HSR Gets $750 Million from Cap-and-Trade So Far

Aug 30th, 2015 | Posted by

California’s cap-and-trade system continues to hum along, and the state has begun to dole out the revenues:

The biggest beneficiary is the state’s high-speed rail line, which so far has reaped $750 million. Transit agencies in the San Francisco and greater Los Angeles regions each garnered $41 million. A reclamation district in Sacramento County received $10.4 million to build wetlands. Other recipients include cities, water districts, affordable home developers, trash companies, environmental groups, schools, farms and individuals.

HSR is slated to get 25% of annual cap-and-trade revenues, which is a significant sum in the coming years, helping put the project on a more stable financial footing.

Not everyone is happy about that:

“There’s a disproportionate amount going to high-speed rail compared to the other needs,” said Bill Magavern, policy director with the Coalition for Clean Air.

The state instead should accelerate funds to clean up buses and trucks that move freight, he said. That would “not only reduce greenhouse gases but provide quick relief to people who are breathing polluted air.”

California ought to do both, rather than undermine HSR and its significant long-term CO2 reductions just because a few people, like Magavern, do not understand 21st century transportation systems. Giving 25% of the cap-and-trade money to HSR isn’t disproportionate at all, it’s a reasonable sum for a project that will not only help meet the state’s long-term CO2 reduction goals on its own, but will catalyze other CO2 reducing projects as a result.

Sacramento Republicans continue to try and strip the HSR funds and redirect cap-and-trade revenues toward road maintenance, but so far Democrats have wisely refused to agree to that absurd demand.

  1. Jerry
    Aug 30th, 2015 at 14:35

    “California ought to do both.”
    Both is something a lot of people do not understand. And politicians like to divide. And try to conquer.

    joe Reply:

    Speaking of politicians, the State LAO is quoted.

    The state’s LAO in reviewing Brown’s update budget for fiscal 2015-16 noted the legal uncertainty.

    “Even if the courts determine that the state does have the authority to collect auction revenue, it might be required to target spending in certain ways, such as on activities primarily intended to reduce GHG emissions,” the LAO said.

    So what? The state attorney general is the chief legal advisor to the state government and the state’s chief law enforcement officer. She’s defended both the GHG Cap and Trade and HSR in the courts and advised the use of Cap and Trade is legal. She graduated from Howard University and University of California, Hastings College of the Law.

    The LAO is Mac Taylor who has a bachelor’s degree in political science from the University of California, Riverside, and a master’s degree in public affairs from Princeton University. http://www.lao.ca.gov/Staff/AssignmentDetail/11

    Why does he continue to question the legality when the Attorney General is satisfied? It’s a political statement from a state official who is over stepping their expertise and authority.

    EJ Reply:

    You know the LAO isn’t just one guy, right? Also, they have to take potential legal issues into account. The state attorney general doesn’t determine what’s legal or not, and if there’s a reasonable chance a ruling could go against her, they have to consider that.

    joe Reply:

    Right – I linked to Mac Taylor’s biography EJ.

    Mac Taylor is the LAO staffer who’s opined the project’s use of GHG funds may not the legal. And he’s not making reference to any legal finding by the LAO.

    and if there’s a reasonable chance a ruling could go against her, they have to consider that.

    The government legal debate shouldn’t be done in the press unless it’s a political action.

    “they” means who? The Legislature decided on the fraction of Cap and Funds which goes to HSR. The legality of any executive action would be assessed by the AG if requested.

    “Consider that” what does that mean? If she’s wrong and the State loses a yet to be filed lawsuit and then the funds can be spent elsewhere at that time.

    joe Reply:

    Here’s the cahsrblog post on the LAO’s “concerned trolling”.

    Ted Judah Reply:


    This isn’t about law or politics…it’s about math.

    The LAO is the voice of the Legislature, or more accurately, an amalgam of the various Democratic committee chairs in both the Assembly and Senate. Less than half of them reside in districts that will have HSR stations in 2130, let alone 2030. Some of them aren’t even anti-transit…but just so pro-transit that they fear HSR will dilute their influence.

    The Attorney General is much more a creature of the existing Bay Area political establishment, having a mixture of both traditional Northern California labor unions and Silicon Valley types in her Senate campaign. But she’s also fairly loyal to Brown, and that’s part of her calculus.

    Either way, the only way for the AB 32 monies to provide a major boost to construction is either as match for the committed federal dollar or Prop 1a cash OR as a way to float a revenue bond with the yearly revenues as the collateral.

    joe Reply:

    The LAO comments on policy and finance for the legislature and IMHO, Mac Taylor has been dabbling in politics. Neither he or any author of the report quote legal source. They extrapolated.

    As the for AG, she’s kicked ass in the Courts in defense of HSR and holds a publicly elected office. What maters is she kicked ass and the project is far more successful than any of the doom and gloom the LAO opined in 2011 and their negative spin on Cap and Trade

    May 2015 the GOP controlled Nevada State government created the Nevada High Speed Rail Authority chartered to build HSR from Las Vegas to California. That and other Project successes contract to the chicken little LAO report.

    Jerry Reply:

    Has the governor of Nevada appointed anyone to their High Speed Rail Authority??

    les Reply:

    I believe that is coming in October.

    joe Reply:

    I’ve not seen that date stated or any appointments using google search. No website for the NHSRA either.

    The Gov is allowed to appoint for terms beginning this past July 1, 2015.

    Sec. 14. The initial appointments to the Nevada High-Speed Rail Authority created by section 8.5 of this act must be made as follows:
    1. The Governor shall appoint one member to a term beginning on July 1, 2015, and ending on June 30, 2017;
    2. The Governor shall appoint two members to terms beginning on July 1, 2015, and ending on June 30, 2018; and
    3. The Governor shall appoint two members to terms beginning on July 1, 2015, and ending on June 30, 2019.

    les Reply:

    I was thinkn you meant builder. Authority doesnt have much to do in this vase since xpress has done all gruondwork. “”The authority will select a company by Oct. 15 to go forward with the project, estimated to cost $5.5 billion.”

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Joe, the dirty little secret you seem to ignore is that a law is captive to its implementation by non-lawyers.

    And again, failing to understand the nuances of the state legislature is going to frustrate you for a long time to come….

    StevieB Reply:

    @ Ted Judah

    A major boost to construction would require multiple segments be ready to start construction. When are the next two sections of the initial operating segment scheduled to their environmental notice of decision? How long after that will it take for construction bids to be evaluated and a builder selected? Are we talking about 2 years, 3 years or longer? After construction begins payments will be made to the builder in installments after completion of construction targets. How much additional cash flow do you anticipate will be necessary for your major construction boost and what will it buy?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    House Democrats wanted around $4 billion a year in federal spending on HSR nationwide. If you figure California gets slightly less than half of that money, it would be about $1.5 billion per year.

    But if you figure a 15 year construction window and a $90 billion total price tag, you would have to quadruple the House proposal to around $6 billion per year.

    As for the cost of the planning studies, I’d hazard (without looking at the Business Plan) that the $750 million would probably be enough to accelerate those fairly quickly, but the timing of the EIRs have been affected by choices the State has made.

    jonathan Reply:

    Ted Judah writes:


    This isn’t about law or politics…it’s about math.

    .. You’re saying this to the person who insists that 40-something (per the authority he accept, the CHSRA Peer Review Board) is less than 30?

  2. Paul Druce
    Aug 30th, 2015 at 19:56

    but will catalyze other CO2 reducing projects as a result.

    What will it catalyze and how will a 10+ years from now project catalyze them in a way that actually funding those projects instead won’t? I’m supportive of HSR, but let’s not pretend that it’s some sort of panacea.

    Off-topic: Has anyone run across pricing figures for Tier 4 freight locomotives? So far all I’ve seen are ARB estimates of ~3 million each.

  3. john burrows
    Aug 30th, 2015 at 23:43

    An indication that the California cap-and-trade system is continuing to hum along—

    Results for the last California-Quebec auction (August 2015) have been posted by the Air Resources Board. Total auction proceeds came in at $1.05 billion. This compares to $1.06 billion for the auction last May and $1.02 billion for February. I would like to have seen a substantial increase for August, but the auction results have at least been consistent over the last three quarters.

