Whatever Happened to the X Train?

Sep 22nd, 2015 | Posted by

XpressWest, which just inked a deal with China to help build HSR from Southern California to Southern Nevada, isn’t the only proposed new passenger rail line along that route. There’s also the X Train, a proposal by Las Vegas Railway Express to operate a private luxury passenger rail line from LA to the Strip.

Unlike XpressWest, the idea behind the X Train is to use existing diesel locomotives to pull the luxury cars on existing tracks. No need for huge construction costs or a long federal approvals process. It should be a simple idea, but it’s taken years to become reality, and there have been several false starts along the way.

Las Vegas Railway Express feels confident that this time, they’re ready. The X Train announced last month it plans to begin service on New Year’s Eve:

X Train, which has been working on getting this stylish party (train) started for five years now has announced on its Facebook page that it’s planning to start selling tickets in September for a New Year’s Eve train ride in a classy-looking vintage train running from the Fullerton Transportation Center to a train station in downtown Las Vegas that’s built into the Plaza Hotel & Casino, says Los Angeles magazine.

Here’s the full scoop from X Train itself:

It’s been a while folks. Sorry for going dark on you but we have been busy and frankly, we weren’t allowed to talk about a number of things we have been working on. So, here’s a brief piece. The X Train is going to run as a Private Charter type train from LA to Las Vegas and our inaugural run is planned for New Year’s Eve this year. In the weeks and months to come, we will be talking more and more about the service, time table, accommodations, and special entertainment we have planned along this iconic trip. We have decided to make these runs even more special as private charters and not a regularly scheduled train. It is not. We plan to run these on special occasions and like a private tour, our service will be unlike anything on rails today.

And yes, these are actual pictures of the cars we will be using on the service.

We will be offering a $99 coach fare each way, which is pictured and a First Class and VIP service, which is also pictured featuring a “classic Vegas” style of service. Even riding in Frank Sinatra’s lounge car pictured at left.
Tickets will go on sale in September, so watch for that.

It’s been a long and challenging journey, but our staff and supporters have hung in there with us. December is only four months away. We hope to see you on board the fabulous X Train where the journey is the destination.

More recent updates on their Facebook page indicate that they have railcars currently being refurbished in Minnesota, and will bring them out to LA in December for testing before the New Year’s Eve ride.

The X Train already got the approvals it needed to operate on existing Union Pacific tracks from Daggett to Las Vegas. But they have struggled to get approval from BNSF to use their tracks through the Cajon Pass, in part because that corridor is one of the nation’s most congested railroads. So what now?

According to one market analyst, the X Train is looking at going through the Antelope Valley, just like XpressWest:

XTRN was in limbo until October 21 of this year [presumably 2014] when XTRN announced it has begun the engineering of the route to Las Vegas via conventional rail on what it calls the Western Alignment. This pass travels to Las Vegas via Lancaster & then east to Barstow before it turns north to Las Vegas.

CEO of XTRN, Michael Barron, an entrepreneur largely involved in real estate, stated “We have spent the last year re-tooling our efforts to run the X Train service between Los Angeles and Las Vegas and based on the findings of UNLV’s Rail Engineering Group, have concluded that the route from LA to Mojave to Barstow to Las Vegas would avoid the rail traffic of the Cajon Pass.”

XTRN owns outright a series of 16 bi-level passenger railcars as well as two leased cars acquired through an agreement with Mid America Leasing Company. These cars are planned for use in the deployment of cars on the LA to Vegas route. The first two cars have been completed and are in service on the Santa Fe Southern Railway. The remaining cars are scheduled to be refurbished during the remainder of 2015.

It’s unclear if the route issue has been resolved, but apparently X Train feels confident enough to move ahead with its plans for a New Year’s Eve ride. Tickets haven’t gone on sale yet, but if and when they do, my guess is they’ll sell out.

  1. JJJJ
    Sep 22nd, 2015 at 13:58

    Good to see. I hope they do well.

  2. Jerry
    Sep 22nd, 2015 at 14:30

    Train fans and train organizations should organize and run charter trains periodically. Excursion, party trains, dinner trains, mystery trains, etc. exist all over the country.
    Even the Coast Starlight was routed over the Tehachipi not too long ago due to a construction detore.

    Jerry Reply:


    Joe Reply:

    Wine train in Napa for example.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    So this will be somewhat like the annual reno fun train/snow train

    Jerry Reply:

    Or the Mardi Gras train in Feb. Or the St. Patrick’s train in March.

  3. Anandakos
    Sep 22nd, 2015 at 17:31

    I’m surprised that Uncle Pete said “OK” to this. It’s true that now that The Sunset is pretty much two-main-tracks from Yuma to El Paso, the old line through Las Vegas is much less busy than when it was UP’s only access to LA. Still, UP is almost allergic to passenger trains; these guys must be paying them a LOT for the privilege.

    As for the Antelope Valley route, it’s considerably more scenic than sixty miles of industrial spurs to San Berdo, though at least a couple of hours longer. And will let them on Mojave to Barstow? There are a lot of trains on that line too, and it’s single track CTC.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Using the AV route Fullerton to Las Vegas goes from a two line haul (BNSF/Daggett/UP) to almost an alphabet soup of BNSF/Redondo Jc./LACMTA/Palmdale/UP/Mojave/BNSF/Daggett/UP. And I think a reversal at Mojave if I’m not mistaken. That was perhaps suggested by a consultant needing billable hours!

    Anandakos Reply:

    Why are they starting in Fullerton? It doesn’t say anything about that in the article.

    Nathanael Reply:

    X-Train will undoubtedly start in Union Station, and run directly on Metrolink to Palmdale. I’m guessing X-Train then turns RIGHT at Palmdale and heads for the outlet to the Cajon Pass.

    The reversal at Mojave and running over BNSF there will be a pain, but it was always going to run over BNSF to get from Barstow to Daggett. So it’s Metrolink – BNSF – UP, which is actually pretty simple.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Ignore first paragraph, I figured out the connection track there is missing.

    Nathanael Reply:

    There’s been an attitude change from UP. Dare I say it, it’s associated with Jack Koraleski taking charge.

    Now the most openly passenger-hostile railroad is CSX.

    CN still has a lot of bad blood to atone for too, though it’s better since Hunter Harrison left. He doesn’t seem to have damaged CP’s attitude towards passengers as I was worried he would, though.

  4. Roland
    Sep 22nd, 2015 at 21:01
  5. Ted Judah
    Sep 22nd, 2015 at 22:26

    Sorry guys, but this is sadly transparent.

    One of Obama’s biggest supporters of High Speed Rail is Warren Buffett who back in 2009 bought BNSF. That railroad just happens to be the only Class I interested in taking over Amtrak routes, and the biggest beneficiary of the Administration’s original HSR plan. And yes, BNSF owns the very congested Southern Transcon over the Cajon Pass. But if you give them enough money, the railroad will grant you access. So why would Buffett’s company put principle over profits in this case?

