China Announces It Will Help Build LA-Vegas HSR

Sep 17th, 2015 | Posted by

Well this is certainly big news – if not entirely unexpected. China has announced plans to help build the XpressWest high speed rail project that will, eventually, link Los Angeles to Las Vegas via Palmdale and Victorville:

XpressWest agreed this month to form a joint venture with China Railway International USA Co. to build and operate the railway, Shu Guozeng, deputy head of the government’s Office of the Central Leading Group for Financial and Economic Affairs, said at a news conference Thursday, according to the state-run Xinhua News Agency. Shu claimed the project could begin construction as early as September 2016….

China Railway International was established this summer by a Chinese consortium led by national railway operator China Railway, the financial publication Caixin reported. Bloomberg News cited a statement from Shu saying the Las Vegas project would “be supported by $100 million in initial capital,” though from which entities was unclear.

And here’s the press release that has a few more details, including that China Railway International has been incorporated in Nevada:

BEIJING and LAS VEGAS, Sept. 17, 2015 /PRNewswire/ — China Railway International USA CO., LTD. and XpressWest have agreed to form a joint venture that will accelerate launch of the XpressWest rail project connecting Las Vegas, Nevada to Los Angeles, California (the “Southwest Rail Network”). The Project will develop, finance, build and operate the Southwest Rail Network, with stations in Las Vegas, Nevada, Victorville, California, and Palmdale, California, and service throughout Los Angeles. The decision to form a joint venture is the culmination of years of work and builds upon the significant accomplishments of XpressWest.

Supported by $100 million in initial capital, this new high-speed rail line (approximately 370 km(s) in length) will create new technology, manufacturing, and construction jobs throughout the interstate corridor and will connect Southern Nevada and Southern California to drive new economic development and grow tourism – a vital part of the region’s economy. The Project will serve as a model of international cooperation and will firmly establish a United States-based high-speed rail industry that will result in significant job creation throughout the Southwest with construction planned to commence as early as September 2016. The Project will immediately undertake all necessary regulatory and commercial activities to advance the reality of regional high-speed rail in the United States. Implementation will begin within the next 100 days.

About the Companies:

XpressWest is a private interstate high-speed passenger railroad company led by the Marnell Companies and dedicated since 2007 to developing a high-speed passenger rail line connecting Las Vegas to Los Angeles. Authorized by the United States federal government to build and operate the Southwest Rail Network, XpressWest has completed its required federal permitting work, obtained approvals from the Surface Transportation Board, and completed significant development work for the route, including completing the federal environmental review process. Investment-grade ridership studies, a prerequisite for obtaining project financing, demonstrate the Southern Nevada-Southern California corridor is a robust market for future rail passengers.

China Railway International U.S.A. CO., LTD. is a newly-formed Nevada limited liability company owned by a consortium of the world’s premier experts in designing, building, financing and operating high-speed passenger rail projects, including: China Railway Corporation, China Railway Engineering Corporation, CSR Corporation Limited, China Construction America, Inc., and China Railway Signal Communications Corporation.

So this looks pretty serious to me. China has been working hard to invest in and help build HSR projects around the world, including a plan in Indonesia that fell apart earlier this month.

Nevada has been gearing up for HSR, with the state legislature having created its own Nevada High Speed Rail Authority earlier this year, to which Governor Brian Sandoval appointed 5 members just last week.

XpressWest already has its federal approvals in hand. All they needed was funding to start construction, and with this announcement, they might just have it.

While the details are still sparse, my assumption is that the Chinese-backed venture would build the Victorville-Vegas leg first, and then begin design and engineering work on the simple Palmdale-Victorville section, which should be little trouble to build over a flat, empty desert stretch of about 50 miles.

The bigger question this raises is whether Chinese involvement in the XpressWest project will lead to them having a role in California’s HSR route from SF to LA. If they get rolling with XpressWest and things go well in the next few years, I’d have to say their chances will improve significantly. And as we saw in Indonesia, that may spur Japan to step up its own desire to be involved.

  1. Aarond
    Sep 17th, 2015 at 12:02
    #1

    This will certainly go over well with voters in Nevada. Now since people can claim Xpresswest is run by “fifth columnists” or so forth they now have a very good soundbyte against rail.

    I’m not going to turn this into a nationalism argument, but there’s a good reason to use American companies when doing projects like these. Siemens and JRE can get away with it because their countries are technically occupied by the US and thus don’t have the political baggage that China does.

    I only see problems with this declension, but I understand what led into it. However, Xpresswest will now have to deal with being “un-American” or so forth which is a problem given the rise of the Tea Party (which championed that one ad back in 2009 directly featuring an “evil communist infiltrator” buying america) in both Nevada and DC. Again, I don’t like making this so political, but this is what’s going to happen and people will make a stink about it.

    Also, I doubt CAHSR will go anywhere near Chinese HSR with a 50 foot pole. It’s not an issue they need, Siemens already has contracts with Amtrak and is gearing up to replacing aging F40s and F59s with Chargers. Siemens also has a factory outside Sacramento, which is where ACS-64s for the NEC are built. I don’t see CAHSR passing up what is an obvious choice. As for engineering, I reckon CAHSR will stick with their existing contractors and not introduce a potential political mess.

    Also, Mexico’s HSR plan (which used Chinese companies as well) completely fell through too, just for context.

    sorry for such a long post

    les Reply:

    Pubs deserve it. They’ve been staunch opponents of everything Obama (HSR, Solar and etc) and dead set against stimulus funds and HSR loans to stir American innovation, they deserve the fruits of their labor.

    Aarond Reply:

    They’re setting themselves up for a fight. I mean, look at all the things happening in the South China Sea, if that heats up then the Republicans that let this happen (Nevada has a GOP majority) are going to get stomped by Tea Partiers (and probably some Democrats too).

    Again, I *really* don’t like to bring this type of politics into this, but they’re inviting this sort of situation to happen. And as a result, NVHSR will suffer and it could potentially spill over to CAHSR through association. The GOP tried killing federal CAHSR money with the T-HUD bill last month (HR 2577), which could have happened if it weren’t for the Democrats left in the Senate T-HUD committee.

    Hilariously, if the TPP passes then they get burned too because China is not a part of it. This would then put them at a disadvantage compared to a JRE contract (as what’s happening in Texas). The Ex-Im fiasco doesn’t help anyone trying to import or export things either.

    I just see this as a huge mess waiting to happen when it didn’t need to. I understand why Xpresswest would use a Chinese company, it’s all money. But it invites a style of frenzied political fight that could outclass the ones that happened/are happening in California and Texas.

    les Reply:

    With Chinese building a rail facility in Mass. there wasn’t too much opposition. They just bought the tallest scraper in seattle and own 123 Batteries and other us companies. As long as it’s not telecommunications related like Micron or defence related I don’t see a problem.

    Useless Reply:

    les

    The Boston MBTA deal is supposed to end up being a disaster, because CNR’s rivals who talked to CNR insists CNR is clueless about the US crash and safety standards, and CNR never built a high crash-worthy passenger rolling stock before.

    The reputation of CNR is that they are very good at standardized rolling stocks like Chinese subway cars built in tens of thousands, but is terrible at building custom rolling stocks built in hundreds. So the Boston MBTA officials will finally figure out that they made a terrible mistake around 2019, but the Boston MBTA officials will have to learn the lesson the hard way.

    les Reply:

    I’m not saying the Chinese make quality products (why I avoid walmart), I’m just saying politics isn’t the reason for denying them a presence. For all I know they could use 100% cloned product.

    Useless Reply:

    les

    Assuming it doesn’t take any government funding and is a 100% private venture funded by the Chinese, there is nothing that the politics can do to stop this.

    Of course it will not be possible for a Chinese train to get on to the CHSRA tracks at Palmdale and reach LAUS due to FRA rules, but at least you can change trains at Palmdale. In that case both wins.

    les Reply:

    oops; post in wrong spot.

    Aarond Reply:

    They’ll eventually have to build a ROW and might have to ED some wasteland between Victorville and Vegas. Of course, it’s just desert but that won’t stop all the crazies from coming out and making a huge mess over it. If Bundy Ranch could happen, then anything goes.

    Again I myself don’t particular care about it, but I know many of otherwise sane people loose their heads over Bundy Ranch. And that was, at least in my opinion, a pretty clear cut case in favor of the government. It involved just the BLM enforcing federal law. Imagine the mess that could happen if a Chinese-backed company tried to ED land owned by a private citizen, one that probably showed up a year ago to Bundy Ranch to wave their dicks at the BLM? Ones that also hate the Yucca Mtn project and consider transit in general to be a “boondoggle”.

    Again I don’t agree with these people, but given the current political situation this is what I’m expecting to see.

    les Reply:

    The key is to see how Turkey’s HSR performs. The Chinese put in a similar 150 mph system
    about 1 year ago and all seems to be ok.

    https://www.google.com/#q=turkey+high+speed+rail

    Useless Reply:

    les

    Nope. Chinese built the railway but Turkey runs Spanish trains on them.

    les Reply:

    Couldn’t the TCDD HT65000 be used by the LV line also? Chinese build the line as in Turkey but use
    use Spanish trains. Do these trains meet FRA guidelines?

    Useless Reply:

    les

    Victorville-Las Vegas railway will use Chinese domestic market trains and signaling equipment.

    By going private, they don’t have to meet FRA regulations.

    As for the Spanish trains, they are Euro spec and this is Turkey we are talking about, not USA. Turkey has its own rules, which is basically that they would take Eurospec trains.

    Peter Reply:

    By going private, they don’t have to meet FRA regulations.

    Oh dear. Someone doesn’t understand the jurisdiction of the FRA. Any train running in the United States either falls under the jurisdiction of the FRA or the FTA (in the case of light rail trains). XpressWest will have to either meet FRA regulations, or get a waiver. I haven’t of any waivers being requested by XpressWest. So, yet again, you’re speculating. And quite transparently so.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I think he’s conflating STB jurisdiction with FRA jurisdiction.

    Peter Reply:

    Even then it’s wrong. STB will totally have jurisdiction over XpressWest.

    Gag Halfrunt Reply:

    You mean the Ankara-Istanbul line? The construction was carried out by a Turkish-Chinese consortium, but the signalling systems were provided by Alcatel and Thales. The trains aren’t Chinese either.

    Clem Reply:

    You forgot to tell us how delighted MBTA was with their new Rotem cars. I wonder why?

    Eric M Reply:

    Oopsy, and that is the same thing coming out of Korea about their high speed trains.

    Useless Reply:

    Eric M

    Actually no, the reliability issues are resolved and you hardly hear them anymore. Technical issues start high initially then come down as months pass, and the KTX-II had a lower problem rate than the TGV-K. What changed is that everyone now has a smartphone to twit every little thing.

    This is why it is so important that CHSRA don’t become the launch customer of efSET.

    Clem Reply:

    What sort of nationalist fervor is driving you to trash Japanese and Chinese trains? It’s getting quite tiresome.

    Useless Reply:

    Clem

    What sort of nationalist fervor is driving you to trash Japanese and Chinese trains?

    None at all.

    Japanese trains and Chinese trains are fine as long as they run in closed corridors on grade segregated tracks for which they were designed for. You may have noticed that I do support the Texas Central High Speed Rail and this XpressWest train.

    Japanese/Chinese trains however must not be allowed to set a foot on blended traffics of California High Speed Rail and Northeast Corridor, because they come from countries with no train crash standard and are not built to be survivable in collisions.

    Joe Reply:

    This comment would be far more persuasive if written in all Caps.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The NEC is grade separated except in Connecticut

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Useless, they’re not going to pick KTX II, because CAHSR, like everybody else, understands that loco-hauled trains are a bad idea, and that EMUs are the way to go.

    Which EMU they’ll pick is unknown—but they will pick an EMU.

    J. Wong Reply:

    @Useless “Japanese/Chinese trains however must not be allowed to set a foot on blended traffics of California High Speed Rail and Northeast Corridor”.

    Except they can and will because whatever HSR EMUs are decided upon, they will be granted a waiver. Why would you think the blend (and I’m talking on the Peninsula here; I don’t know anything about Burbank-LAUS) would prevent the granting of such a waiver?

    Useless Reply:

    @ J. Wong

    Why would you think the blend would prevent the granting of such a waiver?

    It is Caltrain that is planning to replace their rolling stocks.

    Metrolink plans to keep their existing Rotem rolling stocks, so any train planning to run from Palmdale to LAUS must consider collision with Rotem rolling stocks.

    J. Wong Reply:

    @Useless

    Palmdale-LAUS? Really the only possible “blend” is Burbank-LAUS. Metrolink won’t be operating any of their existing equipment on Palmdale-Burbank HSR.

    And the reality is that CAHSR won’t constrain their trains by the standards necessary to run a “blend” from Burbank-LAUS. So Japanese and Chinese trains can very easily meet whatever standards CAHSR determines for their EMUs.

    This means either that the “blend” is transferring to Metrolink at Burbank, or CAHSR gets Metrolink to use EMUs on Palmdale-LAUS probably by getting the funding for the upgrade (and assuming freight doesn’t share the tracks [if it does, see the 1st clause about the “blend”]).

    Useless Reply:

    Clem

    MBTA hasn’t seen nothing yet. At least MBTA will be smiling when the Rotem cars get into a crash at some point.

    Clem Reply:

    Just like Metrolink is smiling, by having to couple BNSF diesel locomotives on the front of their Rotem “highcrashworthy” cab cars to prevent them from flying off the rails?