    We won’t know for another month how much of the total proceeds will go into the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund (The pot from which high speed rail gets 25%) until they subtract out Quebec’s share and the amount going back to California utility companies. In each of the last two auctions just under $630 million has gone into the GGRF, and I would guess that we will
    have about the same number again.

    This last auction was the first for fiscal year 2015-2016. If results for the next three auctions in this fiscal year follow along the same path as the last three, then fiscal year 2015-2016 should produce over $600 million for high speed rail.

    synonymouse Reply:

    What a joke – tax the Coast to sprawl out the Valley.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Given the income disparity involved, the State doesn’t have many other options besides pulling the preponderance of its tax revenue from the wealthy enclaves along the coast to pay for all its programs, not just HSR, in the rest of the State….

    synonymouse Reply:

    Money coming mostly from the non-wealthy living along the coast blown on anti-eco sprawl.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Uh yeah right, usually states with a progressive income tax are incredibly beholden to a frighteningly small number of taxpayers. Even in California, I would not be surprised if this number is less than 10,000 households….

    synonymouse Reply:

    Property tax, sales tax, gas tax, CnT, excise taxes, permits, fees, ad nauseam, are not progressive.

    The wealthy have myriad ways of avoiding taxation. And of course they can just invest in crony companies like PB and Tutor.

    Zorro Reply:

    Well as long as you don’t say that: Property tax, sales tax, gas tax, CnT, excise taxes, permits, fees, etc, etc, etc.. “Are theft”(They’re not), though I’ve read some GOP’ers have said this online, then I pushed back with Article 1, Section 8 of the US Constitution, gives Congress the power to tax, States, Counties, towns and Cities also have this power of course. Some online in the US are very ignorant, of History and evidently in other subjects.

    synonymouse Reply:

    How can the state steal anything when all – tangible assets, intellectual property, souls – belong to the King?

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    before you call people ignorant, you should make sure you are not ignorant yourself

    The power to tax income derives from the 16 ammendment


    because Article 1, Section 8 was found to NOT provide authorization for an income tax.

    So while your main point is true (taxes are not theft) you can add yourself to those people online who do not know the history of the US.

    Edward Reply:

    You tried reason‽
    Silly boy.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Broken clock is right twice a day– when Synonymouse’s tin foil buzzes correctly, somebody has to stop the meme from getting out of hand.

    Think about the wacky allegations years ago about “Stilt-a-Rail”? That horse left the barn before Clem, Elizabeth, or Robert could close the barn door behind it….

  4. Reality Check
    Aug 31st, 2015 at 15:13

    North Texas puts up more high-speed rail money

    • Effort to build Texas bullet trains by 2021 not slowing down
    • Corridor picked for Dallas-Houston route
    • More seed money available for Dallas-Fort Worth segment

    Jerry Reply:

    Very interesting article on HSR. And many of the problems in building the first one in the USA.

    J. Wong Reply:


    Although I would prefer California getting HSR 1st, if Texas gets it, then California will feel compelled to build it.

    Of course, Texas is going to need to figure out how to get the $10b or more necessary for it out of private sources, so we’ll see. The scale of this seems outside anything that has been done before. For example, VirginAmerica’s initial IPO valuation was less than $1b. Has anyone started a company that required more than $10b initial investment?

    Rick Reply:

    Texas’s HSR program isn’t nearly as big as California’s. Phase I of CAHSR is planned for completion around 2022-4 (when TXHSR plans for completion as well). Phase II of CAHSR is a top to bottom rail modernization of the Capitol Corridor, ACE, and San Jaoqin lines.

    That’s no disrespect to Texans though. Their plan to put it under power lines is brilliant and, being HSR-only, would outclass CAHSR. In a race to the top, California and Texas would be neck and neck as usual and this is a good thing as everyone benefits.

    Jerry Reply:

    Article also points out the usual HSR problem:
    “But how to pay the full price tag remains a mystery.”
    Hope it doesn’t turn out that the Texas HSR program is, ‘all hat and no cattle’.

    J. Wong Reply:

    That quote was made in reference to the Dallas-Fort Worth segment not the Houston-Dallas route.

    Joe Reply:

    Not a segment. It’s a different project. Maybe done with a different company and product.

    Also, a company that operates France’s national high-speed rail network is exploring possible involvement in Texas bullet trains, and could be interested in focusing on the Dallas-Arlington-Fort Worth connection, officials have said.

    Domayv Reply:

    hmm, just like the original Texas HSR project (which SNCF was going to assist in development) before Southwest Airlines shot it down because it would break that monopoly they have over intercity travel across the state.

    Joe Reply:

    But while the Japan-U.S. partnership is dominating the planning effort of the Houston-to-Dallas line, the possible creation of a high-speed rail system that would connect six or more of the state’s largest cities — including not only Houston and Dallas, but also Arlington, Fort Worth, Austin and San Antonio — is garnering interest from other investors.

    Among them is SNCF, whose parent company operates Eurostar train service connecting Great Britain and France, with trains running under the English Channel in a “Channel Tunnel” — or “Chunnel,” as it is often called.

    Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article8202234.html#storylink=cpy

    Joe Reply:

    And of course which rail investor defines the standard?
    No plans to interoperate and the Dallas Fort Worth line which is a “linchpin”.

    However, the involvement of multiple companies raises questions about connectivity. For example, as it stands now, there are no plans by either SNCF or Texas Central Railway to share technology or allow one entity’s trains on the other’s tracks.

    The Dallas-Arlington-Fort Worth line is a standalone project on the high-speed rail group’s planning documents, but it really is “a linchpin, part of a larger system” that includes Houston, Austin and San Antonio, said Erik Steavens, director of the rail division of the state transportation department.

    Read more here: http://www.star-telegram.com/news/local/community/fort-worth/article8202234.html#storylink=cpy

    Danny Reply:

    and now Southwest’s in the same boat as the other airlines, now needing to dump the under-500-mile routes; corporate liberum veto goes both ways, luv

    Miles Bader Reply:

    … and no doubt they’ll each insist on their own incompatible standards, resulting in a system where through-running is impossible… ><

    Joe Reply:

    There is a battle to be fought. Six shooters Texas style.

    Clem’s blog has good news for HSR compatibility. Caltrain is requiring dual height EMUs to support level boarding and TBT compatibility.


    Bonus, Mlynarik is raging in the comments.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Mlynarik is raging in the comments


    Miles Bader Reply:

    BTW, I went over and read the article, but I don’t see any comments by Mlynarik at all… does he use a different name posting there?

    Joe Reply:

    Using Anonymous

    Domayv Reply:

    well, it’s what you get when you have an FRA-compatible trainset (SNCF, since thed FRA now allows off-the-shelf European trains alongside American freight trains without restriction) and an FRA-incompatible trainset (the Shinkansen), as well as signaling system (the TGV uses ERTMS-type PTC whilst the Shinkansen still uses ATC rather than PTC though this could change with Hitachi’s acquisition of AnsaldoBreda, which makes a good amount of PTC signaling systems, so they can use that experience to make a variation of the Shinkansen that is ERTMS-compatible).

    swing hanger Reply:

    Shinkansen’s Digital ATC meets the definition of *PTC* (itself an American-invented term like “light rail” to describe things already in widespread use elsewhere for decades). In fact, digital ATC is functionally similar to ETCS Level 2.


    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then why didn’t the Europeans call their systems ATC?

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Because the whole area is a clusterfuck of ambiguous and contradictory terminology.

    It’d be great if eventually there are international norms and standards for both technology and terminology, but for the time being …. there are not.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People seem to be deeply offended that agencies in other parts of the world decided that calling the control system European this and European that a bit inappropriate…
    Whenever I ask what the functional difference is between ETCS and ACSES, no one has an answer. D-ATC good! ACSES bad! ? ETCS better!

  5. Elizabeth Alexis
    Aug 31st, 2015 at 21:05

    Caltrain made need some of the cap and trade money to pay for overruns in CBOSS. They are asking board for another $10 million for Parsons.

    We’ve looked at the schedule and they are saying the project is only 2 months behind, which does not seem plausible given gantt chart details and remaining challenges.


    The myriad highly paid consultants running the project make delays very, very costly.

    If anyone reading this has some particular insights or knowledge as to what is really going on (no random conspiracy theories pls), email my first name at calhsr.com we are discrete!

