Bay Area leads the state in population growth because of our good, well paying Silicon Valley / Tech jobs. People move for good jobs. So given that it makes lots on sense to override the voter-approved route to bypass the South Bay. Right. Then Clem can more easily travel between SF to Sac as he works his tech job.

    Reminds me of when the 49ers were looking to relocate their stadium where they could sell a lot of luxury boxes to major employers (and tickets to well paid workers) so they hoped to locate in Livermore or Sac or SF to leverage the major employers there but somehow ended up in Santa Clara County. Couldn’t sell Lux boxes to major employers like the State of Calif, the County of Sac, or the Sac Unified School District. And they left on the table business with major Livermore employers Wente and Concannon Vineyards.

    But one reason could justify changing the voter approved route to bypass the state’s leading economic hub — if we could avoid inconveniencing Eliz Alexis and her neighbors. As Mastercard says — Priceless.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Of course not everyone agrees with this optimization goal

    People defined optimum differently and got their wish to be on the mainline instead of long BART ride from the nearest station. They didn’t agree with you. Get over it.
    Unless your goal is to become a bitter foamer. If you’d like tips on how to become one I suggest the 300+ page long thread on the effects of the hurricanes of 1955 and the formation of Conrail, on Railroad.net. It’s quite fascinating how they can beat dead horses until they are liquefied.

    It requires a far more complex new Transbay tunnel and cuts through extensive urbanized areas with difficult topography.

    So? Unless you think nothing nowhere is never gonna get built once the grand and glorious Altamont makes doing anything else anywhere unnecessary forever.

    In the same sense that NY-Buffalo is shorter via Scranton than via Albany.

    Not by much. It squiggles all over the place to get around the mountains. It may have been the shortest route to Buf-Fa-Lo but it wasn’t the fastest.
    Trains used to run between Washington DC and Boston via Poughkeepsie. It’s a spectacular rail trail now. The so is the shortest route between New York and Boston. The second shortest doesn’t have through service anymore and the third longest one is the one with twice an hour service. Unless you think nothing nowhere is never gonna get built once the grand and glorious Altamont makes doing anything else anywhere unnecessary forever, the shortest route might get upgraded someday.

    Joe Reply:

    The HSR Alignment is Pacheco. End of argument.

    Bypassing Santa Clara County is a key feature of Altamont. Ask any of the Palo Alto NIMBYs.

    Joey Reply:

    It may have been the shortest route to Buf-Fa-Lo but it wasn’t the fastest.

    And Altamont may not be the shortest route to Sacramento but it is the fastest.

    Bypassing Santa Clara County is a key feature of Altamont.

    Not necessarily. If San Jose is worried about being bypassed then I think it would be reasonable to say that the SJ branch would be built before the SF branch. Fremont-SJ is an easy, straight shot too, which means that service would be up and running sooner.

    Lewellan Reply:

    “Expensive Capitol Corridor upgrades to HSR also require a complex new Transbay Tunnel that cuts through urban areas and difficult topography. Altamont and Tejon are cost-saving routes that build least track-miles possible (to serve) the Majority of California travel markets/patrons.
    Not everyone agrees with this optimization goal, least of all those paid by the mile to build.”

    Somehow Clem, I thought you’d appreciate the expression simplified.
    Uhhhh, Comments on Plan B for Bertha yet? Soon? Hey dude. Duh. Seattle Tunnel atrocity?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Cap Corridor does not go to SF now and does not need a new Transbay Tunnel — as Mr. Allen will tell you, Oakland reaches Much of SF in minutes via a crap ton of BART trains. Meanwhile for future upgraded NorCal routes it’s interesting that all the Sac boosters want to travel via Livermore and Tracy rather than upgrading the existing direct, much shorter CapCor route that also serves Davis, Fairfield and Vallejo. I bet those cities have a lot more potential riders than the towns of Livermore and Tracy.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Why all the hating on Davis and Fairfield?

    Joey Reply:

    as Mr. Allen will tell you, Oakland reaches Much of SF in minutes via a crap ton of BART trains

    And as Mr. Allen will perpetually refuse to acknowledge, those trains have zero additional capacity at rush hour

    upgrading the existing direct, much shorter CapCor route

    It’s shorter, but there’s quite a lot of difficult terrain in the way, not to mention the fact that it’s owned by Union Pacific, who will not allow additional trains, higher speeds, or electrification on the existing tracks.

