HSR Revolt in Full Swing in Texas

Apr 13th, 2015 | Posted by

History is now sadly repeating itself, as opponents of the Texas HSR project are now employing the same tactics that California HSR project opponents used. Where to start?

A Texas Senate transportation committee approved a bill that would remove eminent domain authority from Texas Central:

[State Sen.] Kolkhorst said Wednesday that she didn’t want to see private landowners lose their land for a project that she believed is likely to fail.

“While I think in some countries it has worked, I don’t see a whole lot of high-speed rail across the United States,” Kolkhorst said. “I just don’t see it, and I’m not sure I want Texas to be the guinea pig on this.”…

Yet at Wednesday’s hearing, Republican senators expressed concern that a private company was going to use eminent domain authority for a for-profit venture.

“Eminent domain is probably the most horrific power that the government has, and to dole that out to individual companies that can misuse that or use it for projects that result in profits, we have to be very careful about doing that,” Hall said.

This should come as no surprise. Opposition to government use of eminent domain, as well as skepticism of HSR itself, both stem from core right-wing ideological values. As Texas is governed by the right, it makes sense that these tropes would be mobilized by HSR opponents to try and stop the train.

I’ve mentioned the Trans-Texas Corridor before in posts about the Texas HSR project. The TTC was bitterly opposed by rural and conservative Texas. Now they are seeing the TTC as less awful than Texas HSR, which is just jaw-dropping:

“This begins to make the Trans-Texas Corridor not look so bad,” Kolkhorst said. “At least you could get across the Trans-Texas Corridor in theory in certain places.”

Texas Central officials said that they were working to fight against misinformation about the project in various communities, including concerns that the rail line would block roads. They said the train line would have overpasses and underpasses throughout the route.

Land purchase concerns have forced Texas Central to agree to routing the tracks out of Montgomery County, the exurban area just north of Houston that includes The Woodlands:

Montgomery County is off the table for a high-speed rail route but neighboring counties could still see the high-speed train that would connect Houston and Dallas.

During an information meeting Saturday night in Montgomery, a handful of residents questioned former Harris County Judge and President of the Texas Central Rail Robert Eckels about his company’s plan for the rail through Texas. Eckels said the route will utilize the utility corridor which would take the rail west of Montgomery County.

Hot button issues were eminent domain of property and how the rail would affect county roads. A resident asked Eckels what would happen to property taken by eminent domain that wasn’t used noting in California, that unused land was auctioned off instead of given back to the original property owner.

“We don’t get that property,” he said. “We aren’t a California style project. If we don’t build it, it goes right back to the property owner.”

Of course, this doesn’t necessarily mean that residents in Waller County, to the west of Montgomery County, are going to be any more interested in having HSR in their own backyard. But here again we see California being trotted out as a bogeyman, only for Texas HSR to run smack into the exact same issues being thrown at the California HSR project.

Texas HSR opponents have learned to make the same arguments that their California counterparts have:

While Eckels said the project would bring tax dollars to the counties it crosses, Workman said the project is “doomed” from the beginning and will end up being supported by tax payer subsidy.

“There are no profitable high-speed rail lines in the world,” Workman said. “They are all heavily taxpayer supported.”

In fact, HSR lines are almost all profitable – unless you count the capital costs, in which case virtually no piece of transportation infrastructure anywhere is profitable. But this line of attack is fascinating because it is aiming at the heart of Texas Central’s claims that it is better than California HSR because it won’t take taxpayer money. The HSR deniers in Texas have taken a page from Karl Rove’s playbook here.

Immediately north of Waller County is Grimes County, where the County Judge (a strange Texan term for an elected chief executive of a county government) is also the co-chair of Texans Against High Speed Rail, and he’s making the same claims:

There is not one privately funded, constructed and operated high-speed rail in the world,” said Ben Leman, the county judge in Grimes County, northwest of Houston.

“The concern is obviously taxpayer subsidy,” Leman said. “It’s just a black hole. Look at Amtrak.”

The final parallel between California HSR opposition and Texas HSR opposition is that the Texan HSR deniers are now working to bring their Congressional representatives into the fight:

Senators Lois Kolkhorst and Charles Schwertner and State Representatives Kyle Kacal, John Raney and Leighton Schubert signed a letter asking Texans in Congress to oppose any application by Texas Central Railway to the Surface Transportation Board.

“For the rural counties impacted by the proposed routes, this project would only serve as a detriment. Although rural counties may benefit from a few jobs during the construction phase, the long-term costs far outweigh any temporary benefit. This project holds real consequences for rural constituents, their property and their livelihoods. Private property interests will be taken by eminent domain. Farm and ranchland, often held by families for generations, will be divided, creating a loss in access and a loss in revenue for those who rely on farming and ranching to make a living. The value of nearby land will decrease due to sight, noise and restricted use of property caused by the high-speed rail.”

Those concerns sound almost exactly like what you hear from anti-HSR folks in the San Joaquin Valley. I wonder when Jeff Denham is going to fly to rural Texas to grandstand with the locals against their HSR project.

Again, I mention all of this not to mock the Texas HSR project, which I would like to see built. I’m pointing this out to show that the California High Speed Rail Authority isn’t responsible for HSR opposition, especially in rural California. Simply by proposing an HSR route in the first place, the state offended right-wing ideological values, which tend to be most deeply held outside the cities. There was simply nothing they could do to avoid that opposition, and so far they have done a good job navigating it.

What is happening in Texas suggests that the real issue facing HSR isn’t what route is chosen or how it’s funded, but which political party is in power in the state and federal governments where an HSR route is proposed. If Republicans ran California, its HSR project would be dead. If Democrats ran Texas, its HSR project would likely be better able to overcome this opposition. If Democrats ran Congress, these appeals from rural areas would fall on deaf ears. As long as Democrats control the White House it is certain that the STB will approve these routes.

I know that a lot of people who are interested in HSR would love for these projects to be developed and evaluated on their merits. But they’re not. HSR is fundamentally political, and it is deeply partisan. Texas HSR’s biggest problem is going to be the fact that Republicans control the state legislature. Unless they plan to build the tracks in the middle of Interstate 45 I am not quite sure how they will overcome this opposition.

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  1. synonymouse
    Apr 13th, 2015 at 14:43
    #1

    What is the problem with routing down a freeway? Nobody wants this thing in their backyard, any more than they would want an airport. No matter what their politics.

    Why do you think the Tejon Ranch Co. opposes CAHSR? They know the Detour produces a non-viable line, which is why they accept it on their poorer eastside, begrudgingly.

    Sta. Clarita evidently is more opposed to hsr than the San Joaquin Valley and my conjecture is because they don’t want growth. Hopefully it will dawn upon them that you get a lot more for your $25bil at Tejon than $25bil at Tehachapi and a goodly part of that savings can be spent at Sta. Clarita. They have a great deal to lose with sprawl at Palmdale and the high desert and sprawl at the Grapevine. A lot more traffic going thru their place and they will encounter a lot more traffic when they try to go anywhere.

    Tejon minimizes sprawl.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    It’s not quite so easy – or cheap – to put a high speed rail line alongside a freeway. Here’s Interstate 45 at The Woodlands:

    Where exactly do you put tracks for trains that are going 150mph or more?

    datacruncher Reply:

    TxDOT is in the midst of a series of projects to widen Interstate 45 to 6 lanes from Dallas to Houston. Like California’s widening of 99, Texas is using the current median to add the additional lanes to avoid purchasing additional freeway ROW.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Almost all limited access highways have additional ROW so they can be widened in the future.

    Joey Reply:

    Except the ones that have already been widened.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The ones that have been widened don’t look like the one in the picture in the above.

    EJ Reply:

    Will the next release of ContradictionBot be able to interface with google maps and streetview?

    datacruncher Reply:

    The additional ROW along Interstate 45, like 99 in California, is basically being spoken for by the 6 lane widening plans. Point is it is not available in Texas for HSR as syno asked.

    Here is another section of Interstate 45 between Dallas and Houston. This is in Madisonville, about midway between Dallas and Houston. Looks nothing like The Woodlands.

    datacruncher Reply:

    https://www.google.com/maps/@30.965827,-95.883257,3a,75y,139.62h,80.03t/data=!3m4!1e1!3m2!1saRs4uOw5vJF10c3lG02xag!2e

    Reality Check Reply:

    And yet, at first glance, even here it appears there’s possibly enough room to squeeze two tracks in the center median … possibly requiring a modest lane narrowing (or shift toward the outside) at overpasses.

    TomA Reply:

    Tracks maybe. Are they straight enough that you could use them for HSR at speeds high enough to make it worthwhile.

    synonymouse Reply:

    So it is ok to take land from Texas ranchers and farmers but not from the Texas highway lobby.

    And you wonder why they don’t like something dreamt up by city slickers; something they cannot use like a freeway or airport; which they know is going to soak up their taxes somewhere along the line; and which is going to probably have some union operators slipping money to politicians they don’t like. And something which messes up their property.

    And you expect them to be happy campers.

    TomA Reply:

    WEll for one – why cant they use it?

    Secondly – cities and burbs pay alot more tax money than rural areas, so no – any tax money used would be sucked up from the people most likely to use it.

    They dont have to be happy campers. The point is – if you let a few complainers (and by definition a rural area has few people in general) stop any project you will never get anything built.

    This is the ideal case. Cheap, funded by a private company over a pretty empty part of the country (yes there are farms – more or less there are farms everywhere thats flat and not a house.) and they cant get it built.

    synonymouse Reply:

    PB patented Stilt-A-Rail – the kind they were planning to ram down PAMPA’s throat.

    Jerry Reply:

    “Where exactly do you put tracks for trains that are going 150mph or more?”
    Where you ask. Where else?
    As any good transportation expert from PAMPA could tell you:
    In a tunnel.
    PS Happy – Stand Up For Transportation Day. (OK. So I’m four days late.)

    Reality Check Reply:

    Robert — unlike other freeways — that particular area of I-45 you said is “at The Woodlands” shows what looks like plenty of room for two tracks on either side of center median.

    Nathanael Reply:

    If they remove lanes from the highway. Good luck trying to do THAT in TEXAS.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Google “TransTexas Corridor” to see why putting high speed rail down the median of Texas interstates is a complete non-starter.

    You would be better off putting the whole project in a trench from the perspective of political support.

    Clem Reply:

    Sta. Clarita evidently is more opposed to hsr than the San Joaquin Valley and my conjecture is because they don’t want growth.

    I’m not sure that’s how it is. They were clearly very worried about impacts to the gigantic Newhall Ranch development if HSR got built along I-5.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I suspect the politicians underwritten by the developers, as in every town, and the residents are not quite on the same page. But Socal does not seem to be so polemical as up here and slower to react. Perhaps Sta. Clarita resents becoming an hsr transfer point. Kinda like Larkspur hates being the terminus of SMART.

    My impression is that this area is going to be systematically ripped apart in the decades ahead. The Ranch will partition and intensely develop its huge tract piece by piece similar to what happened in Orange County with the Irvine Ranch-Company. Eventually any environmentalists will be overwhelmed by the sheer immensity of the payola and “progress”.

