Tuesday Open Thread

Jul 21st, 2015 | Posted by

Been offline for most of the last week at Netroots Nation in Phoenix. Got a chance to use the city’s light rail system, which is useful even in the hot sprawl of central Arizona.

• Jeff Wood’s latest podcast covers lessons from France and Germany in a conversation with a planner at the FTA. Worth a listen.

• Jacobs Engineering Group has been awarded an HSR design contract to work with Dragados-Flatiron on the segment from Fresno south to the Kern County line.

• Exurban Texas continues to fight high speed rail.

• This week’s True Detective episode directly references the California High Speed Rail Authority, including using their logo and name in a scene that implies an Authority official is involved in shady land deals and morally dubious extracurricular activities – and willing to collude with a gangster to keep it quiet. The show went to pains to not use the name of the City of Vernon, even though that’s where most of the story takes place. So why not mask the CHSRA name? If I were the Authority, I’d be pissed, though I probably wouldn’t want to draw more attention to a show that nobody seems to be watching.

  1. Derek
    Jul 21st, 2015 at 11:14
    #1

    California I-10 bridge could have limited reopening in weeks, official says

    It’s about 50 miles west of the California-Arizona border. [photos]

    Unfortunately, there are few alternatives for people traveling between Los Angeles and Phoenix. Google suggests diverting north along minor highways from Palm Springs until a spot on the I-10 about 100 miles west of Phoenix. Or you can fly, or take Amtrak to Maricopa or Tucson and find your way from there.

    It’s relatively flat and sparse from west of Phoenix for 200 miles until about Indio, so it would make an ideal HSR corridor once it links to California’s HSR line in Riverside.

    Domayv Reply:

    I better idea for an I-10 high speed line is to have it just follow the I-10 freeway entirely because if it were to stop at Riverside, it would essentially make one 90 degree turn to get to Riverside and another 90 degree turn to go through the Moreno Valley and have to tunnel through the San Timoteo Badlands, whereas just following the I-10 entirely would require no tunneling save for through the hills where the Kellogg Interchange is located.

    Joey Reply:

    I-10 through Redlands isn’t really possible because of development and sharp curves. San Timoteo Canyon is probably better between Loma Linda and Beaumont and would require only minor tunneling.

    Domayv Reply:

    you mean use the UPRR right of way, but I doubt the UPRR would sell that to them, considering how important it is to them.

    https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zWLI5V544xAc.kXcHwZ4Hlc-0

    Joey Reply:

    No, I don’t mean use the UPRR ROW. I am aware of the issues with UPRR, and it has too many curves anyway.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    buy the land next to it. it should be cheap, it’s right next to a noisy smelly railroad.

    Domayv Reply:

    they’ll still have to deal with taking away peoples’ houses, and an LA-Phoenix HSR is likely going to prefer a route that would be fairly close to the Interstate Highway System (in this case it would add an HSR station to Redlands, which would provide it connections with the new Metrolink Redlands commuter rail, and given its proximity to the Redlands University, it would prove popular with college students over there)

    my route, which you can see the URL above, will be mostly tunneled and have two route: one that serves Redlands (both downtown and its university for Amtrak and Metrolink trains if they were to begin inter-city and commuter services to the Coachella Valley), and another that bypasses the area for a faster route (for HSR trains only)

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The Arizona Department of Transportation actually prefers the abandoned UP ROW between Yuma and Phoenix for HSR that has not been repaired since the 1995 Amtrak derailment.

    However, given San Diego’s popularity among Arizona travelers, it would make more sense to connect the Yuma station to San Diego directly and then link LA to Orange County and San Diego instead of following the I-10.

    Domayv Reply:

    it would be an engineering nightmare to create a direct high speed line between San Diego and Yuma (as a matter of fact, it would be even harder than making a high speed line that crosses the Tejon or Cajon passes) (following Interstate 8) since it would traverse the Cuyamaca Mountains, due to how sudden the grades are on the main freeway that crosses it (Interstate 8), plus it suddenly descends from 4,000 feet above sea level to below sea level in a few miles. Heck, even building a tunnel that crosses the range would be even tougher because it would be as long as 60 miles and might possibly cross geographically active fault lines, putting it at a complete risk should an earthquake occur there.

    Also, why does AzDOT prefer the abandoned UPRR ROW for an LA-Phoenix HSR line if a faster, newer, and more direct right of way that follows Interstate 10 can be made with little difficulty since buying land over there would be cheap due to the fact that there nothing there (save for Blythe), not even development. Maybe they could use the abandoned UPRR ROW for a San Diego-Phoenix high speed line since it would connect with the UPRR line that serves Yuma, but using that ROW for an LA-Phoenix high speed line would be completely impractical since it would add more time and effectively kill the time-competitiveness that the LA-Phoenix high speed line would have over the airlines that serve between the two cities.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The Phoenix airport is very close to downtown. It is very possible that any HSR service might go to the airport and then link to the rest of the city using light rail.

    The train is never going to beat the convenience of you love that close to an airport in LA, including San Diego. The reason to route it that way is to maximize load factor. I plotted the air travel data from the Bay Area to LA and Vegas San Diego, and Phoenix. Basically, if you route to Phoenix via San Diego, you can build one line south of LA to Anaheim and split off one train out of three to Vegas, two to San Diego, and let one continue on Phoenix and have a totally scalable operation.

    Joey Reply:

    Ted: Building SD-Phoenix (or mainly SD-El Centro) is going to be really, really expensive though. There’s no ROW to get through the developed area of San Diego, never mind the mountains that follow it.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Ted has floated this idea before. It looks impressive, a sweeping crescent with a broad felt marker on a small scale map. Try selling the idea to San Diego, not to mention the Del Martians.

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    From the Coachella Valley it’s a quick drop down to El Centro (Metro population 160,000) and then a straight shot to Yuma (200,000), for a total population of 360,000 potential customers and one mountain crossing east of Yuma. A surprisingly short tunnel could cut through the ridge.
    After that, the Wellton cut-off is a fairly flat and open run straight into the Phoenix Metro area. AZ-DOT would like to have regional rail connecting the major population centers and combining the ROW would make land acquisition easier and cheaper.
    And UP wants to dump the line, since they don’t have many customers along the old SP route, so it’s cheaper for them to come up through Casa Grande.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    San Diego will go for it if they don’t have to pay for it or lose any taxable land.

    And Paul, I designed this using a flow chart…thank you very much!

    Domayv Reply:

    let me see this map that you guys have just made

    EJ Reply:

    Just as a taste of what you’d be in for to build a rail line from SD to Phoenix, the San Diego and Arizona Eastern used to run from SD to El Centro. It was called “the impossible railroad” because it was so logistically difficult to build. As in, harder than getting across the Rockies and the Sierras 50 years before to build the transcontinental line. Part of it had to run through Mexico because they couldn’t figure out a way to put it through the mountains on the American side.

    Eric Reply:

    Phoenix-SD HSR should use the LA route at least as far as Beaumont. From Beaumont, you are just 20 miles away from a wye with the LA-SD line.

    Joey Reply:

    The San Timoteo Canyon route requires fewer property takes than the I-10 route. Which you would know if you had looked at satellite imagery.

    BTW: Access denied on your link above.

    Domayv Reply:

    dammit I forgot to make it public (now I have it available for you to see).

    Joey Reply:

    Try this alignment. The San Timoteo Canyon alignment is not zero tunnel, but it requires relatively few tunnels, each of which is pretty short.