    Joe Reply:

    Fwiw, One can make up time during testing and be thorough. I’ve seen it done. It requires preparation but it’s a legitimate suggetion if prepared. so I disagree with your generality that it’s not a place to “make up time”.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    You see the gantt charts – just two months behind?

    joe Reply:

    I’m responding to what was in their charts and suggest you remove that mistaken assumption if you agree.

    is not where anyone ‘makes up time'”

    I’ve seen it done on critical systems and quite successfully.

    If you got issues with CBOSs then go ahead but your assertion isn’t correct.

    Nathanael Reply:

    CBOSS is an awful idea.

    But, as Joe says, the fact is that in a *well-designed*, *well-constructed* system, testing *is* where you make up time. If you did a good job in the earlier stages, then everything checks out in the first round of testing and there’s nothing to fix. So testing ends early.

    Testing takes longer if you have a typical level of *errors* in the earlier stages which need debugging. Testing is generally scheduled to assume this sort of level of errors and bugs.

    Reality Check Reply:

    One can make up time during testing and be thorough. I’ve seen it done. It requires preparation but it’s a legitimate suggetion (sic) if prepared […]

    Hmmm, whether he knows it or not, it sounds like @Joe agrees … “not a place to make up time.”

    joe Reply:

    The CARRD assertion is incorrect. The implication safety is undermined if testing finishes ahead of the initial 2013 baselined schedule is false.

    CBOSS Project is – based on playing industry averages from the private sector – going to slip and be over initial baselined schedule and budget.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    This is the most recent update to the Caltrain board on the project (August)


    Reality Check Reply:

    Ok, the JPB just made the September CBOSS update from yesterday’s board meeting available.

    Jerry Reply:

    The presentation makes reference to the start of the use of “new mileposts.”
    How will the “new” ones differ from the “old” ones??

    Reality Check Reply:

    I’m guessing they’ll be correct. I believe today’s mileposts are not quite right.

    I’ve heard things like that some (or all) may be based on the old 3rd & Townsend terminal being MP 0.0. Or maybe that they’re based on the old SP HQ at 1 Market.

    With the new ones, I’m wondering whether they’ll use 4th & King or TTT MP 0.0.

    Clem Reply:

    There is also this discontinuity in Santa Clara, where 43.4 = 44.0. Just the sort of thing that breaks software paradigms.

    Jerry Reply:

    Take out a milepost and the Baby Bullet becomes faster. :)

    Jerry Reply:

    “With the new ones, I’m wondering whether they’ll use 4th & King or TTT MP 0.0.”
    They will probably use a ‘blended’ system.

  6. Reality Check
    Sep 1st, 2015 at 12:11

    Who’ll have PTC in revenue service first? Caltrain or SMART?

    SMART trains en route to North Bay; line to open in 2016


    Since voters gave SMART the green light in 2013, the rail line has been transformed from a dilapidated, partially abandoned right-of-way into a modern railroad with concrete ties, long lengths of smooth rail and the foundations for boarding platforms at station sites. It will also be the first commuter train in the state with positive train control, an automated system designed to prevent trains from crashing into each other.


    Jerry Reply:

    So what system of PTC are they using??
    Off the shelf or a new one similar to CBOSS?
    It also might be easier if they don’t have to share their rail line with freight.

    Reality Check Reply:

    SMART allows continued freight access. As pages 16 & 17 of this “Vehicle & Systems” slide deck show, gauntlet tracks allow freights to pass by the level-boarding high station platforms (with enough additional clearance to avoid running afoul of CPUC’s long-outdated 1948 General Order 26-D).

    synonymouse Reply:

    SMART has to be careful not to run afoul of Doug Bosco, who now owns the Santa Rosa PD and is exquisitely connected to the Party. The story has been for years he wants to mine aggregate at Island Mountain and needs a free freight reconstruction.

    To get rid of freight you need to do a formal abandonment. It will take the insiders and ward healers years to work up the courage.

    Eric M Reply:

    I believe the PTC for SMART is off the shelf, but LTK Engineering Services is helping out (the same one who over-designed the SMART cars), so you never know how much extra “engineering” money is wasted.

    Eric M Reply:

    Also, there is freight on the line, albeit a minimal amount.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Not according to the NWP fanboys.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And burn, OMG, oil.

    Peter Reply:

    “first commuter train in the state with positive train control”

    What about Coaster and Metrolink? What’s their status on PTC installation?

    EJ Reply:

    NCTD claims that Coaster’s on track to meet the December 2015 deadline.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    CPUC last November said BNSF, probably metrolink and maybe coaster – almost certainly not for Caltrain


    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    “Caltrain is attempting to install a much more sophisticated system, a communications-based
    overlay signal system, which includes grade crossings. Caltrain has submitted a “test waiver” to
    the FRA, which is needed when installing an untested and unproven system. The basic test
    procedures, used on an established system, are waived and more rigorous testing is performed.
    Caltrain must explain each and every test procedure, and each test must be submitted to and
    approved by the FRA. Caltrain has encountered many obstacles and is not expected to meet the

    Clem Reply:

    Well surprise, surprise, surprise. Nobody could have seen that one coming.

    Clem Reply:

    Ha ha page 41 “fiber optic backhaul along the right of way, and between Computing and Communication Foundations (CCF) and Business Collaboration Context Framework (BCCF), which provides enterprises with the context required for business collaboration.”

    Those versed in Caltrain gobbledygook will no doubt recognize CCF = Central Control Facility and BCCF = Backup Central Control Facility.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    BCCF will soon be the CCF btw

    Exhibit B

    Zorro Reply:

    Lovely, Caltrain can’t win for losing with either the Joint Railroad Safety Team(JRST) or the ITC Committee, hopefully UP can be of help. No detail, may as well be reading a drawing with no defined scale, fat lot of good that does.

    joe Reply:

    Caltrain had an assumption for prepublication access to material and therefore needed to reestablish an agreement for timely access to JRST or ITC Committee material.

    This dependency should have been caught at a review and managed as a top risk.

    William Reply:

    Couldn’t CBOSS functional with initial software then updated later to meet the latest ITC standards? Or FRA wouldn’t certify CBOSS unless it meets the latest ITC standards?

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    It is only with the latest submissions to the FRA and some other documents that I am starting to understand the long term issues with Caltrain’s PTC adoption.

    Caltrain wanted PTC before PTC was a mandate. It wanted it for the usual reasons, plus it was going to be a requirement for mixed traffic, plus they had a problem with drivers not stopping at scheduled stops plus they were thinking very small about solutions to certain grade crossings and station designs.

    They decided on an “enhanced” version of a GE product used on an Amtrak line in Michigan. At the time, this might have made sense vs products developed for freight trains. Think Betamax vs VHS.

    Then comes Chatsworth and an actual PTC mandate with rules for interoperability with freight.

    Then comes FRA waivers and a change in attitude on “non-compliant” EMUs.

    Then comes the blended system with HSR, who must use a different signaling system for high speeds.

    Then it turns out electrification really will happen, which means that all the grade crossings will have to be changed out to be compatible with electrification.

    At some point, even if you really liked Betamax, you would go ahead and switch to VHS, since your equipment, by law, must work for VHS tapes.

    That was never done.

    This will be a difficult install. By the time you make the grade crossings part work, you will have to change it again for the new grade crossing hardware.

    You will be basically on your own to keep the software updated, which btw you don’t own.

    There are definitely some equipment that can be reused if an ITC solution (for now) is adopted. The board needs to look at the total life cycle costs of the current approach. There are reasons to move to plan B as soon as possible.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    There are reasons to think switching now might lower the overall costs of the system


    Jerry Reply:

    Thanks for the background.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    …and this wouldn’t be necessary if the members in the Peninsula didn’t force all these contortions I’ve the blended system in the first place…

    If you had let the Authority set a statewide standard for blended systems, that would be the end of the story. But instead, pandering to local NIMBYS got us this result…

    Joe Reply:

    Right Ted.

    Vhs vs Betamax comparison does not rise to any standard of incompetence.

    Betamax was very popular in professional settings over long after cvs “won”.

    The U.S. lags behind in ptc deployment.

    The unique and dynamic demands on the ROW by some of most our wealthy zip codes contributed to this current problem.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Joe / Ted,

    Let me clarify.

    There was a moment in time when choosing a technically “better” solution made sense. This was before the actual PTC rules came out, which mandated compatibility with ITC (ETMS). This was prior to Caltrain’s actual procurement.