    Paul Harrison Reply:

    It’s a really bad idea to build a rail line along a highway in general:-

    – Highways are built to very different standards. As an example, most deliberately change direction every few thousand yards, largely as a way to keep drivers alert.
    – Keeping a consistent grade right next existing infrastructure is usually fairly expensive.
    – DoTs will demand you keep your line in a relatively narrow corridor to ensure the road has room to expand in future.

    It’s not impossible. AAF’s proposal in Florida for their 30 mile HSR line between Cocoa and Orlando seems to be not terrible (but as it’s not built yet I can’t speak for how well it works in practice) but I can’t imagine many HSR civil engineers picking a highway first.

    TomA Reply:

    AAF isnt HSR to begin with and the road they picked is really really straight.

    Paul Harrison Reply:

    Most of AAF isn’t. However the line from Cocoa to Orlando I mentioned is (planned to be) 125mph, so just qualifies under most definitions.

    But yeah, the road they picked is relatively straight, still has some bends, but has slightly less grade changes than you’d expect in an area like Texas (I think, I’ve never been to Texas, but Florida is unusually flat.)

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is however a great idea if your primary concern is to contain the contagion.

    If operational efficiency is your primary concern why the hell build a DeTour?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Different people have different definitions of optimal.

    Paul Harrison Reply:

    But why build a high speed line if it’s going to make passengers sea sick? For end users (ie leaving environmental issues etc aside) train travel is 100% about comfort. The “high speed” part of the equation is about making it run at useful speeds that prevent people from feeling compelled to use alternatives. If the overall travel time ends up being similar to air or car, but there’s no comfort bonus, then people will pick the cheapest and most familiar form of transportation. Unfortunately, 99% of the time, that’s driving the car they already have.

    synonymouse Reply:

    How about that, what, 120 degrees of total curvature north of Burbank veering off to the East to Palmdale?

  2. JJJJ
    Apr 13th, 2015 at 15:40
    #2

    “Republican senators expressed concern that a private company was going to use eminent domain authority for a for-profit venture.”

    But….private business……they’re never wrong….how could the project fail if the genius private market says it won’t? Profit means perfection….that’s like Republican 101.

    I’m sorry my brain has exploded.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’s almost as if conservative Americans don’t really believe what liberal Americans think they believe.

    JJJJ Reply:

    You know damn well that one of the arguments against CAHSR has been “if it would work, the private market would be clamoring to build it”. But now that the private sector is clamoring to build it, it STILL won’t work? Can’t have it both ways.

    joe Reply:

    He’s trolling.

    Zorro Reply:

    JJJJ, you are sooo right.. Problem is the GOP wants it both ways.. In Texas, they have total control, so much for letting the ‘Free Market’ determine the outcome.. Limited Government My ass..

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Here I agree with you. Most liberal Americans do not really understand how the right thinks. Those of us who are not surprised at all to see this.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    You mean, Barack Obama and his staff?

    http://nymag.com/daily/intelligencer/2015/03/dan-pfeiffer-exit-interview.html

    Nathanael Reply:

    Pfeiffer is correct in that piece. The embarassing thing is that Obama didn’t understand this in 2007 — it was already obvious back then.

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    As a Republican, may I say that my party has surprised me with this naked attack on profits as a desirable goal.
    Not really. I’m kidding. To the modern libertarian right, nothing economically justifies rail travel; not even the $2 billion JR East makes in profits every year. It’s rail.
    I’ve stopped expecting anything from them on transportation issues.

  3. Justin N
    Apr 13th, 2015 at 16:02
    #3

    My wife and I lived in Taiwan, a few blocks from the Hsinchu (pronounced Shin-joo) HSR station. The tracks were about two blocks away. I couldn’t hear the train from inside, and it made a kind of low “whoosh” sound from outside. Maybe thirty seconds of noise an hour? Compared to living by a freeway, which we’ve also done, it was idyllic.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Another aspect of building HSR is the U.S. is battling ignorance and fear of the unknown, in addition to an ideology that opposes modern passenger rail, minions of which cunningly use that ignorance to their advantage. Things like noise and road access concerns are things that can be solved through education and actually seeing the real thing, the latter unfortunately not possible domestically.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Have you hung around BART a little? – the other PB spawn. Say at Daly City. Be sure to bring your ear plugs.

    swing hanger Reply:

    BART is not HSR. HSR operators and engineers are actually competent.

    Clem Reply:

    In California, they are one and the same.

    swing hanger Reply:

    I’m not talking about PB or California, I’m talking about issues regarding Texas HSR as well as existing HSR operations in the Rest of the World. California HSR I accept is a total clusterf**k. I just watch while things unfold, popcorn in hand.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    You say that like it’s a bad thing…

    Nathanael Reply:

    No, no, they aren’t. Nothing else in California is anything remotely like BART (thank goodness).

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    EVERYTHING about CHSRA=PBQD+Tutor is exactly like BART=PBQD+Bechtel+Tutor.

    Insane, ludicrous, provably fraudulent ridership “estimates”.

    Compelte control of “oversight” board.

    Monopoly, no-compete contracts.

    Revolving door of on-the-take agency functionaries and on-the-payroll contractor employees.

    Globally unique, insane, pulled-out-of-their-asses “standards”.

    Utterly insane routing choices designed solely to maximize cost and contractor profits.

    Less than zero attention to operational needs.

    Negative infinity attention to experienced, successful (ie foreign, the horror, the horror) practices and practitioners.

    Maximized capital costs (= private opulence) directly leading to catastrophic operating costs (= public squalor.)

    “The Is No Alternative” “analysis” of “alternatives”.

    Fraudulent gaming of environmental “studies” to ensure that only the most ridiculous and contractor-profiting option is ever considered.

    Contracts written to ensure a single rigged “bidder” will “win”.

    Is there any way at all that CHSR is not an exact parallel of BART? I can’t think of a single one.

    synonymouse Reply:

    BART is far and away the closest operation to PB-CHSRA in every respect. If anybody out there has a more germane template, model, analogy to compare to the current hsr scheme please come forth.

    Offshore examples do not compare well to California. The more exotic ones, like Mexico or Brasil, are more relevant. I mean what other non-3rd world countries allow middling, piddling interests to dictate core policy on a $100bil megaproject?

    Actually the Queretaro plan of the 1980’s was a reasonably sound one(Mexico had already experienced an electrified rail op that was successful for decades). But two signs of trouble that should have been recognized from the beginning and so like PB-CAHSR. They apparently bought rolling way in advance of actual construction and it sat stored and the genesis of the scheme was entirely political. Change of leadership and adios electrification. Same thing here – exit Jerry and this scheme is in trouble.

    Don’t forget Conrail. In the end rr subsidies compete with social spending, etc. and no match.

    synonymouse Reply:

    rolling stock

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Conrail makes money. Most of it was sold off because free market fetishists insisted on it.

    Gag Halfrunt Reply:

    I once came across an anti-California HSR campaign site that guesstimated train noise by extrapolation from 1930s PCC streetcars. I think they were being serious. Obviously the idea of finding out how loud HSR trains are by finding out how loud HSR trains are hadn’t occurred to them, because they didn’t think of it as something real that already exists.

    synonymouse Reply:

    By comparison to BART, PCC’s are virtually silent.

    Nathanael Reply:

    BART is a special snowflake of incompetence. The idiotic cylindrical wheels, in particular, account for a lot of the noise.

  4. Alon Levy
    Apr 13th, 2015 at 16:09
    #4

    In fact, HSR lines are almost all profitable – unless you count the capital costs, in which case virtually no piece of transportation infrastructure anywhere is profitable.

    The Shinkansen lines are profitable, counting capital costs (which the JRs pay interest on). The LGVs are, too, if you regard RFF and SNCF as one entity, or if you look at their financial rate of return. I have references for both – the former on my blog (search for “privatization best practices” for the link) and the latter somewhere in comments here, about that report saying France is overbuilding LGVs. I will post them if people are interested but can’t find them.

    Who needs Wendell Cox when HSR proponents make the exact same claim about HSR profitability?

    morris brown Reply:

    Robert writes:

    In fact, HSR lines are almost all profitable – unless you count the capital costs, in which case virtually no piece of transportation infrastructure anywhere is profitable. But this line of attack is fascinating because it is aiming at the heart of Texas Central’s claims that it is better than California HSR because it won’t take taxpayer money. The HSR deniers in Texas have taken a page from Karl Rove’s playbook here.

    This statement by Robert and others (see Alon Levy above), is just plain myth or just a boldfaced lies, depending on how you want to word it.

    Only the Japanese Tokyo to Osaka line is profitable, certainly not the other lines of their HSR projects. (Governments have a funny way of keeping books). Didn’t the original capital costs for Tokyo to Osaka have to be written off years and years ago!!?

    Then the French have one line that is barely profitable (not counting capital costs)

    All the other HSR lines in the world are subsidized and are certainly not profitable.

    Yet Prop 1A demands the California project not be subsidized.

    joe Reply:

    oh my

    Only the Japanese Tokyo to Osaka line is profitable, certainly not the other lines of their HSR projects. (Governments have a funny way of keeping books). Didn’t the original capital costs for Tokyo to Osaka have to be written off years and years ago!!?

    Then the French have one line that is barely profitable (not counting capital costs)

    All the other HSR lines in the world are subsidized and are certainly not profitable.

    Yet Prop 1A demands the California project not be subsidized.

    Why Morris that

    is just plain myth or just a boldfaced lies, depending on how you want to word it.

    CAHSRA is not supposed to recover capital costs. It’s supposed to operate.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Only the Japanese Tokyo to Osaka line is profitable, certainly not the other lines of their HSR projects. (Governments have a funny way of keeping books). Didn’t the original capital costs for Tokyo to Osaka have to be written off years and years ago!!?

    Nope. The debt that Japan National Railway had incurred in the 1970s due to operating losses (on regional lines, not HSR) were written off; the Shinkansen construction debt was never written off, and the JRs pay interest on it. See PDF-pages 46 and 88 of Best Methods of Railway Restructuring and Privatization, which discusses JNR privatization at length.

    JR East, Central, and West are all profitable private corporations, operating more than just Shinkansen. That’s not government bookkeeping. Do you know what’s government bookkeeping? It’s when Amtrak lies that foreign intercity railroads all receive public subsidies in order to deflect criticism from its own operating losses.

    Ask yourself why you’re so certain of facts that are completely wrong. Is it because you believe the output of hackhouses like Reason and Cato? Or is there a deeper reason?

    Then the French have one line that is barely profitable (not counting capital costs)

    It has a 10% financial rate of return, actually. The other lines have lower, but still positive, rates of return. (No link to avoid tempting the gods of comment moderation; look for my comments on Robert’s relevant post, the one discussing an article about the relevant study in one of the British papers.)

    Eric Reply:

    You should write a Wikipedia page called “Profitability of high-speed rail” with links to all these sources and other sources per country. To end these arguments once and for all.

    Nathanael Reply:

    You’re basically wrong about this stuff, Alon, but to explain why would require intricate discussion of the history of below-market bond rates, refinancing, currency adjustments, Japanese bookkeeping standards, and compulsory land purchase law.