    Domayv Reply:

    It has a pronounced S-curve, though, whereas my alignment has just one curve (the high-speed only alignment’s curve is more gentle whereas the inter-city route, which will be used by Amtrak and Metrolink trains is more noticeable but it’ll be enough to support 125 mph speed). Part of the reason why I had it go through Redlands was that it would provide connections with the upcoming Redlands passenger rail at Downtown Redlands and Redlands University, giving students connections with inter-city passenger service without having to transfer to bus, and it would essentially be the I-10’s answer to Riverside since that city is a major commuter center for the Inland Empire, and I expect Redlands to do something similar if stopping at San Bernardino isn’t viable.

    Well, the ultimate alignment will be determined by either XpressWest if it recuperates and changes focus from Mojave valley-Las Vegas to Los Angeles-Phoenix (which is a much better route choice to begin with) or if CHSRA decides to add an LA-Phoenix/Tuscon line to their list, either of which would perform an environmental analysis as to which would be the best route choice for a Phoenix-LA high speed line.

    Joey Reply:

    I didn’t optimize the S-curve, yeah. But without it, the route is good for 300+ km/h, and the alignment is not perfectly fixed.

    Redlands does provide the first transfer to Regional Rail, sure. But Redlands University is only 5k students – hardly a major ridership generator for intercity rail. I don’t think it’s worth 20 km of tunnel.

    Domayv Reply:

    but it would be nifty that if High speed rail can’t serve the town, then Amtrak and Metrolink (through the Coachella Valley line) could (this would require electric (or at the very least electro-diesel) trains, though since diesels would be banned from the tunnels due to ventilation and safety concerns).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Why would Amtrak be there? It’s a small exurb, not on the way to anywhere. Today the only Amtrak route is the Sunset Limited, which needs to be put out of its misery anyway. (Besides, HSR to Phoenix would make it obsolete.)

    Metrolink, maybe… I can see a route from Coachella Valley to SB (and LA). But it’d make more sense to run it as a TERGV. There’s not enough demand between LA and Phoenix (or San Diego and Phoenix, whatever) to fill an HSR line; 4 peak tph is the outer limit, and this encourages filling the lines with slower regional trains. It’d be easier to accommodate those trains on a high-speed line than on a freight mainline.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Alon, check out the population and demographics of the Coachella Valley, also the tourist statistics. There is every justification for a corridor service. For efficiency it should be part of the Surfliner, even though the name is inappropriate! A third main on UP and BNSF RoW would be sufficient.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Alon: HSR to Phoenix wouldn’t make the Sunset Limited obsolete; HSR to Phoenix *and commuter rail to Tucson* would.

    For various extremely obvious reasons, Tucson has more Amtrak riders than Phoenix.

    Of course, we have no idea how popular the Sunset Limited would be if it actually operated daily like a real train. :-P

    Domayv Reply:

    @Nathanael: The reason Tuscon has had more Amtrak rider is because it’s still served by Amtrak, whereas Phoenix hasn’t since 1995. If both do get Inter-City rail services to & from LA, then Phoenix will clearly have more ridership than Tuscon, due to its larger population.

    @Alon: As Nathaniel said, a corridor service to the Coachella Valley would be needed since there is enough ridership to justify the service (the only thing that’s preventing it is UPRR refusing to let Amtrak use its ROW; that’s why If you look at my map, between Colton and Beaumont, and possibly beyond that, it will be running on passenger-dedicated track and between Acton and LA will follow I-10 on a new dedicated right-of-way), though I do think it should be its own service and not part of the Surfliner. As for an LA-Phoenix rail line, there is enough demand between the two cities to justify at the very least a 200 km/h inter-city rail line, and eventually a high speed line.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Apparently Dubai can already occasionally achieve temperatures of 160 degrees fahrenheit. With OMG Global Warming US desert venues like Phoenix might conceivably reach 130 degrees. Add smog and no water how much bigger do you expect these hellholes to grow?

    And where do you plan to find the subsidy money for these trains? California won’t even pony up the money to run one lousy passenger train over the Loop Line. And virtually all of the cost of infrastructure upkeep, say freeways, falls on the 99%. Gates, Ellison, Buffett, Icahn, none of these plutocrats is interested in financing government activities. They set up non-profit charities they control to buy influence and their way into heaven instead.

    EJ Reply:

    Apparently Dubai can already occasionally achieve temperatures of 160 degrees fahrenheit.

    Do you just enjoy typing? Is that why you just make shit up all the time?

    Joe Reply:

    “The official highest recorded temperature is now 56.7 C (134 F), which was measured on 10 July 1913 at Greenland Ranch, Death Valley, California, USA.”

    A wet bulb temperature of 35 C (95 F) would be fatal to humans.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    In nice round numbers there’s a whole lot of nothing between Tuscon and San Antonio. 125mph trains can’t share ROW with 60mph freight trains. The passenger trains catch up with the freights. It cost just as much to build 125mph/200kph right of way as it does to build 225mph/360kph, might as well just go for the VHSR tracks out in the desert.

    Domayv Reply:

    That’s why Amtrak should build its own dedicated right of way, complete with 25 kv 60hz AC electrification to support high speeds.

    Joey Reply:

    Domayv: It’s cheaper to replace existing catenary than to build a new ROW with new grade separations, new track, and new catenary. The NEC should have dedicated high speed lines in some areas, but definitely not everywhere.

    synonymouse Reply:

    @ EJ

    The 160 degree figure came from the article on Dubai Alstom trams in the current issue of Trains magazine. As I recall it referred to enclosed spaces – how enclosed I do not know.

    I think it likely that region of the Middle East reaches, what, “ambient” temperatures approximating 134 degrees already and over a much larger swath than Death Valley.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Do we really need a high speed line to phoenix though? I mean no one in california wants to go to arizona. and I don’t think we want them here either. Id rather focus time and money on expanding a statewide california high speed network. I mean do we really care about arizona? not really. I don’t think we should fraternize with any of the red states really. They all hate us. I think we should just surpass them all with our own statewide system and then look over the top of our sunglasses as we woosh away at 220.

    Domayv Reply:

    @Joey: I’m talking about outside the NEC, in places like California, the Pacific Northwest, Michigan, Missouri and Texas, places that have not received electrification for inter-city services like what the NEC does and are not owned by Amtrak (save for parts of Michigan). At least building new right-of-way would be better than just purchasing it from the freight companies (unless they don’t want the ROW any more) About the NEC and dedicated tracks, I would suggest that

    *JimInPollockPines: But LA-Phoenix is an important inter-city corridor, though, so it could benefit greatly with an HSR system.

    And here’s the thing about reds and rail systems, they’re trying to do everything they can to prevent it from happening and insist that more freeway lanes should be build instead (which isn’t good not one bit) because they think that cars and planes are the way and ONLY THE way to go and that they view rail as a threat to their status quo (already in Texas, the new high speed railway that would link Dallas and Houston is taking heavy fire from NIMBYs and reds because it would upset the status quo that the reds long to keep. Never mind the fact that the state has been increasingly getting more minorities, who are more likely to vote Democrat (who supports rail) than Republican (who opposes rail), than any other state (Houston has the most minorities in a major city ever as of recent), that Interstate 45 is constantly clogged and has an insanely high rate of fatalities and accidents (go look up the “Texas Killing Fields”), and that Southwest Airlines already recognizes that they cannot keep doing Dallas-Houston at the same frequency as they had done in the past).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Census Bureau says 37% of the people in New York City are foreign born. 28.3% in Houston. 22.1% in New York State and 16.3% in Texas. 27% in California.

    http://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2014/05/14/15-states-with-the-highest-share-of-immigrants-in-their-population/

    Alon Levy Reply:

    As for an LA-Phoenix rail line, there is enough demand between the two cities to justify at the very least a 200 km/h inter-city rail line, and eventually a high speed line.