    At that point, you have two choices. You either get out of having to be “compatible” with freight and adopt something that will be compatible with with HSR will do or carry on with “I-ITCS”which is a new system that is being built on ITCS, which GE developed for a short stretch of Amtrak track in Michigan and is now only in a handful of places (Michigan, Tibet and soon to be Colombia). The extra I is for interoperatible, which is really just ITC.

    OR you throw in the towel and just use the ITC product.

    Instead of any of these, Caltrain decided to pay Parsons to invent and maintain a VCR that accepts both Betamax and VHS, for which Caltrain is likely to be the only customer, yet not even own the intellectual property rights to.

    Not only is this expensive and complicated, it exacerbates all of the existing issues with PTC stability and reliability – you have increased the number of ways in which you can get a false “stop” signal.

    There were a number of times that Caltrain could have yelled uncle. In their first 2010 proposal to the FRA, they assumed that I-ITCS would be considered an acceptable solution since ITCS was. Remember, I-ITCS is like VHS – Betamax. Why would the FRA say that such a two headed creature was fine just because Betamax worked?

    It took Caltrain 4 additional years (and xxx $$) to get a “Type Approval” for I-ITCS, which by the way expires in 2019 if someone is not using it in revenue service. This is unfortunately, not a sure thing…

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    And I forgot to mention the part where the Betamax people assumed that the VHS people would give them a heads up on all the changes they were going to make…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    More like Hi-8 with the ability to eject the cartridge while the tape is still moving.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    So this gets to a much more salient question:

    Is the FRA going to blended tracks at all, or with freight not be able to use HSR tracks but HSR will be able to use freight tracks where speeds are lower? I think part of the confusion was because since foreign systems vary in this regard, CAHSRA didn’t want to foreclose any potential investor.

    But now you got a bigger problem, much bigger. Now the CalTrain track is going to tie up all HSR track west of the Rockies with CBOSS because of the desire to be interoperable. So this isn’t going to be some expensive local boondoggle, this is basically BART’s Indian Broad Gauge issue writ very large…

    Admittedly, it might not be fair to blame the NIMBYs, but they certainly didn’t help avoid mutually assured frustration here…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    In nice round numbers if you put the 50 mph freight train on the 110 miles of track between Fresno and Bakersfield it really puts a crimp in your schedule. ( The 50 mph freight train takes over two hours to get there;. ) Freight trains aren’t going to share high speed track. They get in the way.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    CBOSS sounds like a big enough miss for CARRD to come back to life and help mobilize to prevent this significant waste of resources so close to home. Who should I call and email?

    Jon Reply:

    Heh. Clearly some FRA staffer just put CCF and BCCF into Google and chose an acronym definition that sounded vaguely relevant.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    For anyone interested, the FRA recently posted a number of documents submitted last fall by Caltrain for its PTC project. The FRA website is bizarrely difficult to navigate so we have uploaded the most recent documents here – a lot of information, a lot of concerns about why Caltrain is continuing with I-ITCS.


    Jon Reply:

    How hard would it be for CAHSR to scrap the software component of CBOSS and reuse the hardware for an ERTMS installation?

    William Reply:

    ERTMS is not an approved US PTC system, which mandates inter-operability with freight’s PTC such as I-ETMS, so it would still need access to ITC standard materials to modify or construct translator software or modules.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    There is zero need to be compatible with freight PTC.
    Just as there was zero need to invent a globally unique PTC system.
    Temporal separation from freight with interlocks and derails would have worked and been legal.

    Caltrain’s world class consultants and professionals took on “compatibility” with freight (via their incompatible-witheverything-in-the-universe little private shit invention) quite literally because “it would be a fun project”. I had that statement directly from the horse’s mouth. Nothing legal, nothing technical, just a desire to have “fun” … and make some people very very very very very very rich in the process.

    EVERYTHING about CBOSS is about internally-generated “requirements” which lead directly to world-beating consultant rent-seeking ripoffs. There’s AT LEAST $150 million of outright, unambiguous, unquestionable fraud associated with CBOSS, likely more.

    Death is far too kind a fate for anybody in any way even remotely associated with CBOSS, which means anybody at or working for or consulting for or on the “governing” boards of Caltrain or SamTrans or MTC or CTC.

    Joe Reply:

    “Death is far too kind a fate for anybody in any way even remotely associated with CBOSS”

    EJ Reply:

    I guarantee you Richard M. keeps his Mensa card in his wallet.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Any creepier than BART flacks telling riders to cover their ears?

    Joe Reply:

    Possibly he also wears a button or pin on his lapel.


    Ted Judah Reply:

    Richard also framed his MENSA certificate and put in his old bedroom of his mom’s house, I’m sure….

    Mike B Reply:

    Elizabeth et al,

    If CBOSS (and electrification) is such a boondoggle then why doesn’t someone take this to NBC 11 Investigative Unit? Or any other TV news stations? What about the Legislative Analyst? The GAO? Grand Jury?

    Caltrain is featherbedding with consultant pork and nobody does anything about it. I have suggested this a number of times but the technical types such as Clem, Richard, Roland, etc. refuse to take it out in the open. They only leave it to these blogs to argue it to death where it goes nowhere.

    I contacted NBC 11 some time ago when they were investigating questionable accounting practices at Samtrans and they were interested but I can’t provide the technical details that they need. So if someone here could provide the details, then Samtrans-Caltrain would get their wings clipped and get competent management, hopefully saving taxpayers and transit riders tons of money.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Bay Area media are tools of the Party machine and BART, Caltrain, etc. are political sacred cows.

    See anybody go after Heminger?

    Mike B Reply:


    Then why did they investigate Samtrans accounting?

    Then why did they investigate VTA?

    Why are they investigating the sacred cow of utility monopoly PG and E?

    Why are they investigating Turner Construction for problems with the building of a Santa Clara hospital?

    Syno, you must be on drugs.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And who is fired or under indictment? Heminger is untouchable.

    Do they have the nerve to inquire why PB-Tutor get everything?

    How about BART arrogance? There is not even an apology in the BART response above. BART should be ashamed they are dangerously noisy and renounce Bechtelian mistakes. When hell freezes over.

    BART-MTC worship.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I’ll never understand how public servants acting under the auspices of their office is a criminal act. Heminger isn’t God…he has to have the other Commissioners vote for what he wants and nearly all of them are elected officials themselves. It just doesn’t make sense to put all of the problems at one guy’s feet.

    The MTC does, have its limitations and biases and nothing diminishes that. But if you ever go to Southern California, see how the other half lives before you rip BART a new asshole or demand MTC staff be burnt at the stake.

    Reality Check Reply:

    These boondoggle issues with CBOSS are of the variety that can easily leave TeeVee Snooze viewers with glazed over eyes, so I think it’s a really tough story to pitch to any sort of media — let alone TV-based media.

    And if my hunch is correct, perhaps NBC 11 would take more seriously someone who’s not ideologically opposed to any sort of increased rail activity near their trackside Menlo Park condo and a serial HSRA-suing attorney … don’t you think Mr. Mike Brady?

    Joe Reply:

    Hundreds of millions wasted on a needless system that impacts 50,000 commuters (working advertising customers) day is not news worthy ?

    Reality Check Reply:

    Should be, but how to package it into a short, punchy must-watch TeeVee Snooze “story” with broad and/or visceral viewer appeal?

    Joe Reply:

    Maybe hyperbole isn’t marketable.

    How many employed viewers work on projects that are on time and in budget?

    Possibly the real issue is that this is typical for the class of project and the too many boys cry wolf whenever caltrain publishes a memo or “bad” government funds a project.


    Reality Check Reply:

    Oh, and while CBOSS might be, PTC isn’t needless. So the exciting story has to be about how little old underfunded Caltrain is blowing millions on trying (and failing?) to build its own custom solution.

    Joe Reply:

    Needless because transit nerds will explain why.

    If the project is needless then the fault lies with the funding source. That ain’t Caltrain.

    Not being invited to participate/listen in on committees is a problem create by federal bureaucrats. Again that ain’t Caltrain.

    This as an overly ambitious undertaking. Details at 11.

    Reality Check Reply:

    PTC is required, CBOSS isn’t.

    With which funding source(s) does fault lie for Caltrain’s risky decision to embark on and bank on implementing its own special brand of PTC as “a fun project” on time and on budget?