    Every time I actually do look into the details, I find that no project pays for their *entire* capital costs. World Bank’s report is not trustworthy, by the way; they had an ax to grind in favor of privatization at the time they wrote that.

    The final sticking point is generally land acquisition. It may be possible to be “profitable” before you consider that, but you *always* end up with some form of embedded subsidy for the land acquisition. Pretty much dating back to the Roman roads.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Of course, if you take the political point of view that private ownership of land is inherently a subsidy (because You Didn’t Build That Land and it is held in public trust), then I guess you can ignore the land issue.

    Nathanael Reply:

    (By no project, I’m not just referring to railway projects. Infrastructure projects in general, roads, canals, the lot. There’s always huge positive externalities, people benefiting who can’t and don’t pay, of course.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Land doesn’t depreciate.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Absolutely correct. In fact, there’s something fundamentally wrong with the last 100 years of economics, which has mostly lumped land in with capital. Arguably land should be treated entirely separately.

    Transportation infrastructure has a very, very close relationship with land.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Your economic fallacy? Hah! Hah hah! Hah hah I say! It is nothing!

    Not compared to http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/wp-content/uploads/2011/10/peak-ff-oil.png
    which really sums up something.
    (Via http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math/2011/12/the-future-needs-an-attitude-adjustment http://physics.ucsd.edu/do-the-math )

  5. les
    Apr 13th, 2015 at 19:11
    #5

    And California HSR thought they had the only HSR blog in town: http://offthekuff.com/wp/?tag=high-speed-rail. A few interesting comments from “Hair Balls” :)

    Fake Irishman Reply:

    Kuffner is the dean of general-purpose blogging in Houston. The guy is a treasure. If you want to know what’s going on in the Houston Metro area or in Texas State politics, there’s no one better. His take on transportation is generally quite thoughtful too.

    He also fields interviews with every politician running for state and local office around election time who’s willing to talk to him.

    Jerry Reply:

    In which there is a proposal of a HSR route between San Antonio to Monterrey, Mexico:
    http://offthekuff.com/wp/?p=58271

  6. Robert S. Allen
    Apr 13th, 2015 at 21:55
    #6

    Make HSR Safe and Reliable per 2008 Prop 1A. Fence against intrusion. Grade separate road crossings. “Blended Rail” is NEITHER SAFE NOR RELIABLE. Squander no more HSR money on Caltrain tracks where HSR would be vulnerable to accidents, suicides, train delays, and worse.

    Until Caltrain is fenced and grade separated, stop HSR to the Bay Area at San Jose, and later up-grade the Amtrak line on to Sacramento, with a transfer station at the BART overpass in Oakland. 16 BART trains per hour reach the BART/Muni Embarcadero station in downtown San Francisco in six minutes.

    Better, safer, more reliable, and far cheaper.

    Clem Reply:

    What of the women and children of the peninsula? Will they continue to live in fear of imminent death by grade crossing derailment, or should we shut down Caltrain (safety first!) so as to ring the bay with BART as God intended?

    Neil Shea Reply:

    It must still be the 5th day because God is still focused on Livermore and Brentwood. I know he wont rest until we have perfection…

    Eric M Reply:

    Just stop spamming the same BS already Robert S. Allen!!

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    So BART is 100% reliable?

    So BART has plenty of excess capacity to handle 100’s of HSR passengers at West Oakland?

    So grade separated BART is completely immune to accidents, suicides, delays, sabotage, vandalism, and terrorism?

    morris brown Reply:

    Robert S Allen is certainly correct in his assessment that :

    “Blended Rail” is NEITHER SAFE NOR RELIABLE.

    But the “blended plan” is more that that — it is illegal because it does not meet the conditions spelled out in Prop 1A, (most importantly) :

    2704.09. The high-speed train system to be constructed pursuant to this
    chapter shall be designed to achieve the following characteristics:

    (d) The total number of stations to be served by high-speed trains for all of
    the corridors described in subdivision (b) of Section 2704.04 shall not exceed
    24. There shall be no station between the Gilroy station and the Merced
    station.

    (e) Trains shall have the capability to transition intermediate stations, or to
    bypass those stations, at mainline operating speed.

    This condition (e), which can only be met by full dedicated tracks, was ignored by supporters of the “blended plan”, and thus far has not been directly challenged in the courts.

    Mr. Allen continues to ignore so many other reasons why his ideas are illegal under Prop 1A, but he continues to keep preaching the solution is BART. NONSENSE

    Lewellan Reply:

    The question of any rail proposal being ‘illegal’ is more speculative than imperative.
    The true mandate for all forms of rail transit is ‘necessity’ to reduce energy consumption/pollution.
    I’d say Robert S Allen presents a rail transit proposal worth fair consideration.
    Would HSR Altamont complement or make BART Livermore unecessary?
    Will Gilroy become gated McMansionville Estates overlooking a new parking garage town?

    Alan Reply:

    “Mainline operating speed” is not defined by Prop 1A, and the Authority’s plans have always made clear that the speed limit on the Peninsula will not exceed 125mph. “Condition (e)” simply means that trains shall be able to pass non-stop through a station at the prevailing speed for that section of mainline. If the prevailing speed is 125, then non-stop trains need to be able to pass through the station at 125. That’s all.

    Morris’ point about the number of stations is irrelevant. Caltrain stations where HSR will not stop obviously do not count against the 24-station limit.

    So, once again, Morris is lying.

    IKB Reply:

    I’m not sure Prop 1A is a “law” but you may know better. I think AB 3034 is the “law”. And other than the title, AB 3034 appears to require neither “safe” nor “reliable” anywhere in the requirements. Interesting that it does specify a maximum number of stations, and doesn’t want one at Los Banos – I wonder why, or why anyone would care

    synonymouse Reply:

    Prop 1a is retarded.

    IKB Reply:

    agreed. but my question was is it actually “law”? To be illegal (oft quoted thru this blog) what are the real penalties.

    J. Wong Reply:

    No penalties but judges can order them to stop or not to proceed.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Why bother to order a remedy when Jerry Brown will have a puppet higher court immediately overturn it?

    Best to forget any remedy but rule Prop 1a is incoherent and its provisos invalid. Take away the charade of legitimacy. Why would Brown appeal carte blanche?

    When Brown’s gone, orderly shutdown. FailRail case closed.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Queretaro

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    I always wonder what the libertarian right will say when CASHR succeeds. Judging by Cato and Reason Foundation, the profits will be wished away and the millions who ride each year will be edited down to a few thousand, in the name of ideological purity.
    I would bet my best banjo that they won’t admit the obvious failure of their predictions.

    morris brown Reply:

    @ Alan:

    The number of stations was not the point I was making, which I thought was obvious since what was highlighted in bold was the Prop 1A demand that means dedicated tracks are demanded.

    How ignorant your comment, that CalTrain stations don’t demand a full 4 track solution. They don’t count against the total of HSR stations, but they sure count when assessing the performance of the HSR trains, which in the “blended plan” will not be able to pass at main line speed ,be that 115 MPH or any speed — a Caltrain train stopped at a station will cause the HSR trains to just wait, period.

    As of now, this still not in the courts, but eventually who knows. Of course, now, the Authority plows ahead without access to Prop 1A construction funds.

    @IKB

    Your lack of knowledge about such items as “no station in Los Banos” may be justified but many in this blog damn well know why that provision is incorporated in Prop 1A.

    Eric M Reply:

    Just more speculation and conjecture from Morris Brown in hopes of staving off high speed rail because he lives 100 feet from the Caltrain tracks on Stone Pine Lane…..accompanied by his Anti-HSR neighbor Kathy Hamilton as well.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Another one of his neighbors is serial anti-HSR lawsuit-filing attorney and CC-HSR board member Michael Brady.

    Guests Jeff Morales, CEO of CHSRA, and attorney Mike Brady discuss the future of HSR in CA. (Brady starts off by explaining his lawsuits @ 6:10)

    Alan Reply:

    Correct. A group of arrogant NIMBY’s who think they’re more important than anyone and everyone else in California. People who were stupid enough to buy houses near an active railroad mainline and think that nothing would ever change.

    IKB Reply:

    then could one of these many who know please why explain the significance of only 24 stations and definitely none in Los Banos. How can anyone know how many stations and where will make sense in say 50 years

    EJ Reply:

    No station in Los Banos was a concession to environmental groups who feared that the Pacheco alignment was a ploy to jump-start development in that part of the state.

    IKB Reply:

    @EJ, Thanks. May I assume same reason for no more than 24 stations? Does this mean ever, ever, ever, or just not paid for by the first $10bn. It would seem there is a lot mentioned in Prop 1A that also won’t get paid for in this bond.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Some here scoff at the ploy part. Makes no difference since ploy or no ploy, a Los Banos station was seen as a massive sprawlburbia trigger there, and so the ban was the most politically expedient answer to that objection. Reverting back to the far more sensible previously preferred Bay Area HSR access via Altamont was what the enviros really wanted.

    J. Wong Reply:

    There is an mind-set on both the left and right that getting it written into law makes it a done deal. (It certainly adds another bump on the road.) Ultimately, any law can be changed (and will be).

    Alan Reply:

    How ignorant your comment, that CalTrain stations don’t demand a full 4 track solution.

    Morris, you’re a f***ing liar. I said no such thing. You also ignorantly ASSume that there will be no modifications made to any of the Caltrain stations to allow HSR trains to pass Caltrains non-stop. There are plenty of creative engineering methods that would allow this to work without going to a full 4-track buildout. And of course as others have correctly noted, the blended plan is an interim stage. The legal constraints against a 4-track Peninsula buildout will eventually be repealed.

    Morris, you’re a lying, ignorant sonofabitch who thinks he somehow has a God-given right to dictate to the rest of the state what will or will not be built. You’re wrong.

    Alan Reply:

    And as a matter of fact, a strong argument can be made to the effect that the Prop 1A requirement regarding “intermediate stations” should be interpreted as “intermediate HSR, stations”. Joint HSR/Caltrain stations will no doubt be built to allow trains to pass each other. What happens between HSR stations is not specified by condition (e).

    It’s also reasonable to conclude that with the sophisticated planning and train dispatching tools now available, schedules will be planned in such a way that minimizes HSR overtakes of Caltrain in the first place.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Hmm, it looks like HSR will start running before full build-out of the system so I wonder how Prop1A restrictions apply before that happens? For example, is 30 minute SF-San Jose required when you cannot get from SF to LA in a single seat ride? (I’m guessing not.)

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Do you ever want Robert to be able to retire this blog and have a normal life again? The battle, my friends, is just beginning.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Jesus wants Ring the Bay.

    J. Wong Reply:

    The blended plan is only temporary. The reality is that 4-track and grade separations will eventually be implemented on the Peninsula, and the cities will ultimately go along with it because it will be the best solution available to them.

    Nothing in Prop 1A says they cannot use temporary solutions while constructing the full build out of HSR.

    synonymouse Reply:

    We are more likely to experience this before that:

    http://digg.com/video/maglev-trains-are-incredibly-fast-as-little-girl-learns

    J. Wong Reply:

    So what would be cheaper? MagLev, which requires full build-out stilt-a-rail on the Peninsula, or 4-track and grade separations for HSR?