    William Reply:

    …and the rumor from http://www.railroad.net is MBTA Rotem cars also suffer from vibration issues

    William Reply:

    @Useless, the Chinese MBTA contract is for Orange and Red line subway car replacement, so it doesn’t need to comply with FRA standards.

    Adam Tauno Williams Reply:

    It is too bad we cannot get rid of “Buy American” clauses. We would have more current hardware, sooner, and for less money. Actual operation service, I do not care who or where equipment was made – this is the 21st century.

    Aarond Reply:

    True, but there are ways around that. See how Siemens is posed for a takeover of the US passenger rail locomotive market. My point is that if you’re going to chose a foregin company, choosing countries from a country that isn’t exactly “friendly” with the US invites more criticism. Nobody cares if they ride in Japanese made bilevels pulled by a German locomotive when both are friendly with the US. China on the other hand isn’t, and people (especially unions and the far right) will make a fight over it.

    My point is that, of all the companies that they could have chosen choosing a Chinese one isn’t going to do them any favors in the long term. Yes, it’s modern equipment. But it’s also modern equipment *that is built by a Chinese company*. We may not have an issue with it as long as it works, but a lot of people will get pissed. I mean, do you really want someone asking themselves “should I take an American made car or plane to Vegas or a Chinese built train” because we can easily guess what the answer will be.

    Useless Reply:

    Aarond

    See how Siemens is posed for a takeover of the US passenger rail locomotive market.

    Siemens is doing well in locomotive market, not so well in passenger train car markets.

    Domayv Reply:

    that will all change with them absorbing Bombardier

    Bdawe Reply:

    Part of that ‘take over’ comes down to the fact that having a running American assembly line gives a huge advantage to any foreign companies wanting to bid on US production. And if they charge high prices or make crappy products, any order that might compete has to be large enough to lure someone into setting up a US facility. It still leads to less competition at the end of the day

    AndyK Reply:

    All this “anti china” talk isn’t stopping anyone from buying iphone, etc.

    Aarond Reply:

    Iphones are designed by a US company though. And more importantly, Iphones don’t require Eminent Domaining of US property. Furthermore, iphones and Apple don’t have a 50+ year, mostly negative history with the US.

    Mind you I don’t care about Chinese trains either way, if they work they work. But a lot of people especially in Nevada will crusade against.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I might have agreed with this analysis – Nevada has some truly wacko politicians – but the fact that the bill to create the NHSRA passed almost unanimously in both houses of their GOP-controlled legislature suggests to me that Chinese involvement won’t be a political problem at all. As long as XpressWest isn’t looking to gobble up huge amounts of private land, they’ll be fine. And since the plan is to follow Interstate 15 pretty closely from the Strip to Victorville…they’ll be fine.

    Aarond Reply:

    The press release was just today though. Time will tell if people accept it or not, but in the current political climate especially inside conservative states something like this can cause a 180 in support. If there is one thing that Heritage Action hates, it’s free trade and China. And guess who has a significant amount of lobbying power in conservative states like Nevada?

    Remember the Bundy Ranch fiasco? Alex Jones is still going on about how “chinese solar companies had the communist Obama BLM arrest an American patriot”. Xpresswest has now opened up a new means of feverish criticism here.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The press release was today but I assure you this has been cooking for some time.

    Joe Reply:

    If the HSR route follows a HW then, by analogy to Texas Alignment, it will have turns / curves that prevent trains from achieving the high speeds we associate with CA’s system. Basically 150 MPH.

    Joe Reply:

    Texas selected an alternative alignment from one following HW45.

    wdobner Reply:

    I-15 is not I-45, and just because they’ve decided to follow I-15 does not mean they’ll be working exclusively within the highways ROW.

    Clem Reply:

    And less when the grade exceeds four percent.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Agree, but since the grade challenges come in California, I don’t think that is going to have any effect on political support in Nevada. The amount of land they’ll need in Nevada is negligible and mostly flat, empty desert between the Strip and the state line.

    Lewellan Reply:

    Mass transit competition with automobile-related business interests assures inexplicable complications. What else is the self-driving autonomous car ‘nonsense’ but another way to eliminate mass transit? Henry Ford’s $5 day was more an investment that assured employees would buy a Model ‘T’ rather than their nickel fare go to the streetcar power and light company. Bullet trains will not surprisingly become exclusively expensive rides.

    wdobner Reply:

    Haha, so along I-15 the 4% grades north of Baker will be what the HSL is built to, yet somehow at Tejon the 6% Grapevine grade won’t. Gotta love Blog-gineering!

    Ted Judah Reply:

    More like…gotta love Prop 1a:

    The whole 220 mph capability and 2 hour 40 minute limit doesn’t apply to Xpress West. They can trade the amount of speed and electricity needed to power their train up at 186 mph over a four percent grade for a slower, cheaper ascent.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I believe the more recent Tejon route featured max 3.5 ruling gradient.

    Clem Reply:

    Correct. wdobner obviously has not actually read the Tejon material.

    Useless Reply:

    Aarond

    I don’t see CAHSR passing up what is an obvious choice.

    Siemens is not an obvious choice because any winning bidder will build its rolling stocks in California.

    Eric M Reply:

    And where do you think the current Siemens manufacturing plant is right now???

    Useless Reply:

    Eric M

    I know it is in California but Siemens doesn’t have much of luck in passenger trains. It’s always Kawasaki, Rotem, Bombardier, and Nippon Sharyo winning passenger rail car and subway orders.

    Domayv Reply:

    thing is, Siemens is new to the American rail business compared to others. Once they absorb Bombardier then they’ll have a foothold in the passenger rail car and subway orders

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Don’t count on a Siemens/Bombardier merger… It would require a lot of persuasion to make the EU regulators accept it. Also keep in mind that the Bombardier Rolling Stock part is essentially a German company, where the engineering is in Oerlikon, Kassel and Hennigsdorf.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Bombardier is on the ropes. I think the EU regulators might accept the merger rather than watch it go bankrupt and shut down.

    BrianR Reply:

    However Siemens is building the passenger cars for All Aboard Florida at their Sacramento plant. At least they are as of the last news I heard on that. That counts as a start doesn’t it?

    I am aware of the fact those will be diesel hauled passenger cars, not EMU’s.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Maybe an FRA-compliant version of these:
    http://www.mobility.siemens.com/mobility/global/SiteCollectionDocuments/en/rail-solutions/passenger-coaches/viaggio-comfort-en.pdf

    Max Wyss Reply:

    It could be in that line. However, we can make a distinction between the carbody (which, in this case has to be a USAn style dinosaur tank), and the passenger equipment, which will be what the customer orders.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Tier I and Tier II cars are built like tanks. Tier III is yet to be seen.

    Eric M Reply:

    Hmmmm, let’s have a look. Oh, and they own the empty lot just north of their current position for future expansion.

    Domayv Reply:

    and look who has a train factory in California

    Useless Reply:

    Domayv

    Whoever wins the CHSRA rolling stock bid will have a final assembly and maintenance plant in California.

    Aarond Reply:

    Yes, but notice how Siemens already has those facilities already producing locomotives in the state. They’re the most logical choice for CAHSR *especially* when they’re already providing regular Amtrak with electric ACS-64s built in Sacramento.

    Useless Reply:

    Aarond

    It doesn’t matter if the bidder currently has a plant in California or not. As long as the bidder pledges to build them in California and hire a set number of Californians to build them, then they all get same credit in bid evaluations.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    That gives Siemens a minuscule advantage, but that’s about it. And a couple of months less time to become productive has no big effect on such a project.

    William Reply:

    Doesn’t Siemens have quite a cosy relationship with the Chinese government? I believe Siemens just won a big CRH contract through its Chinese joint venture.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Siemens is of course building large numbers of passenger cars, for light rail systems.
    They do not like US bi-levels and so have not bid on those projects. They assume CA HSR will be single level. Who knows, with the Nippon Sharyo bi-level fiasco we may see a new generation of single level cars for the CA state rail program.

  2. Travis D
    Sep 17th, 2015 at 12:02
    #2

    Just how much capital will they be putting into this? How much do they have? Could they possibly help get all the way into LAUS?

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    $100 million

    Here is official press release:
    http://www.xpresswest.com/pdf/2015-09-17-China-Railway-XpressWest-Develop-HSR.pdf

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    That’s the key question, and right now we don’t know the answer. China has a lot of money, though less of it since their stock market crashed. That said, getting XpressWest built will be a relative drop in the bucket. And if they’re willing to get it built from Vegas to Victorville, then I have to believe they’re interested in the real prize, which is getting to LAUS.

    Joe Reply:

    Key questions:

    Victorville to Palmdale will be built and funded by….

    If the NV/China partnership picks the “slow” highway alignment will China/NV operators plan to deploy and run trains capable of 200+ speeds and seek to run single seat service to LAUS on the CAHSR tracks?

    Useless Reply:

    Joe

    For a non-stop service from LAUS to Las Vegas, they would have to let CHSRA trains run on their tracks, since Chinese trains are forbidden from running on FRA tracks.

    The another issue is signaling. The Chinese would obviously intend on deploying Chinese signaling equipment, which is incompatible with ETRMES or CBOSS.

    So in the end, the Chinese may be content with just putting an underground stop at the Palmdale CHSRA station, so that travelers can change train quickly. This would save a lot of headache and money.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    How do you know all that???

    Peter Reply:

    It comes from the same source that told him that the recent Metrolink crash was a wonderful validation of Metrolink’s new Hyundai-Rotem rail cars.

    Clem Reply:

    Don’t knock ’em. Those are some of the safest cars ever built, when fitted with the recommended 120 ton bumper / obstacle deflector.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes Reply:

    In addition, all signage on the train and at stations would be in Mandarin, and passengers would be required to recite the Little Red Book from memory before boarding.

  3. MarkB
    Sep 17th, 2015 at 12:09
    #3

    Will this be a case of the tail wagging the dog when it comes to rolling stock standards, signaling standards and such for an interoperable system? Or will the two systems come close but not touch in Palmdale? I’d hate to see HSR balkanized from the start, but CA is pretty far down the path of UIC-compliant systems. But then, I also don’t want to see us dependent upon China just because we’re too third world to finance our system ourselves.

    Adam Tauno Williams Reply:

    If the Chinese or Japanese will built it – let them come. The United States cannot build it; it is unlikely anyone alive to read this news today will see American built operational HSR in their life times. Maybe part of the CAHSR segment, maybe. However will built it, let them come. We just need one operational route – to prove to Americans this is real. Then maybe American companies will get on the ball. Maybe. If not then others can continue to built it out for us; that is certainly preferable to having a 20th century system in the 21st century. If America cannot do it – and we clearly can’t – why not let someone else do it?

    Aarond Reply:

    The problem is, if you use a Chinese company to build it that is something that the RR operator will never live down. Americans are nationalistic, a *lot* of people will readily kill a profitable, operational HSR route in the US if it’s “run by the Chinese” and will never ever consider rail again due to the association. This is *especially* true if someone can take an American built plane or American built car or bus.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They climb into their foreign cars, drive to the airport and get on foreign planes frequently.

    Aarond Reply:

    Ah, but not Chinese cars. GM and Ford are good at hiding the fact that most of their cars are hecho en mejico. Most people can’t tell an Airbus (which are made in europe) from a Boeing but they can certainly tell an EMU from a regular diesel loco.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and they don’t know or care who made it.

    Aarond Reply:

    But they do. You have to remember that a lot of people tend to not be too smart. When they think “train” they think of an old steamer or a yellow diesel engine. They don’t see EMUs and it stands out, greatly so.

    But you are right that most people won’t care. But a lot of people are willing to start a fight over it misguided notions of patriotism. CAHSR gets constant shit thrown at it despite being only a “boondoggle” to the right. Being a “boondoggle” + “chinese” invites more criticism.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No they won’t.

    AndyK Reply:

    we buy and use all kinds of Chinese products. Steel, ipods, etc. Chinese cars will most likely be here soon too.

    Useless Reply:

    AndyK

    we buy and use all kinds of Chinese products. Steel

    Chinese steel should be avoided, but the corporate greed allows them.

    ipods

    Non-Chinese brand product made in China is OK.
    Chinese brand product is not OK.

    Chinese cars will most likely be here soon too.

    Chinese brand cars will not come to the US for one simple reason; engineering a car to meet the US standard drives up the cost and makes it cost uncompetitive in China; the biggest auto market in the world. Chinese brands would rather stay in China than come to the US and risk losing their domestic market shares. So no, Chinese brand cars will not come to the US.

    Joe Reply:

    This is Monty Python funny. I imagine a character played by Eric Idle.

    As an older person, I recall this silly talk was directed at the Japanese and their crappy little radios and toy cars.

    Q: Anyone name the Chairman of Volvo?
    A: Li Shufu

    Useless Reply:

    Joe

    Volvo’s US sales has fallen by half since the Geely takeover. Furthermore, Geely’s own market share in China has fallen by half and Geely’s debt increased 1000%. In other word, the Geely takeover of Volvo has not gone well and has damaged both companies.

    Your biggest mistake is to assume that Chinese are like Japanese or Koreans. Japanese and Korean products were specifically built to be sold in the US and in Europe, because they had tiny domestic markets that couldn’t possibly support corporations. Chinese on the other hand build for their own domestic market, because it is the biggest market for them.

    I will give you an example.