    Name the funding sources which were supposed to act as VC’s and vet and/or second guess Caltrain’s CBOSS plans?

    And so Caltrain is blameless in blithely assuming (evidently without checking or verifying) that they’d get access to all the technical committees and/or working groups needed for CBOSS development?

    I guess it’s a classic mistakes were made (by others) …

    joe Reply:

    With which funding source(s) does fault lie for Caltrain’s risky decision to embark on and bank on implementing its own special brand of PTC as “a fun project” on time and on budget?

    You tell me – it’s your complaint about wasted money. It’s their money.

    And so Caltrain is blameless in blithely assuming (evidently without checking or verifying) that they’d get access to all the technical committees and/or working groups needed for CBOSS development?

    Blameless is Hyperbole.

    To the public, Caltrain not being invited to participate/listen in on committees or having timely access to critical information is a problem create by federal bureaucrats.

    As a taxpayer WTF can’t they have timely access to information? The policy is wasteful. I would expect they allow a liaison who is a non-voting or speaking participant in meetings. That’s how it gets fixed.

    As a reviewer I’d ask if they have agreements in work before recommending proceeding but you want Kenneth Star appointed. And you don’t know if that was attempted and eventually denied. You do not know.

    Reality Check Reply:

    @Joe, you said “If the project is needless then the fault lies with the funding source.

    I’m just asking that you explain which funding sources you mean, and why.

    Yes, Caltrain re-inventing something non-trivial at great expense: that’s Caltrain wasting other people’s money. Just pointing out the obvious. If you disagree, then explain why.

    I “want Kenneth Star appointed“!? Putting words in the mouths of others is a filthy habit.

  7. J. Wong
    Sep 1st, 2015 at 12:44

    California leads in GHG reduction even as its economy grows: California Clean Energy Future

    Joe Reply:

    California is also seeking to expand markets for renewable energy.

    “Gov. Jerry Brown is working on an ambitious plan for transmitting electricity across state lines and bolstering California’s role in the region, according to energy officials.


    If successful, it could make solar and wind energy available more widely throughout the West — a potential victory for Brown, who has sought partnerships beyond California’s borders in his fight against climate change.”

  8. Reality Check
    Sep 2nd, 2015 at 11:34

    Media in the thrall of BART?
    Roadshow: Is BART loud enough to damage riders’ hearing?

    Q: It was extremely loud when I rode BART home from the airport on the Bayview/Pittsburgh line. Is there a safety standard for BART trains concerning noise levels? Regulars put on earbuds, headphones or just used fingers or hands to protect their ears. It seemed louder than my chainsaw.

    Ron Clark
    Pleasant Hill

    A: BART agrees the noise within its trains is undeniably annoying at times but it is not dangerous. The Cal-OSHA permissible exposure limit is an average of 90 decibels over eight hours. BART found that sound within the passenger compartment averaged 79 decibels over eight hours.

    There are times when the noise will peak above 90 decibels, but only for seconds at a time. Again, annoying but not unsafe.

    New train cars will have micro-plug doors to help seal out noise. And work this weekend will smooth out ripples in the tracks that create more noise. Until then, the best advice is to cover your ears if you’re really uncomfortable.

    Jerry Reply:

    BART from San Bruno to Colma is EXTREMELY LOUD.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    It seems weird,… BART isn’t all that ancient, but it seems to have a worse reputation for being noisy than more classic systems….

    Peter Reply:

    Probably it has a lot to do with their cylindrical wheel profile.

    Scramjett Reply:

    I don’t suppose there is any easy way to change that, at least for the Bay Tube section where the noise is at its worst?

    Reality Check Reply:

    I rarely ride BART, but when I do I find the ear-splitting howl of the wheels outrageous. I’ve never brought my digital SPL meter, but seems loud enough to do hearing damage to me. And then I wonder how and why BART riders and officials alike seem to just shrug their shoulders and accept it.

    I think it has got to have to do with that (unique-to-BART?) cylindrical (flat) wheel profile. There’s no excuse for it since the conical profile — used by (all?) other trains long before BART — was, and continues to be, clearly the way to go.

    What would it take for BART to switch to a conical wheel profile? I think someone said merely switching out the wheels wouldn’t be enough. Something about the rail head being of the wrong profile too … yet I don’t understand why a conical wheel shouldn’t ride OK the existing rails.

    Can someone smart in such matters explain?

    synonymouse Reply:

    I am dumb, according to the Cheerleaders, but I will give you my explanation FWIW anyway.

    BART is committed to protecting its Bechtelian genesis and will not change the wheel profile unless under extreme duress. Keep screaming at them; their response above underscores how totally deaf and dumb they are.

    In short BART is Bechtel-PB garbage; pretty much the same you can expect for JerryHSR. BART is Indian standard gauge JerryRail.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “mini plug doors”? What’s a Maxi plug door?

    Clem Reply:

    Doors made of a sandwich panel construction where the core material is an array of hexagonal close-packed industrial grade ear plugs. Dintchaknow?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Thanks for the heads up.

    BART has many doors and many openings and closings and many passengers interacting with them. For me I would go with the simplest design, sliding doors, on a subway train. Plug doors on streetcars and buses are another matter.

    Joe Reply:

    I rarely ride BART, but when I do I

    drink Dos Exes beer.

  9. agb5
    Sep 2nd, 2015 at 13:18
  10. Eric M
    Sep 2nd, 2015 at 13:30

    Legislation To Defund High Speed Rail Rejected By Senate Committee

    The legislation to prohibit Cap and Trade funds from being used for High Speed Rail, created by Senator Sharon Runner, R-Antelope Valley, was rejected on Sept. 2 by the Senate Transportation and Infrastructure Development Committee.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Who could’ve predicated that? ;-)

    Zorro Reply:

    Good it’s dead.

    Eric Reply:

    If only they could have compromised and prohibited C&T funds from being used for HSR construction in Antelope Valley (=Palmdale).

    synonymouse Reply:

    Out of the question – Palmdale is Mecca for JerryRail.

    Zorro Reply:

    Too bad, so sad, this is a Blue State and most people here in CA vote Blue, that’s Independents and Democratic Party members, so HSR stays funded. Don’t like that? It ain’t a changing, as in ‘you and whose army?’

    synonymouse Reply:

    The West is Red.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “The Pope! How many divisions has he got? ”
    – Jos. Stalin, 1935.

    Jerry! How many divisions has he got?

    Edward Reply:

    The Vatican is still there.

    The Soviet Union?

    The Governor has the veto pen (mightier than the sword),the legislature and the people. The people who voted for him as governor four times. A record that will never be exceeded (by law).

    I understand the frustration…

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Vatican has been taking some licks since fascism was forced to re-invent itself.

    Vladmimir keeps getting re-elected just like Jerry.

    What really is not around anymore is the US of the 18th century and its notion of democracy. The founding fathers had never experienced anything like Manhattan nor a modern patronage machine. I doubt thoe farmers and framers would recognize today’s political system.

    It won’t take much of a crisis to bring about a new government and “constitution”. How many republics has France had since the fall of l’ancien regime? Even better, Italy. More appropriate given the level of corruption in California and its political class.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Of course not, they didn’t need one. One was built into only letting male property owners vote.

    EJ Reply:

    France has had 5 constitutions. We’ve had one for about the same amount of time. Pretty sure if American democracy can survive the civil war, it’ll survive whatever you’re burbling about up there.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It did not survive intact, not just the Civil War, but the US becoming a profoundly different place.

    A junta in our future? Who knows? Let’s see if one returns to places like Greece and Brasil. Cairo, LA’s twin, has one.

  11. Jerry
    Sep 2nd, 2015 at 15:09

    PTC?? CalTrain? Conflicts?? Who would have thunk it?
    Think about the conflicts over the standards for driverless cars. AND. The associated proprietary conflicts.

  12. Scramjett
    Sep 2nd, 2015 at 16:50

    Off Topic:

    A reclamation district in Sacramento County received $10.4 million to build wetlands.

    Does anyone know which reclamation district and where these wetlands are to be built?

    Joe Reply:

    My guess:

    “Millions have been earmarked to restore the wetlands of Sherman Island in the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta.”

    Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/business/article31480399.html#storylink=cpy

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Ugh, those user comments… is Sacramento er, … conservative?