    The UP, which does not want competition from HSR to cut into its freight business in numerous ways (and also doesn’t want to lose market share to BNSF, their main rival west of the Mississippi), has been helping the X Train along because they want to show how low demand will be for their service and how expensive it will be to maintain.

    That way, by turning the public (who doesn’t pay close attention to these things) against the concept of passenger rail in general, it will be much harder for Xpress West and CAHSR to attract private investors and thus keep the UP in the driver’s seat for another 30 years or so….

    I mean, why else would the X Train pivot from saying Fullerton was the ideal location to originate the train from and then say that LA Union Station would be just as profitable given that the routes will not overlap? It just doesn’t add up.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If you are digging a tunnel under the mountain you don’t need their permission. HSR trains don’t carry freight.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Again, it’s the pro HSR BNSF here that is blocking a DIESEL train’s use of the Transcon over Cajon Pass.
    The UP is basically opening all doors for the X Train.

    Still, you can’t run diesels through Antonovich Memorial Tunnels unless you have a hybrid locomotive (which they won’t because of cost…)

    As for HSR and the freight conversation, posters here keep thinking this will be like the automobile industry in the 70’s and 80’s where imports come in and Americans adjust to that standard. That however, is the exception, not the rule. This project is more about the U.S. embracing a technology and making it is own. It was same with the early railroads and auto industry. The Europeans came up with the idea first, but we found a way to align it with our priorities and things took off….

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Ted, I have no idea what you have been smoking but your ideas are bizarre. Non verbatim quote from Matt Rose of BNSF: “We will run the Amtrak trains we are obligated to run but don’t want to do any more”. In reality that means they are the same as UP, they want big infrastructure bucks to run more trains.
    How are they a beneficiary of the HSR plan? UP got most of the money spent so far (Chicago to St. Louis), a lot of the rest was spent in Michigan. Where on BNSF has there been passenger rail dollars spent?

    Explain how UP loses business to HSR. Do you mean freight business or sale of access to rights of way?

    X train is a novelty, will not even be a rounding error in terms of passenger miles generated in the I-15 corridor. Do you really think that would be investors in HSR will study the revenue and passenger count of the X-train in deciding whether or not to write a check? Where do you come up with this stuff, talk radio?

    X Train want to start from Fullerton because of the OC demographics. But Fullerton is one of the busiest locations in So Cal for pax and freight trains and BNSF would not want a long passenger train parked on the main for a long period while it loads/unloads. Capacity on Cajon pass on most weekdays is really not that big of an issue. If X Train run on the slow days for port traffic they would be OK, just not very fast over the hill.
    That takes them to LAUS but they won’t have much fun there either. As I stated above the route via the AV is far from optimum, even cutting out the initial BNSF segment. And with the PTC travails noted elsewhere platform capacity can be at a premium at certain times. If they do get this started and run via the AV, the classic route will still be there after the tunnel is built to accommodate UP freight.

    Yes Ted, you really have to explain just how BNSF is pro HSR. Your post is sadly obscure.

    synonymouse Reply:

    But the failure of the X train is not good for PB; it would prefer this thing never turned a wheel.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    How so? It’s irrelevant, a fairground attraction.

    synonymouse Reply:

    At some level a train is a train is a train, even if it is fast and sleek looking.

    So an X failure stands as another headache for PB, which just wants to pick up its check and be gone before the buyers’ remorse sets in.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Just like Bechtel with BART.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    “At some level a train is a train”. Syn, is that a Yogi Berraism?

    Jerry Reply:

    And the train won’t get there until it gets there.

    agb5 Reply:

    Nobody uses the train, it is too crowded.

    J. Wong Reply:


    Ted Judah Reply:

    Paul must have stopped reading my comment below.

    Either that or he’s been disingenuous or politically naive. A train is a train is a train. An investment is an investment. If small investments in rail fail, what does that say to someone looking to make a much bigger investment in passenger trains?

    J. Wong Reply:

    “If small investments in rail fail, what does that say to someone looking to make a much bigger investment in passenger trains”.

    On a logical basis, absolutely nothing. Both @Ted Judah and @synon seem to assume that people make the illogical conclusion that “X-Train is a train. X-Train failed therefore all trains fail.” (Equivalent to “Socrates is a man. Socrates has red hair therefore all men have red hair.) Really? Maybe they are the only ones who make such a failure in logic.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The market isn’t logical. And you are sidestepping the other points here.

    CAHSR’s funding plan is basically a three legged stool: state bonds, federal grants, and private investment.

    The House of Representative have cut off the flow of federal grants. The state can only securitize bonds up the point in which they have collateral. Private investors need a positive return on investment.

    Back in 2008, the risk to private investors was pretty small. If you bought in with up front money in exchange for a fifty year commitment to buy train equipment from or through them, you could make your money back. Now with private lenders being forced to potential provide 50-66% of the total 2016 business plan funding…private investment is going to be very dependent on perceived demand.

    Like everyone is saying, the X Train is a doodlebug, a novelty. But when you compare it with the number of travelers by air and car now, and the ridership of Desert Wind… investors are going to think trains really won’t steal much market share. And if they don’t, there’s no operating income to pay for the fifty year train order.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    we sholdnt be using private money at all.

    J. Wong Reply:

    I would think that “investors” tend to do a deeper analysis than what you’re assuming. They’re looking for opportunities that others overlook so they would be unlikely to assume X-Train is in any way equivalent to Xpress West or CA HSR. If investors only chased money that everyone agreed was a sure bet, they’d never make any money.

    Ted Judah Reply:


    I understand there’s a lot to digest. But it’s very simple…it’s just not so obvious as to be GIF material on Facebook. BNSF, for historical reasons, carries most of the Amtrak routes as I understand. Buffett’s purchase of BNSF was very close in time to Obama’s first speed rail announcement in 2009. This happened after Buffett was a big advocate for Obama in the 2008 election. I’m sure that Buffett knew about the President-Elect’s plans and encouraged him to change them to something that would benefit Berkshire Hathaway more. The UP, meanwhile, fights over everything with CHSRA…to the point of propping up CalTrain just to prevent that service from being merged in (already) with HSR. The UP is BNSF’s only real competition out West…there’s no way to take market share from anyone else except each other. If one is optimized for HSR and the other isn’t…who do you think stands to gain a long term competitive advantage?

    As for the logistics: this train isn’t running on the weekdays. The minutae about which track doesn’t help the unbalanced demand for slow trains to Nevada. It’s not going to get the ridership needed to pencil out except on weekends. The Desert Wind was canceled in ’97…remember?