    The answer is obvious: Once HSR starts running on the Peninsula, the citizens will be clamoring for grade separation. The cost of that is much less than MagLev so saying it is more likely is a completely unsupported hypothesis.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The solution is a different route accessing San Francisco and other parts of the Bay Area.

    SFO would make a potential terminus for hypertech like maglev, reached via the general Dumbarton corridor.

    Peninsula real estate is too valuable to be blighted by stilt-a-rail and trench or tunnel is too expensive for 4 tracks. So it is Caltrain or BART for the old SP corridor – that’s all the Peninsula requires and it is rich and powerful enough to ensure it goes down that way.

    4 tracks at PAMPA are more pipedream than Tejon.

    But the harsh teeming backdrop of Shanghai provides a vision of Jerry Brown’s future for California, border to border. Burbank on steroids. The vegetation looks blighted and tainted, like exposed to too much freeway and industrial fumes. California’s green of the future will be astroturf, immune to drought and smog.

    J. Wong Reply:

    “4 tracks at PAMPA are more pipedream than Tejon.”

    Given the technical and financial difficulties of Tejon? Really?

    You’re forgetting that the ROW is mostly wide enough for 4 tracks already! And the law only says they have to get the 9 agency sign-off if they must take property to expand the ROW. And you’re also forgetting that parts of the ROW are already elevated and grade separated.

    If PAMPA were smart, they’d see what was happening and instead of fighting it more productively they could figure out how to get an acceptable solution out of CAHSRA. In fact from what I can see none of the elevated sections are stilt-a-rail today nor would any future sections require that.

    (As an aside, Burlingame should definitely work with CHSRA to raise the tracks mostly bermed except through downtown where it would be a viaduct with the space beneath used to expand parking, and from downtown north with a new park & walking path.)

    J. Wong Reply:

    Instead of saying “Tejon” I should have said “any mountain crossing”.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    “4 tracks at PAMPA are more pipedream than Tejon.”

    Syn: you just outed yourself and your Quixotic quest?

    My prediction: 4 tracks on the peninsula is approved (by everyone) around 2035 and a Tejon bypass is seriously considered by 2050.

    Alan Reply:

    I don’t think it’ll take anywhere near that long to approve Peninsula 4-track. Once people begin to see the benefits, (and the NIMBY’s start dying off) sensible people will demand the greater capacity.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Alan, scratch an instant millionaire and you get a NIMBY. The latter are not dying off.

    But a lot of union members are going to get replaced by robots and automation. The Democratic Party will be dominated by limousine liberals, not working class people, nor middle class.

    joe Reply:

    BY = “Back Yard”

    Wealthy don’t live near the ROW or the highways. Once the electrification finishes it’s game over for the NIMBYs. They can drive a SUVs to the city hall meeting and complain about the trains being quiet and therefore not safe.

    …and put down the Magnus Robot Fighter comic.

    synonymouse Reply:

    In the City newly-minted NIMBY’s are living in exactly that type of area now trendy. The Peninsula is gentrifying at the same pace. Sorry no ghetto pushovers here.

    Get them change orders rolling, rolling, rolling…:

    http://www.fresnobee.com/2015/04/14/4477489_261-million-set-aside-for-potential.html?rh=1

    joe Reply:

    “ghetto pushovers”

    little ugly man.

    Jerry Reply:

    The referenced Fresno Bee article reports:
    “Each section will include all of the public infrastructure work on the rail line except for the railbed and steel tracks, which will be covered in a fourth contract spanning the entire route through the Valley.”

    So all the in the contracts from north of Fresno to Bakersfield won’t include the rail bed and the tracks. So I’m assuming that electrification will not be included. And it will call for another separate contract.
    Wow.
    Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/2015/04/14/4477489_261-million-set-aside-for-potential.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy

    synonymouse Reply:

    Exactly the poorest neighborhoods in the Sta. Clarita and San Gabriel regions that PB is desperately flushing out to ram thru their heavy industrial op. Looking for the weakest of the herd. Social Darwinism in action

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Jerry – electrification, hsr signaling, stations, soundwalls, some ped crossings and passing tracks aren’t actually included in the scope / budget of the ICS at all. There is a reserve for amtrak signaling and connections to existing bnsf track.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    Alan — maybe I was a bit too late in saying 2035. I do think we’ll first need to finish both mountain crossings, and then within 3 years of Bay to Basin service serious pressure for 4 tracks will be felt up and down the Caltrain RoW, so I think it’s around then.

    Meanwhile I’m curious how soon grade seps will being in PAMPA. I don’t expect they will be controversial north or south of there, and most of the remaining ones may get done by 2030. But how many will be done for 2 track only and then have to be redone 10 years later at great additional expense?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If they don’t want four tracks one of the options that will be explored in the initial stages of environmental review is keeping at two tracks. Ya don’t want four tracks, the railroad can get by with two. It won’t be able to make stops at any of the stations in your town but it will have two tracks…..

    synonymouse Reply:

    My prediction: As soon as Jerry Brown is gone the whole project is shelved indefinitely.

    BART celebrates and grabs more funding. LA continues to rebuild the PE virtually in toto and maybe some of the LARy.

    PAMPA gets richer and richer and stares down both SF and SJ. Can buy Palmdale and the Tejon Ranch several times over.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Don’t be so sure about that.

    Remember, the Authority was signed into law by… gulp…Pete Wilson…and it was given a large boost by …. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That was the innocent time when the electorate thought our hired hsr experts would do the right and smart thing. Well, one did and got fired. All downhill from there.

    I believe you could talk to the Sperminator about Tejon and he would at least grasp the magnitude of the issue. Brown is oblivious.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Schwarzenegger’s bosom buddy Stewart Resnick and his ties to the Kern Valley Water Bank all the whole reason PB proposed Palmdale in the first place. Guys like Steve Soboroff know exactly what they are doing and it flies in the face of all the urban infill growth happening now that isn’t connected to redevelopment…..

    And as for your assertion van Ark got fired for speaking truth to power…that’s foamer legend of the caliber that if Ted Judah hadn’t died prematurely, the Central Pacific and Southern Pacific would have been run like a non-profit….

    synonymouse Reply:

    “foamer legend” – I like that. But is it any more harebrained than “Cheerleader Legend”, for instance the notion that Madera to Sylmar will produce profits to support more construction.

    This whole thing is going to require major and ongoing subsidy. Might as well just stop at Palmdale and fuggedabout the rest.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    If you build a dedicated track that runs from Madera to Sylmar, you have options for how to enter the Bay Area or LA Basin using legacy ROW. Nobody, but nobody, is going to run a super fast train super empty because of Prop 1a.

    Clem Reply:

    If you build nothing you have options too.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Deciding not to decide is a decision.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I hold California as a much superior proving ground for hsr than Texas. You have an excellent corridor of a little over 400 miles between a very large conurbation(BayArea & Sac) and a huge conurbation(Greater LA, Orange Co. and San Diego) The route is fairly straight forward; the only serious problem is Tejon with seismic and political issues. Seismic can be managed with engineering smarts and the political with a whole lot of money to assuage fears and an enlightened leadership.

    I guess that is too much to ask. Aviation will have to do. Have you ever noticed that in Hollywood’s depiction of a dysfunctional post armageddon future there is maglev but no planes. Say for example “Hunger Games” or “Defiance”. Anyone with a passing interest in transport knows that maglev is deeply tricky and requires lots of power just for starters. On the other hand the dinosaurs achieved a manual version of aviation millions of years ago. Just look up. There are 3rd world countries with not an inch of railroad or paved roads but they have aircraft.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Add default to straightforward route and change dysfunctional to dystopian and whole lot of money to enough money.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There are 3rd world countries with not an inch of railroad or paved roads but they have aircraft.

    Which ones. If life is so rough they don’t have paved roads they don’t have the money to use aircraft.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I don’t know about zero paved roads, but there are countries without railroads, with planes. For example, Rwanda. Not all of them are third-world, either: Iceland is one.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    What is Paupa New Guinea for $800, Alex?

    Joshua Cranmer Reply:

    Third-world countries without an inch of paved roads? Even South Sudan has a few dozen miles of paved roads, and apparently USAID did complete a 192 km paved highway in 2012. According to Wikipedia, it also has a narrow-gauge railroad. Chad, Niger, Congo, and Central African Republic all have some paved roads (and some of them even have railroads!)–that about rounds out the countries I would expect to have almost non-existent infrastructure.

    Per Wikipedia, “As of 1999, Papua New Guinea has a total of 19,600 km of all weather highway, of which only 686 km is sealed/asphalted.”

    synonymouse Reply:

    Coulda, woulda, shoulda phrased it better.

    Some of these countries have railroads from the colonial era worn out. No colonials, no rr’s. It was not that long ago parts of the US lacked paved highways – say Alamosa to Durango ca. 1960. Was there. Saved the San Juan Extension for a while.

    As patchy as my off the cuff commentary it could never be as garbled in conception or expression as Prop 1a.

    morris brown Reply:

    @ J. Wong:

    I would love to have you statement here:

    “The blended plan is only temporary. The reality is that 4-track and grade separations will eventually be implemented on the Peninsula, and the cities will ultimately go along with it because it will be the best solution available to them.

    in writing from anyone in authority at the CHSRA, or for that matter from Robert.

    You quite obviously are completely unaware of the political ramifications of your position, and although that is without a doubt the “unspoken” long range plan of the Authority, nobody in that organization would dare to state what you have written. After all, add another $15 billion to the project, and pretty soon you are talking really good sized money.

    Such public revelations of these plans would most likely cause loosing the support of the legislature, which by only one vote passed SB-1029, and it passed purely because of the “bribe” of the blended plan, which swayed quite a few votes to the Yes side.

    J. Wong Reply:

    No, there is no point nor necessity for CHSRA to state that the “blended” plan is temporary. Neither has the CHSRA stated that the “blended” plan is permanent!

    And yes, I am quite aware of the political ramifications, which are that once blended operation starts, the Peninsula itself (by that I mean it’s residents) will start clamoring for grade separations. :-) I know the Peninsula would revolt if the CHSRA said “blended” was temporary, but nothing requires them to say so.

    I’m also aware that Jerry Hill’s law appears to place a lock on controlling HSR on the Peninsula, but doesn’t actually do very much. (It limits CHSRA from taking property to expand to 4-tracks, but says nothing about expanding 4-tracks where the ROW is already wide enough and doesn’t say anything about grade separations. There’s also the possibility that Caltrain could independently propose 4-tracks without falling under the law’s restrictions.)

    Alan Reply:

    Absolutely correct. Also, there appears to be no current legal restriction on using privately-raised funding for Peninsula 4-tracking.

    What Morris conveniently forgets (or ignores) is the fact that more than three years ago, the Peninsula JPB commissioned an engineering study which shows that the blended plan is feasible.

    Joe Reply:

    When Morris writes about the political ramifications, he forgets that mass transit is increasingly popular congestion increasingly more severe.

    There is a naïve assumption that the entire peninsula is sympathetic to the property values of a narrow set of people who have chosen to buy property And live near the train tracks.