    I bet those cities have a lot more potential riders than the towns of Livermore and Tracy.

    It’s possible they do, but new bay area – Sacramento services via Altamont does not mean canceling the existing Capitol Corridor. There are numerous areas of the Bay Area which are also poorly served by the Capitol Corridor route (chief among them San Jose).

    The bottom line is this: if it were Capitol Corridor vs Altamont or Altamont vs Pacheco in a vacuum then you could make a reasonable argument against Altamont. But Altamont is uniquely positioned to be able to serve both markets – putting the tracks there increases the usefulness vastly for the amount of money spent. It’s able to provide Bay Area-SoCal and Bay Area-Sacramento service AND reduces the cost of Phase 2 HSR by shortening the amount of track that has to be built to Sacramento.

    Eric Reply:

    Capital Corridor does NOT have a terrain problem. It needs barely any straightening to be able to run one-hour Oakland-Sacramento trains, which would be fast enough for pretty much anyone’s needs.

    Of course, to be useful this requires another bay crossing, but that’s needed anyway.

    I can’t imagine that UP could not be brought to sell or share this ROW for an amount of money that would be very small compared to HSR construction costs.

    Lewellan Reply:

    Says Eric, “Oakland-Sacramento electrified trainsets are fast enough for most needs,
    but to be most useful requires another bay crossing.”

    C’mon, please get back to Altamont
    and BART to Livermore as if!
    And San juaquins to Gilroy?
    This Hyperloop will NOT happen.
    Duhrrr-rr-rrR.
    HSR is on the way.
    COUNT on it.

    Reality Check Reply:

    More grist for the Pacheco vs. Altamont mill:
    Traffic surges on I-580 and Highway 101 ‘gateways’ into Bay Area

    […]

    Every weekday, 587,000 vehicles pass into or out of the region from neighboring counties, the highest level in seven years and a 34 percent increase since 1992.

    The Metropolitan Transportation Commission says traffic from outside the Bay Area on 580-205 is poised to surpass I-80 within the next five years, given rapid housing and job growth along that corridor. In the past three years gateway traffic on I-80 has fallen 5 percent, while traffic on 580-205 has grown 9 percent, with many of those motorists heading to Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton.

    “The Tri-Valley area is a much larger employment center,” the Metropolitan Transportation Commission’s John Goodwin explained. “Indeed, very few of them actually head to the region’s core for work.”

    […]

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Capital Corridor does NOT have a terrain problem.

    Have you ever visited Northern California? Even in Google Maps?

    It needs barely any straightening to be able to run one-hour Oakland-Sacramento trains

    Your ideas are intriguing to me and I wish to subscribe to your newsletter.

    I can’t imagine that UP could not be brought to sell or share this ROW for an amount of money that would be very small compared to HSR construction costs.

    You have quite the imagination!

    Joey Reply:

    It needs barely any straightening

    The part that needs to be straightened is Richmond-Martinez, which runs right along the Carquinez Strait and has basically zero room for straightening. The more direct route has urbanization then hills.

    to be able to run one-hour Oakland-Sacramento trains

    One hour travel time would imply average speeds in excess of 80 mph, which means top speeds much higher than that for much of the route

    I can’t imagine that UP could not be brought to sell or share this ROW for an amount of money that would be very small compared to HSR construction costs.

    It’s their main route to and from the port of Oakland, so they certainly wouldn’t let go of it easily. They have stated specifically that they will not allow greater passenger train frequencies or speeds on that corridor. The only way you’re going to do this is to build an entirely new ROW for the entire route.

    And sure, all of this is doable, given some non trivial amount of money. But by building HSR over Altamont, you improve travel times to Sacramento for the lower 3/4 of the Bay Area without spending any additional money (in fact saving money because there’s less track to be built to Sacramento).

    Joe Reply:

    In 1992, 62,000 made the windy drive over the hill on Highway 17 each day. In 2013, the most recent year for which figures were available, it was down 13 percent, to 54,000. Meanwhile traffic on 101 from the Hollister, Gilroy and Morgan Hill areas jumped 37 percent, from 38,000 to 52,000, and within a couple of years will surpass Highway 17 volumes.