    And speaking of the Desert Wind…that’s exactly the point I’m trying to make. There were ads at Dodger Stadium for high speed trains between LA and Vegas 15 years ago. Fast forward to today: you are adding a novelty train and assuming (quite incorrectly, I think) that the media isn’t going to have a field day associating it with HSR and the potential profitability associated with all privately owned passenger rail. Most people in California weren’t even alive when private firms offered passenger rail. And these people aren’t that smart, they don’t pay that close attention, and the level of sophistication outside of the blogosphere and secret cabals of foamers on this topic is nil.

    (In fact, if you know of a talk radio station that would do a story on this sort of stuff I would want to know, because I’d be listening to it. But other than synonymouse broadcasting his own conspiracy theories on the ham radio in his garage…I don’t think any one on this planet or beyond is listening to us.)

    You start the X-Train after Xpress West or CAHSR is up and running, it’s a different story. Then the idea of selling novelty and old tyme railroading works. But if the X-Train does come into service first, it’s going to be (even if not intending to be) a preemptive strike on the investors who are being targeted to pour money into these HSR systems that they will never get back. Once you attempt to calculate what demand there will be for XpressWest is using X-Train data, these private investors outside of the sovereign wealth funds and foreign firms will flee. (Nonsense you say, what investor group will do that? All of them…yep every last one.) And if they flee, then both CAHSR and Xpress West could die because then all it takes is the current Congress to never appropriate more federal dollars and California and Nevada will both have their funding house of cards fall. Sacramento can’t afford, unless Robert somehow becomes Governor, the $100 billion it’s going to take to build the system out using only State cash.

    I don’t want this to happen to high speed rail. This is why I am bringing it up, so people realize what sort of threat this is.

    Personally, I’d love to see some of the old leisure trains come back to service incorporated with Amtrak California (Yosemite comes to mind.) I think the X-Train itself is stupid, or at least the current version is, but I’m also not happy with the general way Las Vegas has changed in the last 15 years or so too.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Ted, there really is nothing to digest. Warren Buffett bought BNSF because Obama had a High Speed Rail program? I doubt if Berkshire Hathaway would be worth much today if that were Warren Buffett’s typical criterion for making an investment. Just as investors will not use ridership on the X-train as a criterion for investing in HSR. You are just too funny. And factually wrong most of the time. UP has at least as much Amtrak mileage as BNSF, none of which is germain to the HSR debate.
    Neither UP nor BNSF has been particularly concerned with market share recently. There has (before the demise of coal) been more than enough to go around and they have been busy exploiting their pricing power. Competition now is from pipelines or threats of pipelines.
    You still don’t explain impenetrable statements like “optimized for High Speed Rail”, or what it means to “long term competitive advantage”. Again, competition is not their objective. Making money is.
    UP is poised to make money from HSR by perhaps forcing the buyout of their freight rights on the peninsula and on the AV line to make way for blending, and for “accommodations” at places like Palmdale. By no means a certainty but a strong possibility. BNSF may make money over sale of RoW and access in the same way. It’s not competition, it’s collecting rent.
    As for the media, a few outlets may report the start up of X Train, some may report it’s demise. The impact will be zero.

    Anandakos Reply:

    Agreed on the UP Amtrak mileage. UP has 100% of the Sunset, at least 90% of the Coast Starlight, 60% of the Cal-Z and 99% of the Texas Eagle and 90% of the Lincoln Service. BNSF has 80% of the Empire Builder, nearly 100% of the Cascades, 40% of the Cal-Z and 100% of the Southwest Chief and Quincy trains. The weight is toward UP.

    Jon Reply:

    There is no evidence for any of this, it’s pure conjecture. In what way did Obama change the HSR program to be more favorable to BNSF?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    As I understand it, many of the trackage fees Amtrak fees are frozen from the 1970s and far below any thing they could get for another freight train.

    Now, the collapse of freight demand for coal means right now there’s no extra traffic to be had, bit eventually it will go back to how it looked in 2009.

    Jon Reply:

    Did Obama freeze the trackage fees as part of his HSR plan? If not, what does it have to do with anything?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    There is no evidence for any of this, it’s pure conjecture.

    Um, hello? This whole blog is thousands of posts filled with either conjecture, whining, or phony outrage. It’s okay if you don’t want to believe it…I’m just throwing it out there.

    Jon Reply:

    So your argument is that it’s okay for you to post nonsense, because lots of other people also do so? I guess I can’t argue with that logic…

    Nathanael Reply:

    Ted, for historical reasons the (non-Amtrak) Class I Railroad with the most Amtrak trains on it is CSX. (Former B&O, C&O, ACL, SAL, RF&P, NYC mainlines, and more.) The other Class Is all carry much less Amtrak traffic.

    Jon Reply:

    I mean, why else would the X Train pivot from saying Fullerton was the ideal location to originate the train from and then say that LA Union Station would be just as profitable given that the routes will not overlap? It just doesn’t add up.

    They’ve been forced into a route change, and are now trying to spin the change to their investors as a positive one. It’s a simple as that. You don’t need to invent conspiracies to explain the situation.

    The X Train has about as much relevance to HSR as the Napa Wine Train does. The idea that Warren Buffett is using it to play politics is completely ridiculous.

  6. Roland
    Sep 22nd, 2015 at 23:01

    What happened to the refurbished gallery cars with the hot tubs???

  7. joe
    Sep 24th, 2015 at 07:13


    On Wednesday, a major real estate developer acquired two massive parking lots at the gateway to downtown San Jose from Adobe Systems Inc.

    The big idea: Create a large-format tech campus within an urban context — office, homes and retail, linked together by public plazas. Working title: #Diridon.

    “Diridon Station has been a sleeper, but it’s actually the most robust transit hub in all of Northern California,” said Don Little, a Trammell Crow senior vice president and the project lead. “Think of all the people you access and housing markets you open up. There’s no multimodal node like that here.”

    But developers grew even more fond of the location when they looked at the broader transit connections, including Altamont Commuter Express, Capital Corridor, VTA light rail and — eventually — BART and high-speed rail.

    “The freeway infrastructure in the Bay Area is not going to be expanded. It’s already at critical service levels,” said Little, who is no stranger to downtown real estate (he developed 225 W. Santa Clara St. while at Opus West in 2000).

    StevieB Reply:

    Next group of BART stations in Silicon Valley to include private development

    In a switch from the first Santa Clara County BART stations, VTA officials expect that several of the line’s next stops — namely San Jose’s Alum Rock, Diridon Station and perhaps Santa Clara — will include private development opportunities on public land…

    “In the last 10-plus years, there has been continued and fervent interest in transit-oriented development. It’s really a given that you integrate that when you build a massive transit system”…

    Diridon Station is the South Bay’s most important transit node, with connections to Caltrain, light rail, buses and — eventually — high-speed rail. That could make the site, currently large parking lots, an attractive office location in the future.

    joe Reply:


    Surface Parking to be built on is ~900 spaces.

    Post construction they claim to have underground parking capacity exceeding 900 by 2 or more times. It would be for day use and special events at SAP center. A bit ironic.