    Once the system starts operating, people want to expand the capacity. It’ll cost a lot of money and Richard M. Will have an aneurysm

    Neil Shea Reply:

    And of course Morris’ property is still nicely gaining in value because many folks place a premium on walking distance to a Caltrain station. Otherwise he would have relocated years ago when the statewide vote approved the HSR route and initial funding under a GOP Gov. Surprising Morris still wants to be in such an urban environment as the global tech boom increasingly changes traditionally quiet Menlo Park.

    Roland Reply:

    Yes, the plan was feasible 3 years ago when page 38 of the study said “all trains were simulated with a full seated load of 948 passengers” http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/Caltrain+Modernization+Program/Documents/Final-Caltrain-California+HSR+Blended+Operations+Analysis.pdf. That was before they came up with their 4-door per carriage contraption which will eliminate between 78 and 188 seats per train.

    Alan Reply:

    Another thought: Now that the HSR project is under STB jurisdiction, once the STB has approved the SF-SJ section the Authority could also apply for federal preemption of Streets & Highways Code sec. 2704.77 (the “Jerry Hill” law), on the basis that that it unreasonably restricts the right granted to CHSRA by the STB to construct the project. No different, really from local zoning laws which the STB has preempted for other projects.

    In any event, I wouldn’t see the “Hill” law as much of a hindrance. Eight of the 9 parties who would need to sign off on 4-tracking shouldn’t have much of an objection. The last one, the San Mateo County Transportation Authority, shouldn’t have a problem if they consider the needs of the entire county. The Santa Clara County VTA *might* be swayed somewhat by their portion of NIMBYLand ™, but in the end, I think they’d approve it as well.

    EJ Reply:

    Why do you refuse to address the fact that Transbay BART trains are already overcrowded during peak commute hours, and have no excess capacity to handle HSR passengers?

    Reality Check Reply:

    BART can’t keep pace with rising ‘crush loads’

    Reedman Reply:

    Grade separation isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

    Both yesterday, and back in December, a single misbehaving pedestrian on an overpass over a San Jose freeway was able/allowed (by the CHP) to bring to a complete halt all freeway traffic below them for six+ hours.

    Jon Reply:

    A West West Oakland transfer station makes zero sense, not just because there is not enough spare capacity in the tube to make the station viable in the long term, but also because it’s a terrible station location with no chance for TOD. Oh, and it’s on a sharp curve in the Capitol Corridor line that would need to be straightened.

    Much better would be to place the transfer station in Jack London square and extend BART out to that station from the Oakland Wye. In the short term you could run trains from JLS to SF using the remaining capacity in the tube, and in the long term you would use the station as the starting point for a new tube via Alameda.

    J. Wong Reply:

    BART is neither safe and reliable by your definition. BART is currently trying to keep people from killing themselves on the tracks, the number of which has doubled since 2013, and there has already been 5 this year.

    Reality Check Reply:

    So Mr. Allen, by your logic, doesn’t this mean “squander no more money on” BART tracks?

    BART Takes Action as Suicides on System Increase

    BART launches campaign after recent suicides on the tracks

    Reality Check Reply:

    Forgot to mention, BART is “looking at” platform screen doors. Those really would cut suicides.
    BART launches campaign to prevent suicides; to explore platform screen doors

    synonymouse Reply:

    Perhaps BART should invent conical wheelsets first.

    Reality Check Reply:

    I don’t know, but is there anything preventing BART from switching to more reasonable conical wheel profiles on their new cars? I mean, can you just start running a conical wheel profile or do you first have to change the rail head profile?

    EJ Reply:

    Interesting. IIRC their previous opposition to platform screen doors was based on the idea that they didn’t want to get locked into a specific door configuration for their train cars. Sounds like that’s changed.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Takes “cattlecar” to a new level.

    EJ Reply:

    How so?

    Reality Check Reply:

    BART is getting an all-new 3-doors-per-side car fleet. Once the old stock is all retired, there’s no good reason I can think of why BART couldn’t make a long-term commitment to the new 3-door configuration. Platform screens help with platform capacity and non-suicide-related safety issues too, since they suddenly make areas near the platform edge safe for riders to stand or walk in.

    Jon Reply:

    BART are working on a core capacity study for Embarcadero and Montgomary stations. It’s likely that platform screen doors will added at those stations as an interim measure until they have the funding to add side platforms. I think you would have to install screen doors at a lot more stations than just those two in orde to make them an effective suicide prevention measure.

    Joey Reply:

    If I’m not mistaken, the outer two doors on the new cars will be at the same locations as the doors on the old cars. If they wanted to install platform screen doors now, they could configure them so that the center doors didn’t open for the older trains.

    Edward Reply:

    You are correct. However if the center doors on the platform did open one would be facing the side of the train. No entry, but no problem. Your suggestion would be easy to implement though.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Why do some people call these “platform screen doors” when there are … no screens.

    Just leaving out the word “screen” would both make more sense and be shorter to write…

    Reality Check Reply:

    Another likely BART suicide today closed Civic Center station for ~3 hours:
    Civic Center Station Reopened After Death On Tracks

    Caltrain hit a woman near Santa Clara station today too. No reports of her dying yet:
    Caltrain strikes pedestrian in Santa Clara — delays expected

  7. synonymouse
    Apr 14th, 2015 at 10:01
    #7

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/italy/11325731/Sicily-bridge-collapses-10-days-after-opening.html

    If similar occurred to the DeTour they would not even bother to fix it – so little business.

    agb5 Reply:

    As always, the shocking headline is a wild exaduration, the bridge has not collapsed, the earth berm leading to the bridge has suffered a bit of settling.
    https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=NVytagobGRY

    Keith Saggers Reply:

    Thank you agb5, as a rule of thumb please spare me quotes from UK newspapers in an election season.

    synonymouse Reply:

    http://www.rainews.it/dl/rainews/TGR/basic/PublishingBlock-f9fb1cb6-573a-4018-9d55-e41a181ae733-archivio.html#

    You have to wait out the commercial and some buffering but the viadotto is the first news item.

  8. Emmanuel
    Apr 14th, 2015 at 11:13
    #8

    There will always be NIMBYs. They have been everywhere. In Japan, Germany, France, the US is no exception. What I truly enjoy is how the “startled cows” argument is always being brought up in relation to HSR in all those countries and every time, they have been proven wrong. From what I have seen in Germany, it’s all about endurance. Eventually the NIMBYs will get tired and you will do it your way anyway.

  9. Danny
    Apr 14th, 2015 at 12:41
    #9

    I remember liberals, instate and out, as being WAY more against the TTC than any Republican: it strikes me as a little Krugman-ish to praise it as a wondrous idea torpedoed by lack of vision–in fact it’s what the LaRouchies keep proposing (it’s the one with HSR across the Bering Strait down to Ushuaia)

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I am not and have not praised TTC. I’m just saying that if Texas HSR is being seen as worse than the TTC, then Texas HSR is in far deeper trouble than anyone realized.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    …..NAFTA….Super….Highway….

    EJ Reply:

    Robert always misrepresents what TTC was. It involved rail, therefore it was a rail project. All rail projects are green, and should be uncritically supported.

    Joe Reply:

    you always say that people always do things.

  10. Paul Dyson
    Apr 14th, 2015 at 13:22
    #10

    To both of you that are interested in matters south of Brisbane, the CHSRA presenter last night revealed some changes to the east corridor routes between Palmdale and Burbank. I cannot find the changes on their website so no link, but basically E1 is now drawn further west to pass through the 118-210 intersection. There was also discussion (no map though) about blending 14 and E2 so that the route curves off San Fernando Road, under the airport, curves east to the VC alignment then SE at Burbank junction back to San Fernando Road. Hold on to your coffee cups! Someone at the airport must be pushing that. So we have three station alternatives in Burbank to consider. Of course The Burbank-Los Angeles section was not on the agenda although more of it falls in Burbank than Palmdale-Burbank.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Interesting. So basically, to spare Santa Clarita, it would be built through Pacoima?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    That is one alternative. Avoids Hansen Dam, comes through Lopez Canyon (L.A. City landfill, now closed) instead of La Tuna. Still trying to get a copy of the updated map.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I think it’s more about Disney’s Golden Oak Ranch than Santa Clarita.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sorry to be so auslander, but where is that situated?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Placerita Canyon Road to the east of the 14. Their lobbyist is Richard Katz, which should tell you something about how much they want to protect that real estate.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Ted, have you a reference for the Katz/Disney connection? I’d missed that.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Never mind, found it.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    He disclosed work for disney in 2010 on his 700 form and recused himself for discussions for LA – Palmdale routing (presumably because of the ranch). Have no idea if he has done work since then – if interested, you can get recent 700 forms from the City of Los Angeles or Metro – they are public.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    it was kinda a thing because the plan was to tunnel under the ranch even before ranch construction, but go through acton.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Don’t forget that you played a role in this by invoking the “incompatible offices” on the CHSRA Board back then which disqualified Katz along with Pringle and others. Katz was serving on the LACMTA Board too, and thus requires him to do consulting full time. That is a win for Disney to be sure and a loss for Southern California given Katz’s expertise.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    How about a victory for the rule of law? There are real reasons why officials should not holding conflicting offices – the principle comes from english common law.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ Elizabeth

    You mean like the Bechtels sitting on the SP Board of Directors?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Be careful what you wish for you just got it:

    Now the Board is a rubber stamp and not much else because anyone with real influence or competency is nowhere to be found. Now the Governor and PB and backroom players have no opposition whatever. Just like when they passed term limits to stop Wille Brown…that didn’t have any unintended consequences, did it?

    Victory for the “Rule of law” indeed. If you don’t count the Brown Act, that is.

    Nathanael Reply:

    If we’re going to worry about conflicting offices and conflicts of interest, look at the military-industrial complex. Everything else in the US pales by comparison, so I don’t even worry about it unless it’s an issue of public health and safety (toxins etc.)

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is the government-industrial complex, comprising as well PB-Tutor.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    It’s south of Brisbane syn, no need to worry yourself.

    Jon Reply:

    Which meeting was this? The CAHSR board meeting, or something else?

    Peter Reply:

    Here is the presentation Paul was talking about: http://hsr.ca.gov/docs/programs/statewide_rail/proj_sections/Palmdale_Burbank/Palmdale_Burbank_CWG_Round2_Presentation_April_2015.pdf

    synonymouse Reply:

    Pure boosterism – the only interesting note was showing Disney property on one map.

    The most important map would be one showing relative incomes of the residents. Where the poorest folks are, that is where it is going to go.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Not necessarily — some rich folks are YIMBYs.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yeah, like the Tejon Ranch and Disney.

    As the Cheerleaders are wont to demand, citation please. And not 10 miles away from ground zero.

  11. Sierrajeff
    Apr 15th, 2015 at 09:06
    #11

    Maybe it’s not being said here because it’s implicitly understood by all, but – freeways and highways cost money too. Is anyone at Texas HSR pushing back on the comments about capital costs, by noting how much freeways and highways are “subsidized”? (i.e., 100%!) Seems to me that if all HSR projects simply said “give us the same $ per passenger-mile as goes to roads”, then we could have a level playing field – and HSR could show its true merits.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Texas Central is a private project; it’s not billed as a way for the state to invest in HSR in lieu of roads.