    As Adi notes, the construction costs of 200 and 360 are the same. Even going down to like 130 saves very little money – there are so few inhabited places between Coachella Valley and Phoenix that there are very few roads to cross, so allowing grade crossings saves almost no money.

    I mean no one in california wants to go to arizona.

    Factcheck: California -> Arizona was one of the three most popular state-to-state moves last decade, after New York -> Florida and maybe California -> Nevada.

    Domayv Reply:

    @Alon: Oh yes, I forgot to mention that it wouldn’t matter in cost if it’s 200 km/h or 360 km/h, so the best bet for a successful LA-Phoenix rail service is to build a high speed line. You did sound a bit hypocritical when you said that there isn’t enough demand between LA and Phoenix yet you said that California -> Arizonz was one of the most popular state-to-state moves. About building a San Diego to Phoenix line via Interstate 8, it’s borderline impossible due to the difficulty of crossing the Cuyamaca Mountains between San Diego and Imperial County (unless someone like Clem can make a Phoenix-San Diego map like how he proved that it is possible to build a high speed railroad through the Tejon Pass by creating a crossing on Google maps).

    BTW, how do you quote because I don’t know how to on this website.

    Joey Reply:

    I’m talking about outside the NEC, in places like California, the Pacific Northwest, Michigan, Missouri and Texas, places that have not received electrification for inter-city services like what the NEC does and are not owned by Amtrak (save for parts of Michigan). At least building new right-of-way would be better than just purchasing it from the freight companies (unless they don’t want the ROW any more)

    That’s generally true between cities. In urban areas, things get a bit trickier because building a new ROW means property takes. It almost doesn’t matter anyway, since UPRR in particular is pretty protective of its ROW (BNSF is willing to accommodate when it doesn’t inconvenience them). When there are existing public ROWs that are wide enough for more tracks (or when the existing services can be modernized to be compatible with HSR), or when it’s a disused branch line that the freight RRs are willing to sell though, it should absolutely be used.

    Domayv Reply:

    @adirondacker12800: I meant minority types, not minority population.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    White people from Ohio are minorities.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Domayv, what’s hypocritical about what I said? There’s no travel demand from intermediate cities between LA and Phoenix. There’s a lot between LA and Phoenix, as well as long-term moves.

    You put indented quotes using the blockquote HTML tag.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There were 2.1 million people in Riverside County at the 2010 census. Most of them clustered around I-10 west of Indio. Palm Springs is a major tourist and retirement destination.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palm_Springs_International_Airport

    Domayv Reply:

    @Alon Levy: next time elaborate better.

    mmm

    Domayv Reply:

    Also, I have the route between Colton and Beaumont tunneled via tunnel boring machine, meaning much less property takes

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    heres a nice state network using a comination of 220 and 125 high speed lines to reach all corners connecting all californians. Once completed it will be the envy of the rest of the nation. and will give them even more reason to hate on us.

    Danny Reply:

    just thinking out loud but there’s longer-range plans to connect Irvine and SD but that route’s pretty tight in some areas, often paralleling channelized creeks

  2. Reality Check
    Jul 21st, 2015 at 15:28
    #2

    ​Jacobs wins $1.2b CA HSR deal for 65-mile CP 2-3

    Jacobs Engineering Group Inc. announced today that it was awarded a contract to provide design services for the Construction Package 2-3 (CP 2-3) of the California High Speed Rail, which represents the continuation of construction on the California high-speed rail system south towards Kern County. Jacobs is the lead designer for the Dragados-Flatiron Joint Venture for the design-build contract and is responsible for the infrastructure design.

    […]

    CP 2-3 is expected to provide 65 miles of infrastructure improvements required for the future high-speed rail (HSR), including over 10 million yards of new HSR embankment, 23 HSR structures and 32 new roadway grade separations. The project covers a 65-mile portion of the 120-mile initial construction segment, which will be used as a test track for vehicles before being put into service.

    […]

  3. synonymouse
    Jul 21st, 2015 at 20:27
    #3

    “shady land deals and morally dubious extracurricular activities”

    Trivial allegations compared to sprawling another LA in the high desert.

    Vernon, Bell, Major Rizzo are small fry and geographically removed from the scene of the crime, which is of course Sta Clarita-Palmdale. I have not watched it – the writers don’t have the stones to take on Disney nor the Ranch nor PB.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many six story condos can they build in your suburb instead?

    synonymouse Reply:

    They just built 3 of the pieces of shit up the main street – no doubt ABAG mandated.

    Bright side of OMG Global Warming would be waters slowly swamping Manhattan. Something for the progeny to enjoy.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Keep in mind, syno, that when sea reclaims the continents, it’s the single-family homes that will go under first… ><

    synonymouse Reply:

    yuk yuk yuk – They’ll float – the termites will paddle. That’s why prissy architects nannied masonry houses.

    California is not the ninth ward – our low end single family homes are in the hinterlands, like Antioch. Willie Brown will be flooded out in his SOMA highrise long before Antioch or Stockton or Gilroy go under.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That’s why Jerry loves Palmdale so much – all that new coastal real estate will be so valuable.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I wonder if a higher bay would have any impact on the Transbay Tube. They must have designed in a lot of boilerplate.

    JB in pa Reply:

    The trans-bay tube design took into account the scenario of a large ship dragging an anchor. The tube is under a berm to ensure the anchor cannot hit the tube. A few cm of water pressure is not a problem.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    The tunnel ports being 10m or so under mean sea level is more problematic.

    PS “A few cm”? Good luck with that.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Antioch has bigger problems: as sea level rises and the Delta collapses, the intake that those cities along the Sacramento River use for water will become comprised with salt water.

    “Palmdale” is just a gambit to allow Los Angeles and the MWD continue to monopolize the urban water supply in California.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Think of how much of SF was in the Bay not long ago. Everything beyond Montgomery to the northeast.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    relatively short dike across the Golden Gate solves many many problems.

    JB in pa Reply:

    It turns out, the water under the bridge is one of the relatively deep parts of the bay. Building a ocean dike Holland style would need to be located a more shallow region near the gate. There is less deep water between the Bridge and Alcatraz and also some sand bars a little ways out to sea. The golden gate flood control would protect a significant amount of property.

    http://youtu.be/GySUAMuj-cY

    synonymouse Reply:

    You want to fill the Bay? – Jerry and friends would love that. Lots and lots of freeways and bye-bye BART.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It would eventually become brackish or even fresh water.

    JB in pa Reply:

    Not fill the bay, just protect from increase in sea level. There are examples of control gates that manage the flow, allow ship traffic and minimize impact on the environment. Instead of hundreds of miles of sea wall you build a set of gates.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Think of how many more tenements and strip malls and freeways you can build it you just fill it. The sea traffic can go to LA.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And airports

    Reality Check Reply:

    So you wanna revive some version of The Reber Plan?

    Reality Check Reply:

    A nice little (under 4 min.!) YouTube documentary on The Reber Plan (to fill SF Bay).

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Party hierarchy would eventually go for something along those lines now that they have become developer shills. Before you protest consider the reality Jerry is effectively working for the Tejon Ranch. An ostensible hardcore liberal pimping sprawl.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Stockton is at sea level, in a floodplain. San Francisco is on hills. See map here.

    synonymouse Reply:

    LA will be happy to take any of that water off Stockton’s hands.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It’d be saltwater.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They’d have to pump water from the inland side of the dike to the ocean. Eventually it’d become brackish or even fresh.

    synonymouse Reply:

    If Stockton is flooded with sea water it won’t be Jerry Brown’s California. Mad Max’s.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They’ll just add more seawall on top of the one already there.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Let Bloomberg pay for it.