    Samsung’s domestic market represents 5% of its sales and 95% of sales comes from overseas.
    Xiaomi’s domestic market represents 95% of its sales and 5% of sales comes from overseas.

    So no, Chinese aren’t like Japanese or Korean and they will not be coming to the US.

    Joe Reply:

    Dude;

    Tell me about the first Toyota imports and how these were designed and built for the US market. Like the Volkswagen.

    You assume something being Chinese is a handicap because — Chinese.

    Volvo is alive which is far better than Oldsmobile and the Chinese auto maker owns the tech. It’s a bad move if you predetermine Chinese cannot do X because – Chinese.

    BrianR Reply:

    Isn’t the passenger car division of Volvo now owned by a Chinese company? I don’t think anyone thinks lesser of Volvo now. It may “look and feel” like a European car but technically it’s a Chinese car, even if not built in China. Likewise we don’t generally consider our Hondas, Toyotas and Volkswagens built in America to be American cars either.

    Adam Tauno Williams Reply:

    Old Americans are nationalist. They are all going to die. These arguments don’t have legs with enough people under 40 for it to matter. Thanks goodness.

    I’m tired of having spent half my life waiting for baby boomers to die off so we can start rebuilding the country.

    Aarond Reply:

    You would be very surprised. The Tea Party is mostly younger people, older boomers are probably more ok with it given that they created free trade in the first place. Don’t write off Patriotism so quick, it’s an extremely powerful force that can make otherwise sane people do silly things. And in the context here, it can push HSR fencesitters against it. And in Nevada, regardless of what “the future” is, right now the right has control and the Tea Party has a huge amount of bargaining power.

    StevieB Reply:

    Tea Party supporters are older than other voters in every report I have seen. The tea party is characterized as 80% Republican, 86% non-Hispanic whites, and 59% male according to this Oct. 2014 survey. The weakest support group is of those under age 30 which was 15% of Tea Party supporters and the strongest support from those age 50 to 65. Demographically, 31% of Tea Party Republicans are men aged 50 and older, compared with 21% of other Republicans.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Younger Americans (under, uh, 50) know that the US currently sucks. We may be highly nationalistic, but it’s a different sort of nationalism. It’s “We gotta catch up”, in contrast to the aged people’s “USA #1 right or wrong” nonsense.

    We will be happy to take Chinese trains and financing. Now.

    Eric Reply:

    Waiting for old people to die is not a promising strategy. People are old for a long time. You will become old before the old people die.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes Reply:

    In addition, when today’s young people are old they are likely to have surprisingly similar opinions to today’s old people.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    No they won’t. They won’t be afraid of gay people for one.

    Andy M Reply:

    granted, that one will change, but even the gay people thing is just a category, a label. In the bigger picture, things don’t change and crossing from the left to the right often comes with age, experience, disillusionemnt, growing rich, or other reasons.

    In the US the left believes it has the gay argument firmly in its own pocket.

    In Europe in contrast it was equally the left that first started standing up for gays but there are today plenty of openly gay people on the right and even the extreme right.

    Marine Le Pen’s second in command is openly gay. Pim Fortuin was openly gay.

    Same with immigrants. If the Dems think this is a we help you once, you support us forever gain, they’ve got another think coming.

    Geert Wilders is part Indonesian.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Next to nobody crosses from the left to the right.

    You’ve explained what’s going on yourself in this very comment. What happens is that the right keeps moving to the left, and the left moves further left too. People whose opinions stay the same will find themselves considered “left” when they are young and “right” when they are older.

    For instance, a racist who believed that black people should be segregated in their own country but treated decently was considered radical left-wing in the 1860s — and considered radical right-wing by the 1960s.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There’s a lack of perspective going on because people forget the progress which we’ve already made.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Absolutely false. It’s a documented lie. People don’t really change their opinions much as they get older, on average.

    Andy M Reply:

    They don’t realize they change their opinions, maybe. But they do. Labels themselves shift their definition, and people who associate with the label may not realize they are shifting with it.

    Nathanael Reply:

    No, in general, they don’t. This has been studied. Really.

    Very few people “cross from the left to the right” as they get older. It’s a fantasy which right-wingers like to believe, but it’s totally false.

    What happens is that the labels shift their definition — and they shift their definition *leftward*. Someone who was considered a serious left-winger in the 1930s would, *with exactly the same opinions*, be considered quite right-wing today.

    Nathanael Reply:

    This often doesn’t get noticed because we fail to notice the battles which we won. The extreme hardcore right wing in the US still wants to remove voting rights from women, but when they say this, they get laughed at even by other right-wingers.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Richard Nixon would be denounced as a radical communist by today’s Republican Party. They forget that Saint Ronnie didn’t consider the Laffer Curve holy writ. He raised taxes when it was apparent that lower taxes on rich people wasn’t working.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The postwar era was much more rightist than today in a paranoid way the young people of today would be hard-pressed to understand. It was dominated by ultra-rightists like McArthur, J. Edgar Hoover, McCarthy.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It’s true that the Republican Party leadership went hard-right ancien-regime aristocratic.

    People didn’t go with them. Turns out most of the voters for the Republicans are simply deluded about what the leadership is advocating, and yes, this is captured in surveys. The Republican leadership has been campaigning with straight-up outright lies for several generations now.

    This is one reason Trump, who is relatively honest, is doing so well. By many measures, he is to the “left” of the dreadful candidates occupying the rest of the Republican field, thus matching up better with the actual views of the Republican voters. Yes, he’s xenophobic and boorish, but that’s not actually a *change* in the electorate — those have *always* been popular.

    Nathanael Reply:

    To get a proper understanding of the Republican voter of today, you have to remember “Keep the government out of my Social Security.” Basically, they’ve been getting votes from the deluded.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Nanny tends to totalitarian – is totalitarian right or left?

    Andy M Reply:

    absolutely, and younger people change their views as they grow older.

    My own political opinions have shifted in quite a few respects since I was 20, and maybe they might shift again.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Having been in close contact with Millennial and Gen X Americans, I can confidently tell you that it’s very much not just old or white or conservatives Americans who are nationalistic. It’s just that this nationalism expresses itself in other ways than OBUMMER WAS BRON IN KEYNA KEYNA SUONDS LIEK KEYNSEIANSIM WAEK UP SHEEPLE TRMUP/PLAU 2601. For a recent, relatively accessible example: there was a shitstorm when the private British company managing various US ports was sold to Dubai World, complete with people, most of whom were Democrats, arguing that by letting the deal happen, Bush was selling America to Muslim terrorists.

    joe Reply:

    Hey that’s very interesting.

    The wikipedia does’t make it so cut and dry however and certainly one cannot conclude “most of whom were democrats”. The selected quotes against the deal are all GOP affiliated writers. All. Can you edit that article.

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

    Alon Levy Reply:

    http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/10/politics/10ports.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0

    Joe Reply:

    “What appeared to set off Democrats and Republicans this time, against the backdrop of concern about possible terrorist attacks, was that the buyer was a state-owned Arab company. ”

    Seems this is not “most of whom are Democrats.”

    Nathanael Reply:

    The nationalism among the younger people is about control.

    We might freak out if the Chinese *controlled* the HSR project, but not if they’re just building it. It’s a subtle but important distinction.

    Dubai Ports World was a matter of handing port security over to foreigners. Of course it had already been handed over to foreigners, but nobody noticed when they handed it to the British. Handing it to a company owned by an aristocracy known for opposing democracy was beyond suspicious.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Yes, yes, it’s totally about Dubai’s aristocracy and not at all about the fact that Dubai is a Muslim country and Airstrip One Britain is not.

    Joe Reply:

    The objections as I read relate to the agreements between nations, strategic alliances and information sharing. One has to assert the US British alliance and national interests are on par with Dubai US.

    How so?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Your average liberal opposition to the deal (I can’t speak to the right-wingers, they’re crazy) *also* opposed the British deal.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They could achieve enough “control” to kick PB and Jerry to the curb, which would be a good thing.

    Useless Reply:

    Mark B

    Or will the two systems come close but not touch in Palmdale?

    I would guess you have to change trains at Palmdale.

    Jon Reply:

    If you look at the High Desert Corridor environmental docs, there is a direct track connect to the CAHSR mainline planned just north of Palmdale station. So clearly they are planning for run-through service from Las Vegas to Los Angeles.

    Peter Reply:

    Wait, what, planners have plans that don’t match up with Useless’ “Official Conclusive View of the World”?

    Clem Reply:

    The connection will be used by Californian KTX trains built by Hyundai Rotem.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Clearly XpressWest must have a cross platform junction with CHSR at Palmdale and CHSR must have similar with Metrolink at Burbank. We can’t possibly have something as un-American as convenient rail transportation.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Jon, the connection is for work trains during construction, after that it will be removed.

  4. Lee M
    Sep 17th, 2015 at 12:29
    #4

    One of the press releases mentions $12B and three years to build. At that number and time I would xpect the system to extend to Palmdale immediately. As far as the control system jis (an engineer with detailed knowledge of railroad electronics) said this:
    “China basically uses an indegenized version of ERTMS for train control and signaling, which they originally acquired from Siemens or Bombardier, I forget which one exactly. It should not be that hard to get a compatible version in place, since AFAICT CA HSR also plans to use some version of ERTMS.” Thirdly, if you are are building in the US you must conform to US standards.

    Useless Reply:

    Lee M

    “China basically uses an indegenized version of ERTMS

    And look at how well that worked in Wenzhou. The Chinese system is not ERTRMS.

    Gag Halfrunt Reply:

    The signalling system had been knocked out by lightning strikes and the trains were being driven “on sight”, without any signalling.

  5. Eric M
    Sep 17th, 2015 at 13:00
    #5

    Robert,

    In you second to last paragraph, you said:

    While the details are still sparse, my assumption is that the Chinese-backed venture would build the Victorville-Vegas leg first, and then begin design and engineering work on the simple Palmdale-Vegas section, which should be little trouble to build over a flat, empty desert stretch of about 50 miles.

    I think you meant to say: “and then begin design and engineering work on the simple Palmdale-Victorville section”, not Palmdale to Vegas

    Eric M Reply:

    Ooops, In your….

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Yep, fixed

  6. Jerry
    Sep 17th, 2015 at 13:06
    #6

    Certainly a foot in the HSR door for China in our global economy.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “…our global economy.”?

    JB from SV Reply:

    Maybe if you consider US debt held by China and the trade between us as ‘our’ global economy? It sill only adds up to a small fraction.

    “The largest foreign holder of U.S. debt is China, which owns more about $1.2 trillion in bills, notes and bonds, according to the Treasury.”

    http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/moneymatters/ss/How-Much-US-Debt-Does-China-Own.htm

    J. Wong Reply:

    The operative word here is foreign. U.S. entities own the vast majority of U.S. debt.

    Zorro Reply:

    Criticism of China Owning U.S. Debt

    Some Republicans have expressed concern over the amount of U.S. debt owned by China. Republican U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann, a 2012 presidential hopeful, joked that when it came to the debt “Hu’s your daddy,” a reference to Chinese President Hu Jintao.

    Despite such joking, the truth is the bulk of the $14.3 trillion U.S. debt – $9.8 trillion in all – is owned by the American people and its government.

    Foreign debt is at $4.5 Trillion total.

    joe Reply:

    What would it matter if China did own more US debt?

    Lender and borrower are tied together. If a lender is owned money they have a vested interest in the success of the borrower if they have any hope of being paid back. A default, on our part, is always an option and that would mean the lender is out trillions of dollars. We can inflate our currency and pay back in inflated dollars.

    What mater is what is done with the borrowed money. if we build a HSR system then that’s useful infrastructure.

    Useless Reply:

    joe

    China is expected to weaponize its US T-note holdings.

    Say during the Chinese invasion of the Diaoyu Islands(The peripheral island of Taiwan that Japan has refused to return since the end of WW2) in the South China Sea, China is expected to unload all its T-Note holdings at once in order to collapse the treasury bond market and cripple the US government’s ability to finance its operations.

    Withe the US out of action, China can simply move in to take back the Diaoyu Islands from Japan and hold it for at least a month, at which point the de-facto Chinese sovereignty over the islands are established.

    So yes, an enemy state holding a large sum of US T-notes is bad.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Funny thing about that there’s no way for China to do any such thing.

    joe Reply:

    What if China took that 4.5 trillion in US IOU’s and bought the islands rather than destroy the money in a James Bond movie plot?

    Useless Reply:

    joe

    Japan currently holds the islands, it is not the US’s to sell to China.

    China’s treasury bond attack doesn’t work against Japan, since 95% of Japanese government bonds are held by Japanese institutions and individuals, and the Japanese government can always issue war bonds. But it will keep the US out of war for sure.

    Joe Reply:

    Japan would gladly take US bonds for payment of any debt or transaction.

    I didn’t know China offered 4.5 trillion for the islands and was rejected by Japan I doubt China wants to destroy that much to obtain the islands.

    Again, not understanding what is money and how debt is secured makes you think that US Bonds arena commodity and the value determined by supply and demand. China floods the market and the value drops. Not how the world works.

    Useless Reply:

    J. Wong

    Surely they can. All they have to do is put a sale order on $1 trillion worth of US treasury bonds at once. Guess what that would do to treasury bond market.

    The US Treasury department has to sell treasury bonds continuously to raise fund. With the T-bond market collapse, the US Treasury no longer can raise cash to fund military operations.

    This treasury nuke option is widely discussed as the part of Chinese attacks along with cyberattacks during the East China Sea War.

    joe Reply:

    What is a sale order on a bond?