    Scramjett Reply:

    Sacramento is neither conservative nor liberal as a whole. It is more of a hodge podge mish-mash of conservatism, neo-liberalism and progressivism. The whole metro area would probably be referred to as “purple” and can swing one way or the other in an election, however, it’s worth noting that most of the state house and congressional district offices are held by democrats most of whom are considered “moderate” (though I prefer “republican-lite” or DINO).

    I’m not a great big fan of the SacBee and I don’t read it very often (hardly at all in fact). But, when I do, I’ve learned to ignore the SacBee comment section because the SacBee is probably one of the most sensationalist news rags in the valley and loves providing click-bait for some of the most rabid wacko’s in the area. But if you’re someone who loves seeing the breakdown of rational thought and reveling in extreme cognitive dissonance, then it would probably be a great way to spend an afternoon.

    EJ Reply:

    No, Sacramento is pretty middle of the road politically (at least by US standards). But, for reasons which nobody has ever quite been able to explain, generally only total yahoos leave comments on US newspaper websites.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The CITY of Sacramento and Davis are quite “blue” for obvious reasons. The unincorporated areas tend to be more conservative, and the foothills, including Placer and El Dorado counties are Orange County without the beach and with better scenery. Elk Grove and Rancho Cordova are the most “purple” areas but slowly turning blue over time.

    The Bee, however, concentrates its coverage on long term residents, who presumably think state government is a corrupt and sclerotic nation on the order of Colombia or Nigeria… If you read the Bee and listen to public radio you hear both sides and you get much more coverage of what is going on than any other news outlet in the state…

    Joe Reply:

    The Bee’s coverage of HSR, for example, proves they are not anti government.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The Bee editorial page, knowing that Sacramento has a very established railroad industry, supports HSR on the belief that it will never happen in their lifetimes…at least in Sacramento…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sac should have been included in phase one.

    Scramjett Reply:

    Thanks for the info. I was kind of hoping for more, but I guess that’s a start.

    Joe Reply:

    How about this?


  13. Dan Richard
    Sep 3rd, 2015 at 10:14

    Noise levels on BART were always a concern to me during my 12 years on the BART Board. My understanding of the reason for this that it stemmed from the tragic fire in the Transbay Tube in 1979. A firefighter lost his life and the state PUC shut down BART for some number of months.

    The CPUC focused on the BART car composition which included aluminum honeycomb structure in the floors. The Aluminum honeycomb is disastrous in a fire (see, e.g., Falklands War, HMS Ardent & Antelope). The fire, which started in the brake assembly, burned through the floors and ignited the urethane in the seats which emit toxic smoke as a combustion product. I’m told that the CPUC ordered BART to retrofit its cars with steel flooring as a fire protection measure. That steel flooring transmits sound throughout the cars.

    That’s why BART cars are so much noisier than their counterparts in Washington or Atlanta. The original cars where made by Rohr, an aerospace company. Some of this may be apocryphal, but that’s my understanding.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yet the exterior noise remains substantial, with Daly City being particularly noted for the noise of BART trains audible many blocks away.

    Corrugation commonly develops on transit lines; interestingly it can be quite bad on cable car lines. No electric traction motors yet the problem persists. My conjecture is that flatted wheel tyres plus general metal fatigue are major factors.

    I bring up corrugation because BART lines with brand new rail(SFO for instance) and thus no time for corrugation to develop were very noisy from the outset.

    The conical wheel geometry, IMHO, is the primary culprit. Apparently Bechtel, so ashamed about building supported duorail, wanted a different type of riding characteristic and felt tapered wheels would hunt too much. BART needs to redesign their trucks with dampers.

    The Rohr cars were notorious for crinkled roofs and swaybacking so the steel floors may have helped to strengthen the bodies some.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Excuse me, I meant to say cylindrical wheel profile, altho it is said that BART’s wheels are slightly tapered.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Er, wait, but it’s not like aluminum honeycomb is used to a huge degree anywhere else…

    There are lots and lots of urban EMU designs all over the world, many of which have very reasonable amounts of interior noise and yet use very traditional construction techniques and materials.

    Based on its reputation, at least, BART seems an outlier.

  14. Reality Check
    Sep 3rd, 2015 at 11:39

    Caltrain eyes closing electrification funding gap

    Caltrain officials are inching closer toward a more than $1.5 billion electrification project by considering several steps to secure funding and partnering with other agencies to consider using eminent domain in worst-case scenarios.

    The Peninsula Corridor Joint Powers Board is set to meet Thursday, Sept. 3, and will discuss a handful of items related to the Caltrain Modernization Program — a system overhaul that involves purchasing new trains, a high-tech control system and electrifying 51 miles of track between San Jose and San Francisco. Officials hope the project aimed at increasing capacity to account for an astronomical growth in ridership while greatly reducing carbon emissions, will be 75 percent complete by 2020 and fully implemented by 2040.

    “All of these actions that the board is taking are critical to meeting the milestones for Caltrain electrification. We need to continue to pursue an aggressive timeline to meet the 2020 electrification deadline because we are already experiencing a capacity crunch that is only going to continue to get worse,” said Caltrain spokeswoman Jayme Ackemann.

    A notable achievement includes officials having identified other sources for its previously estimated nearly $450 million gap in funding — an item that will eventually be addressed through a supplemental agreement between Caltrain and six other transportation authorities that oversee the 51 miles of track as well as the city and county of San Francisco and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission.

    The six parties may commit an additional $98 million, an agreement Caltrain will likely consider in October. The remaining gap is expected to be closed by a Federal Transit Administration Core Capacity Grant for $220 million and the California High-Speed Rail Authority — which already committed nearly $750 million — to contribute an additional $113 million, according to a staff report.

    The exact details of the agreement are being finalized and each entity’s regulatory body will have to approve their own agreement. Having identified enough to fund the project through 2020 will allow the JPB to proceed with hiring a consultant early next year. That will be a significant contract as the chosen firm will finalize the design and carry the project to construction, Ackemann said.

    “This was a critical next step because we cannot award the electrification [request for proposals] at the end of the year as we are scheduled to do, without having a full funding plan in place. So we’re very pleased,” Ackemann said.


    Other items being addressed Thursday include an update and revised funding for a new high-tech safety control system. The modernization program includes Communications Based Overlay Signal System and Positive Train Control [aka “CBOSS“], a federally required [sic] GPS-based technology capable of preventing train-to-train collisions. The board will hear an update on the status the system currently being installed and consider approving an additional $10 million toward the nearly $160 million control system project that Congress ordered railroads complete by the end of this year.


    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They could start by asking Amtrak……Amtrak…… how they are managing to re-electrify 100 track miles, upgrade tracks and buy some very pricey frequency converters for one third the cost.

    Jerry Reply:

    “re-electrify” ???

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are tearing out the stuff 80 years old and replacing it. Philadelphia has had electric trains for 100 years. It doesn’t last forever.

    Zorro Reply:

    So far the only human built things that might last forever, are the Pyramids on the Giza Plateau in Egypt.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Apples to oranges?

    “purchasing new trains, a high-tech control system and electrifying 51 miles of track”

    I don’t believe Amtrak is buying new trains. And does “high-tech control system” mean CBOSS? Amtrak isn’t installing PTC.

    EJ Reply:

    They’re also able to re-use a considerable amount of the existing electrification infrastructure.

    EJ Reply:

    And, yeah, it should be emphasized that Caltrain’s electrification budget includes buying new trains. Overall, it’s still pricier than it should be, but if you’re going to make an apples to apples comparison, you have to 1) compare it to new-build electrification, and 2) stip out the cost of CBOSS and rolling stock.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes we all know California is special.

    EJ Reply:

    Stop trolling, kthx.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Then stop calling trains, platforms and signals “electrification”.

    J. Wong Reply:

    EMUs are a requirement for electrification of Caltrain. No one said anything about platforms.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No they aren’t. You can hitch an electric locomotive to the cars that now get hitched to diesel locomotives. You can even run diesel locomotives under the wires.

    Zorro Reply:

    Future designs distribute electrical propulsion throughout an entire HSR train, using AGV as an example.

    Zorro Reply:

    Oopsie, you said Caltrain, not HSR, My bad, Adirondacker12800 is right.

    J. Wong Reply:


    I guess you’re right that buying an electric locomotive would be adequete for electrification and it would be cheaper than EMUs. On the other hand, the EMUs give better service. And yes, you can still run diesel under the wires.