  4. Elizabeth Alexis
    Jul 22nd, 2015 at 07:26
    #4

    Parsons Brinckerhoff just won $700 million extension to their contract managing California’s high speed rail project.

    Their winning proposal: https://goo.gl/TQKtnh
    Bechtel’s losing proposal: https://goo.gl/m2iNz4

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Is it your turn to be awarded this highly competitive contract or is is ours?

    Eric M Reply:

    So what alternative companies are there to manage a project of this size?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Depends who writes the contract requirements, doesn’t it?

    EJ Reply:

    Well, who do you think should manage it?

    Travis D Reply:

    Richard thinks he should manage it. ha ha

    synonymouse Reply:

    And PB knows they are entitled to manage it. They paid good money for it.

    keith saggers Reply:

    Network Rail said it would provide specialist advice drawing on its experience of maintaining High Speed 1 in the UK. Parsons Brinckerhoff has committed to using the services of 40 firms, of which 20 are small businesses, to help meet CHSRA’s 30% participation goal for small businesses, 10% participation goal for disadvantaged business enterprises and 3% participation goal for disabled veteran business enterprises
    Railway Gazette

  5. Reality Check
    Jul 22nd, 2015 at 12:45
    #5

    Amtrak catenary woes delay trains to/from NYC for 3rd day in a row

    For the third day in a row, Amtrak power problems on Wednesday delayed thousands of commuters from getting to and from New York City.

    NJT was forced to suspend service in and out of the city because of overhead wire problems.

    A power outage around 5:45 a.m. Wednesday affected both tubes of the 105-year-old Hudson River Tunnel, some station tracks and portions of Sunnyside Yard in Queens, Amtrak spokesman Craig Schulz said in an email.

    The problem persisted in the south tube, meaning trains had only one track available.

    One rider said she was stuck in a tunnel for over an hour.

    “The communication was horrible,” commuter Annette Walsh told 1010 WINS. “No information — finally he gets on and says, ‘OK attention passengers the power is out and it can’t be restored’ and then it cuts out.”

    Power was restored by 7:45 a.m., but NJ TRANSIT riders still faced delays of up to 90 minutes.

    […]

    On Tuesday, there were delays on the Northeast Corridor when a signal problem in the Princeton area slowed trains.

    A disabled train in one of the tunnels and overhead wire troubles caused delays in and out of Penn Station Monday night when the heat and humidity made it feel like it was over 100 degrees in parts of the area.

    […]

    America’s Finest Rail Transportation Professionals on the job!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It was first used in 1937. I suspect those professionals are dead.

    Reality Check Reply:

    @adi: 1937 is irrelevant … nobody has touched or been responsible for (or received any pay for) assessing the condition of and maintaining the catenary and related infrastructure for 78 years? Either they have … or they haven’t.

    Both of which bring us back to: “America’s Finest Rail Transportation Professionals on the job!”

    Edward Reply:

    Replacing the present system with constant tension catenary would be a good idea. Just about everyone agrees. What is not agreed upon is who pays for it. Amtrak has been nickled and dimed to death by congress for decades and the present congress certainly has no wish improve the situation.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s difficult to do anything without money. People fairly frequently assess the situation, come up with recommendations and they don’t get funded.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/High-speed_rail_in_the_United_States#First_attempts_at_high-speed_rail_1960-1992

    Some of them even get funded but idiots cancel them.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Access_to_the_Region's_Core

    Alon Levy Reply:

    ARC never even pretended to be about HSR, unlike Gateway.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If all of NJTransit’s current traffic moved over to ARC, Amtrak wouldn’t need to build Gateway until the tunnel from Rahway to White Plains is under construction.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Amtrak doesn’t need to build Gateway today, either. As I noted on SAS, the passenger capacity of a 16-car 2+2 Shinkansen is about three times that of an 8-car Acela.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They needed more tunnel in 1996.

    Joey Reply:

    Yes, but not for intercity trains.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If there is a commuter train in the tunnel or at the platform the intercity train can’t use it.

    Joey Reply:

    Adding intercity capacity doesn’t require adding trains.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It does if you want to add a train to Harrisburg, a train to Albany and train to Springfield every weekday afternoon between 3 and 7.

    Joey Reply:

    Tautological success – adding trains requires adding trains. That’s not the same as capacity.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So they should just start canceling standing room only NJTransit trains so they can run intercity trains instead? Cancel the express to Trenton so there can be another train to Harrisburg. And cancel the express to Hackettstown so there can be train to Scranton. and tell Raritan Valley Line passengers that they won’t be getting service to Manhattan so trains can run to Allentown.

    Joey Reply:

    Is adding intercity trains necessary in the immediate future? I don’t think it is. As is the point of this discussion, adding more capacity can be achieved by adding cars to each train rather than adding more trains.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Which is why they are buying more cars. What do you do once the 12 car trains are full in 2019? Nothing until Gateway is completed. And a second Portal Bridge and lots of trackwork in the Meadowlands.

    Running longer trains to Washington DC isn’t particularly effective at getting people to Lancaster and Harrisburg. Or Allentown or Scranton. Running a longer train to Harrisburg doesn’t let them split that into people going to Philadelphia and a train that skips Philadelphia and gets to Harrisburg much faster. Or run an express to Albany and Syracuse and a local to Saratoga Springs or even Vermont. Or run a train to Springfield instead of having people change to a shuttle in New Haven. They can’t run a Regional that expresses to Richmond at 5:05, a Regional that makes all stops at 5:10 and an additional Acela at 5:30.

    Joey Reply:

    16 cars is the standard maximum, but I suppose that would require major modifications to some stations. In any case, yes, once the intercity trains are all running their maximum number of cars then you need to add a second pair of tunnels. But they shouldn’t end in a new terminal built by leveling a city block.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If they don’t build new tunnels the only alternative is canceling standing room only commuter trains.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Regionals and the Keystones aren’t at capacity – look at their seat occupancy rates. The Acela is, at rush hour, but the Acela can comfortably triple, and less comfortably quadruple, its seated capacity.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    When it’s sold out at 5 o’clock in the afternoon that there are empty seats on the last train of the night isn’t much help. Or that there is an empty seat between Philadelphia and Washington DC for the people who want to go from Stamford to Baltimore.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Regional only sells out when it’s a holiday. It’s fuller in the weekend peak and around peak travel times, but it doesn’t sell out.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    An extreme example. A whole train sells out for Wilmington to New York. All those seats are empty between Washington DC and Wilmington. It has a 50% occupancy rate. Telling someone who wants to get on in Philadelphia that there were plenty of empty seats in Baltimore isn’t particularly useful.

    It sells out fairly often for the 5:05 and it’s not unusual for the 6:05 to sell out. Partly because the 5:00 and the 6:00 Acelas sell out. They can’t decide to run a 4:55 that makes lots of stops ( I suspect there would be some demand at New Brunswick, Princeton Junction and Cornwalls Heights between 5 and 6. ) a 4:57 that expresses to Philadelphia and that goes to Suburban and Jefferson and change the 5:10 to Harrisburg into an express. Cutting a half hour out of the schedule to Harrisburg is going to induce demand. Or a train that goes to Boston via Hartford or an express to Albany or anything to Scranton or Allentown.

    ….hmmm I see Empire Service is back down to 2:30 between Albany and New York.

  6. morris brown
    Jul 22nd, 2015 at 14:19
    #6

    A whole lot more on “True Detective” and High Speed Rail.

    http://www.scpr.org/programs/offramp/2015/07/22/43734/separating-california-high-speed-rail-fact-and-fic/

    synonymouse Reply:

    Morris, these writers have totally missed the boat. Perhaps they should have read this blog.

    The biggest scandals associated with CAHSR:

    Grotesque intervention and manipulation by wealthy and corporate interests and unions.