    At the crux: housing. It’s way cheaper to live in bedroom communities in San Joaquin or San Benito counties.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Long Commute to Silicon Valley Increasingly the Norm for Many

    It is 3:10 a.m. when Ronnie Thomas rolls out of bed in his Stockton apartment. He brushes his teeth, takes his vitamins, throws on a bright orange reflective jacket, kisses his sleeping wife and 6-month-old son and hops on his bike. This is the beginning of Thomas’s 80-mile commute to Stanford University.

    Thomas, 55, is a Stanford University Dining employee. To get to and from Stanford, Thomas has to take a bike, a train and a bus. Monday through Friday, Thomas spends 16 hours away from home and treks a total commute of nearly six hours.

    […]

    “In regards to my commute, it’s not like I am isolated,” he said. “I am not doing anything special. There are hundreds and hundreds of other people doing the same thing I do, every day.”

    […]

    Silicon Valley’s tech boom has increased employment opportunities for low-income service workers even more than for programmers in San Mateo and Santa Clara counties, compounding an already punishing shortage of affordable housing in the area.

    “One tech job creates approximately five service jobs”

    […]

    Neil Shea Reply:

    All three gateways to the Bay Area are needed. Pacheco will be the new HSR route for intercity service to the CV and SoCal per the voter- and legislature-approved plan. But CapCor and Altamont certainly need improvement as commute services — with commuter level pricing and station spacing. This is needed to relieve the traffic on I-80 and I-580 as the region grows.

    Happily Altamont is identified in the HSR planning as eligible for support as a commuter overlay, and regional leaders are working to make investments in this route. Certainly CapCor merits investments as well, with commute level pricing and full service to the population centers along the corridor including Vallejo, Fairfield, Vacaville and Davis. Similarly the 580 corridor needs affordable service that makes all relevant stops in Tracy, Livermore, Pleasanton, Great America, etc.

    This rush hour traffic is mostly NOT generated by trips to SoCal and the CV, and is not resolved by higher cost, sparse station intercity HSR service. It’s not either-or.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Altamont justifies more than the current unambitious token ACEforward plan. Look at the timelines and how little it hopes to deliver. What sad joke.

    joe Reply:

    Altamont has BART. It also has Jeff Denham trying hard to screw the state HSR rail plan.

    FWIW, Ronnie isn’t going to afford a daily HSR ticket to jetpack from his Stockton apt to Redwood City and transfer onto Caltrain/Stanford or Stockton/San Jose Caltrain.

    Ronnie needs a commuter rail crossing in the South Bay running to stockton. ACE Dumbarton bridge to the RCW HSR station and ACE to San Jose HSR station.

    Meanwhile the fastest fix for the Ronnie’s is to simply restore South County Caltrain service to 2004 levels and two daily trains to/from south county to Palo Alto/Stanford to four to six. The article shows how much traffic growth has occurred and levels of service are too low to attract ridership. That is the other low cost area and along a direct line to Stanford. I know because we chose here and not the east bay.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The last two paragraphs are kind of annoying.

    For one, Germany’s richest city is Munich and not Hamburg – Hamburg isn’t especially rich. It has a higher GDP per capita, entirely due to a measurement artifact: Europe reports GDP per capita per statistical region, which in Hamburg means Hamburg, excluding surrounding suburbs, but in Munich means the entire region of Upper Bavaria, including all but the most distant suburbs; income earned by commuters from outside the region counts in GDP while those commuters don’t count as capita, inflating those regions’ GDP per capita, and this inflates Hamburg more than Munich. If one instead looks at per capita income, Munich is 20% richer.

    The other, broader issue is that Germany is trying to make Berlin the center of the universe, despite decades of prior planning. Yes, it’s spending a lot of money on the internal equivalent of a cohesion fund, but even more than that, it’s building megaprojects in Berlin, like the new airport, targeting intercontinental travelers who don’t really need cohesion money. It’s moving a lot of symbolic infrastructure to Berlin, but also building stuff that’s supposed to be useful, and isn’t.