    Eric Reply:

    So it should be looked at even more positively, the state is getting transportation benefit without having to spend anything at all!

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    Highways are so overwhelmingly used for travel that the cost per passenger mile is extremely low.
    The economies of scale are enormous for roads. We have so many of them.

    joe Reply:

    The cost per mile for operator is over .50 dollars per mile. The road itself lasts 25 years and needs to be rebuild bottom up. surface requires repair and resurfacing. Delayed maintenance cost operators hundreds per year in repair.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It varies wildly by highway, obviously. However;

    — all-rural expressways (such as in North Dakota, etc.) have very few users and are very expensive to maintain. The subsidies per passenger-mile are monumental.
    — urban expressways have many users, but are spectacularly expensive to maintain, *and* harm the health of all the neighbors due to the exhaust emissions, and waste large amounts of otherwise-valuable land, *and* are pretty much just as slow as city streets once congestion sets in (so they’re useless). Their cost per passenger mile is also extremely high.

    Expressways are a problem, frankly. They seem to work OK from the outskirts of one big city to the outskirts of another (and this is where the early toll roads were), but they’re money-sucks everywhere else.

    Don’t get me started on the complex of local road and street subsidies, because I don’t see a way to disentangle or stop them.

    Eric Reply:

    Expressways work well in suburbia. Which is unfortunate, because I dislike suburbia…

    Joey Reply:

    They work well in outer suburbia for people in cars. For inner suburbia they also have to serve outer suburbia which often creates congestion. For people not in cars they are death traps.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are death traps for the people in the cars too.

    Reality Check Reply:

    How so, adi? More people die in bed, so maybe you can give your personal definition of “death trap”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If you ignore all the subsidies it gets. A federal highway is nearly useless without the state and county road feeding traffic to it. The state and county roads are nearly useless without the local roads feeding them. Get back to us when gas taxes cover all the costs for highway use including the millions of dollars of Medicaid that some people incur because of their automobile accident.

    StevieB Reply:

    Cars on roads are subsidized by those without automobiles. Partially in recognition of this inequity roads are being cut back by Caltrans in favor of bicycles, walking and transit. Caltrans released its new Strategic Management Plan [PDF], and it includes priorities and performance targets that show the department is serious about reforming itself. It also a goal of tripling bicycle mode share and doubling walking and transit mode share by 2020–that means not just the number of trips, but the percentage of total trips in California.

    Eric Reply:

    Are those goals actually transportation goals, or are they more like public health goals? Not that I’m against them…

    StevieB Reply:

    Caltrans sustainability, livability, and the economy goals are intended to “Make long-lasting, smart mobility decisions that improve the environment, support a vibrant economy, and build communities, not sprawl.” Sustainability measures will be incorporated into the State Transportation Improvement Program. The performance measures for these goals increase the non-auto modes of bicycles, pedestrians and transit while decreasing per capita vehicle miles traveled.

    To meet the objective of reducing environmental impacts from the
    transportation system with emphasis on supporting a statewide reduction of greenhouse gas emissions to achieve 80% below 1990 levels by 2050 the target is reduction of VMT. The 2020 target is to achieve 15% reduction (3% per year) of statewide per capita VMT relative to 2010 levels reported by District. The livability goal is explained as it relates to transportation:

    Caltrans will support livability initiatives that promote efficient land use and invest in transportation facilities that improve local economies and community quality of life. We will improve livability by considering transportation-related outcomes in concert with community outcomes (such as accessibility to public and active transportation travel options, proximity of affordable housing to employment and civic centers, and a high-quality public realm) that supports natural systems, local businesses, and community vitality.

    The 2015-2020 Strategic Management Plan represents a significant change in both the operations and culture of Caltrans

  12. Jerry
    Apr 15th, 2015 at 18:07
    #12

    Happy Tax Day
    It’s almost 11 PM. Do you know where your children’s tax money will be spent?
    Hint – Not too much for HSR.

  13. Leroy
    Apr 16th, 2015 at 14:20
    #13

    Why not build a few dams with the HSR money?

    Roland Reply:

    Or half a dozen of these for 10 years of HSR cap & trade money? http://inhabitat.com/san-diego-county-is-building-a-massive-1-billion-desalination-plant-to-address-drought/

    Joe Reply:

    2% of California’s economy uses 80% of the water.

    almond milk, which is overtaken soy milk, requires 1 gallon of water per almond and then all the other water used to process and make the almond milk. It’s not that nutritious either.

    So let’s not build all these desalinization plants until we figure out a way to reform water rights. Some individuals have legacy water rights and use that water for growing alfalfa for export.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Central Valley Ag is massively water-wasting. That needs to be addressed.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Jerry is going to kill Ag and replace it with tracts and strip malls border to border.

    Zorro Reply:

    HSR money is going to be spent on HSR, not on dams, dams don’t make water, plus there is a $7.5 Billion Dollar Water Bond out there already, $1 Billion of which has already been appropriated in a Unanimous VOTE of the CA State Legislature and signed into law by Governor Brown..

    les Reply:

    Have you ever tried to float down a damn and canal system all the way to LA? I’m curious though, which would be faster, floating down a canal or HSR? I can’t image floating more than 10 mph.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Pay for dams with a severance tax on ground water.

    Peter Reply:

    How are more dams a solution to the drought when there is no water to fill the dams? The satellite pictures of the Sierras show that there is no snowpack to melt to fill the dams.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    The runoff comes earlier and quicker because of higher temps, needs more storage. That’s the argument, not necessarily my opinion.

    Peter Reply:

    I looked at that option for one of my classes a few years ago. One of the major problems is that adding more dams will interfere with flow of the rivers even more than is already happening.

    Much more effective to impose and enforce mandatory water use reductions. Agriculture is going to have to cut back a LOT, too.

    Zorro Reply:

    I totally agree Peter..

    joe Reply:

    The problem is more complex – Dams were engineered to time with “historical” runoff and demand patterns. They are sized to capture the runoff and carry it into the fall.

    When snow melt patterns change – melt occurs sooner, the dams are less able to mitigate flooding and capture water. They have to release more water in a “normal” precipitation year.

    bixnix Reply:

    That’s just too slow to be practical, Les. I’m imagining an enclosed water channel from SF to LA, using water pressure to move the passenger chambers at high speeds … the “Hypertube”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    http://www.canals.ny.gov/boating/speedlimits.html

    7 days for the 300-ish miles between Albany and Buffalo.

  14. Keith Saggers
    Apr 16th, 2015 at 15:05
    #14

    http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/infrastructure/single-view/view/all-aboard-florida-selects-ge-signalling.html

    Jerry Reply:

    All Aboard Florida buys PTC by GE.
    Wonder why they didn’t buy PTC by CalTrain?
    Now, will CAHSR use CalTrain’s PTC, or buy GE’s?

    William Reply:

    Caltrain CBOSS is largely GE’s ITCS
    AAF most likely uses GE’s ITCS as well, so they are largely the same
    Can GE add HSR-specific features to its ITEC and call it ITEC Level 2? Maybe, since GE is also a supplier of ETCS sub systems.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    CAHSR will use ETCS 2.

  15. morris brown
    Apr 17th, 2015 at 02:35
    #15

    Assemblyman Wilks, introducing AB-6, a bill to kill State funding of HSR, and send funds instead to schools.

    Now this is a really great idea. Anything is better that throwing these billions down the rat hole, boondoggle that encompasses the CA HSR project.

    see: opinion in Sac Bee:

    http://www.sacbee.com/opinion/op-ed/soapbox/article18703332.html

    Let voters shift high-speed rail money to schools

    AB-6 introduced by Assemblyman Wilks can be read at:

    http://www.leginfo.ca.gov/cgi-bin/postquery?bill_number=ab_6&sess=CUR&house=B&author=wilk_%3Cwilk%3E

    A hearing is set for April 20th in the Assembly Transportation committee.

    Zorro Reply:

    AB-6 is VETO Bait and will never become law, you can take that to the bank Morris Brown or stick it up your ass… Your choice..

    joe Reply:

    Permanent minority party strikes again.

    In 2012, Gov. Jerry Brown said he would not raise taxes without a vote of the people and put Proposition 30 on the ballot.

    It’s once again time to place our trust in the people to let them decide if they want to spend their hard-earned tax dollars on high-speed rail

    2008 Election results

    http://ballotpedia.org/California_Proposition_1A,_High-Speed_Rail_Act_(2008)
    California Proposition 1A
    Approved Yes 6,680,485 52.7%
    No 6,015,944 47.3%

    Joey Reply:

    It would be nice if we could put more money into education without attaching it to opposition to other things.

    Eric M Reply:

    Half the general fund goes to education already

    les Reply:

    Are we that incompetent we can’t address Education, water needs and transportation concurrently? This “either or” logic is tiresome. Even Neanderthals multitasked with the taming of fire, domesticating pigs and learning how to draw pictographs.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Every individual putting together a budget has to deal with “either or” constantly.

    This is an attempt to draw attention to the high level of popular discontent with FailRail and embarrass Brown. Good. The scheme is so botched and corrupted by monied interests it deserves to go down. Whatever tack it takes.

    les Reply:

    So instead lets embarrass Brown with classroom computers that run dysfunctional software or dams that hold air?

    Joe Reply:

    Permanent minority political party digging a deeper hole.

    Next time Republicans should nominate a candidate who will make high-speed rail an issue. Then they can capitalize on all this malcontent over the project and sweep in the power. Too bad the previous candidate didn’t try this tactic./Sarcasm off

    synonymouse Reply:

    The monopoly Democratic Party is schisming into wings, labor-funded and the other corporate-funded.

    But why don’t we just set up rule by a tiny entrenched elite? – oh… not a problem.

    les Reply:

    Ends justifies the means. Texans finding the going any easier with a simple and straight system under Republican rule.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Nothing wrong with the Democratic Party splitting into two wings — once the Republican Party is wiped out completely, which needs to happen ASAP.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Wall Street and Main Street versions of the GOP don’t play that well together.

    I suspect an American version of the Front National will emerge in time.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    It already did. heard of the tea party?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Paul, where is our Marine Le Pen?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Sister Palin wanted to be….

    synonymouse Reply:

    Not anywhere close. Marine Le Pen would love to have a governorship; Palin just walked away from a cushy job.

    But Europe is being invaded by unwanted surplus population forced out by countries to the south and that crisis will have to be be dealt with by the current governments. Right now they are ignoring it; but if they don’t control the illegal immigration the FN will.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Getting way more off-topic… The FN could most likely have been at their culmination point with the last elections (Départementales). It may well be that they do fall apart, considering the break up between the founder, Jean-Marie Le Pen (who represents the xenophobic, anti-whatever -ic wing) and Marine Le Pen (who represents the more populistic xenophobic wing). There have already been split-offs, such as the Bompard family party (M. Bompard is Maire of Orange; Mme Bompard is Maire of Bollène), for whom the FN was too leftish…

    Another problem the FN has at the moment, is that it grew very fast, and there are not enough viable candidates. That means that a horde of polit-clowns got in office, but I have serious doubts whether they can last another 6-year term… we’ll see.