    Incompetent and/or compromised engineering consultants.

    Uniparty patronage machine – call it totalitarian democracy or soft dictatorship – muzzling whistleblowers and dissidents and fixing the courts.

    So-called media, what’s left of it, in the hands of oligarchies like Newscorp and Disney. Ergo PB’s bs and propaganda left totally unanswered and unchallenged.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I mean they could have at least incorporated the TMV’s f*****g holiest of holies golf course as the reason for blowing an extra $5bil.

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    And the BuildaBurger fast food conspiracy!
    Mark my words: The fact that there’s no evidence is proof of how deep the conspiracy runs!

    EJ Reply:

    Don’t forget the great Caltrain toilet scandal.

    Joey Reply:

    Intercity capacity can be expanded without adding trains.

    Joey Reply:

    Sorry, wrong place. That’s what happens when I try to do this on a phone.

    EJ Reply:

    Well, syn, it’s 2015. Anyone can start a blog for practically nothing. Why don’t you publish all the dirt you seem to have on these unions and politicians.

  7. Paul Dyson
    Jul 22nd, 2015 at 20:10
    #7

    No regional trains should terminate in NYC

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They should just run them mostly empty in the reverse direction?

    Joey Reply:

    The New York area has enough secondary centers with ridership draw. Also, there are reverse-peak trains. Perhaps a better statement is that reverse-peak runs shouldn’t originate in the core (they should originate from peak runs from the other side).

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Why not? They run reverse-peak subway trains out of Manhattan. At 8:30 in the morning, how full do you think eastbound Es are? Or southbound N/Q/R/B/Ds in Brooklyn? Hell, the Brooklyn Rs have seats at rush hours even in the peak direction.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Because electricity isn’t free?

    Joey Reply:

    The expensive part of running trains is the crews. I don’t know the work rules, but I doubt that they stop being paid when the train terminates in the Hudson Yards or Sunnyside or Grand Central in the morning.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Okay, computation time. Statewide electricity rates for transportation (mainly the city, for obvious reasons) are $0.1245 per kWh. LIRR trains don’t go fast enough for air resistance to be a big factor, so power consumption is almost entirely in acceleration. Accelerating to 130 km/h means each 54-t car gains 85 MJ of kinetic energy, but judging by the difference between acceleration time and kinetic energy for the FLIRT, this involves about 140 MJ of power delivered. But this includes losses in transmission, which are canceled out regenerative braking, which saves 20% energy, so we’re talking about 115 MJ. Now, 1 kWh = 3.6 MJ, so this means that accelerating and decelerating one LIRR car for one station is about 30 kWh, or $4 in electricity costs. For a 12-car train, it’s about $50 per station, or $200 for an all-stop run between Penn and Jamaica. At present-day fares, if you induce 30 extra riders between Penn and Jamaica, you break even on electricity. At subway fares, make it 100 extra riders. Somehow I feel a 12-car train gets more riders than that, even when it runs reverse-peak.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Wikipedia has power specifications. Trains parked in a yard aren’t using power and aren’t staffed.

    Joey Reply:

    So what happens to the crew once the train terminates? Does their shift end or are they paid to loiter around until the evening rush?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Don’t say loiter. That implies Americans are lazy, or something. See comments here.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, but the power specifications don’t tell me how much power the train consumes in motion; for that I’d need to know how long it takes it to accelerate to various speeds, and I do not have that information.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Um the number of watts they are rated for when they are being used at 100 percent?

    Clem Reply:

    So for how long are they being used at 100%? What if they accelerate at less than full throttle? Alon’s method is much better because you don’t need to know how long it took, at what percent throttle, or what the rated power is. You don’t even need Wikipedia. None of those matter (to first order as he noted) if you know the final speed.

    Clem Reply:

    Accelerating 54 tonnes to 130 km/h takes 35 MJ, not 85.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    …why did I think it was 85? It’s not even 2*35, which could be explained by forgetting to divide by 2.

    Anyway, doing it correctly this time means each acceleration cycle is about 13 kWh (can we pretend I confused thirty and thirteen maybe?…), or $1.62 in electricity costs, or about $78 for four stations with a 12-car train.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and HVAC and lighting. And keeping the train in motion in between the stations. And running up hours on their MTBF numbers. And staff. It costs money to run almost empty trains out to the end of the line versus parking them.

    Joey Reply:

    The electricity is still going to be cheap compared to the crew.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Random typing. Press “Submit Comment”. Free associations. And stuff. And Trenton. Run on. And oogly goodness. Secaucus. M-8. And Sunnyside. Submit Comment.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    For the X2000 (see PDF-p. 64 here), keeping the train in motion at 130 km/h is 735 kW for a 6-car train, or 122 kW per car. Over a 4-minute cruising period, this is 8 kWh per car – but trains cruise for 4 minutes at that speed if interstations are on the order of 10 km, which is high by the standards of local New York-area commuter trains (or local Caltrains).

    HVAC and lighting? Meh. Wikipedia tells me it’s 20 kW for a passenger car. Not terribly relevant when acceleration consumes 800 kW.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Actually, no, it’s not 735 kW, it’s 13 kN –> 477 kW (power = force*speed). So 80 kW per car, or 5.3 kWh per car per 4 minutes. But if interstations are 4 km, it’s more like 2 minutes of cruising, for 2.6 kWh. So, about 20% of the power required to accelerate.

    It makes sense when you think about it – regenerative braking is only helpful because a very large fraction of power consumption is for acceleration. You can’t regenerate the energy you expend overcoming air resistance or friction when you brake.

    Incidentally, the extra 2.6 kWh, plus about 0.5 kWh to overcome track resistance during acceleration and deceleration (figure a notional average speed of 20 m/s during these cycles and 90 seconds total), make the difference between 10 kWh of 0.5*(54 t)*(130 km/h)^2 and 13 kWh in the rough example above; when we look at theoretical power consumption levels, regenerative braking cancels out with losses in transmission.

    (By the way, from the fact that observed FLIRT acceleration rates are very close to those predicted theoretically, we can conclude that there is very little room to reduce train energy consumption except via even better regenerative braking and weight reduction. 54 t -> 40 t cuts 25% off the power consumption in acceleration.)

    Crew costs… sure, they’re higher, on average. But the marginal cost of replacing a split shift with a slightly longer continuous shift isn’t high.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    until you have to go out and hire more people so that the trains running at 7 pm have staff.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Lengthen the shifts so that there are 800 revenue-hours per driver-year and not 500 as on the LIRR today.

    Anyway, while we’re discussing $6/car in electricity costs for a four-stop ride, or about $5/car in maintenance costs for an extra 17-km ride (both Penn-Jamaica), the depreciation and interest on a single M7-9 is $450 per day, and that has to be paid regardless of whether the train runs or sits in a yard collecting dust.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    it depreciates as you put more miles on it.