    In terms of general service within Germany, the Fehmarn route hits more population centers better, giving Copenhagen 4.5-hour service to Dortmund and somewhat worse than 5-hour service to Dusseldorf and Frankfurt. Internationally, it’s the same. Poland’s had good economic growth recently, but it’s still losing population to emigration to the West. More to the point, Warsaw and Katowice are both far from the German rail network (the Polish one is nothing to write home about); the only part of Poland that would at all benefit from a Rostock route is Szczecin. At the other end, there’s the Netherlands, and Amsterdam is closer to Hamburg than any major Polish city other than Szczecin is to Berlin – except of course the travel time from Hamburg to Amsterdam is 5 hours, a straight-line distance of 360 kilometers.

    jimsf Reply:

    sounds like germany is trying to be like france, where paris has been the center of the universe forever.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Maybe? I don’t think Berlin’s imperial ambition are that high. It’s just trying to be on the map. Right now the economic core of Germany is Munich, Stuttgart, Frankfurt, and whatever is left of the Ruhr area after decades of deindustrialization. Berlin wants to be at least on a par with those cities, no matter what the cost is.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Berlin is just intimidated by the fact that West Germany is closer to Paris and Brussels than itself. Other than Prussian heritage, there’s no good reason to keep the capital in Berlin going forward.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    Reply to Joey 3/30 1:26 am above: Not all BART trans-Bay trains are ten cars long. BART can enhance capacity when its new car fleet arrives just by running longer trains.

    Joey Reply:

    The system is at crush loads currently. There’s more than enough latent demand to eat up any marginal capacity increase from adding 1-2 cars some trains. Rush hour trains are always going to be too full to accommodate any significant number of intercity passengers.

  10. Donk
    Mar 27th, 2015 at 00:37
    #10

    Article on Tejon Ranch and adjacent Wind Wolves Preserve.

    http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-wind-wolves-20150327-story.html

  11. les
    Mar 27th, 2015 at 12:52
    #11

    An interesting read below: “There have been 3 fires in the Chunnel in 1996, 2008 and 2015. ”

    http://www.railpac.org/2015/03/27/everybody-loves-trains-just-not-back-yard/

    Roland Reply:

    1) Wrong (5 fires, not 3): http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Channel_Tunnel_fire
    2) It would have been impossible to make the channel tunnel financially viable without freight
    http://www.businesswire.com/news/home/20150121006624/en/Groupe-Eurotunnel-SA-UK-Regulatory-Announcement-Eurotunnel#.VRc_a2ctHQx
    3) There are more people crossing the channel sitting in their cars than on Eurostar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Channel_Tunnel#Passenger_traffic_volumes.

    les Reply:

    (2014) 10.4 million eurostar passengers.

    I wonder what the projections for a tunnel in Mtns for Burbank-Palmdale would be?

    (2013) Air passengers for San Francisco, CA to Los Angeles, CA 7,733,200 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World%27s_busiest_passenger_air_routes

    It will be interesting to see what materializes given the differing dynamics.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Pre-Chunnel air traffic from London to Paris was 4.5 million, so 16 million annual passengers between LA and SF is reasonable. Add in CV traffic and high-speed commuting and this is pretty decent ridership.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    what was ferry ridership?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t know, but it has to have been less, proportionately, than SF-LA car traffic (didn’t you say the modal split on LA/SF was 50-50?).

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    apparently not

    http://ferrycrossings.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/passenger-figures-port-of-d.jpg

    auto passengers on sf-la may be higher than 50/50 (according to latest)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Are these London-Paris numbers, or all UK-France numbers combined? Because if it’s the latter, it’s like comparing HSR ridership projections with the number of people in cars on I-5.

    Roland Reply:

    The passenger traffic across the English Channel is around 40 million passengers/year divided nearly equally between Eurostar, Air, Eurotunnel shuttles and ferries (+/-10 million each).
    With regards to a Burbank to Palmdale tunnel, it is unclear why anyone would consider building such a thing for the same reason that Birmingham (same size as San Diego) will connect to HS2 via a spur.

    les Reply:

    uh?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The London-Paris air market is 2 million a year. To get to 10 million air passengers you need to look at all traffic from the UK to Continental Europe, including city pairs that are well beyond HSR range, like London-Berlin.

  12. Keith Saggers
    Mar 29th, 2015 at 05:46
    #12

    With regards to a Burbank to Palmdale tunnel, it is unclear why anyone would consider building such a thing for the same reason that Birmingham (same size as San Diego) will connect to HS2 via a spur
    Explain

    Edward Reply:

    He said that it is unclear why anyone would consider building for the same reason.