    But it is still an apples to oranges comparison because otherwise what is the point of Caltrain electrification? Amtrak is upgrading existing electrical service with no increase in service or performance. Caltrain is electrifying to increase service and performance. So Caltrain could just add the wires for maybe comparable cost to the Amtrak upgrade project, and then just not use them because hey the extra costs for EMUs, etc. is just a waste of money!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The current Acelas will run at 150 instead of 135. Rumor has it that saves 90 seconds. 90 seconds here. 90 second there after a while it’s ten minutes. NJTransit and Amtrak would love to increase service. The tunnel to Manhattan doesn’t have any more capacity. It will someday which is why they are building a new substation in Hamilton and upgrading the one in Metuchen.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Zorro: loco-hauled trains are an even worse idea for commuter rail than for intercity rail, because of the reduced acceleration rate. That’s why Caltrain pushed the waiver instead of getting ALP-46s.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I’d rather be on a train hauled by ALP-something or other and that go to stations with level boarding than stopping for 90 seconds at every station so people can clamber up and down the stairs.

    Clem Reply:

    One step at a time. Some day you’ll have California envy, just not quite yet. Enjoy it while it lasts.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    No, Amtrak is actually installing PTC on the parts of the NEC that don’t already have it.

  15. synonymouse
    Sep 3rd, 2015 at 19:24

    Locomotives to head up Metrolink trains.


    Same argument applies roughly to doodlebugs at grade crossings. Electric streetcars can brake faster. I also suggest there is some reason to believe heavy locomotives will better stay on the track. SMART should have gone with loco-hauled if they insist on diesel.

    Clem Reply:

    Ouch. So much for “highcrashworthy” Rotem cars. Money quote:

    This is going to be costly for the railroad, but you can’t put a price on safety.

    I believe the same argument will be used to justify cost overruns on CBOSS.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    If “you can’t put a price on safety”, then they’ll be starting construction for complete grade-separation soon, right…?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Antonovich base tunnels have priority; you can’t put a price on patronage.

    joe Reply:

    We can put a price tag on coal and carbon.

    The California Assembly passed a bill Wednesday that prompts the state’s public employee pension funds to divest from coal.

    California’s Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who introduced the bill, also praised its passage.

    One of the four bills — SB 350, which was also introduced by de León — calls for a 50 percent reduction in petroleum use in the state’s cars and trucks, a 50 percent increase in energy efficiency in buildings, and a goal of 50 percent of state utilities’ power coming from renewable energy by 2030.

    Another, SB 32, would build on California’s climate change law by locking the state into a goal of reducing its emissions 80 percent below 1990 levels by 2050.

    keithsaggers Reply:

    citation please

    Zorro Reply:

    How is this Keith Saggers? The Nation’s Most Populous State Just Voted To Divest From Coal

    The California Assembly passed a bill Wednesday that prompts the state’s public employee pension funds to divest from coal.

    The bill passed the Assemby with a vote of 43 to 27, and will require the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) and California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS) — which combined are responsible for $476 billion in assets — to remove all holdings in companies that get at least half of their revenue from coal mining. The divestment would have to be completed by July 2017. If signed into law, the measure would be the first of its kind in the United States.

    “Coal is the fuel of the past and it’s no longer a wise investment for our pensioners,” California assemblyman Rob Bonta, who presented the bill, said in a statement. “I’m pleased that my colleagues agree: it’s time to move on from this dirty energy source.”

    California’s Senate President Pro Tem Kevin de León, who introduced the bill, also praised its passage.

    john burrows Reply:

    California is rapidly divesting from coal as a source of electricity. According to the California Energy Commission coal fired power plants generated about 9% of our electricity in 2012. By 2022 that will be down to 4.5% and by 2032 to essentially 0%. Based upon what has happened here since 2012 the decline in coal produced power may be even steeper.

    In regard to petroleum, California now imports about 60% of what it uses. If we are able to reduce petroleum use by 50% by motor vehicles in California by 2030—And if we do indeed go on to reduce greenhouse gas emissions 80% below 1990 levels by 2050, then sometime in the 2030’s California could become a net petroleum exporter. But do we want to become a net petroleum exporter or would we consider leaving the oil in the ground and forego the billions in revenue which we would get if we shipped it out.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The rest of the world will probably do the same thing and won’t want your oil.

    Zorro Reply:

    I think SB 350 applies to New cars and trucks, since making an existing car use 50% less is absurd in the extreme, it would be cheaper to start over.

    And SB 32 is just extending AB 32, an existing law, until 2050.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Absolutely not. Metrolink is a dead system walking.

    LA can try to use Union Station as a bulwark to prevent OCTA repurposing the Surfliner and the Coast Daylight siphoning off the Coast Route portion. But once there’s a deal to fund the Palmdale tunnels it’s over. Divisa et victa.

  16. Miles Bader
    Sep 3rd, 2015 at 20:25

    If “you can’t put a price on safety”, then they’ll be starting construction for complete grade-separation soon, right…?

    Zorro Reply:

    I don’t know. Some cities like Menlo Park put in place policies to stop this, as it says at this article here.

    In 2014, Menlo Park received a grant from the SMCTA to evaluate grade separations at Ravenswood; to prepare to apply for construction funding from the SMCTA. The study has not yet been started. At the time that the study was commissioned, the city had a policy limited the options to be studied to choices that would not elevate the railroad tracks, although such options had earlier been estimated as being less costly and having fewer transportation impacts.

    The “no-elevation” policy was adopted at the time that Menlo Park was opposing a plan for High Speed Rail that would have added a continuous elevated structure on the Caltrain right of way on the Peninsula, would have provided a set of dedicated tracks for High Speed Rail, and was designed to carry 10-12 High Speed trains per hour between SF and LA. By contract, Paris to London and New York to DC high speed lines offer 3-4 trains per direction per hour. In the face of community opposition, High Speed Rail and Caltrain created a compromise plan to share the tracks, and to pursue grade separation incrementally. But policies intended to prevent the original High Speed Rail design remained in place.

    Now, with community members wanting to move forward with safety improvements, City Council members will take a fresh look at the design options. According to the staff report, Wednesday’s meeting will start by reviewing prior study efforts (2003-2004) which had recommended a design along the lines of the Belmont/San Carlos grade separation, where the tracks were partly elevated, and the road is partially depressed beneath the tracks. City Council ruled out this option during the HSR battle. Wednesday’s meeting will discuss current Council policies related to rail and grade separation, and possible modifications to the policies. Based on the outcomes from Wednesday’s meeting, the Council Rail Committee will report to the full City Council which will determine next steps for the grade separation project.

    J. Wong Reply:

    They’re trying to have their cake and eat it too! The reality is that they’ll have to accept the elevated grade separation or else tax themselves to fund whatever “ideal” solution they’d prefer.

    Steven H Reply:

    “[…] New York to DC high speed lines offer 3-4 trains per direction per hour.”

    The new Tier 1 EIS for Northeast Corridor HSR calls for either 10 or 12-14 trains per direction per hour between NYC and DC (depending on level of investment). The little-to-no investment scenarios still call for an increase to 6-7 trains per hour. In other words, I don’t think CAHSR’s 10-12 trains per hour scheme is all that strange.

  17. Reality Check
    Sep 4th, 2015 at 00:41

    Bombardier wins deal to build 15 8-car CRH380D HSR trainsets for China

    Roland Reply:

    In case no one else noticed, that’s $25.4M a pop or less than a Caltrain EMU after the LTK “EMU procurement” overhead.

  18. Robert S. Allen
    Sep 4th, 2015 at 01:09

    2008 Prop 1A provided funding for “Safe, Reliable” High Speed Rail. Like all railroads, Caltrain is vulnerable to accidents, suicides, sabotage, and resulting train delays. Unless fenced and fully grade-separated, it is neither safe nor reliable.

    Yet CHSRA talks of raising the 79 mph maximum train speed to 110 mph or 125 mph on track with dozens of road crossings and unfenced through cities and alongside station platforms. “Blended Rail” (HSR on Caltrain) violates the very premise of 1A, that HSR be Safe and Reliable. Caltrain cannot in good faith use 1A funding for its electrification.