    Clem Reply:

    No, it depreciates whether or not the wheels turn. Same as a bus or an airliner.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Confusing financial depreciation with residual value

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The trains New Jersey bought that became known as Arrow Is were a disaster. They were stored for years, converted to unpowered cars and then lightly used. Caltrans bought them for 75,000 a piece, refurbished them and they flit around California today. Arrow IIs weren’t a disaster. They wore out in 2001. Arrow IIs are very very similar to stuff Pennsylvania had. The cars in Pennsylvania weren’t run as hard as the cars in New Jersey and weren’t retired until 2012. Running cars around wears them out.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then I suppose Caltrans should have fished ArrowIIs up from the reefs instead of rebuilding stuff that started out it’s life as Arrow Is.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If depreciation had much to do with how far the train ran, TGVs and Shinkansen would only last a few years. Instead, they magically last decades (TGVs more so than Shinkasen, but in Japan all trains last just 20 years). Somehow, trains that run 300,000 km a year last the same amount of time as trains that run 100,000.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then why did Arrow IIs last ten years less than similar Silverliners? Why is the MTA looking at M9s instead of just rebuilding M3s? If it’s function of calendar days they should last well into the 2030s.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Pretty much all subway and commuter rail systems in the US average around 90,000 car-km per car-year, so it can’t be about distance traveled. Some trains are just better than others – for examples, the R32 was built better than its immediate successors, so it’s outlasted them by 10-15 years, and the M4 and M6 were kind of meh so they’re being replaced at the same time as the M2. To see really big differences in distance traveled, you have to go to countries with HSR networks.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Confusing deterioration with depreciation. A vehicle can lose its value very quickly if it is found that it doesn’t perform, or has been in a wreck for example. But it might still be depreciated over 20 years for financial purposes.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Running them around almost empty makes them deteriorate faster than sitting at a platform or in a yard.

    Joey Reply:

    Isn’t that covered in the aforementioned maintenance costs?

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Okay, I turned this into a blog post. Turns out that whether crew costs are higher than energy costs depends on whether staffing levels are taken from the austerians or from the Freest Country on Earth ™. At today’s FCoE staffing, crew is about 3.5-4 times as expensive as electricity, but at austerian staffing, it can be somewhat cheaper than electricity, by up to 25%.

    Reedman Reply:

    FYI:
    According to someone who appears to work at BART (which operates at 1000VDC nominal):

    — a full 10 car train can draw 15000 amps (15 Megawatts) for 30 seconds during acceleration
    (15 MW x 30 sec = 450 Mjoules)
    — a full train draws perhaps 1500 amps (1.5 Megawatts) while rolling down the rails

    This person says the two largest customers for PG&E are 1) State of California, and 2) BART.

    According to BART, it pays $3.5 million per month for electricity.
    https://www.bart.gov/sites/default/files/docs/2014BARTFactsheet_Final%20011614.pdf

    http://www.bartrage.com/node/847

    Ted Judah Reply:

    That’s an interesting statement given that Sacramento is part of its eponymous Municipal Utility District and BART actually has a partnership with the Northern California Power Authority to run its trains.

    Still both might have spot contracts when their own power needs run short. The Independent System Operator (CAL-ISO) could also be the culprit…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    15 MW seems really high. It means each car draws 1.5 MW maximum power, which given how light BART cars are is 59 kW/t. I don’t think maglev is capable of this, let alone conventional HSR (the powerful, ultralight Talgo AVRIL is 29.6), let alone subway trains.

    Clem Reply:

    The voltage will sag by several hundred volts under max load. Also, for the first several seconds the train is adhesion limited and cannot use full power. And if you put 450 MJ into a 10-car train it would easily exceed 100 mph.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Sure, I would love if you could avoid a change in Chicago on a transcontinental route…but otherwise it’s not practical to avoid using hubs. Sure, you could qualify your statement to only be about commuter trains, but what would the logic of that be?

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Using hubs doesn’t mean you have to terminate the train there … The train can stop to let passengers on/off and then continue on out the other side.

  8. Paul Dyson
    Jul 22nd, 2015 at 20:18
    #8

    No reversing
    Keep moving to the other side of the metro

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    when it gets to the other side of the central business district it’s running in the direction that is reverse of the peak direction.

    EJ Reply:

    Well, that’s how NY Penn works, for the most part. NJ Transit trains physically continue to Sunnyside yard in Queens and LIRR trains continue to the Hudson yards once they’ve let off passengers. There are probably valid reasons for having through service, but I doubt it would do much to increase capacity at NY Penn since the bulk of passengers are going to get off in Manhattan anyway.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Many of them turn around and go the Meadowlands. It’s difficult to send trains to Sunnyside when the LIRR is having it’s peak and difficult to get them from Sunnyside when the LIRR is having it’s other peak.

    Nathanael Reply:

    This has actually been studied, EJ, and you’re flat wrong. Everyone who knows anything about train operations says that you’d add significant capacity by through-running the trains — if the incompatible electrical systems, turf wars, etc. could be solved.

    There’s a reason why London is building Crossrail (although the bulk of passengers are getting off in the West End) and Paris built the RER (although the bulk of passengers are getting off in downtown Paris) and Berlin built the through tunnels Berlin Hbf (although the bulk of passengers are getting off there) and Philadelphia built the Center City Connection (although the bulk of passengers are getting off at Reading Terminal or Suburban, and can even change trains at N. Phildelphia/N.Broad).

    It’s not for the passengers. It’s simply operationally more efficient to be able to turn a peak trip on one branch into an off-peak trip on another branch without any conflicting movements. (Conflicting movements are where an eastbound is crossing the path of a westbound, for example.)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If you can get 26 trains an hour through the tunnel you can get 26 an hour through the tunnel. No amount of rearranging things at the station is going to change that.

    EJ Reply:

    sorry, replied to wrong comment, meant to reply to Miles Bader above.

  9. datacruncher
    Jul 22nd, 2015 at 20:22
    #9

    Hanford draws regional support for HSR – Tulare County, Visalia pledge to help pay for planning grant

    Is it too soon to start planning for a high-speed rail station in Hanford?

    The Hanford City Council held a study session Tuesday to discuss a grant to pay for the planning of a proposed high speed rail station in Hanford.

    ……….

    Visalia City Manager Mike Olmos said the Hanford high-speed rail station should serve as a regional station to benefit the surrounding area. Olmos said one of Visalia’s weaknesses in attracting businesses is its lack of connectivity to the rest of the state.

    “Our council has been very clear that if the project does happen that we would come and try to partner with Hanford and the Kings County community to try to bring a regional station to fruition,” Olmos said. “It benefits all of us in several ways, primarily economic development.”

    ……..

    Aaron Fukuda, co-chairman for the Hanford-based Citizens for California High Speed Rail Accountability, told the council to be careful in applying for a planning grant when the rail project appears to be in constant flux.

    “Are they going to deliver you a high-speed rail station you can plan for, or are they going to deliver a mess that you have to fix?” Fukuda said.

    ……..

    Kings County Administrative Officer Larry Spikes reiterated the Kings County Board of Supervisors’ opposition to the rail project. Spikes said he believes it’s unlikely that the project will ever come to fruition due to funding shortfalls and other potential hang-ups. The county is involved in several lawsuits against the authority.

    The council tentatively scheduled to formally consider applying for the grant funds at its next meeting.

    More at:
    http://hanfordsentinel.com/news/local/hanford-draws-regional-support-for-hsr/article_583542a4-316c-534b-8e5f-57df95735854.html

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    VIsalia, and Tulare County, while hardly progressive, both seem like San Francisco compared to Hanford and Kings County. Funny thing is, while Hanfordians complain about their dead downtown, Visalia’s downtown is actually, well maybe not thriving, but intersesting, alive and kicking. Its really too bad the hsr station couldnt be at the 99/198/visalia airport location

    datacruncher Reply:

    A second reporter’s coverage of the Council’s study session:

    Tulare COG Offers $100,00 For Train Station Study
    by John Lindt

    At this weeks Hanford City Council meeting representatives from Visalia and the Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG) added their support to help design a new high speed rail station to serve the greater Kings /Tulare region.

    City Manager of Visalia Mike Olmos told the Hanford City Council study session on the issue that while they had not taken a position of the project in the past “if it is going to be built we want to make sure we have a station stop here.” Olmos says “otherwise the project offers us nothing.” He added it is important for us to be connected to the rest of California for all kinds of reasons “including economic development.”