    That makes sense. The reasons in the two cases are totally unrelated.

    I do have to admit that the grammar structure was unusual, if correct.

    Roland Reply:

    The Governor’s father chose the shortest path across the Tehachapis for the aqueduct, so an alignment parallel to the aqueduct may be a good place to start and should be very attractive to freight from day one. That should take care of the Bakersfield to Burbank via Palmdale scenic route. Phase two would be a longer tunnel starting in Newhall that would connect to the aqueduct alignment via a wye half way between Palmdale and the Tehachapis. At that point, Palmdale would be on a spur that would eventually connect to Las Vegas.
    I hope that the Birmingham/HS2 analogy makes more sense now.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Freight – i.e. class ones – does not like 3% gradients and wants diesel.

    The firing of Van Ark established the primacy of high desert commute operations. Tunnels eliminate possible commute station locations and speed is not that important. So quasi base tunnels at Sta. Clarita unlikely. BART 80mph good enough.

    All you have to do is vacate Prop 1a to drop speed concerns; and that has been pretty much accomplished by inertia and indifference.

  13. Emmanuel
    Mar 29th, 2015 at 11:51
    #13

    Musk appears to have the hype of all the Silicon Valley hipsters on his side. Let him build it. I bet you all we will ever see is a test track and that’s it.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    On the other hand, Musk may succeed so phenomenally well with his Hyperloop that it will completely overshadow the success he’s already had with his TESLA automobiles!

    Miles Bader Reply:

    … but this is extremely unlikely, as all the evidence so far points to Hyperloop as being a very bad transportation system that Musk just tossed out without much thought.

    He has no intent of developing Hyperloop into a real system… Rather, his reasons for proposing it seem to have been (1) saving his ego (he got a lot of unexpected press about an offhand comment on the subject, and didn’t want to look like he had just been bullshitting), and (2) maybe derail CAHSR (both because it’s a competitor to Tesla, and simply because he seems to be pretty firmly in the suburban-car-guy mold)…

  14. morris brown
    Mar 29th, 2015 at 13:16
    #14

    The Sac Bee today has a pretty long opinion piece from Dan Walters:

    It certainly delivers some of the truths about the myths that Morales and Richard continually spread about the virtues of the HSR project. What he exposes (again I might add not the first time this has been brought up), goes along with the “cheaper than the 3000 lane miles that will be needed if the project is not built.

    Walters is off base in speculating that the Cap and Trade funding can even come close to covering the $68 billion price tag still being propagated by the Authority, when the true cost will be well over $100 billion plus interest.

    Anyway at

    http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/dan-walters/article16538015.html

    is Dan Walter’s opinion piece:

    Opinion: California bullet train: High cost, tiny impact

    By Dan Walters

    dwalters@sacbee.com

    03/28/2015 5:00 AM

    A few years ago, when it was first proposed that state “cap-and-trade” fees on carbon emissions be used for the state’s bullet train project, the Legislature’s budget analyst questioned its legality.

    Legislative Analyst Mac Taylor’s office noted that state law requires fees to be spent on projects and programs to help the state meet 2020 emission goals.

    The bullet train would not be in operation by then, the analysis said, and construction activities would actually increase emissions.

    Gov. Jerry Brown, who sees the bullet train as a legacy, pushed hard for the cap-and-trade funds because otherwise the project had no major financing sources for anything beyond a few miles of San Joaquin Valley track.

    The Legislature ignored Taylor’s red flag, decreeing that the bullet train would automatically receive 25 percent of cap-and-trade funds. Implicitly, it accepted Brown’s assurances that the electrified bullet train would have a big effect on carbon emissions, particularly by reducing automotive travel.

    The question arose again last week, when Jeff Morales, who runs the California High-Speed Rail Authority, appeared before a state Senate committee.

    Once again, Morales assured senators that the bullet train would slash carbon emissions deeply to justify its big share of cap-and-trade funds, throwing out some impressive-sounding numbers.

    Had the senators been sharper, or more interested, they might have learned that by the CHRA’s own data, the bullet train will have almost no impact on automotive travel, the single biggest source of carbon emissions.