    Clem Reply:

    The BART ring slips away…

    les Reply:

    Border patrol to the rescue

    J. Wong Reply:

    No, the very premise of Prop 1A is to build HSR, which obviously requires a phased project to actually achieve that goal. So the “blend” does not in any way violate Prop 1A. Any claim that whichever intermediate feature of the system violates the proposition is specious.

  19. Neville Snark
    Sep 4th, 2015 at 02:50

    O/T– A snippet of good news for supporters of rational rail, here in Scotland:


  20. Useless
    Sep 4th, 2015 at 11:23

    Indonesian president has cancelled HSR corridor construction bids from Japan and China citing cost concerns, will instead push for a modernization of existing legacy rail. Japan and China were quoting as much as $5 billion for a 90 mile worth of brand new dedicated HSR tracks, which the president found too costly.


    EJ Reply:

    Huh, so turns out when your’re talking distances of ~150 km, upgrading an existing slow corridor to 200 km/h is more cost-effective than a new build HSR line. Are you listening, LA and San Diego?

    Useless Reply:


    I was under the impression that second phase would be blended where ever applicable, such as from LA to Riverside and LA to Anaheim.

    EJ Reply:

    Well, Riverside to San Diego (more than half the distance from LA to San Diego, given the non-direct routing they’ve decided on) will be all new-build. And because of that routing, LA-SD will take about 90 minutes. But if you could upgrade the surf line to an average speed of 80 mph, that would also take about 90 minutes. And the route, while it serves Inland Empire-SD traffic, loses out on serving the arguably more important Orange County-SD market.

    Domayv Reply:

    and that’s why CAHSR should extend their Orange county services down to San Diego because the Traffic on I-5 between LA and SD is horrible, and the Surfliners aren’t enough to relieve the congestion (the LA-OC-SD line should also be built on an entirely new ROW following I-5 entirely because the existing alingment, which takes an eastward turn to serve Fullerton would slow the trains down). They could reserve the SD-Riverside line for a Cajon Pass HSR line (it can be done; just ask Clem on how the Tejon HSR line can be done as well)

    EJ Reply:

    Eh, Fullerton station’s only about 3 miles from I-5, and it’s already a pretty busy Surfliner stop. Seems like it might be worth serving with HSR. Also, I-5 gets quite curvy and hilly once it gets south of Orange, and especially in South OC. The rail line, by contrast, is almost dead straight from Santa Ana through Irvine to Lake Forest. OC real estate, even near the freeway, is pretty expensive, so any land takes that have to happen to straighten out curves will get costly real fast.

    The major challenge is south of there in San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente – there are several unnecessarily sharp curves in SJC and it’s hard to see how the line along the seashore in San Clemente could easily be upgraded from its existing 40 mph, single track status. Maybe at least throw up some fences and raise the speed limit, but the NIMBYs and the coastal commission would probably throw a fit. At least it’s scenic. There was a proposal a while ago (back in the 90s, I think) to build a long tunnel from SJC to south of San Clemente, but this would cost several $billion and it never went anywhere.

    Once you’re south of San Clemente, through Pendleton, up till Oceanside, you’ve got a long fairly straight stretch that pretty much does parallel I-5 and would be easy to upgrade to 125 mph operation – there are only a handful of roads crossing it and almost all of them are already grade separated. South of Oceanside the population is a little more dense and there are more streets that would need grade separations (and more well-off North County NIMBYs to contend with) but it’s pretty doable.

    There’s Miramar hill to contend with, but they’ll probably eventually tunnel through it anyway. I’ve never been a fan of some of the ideas CHSRA has batted around for terminating HSR at mission valley or the airport – I still think the eventual terminus should be right where it is now at Santa Fe depot.

    Joey Reply:

    The problem areas are San Clemente, Del Mar, and Miramar Hill. I don’t really see any way around tunneling at least part of all of them, but that’s not to say that it shouldn’t be done.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The main thing to avoid is a stub.

    You can’t really use the coast ROW for HSR, but you can run most of the track down the 15 and double back to Anaheim. The current plan is just a nightmare, leaving a stub line to Orange County and making all San Diego passengers take this dogleg to the Inland Empire before plunging south to the border.

    As I have said before, that creates real operational waste and has gotta be fix before you start running high speed rail south of LA…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Someday it makes their trips to places with names other than Los Angeles a lot faster.

    EJ Reply:

    You can’t really use the coast ROW for HSR, but you can run most of the track down the 15 and double back to Anaheim.

    Wait, what? So you roughly follow the 91 between I-15 and I-5? Why? So you can stop in Corona? And you have to cross the Santa Ana Mountains twice? That’s like the worst of both worlds.

    EJ Reply:

    To be clear, I’m not an advocate of “true” HSR on the coast route. I think it should be electrified, double tracked, realigned/tunneled in a few places, and the speed limit raised to 125 mph wherever possible. This should enable avg. 80 mph speeds, including stops, between LA and SD, which would give you a 90 minute travel time, same as the currently proposed dogleg, and serve the existing OC/SD market in the bargain.

    This isn’t a cheap or simple project, but probably a lot less expensive than new-build HSR from Riverside to SD, and it’s something that could be started now. SD to Riverside only really comes into its own if LA-Phoenix is built or they decide to built a line to Vegas through the Cajon pass – but these are pipe dreams at this point without any serious political constituency.

    Domayv Reply:

    @Ted Judah and EJ: here’s what my LA-SD I-5 HSR alignment looks like: https://www.google.com/maps/d/edit?mid=zWLI5V544xAc.kXYCPG04HKNw

    StevieB Reply:

    I-5 alignment from Los Angeles to San Diego was studied and rejected by the FRA.

    Dedicated High-Speed Rail: The FRA and the California High-Speed Rail Authority

    (Authority), in conjunction with the Department, initially investigated the potential of utilizing

    the LOSSAN corridor for a dedicated, high-speed train (HST) system. Based on that work,

    the Department concluded that a dedicated HST corridor with separate tracks for HST and

    conventional rail service was impracticable in the severely constrained LOSSAN corridor.

    The HST alternative would create significant operational conflicts with existing, conventional

    passenger and freight rail in the corridor, and significant environmental impacts in the

    narrow LOSSAN right-of-way which traverses sensitive natural areas along the southern

    California coast…

    Other Corridors in the LOSSAN Region: The Department and FRA considered but

    eliminated the following alternative corridors in the LOSSAN region for either HST or

    conventional rail.

    Interstate 5 Freeway – Eliminated due to the need for extensive aerial and tunnel

    construction due to freeway curves, highly constrained right-of-way, commercial

    and residential property impacts, and impacts to sensitive ecological areas and

    coastal views…

    The Department determined that conventional rail technology was the only practicable

    alternative to meet its stated objectives in the LOSSAN corridor.

    Alternatives are discussed in the report and improvements were selected to provide double track between Los Angeles and San Diego. Tunnels are considered in several locations and the only options remaining in San Clemente, Del Mar and I-5/805 Split To Hwy 52 are tunnels.

    synonymouse Reply:

    $5bil is chicken feed when it comes to JerryRail.

    Zorro Reply:

    More GIGO from Cyno.

    synonymouse Reply:

    $5bil is, quoi, the extra cost of DeTouring to Palmdale and Mojave.

    Edward Reply:

    Note that Jakarta to Bandung is a climb of 2500 feet. It is an interesting ride.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Indonesia still wants Jakarta-Surabaya HSR link


    President Widodo announced late Thursday that a bullet train between the capital Jakarta and the textile city of Bandung was unnecessary, since it would never reach its maximum speed of more than 300 km (188 miles) per hour in between station stops.


    The bullet train was initially intended to be the first phase of a 763 km (474 mile) rail link connecting Indonesia’s two biggest cities, Jakarta and Surabaya.

    The presidential palace said it still wanted to build a high-speed railway that covers the length of Java island, home to more than half the population of the sprawling archipelago.


  21. Elizabeth Alexis
    Sep 4th, 2015 at 13:41

    Here is CAHSR project update for the September board meeting:


  22. JimInPollockPines
    Sep 4th, 2015 at 17:27

    Tulare County ready to plan connection to Hanford high speed rail station

    Breathing new life into doing at least some planning with CHSRA, Visalia Mayor Steve Nelsen now says Visalia and TCAG have no appetite to come into another jurisdiction to work with the state rail agency on station design elements but are ready to work with them on a connectivity study

    JimInPollockPines Reply:


  23. keithsaggers
    Sep 4th, 2015 at 19:08
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