    Also in attendance was Visalia Mayor Steve Nelsen.

    Representing all of Tulare County, Ted Smalley, Executive Director of Tulare County Association of Governments (TCAG) said they would offer to put up $100,000 in funding as half the local match of $200,000 to be added to a $600,000 grant offered to Hanford by the state high speed rail authority. The proposed study would include a look at a design of the station as well as connections both locally and regionally.

    Smalley said he would take the $100,000 fund request to his board at their September meeting.

    More at:
    http://sierra2thesea.net/central-valley/tulare-cog-offers-10000-for-train-station-study

  10. Reality Check
    Jul 22nd, 2015 at 21:03
    #10

    Columnist: EIR for HSR-supported Caltrain electrification should address HSR

    It is fascinating to observe officials of Caltrain as they continue to try to avoid a comprehensive environmental impact report involving their plans to electrify their rail line along the Peninsula.

    It’s a transparent attempt to look the other way at the painfully obvious: A good deal of the money (roughly $600 million) to accomplish this $1.5 billion infrastructure upgrade, is coming from the state’s high-speed rail enterprise which, as a quid pro quo, is scheduled to share the Caltrain right-of-way and tracks in the event HSR becomes a reality here. That’s the plan. Without those significant funds, it’s problematic that Caltrain electrification could be accomplished. The projected, combined impact of both Caltrain and HSR running on the same tracks at close intervals during peak hours certainly requires a close environmental look.

    And that cash is designed to make that a reality. So logic would seem to dictate that any Caltrain EIR should include the fast-train addition. If not, what’s the point? Why perform two separate environmental reviews?

    Caltrain authorities argue that, if and when HSR looms as a done-deal along the Peninsula, another EIR would be appropriate, but not now.

    Critics, some of whom are suing on these issues, believe that any environmental analysis ought to be all-inclusive and include both rail systems sharing the same corridor.

    There is an irony here. Deep down, or maybe not so deep at all, many of those same foes would much prefer that the fast-train setup never sees the light of day on the Caltrain route.

    That, of course, would more than take care of any need for an EIR involving HSR.

    Which brings up a related point. Perhaps the Caltrain people are not all that certain that the high-speed addition will ever come to the Peninsula.

    There are a lot of residents here would be more than pleased to see that happen.

    Clem Reply:

    Interesting, then, that the STB ruled that Caltrain’s electrification project is a commuter rail project and has nothing to do with HSR. As for CEQA lawsuits, they are about environmental impacts. Not who pays for what.

  11. Reality Check
    Jul 22nd, 2015 at 21:09
    #11

    Texas HSR draws $75m in private investment in first fundraising round

    Texas Central Partners, which aims to build the nation’s first bullet train between Texas’ two biggest cities, announced Wednesday they’d raked in $75 million in private investments in the company’s first round of fundraising. That money will allow the ambitious $10 billion project to move forward from feasibility studies to development planning.

    The company also hired a new CEO: Tim Keith, former CEO of RREEF/Deutsche Bank Infrastructure Investments.

    “It’s an enormous boost for the project. The first capital to raise is the hardest to raise,” he said in an interview. “It’s a terrific day for me but it’s a historic day for the project and for Houston.”

    […]

    Texans invest $75m in Dallas-Houston HSR plan

    Some heavy hitters from the business world have climbed aboard the effort to build high-speed rail in Texas, a project that just a few months ago was threatened by opposition in the state Legislature.

    Fort Worth fund manager John Kleinheinz, Dallas developer Jack Matthews and Houston entrepreneur Drayton McLane Jr. head the list of new investors who have agreed to chip in a collective $75 million to build the proposed Dallas-to-Houston bullet train system.

    […]

    Reality Check Reply:

    As Texas HSR moves forward, rural opponents stand firm

    Plans for a high-speed train connecting Dallas and Houston narrowly avoided a death blow in this year’s legislative session, but rural Texans opposed to the project say they’ll continue fighting developers.

    And their eyes are already on the 2017 legislative session.

    “From our perspective, there is not much of a down time in the interim,” said Kyle Workman, president of Texans Against High Speed Rail. “We’ve been continuing to work with our legislators. We’ve continued to press forward on our position.”

    Meanwhile, project developers Texas Central Partners continue pushing forward with what could the nation’s first high-speed rail line. The company announced Wednesday that it has raised $75 million in private funds from Texas investors and has named a new CEO.

    […]

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I don’t think they even know what they are against. I think they are just against things for the sake of being against things.

    Joey Reply:

    Only socialists ride trains. Even trains built 100% with private money.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Disgruntled is the new black.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    #DisgruntledLivesMatter

    (Sorry.)

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Sadly, I think that more or less captures it, at least amongst the actual people doing the complaining…

    Behind the scenes, of course, there are powerful interests that try to squash any passenger rail development, and they know which buttons to push to get the teabagger hordes to leap to it…

    Eric Reply:

    It makes psychological sense to oppose a 200mph train that goes near you, that definitely won’t stop for you, and for which you haven’t conducted a noise analysis. Lots of NIMBYs oppose projects that are beneficial to them in some ways and detrimental in others, so of course NIMBYs will oppose projects that are entirely detrimental to them (though very beneficial to the state as a whole). So far, though, these NIMBYs have accomplished nothing. May it stay that way.

    EJ Reply:

    Yeah, I can’t say I really blame these people. If I had a farm in rural Texas I probably wouldn’t want a 200 mph train, that I most likely would never have a reason to ride, zooming along next to it, and I actually like trains.

    Seems unlikely they’ll get their way, though.

  12. Mike B
    Jul 23rd, 2015 at 12:08
    #12

    In this blog: California Gas Prices Soar Again, Jeff Carter writes:

    @J Wong: “There is no devastation caused by HSR in the Belmont/San Carlos pictures of the grade separation. The grade separation was done by Caltrain, itself, for its own operations long before HSR began as a project.”

    Exactly!!!

    Belmont/San Carlos, 25th/Laurie Meadows in San Mateo, and San Bruno have NOT suffered the destruction the anti-rail degenerates (Boondoggle, CCSHR, Palo Alto Daily Post, PAMPA, Stone Pine Lane, Burlingame, even CARRD) want us to believe. These miscreants have no interest in designing HSR to be appealing and blend nicely with the landscape/neighborhood. All they care about is to stop HSR dead in its tracks. They lie through their teeth, spread vile fear-mongering misinformation to turn the public against HSR. Granted the HSRA is not without faults as it has plenty. Maybe these faults can be corrected. To solve problems takes objective discussion here or on another forum like Clems’ blog and public pressure on the CHSRA, not fear mongering bullshit from the anti-rail cranks…

    ===============
    So you think it’s okay to have a Berlin Wall running down the middle of the peninsula?
    So you think it’s okay to cut down our beautiful eucalyptus grove in Burlingame?
    Caltrain electrification plans call for cutting down over 3000 trees.
    So how many more thousands of trees will be cut for high speed rails Berlin Wall?
    Did you fall asleep in science class when they were teaching us about trees replenishing our oxygen from carbon dioxide?
    And yes many homes and businesses will be destroyed by this high speed boondoggle.

    Reality Check Reply:

    I am a German-American. My mother is from what became “east” Berlin. Her family escaped before the wall was up. My paternal grandfather worked on the Marshall Plan and Berlin Airlift. I’ve visited the pre-1989 Berlin Wall (from both sides) … and from viewing platforms … and at Checkpoint Charlie and the excellent eponymous museum there. I’ve seen the watchtowers, the spotlights, the motion detectors, the armed guards on patrol, the death strip, etc. I’ve seen footage of desperate people being shot and killed attempting escape.