    This is from the CHRA’s own website:

    “By 2040, the system will reduce vehicles miles of travel in the state by almost 10 million miles of travel every day.

    “Over a 58-year period (from the start of operations in 2022 through 2080), the system will reduce auto travel on the state’s highways and roads by over 400 billion miles of travel.”

    Those are the kind of mega-numbers that bullet train advocates like to throw around, but they are actually infinitesimal.

    California motorists rack up about 330 billion miles of auto travel each year, or nearly a billion each day.

    Therefore, the bullet train’s projected reduction in driving would be scarcely 1 percent.

    Or to put it another way, the 400 billion vehicle-miles of claimed reduction over 58 years would be the equivalent of just over one year of driving.

    This tiny reduction, moreover, assumes very high train ridership. And it would come at a very high cost.

    The project’s currently projected cost is $68 billion, and with no more federal financing on the horizon, officials may seek a massive construction loan, perhaps from the federal government, and repay the debt with cap-and-trade revenue.

    It would be a lot of money, at least $100 billion with interest, to spend on an unnoticeably tiny dent in automotive travel.

    Call The Bee’s Dan Walters, (916) 321-1195. Back columns, sacbee.com/dan-walters. Follow him on Twitter @WaltersBee.

    Observer Reply:

    This is all very old stuff. It has already been all hashed out. The funds are going to HSR, and that is good.

    Joe Reply:

    Fwiw

    Ten years ago they expanded 101 ~10 miles from 4 to 8 lanes between San jose to Morgan hill.
    This expansion tanked caltrain ridership.

    This section of ten year old road now needs resurfacing and is one if the top two sections drawing complaints in the Mercury news roadshow.

    Jos Callinet Reply:

    Just HOW is Dan Walters qualified to pontificate on high speed rail – does he have a doctorate in transportation planning?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    He’s *the* voice of suspicion in Sacramento.

    Every article of his starts with the premise that Democrats are descends largely from a corrupt alliance of unions bosses and organized criminals but that they attract idealist people who are then enthralled by ambitious schemes that are not worth the paper they are printed on.

    It’s the same sort of populist Republican paranoia that has been going on in the Golden State for at least a century…but he’s articulate, sane, and careful enough with his schtick that he’s never had to change it in 30+ years…

    EJ Reply:

    That’s the best summary of Walters I’ve ever read. If you want to know what the people who loved Ronald Reagan and Pete Wilson are thinking, read Dan Walters.

    Peter Reply:

    The amusing thing about Walters’ piece is that the alternative of building more freeway lane-miles will INCREASE vehicle-miles driven at a MUCH higher cost.

    les Reply:

    Tell us something we haven’t already heard before…..boring.

    joe Reply:

    Not all traffic is equal. Traffic surges on I-580 and Highway 101 ‘gateways’ into Bay Area
    http://www.mercurynews.com/bay-area-news/ci_27809931/traffic-surges-i-580-and-highway-101-gateways

    Every weekday, 587,000 vehicles pass into or out of the region from neighboring counties, the highest level in seven years and a 34 percent increase since 1992.

    The Metropolitan Transportation Commission says traffic from outside the Bay Area on 580-205 is poised to surpass I-80 within the next five years, given rapid housing and job growth along that corridor. In the past three years gateway traffic on I-80 has fallen 5 percent, while traffic 580-205 has grown 9 percent, with many of those motorists heading to Dublin, Livermore and Pleasanton.

    HSR would reduce trips for the gateway traffic.

    And Pacheco improves Caltrain runs along a fast growing corridor.

    “The bottleneck is Masten Avenue to Cochrane Road, and the gridlock starts in the 5 a.m. hour,” said KLIV-AM traffic reporter John McLeod about the 101 surge, citing a 127,000 jump in population in Hollister, Gilroy and Morgan Hill in the past decade. “I have not seen that growth pattern in the communities served by Highway 17.”