    J. Wong Reply:

    No one would be able to take a sale order on $1 trillion in U.S. bonds. The markets don’t work that way.

    Besides which, they might as well just declare war on the U.S. because that is what would happen. Also, the Chinese aren’t totally stupid. If they put a sale order on $1 trillion in U.S. bonds they suddenly wouldn’t be worth $1 trillion.

    Joe Reply:

    China cannot lower the value of US bonds by selling them on the market because bonds are not a commodity.

    The US bonds are worth their face value backed up by the US Treasury regardless of what Amount China seeks to transfer in a sale to another buyer.

    The bond is guaranteed by the US Treasury.

    joe Reply:

    “China is expected to weaponize its US T-note holdings.”

    By drawing bombs on the money.

    China has a currency too. They have a stock market too. It amazes me that you can envision a scenario where they destroy the dollar on which they pegged their currency. Collapse the dollar and their currency collapses.

    Since the US runs a deficit and borrows from China and Mil Spending is so large a part of our budget, China is financing our awesome military.

    That’s bad for China because we have their money and can refuse to pay them back or inflate our dollars and effectively pay them less than they loaned.

    China has an IOU. It’s worth only what we commit to paying back. It is in our interest to pay it back but if you think the red scare is real then we just do not and have 4.5 trillion from the enemy in our pockets.

    Useless Reply:

    joe

    You clearly do not understand what’s at stake. This is a matter of territorial integrity for China. Japan took away the islands from China 130 years ago, and has not returned it when they agreed to do so by accepting the Potsdam declaration to surrender.

    China doesn’t care about a hit on their currency or even foreign sanctions, to them this is about the preservation of national pride and the territorial integrity on which no value can be put in terms of yuan/dollars. So yes, China will nuke the US treasury bond market if necessary.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    That would cause a worldwide depression. Everyone would stop buying cheap Chinese stuff.

    TomA Reply:

    I doubt it. These Chinese leaders arent morons.

    They will use national pride to keep the population under control, but its not and end to itself. Its a means of continuing party power. If the end result is, they get in a war with Japan over the islands, but crash the global economy, I doubt they do that.

    Useless Reply:

    adirondacker12800

    That would cause a worldwide depression. Everyone would stop buying cheap Chinese stuff.

    Would the US held back from invading Afghanistan right after 9/11 due to high cost? How about the Pearl Harbor?

    There are certain things that must be done regardless of cost. The East China Sea War falls in that category unfortunately from the Chinese perspective. In other word, China’s struggle against the foreign imperial powers is not over until China recovered the last piece of territory lost to a foreign Imperial power, the Diaoyu Islands.

    Useless Reply:

    TomA

    If the end result is, they get in a war with Japan over the islands, but crash the global economy, I doubt they do that.

    That’s like asking if the US would do nothing if Russia grabbed Alaska because of a fear over the global economic crash.

    Of course China plans to take back the islands by force if Japan won’t return them. If the US sides with Japan on this matter, then the US Treasury too would be financially nuked in order to ensure that the US stays out of China’s war against Japan.

    Those are the facts.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They’ve had nearly 70 years to do something about it. They haven’t. They probably won’t.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Mao did not have a fleet to take on the US. That’s how Chiang Kai-Shek survived.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Mao died 40 years ago and Chiang Kai-shek 39 years ago.
    It’s not 1965 anymore. Donate the stuff from the Birch Society to your local library.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Your timing is off – 1949 was the year of change. Things are indeed different now as China is building a big navy, both defensive and offensive.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes they’ve changed. A major part of their population depends on exports for a living.

    synonymouse Reply:

    something causing real trouble for their economy right now

    J. Wong Reply:

    Nuke’ing the U.S. Treasury would effectively start a war. If you think that the U.S. wouldn’t start a war with China under such circumstances, then you’re foolish. China has absolutely no ability to screw with the market for U.S. treasuries. Their $1 trillion would immediately become worthless paper and the U.S. Treasury would go on financing the U.S. gov’t through other players who would be quite willing to continue to buy those bonds.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The US is incapable of fighting a war with China, or any other major power, under any circumstances.

    I suppose we might have a deranged lunatic as President who might decide to start such a war, with disastrous consquences; the US would lose. And quickly. The world is already intensely skeptical of any US military operations (thank you George W Bush) and the US can’t fight the world without losing.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    @Nathaneal
    Huh? Where did that bizarre opinion come from?

    The U.S. makes lots of dumb decisions on a political level about how to use military force, but its military is perfectly capable, and would probably wipe the floor with China in any likely conflict (that is, one that didn’t involve actually invading China-proper)…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

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

    synonymouse Reply:

    You are missing Useless’ point:

    An intelligent person would question why exactly would China invest some billions in a poorly conceived fantasy project that will surely bleed red ink from day one. Nevada casino interests would have to commit to a substantial ongoing subsidy of train tickets to keep this thing going. And all this when the gambling industry is writhing with change. Look at the implosion of Atlantic City, which is adjacent to a larger megalopolis than Sin City.

    The answer is China’s primary interest and motive is geopolitical, not economic. Eventually China, just like the US, is going to move militarily offshore and garrison troops in foreign countries. That’s where Chinese losses in these third world development schemes pay off. Goodwill.

    You can be sure Chinese spooks embedded in their hsr people will be doing intelligence and recruiting in California and Nevada. I should think they would be most interested in the Border. Placing Chinese troops in a latin american locale would really piss off Foggy Bottom but then we would know how it feels to have a Taiwan or Japan next door from the mainland POV.

    synonymouse Reply:

    TehaVegaSkyRail is a third world development scheme.

    Useless Reply:

    synonymouse

    The CRRC is a Chinese state-owned-enterprise and is not a private business. State-owned-enterprises are driven by state policies and not profits, so they make decisions that serve China’s national interests in foreign policy, not private shareholders.

    So if the Chinese central committee decides that controlling a critical infrastructure like railway serves China’s foreign policy interests, then they will seek to control regardless of cost. You have to get out of Wall Street Capitalism mindset to understand Chinese behavior.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I was using the term “government directed” rather than “government run” to introduce a litle wiggle room.

    Actually the US has a somewhat government directed economy, via the Fed.

    Paul H. Reply:

    @synidiot

    Except the Fed isn’t a government agency nor does the government have any financial stake in it. The only thing the government has any control of is to appoint the already pre-determined Fed Chairman.

    synonymouse Reply:

    So the Congress and the Prez are thoroughly disinterested and uninvolved in the Fed since “…the Fed isn’t a government agency nor does the government have any financial stake in it.”?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Fed is akin to the Postal Service? Can Google or Apple buy it?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Syn: you’re utterly, utterly wrong.

    China is not being as moronic as the US has been. The US has worthless military bases around the world and a completely worthless military which can’t win any war, and it costs a fortune.

    China is being much much smarter than that. China is building an *economic* empire, like the mercantile empires of the 18th century. No need to conquer anything, so long as the commerce keeps flowing. Nobody will dare to fight you because you manufacture all their clothes, steel, buildings, etc. If some idiotic country does decide to fight you, every other country in the world turns against them because they want to be stay on good trade terms with you.

    China is locating military bases the way a *mercantile* empire does, to secure the flow of trade and prevent attempted interference with commerce. This is a strategy which should be familiar from the British empire, which executed it very well. It’s a strategy the US only carried out successfully during the conquest of the West from the Native Americans; the US has never carried it out successfully overseas.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    They are going to have to out compete the destitute Africans and machines.

    synonymouse Reply:

    China can move aggressively when it wants to. Invading Korea, invading Vietnam, crushing jihadists in the Western provinces. And I doubt they will allow foreign cults to undermine their society, unlike Rome subverted and undermined by a handful of loonies from a conquered territory.

    China is not invincible; has been conquered before, so I suggest their government will follow the policy that the best defense is a good offense. The US in Asia is a thorn in their side they want removed.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    @syno
    Of course China can move aggressively. It’s just that if they move aggressively in ships to take over islands, or otherwise far from home, they’re going to get stomped on pretty thoroughly. Maybe things will be different in fifty years time, but for now, that’s how things stand.

    The Chinese leadership know this full well, and they’re not completely stupid, so they’ll avoid such direct conflicts, at least in the short term. They’re quite adept at subtler and less direct forms of aggression, so they’ll probably stick to those for the time being.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Let’s say Venezuela signs a deal with the Chinese to set up a naval base there, what is Foggy Bottom going to do?

    Useless Reply:

    synonymouse

    A Chinese naval base in the Atlantic ocean is useless without the Nicaragua canal.

    synonymouse Reply:

    propaganda value – posturing

    Nathanael Reply:

    Adirondacker: you might want to read up on Chinese economic colonization of Africa. Chinese companies are moving in on the mining sector in Africa. There’s a reason I said they were building a mercantile empire.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    What would it matter if China did own more US debt?

    Lender and borrower are tied together. If a lender is owned money they have a vested interest in the success of the borrower if they have any hope of being paid back.

    Actually, the lender has a vested interest in being able to extract wealth from the borrower. European gunboat diplomacy in the 19th century frequently involved non-European governments borrowing money from European businesses (or from European governments) and not being able to pay, and then British or French gunboats showing up and seizing their ports and quickly turning the state into a colony. American gunboat diplomacy was similar, except with less formal colonialism.

    A more recent example is Argentina. After Argentina defaulted in 2001 and made its lenders take a haircut, some of the lenders sold the debt to debt vultures, who sued in a US court, won, and deprived Argentina of any access to US bond markets until it pays the original debt (which it of course won’t). Meanwhile, they’re getting courts around the world to seize Argentinian assets – there was a naval ship they managed to seize in Nigeria, if I’m not mistaken.

    joe Reply:

    Gunboat Diplomacy – China will sail a gunboat up the Mississippi and take control of New Orleans.
    Just an excuse to type about 19th century history.

    Iceland defaulted – why didn’t you use Iceland as an example? They defaulted and it’s working our far better than Spain or Greece.

    Argentina – So a defaulting US will be able to borrow from China as punishment for a defaulting ergo we should not borrow from China so we are not denied the opportunity to burrow from China.

    Dude with those consequences I propose you lend me 10,000 euros and threaten to not lend me any more money if I default.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Actually Spain is recovering fairly well, much better than Greece or Italy.

    France is not doing so well and could likely end up with a return of Sarko.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You’re missing the part where the vultures seized Argentinian military equipment. They threatened to do the same to Peru unless Fujimori paid debts (they threatened to seize the plane he was using to flee the country as he was losing the election and was about to face corruption charges).

    Greece defaulted, too, it just wasn’t called default. But the private creditors had to take a haircut. This was done in an orderly fashion according to both preexisting and made-up-on-the-spot EU rules, unlike the Argentinian default, which was messy. There’s no international law for sovereign bankruptcies, hence suing Argentina about Argentina’s debt in a US court.

    Joe Reply:

    Explain Iceland please.

    Any suggestion they’ll seize US land or military equipment is ridiculous and belongs in a Red Dawn II movie.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Iceland did not default on sovereign debt. It refused to give government backing to insolvent domestic banks that had significant foreign debt.

    Of course nobody would seize US military equipment. What are they going to do, take F-35s? But this relates to the “okay, so the US can borrow freely now because it has a bigger military than everyone else, for now” view of David Graeber et al. Presumably China realizes this and has other ways to retaliate if it feels that the US screwed it over some investment, for example going after US tech firms.

  7. synonymouse
    Sep 17th, 2015 at 13:32
    #7

    Who is going to pay the operational subsidy? Adelson and Wynn?

    The first Chinese national who gets busted on an espionage charge, regular or industrial, will induce a huge scandal that could threaten the Burton patronage machine. And Feinstein and Pelosi are seemingly not big friends of the mainland regime.

    So the Chinese had better be greasing some serious palms in Sac. proactively.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Remember the RMB is undervalued, so purchasing materials in China would be quite cost effective especially if you then charge Nevada or California to use the tracks.

    As you might realize, even if someone came here to do industrial espionage, he or she wouldn’t find any domestic HSR industry to steal secrets from. Thus, it’s much more likely any “technology transfer” will be about the power grid and transmission and energy systems that will power the trains. I’m sure PG&E already has some plans lined up and if not the Northern California Power Agency will be right behind them…

  8. les
    Sep 17th, 2015 at 13:34
    #8

    This all tells me that bombadier has to sell off its train business or merge it. I don’t see how they or other similar players can survive in the long term.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Do they have to??

    Most of these rumors come from one particularly so-called “economic” rag.

    It is, however, established that Bombardier does need some cash for their newest aircraft development.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Bombardier doesn’t have to sell off its train business.

    However, the idiot Bombardier family is burning all its other businesses chasing the CSeries fantasy, and as a result they *will* sell off the train business.

    It has its own serious mismanagement problems — ask Toronto about the results of idiotic Mexican outsourcing. :-P

  9. synonymouse
    Sep 17th, 2015 at 13:40
    #9

    Let the Chinese pay for the Antonovich base tunnels.

  10. Useless
    Sep 17th, 2015 at 13:45
    #10

    Good luck with this scheme, since it has less of a chance than the Texas Central HSR. Since Chinese rolling stocks cannot travel over an FRA corridor, it has to be a completely closed private corridor from LA to Las Vegas, with extensive tunneling in SoCal area in order to not use eminent domain. We are talking at least $20 billion here.