    Joey Reply:

    San Jose’s station area plan calls for around 20,000 off street spaces in the area. Apparently the meaning of “transit oriented” is not immediately apparent to some.

    joe Reply:

    Well, I’d like to see a link or something.

    I took some time to check this http://www.sanjoseca.gov/DocumentCenter/View/33057 and can’t find that 20,000 number. Also they clear under stand transit oriented development. I don;t are with a ball park in the area but given they have it here’s what I found:

    Using the parking supply numbers shown in Figures 4-1-2, 4-1-4 and 4-1-6 for the northern, central and southern sub-areas, the total development based parking supply within the ‘test-fit’ plan in the DSAP Final Plan Report is 11,950 parking spaces.

    Parking. Disperse parking in different locations in the planning area and beyond to ensure easy walking access to destinations

    Although densities will increase, and parking ratios will drop over time, it is imperative that Diridon’s development occurs in a coordinated fashion with its transportation infrastructure to ensure adequate parking supply for the San José Arena and avoid traffic problems in each phase of development.

    Add 5,000 bicycle parking spaces….

    Joey Reply:

    It’s possible that it’s been reduced since the drafts, but in any case you’re correct at this point in time. Still though, 11950 off-street parking spaces is a lot. At least it’s not set in stone yet and the plan acknowledges that parking demands will have to be re-evaluated as development progresses.

    Joe Reply:

    Large Relative to what ?
    It’s roughly half of what you wrote.

    You can read the plan and comment or just continue to wing it and disparage the city.

    Roland Reply:


    john burrows Reply:

    Might be time to forget once and for all about the San Jose A’s ever playing at Cisco Field. This proposed tech campus site is almost diagonally across the street from the stadium where the San Jose A’s would have played and if the campus project does go ahead then, in my opinion at least, the stadium project should be scrapped in the unlikely but still possible event that the A’s are still looking in this direction.

    The developer is proposing 800,000 sq ft of office space plus 325 residential units plus retail and restaurants on this 8.5 acre parcel. Makes me want to speculate on what could be put on the 14 acres set aside for the ballpark. You could do a lot with those 14 acres, something that would be much better for San Jose than a baseball stadium.

    According to this article in the Silicon Valley Business Journal, Adobe Systems is selling the 8.5 acres to the developer for $58.5 million. If I have this right, the city of San Jose owns at least 5 acres of the stadium site for which it has spent $27 million. Looks like the city actually made a pretty good deal on this property and I would hope that they can figure out a way to leverage this 5 plus acres that they already own into something that would end up being much more valuable to San Jose than a baseball stadium that would be vacant most of the year.

    Joe Reply:

    A baseball stadium will go unused most of the time. It’s a bad use of space near the downtown station.

    Dense residential and work space is boring. No Monday night sport event for TV. Just world class technology and high paying jobs.

    Oakland has a football team and baseball team. How’s that working out for the city?

  8. Bdawe
    Sep 24th, 2015 at 09:51

    If they can get away replacing the parking lots there might be hope yet for San Jose

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:


    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Of the three largest cities, San Jose has the most potential for accomodating bay area population growth and increasing its density. Not to mention the best weather the nearest location to silicon valley

    Joe Reply:

    And developers recognize the opportunity.

    The transition from car dependent to transit supported development is going to take time

    The city’s goal is to bring single occupant vehicle use to from 80% down to 40% by 2040.

    joe Reply:

    More bad news for San Jose haters.

    Apple expansion in North San Jose could mean 18,000 jobs

    Cupertino-based Apple paid about $165 million in cash for the site at 2325 Charcott Ave., according to documents on file with the Santa Clara County Recorder’s Office.

    Samsung this week opened a major campus on North First Street in San Jose totaling 1.1 million square feet where the company plans to move 2,000 workers.

    In addition, Google is scouting for at least 200,000 square feet or more in North San Jose, according to an array of sources familiar with the search giant’s efforts to secure space in the area.

    … a large parcel in downtown San Jose a short distance from the Diridon transit station is being marketed as a location for a major tech campus totaling 1.1 million square feet that could accommodate 5,000 to 6,000 workers.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Isn’t the new Apple campus supposed to be super transit-hostile though…?

    joe Reply:

    Good question. You refer to the Campus 2 “saucer” in Cupertino off 280 N at Wolf Road.
    I think it’s this area
    19111 Pruneridge Ave
    Cupertino, CA 95014

    This San Jose design is TBD and is N of 101 and Light Rail.

    joe Reply:


    This is claimed to be a maps illustration of the cupertino campus 2.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Even if the campus itself is not tranist oriented, it can still help create housing demand in downtown san jose and lead to denser housing. Denser housing can happen even without a transit oriented apple campus. But if the site is on the light rail line, then that makes for a very easy commute from downtown.

    Apple should a design campus that looks like a walkable downtown and not one that looks like a community college in a park

    Ted Judah Reply:

    San Jose has the same problem LA does about building density. It was so busy building freeways and blasting a traditional downtown to smithereens that now it’s going to take quite a bit to build the density all over Santa Clara County.

    But remember, the big tech campuses (just like the studios in LA, and the old defense plants in Orange County) require so much land and distance between them, that they are inherently transit unfriendly. San Francisco and to a lesser extent, Oakland, resisted this trend by keeping their jobs downtown. Most of Silicon Valley’s job aren’t downtown and haven’t been since maybe the 1930s. It doesn’t help that SF used its existing density to steal behemoths like Twitter and Dropbox and SalesForce who are happy to occupy building South of Market.

    Buuuuuuuuuuut…there is a ray of hope.

    The regional Patent Trademark Office is opening October 15th in San Jose and that could act as the crucial anchor (like the NYSE in New York or the Capitol in DC) that draw in the venture capital, law firms, and tech reporters to get companies excited about downtown San Jose. The only dumb thing is that it’s scheduled to be in San Jose’s City Hall as a way to pay the city rent. That means it will be about half a mile east of the proposed BART station under Market and 1st, the VTA light rail, and a mile to Diridion Intergalatic and the Convention Center. Not the smartest idea if you are competing for SF for jobs.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    you could just make downtown san jose mainly residentialm a sort of reverse vertical suburb. People could live down there and commute outbound to jobs. Not ideal but a dense vertical,residential / retail/food/ entertainment district would be a nice place to live.

    Joe Reply:

    They’re adding both residential and work. San Jose has large lots available which attract the big firms that want to build a large campus.

    San Jose wants a mix.

    Coyote Valley San Jose development was halted when the corporate, Cisco mainly, pulled out. The city refused to approve a residential expansion of it didn’t have corporate commitment to also develop work places.

    This anti sprawl policy killed the expansion and now the area is planned to reman undeveloped. The city is focusing inward with in fill.

    synonymouse Reply:

    until the day after tomorrow.