    In 1992, 62,000 made the windy drive over the hill on Highway 17 each day. In 2013, the most recent year for which figures were available, it was down 13 percent, to 54,000. Meanwhile traffic on 101 from the Hollister, Gilroy and Morgan Hill areas jumped 37 percent, from 38,000 to 52,000, and within a couple of years will surpass Highway 17 volumes.

    and longer term

    Highway 101
    This year: Metering lights from Gilroy through Morgan Hill
    By next decade: Turning carpool lanes into express lanes from Morgan Hill to Redwood City
    By next decade: Removing left turns on 101 from Gilroy to Highway 25, rebuilding 25-101 interchange, adding second carpool lane and more Caltrain service to Gilroy
    Two to three decades out: Toll lane alternate to Highway 152 east of Gilroy

    Source: Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority

    Interstate 580
    This year: Express lanes through Tri-Valley2016: Eastbound truck climbing lane from Greenville Road to North Flynn Road
    Within decade: New ramps at 580-680.
    Down the Road: BART extension to Livermore

    morris brown Reply:

    The committee meeting that prompted Walter’s opinion piece was the March 26th, meeting of the Budget and Fiscal Review sub #2 — chair (Wolk)

    The 46 minutes dealing with High Speed Rail can be viewed at:

    http://youtu.be/XYxieksoBAU

    Input includes Lou Thompson, Morales, LAO, and finance

    The Agenda for this part of the meeting can be found at:

    http://sbud.senate.ca.gov/sites/sbud.senate.ca.gov/files/SUB2/03262015SubPtBHSR.pdf

    and has much interesting information.

    What a gifted person Morales is!!. He is asked questions, says plenty, but never answers many of them, like saying funding shortages will be addressed in the next report to the legislature, not due until 2016.

    I am a bit impressed with Chair Wolk, who is insisting the Authority provide her committee with the data to exercise its oversight duties.

    joe Reply:

    The Legislature ignored Taylor’s red flag, decreeing that the bullet train would automatically receive 25 percent of cap-and-trade funds.

    What about the LAO? Mac Taylor isn’t a lawyer.

    As LAO he opined cap and trade might not be legal. He has since STFU since the LAO Mac Taylor has zero knowledge of law and his official duties are not to offer legal advice. The State has an AG and she’s defined the project and use of funds.

    I guess that is why he was ignored.

  15. Reality Check
    Mar 29th, 2015 at 22:42
    #15

    Yet another Caltrain suicide today — this time in Sunnyvale

    EJ Reply:

    Please stop.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Which is exactly what HSR service to/from SF will have to — for hours after every time someone does this … unless someone figures out an implements a way to dramatically cut Peninsula train suicides and/or comes up with a more “efficient” post-event recovery protocol. At 10 deaths in the first quarter, we’re on track for a record-breaking 40 this year.

    EJ Reply:

    What’s your point?

    Reality Check Reply:

    I’ve listed a few, or didn’t you see?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    @Reality — last time you were saying you loved grade seps normally bud didn’t want to accelerate them to make tracks harder to reach. So what exactly are you suggesting, increasing the font on the suicide hotline phone number signs?

    I’ll give one suggestion — the Santa Clara Cty Coroner needs to get their staff out to Caltrain deaths faster than 2 hours wait. Don’t use a FIFO queue if you have a Caltrain death. Use lights & siren if need be. Station folks in North County if needed. But don’t take your sweet time while 1000’s of folks are delayed and waiting to get to work or home.

    Reality Check Reply:

    I don’t know about “love” … but I still heartily support grade separations while still doubting they’ll cut suicides by much, if at all. (With an average around 14/year, and with swings like we’re seeing this year so far, I predict it will be difficult to conclusively prove much of anything about their effects on suicides anyway … but I digress.)

    I hadn’t really given the signs (let alone font point sizes!) much thought, but I suppose making sure they’re plainly visible at likely ROW entry points is sufficient. I do recall cynically thinking they were just a “look, we’re doing everything we can!” type desperation gesture back when staff proposed and JPB approved their installation … so I’ll leave the font size debate to others.

    Yes! I do think it’s long past due to have a rapid response protocols / agreements in place with the coroner’s offices along the line in order to resume normal operations as fast as reasonably possible. Every death scene on the line I’ve ever seen (or monitored via RR & police frequencies) appears to lack any detectable sense of urgency with respect to getting trains moving again on BOTH tracks ASAP. There is rarely any mystery as to what happened or whose fault it was. No need for extensive investigations. Trains don’t sneakily swerve off the track to nail blameless bystanders. If you really need/want/demand blood, breath or pee from the engineer, then take it quickly on the scene and let the train go. Caltrain was long ago supposed to have forward (and possibly inward) facing cameras in all its cabs. That, along with event data recorders, should provide more than enough evidence for the coroner’s report (and to fend off the occasional ambulance-chaser fueled time- and money-wasting try for damages on behalf of the deceased’s survivors).

    joe Reply:

    does this work?
    http://abc7.com/news/las-transit-agencies-see-success-with-suicide-prevention/403116/
    amazing people don’t want to die_they just do not know what to do at the moment.