    Domayv Reply:

    same with the Japanese.

    also, the FRA states that the maximum speed for legacy tracks (i.e. “dino train” tracks) is 201kmh/125 mph. anything above that will have to run on its own tracks

    Useless Reply:

    Domayv

    The mystery of how the Chinese train would reach LAUS has been answered; they aren’t. They are stopping at Victorville. Assuming the tracks are extended to Palmdale, you maybe able to switch trains from CHSRA bullet train to Chinese express train at Palmdale.

    But there is no non-stop travel from LAUS to Las Vegas, unless the Chinese let CHSRA trains run on their tracks to Las Vegas.

    Darrell Reply:

    Las Vegas to Victorville or Palmdale will be entirely new HSR right-of-way. CHSR’s Palmdale to Burbank could be completed around the same time as Victorville to Palmdale, so Las Vegas directly to Burbank is plausible. CHSRA seems to be anticipating that possibility. Burbank to LAUS comes later.

    Clem Reply:

    BUR to LAUS will not come later. That portion of the corridor will be electrified for a very small percentage of the cost of Palmdale – Burbank.

  11. Useless
    Sep 17th, 2015 at 14:12
    #11

    Oh, the end station is Victorville, not LAUS. So disappointing.

    One slight hiccup though. By Los Angeles, they actually mean Victorville, some 85 miles away in the desert. It seems even the Chinese can’t totally avoid the costly red tape of building railroad infrastructure.

    http://la.curbed.com/archives/2015/09/china_high_speed_rail_la_las_vegas.php
    http://cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/4072472/project1.0.jpg

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    That’s not so clear. They’re building the first phase to Victorville but from all I can tell they’re actually interested in getting to Palmdale and then LAUS…somehow.

    john burrows Reply:

    They are talking about a line 370 km(s) in length. That matches Palmdale.

    Joe Reply:

    And will any operator run single seat service from Las Vegas to LA Metro area when CA connects Palmdale to BUR?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I assume that to be the plan.

    Joe Reply:

    Me too as that is what the Xpresswest animation shows.

    If there’s going to be a problem with the Chinese, it will be over their product and whether it violates intellectual property. Expect the US international trade commission to have some dog in this fight.

    Useless Reply:

    Joe

    The train model offered for the Xpresswest is a indigenous Chinese express train model with a top speed of 150 mph. This model is not based on any western train model and would present no legal problem.

    wdobner Reply:

    What source do you offer for this assertion? I’ve seen no reference to a specific piece of rolling stock in any of the stories on the subject.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I’m sure that’s what the operator wants, but it’s not exactly a sure thing.

    If the Palmdale to Vegas tracks are optimized for 150 mph travel, merging onto the CAHSR main line where the trains are likely to be going 186 -220 mph would cause some operational headaches. It’s also true that the Palmdale to Burbank ROW is likely to be heavily congested compared to other segments and hard to add capacity if it does turn out to be a tunnel.

    But the real hurdle is that XpressWest CEO Tony Marnell noted Victorville was in part chosen as a terminus because the majority of his casino company’s clients lived closer to the Inland Empire than downtown Los Angeles. Marnell noted he knew this because his loyalty card customers would list their addresses.

    Much as I am sure the pressure exists to connect Victorville and Palmdale through high speed rail…I have fallen increasingly into the camp that it should be routed down to Anaheim and up to LA instead of through the High Desert Corridor. It’s simply the most efficient use of resources.

    Bdawe Reply:

    It’s more efficient to build another mountain crossing?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    It’s operationally. Here’s why.

    I punched out the FAA flight data for trips within California and from California to Las Vegas and Phoenix. Without digging up the actual numbers (which I have)…It turns out that to mirror the volume of passenger traffic on HSR, for every 3 trains sent from SF to LA, you need to have one continue on to Las Vegas after Anaheim, and the other two should head to San Diego, with one of the two continuing to Phoenix.

    In order to do that operationally, you need the second mountain crossing.

    This is why Xpress West didn’t want to continue past Victorville, and why SF to LA makes the best sense for the first segments.

    EJ Reply:

    Has anyone actually done any engineering, even preliminary, for a Cajon crossing? It’s complex, because of the fault crossing and the altitude change, but it’s short.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Maybe BNSF has…I’m sure SOMEONE has but if it would be helpful to my proposed route…not a clue…

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    SP built their line in the mid 60s, I expect most of that data went into the One Market dumpster when they moved out. Less than 2% but not very straight.

  12. john burrows
    Sep 17th, 2015 at 15:13
    #12

    Las Vegas gets over 41 million visitors per year. Nearly 14 million come from California, which means a total of 28 million annual trips between California and Vegas. By the time the Bay to Basin phase of HSR is running trains, the Palmdale station will be a busy place if it is also serving ExpressWest. If this does happen I don’t have any projections as to how many Californians might use high speed rail to get to Las Vegas, but 20 per cent of 28 million is 5.6 million which works out to about 15,000 trips per day. Maybe CAHSR and ExpressWest will arrive at the same time from different directions—Then we could have a modern day version of the Golden Spike ceremony.

    Joe Reply:

    And a this rail system will also be built by Chinese only this time they are equal partners.

    Useless Reply:

    Joe

    More like Chinese will own it outright since they won’t seek US government funding and can’t raise money from US private investors.

    Joe Reply:

    Nevada can raise money for the project – you might want to read the Nevada Bill.

    les Reply:

    They gave low interest loans to get Turkey’s line done.
    “The former Chinese ambassador to Turkey Gong Xiaosheng told People’s Daily that the project was part-financed by $750m in loans from China, including $500m in loans with favourable terms, a model that should help the country push forward HSR projects in developing countries that otherwise might hesitate to commit to their first modern high-speed schemes.”

    As discussed above, Spanish trains were used for Turks 160mph line. This sounds like what X will want.

    Useless Reply:

    les

    Chinese aren’t doing this out of goodness of their hearts. The only reason they are doing this is to export unmodified Chinese rolling stock and signalling equipment to the USA without having to deal with the FRA.

    If built, the Victorville-Las Vegas express rail service will run Chinese domestic market trains controlled by Chinese domestic market signalling equipment.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Do you really think they won’t be able to modify their EMUs to meet whatever FRA standards (not Tier I or III) there are to run on CAHSR tracks? And also modify their signaling to be compatible with whatever CAHSR standards end up being?

    The answer of course is “no”, and they will modify their EMUs as necessary.

    Useless Reply:

    J. Wong

    Chinese have never built a high crashworthy train set before, so they are clueless. This is why MBTA is screwed because CNR’s competitors claimed in court that CNR’s absolutely clueless on US crash standards and is unqualified to build anything.

    J. Wong Reply:

    You’re assuming the CAHSR standards will be built with the high crash-worthy standards that the FRA requires for interoperability between freight and existing passenger service. That won’t be the case.

    Useless Reply:

    J. Wong

    The CAHSR corridor is an FRA Tier III corridor, which requires backwards compatibility with Tier I rolling stocks. It is in the regulation. FRA Tier III rollings stocks must consider possible collisions with Tier I rolling stocks sharing track in their design.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Unless a waiver is granted. And obviously we disagree on whether such a waiver will be granted, but I prefer to bet on that happening.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Caltrain has already asked for a waiver.

    Useless Reply:

    J. Wong

    Caltrain has asked for a waiver on a UIC EMU model. Metrolink is not replacing its rolling stocks.

    J. Wong Reply:

    @Useless

    Yes, Metrolink has no current plans to replace rolling stock. But, CAHSR has no current plans to run HSR EMUs with Metrolink’s current rolling stock. Although they do say “blend”, they have not defined what that means in practice in SoCal. (For NoCal, they are defining what they mean by “blend”.) My bet is that they won’t be sharing with existing Metrolink equipment.

    Caltrain has asked for a waiver on UIC EMU model inter-operating with conventional freight and existing Caltrain equipment!

    Clem Reply:

    Metrolink will become Electrolink, from Anaheim to Burbank and possibly even up the hill to Palmdale. They just don’t know it yet. I even have the timetable :-)

    Roland Reply:

    And the train spec minus 200 seats and no toilets to make room for another set of doors :-)

    Clem Reply:

    I just don’t see the alternative. No other viable solution has been proposed that satisfies the constraints of the problem. All the Frecciarossas and Omneos and electrodiesels of the world cannot overcome this simple reality. Just like Caltrain, Metrolink will need to make a transition to high platforms and swift EMUs in order to blend successfully with HSR. Just like Caltrain, Metrolink will not transition overnight. Just like Caltrain, Metrolink will need trains that can serve both high and low platforms during an extended transition period. I’m not sure about “which part of this you don’t understand,” as the refrain goes.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Just like Caltrain, Metrolink will not transition overnight. Just like Caltrain, Metrolink will need trains that can serve both high and low platforms during an extended transition period

    None of that is at all clear to me.

    I don’t see that “blending” will be appropriate or applicable either Sylmar—Burbank—LAUS nor LAUS—Norwalk—Fullterton—Anaheim—Orange(—…)

    Given non-freight segregated tracks and new stations with new platforms, what “transition” period is there? What mixture of high and low platform stations?

    The only incrementalism I can see is starting with only a couple of high platform faces at LAUS, then adding more as the combination of HS and Electrolink traffic grows at the expense of CPUC/FRA dino-trains. Or doing north of north of LAUS and LAUS—Anaheim as separate projects, but there each section really can be a rather clean “big bang” conversion.

    Whether other Metrolink routes, or what extensions to the above core lines, ought to be “Electrolinked”, and how, is a thornier problem, due to the large and real amount of freight, low opportunity for using HSR as the construction funding sugar daddy, corridor ownership, etc, not to mention generally dismal levels of traffic and ridership. I’ll leave it to better-informed Paul Dyson and friends to opine upon that.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Rolling stock is plural. You don’t need the “s”.

    Roland Reply:

    If I understand this correctly, a San Carlos genius and a building-full of rent seekers were able to solve a problem which had been vexing The World for the last couple of centuries?

    May I respectfully recommend a one-way fact-finding trip to Siberia? https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Railway_platform_height#Russia

    Peter Reply:

    @Roland
    In what way does anyone stands to benefit financially more now than if they had adopted some other platform height for level boarding? The cost increase of extra doors is miniscule, and ditto for the cost increase for higher platforms.

    And while you may disagree with the solution, Clem has extensively documented there is no other reasonable way to achieve level boarding while still meeting all the constraints: ADA compliance, lack of lower floor HSR trains, platform interoperability between HSR and Caltrain, etc.

    The “solutions” that you have proposed in the past all ignore one or more constraint.

    Clem Reply:

    @Peter, that’s exactly right. All those who don’t like the dual boarding level solution (some of them to the point of anger!) actually object to one of the constraints of the problem.

    Richard, for example, would like there to be a market of bilevel low-boarding VHSTs to choose from, which there isn’t. He also doesn’t describe how such a bilevel trainset would be globally accessible (every car and every amenity) as required by ADA–perhaps by using elevators, but this is not specified.

    Roland, for another example, doesn’t like that the ADA requires level boarding and that exterior vehicle lifts are not a feasible solution, and dislikes more generally that the ADA is far more restrictive than other countries’ laws concerning persons of reduced mobility. For a while, he thought the Frecciarossa (Bombardier Zefiro) could provide level boarding at 760 mm, but then he realized that this train’s floor was at 1.25 meters like nearly every other HST sold around the world. He was smitten by the Bombardier Omneo design, although it was never clear how such a train would support a platform height transition without the same dual height boarding that Caltrain is now pursuing. He also seemed to conjure up another constraint altogether, that HSTs be able to serve 8-inch legacy platforms for an extension from SF to Sacramento via the Capitol Corridor.

    Meanwhile, Drunk Engineer seems to have detailed knowledge of ADA regulations but glosses over the particular clause that requires HSR to have high-platform level boarding. He also seems to believe that Caltrain’s new boarding interface should be designed primarily for the benefit of bicyclists.

    The same could be said of Andy Chow, who even suggested variable height adjustable platforms for SF Transbay, that is if Transbay capacity is even a capacity problem, a fundamental premise he does not seem to believe.

    Opinions differ, but the common thread is that in every case, there is a refusal to see or accept one of the constraints of the problem as posed here in California, in one nation under ADA, indivisible, with FRA / CPUC regulatory environment for all. God Bless Unique Local Conditions.

    Roland Reply:

    Let’s start with a simple Y/N question: Are the VTA low-floor light rail vehicles ADA compliant?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Clem, thanks for the nice (but unsanitary) work you’ve put in putting words into other peoples’ mouths.

    For the record, my take is that the present rolling stock market is pretty much irrelevant to CHSR, as California can’t possibly be in the market for high speed trains for at least 20 years given the facts o the ground of failure to actually construct high speed tracks between endpoints that can justify high speed service requiring high speed trains.

    In the mean time — a very long time, in fact pretty much an entire lifetime of a generation of regional and inter-regional rolling stock — is is best to optimize around existing needs and traffic and the needs and traffic of the next two decades, not around compatibility with confused (and administratively changeable) FTA/FRA regulations from the 1990s.

    It is also the case that CHSR will be constructing a minute number of station platforms. If does indeed turn out around 2035 when there is a reason to buy HSTs that regulation and/or the global market demand/suggest serve only 1000+mm high platforms, then that’s the time to retrofit the handful of stations involved (sure, build them beforehand with active provision for such a possibility), and to consider what that change means for the next generation of Caltrain/Electrolink equipment.

    As for “refusal to see or accept”, again, I don’t care for this tone or for your characterization.