    There is not much “illegal immigration” in Europe (in the US sense); there are many refugees (for what reason anyway), and the majority comes to Italy (which has a “good reputation” for dealing with such issues). Crossing the Mediterranean sea is pretty dangerous, and many do not survive…

    Those refugees are not really what the FN points at. The islamophobic part of the FN aims at the (often French citizens) originating from Algeria and Morocco, and having lived in France for a few generations already. That’s the people you see on the streets in the South East of France. Many being lowly educated are, of course, most hit by economic troubles.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The exodus you see now is just the beginning. If Sarko comes to power and and just backpeddles the UMP will be seen as a fake, not much different from the PS.

    It is time to chuck anti-colonialism, post-colonialism, etc. If the Maghreb does not want to be European, so be it. They had their chance. Similarly Europe can be contentedly European. Libertines-liberation theorists-laique egalitarians and sadistic fundamentalists don’t and can’t get along.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The views of both parties in the US on immigration are similar to those of F-Haine and those segments of UMP that try to chase F-Haine’s voter base. Obama has engaged in massive deportation of illegal immigrants, and is deporting asylum seekers back to the countries that they fled. Krugman makes welfare-chauvinist arguments (“we can’t make this offer global”). Hispanic groups often valorize Cesar Chavez, who called immigration services on immigrants who wouldn’t join his union. And this is the progressive faction; the Republicans are worse.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    However, the US makes sure to label the people it deports “undocumented” rather than “illegal,” and as we all know it’s the language that counts the most.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Actually, @syn, it’s binary thinking “either/or” that is the problem. It isn’t HSR or education, it’s HSR _and_ education _and_ higher taxes.

    Jon Reply:

    Hey, I’ve got a better idea! Let’s repeal prop 13, reassess property taxes based on current property values, and spend the resulting windfall on schools AND high speed rail!

    Ted Judah Reply:

    You got it backwards: the schools don’t need any more money. Sure, the funding is low per pupil, but California Republicans support Sacramento funding education because it keeps property tax low courtesy of AB 8 and Prop 98. You repeal Prop 13, the schools still have a problem and by extension the State.

    Reedman Reply:

    California only recently (2013) stopped school districts from issuing “capital appreciation bonds” (where no bond payments are made for, say, 20 years, on a bond 40 years in duration, in order for the district to be able to say “vote for this, and it won’t increase your taxes”), but with total cost to retire the bonds being large multiples of the borrowed amount. Poway School District gave their supervisor a bonus for having the guts to propose and get passed a 2011 bond deal that nuked future taxpayers this way. Michigan, that paragon of fiscal responsibility, doesn’t allow this.

    J. Wong Reply:

    + 1

    At the least, we should repeal Prop 13 in regard to commercial property. Businesses are paying low taxes on their property while reaping the benefits of gains with never never having to reassess when the property is sold. (They use a loophole of creating a wholey owned subsidary that owns the building, and then selling the subsidary to another business. No change in ownership, hence no reassessment. But you better believe that the value of the subsidary is directly dependent on the current value of its property.)

    Zorro Reply:

    That’s nice, what about Commercial Properties where people live at like Apartment buildings and Mobile Home Parks? No 13 there could hurt Seniors and Disabled People.

    Edward Reply:

    The proposals I have seen refer to non-residential commercial property. This makes sense especially in cities with rent control. If you limit rent increases to less than the inflation rate it makes sense to limit tax increases to less than the inflation rate too.

    Zorro Reply:

    Ok.

    Jerry Reply:

    Yes. Repeal the “Commercial Property” part of Prop 13.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Jerry, it simply does not work that way in the byzantine world of California power politix.

    Prop 13 for homeowners was an accident; they could not figure out a way legally or politically to exclude them. Sheer, blind luck for the humble homeowner.

    If you kill Prop 13 the commercial interests will shortly buy a way to restore its upshot for them. The homeowners will be screwed.

    Jerry Brown and his crowd are just as corrupt and owned by corporate interests as any Repub.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The commercial interests manage to make money in 49 other states where they pay real estate taxes more or less based on market value.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Prop 13 should never have been passed and should be repealed ASAP.

    The “2/3” provisions in prop 13 are actually unconstitutional revisions of the state Constitution (they are not valid constitutional amendments) so the entire thing should have been thrown out by the state Supreme Court as invalid. But water under the bridge…

  16. Eric M
    Apr 17th, 2015 at 15:54
    #16

    And on the other side of the world, Japan’s Maglev Train Hits World Record 590 Kilometers Per Hour (366 miles per hour)

    Jerry Reply:

    The WSJ article goes on to report:
    “Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is set to talk up Japan’s train prowess on a visit to the U.S. starting April 26. Mr. Abe’s trip includes a stop in California, which is planning a high-speed rail line.

    JR Central has said it wants to export the maglev technology to the U.S. for a Washington-New York train link—a project Mr. Abe has said Japan would help finance.”

    Useless Reply:

    Jerry

    Another typical Japanese politician clueless on the US railway conditions. Texas Central HSR was the most realistic opportunity for Japan and it appears all but dead. But a maglev? That’s gonna cost half a trillion dollars. Who can afford that?

    TomA Reply:

    Well we COULD afford it. But we have other priorities.

    Useless Reply:

    Eric M

    Unfortunately, Maglev is as relevant as Hyperloop in the US railway context, probably even less realistic than the Hyperloop.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    probably even less realistic than the Hyperloop.

    You’re insane…. ><

    synonymouse Reply:

    Some possible tech progress could make maglev vastly more competitive. Room temperature superconductivity.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s been just around the corner almost as long as cheap fusion.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Pons & Fleishacker live!

    Reality Check Reply:

    Room temp superconductors still don’t address the relative expense and complexity of maglev’s guideway and the inability to share/use any existing rails to access city centers or urban areas.

    Maglev guideways are inelegant and don’t permit cheap or easy switches and cannot be crossed at grade. I think they also don’t handle snow or ice or other foreign objects or debris very well.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “… the inability to share/use any existing rails…” is celebrated by BART; Bechtelians consider incompatiblity an asset. De rigueur.

    “relative expense”? Relative to BART’s replacing rail every six months?

    Maglev is just the supported duorail de nos jours.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Incompatibility enforces all new construction – that’s quintessential Bechtelian thinking and teaching.

    EJ Reply:

    I guess you missed the part where they developed a “blended plan” to allow Caltrain and HSR to share tracks on the peninsula?

    Peter Reply:

    And they’re even finally exploring platform compatibility!

    Roland Reply:

    Like the Russians? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_platform_height#Russia

    synonymouse Reply:

    Au contraire, mon vieux, PB demanded a 4 track Embarcadero Freeway on rails thru the Peninsula with 2 entirely separate systems.

    Peter Reply:

    Yes, five years ago they were looking at completely segregated systems. That was then, this is now. You need to update your repertoire.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That was because PAMPA took an ax handle to them. To get their atttention.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Maglev guideways are inelegant and don’t permit cheap or easy switches and cannot be crossed at grade.

    Maglev certainly is more difficult than traditional rail in such respects… but remember, Useless was comparing it to Hyperloop of all things. Hyperloop is going be much, much, worse in these respects than maglev.

    I think they also don’t handle snow or ice or other foreign objects or debris very well.

    JR-maglev floats about 10cm above the guideway, so it may well be better at handling such things than conventional rail…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Until it rides up on the ice and it’s 10.5 cm from the guideway and the sophisticated control system decides it’s time for an emergency stop.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    I don’t think they’re gonna stop maintaining the line or anything, I’m just saying there’s a pretty decent safety margin, and it isn’t going to be stopped by pebbles (or leaves ^^;) on the line….

    [Note that JR-maglev is different in this respect than the transrapid maglev tech, which has a much smaller train-guideway gap.]

    Peter Reply:

    I’m sure they will have measures in place to prevent such events. It’s not like preventing ice and snow build-up on rail lines is anything new. http://www.midwesthsr.org/cold-weather-passenger-trains

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Sending a 40 kph snow plow down the maglev line does all sorts of nasty things to the schedule.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    There already are ways to plow high-frequency high-speed lines.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    E.g the Joetsu Shinkansen, which travels through areas with very heavy snowfall, and famously uses hot-water sprinklers on the track to remove snow.

    The maglev line will probably have fewer issues simply because so much of it will be underground…

    Reality Check Reply:

    Save for frozen switches — easily handled by switch heaters — it’s significantly easier to keep trains running safely in snowy/icy conditions. The maglev guideway inherently presents a much bigger target/problem with ice & snow (or other debris) accumulations. All of which can dangerously clog/gum/ice up the guideway/vehicle gap. Whereas an ordinary train could simply roll through since its wheels act as knife-like ice breakers with tons of steel-on-steel force concentrated in a very focused/narrow area.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Oh, and what, pray tell, is that 40kph snowplow riding/running on? I doubt it will safely be able to even sustain 40kph trying to clear a night’s worth of accumulated snow & ice.

    Love to see ’em try keep maglev to Reno running over Donner through our typical pre-climate change winters with, what?, over 10 feet of snow per season. Base tunnel — a very long one — seems like the way to go.

    Reality Check Reply:

    I’m not buying that maglev is more tolerant of snow & ice than conventional rail. And doesn’t Japan’s system land on and “take-off” from wheels at a relatively high speed?

    This superconducting maglev FAQ confirms its royal & costly PITA:

    How does the SCMAGLEV system operate in icy and snowy conditions?

    A warm water sprinkler system is installed in open sections of the guideway outside of tunnels. Sprinklers are set up outside sidewalls and warm water is sprinkled to melt snow on roadbeds for wheeled operation and on sidewalls. The system includes sprinklers, pipe laying, warm water-supplying equipment, control devices and snow detectors. Ice and snow buildup along the guideway in open sections must be totally cleared, typically using sprinklers, to avoid collision hazards and road surface freezing must be averted to allow proper emergency braking operations. Therefore, a warm water sprinkler system is installed anywhere at which road surface freezing is expected.

    morris brown Reply:

    @ Useless

    Since by everyone agrees the Japanese are HSR leaders, and that the Japanese are “all in” on going Maglev for the next generation, I don’t see your comment as having much weight.

    Hyperloop, on the other hand is a big joke.

    joe Reply:

    All in to Maglev export to pay for the large investment. let me know when they turn off the current system.

    But keynotes build maglev along the Caltrain ROW. Large elevated structures.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Useless just says these things because he follows some sort of bizarro Korean nationalist position.

    Peter Reply:

    Well, the only reason the Japanese are building maglev is because they need a way to increase capacity on an incredibly busy route.

    Useless Reply:

    Peter

    There is no other corridor on earth whose traffic would justify the expense of Maglev. California is struggling to come up with $68 billion to build good old steel rail high speed rail that utilizes lots of existing legacy tracks. Now how is California supposed to come up with half a trillion dollars to build a Maglev line from San Francisco to LA from scratch? The sheer expense of Maglev corridor construction makes it a pure fantasy like the Death Star.

    Let’s get realistic here. Good old steel wheel high speed rail is the best California could afford to build.

    Peter Reply:

    I happen to agree with you. I’m not proposing building maglev in California. I was pointing out a flaw in morris’ argument (they’re always there).

    synonymouse Reply:

    The DeTour is the “Death Star” of CAHSR.