    Jon Reply:

    San Jose’s City Hall is between 4th and 6th streets. The easternmost entrance for the Downtown San Jose BART station will either be on 2nd or 4th street, depending on the station option chosen.

    Even if you do have to walk all the way to 1st St, Google Maps says it’s a quarter mile (450m) from the center of City Hall at 5th St. Diridon is over a mile away, but that’s what the BART connection will be for.

    Bdawe Reply:

    Well, A google maps search of that address puts the location right next to a light rail line. A maps search says that it would take 8-18 minutes to drive from Cahill Station and 40-50 minutes by public transit. And there’s plenty of parking on campus

    john burrows Reply:

    8 minutes would be close to a “cannonball run”. 18 minutes maybe, but even that can be tough during the afternoon commute.

    Emmanuel Reply:

    Or you know, we could make something that has more than 1 level and have a parking lot underground or something. Imagine!

  9. Roland
    Sep 24th, 2015 at 11:51
  10. keith saggers
    Sep 24th, 2015 at 16:00
  11. Eric M
    Sep 24th, 2015 at 17:26

    Forest Service seeking comments on feasibility of high-speed rail tunnel

    The feasibility study investigation would consist of drilling, installing, testing, and backfilling borings at five to eight locations on the Angeles National Forest (there would be no borings inside the National Monument), to depths varying from approximately 900 to 2500 feet below ground surface. To minimize their effect on existing surface resources, these borings will be located along existing roads on the Forest. The investigation will provide data to help evaluate potentially challenging conditions for tunnel design and construction by investigating groundwater, geology and faults. The resulting information will add to the understanding of local water and seismic conditions..

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:


    synonymouse Reply:

    Would they spend this kind of money on Tejon?

    The Forest Service should give PB the same answer as the Tejon Ranch Co.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is incredible that eco types like the Sierra Club would support such wasteful nonsense as multi-billion base tunnels in the wrong direction to El Nowhere.

    Las Vegas is the poster child of OMG Global Warming. Ridiculous talking about being closer to work to cut down on emissions when you are sending LA burnouts 300 miles away to seek vice that is right around the corner.

    The reality is that these politicized transit projects bear little but coincidental resemblance to anything enviro but everything to do with real estate exploitation, viz., sprawl.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    for the 4522 time people go to Las Vegas for more than the gambling. From all over the world.

    Neville Snark Reply:

    The ‘Sierra Club’ is not the Sierra Club of old (as you well know). It is a bourgeois feel-good club.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Sad. It would appear that PB has gone for the Angeles National Forest base tunnels and the few remaining genuine John Muir wannabes will have to try to go to the mat to fight it. Maybe McCarthy can mess with PB enough to back them off this gross waste of public monies.

    Much better for those billions to go to LA’s excellent and and vastly more beneficial and functional rebuild of the PE, for the grade separations(including tunnels and subways)the PE could not afford.

    Speaking of which, LA people, who owns, if anybody, the rights to the PE name and logo, etc.? It would seem a ool move to me to add on the PE name to the system aborning as the LACMTA name sounds like a venereal disease.

    synonymouse Reply:

    cool move

    Joe Reply:

    Shorter Syno: venereal disease.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    The ‘Sierra Club’ is not the Sierra Club of old (as you well know). It is a bourgeois feel-good club.

    As a kid growing up near SF in the early ’70s, my family used to often go to Sierra Club lodges in the (Sierra!) mountains for skiing, which were completely awesome. Sleep on enormously three-stack bunk-beds in big common dorms with no heating, everybody helps with the cooking and cleaning, etc.

    So I have a sort of fondness for the S.C., even if the basis is a bit trivial. Seeing their name associated with bad public policy makes me sad…. I hope their current state is merely a temporary detour, and they find their way. Maybe the current leaders who grew up in the car generation have to die first… ><

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Sierra Club has always been a bourgeois club, going back to John Muir.

    joe Reply:

    That’s an urban stereotype.

    Natural lands are affordable places for recreation. You see the least able to afford vacations and entetainment use natural spaces for recreation and depend on government preserved lands for hunting fuel and protect animal corridors.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Well, yes. Preserving wilderness as a space for recreation has always been urban. Farmers were never really part of this movement, and in some cases conservationists actively disdained how farmers were managing their land. For example, US farmers, both indigenous and white, would sometimes use fire as a tool, whereas the conservationists were sure they were destroying the ecosystem.

    joe Reply:

    Preserving natural lands (wilderness is legal definition in the US) is a rural value. People live in rural settings to access the natural lands. Of course you’ve lived a real lifestyle and know this — just forgot.
    And in the US rural is not synonymous with farmer.

    Fire was an amerindian tool to both clear land and to clear brush under established forests lands. You have a european centric view.

    And we conservationists use fire as a tool to reduce fuels – a controlled burn.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Joe, you’re an idiot.

    I am specifically complaining that the early Sierra Club was opposed to the use of fire even though it was practiced by farmers in the US. This was eurocentric of course – not of me, but of the Sierra Club and other patrician reformers, who copied the European “fire is always bad bad bad” mentality. Controlled burns as a conservation tool only came after the Smoky Bear era.

    This somehow transformed into me being eurocentric, because… why exactly? Are you an AI that looks for keywords instead of reading what people say? Or do you just hate the other 95% of humanity so much you’ll seize upon any excuse?

    Joe Reply:

    The forest science at that time opposed fire.

    Pretty ballsey lecturing a Ph.D. Forestry from western intermountain region about fire managenent practices.

    Your Eurocentric as I see it when I read your chats tires about things I feel pretty confident about such as my heritage and experiences.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It’s Eurocentric to claim that “THE FOREST SCIENCE” (of the 19th century) is correct while ignoring 1000 years of indigenous practice. It’s one thing to analyze that practice and prove that it has problems, but that’s *not what they did*, they just blew it off. And guess what, they were wrong, the indigenous people were right.

    joe Reply:

    Alon wrote :

    For example, US farmers, both indigenous and white, would sometimes use fire as a tool, whereas the conservationists were sure they were destroying the ecosystem.>/blockquote>

    This use of fire as a tool clears the land of forests – it exactly destroys the forest ecosystem in totality and the world according to Alon, is what the sierra club should have been mimicking.

    Indigenous peoples’ practices were not as preservationists. This is a comic book way to think of people. They hunted species to extinction and suffered from wildfire.

    Thousands of fires swept across Oregon, northern Idaho and western Montana in 1910, culminating in a firestorm that consumed more than 1 million acres in a single 24-hour period between Aug. 21 and 22. Although the fires burned 3 million acres in Idaho and Montana, they affected the entire country’s forestlands for the next century.

    This is pre USFS fire suppression and illustrates the motivations and on going need to reduce wildfire.

    Nathanael Reply:

    That may be pre USFS, but that is is not pre-fire-suppression. Learn your history.