    What I do see comes down to four things:

    * Local and regional transit needs are vastly more important than standards invented by consultants involved in a “flight level zero airline” program. Environmentally, ridership, everything. Sure, consider the latter, but the tail cannot wag the dog.

    * California has absolutely no possible reason to be procuring High Speed Trains any decade soon.

    * ~760mm level boarding HSTs, procured in large quantities, are inevitable in the European market within the next couple decades.

    * California state-wide HSR capacity is totally fucked by the completely fucked and completely self-inflicted crippling capacity problems at SF Transbay, and that 5-across, 2-level HSTs (and the main part of the Caltrain fleet, though some services might be single level) are the only possible way that anything can be made to work in the medium to long term. This is a much bigger “refusal to see or accept one of the constraints of the problem” than present-day out-of-thing-air FTA accessibility regulation, as we will discover, to our cost, in due time.

    One thing I admit to not seeing was that Caltrain would be able to claim (and God only knows how accurate this is, it is Caltrain consultants and staff making the powerpoint bulley after all) that your dual-door EMU solution (or at least active provision for future, unknown-cost, retrofit of doors at two heights) might add only 5% to rolling stock costs and was not a significant design challenge. I and my sources seem to have been wrong about that.

    I don’t think that high floor Caltrain with your transition generation of dual-height regional trains is a disaster; I just don’t think it was necessary or will result in the best state-wide transportation system in either the medium or the long term. Given the regrettable “facts on the ground” (in the form of Caltrain consultants’ EMU procurement RFP), it’s all water under the bridge, just another in an infinite list of things they got wrong, but in this case, unlike all their other “work”, hardly fatal, and not their usual billion-plus-to-undo fuck-up. Sucking it down an living with it is how it’s going to have to go.

    This was the best possible solution http://caltrain-hsr.blogspot.com/2014/07/the-path-to-level-boarding.html but, like everything else you’ve ever suggested aside from dual-door dual-level Caltrain EMUs it’s not happening. Still one significant hit and 181 misses is far better than anybody else can claim, so hooray for “hardly fatal”.

    Clem Reply:

    @Richard, thanks for putting it in your own nuanced words. @Roland, I don’t like riddles, I prefer clearly stated and substantiated positions.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Richard and Clem in particular:
    Still no clarity about “blending in So Cal, I keep asking the questions.
    Major rethink happening with SCRIP. God knows what they’ll end up with at LAUS.
    Agree with Richard that realistically we are in for a long transition period which could have a good outcome, but that is unlikely given agencies like Metrolink (panic of the day decision making).
    So, Siemens electrics hauling Siemens AAF type cars with power change to Siemens diesels until 2035?
    Or….
    Come to L.A. December 5 for a candid discussion.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    There’s plenty of clarity as far as how the blending is going to happen in Southern California i.e. there won’t be any.

    HSR will have to use electrified tracks, but Metrolink is going to be supplanted by other statewide diesel powered train routes. As I have stated clearly before, OCTA is going to hijack the Surfliner to exit Metrolink and grab the revenue associated with it as well as the ridership bump it is experiencing. HSR is going to make the Antelope Valley Line obsolete, and the Coast Daylight (yeah you know it’s coming) if extended to Palm Spring will put the San Bernardino and Pomona Lines out of business.

    The length of the Daylight and Surfliner is what will do in the electrification. Metro meanwhile, could use its muscle to delay these changes, but they are way too busy on building subways and light rails to help rehabilitate the City of LA to have much juice left.

    Now as for the whole HSR technology window for purchasing rolling stock. The current order would likely be just for the test track, but the POINT is to lock in technological specs so that when the State has to buy a bunch of trains in 2035, it’s a sitting duck for whatever supplier already has the contract. It’s not ethical, but as sure as BART runs Indian Broad Gauge, it’s going to be too attractive to foreign vendors and investors to not get some sort of return on investment that way.

    And as for events in December…don’t forget there’s going to be this too: http://www.ushsr.com/events/losangeles2015.html

    EJ Reply:

    @Paul Dyson

    Major rethink happening with SCRIP.

    What, again? I thought they’d finally settled on a design and construction schedule. What’s the latest controversy?

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Paul Dyson wrote:

    Agree with Richard that realistically we are in for a long transition period …

    Actually, Paul, I pretty much believe the opposite — or believe that, absent America’s Finest Transportation Plannning Professionals, the opposite is feasible and perhaps optimal.

    I mean this in the context of Sylmar—Burbank—LAUS and of LAUS—Norwalk—Fullterton—Anaheim—Orange(—…) (either a single project or two projects), not of Metrolink as a whole.

    Bite off Tejon—LAUS (or, god forbid, Palmdale—Burbank—LAUS) as one segment. Segregated from freight and from legacy Metrolink, though joint ticketed with Metrolink. Bite off LAUS—Fullerton—Anaheim as another segment, through running with the first.

    Then think hard about what can be done Anaheim—Orange—Irvine—Laguna Niguel, if anything (that’s all completely removed from anything I know anything about, so no comment).

    Then think about whether anything at all could or should be done about the rest of Metrolink, or whether, given freight use, freight ownership, ROW constraints, return on investment, competing priorities, competing projects, etc, anything ought to be done, or whether diesel-hauled FRA-regulated bi-level trains serving 8 inch “platforms” might be the end of the story for some time.

    I agree that the latter parts might involve a “long transition” — perhaps infinitely long. The first two parts (or combined first and second parts), however, are “big bang”, with new tracks, new stations, new trains going into service all at once. Anything else (particularly HSR/Electrolink sharing tracks with freight around the core Burbank—LAUS) is a guaranteed failure. (So, given that, we can know exactly what America’s Finest will be planning …)

    Clem Reply:

    Why do you think a BUR – LAUS blended system would be a guaranteed failure? If so, then the Caltrain blended system would be a guaranteed failure for all the same reasons, would it not?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Clem,

    This isn’t to pre-empt Richard’s answer but you can’t really compare the freight demands on the CalTrain ROW and the freight demands on many of Metrolink’s ROW. Not quite night and day…but pretty much high noon and twilight…

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Why do you think a BUR – LAUS blended system would be a guaranteed failure?

    Freight volume and freight RR agreements.
    Combined with what, to my non-local eyes, appears to be pretty straight-forward constructibility of a medium sized length of track largely within existing rail corridors and delivering a comparatively high return. The feasibility only improves once they ditch the separate parallel unequal costly ROW-profligate FRA/Metrolink and Electrolink/HSR intermediate stations and separate LAUS HSR mega-boondoggle.

    My bet is that the self-inflicted costs of FRA/freight compatibility/accommodation/blackmail/rent-seeking will run up to a significant percentage of new track pair construction, and since the new pair of grade separated tracks are going to be needed sooner than later (this is going to be a very heavily used section of the state-wide system for certain) why not go for it much sooner.

    Caltrain of course should feature zero freight and zero FRA “blending” and, as you are well aware, it is solely the explicit choice of America’s Finest Transportation Rent-Seeking Scumbags that it isn’t so. But regardless of the billions of added costs they have awarded themselves, freight in the corridor is nearly zero, and ownership is entirely public (if never actually used in a way that ever uts public interest ahead of private profit.) There are also a score of intermediate stations, which massively drive up the cost of new track construction. These aren’t the situations to the north and south of LA Union Station.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    EJ – I wouldn’t be surprised if the power brokers at 1 Gateway Plaza want to scuttle the SCRIP concept alltogether and have an expanded number of tracks run through Union Station. That would seem to lock in all traffic to stopping at LAUS, which is probably what the majority of the Metro Board wants.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Richard, easy to type “bite off”, not so easy to execute with the dentally challenged agencies we are dealing with. Wishing stuff will happen or not happen doesn’t advance the debate. Like TRAC you wish things were to be done differently. Ain’t gonna happen, so it will be a long transition. Unlike Europe where you can run a HS train into an existing terminal on shared tracks with existing traffic, we don’t have that fortunate circumstance. Over the next couple of decades we can make do with blending, which will include segregation in SoCal, and if the will is there dedicated tracks will follow. There is no choice. So dedicate your intellect to figuring out solutions.

    Ted J, you don;t seem to understand what the SCRIP concept is. Please explain your comment.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Jesus Christ, Paul, I know it feels all worldly to tut-tut about “not so simple” and “you wish”, but THERE ARE ONLY A TINY HANDFUL OF GODDAMNED METROLINK STATIONS so any transition can be really fast.

    In fact, there are only A TINY HANDFUL OR RIDERS, so just closing the entire withered worthless little route while platforms are redone or the tracks are suspended from a fleet of zeppilins wouldn’t affect anything or anybody.

    Dedicating my intellect to “realism”, “solutions”, “nuance” … I feel so so grown up and real now.

    PS re

    Unlike Europe where you can run a HS train into an existing terminal on shared tracks with existing traffic, we don’t have that fortunate circumstance.

    God only knows who or what you’re arguing with here. Yourself, perhaps?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    @Paul: SCRIP is the run-through tracks both through LA Union Station and around Union Station to improve operational efficiency: http://media.metro.net/projects_studies/connector/images/regional_rail_scrip_fact_sheet.pdf The section marked “5” is the area I was talking about.

    @ Richard: Every Metrolink station is owned by the city in which it is located in. That’s roughly 30 independent jurisdictions in five separate counties. Moreover, none of these cities are going to invest a thin dime in any of these stations. It would be easier to pull a lump of coal out of your….gritted teeth… :)

    The biggest supporter of Metrolink is LA Metro, but as I said above, they are preoccupied with expanding light rail and subways and not able to do much to rescue Metrolink while ridership to downtown LA is falling and OCTA is busy trying to use the Surfliner to pull out of the JPA in the first place and build a rival system to support its dastardly and nefarious needs.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Ted, there are no plans that I am aware of to bypass LAUS, that was never the purpose of SCRIP. If done fully, per the RailPAC proposal of about 20 years ago, trains could connect from all directions to all directions via the station.

    Richard, Metrolink may indeed die. Heard today that service on the San Bernardino line will be reduced in the peak hours to 30 minute headways. For why? PTC. Minimum 25 minutes to reverse a train says Metrolink. Also on today’s LOSSAN agenda through Surfliners will be given an extra 5 minutes, so 30 minutes or more dwell time, for the same reason. I happen to agree that with the minuscule patronage it would be better to close it down and rethink the whole thing in a few years….except of course that there would be zero politicians willing to stand up and say we can do better this (next) time.
    Metrolink’s agenda this week has an item asking for Board approval to lease BNSF locomotives to “protect” the cab cars. Metro and every other organization involved has so fucked up the double track project on the VC line between Van Nuys and Chatsworth that the state is ready to pull the funds. My “I’ll just drive my Jag until we run out of oil” comment of a few months ago is taking shape as a serious plan. Who needs NIMBYs to sabotage stuff with “friends” like the people running our agencies.

    Clem Reply:

    They can’t boot up the PTC system in parallel with the flurry of activity that occurs in the existing 25 minute turn?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Richard, Metrolink may indeed die.

    Wasn’t I the first one to predict this months ago?

    Roland Reply:

    @Clem: The VTA light rail is ADA compliant with low platforms, level boarding, internal stairs & no lifts. Q.E.D.

    @Peter “In what way does anyone stand to benefit financially more now than if they had adopted some other platform height for level boarding?“
    A: “By utilizing high, level boarding, there is an opportunity to develop a “National” standard for high level platforms which will drive standardized trainset designs, and minimize the need to procure “custom” solutions” http://tinyurl.com/ohog8gx

    “The cost increase of extra doors is miniscule”
    A: What could possibly go wrong with an additional set of doors? http://tinyurl.com/p4xe6m2
    @Clem kindly help the rest of us understand which part of the rationale behind the Omneo design it is that you do not understand.

    Nathanael Reply:

    “Ted Judah Reply:
    September 20th, 2015 at 12:44 am

    There’s plenty of clarity as far as how the blending is going to happen in Southern California i.e. there won’t be any.”

    I suspect there will be track sharing but not platform sharing. Everything is pointing towards this.

    Metrolink is not going away. Zero chance of that happening. Antelope Valley Line probably will go away, and I wouldn’t be surprised if UP manages to chase away the Riverside Line. The OC line, the Inland Empire – OC line, the San Bernandino Line, and the 91 Line are going to keep operating, though there could be management changes.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Wikipedia says Metrolink has 55 locomotives and 137 cars. I think, it’s not too clear on the number of cars. It’s not worth saving.

    Nathanael Reply:

    I don’t think you understand how few locomotives and cars are necessary to run a highly effective service. Eurostar has 27 trainsets total.

    It is perfectly likely that Metrolink will replace all its rolling stock. What I’m saying is that there will continue to be an agency running trains on the tracks currently used by Metrolink and stopping at the stations which currently exist.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Ted, if Metrolink dies it will not be for the reasons you have previously stated. Also note that the Coast Daylight is more or less doa, Calsta doesn’t like it.
    The main saving grace for Metrolink is that it is a commuter railroad and therefore has access to FTA funds. Surfliner is intercity and FRA regulated. After PRIIA state and local money only. The Counties will not want to give up the possibility of sucking at the FTA tit so Metrolink will struggle on.
    Quite how a daily Coast Daylight, which in its latest iteration would start from San Diego, can supply commuter service to the likes of Pomona is really not clear. Of course the Fishguard boat train used to stop at Taplow, but that’s an obscure reference for most of you (I Tried to Run a Railway, Gerard Fiennes).