    Calling a railroad on a berm such as exists on the Peninsula and all over the US and world a “Berlin Wall” is like those who casually label those who advocate policies they dislike “Nazis”.

    I knew the Berlin Wall. I was fascinated by it. I studied it carefully. Nothing now on — or planned for — the Peninsula’s Caltrain ROW compares to the Berlin Wall.

    Eric Reply:

    The average American was about 12 years old when the Berlin Wall fell. I’m younger. I’m sorry, but lots of people nowadays have no idea what the wall was about, except that it was a wall and it was bad.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Most of the people whining about it becoming a Berlin Wall remember the Berlin Wall being put up.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes Reply:

    The average American was about 12 years old when the Berlin Wall fell.

    True as that may be, I very highly doubt that any Peninsula resident who compares HSR to the Berlin Wall could be younger than 55. Among those of us in Silicon Valley who were actually 12 (or young er) when the Berlin Wall fell (almost exactly my age that year), I have hardly met anyone who isn’t staunchly pro-HSR and pro-transit.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Well NIMBYs don’t like the connotation of the Maginot Line…and Hadrian’s Wall seems not to work well either.

    J. Wong Reply:

    I’ve seen what the Caltrain elevated tracks look like both in San Bruno and from 25th/Laurie Meadows through Belmont and San Carlos. It doesn’t look or feel like a Berlin wall. Certainly no worse of a block than El Camino Real, itself, is.

    The eucalyptus trees that line the ROW in Burlingame are not a grove. As it is, the land that they occupy looks and is uninviting. Elevating the track through this area is a marvelous opportunity for Burlingame to turn the ROW into park with trails and access in and around the berm even incorporating the existing streams that cross the ROW.

    3000 trees? Really? Besides which all of those trees are in the ROW and only grew up since the ROW was created. They are not a natural feature.

    I doubt many more trees will be cut down for HSR, but the HSR EIR will specify that.

    I realize trees and other plants turn CO2 into H2O and O2. Are you suggesting that all tree cutting everywhere be prevented? As it is, mitigation by both Caltrain and HSR will end up replanting many trees to make up for those that were removed.

    Many? You mean some. And no, it is not a boondoggle. It will be a very pleasant way for Californians and others to travel to many places in our great state in a less carbon-intensive way then at present. I for one look forward to traveling to L.A. from San Francisco by HSR.

    J. Wong Reply:

    “in and around” I meant “under and around”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The invasive weed species is not a grove.

    EJ Reply:

    Invasive, fire hazard (by some estimates over half the total combustion energy from the 1991 Oakland hills fire was from Eucalyptus), messy, doesn’t support native animals, kills off native vegetation… yeah, better save Burlingame’s eucalyptus!

    john burrows Reply:

    Wait until the next big storm which could actually happen if we get a strong El Nino. Back in the days when we had big storms it was not uncommon for those things to come down with sometimes spectacular results. It’s been a while since we have had anything like 1981-1982. If we should get a really strong storm this winter I can almost guarantee that Caltrain will have less than 3000 trees to cut down.

    Nathanael Reply:

    You want to see a modern-day Berlin Wall, go look at the Mexican border near San Diego (or in some other areas). :-( Double wall, “no mans land”, guardposts, guards with shoot-to-kill orders,…. only thing similar to the Berlin Wall in the US.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Besides which, Caltrain’s long term plan is to completely grade separate their tracks, which will involve elevating the tracks (and lowering the roads that cross). If you think the Peninsula cities will prevent that when the alternative is doing nothing (since the costs of anything else is exorbitant) and putting up with traffic impacts when more trains are running. (Like Broadway in Burlingame being closed all day in practice because the gates are down.)

    Reality Check Reply:

    Also, how will the annual carbon dioxide equivalent (CO2e) reduction of greenhouse gases of electrified Caltrain & HSR operation compare to that of the unmitigated (uncompensated-for) tree removals?

    Jerry Reply:

    Mike Brown spreads FUD.

    Reality Check Reply:

    OMG, this must be the Mike Brown from Burlingame who writes the entertainingly ultra-right wing cynical grouchy letters to the editor all the time. If it’s not paranoid rattling on about the evils of HSR, it’s some other nutty half-conspiracy “liberal” scheme to tax, rob or kill us all, somehow. Always good for a laugh to see a few token always-angry ultra conservatives tilting at the windmills on the Peninsula.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Cutting down trees does not release any CO2 into the atmosphere unless the trees are burned. Think about it. If you actually care, as an exercise, compute the CO2 that would be released by burning that amount of wood, and see how many orders of magnitude it is less than California’s total annual emissions.

    Now, cutting down trees in tropical latitudes reduces the Earth’s albedo, which contributes to global warming, but in temperate latitudes it’s pretty much a wash.

    Joe Reply:

    Cutting produces “slash” which is burned. The soil warms and accelerates decomposition.
    The forest products are milled and waste decomposes.
    The wood eventually decomposes.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It depends what they decide to do with the cut down trees, no? If they turn them into wood for construction, then the carbon does not end up in the atmosphere. At any rate, once you think in terms of “the amount of carbon in 995 trees,” it becomes not a big deal.

    Joe Reply:

    The 1000 trees don’t matter
    The fact lumber is milled doesn’t remove that carbon – it is delayed but ends up in the atmosphere.
    We’ll see, with increased warming and drying, fire on the higher latitudes. There are lots of soil carbon emissions along with the forest carbon. What might have been peat and buried will now decompose and quickly.

    Clem Reply:

    3000 trees cut down? Read the FEIR again.

    995 trees removed
    3186 trees pruned
    1 Eucalyptus removed in Burlingame’s Jules Francard Grove, 30 pruned

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    FEIR?

    Atherton, The Palo Alto Daily Post, Mike and his buddies claim that there is no FEIR, which is interesting because where did Mike, et al come up with the 3000 number?

    Perhaps they don’t know the difference between pruning and removing?

    Some claim that pruning will kill the trees anyway.

    The 3000+ number is a worst case scenario and for any tree removed there will be mitigation measures to replace them with new trees.

  13. Paul Dyson
    Jul 23rd, 2015 at 13:52
    #13

    Eucs grow like weeds anyway

    EJ Reply:

    Eucs grow like are weeds anyway.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Back in the day someone thought they would make good railroad ties, there’s a lot in the Nipomo/Calender area planted for that purpose

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Eucalyptus have some historical tie (no pun intended) at least and are drought resistant plants that offer a solution to housing tracts that want tree cover in arid parts of the state where oak and pines can’t grow.

    Now, Ficus trees on the other hand, with their high water demands and shallow roots are driving the City of LA to ruin…

    Jerry Reply:

    And Eucs are the ugliest tree in the world.
    And Mike B and Burlingame are home to the ugliest trees in the world.

    EJ Reply:

    Well, there are plenty of beautiful Eucalyptus varieties. In Australia and southeast Asia, where they belong. The ubiquitous Bay Area blue gum, not so much…

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I love the smell of the eucalyuptus groves around the bay.

    Zorro Reply:

    I’d rather have pine trees, at least they are native to North America..

    Reality Check Reply:

    For the area right up along the Caltrain ROW, I don’t even think conifers (e.g. pines) are locally native trees. Even the local Redwoods — which do great in the nearby fog-kissed hills — tend to struggle in the flatlands along the Caltrain ROW. So by that criteria you’d be down to oaks and a handful of deciduous varieties.

    Joe Reply:

    You might see a CA Sycamore or CA Bay laurel in these wetter lowlands.
    Native pine would be Ponderosa and Monterey pine.
    In Cook county is planting the once relic dawn redwood. Non natives are not all bad.

    Zorro Reply:

    Eucalyptus trees are an invasive species and are native only to Australia..

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