    I would just as soon spend the money on maglev as Palmdale real estate developers and the Tejon Ranch-Disney.

    Jerry Reply:

    Back in 2001 Pittsburgh, PA was supposed to be a test site for a 54 mile maglev system. It got nowhere.

    Interestingly, the maglev system in Japan is sort of a hybrid. Starting on rubber tires and then lifting off in the magnetic mode. (Would it work from steel wheels lifting off and then over the mountains in maglev mode?)

    In 2013, the NY Times reported that, “With the Japanese maglev, levitation occurs at about 90 m.p.h. That is when the wheels, shod with rubber tires, lift off the concrete guideway. Then the maglev train floats four inches above the U-shaped guideway, held aloft and propelled forward by superconducting magnets.”

    The same article claims that, “In a meeting with President Obama last winter, Mr. Abe offered to provide the maglev guideway and propulsion system free for the first portion of the line, linking Washington and Baltimore via Baltimore-Washington International Airport, a distance of about 40 miles.” Free??

    http://www.nytimes.com/2013/11/19/business/international/japan-pitches-americans-on-its-maglev-train.html?_r=1

    StevieB Reply:

    The Japanese offered to build a very short rail line with technology manufactured and sold only by the owner of the patent. As there is no standard for maglev rail their hope is the proprietary system would be widely expanded enabling enormous profits.

    Eric Reply:

    Profits for them and super-fast transportation for us. Sounds great!

    Useless Reply:

    morris brown

    > Since by everyone agrees the Japanese are HSR leaders

    Everyone in the industry understands that Japanese are non-contenders in blended-traffic high speed rail as required in the US and Europe. Japanese have never built a blended-traffic capable high speed train set before, and even the single blended traffic capable express speed train set that Hitachi built suffered from stability problems at high speed.

    > the Japanese are “all in” on going Maglev for the next generation

    Which is a Japan-only technology with no commercial prospects outside of Japan. A lot of things in Japan never make it out to overseas, like mobile payment widely available in Japan a decade before the Apple Pay showed up. There is OneSeg mobile DTV technology on Japanese phones, once again a cool Japan only technology that was superseded by streaming.

    > Hyperloop, on the other hand is a big joke.

    What’s so sad is that even the Hyperloop is more realistic than Maglev in California because it requires less land, could be built along existing highways or railways. Anyone who remotely understands what the Chuo Shinkansen requires to be built would tell you there is virtually zero possibility of it making it to the states.

    Gag Halfrunt Reply:

    Japanese manufacturers do make high speed trains that can run at conventional speeds, for Japan and for abroad. (Yes, they can build high speed trains that comply with European crashworthiness standards.)

    Which Hitachi train suffers from stability problems?

    swing hanger Reply:

    The class 395 used by Southeastern in the UK. Some wobbling in tunnel sections. It was fixed by replacing the bushings in the bogie yaw dampers.
    http://www.imeche.org/news/engineering/bad-vibrations-for-javelin-passengers

    Roland Reply:

    How about riding a Javelin and checking the “wobbling” out for yourself? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l-22IQNVV1I

    Useless Reply:

    Gag Halfrunt

    > they can build high speed trains that comply with European crashworthiness standards.

    With a maximum speed of 140 mph, which would classify it as an express train, not a high speed train(156 mph or higher) and certainly not do 220 mph revenue service that CHSRA wants.

    But this probably doesn’t matter, the CHSRA is looking for a proven model already in service for several years, which would rule out Japanese and Chinese bidders.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If the Europeans can make their trains wider longer and taller and still call it “in service” the Japanese can add a bit of crumble zone, narrrow it a tiny bit and call theirs “in service”.

    Roland Reply:

    The Frecciarossa 1000 is now part of the Hitachi stable and is compatible with 550mm & 760mm platforms: http://www.lultimaribattuta.it/24326_frecciarossa-slitta-il-roma-milano-2-h-e-20

    Gag Halfrunt Reply:

    Hitachi haven’t bought AnsaldoBreda yet. The https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frecciarossa_1000 is a Bombardier Zefiro built by AnsaldoBreda, so production might not continue after Hitachi take over.

  17. morris brown
    Apr 18th, 2015 at 17:32
    #17

    The Fiscal Times:

    Lax Oversight of $10 Billion High Speed Rail Grants

    http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/2015/04/07/Lax-Oversight-10-Billion-High-Speed-Rail-Grants

    Plenty of reasons here why the Federal Grants to California HSR should be cancelled.

    The federal government has received a barrage of criticism in recent years for management of its high-speed rail projects that seem to be going nowhere fast. Just last year, The New York Times reported that a combination of setbacks and little to no support from states has slowed the projects to a grinding halt.

    In August, Congress rejected the Obama administration’s request for an additional $10 billion for high-speed rail. Likewise, three governors canceled their federal funding for the projects—saying they were too expensive.

    Note the California grant (FR-HSR-009), mentioned requires a match from California. Yet California is allowed to continue spending the Fed funds without the required matching funds from California. Great oversight from the FRA!!

    joe Reply:

    ” Likewise, three governors canceled their federal funding for the projects—saying they were too expensive.”

    The dumbasses like Scott Walker gave up the money to CA and are now paying for the same rail with state funds.

    nice catch Morris.

    Peter Reply:

    Elsewhere, in the real world, the FRA is adopting all five recommendations from the Inspector General’s report to improve oversight:

    “1. Document Agency policy and procedures for prevention of Antideficiency Act
    violations in HSIPR grant amendments.
    2. Amend Agency policy and procedures to establish a process for defining the
    Agency’s risk tolerance, require assessment of the risk associated with grantees
    prior to executing amendments, and require documented conditions to mitigate
    the risks to within acceptable levels.
    3. Amend Agency policy and procedures to require documentation of significant
    analyses and decisions during the development of grant amendments.
    4. Clarify Agency policy and procedures to require documentation of grantees’
    corrective actions to resolve findings and staff’s efforts to follow-up on pastdue
    and unresolved findings.
    5. Amend Agency policy and procedures to require staff to report to OIG for
    evaluation or investigation all suspected instances of fraud, waste, and abuse.”

    Given that the rational people at the DOT’s IG (the current IG was appointed by Bush in 2006) aren’t calling for the grants to be cancelled, you appear to be putting a very predictable spin on this.

    Joe Reply:

    Report criticizes their ability to conduct oversight.

    “A new report from the department’s inspector general reveals that the Federal Railroad Administration doesn’t have a sufficient process in place to accurately track all of the grants it awards every year. ”

    The CA project has oversight and must follow state law.

    StevieB Reply:

    Morris, are you claiming that California matching funds for the Federal HSR grants have been waived? I recall reading that California made a matching fund payment this year.

    morris brown Reply:

    @ StevieB

    California has not met the terms of the Funding agreement — period. By now considerable matching funds from the State were to have been put up, but they have not. The Authority simply right now does not have the funds to match the Fed Funds as required.

    The Authority’s whole game plan is to spend the Federal funds first, making sure they are exhausted by Sept 2017. Morales stated the other day that it will be 4 years before completion of CP-1 -> CP-3.

    Right now, the Authority has no access to Prop 1A construction funds, and they don’t seem to care or they are not in any hurry to prepare legal financial plans, that will pass muster in the Courts.

    So I am not claiming that the CA matching funds have been waived, but CA matching funds have not been produced on the timeline required by the funding agreement. Nevertheless, the Feds don’t seem to care.

    How long this condition will continue is anyone’s guess, but this is a classic lack of appropriate oversight at the Federal level.

    StevieB Reply:

    Why is delay of California providing matching funds reason to cancel the High Speed Rail project? Who is being harmed by the delay?

    Zorro Reply:

    HSR will be built in CA Morris Brown, you can take that to the bank, don’t like that? Tough shit.. Yer a minority, the Majority is in charge and there is nothing you can do here to change that outcome.. Nothing…

    synonymouse Reply:

    PBHSR will be built and promptly and profoundly disappoint. Very limited traffic over the DeTour requiring large and embarrassing subsidy and shortly deferred maintenance.

    Meantime aviation and automobiles will continue to dominate LA-SF travel, where the real money lies. Who knows where tech will go ultimately but perhaps that is the reason the “regime”, oligarchy, power elite, whatever you wish to call the insider clique that runs California does not want the obvious, default route. FailRail is just there to shift taxpayer money to their friends and eventually something more efficacious will come to Tejon.

    The DogLeg is Queretaro bound. If you look at the route map at first I thought it looks like a pot belly. Now I am thinking more like a bulbous goiter or a tumor.

    Zorro Reply:

    Go eff off Cyno-troll..

    synonymouse Reply:

    VBobier, you are still with us!.

    synonymouse Reply:

    http://www.rrpicturearchives.net/showPicture.aspx?id=1753523

    2 years later, adios catenary. Sure does not appear to this amateur that much effort to raise this wire to accommodate double stack.

    But the DeTour cannot even share this fate as it cannot reasonably repurposed to freight.

    And reportedly the NdeM project involved some substantial new routing. Vision of the future.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Hmm, no one will ride it because it’s cheaper than flying & faster than driving? You know that’s nonsensical, @syno.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Flying will remain cheaper and faster; driving will remain vastly cheaper, especially for multi-passenger. MegaBus, etc. will stand as a serious, much cheaper competitor to FailRail.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    In syno-land, sure. In the real world, on the other hand, HSR has proved itself over the alternatives again, and again, and again…

    synonymouse Reply:

    California is not the real world. Other places do no permit a handful of real estate exploiters to dictate transport policy.

    The only place as corrupt and incompetent as California is Mexico, and you can see where hsr is going thereabouts.

    Jerry Reply:

    Mr. Mouse
    “Other places do no permit a handful of real estate exploiters to dictate transport policy.”
    Are you not aware of the other 49 states in which the Interstate Highway System was built?
    A system which had many real estate exploiters doing a lot of dictating.
    Not Stilt-a-Rail, but Stilt-a-Road through parks and other places. Which ALL pales in comparison to the short 800 miles of the CAHSR.

    les Reply:

    it sucks being in the minority and not getting your way. California is known for its wine but this is getting ridiculous.

    Zorro Reply:

    Coming from a Right Wing RAG, Fiscal Times, a filthy one at that, nothing but Garbage floated by Pete Peterson, a rich guy with an Ideological bent against anything Liberal, who idolizes any Radical Wrong Wing idea..

    David M Reply:

    Not sure why you’re saying the state should be penalized for the Fed’s lack of oversight.

  18. Lewellan
    Apr 18th, 2015 at 19:51
    #18

    Ahem, a translated passage from the Seattle Woodland Park Zoo elephant move issue:
    “There they’ll spend remaining years in a cluster of yards and stalls amidst prairie weather, but music concerts from nearby amphitheater and resident elephants they get along with.”
    Aren’t elephants more native to warmer temperature belts?
    Isn’t Seattle more wetter than where Packy done lived?
    Seattle is more or less, more than less, insanely insane, ob-vee-us-frickin-leeeee!!
    So whose else elephants wouldn’t rather live in Oklahoma?
    You’re welcome….

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