    Reality Check Reply:

    I don’t know, but LA’s MetroLink and Blue Line self-reported drop in suicides sounds good so far. Historically, there have been dramatic swings from year to year, so let’s see if the drop holds.

    I can’t find a reference at the moment, and I could be misremembering the number, but not long ago I believe I read where someone from Caltrain claimed that their transit police had already prevented something like 90 suicides (can’t recall over what period). I get that Caltrain is trying to paint themselves as doing as good a job as anyone can expect in trying to cut suicides, but that’s a bit hard to swallow. I have to believe they’re (mis)counting a lot of non-suicidal trespasser apprehensions or drunks near the tracks in this stat.

    Agenda item #8 on PDF page 37 of the April JPB agenda meeting package contains the following resolution including talk of quadrupling! (“redoubled”) their original effort to “address” suicides:

    A RESOLUTION EXPRESSING THE CONCERN OF THE JOINT POWERS BOARD IN LIGHT OF RECENT DEATHS BY SUICIDE ON THE CALTRAIN RIGHT OF WAY; SAFETY, PREVENTION AND EDUCATION EFFORTS; NEWS MEDIA RESTRAINT

    […]

    Over a 10-year period, there is an average of 13 deaths per year on the Caltrain right of way, the great majority of them suicides. For the same period, the three counties served by Caltrain average 300 suicides per year. With the start of 2015, there have been 10 suicide attempts on the right of way, nine resulting in death. This alarming rate of death has prompted a redoubled effort to address this difficult, complex and troubling issue.

    For several years, Caltrain has engaged in the three E’s – Enforcement, Engineering and Education – to work to address these deaths. Enforcement has included specialized training to prevent individuals from harming themselves on the right of way. Engineering has included the installation of additional fencing to limit access to the right of way. Education has included active participation by JPB staff in community wide mental health initiatives and publicizing the available resources for those in need, delivering the message that there is help and there is hope.

    […]

    Reality Check Reply:

    In an article today entitled “City looks to curb teen suicides”, the Daily Post reports Palo Alto’s City Manager is asking Caltrain to help pay for items such as motion detecting cameras, LED lighting, shrub pruning/removal, fencing and the like to help stem the city’s teen suicide-by-train problem. The article mentions that the guards posted at crossings — meant to act as a deterrent vs. grabbing people off the tracks — were costing the city $60k a year between 2009 and 2011 … but that due to expanded guard coverage that the expense has risen to $486k annually ($40,500 a month).

    I read some credible-sounding reader comment somewhere (yes, so it’s hearsay) what seems a little-known or mentioned point: something like 2/3 or more of the last few years’ worth of PA teen suicides have been of Asian descent. Not sure what to make of this, but one might wonder why that is.

    Roland Reply:

    “Student stress is directly tied to the academic arms race”:
    http://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2014/12/06/guest-opinion-its-time-to-rethink-our-high-schools

    Roland Reply:

    “I still heartily support grade separations while still doubting they’ll cut suicides by much, if at all”.
    Correct: grade sep + 2 sets of fencing + intrusion detection could not prevent this:
    http://www.kentonline.co.uk/maidstone/news/woman-37-dies-after-being-32759/

    joe Reply:

    Well if finding the counter examples pulls from the world wide population of train crossings then it’s working.

    Reality Check Reply:

    And to those who rail against Caltrain being a “death train” (and cite this as justification for BART to replace Caltrain): BART seems headed for a high death count too this year, with another one at Richmond yesterday and another at El Cerrito this morning.

  16. Neil Shea
    Mar 30th, 2015 at 17:04
    #16

    OT: SPUR calls for a ‘seamless’ Bay Area transit network
    (MTC spokesperson says we have too many agencies.)
    http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Seamless-Bay-Area-transit-system-proposed-to-6168779.php

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