    Joe Reply:

    here’s your chance … Swing away Merrill.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The unwashed rabble want to build cabins in the woods. Conservationists already have a cabin in the woods.

    synonymouse Reply:

    After Native Americans came hillbillies.

    Neville Snark Reply:

    You’re right to point to the error of my sloppy use of ‘bourgeois’ . My thought was that in the 1960s and 1970s, the Sierra Club promoted enlightened ideals that were often to the left and of course ‘environmentalist’; a lot of them were, if not hippies, then of that culture or influenced by that culture. Now it really does seem as if it almost a NIMBY organisation, affluent and not enlightened, friendly to stupid anti-VAXers and anti-GMers etc and largely incapable of that holistic environmentalism that recognizes that some trees have to be sacrificed for the sake of larger environmental goods, like transit — ie moving people out of their cars and airplanes.

    Michael Reply:

    Sorta like the “Keep Tahoe Blue” stickers on Flex Fuel Escalades…

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I see those “eep tahoe blue” ( and the “drink tahoe brew”) stickers on highway 50 every day. And the majority of them are on SUVs and big trucks. Of course that’s partly because who who live in or frequent the mountains, tend to need trucks and suvs for their activites. I rarely see one on a smart car. ( but then I never see a smart car on highway 50, I may well have the smallest car in all of el dorado county, and the only car in edc with a hillary sticker on it :-P )

    Michael Reply:

    You don’t see SUVs and pickup trucks in Switzerland or other snowy places where there are decent roads. You see four-wheel drive sedans. Pickups as we know them are almost non-existent in Europe and all the BMW/Mercedes/Porsche/VW SUVs are, as well.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    yes well, in europe they also show male frontal nudity on television, but this isnt europe.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    The popularity of SUVs and pickups in the U.S. is for cultural / fashion reasons, it has nothing to do with utility.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    @Miles Bader
    Really? And just how do you justify your biased comment that SUVS and Pickups are bought for fashion or “cultural” reasons? WTF does that mean?

    You must really get out in the areas of this country where SUVS and pickups are actually used. I for one do use my SUV for more than carrying people around.

    More leftist socialist bullshit from ignorant people that have never lived outside of a city, in my opinion. That’s the problem with this blog. Alot of you guys have no clue on how most people live.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    For the rugged drive from Target to Lowe’s?

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Of course, I should have used the word “most”.

    People who run working ranches or farms, and need to carry their cows around or move giant piles of agricultural stuff, presumably often need a larger heavier-duty vehicle, so for them, a pickup or whatever makes sense.

    But for typical American SUV and pickup buyers, it’s culture / fashion.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    If you own a home, and you need building materials, which is fairly common, yes, you need a truck. I know because I had a home when I owned a truck and I have a home and now own car.
    When I had the truck I could get most of what I needed… soil, washing machine, sheet rock, furniture, baseboards, trees bushes landscaping etc, and that was a single person homeowner,

    now times that by a whole family, the big trip to costco, the kids soccer crap, the weekend getaways with all the camping and picnic crap plus the kayaks… and bicycles and skis, and etc…

    Its nothing new, back in olden times before the SUV and Minivan, we had the station wagon. And pickup trucks have been common since americans starting buying cars.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The households that only have cars manage.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I manage too. but not everyone wants to “manage” or “get by” and if they have the means to live better, then they do. Im no fan of giant SUVs meanderinag across freeway lanes with only one person inside, usually a female on a phone. And I don’t know how these families afford to keep gas tanks full but apparently they have the means to live that way.

    I also see beat up 1989 toyota tercels with a waitrss and a cook and four busboys in the back trying to get to work. They are “managing” but thats not really what we all aspire too.

    “look at me Im just barely getting by woo hoo” the american dream.

    Joe Reply:

    Life, Liberty and Getting by

    @ jim You an get by with a hatchback wagon and roof rack for most. I used to have a small Datsun truck that was affordable and fit the bill. They don’t sell these affordable trucks anymore. Maybe a tradesman ram pick up.

    J. Wong Reply:


    Things are changing. With the car share services (ZipCar, City Car Share, etc.) you can rent a truck when you need it for much less than U-Haul. Makes it practical to _not_ have a car at all, if you live in a city that has those services.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    U-haul etc. are cheaper than owning a truck instead of a car. And most trucks still handle like trucks.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    right but my point is that for most people, they just want their own. I can just imagine the faces of my neighbors if you suggest they just get a truck from citi car share lol. And you don’t use a u haul pick up truck to go camping or skiing for the weekend either. silliness.

    Anyway I forgot. My husband has a 4wd dodge dakota truck so once he moves up, we will have the commute car and the mountain truck which makes sense up here.
    What doesn’t make sense is to use the family giant truck to commute in or to drive to mc donalds.

    Most of the homes near me have 3-4 vehicles ( plus boats, rvs and those other things I forget what they call them….but eveyone has one oh yeah, now I know why they need trucks, cuz they are always have those things in the back, or jetskis or lots of dirt bikes, and stuff, snow mobiles. These people have a lot of crap. I wish I knew how they could afford it. ( maybe because they aren’t paying 4000 a month for an apartment in san francisco?) but yeh

    Alon Levy Reply:

    …yes? The hippies were the same socioeconomic class as the bourgeoisie. The slur for that is bo-bo: bourgeois bohemian. In general, the bourgeois-bohemian distinction is more tribal than people on both sides of it would like to admit. There was no golden age of working-class environmentalism: anti-development NIMBYism goes back to Marin County’s use of environmentalism as a way of restricting development and propping up property values. The hippies themselves popularized the act-locally idiocy that props up NIMBYs.

    The Sierra Club also did other things in the 1960s, e.g. pushing for clean air and water regulations, opposing excessive use of pesticides, and restricting excessive logging and mining. It still does them. It was also indifferent to environmental justice concerns, as it is today. So is the general movement for better public transit infrastructure in the US, to the extent such a unified movement exists.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Restricting development is a good thing.

    Mining crazy base tunnels is way beyond “…some trees have to be sacrificed for the sake of larger environmental goods, like transit…”

    The “moderate” or “cooperative” eco-phonies like the Sierra Club are being used by Jerry Brown and his real estate exploiter cronies.

    Joe Reply:


    nimbyism goes back to the Sumerians.

    A western Montana environmentalist who uses forests for heating wood and hunts to supplement food and California Marin environmentalist are rational for their own experiences and needs. That’s why the serial club has state chapters.

    Montanan would fight to protect wildlife corridors and allow mixed use barley farming with bird hunting on state lands. They would be an hub ownership supporter and hunter.

    Joe Reply:

    Shorter Syno: My cartoonish ideas about Las Vegas are your problem.

  12. synonymouse
    Sep 24th, 2015 at 22:37
  13. JJJJ
    Sep 25th, 2015 at 07:45

    if McCathy becomes speaker of the house, will he impeach HSR?

    datacruncher Reply:

    McCarthy is already coming under fire from far righters as not conservative enough and too connected to GOP establishment. Check out the comments under some Breitbart articles.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Who do they want?