    Joe Reply:

    The Chinese have been accused of copying HSR designs. If there’s a problem it will be over the IO in their product.

    Jerry Reply:

    @ Clem “God Bless Unique Local Conditions” GBULC
    And you thought immigration, gun control, and local policing were problems!
    PS The devil’s in the details :)
    PPS Thank god/God the issue isn’t Positive Train Control.

  13. JimInPollockPines
    Sep 17th, 2015 at 19:24
    #13

    Isnt the high desert corridor already making space for hsr in its row between VRV and PMD?

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Yes

  14. Emmanuel
    Sep 17th, 2015 at 19:42
    #14

    $100 million? Wow. Don’t spend it all at once… hahahaha

    keith saggers Reply:

    “be supported by $100 million in INITIAL capital,” my caps.

    and HSR from SF to LV i hope

  15. J. Wong
    Sep 17th, 2015 at 21:20
    #15

    This is great news although it won’t be real until they start construction, and the economic conditions in China might introduce some uncertainty. Still, the more HSR moves forward in the U.S. in Texas or Nevada, the more likely California will find the will and allocate the funds to make it happen.

    The trains can run from Burbank to Las Vegas once the tracks are built from Burbank to Palmdale, and as long as the PTC is compatible (which it can and will be). They’ll be paying a fee to CAHSR for the privilege.

    And Chinese trains can run on CAHSR tracks because they’ll meet whatever standards are deemed necessary for it, and no they won’t be the FRA “tank” standards.

    Useless Reply:

    J. Wong

    And Chinese trains can run on CAHSR tracks because they’ll meet whatever standards are deemed necessary for it, and no they won’t be the FRA “tank” standards.

    A train must meet either FRA Tier I or Tier III tank standard to run on CAHSR tracks, especially in SoCal because CAHSR trains themselves run on the Metrolink tracks to LAUS sharing tracks with Rotem’s tank on rail.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Although they have mentioned a “blend” in SoCal, there haven’t been any details released to be able to predict what standards they’ll be required to meet. My suspicion is that HSR won’t meet FRA Tier 1 or III standards because they won’t need to meet such standards anywhere else except from Burbank to LAUS on shared trackage. The obvious conclusion is that the “blend” in SoCal will be transferring to Metrolink.

    Useless Reply:

    J Wong

    Don’t forget LAUS to Anaheim and also LAUS to Riverside, both corridors share tracks with Metrolink trains.

    Domayv Reply:

    LAUS to Riverside is dedicated tracks.

    J. Wong Reply:

    But neither corridor is anywhere near the planning stage. Predicting what they’ll be doing based on the existing service is foolish. They’re not going to constrain the HSR EMUs based on shared trackage.

    Nathanael Reply:

    *Sigh* What I anticipate in the longer-run is HSR tracks fully separated from freight, with Metrolink trains being moved to the HSR tracks off of the freight-carrying tracks.

    The requirements for track-sharing with a passenger train, no matter how “tank-like”, are going to be much simpler than for track-sharing with freight.

  16. JimInPollockPines
    Sep 17th, 2015 at 22:31
    #16

    I don’t think a stand alone system from LVS to PMD with a transfer from the california system reguired would be a good a business model for anyone. the express west infrastructure and the ca systems infrastructure need to be the same and the trainsets need to be able to use all the tracks with the express west brand and the california brand both offering through service to all the destinations. That way you can take a yellow train or a green train from sf to vegas and a yellow train or a green train from la to vegas but maybe only a yellow train from la to sf but not a green train from la to sf.
    That way there would be some competition which would help the consumer with fares and ammenities.

    Useless Reply:

    JimInPollockPines

    Well, the politics and finances wouldn’t allow it. The best that the riders can wish for is a quick train transfer station at Palmdale with a minimal walking distance.

    This can be achieved as long as they plan ahead.

    les Reply:

    It is in everybody’s best interest for interoperability and the powers that be will figure it out. As mentioned above, nobody thought the SF height boarding issue could be resolved and it was. This is the beauty of doing it the way CHSR is, ie, covering all major cities from the beginning. Texas will figure this out the hard way.

    les Reply:

    “Lisa Marie Alley, a spokeswoman for the California High-Speed Rail Authority, said the agency has had ongoing discussions with XpressWest to explore combining both systems and to ensure that XpressWest trains are designed to operate on the authority’s track. Alley added that the high-speed rail authority has not yet allowed XpressWest to use its right-of-way.”

    synonymouse Reply:

    “…covering all major cities from the beginning.”

    Surely ye jest, my lord.

    les Reply:

    Common sense syno, the sooner plans are made for integration with other cities and their transportation systems the better. SF is planning on level boarding for a reason.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Palmdale and Mojave are major cities?

    les Reply:

    no, but i was referring to large cities like vegas. it is much better to have a state wide master plan for all potential connections of contributing cities (is that better) then The build now add later approach Texas started out with.

    Funny though, but palmdale will be running trains through it in under 10 min intervals. will be a busy little junction.

    It is also interesting to think about the negotiations. Will X trains be limited to LAU or will they have permission to move onto SD or travel upto SF. It will be interesting to see how they configure the Palmdale station.

    synonymouse Reply:

    10 minute intervals? There is not even one passenger train over the Loop.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    syn, 10 minute intervals is three per hour each way. Not much at all. One regional, one SF-LA and one LV-LA. I would hope that it will eventually much more than that.

    synonymouse Reply:

    How many mostly empty trains do you wish to pay taxes to subsidize?

    J. Wong Reply:

    Now why would they be empty @synon? You’re foolish if you think that people really care that much if the train goes through Palmdale. They don’t. The fact that there are no passenger trains currently using Tehachapi has no bearing on whether people will ride the train through Palmdale to Los Angeles. They will ride the train and it will be mostly full.

    les Reply:

    Actually their’d be 7 each way, so 14 total for both directions. So a train every 4 mins..

    agb5 Reply:

    China has a 10 year plan to run trains from Bejing to London on its New Silk Road, so compatibility with CAHSR’s European control standard is something China has already prepared for.

    Useless Reply:

    agb5

    Well, that’s a paper train that doesn’t exist. Come back after you have an actual train running from Beijing to London.

    Until then, Chinese have zero experience with ERTMS.

    agb5 Reply:

    Zero experience?
    http://www.ertms.net states that China has over 7000km of ERTMS track and Over 900 ERTMS vehicles.
    In 2011 Bombardier claimed:

    In China, four high-speed lines, totalling more than 2,400km, are in commercial operation using our ERTMS Level 2 technology (known in China as CTCS-3), namely Wuhan – Guangzhou, Shanghai – Nanjing, Shanghai – Hangzhou and Beijing – Shanghai. One additional line, Harbin – Dalian, is at present being implemented

    Nathanael Reply:

    The trick for China is making it through Central Asia into Iran. After that, they need a bypass of Lake Van in Turkey… then they have a route which avoids Russia.

  17. agb5
    Sep 18th, 2015 at 02:57
    #17

    Anti China rhetoric could be mitigated if the project is funded by the newly created Asia Infrastructure Investment Bank Which is funded by 51 countries, including U.S. allies.
    Nevada is not quite in Asia and the U.S. is not a member of the bank, but funding this project could still be within the charter of the bank if a supermajority agree.
    Washington is furious that this bank has been created and enthusiastically embraced by the rest of the world, so that would set up and interesting dynamic.

    Useless Reply:

    agb5

    No, one has to be a member to take out a loan from AIIB. The US is not an AIIB member and a loan cannot be applied on a US project.

    agb5 Reply:

    Nonsense Useless,
    The AIIB can invest in any enterprise in and country.

    Article 11 Recipients and Methods of Operation
    1. (a) The Bank may provide or facilitate financing to any member, or any agency, instrumentality or political subdivision thereof, or any entity or enterprise operating in the territory of a member, as well as to international or regional agencies or entities concerned with economic development of the region.
    (b) The Bank may, in special circumstances, provide assistance to a recipient not listed in sub-paragraph (a) above only if the Board of Governors, by a Super Majority vote as provided in Article 28: (i) shall have determined that such assistance is designed to serve the purpose and come within the functions of the Bank and is in the interest of the Bank’s membership; and (ii) shall have specified the types of assistance under paragraph 2 of this Article that may be provided to such recipient.
    2. The Bank may carry out its operations in any of the following ways:
    (i) by making, co-financing or participating in direct loans;
    (ii) by investment of funds in the equity capital of an institution or enterprise;

    (

    Curiously only members can object to investment in their own country.

  18. JJJJ
    Sep 18th, 2015 at 11:22
    #18

    Its time to hold a gun to the head of the casino companies.

    Governor Brown should pen a letter. Connect Vegas and LA by HSR by 2020 or we make stat-run (like lotto) online gambling legal in California.

    synonymouse Reply:

    All you would have to do is legalize small casinos with video poker and slots. You could even write in a requisite minimum return to the player.

    With machines networked and atm machines way reducing handpays these small clubs can have reasonably loose machines and still make money.

    And you have to make it legal to serve out free cocktails to players.

    EJ Reply:

    Indian gaming interests in California spend a considerable amount of money ensuring that the California legislature does no such thing.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That could be overturned by voter initiative.

    Previously I supported Indian gaming but now I vote against because of the lack of competition as you stated above.

    Graton is a terrible gamble, really tight.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The initiative just needs to be reformed.

    The reason to allow gambling in the first place (and why I supported it in 1998) is that the American government deliberately pulled Native American off productive agricultural land in the Dawes Act and then in the 1930s dumped the Red Man on damn near wasteland reservations as a way to reduce competition with whites for welfare relief and jobs in the Depression. Given how useless this land often is for anything but detonating bombs casinos, or outlet shopping centers…I think it’s important that Indian reservations have a way to support themselves and give residents decent paying jobs. It’s better than the federal government subsidizing everything and creating nothing but despair.

    But too many casinos in too many urban areas too close to the Nevada gaming industry (the current state of affairs) undermines the whole purpose of the initiative. It creates an arms race that has no winners, only losers.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But that is exactly the problem: not enough casinos to get decent play and too far away to visit regularly.

    I’d like to be able to walk to CalNeva or the Carson Nugget.

    Trentbridge Reply:

    Graton is no different from many casinos:

    “Marcus Prater, executive director of the Association of Gaming Equipment Manufacturers, which hired Applied Analysis to compile statistics used for the study, said players who feel as though they had a bad experience at one casino may be reluctant to return to that casino.
    Slot machine hold percentages have increased more than 14 percent across the country over the last decade while the revenue from games has grown just 1.1 percent.
    A veteran game designer who has worked with the biggest slot companies doing business in Nevada said he issue is obvious to casual games players. “A couple rolls of quarters will not go as far as they once did. Most players expect to lose over time, but they don’t feel bad about it if feel they got a fair amount of time for their money.”

    Casinos have discovered that younger people will not sit and play current slot machines (more boring than a game on a cell phone) and yet they foolishly decided to move the odds in their favor – thus discouraging their own base of support. It’s going to end badly.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Very well summed up.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Check out CalNeva in Reno – it’s like the last of the traditional Nevada casinos.

    $5.99 prime rib and reasonably good paytables on double bonus(by today’s standards). Before it is gone and replaced by a Graton.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    So a tribe buys land on the state line, or wherever…

    synonymouse Reply:

    The tribes covet urban reservations where the money resides. Since the Graton band got a casino in Rohnert Park it cut heavily into River Rock business so the tribe, Dry Creek Rancheria, wants a casino south of Petaluma, even closer to Chinatown.

    J. Wong Reply:

    There’s a casino in San Pablo right across the bay from SF (Lytton Band of Pomo). This is closer to Chinatown than Petaluma. There’s also a casino in San Bruno, Artichoke Joe’s.

    California already has plenty of casinos close enough to all the major cities that no one would need to go to Las Vegas to gamble, but apparently they still do.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There are other attractions in Las Vegas besides gambling. And amenties for the gamblers that aren’t available at local casinos.

    synonymouse Reply:

    AFAIK those two places you cite do not have slot machines nor video poker. Nor craps. Nor a sports book.

    California does not have anything like CalNeva in Reno or El Cortez in Vegas or the Nugget in Carson but could easily. Just change the law and to hell with Vegas.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    People go to Las Vegas for more than the gambling. And most of them do not come from California.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    That’s true but like smokers in a bar, gamblers drop far more money and generate far more tax revenue than the Midwestern people with farmer tans coming to see Cher or Celine Dion…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Believe it or not there are rich people outside of Hollywood and Silicon Valley. Many of them living east of the Mississippi River.

    J. Wong Reply:

    You’re forgetting network effects too.

  19. William
    Sep 18th, 2015 at 14:10
    #19

    I hope this would “encourage” other countries, such as Japan, to loan or invest in CHSR without too many string attached, after seeing the Chinese basically just “buy” into the US railroad market.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Strings attached usually include wanting a return on investment. That’s the tough part.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But the return does not always have to be money. There are other types of consideration.

    I love the China deal. It makes this thing so much more zany and ups the chances of a real fiasco, like the Jerry Brown Bay Bridge.

    But I say let them sign on to financing the base tunnels – it will be interesting to see a non-Jerry-PB evaluation of this scheme. They just might grasp the stupidity before going over the top.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Given that foreign actors typically have experience both building and actually running a profitable railroad, wouldn’t the most reasonable option be some sort of design/build-it-and-get-an-operating-concession deal?