    Speaking of politics, imagine a Biden-Bush contest. Probably the lowest voter turnout, proportionally, in US history. That would mess with any Burton-Brown machine tax schemes to be placed on the 2016 ballot.

    datacruncher Reply:

    The far-right Freedom Caucus in Congress is very hard-line and backed by many Tea Party voters. They are so hard-line that Tom McClintock resigned from the Freedom Caucus last week, saying their tactics were basically too extreme for him.

    They want someone who will take the hard-line far conservative side; someone who will be confrontational with the Democrats and Obama; non-compromising; etc. Supposedly they also want someone who has not spent a lot of time in Congress and someone not tied to GOP establishment.

  14. Elizabeth Alexis
    Sep 25th, 2015 at 08:06

    OT Portland – discuss

    I’m in town for a wedding with the whole family. We’re here no car style.
    1) There is a lot of transit, but it is bizarrely slow.

    2) The downtown is kinda like an island, with a river on one side and hills on the other. In a lot of ways, this makes it easy to do transit. I’ve never seen so many mega parking structures in the downtown and the traffic patterns make it clear that most people are still driving. The massive number of freeways, highways and other roads overwhelm the waterfront with noise. Wassup?

    3) The food does seriously rock. Downtown lunch – “Fresh Roll” (Vietnamese), “Blueplate”. Love the pods of food trucks also.

    Joey Reply:

    Re 1: I think the next step for Portland is transit priority signals. There’s a lot of mixed traffic environments but even routes with dedicated ROW/lanes waste a lot of time sitting at lights.

    J. Wong Reply:

    “[B]izarrely slow”, but on some lines, fairly and predictably frequent.

    Yeah, most people drive because it is still convenient to park even on street! If parking was as bad as San Francisco, more people would do transit.

    Signs on board Tri-Met claim 1/3 of travelers on the Sunset (US26) from the west and Banfield (I84) from the west use the Max.

    You should see N. Williams, which is one way with one lane dedicated to bikes. It’s busy!

    You’re talking about the eastside waterfront. Hey, at least you can walk or bike there now. There used to be no way to get down to the river there. And the freeways there (I5) were emplaced during the ’60’s.

    Also, Portland’s newest bridge, Tillikum Crossing, is transit, pedestrian, and bicycle only.

    Bdawe Reply:

    The city of Portland, despite all the pretensions, actually directly subsidizes a considerable amount of downtown parking

    Jerry Reply:

    If you have time away from the wedding, try the 4T – Trail, Tram, Trolley, and Train.

    A trail, a tram, a trolley and a train combine for a one-of-a-kind, multi-modal way to enjoy Portland, Oregon. It is also one of the nation’s most walkable cities!

    les Reply:

    Make sure you hit Lovejoys bakery on Lovejoy St and do Reverand Lovejoy and Homer proud. The streetcar runs up to Nob hill there which has a great restaurant district. If you keep heading west (only by car) from there you will hit the largest city park in the nation (Forest Park).

    StevieB Reply:

    Portland is held up as an example of transit development done right. The full impact of a transit line on motor vehicle traffic can far exceed the direct effect of substituting rail or bus trips for car trips. Using data from the Portland region found that light rail led to an average of 0.6 additional transit trips per day among each household in the surrounding community. By itself that would have cut total driving mileage by about a half mile per household per day — not a huge impact.

    But the effect on driving among households living near light rail was much greater than that. Partly because households living near the light rail walked more and traveled shorter distances when they did drive. Walking increased 151 percent among people living in the transit-oriented communities. That was possible because, following the addition of light rail, city, regional, and state agencies took steps to encourage walkable development around the transit line.

    The “activity density” of the light-rail neighborhoods — a measure of how many households and jobs are located in a given area — rose 100 percent between 1994 and 2011. The total driving mileage avoided by households living near transit amounted to three times the avoided mileage due solely to switching from driving to transit.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Portland is held up as an example of transit development done right.

    Only by people who have never been to Vancouver.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    I’ve spent some time staying in Vancouver (granted, the last time in 2007), and the public transport didn’t seem all that great…. If you were going very specific places, it worked, but the coverage… I dunno.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Vancouver has one huge lacuna in its transit system: the West Side. That said,

    – The region’s pushed some impressive TOD. Maybe not impressive by Tokyo standards, but impressive by both North American and European ones. Metrotown is the big one, but New Westminster, Main Street-Science World, Joyce-Collingwood, and Edmonds are surrounded by towers that didn’t exist when the Expo Line was being built.

    – The buses are actually useful. The limited-stop buses on the West Side average 20-30 km/h and come frequently. It’s not like in Portland, where they think coming every 18 minutes puts you on the frequent network.

    – You can actually visualize the grid in Vancouver proper. It does break down in the suburbs, though – even in Burnaby there’s no complete grid. But if you’re in Vancouver proper, you can actually know which buses to use even if you’re in an unfamiliar area.

    Bdawe Reply:

    It almost seems like they’re just getting points for having tried, with no one really having an idea of what ‘right’ is

    Winston Reply:

    Gee, it sounds like the “steps to encourage walkable development” did a lot more to encourage walking and shorten trips than the light rail did.

    JB in PA Reply:

    Portland streetcar is nice the way it moves across streets and between buildings but it is a jerky ride stop/start and around sharp corners.
    The streetcars are made by Skoda. Then I find in Wiki that United Streetcar could not leave it alone and increased US content with Rockwell designed traction. The Skoda original design was likely better.
    Does anyone make streetcars with controlled steering, suspension, separate left/right axles and digital motors to smooth out the sharp corners and accelerations? It would speed up the system and be more comfortable.

    JB in PA Reply:

    Wiki : United Streetcar

    Max Wyss Reply:

    There is, but it is no longer available… Cobra (built for VBZ Zürich by SIG/SWS, which ended up in Bombardier).

    The Cobra has four-wheel running gears with steerable wheel supports (there are no axles), and lengthwise mounted traction motors driving the left-side / right-side wheels. This configuration eliminates any screeching in tight curves.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Bizarrely slow?

    All they have is light rail that is not fully grade separated. Their tax base is pretty small (no sales tax and all) and all your track was built on the cheap with no express service capability.

    For a long time, the success of their transit had more to do with the urban growth boundary and the popularity of younger professionals (and comic book store workers) living downtown because there was no big minority population to displace during gentrification. (This is Oregon, after all…)

    Now that the big job drivers like Intel, Solarworld, and Nike are on the western fringes in Hillsboro and Beaverton, people have to chose from a 30 or 60 minute by light rail from downtown to the west side OR a drive in your Leaf that takes half the time. What do you think is going to win out?