    Granted conditions are different, so presumably there’d be some degree of government subsidy based on the amount of social utility the railroad was expected to yield, etc., but maybe they could work out some mutually beneficial arrangement….

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Yeah….about that…

    a) SNCF and Alstom tried that logic and were told that excluding the Central Valley was non-negotiable in part because the FRA award was a thank you present to Jim Costa for voting for the Affordable Care Act.

    b) California state government usually prefers to have the federal government subsidize their operations as opposed to a private company or a foreign gubmint.

    c) The Brown Administration can’t sell HSR very well to most cities in California because he (correctly) zapped redevelopment agencies and won’t bring it back in any way, shape or form. I think that’s a big lost opportunity for transit districts, who could easily use redevelopment to help finance more mass transit construction…but like Brown is going to listen to me…

    …and on and on it goes…

  20. keith saggers
    Sep 18th, 2015 at 20:17
    #20

    Positive Train Control
    http://www.sacbee.com/news/nation-world/national/article35643414.html

    keith saggers Reply:

    “You’re 17 times more likely to be killed in a car crash than a train accident, so for Congress to allow the absence of PTC to force commuters onto highways is the ultimate case of letting the perfect get in the way of the good,” National Association of Railroad Passengers President Jim Mathews said in a statement.

  21. Emmanuel
    Sep 19th, 2015 at 16:40
    #21

    It would be a beautiful irony if XpressWest manages to complete their project before us. Well, I mean it wouldn’t be too surprising since the length of their system is a big shorter and there are fewer stops, no electrification and few NIMBYs but still.

    Zorro Reply:

    It would be even better if China offered to build the unfunded part of our HSR system and CA could run the trains that CA wants, like say for a share of the revenue.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    They should propose to build burbank to vegas instead of palmdale to vegas. Or partner with california- burbank to palmdale – in excange for being able to run trains through.

    Zorro Reply:

    Chinese “Partnering with California- Burbank to Palmdale – in excange for being able to run trains through.” Sounds good to Me JimInPollockPines.

  22. Eric
    Sep 20th, 2015 at 07:27
    #22

    EIS approved for HSR between Richmond VA and Raleigh NC.

    http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/254214-feds-clear-virginia-to-north-carolina-railway?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter&utm_campaign=transportation

    les Reply:

    The Chinese will be broke by the time they are ready to develop it.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    That’s actually a horrible corridor for HSR. Pissing on money before placing it in a rabbit hole is a better idea.

    There’s almost no demand between those two cities, and it pulls money away from better HSR routes from Raleigh to the rest of the South and better choices from Richmond to the rest of the East Coast…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s part of the Charlotte to New York corridor. Speed up Raleigh to Richmond it speeds up Charlotte to DC and Raleigh to Philadelphia etc.

    Eric Reply:

    Exactly. Research Triangle to DC in <3 hours would get significant ridership.

    Nathanael Reply:

    That’s the main ridership demand here, yes. Research Triangle to DC. That’s why NCDOT has been promoting it.

    It has the nice side effect of improving Triad-DC and Charlotte-DC service. And of course service onward from DC to Phildaelphia, New York, Boston, and all connections.

    The benefit for Florida and Georgia is strictly incidental but is also real.

    It’s a big win for North Carolina — basically it ties North Carolina into the NEC.

    Nathanael Reply:

    (Nobody wants to go from Raleigh to the rest of the South.)

    Nathanael Reply:

    (Well, that’s an exaggeration. But more people want to go from Raleigh to the NEC.)

    Steven H Reply:

    It will also speed up half of the trains to Florida, and is a big part of the effort to make a day-time train between DC and Atlanta feasible. Currently the only train between the northeast and Atlanta passes NC’s 6-million-strong piedmont in the middle of the night (and bypasses Raleigh/Durham completely). This bridge between Raleigh and Richmond will get the Carolinian to within striking distance of the Crescent.

    Besides, along with Virginia’s ongoing efforts to electrify and triple-track the CSX mainline between Richmond and DC, and North Carolina’s (temporarily Republican-stalled) efforts to improve the Piedmont service between Raleigh and Charlotte, and NC’s Lost Caus-y efforts to sneak passenger rail past South Carolina to Atlanta, we definitely aren’t putting all of our efforts into an orphaned higher speed rail service between Raleigh and Richmond.

    Also, @Ted Judah: you’re going to use the “train to nowhere” argument that’s used so often against Bako-Fresno against Raleigh-Richmond?! Unlike Bakersfield and Fresno, Raleigh and Richmond both have vibrant white collar economies and downtowns that couldn’t be mistaken for sets of “The Walking Dead.” Not to be too hard on the Central Valley, but people on the east coast stopped talking about the future potential of the North Carolina piedmont 20 years ago.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Pull some actual data first. I like to look at the T-100 database of the FAA to gauge consumer travel patterns, but I admit it has its limitations.

    Plenty of people travel between Atlanta and Charlotte and Raleigh. Not many people travel from Raleigh to Richmond. Part of it is the size of the cities, and part of it is that both cities fulfill similar niches in their respective states.

    As for DC to Atlanta, the airlines will fight that very hard because Atlanta is Delta’s global hub. Also, at 600 miles, that route would get close to the maximum range for one-seat ride HSR travel.
    Similarly, there are many NY transplants in the Triangle these days. But if you think they are going to pick a four hour HSR ride over driving or flying…well…I dunno about that.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Well, I don’t think it needs to beat flying. It won’t in the short term, and that does limit the market, but many people really don’t like flying.

    NY to Raleigh? Even with a long train trip (the initial plans will still have this at 8 hours) many will certainly choose the train over driving (which also takes 8 hours with no traffic) . Driving through NJ into NYC is one of the most unpleasant, expensive, and slow drives in the world. For DC to Raleigh, too; even driving through the southern suburbs of DC is terrible.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It is important to understand that the current improvement plans for DC-Richmond and Richmond-Raleigh, if implemented, would actually make the train the same speed for Raleigh-(DC, Philadelphia, NY) as driving-with-no-traffic.

    Plenty of people drive that route, and there is lots of traffic. That makes it a large enough market for a successful train service.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    From the time the doors close on the train at Penn Station New York to the time the door closes on your airplane is two hours. If you want to cut it close. An HSR train would be nearing Richmond. A quick glance at Expedia shows that the non-stops take an hour and half or a bit more. 3:30 until the door on the airplane opens. Another half hour to get to the curb outside the terminal? As fast or faster than flying.

  23. john burrows
    Sep 20th, 2015 at 14:12
    #23

    The extent of China’s future involvement with CAHSR is unclear but could turn out to be a really big deal—we will see.

    Other good news this week concerns the latest cap-and-trade auction which was held last month. Proceeds of $645 million were deposited into the Greenhouse Gas Reduction Fund, up $18 million over the average of the previous 2 auctions. If this amount stays constant in future auctions, cap-and-trade would supply high speed rail with $645 million per year. The good news here is that cap-and-trade revenue appears to be increasing if slowly. And in the next auction to be held in November we may see another small increase because the number of carbon credits to be auctioned off will increase by close to 2 million.

    Hopefully these small increases will continue. China’s future involvement in California High Speed Rail remains to be seen. But when it comes to future funding for CAHSR, cap-and-trade remains, at least for now, the only game in town and to see C&T revenues inching upwards is good news,

    les Reply:

    You gotta think that Chinese footing the bill will be incentive for the repubs to pull their heads out of their as…..and start funding hsr.

    Zorro Reply:

    HELL will freeze over first, when Repubs start funding HSR, and with Climate Change, that would just about be a bonafide miracle.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I would not bet on Chinese involvement in CAHSR.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Their best start would be to buy PB, thus controlling the bidding process.

  24. Roland
    Sep 20th, 2015 at 15:51
    #24

    Bahrain’s Investcorp buys Caltrain/HSR skunkworks for $67.5M ($337.50/SF) http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2015/09/17/el-camino-real-tower-trades-hands-in-second.html

    J. Wong Reply:

    ? They bought a building. What does Caltrain have to do with it besides it being close to the ROW?

    Roland Reply:

    http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/__Agendas+and+Minutes/JPB/Board+of+Directors/Agendas/2014/10-2-14+JPB+BOD+Agenda+Packet.pdf Click on item #8

    “Ms. Lee said the CalMod program management team is in place and builders will be joining them next year. She said for large projects, it is typical to co-locate team members to deliver the project in an efficient way. The San Carlos facility is out of space, so staff is recommending a site in San Mateo. She said this is a Class B office space and is centrally located. She said the landlord is accommodating and agreed to a phase-in rent to accommodate the existing team and the rest of the team that will be added next year. She said the lease is in the approved budget and will be included in future budget requests.”
    http://www.caltrain.com/Assets/__Agendas+and+Minutes/JPB/Board+of+Directors/Minutes/2014/10-2-14+JPB+BOD+Minutes.pdf

    Roland Reply:

    Did I forget to highlight that MP 19.4 is “centrally located”?

    J. Wong Reply:

    So your trolling statement “Bahrain’s Investcorp buys Caltrain/HSR skunkworks for $67.5M” was a not factually correct, and hence a lie since Investcorp is not buying the “Caltrain/HSR skunkworks” but merely the building in which they are leasing office space.

    Roland Reply:

    Please call 1-800-660-4287. They found your pacifier.

  25. Trentbridge
    Sep 20th, 2015 at 16:22
    #25

    From today’s Las Vegas Review Journal:

    The Las Vegas Valley has enough water to support 1 million more residents, and it should be able to weather at least the next 20 years before any permanent new supplies are needed, according to the Southern Nevada Water Authority’s revised 2015 resource plan.

    So a HSR between SoCal and LV isn’t as stupid as folks think…the Las Vegas-Paradise NV MSA is already 2 million and climbing.. so another million isn’t hard to imagine..

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    This message brought to you by Las Vegas Association of Realtors.

    Now read this: https://www.google.com/search?q=“A+Great+Aridness”

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Oh Richard, now it’s my turn to tell you to stop typing…(on second thought, keep typing…your cynicism is always entertaining.)

    “A Great Aridness” seems to be another muckracking book in the vein of “Cadillac Desert” that overlooks just how sophisticated the marketplace is for water in the Desert Southwest. The premise in those books is basically a straw man: that surface and groundwater is slowly being exhausted and that water supplies will dwindle so much that whole cities will become extinct.

    The truth is almost the opposite. Most of the water rights originally were parceled out because of agricultural needs which are far more water-intensive per acre than tract homes. Las Vegas, however, is vulnerable on paper because Nevada has a small fraction compared to California and Arizona of the water rights to the Colorado River. But that’s presuming that water isn’t priced like a commodity, and creates a false positive, if you will.

    Nevada and the Southern Nevada Water Authority in reality can buy access to Arizona and California’s rights, just as they can dig really long pipes (as they are doing to Lincoln and White Pine counties) to usurp water from far away. But merely having only a half million or so in acre feet in Colorado River water rights to Arizona’s 2.4 million acre feet and California’s 4.4 million acre feet ain’t the problem. It’s that there’s no agricultural land in Clark County to pave over. And for various political reasons, neither Arizona or California are willing to sell to Nevada.

    Although one could write a whole book on these political causes, the only reasons that are relevant to HSR project are two: 1) California and Arizona don’t want to sell to Nevada in part because it’s likely that the Secretary of the Interior will, because of climate change, eventually reduce the total amount of Colorado River water rights divided among Arizona, Nevada, and California. It’s a safe bet to assume Nevada’s allocation won’t be reduced by much ( it’s too small and they have the same number of Senators as the other two states). 2) California really can’t sell any of its rights because Los Angeles needs basically every last drop of their rights to survive. Hence the furious effort by Brown to build the Delta Tunnels to ensure that the increasing salinity in the Sacramento-San Joaquin River Delta doesn’t poison the State Water Project and force California’s largest metro to shed about 75% of its population or build 25 to 30 industrial size desalination plants.

    So, Richard is correct that Trentbridge’s assertion that Las Vegas has all this water.is not true and not really the reason to build HSR. The “real reason” is that Nevada is basically dependent on tourists from California and Asia to support itself economically. With air travel powered by fossile fuels slowly becoming less viable, having a fast connection to whisk “whales” from Japan, Korea, and China from LAX (yes I know there’s not going to be station at the airport itself…) to the Las Vegas Strip is a very big deal. And while Synonymouse would like to say that this arrangement is one-sided…it helps California a great deal too because of those two Senators that Nevada has in the Senate. That effectively gives the Golden State extra weight in Congress’s Upper House and compensates for the fact that our delegation in the House are basically irrelevant these days.

    Trentbridge Reply:

    I didn’t assert anything. I reported the newspaper article. Here’s an NPR report: Jan 2014

    ROBBINS: This is the picture of Las Vegas visitors see. But it’s not the problem. The entire Las Vegas Strip uses only 6 percent of the city’s water. And since it generates 75 percent of the area’s economy, the dancing fountains aren’t going away, even in a drought. The biggest water waster in Las Vegas is residential grass: lawns put in long ago by housing developers.

    MATT BAROUDI: We had no choice when we bought the house. It came with grass in the front, as did every house in this neighborhood.

    ROBBINS: Matt Baroudi is a transplanted Londoner who runs a landscaping business in Las Vegas. Like many transplanted Las Vegans, he had to adjust to his new desert environment. He now replaces lawns with rock and drought-tolerant plants. The Southern Nevada Water Authority actually pays homeowners $1.50 a square foot to convert their lawns.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Whales have their pilot land in Las Vegas.

Comments are closed.