    StevieB Reply:

    Portland has the highest bicycle commuting rate in the nation. At 7.2% the bicycle commute rate shows the strong grip car culture has in the United States. The grip of car culture is eroding but slowly over generations.

    les Reply:

    And yet Portland is the 24th largest US metro area and yet Trimet has the 11th highest transit ridership in the nation.

    J. Wong Reply:

    The Portland Max is mostly grade separated over most of its mileage. They have buses. The streetcars are not part of the light rail routes and is not grade separate d.

  15. StevieB
    Sep 25th, 2015 at 10:34

    Americans overwhelmingly support efforts to streamline government regulations that will promote real-estate development near high-speed rail.

    This development could include amenities such as popular retail shops, walkable neighborhoods, and unique dining experiences. Overall, nearly three quarters of respondents (71 percent) support reducing regulations so that amenities can be built near high-speed rail stations.

    “High-speed rail not only provides a great transportation option, but the public’s interest in amenities near high-speed rail stations is another way to create economic growth and jobs in local communities across the country,” said American Public Transportation Association (APTA) President and CEO Michael Melaniphy. “If we have strong investment in high-speed rail, it will be an opportunity to generate real-estate and land use income for the private sector as well as local tax revenue for communities for decades to come.”

    According to a 2015 survey released by the APTA, if high-speed rail were available today, two-thirds (63 percent) of Americans are likely to use high-speed trains and this jumps to nearly seventy (67) percent when respondents were informed of the costs and time saving benefits of high-speed rail service.

  16. Roland
    Sep 26th, 2015 at 12:42


    keith saggers Reply:

    North American High Speed Rail Group is targeting the air space above highways to build a proposed elevated train track. That means dealing with the Minnesota Department of Transportation.
    “I think it’s genius using a roadway that already exists as your right-of-way,” Berndt said. “It is an enormous savings over the acquisition costs of the real estate.”
    NAHSR wants exclusive rights to lease air space along portions of Interstate 494, Minnesota Highway 55, U.S. Highway 52, U.S. Highway 63 and Interstate 90. A 1967 Minnesota statute put the power to decide such a deal into the hands of the Minnesota transportation commissioner
    Post Bulletin

  17. Roland
    Sep 26th, 2015 at 16:22


    Clem Reply:

    Disappointed that they didn’t plug a new grade separation at Broadway. Teachable moment!

    J. Wong Reply:

    I’m kind of thinking that Broadway is moving up on the priority list especially for those poor souls that have to use it. When the new Broadway freeway interchange is completed, it’s going to get even worse.

    Roland Reply:

    2) Every new EMU in the UK will be equipped with a minimum of one diesel powerpack to provide backup power and A/C in an emergency
    3) Some EMUs will have multiple power packs to operate off-grid (examples here: Menlo Park Facebook, Gilroy, etc)
    4) Powerpacks are swapped as part of the maintenance schedule so they can be removed entirely when they are no longer needed.
    5) Powerpacks eliminate the need to electrify maintenance facilities.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    What’s with your DMU obsession, anyway…?

    Roland Reply:

    What DMU obsession????

    Clem Reply:

    The “powerpack” in the recent Caltrain accident was undamaged, located as it was on the tail end of the train. There must be a reason why 900 people were trapped in a hot & dark train, but lack of a powerpack wasn’t one of them.

    Roland Reply:

    Correct: the generator (was) shut down but the point I am (desperately) trying to make is what happens to an EMU when it loses power for whatever reason (falling tree, PG&E meltdown, lightning, catenary failure, SamTrans “brain” fade, etc. etc.)
    “None of the 900 passengers on board were hurt, but they were not left off the train and with no air conditioning, little communication and what witnesses described a scene of near panic on board.”
    “Cell phone video shows people escaping out of the train’s emergency windows, even after police warned passengers to remain on the train or face arrest.”
    The next question is whether the generator (was) shut down when the air hoses and/or power cables were damaged by the impact: http://hairymnstr.com/files/images/caltrain.jpg
    One cannot help but wonder if relocating the plough in front of (instead of behind) the hoses might help but the best solution is to follow Metrolink’s lead, forget about the cab cars and replace them with 150 ton ploughs until we fix this mess properly once and for all:
    http://www.caltrain.com/AssetFactory.aspx?did=1207 Section 6.B (top of page 8)

    Clem Reply:

    The Paris RER does not need diesel powerpacks. The Franfurt or Zurich S-Bahn do not need diesel powerpacks. Hundreds of cities carry millions of commuters with EMUs, all without needing diesel powerpacks. Kindly describe to me which part of this I don’t understand?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    BART doesn’t need them…..

    Roland Reply:

    May 6th: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/05/06/bart-service-halted-in-east-bay-as-equipment-problem-causes-major-delays-in-and-out-of-san-francisco-as-well/
    June 25: http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2015/06/25/bart-service-halted-on-pittsburgbay-point-line-in-east-bay-due-to-fire-near-tracks/

    Joey Reply:

    There are all sorts of fire safety issues when you combine long tunnels with combustion engines.

    Joey Reply:

    And that gets worse when you involve combustible fuel. Small electrical fires usually don’t cause fatalities.

    Joey Reply:

    Hence “usually.” But disasters become much more serious when there’s fuel to burn.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    It seems that somehow a loopback cable for HEP got damaged. If that is indeed the case, the HEP system has a serious flaw, and I am not aware of any other system where a loopback is needed; HEP is a simple single line.

    Roland Reply:

    Max, are these the yellow cables with the blue plugs (one on each side) in this pic: http://hairymnstr.com/files/images/caltrain.jpg?

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Thanks, but why two cables/lines??

    Roland Reply:

    Beats the heck out of me and I have no idea why America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals released an RFP specifying that an EMU with automatic coupling should be compatible with any of this antediluvian junk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z481CAQEO1A

    wdobner Reply:

    Clem could not be more correct. An auxiliary diesel hung on the bottom of an EMU is worse than useless It’s dangerous and provides a false sense of security.

    In most of the scenarios you outline the EMU will lose signal power as well, which means switches may not be providing indication, signals will be dark and CBOSS may not provide any information. Bypassing the safety systems required to get the train moving could be a nonstarter both from a safety and operational perspective, regardless of whether the train has traction power.

    Chances are that if they’re presented with the option of evacuating passengers through the track area or having a train move with most safety systems cut out, the responding fire and police personnel will opt to evacuate from a stationary train once they have a large number of personnel on scene to handle the evacuees. This is even true on third rail systems.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Not true Roland, only certain units of the new hitachi iep

    Roland Reply:

    No true, Paul.
    Every single IEP EMU set has a minimum of one 760MW powerpack capable of moving the train (complete with power and AC) at up to 40 MPH in an emergency. These powerpacks are also used daily to shunt trains in and out of depot. The bi-modes (EDMUs) have multiple powerpacks depending on how long the trains are.
    Why? http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3062477/Travel-nightmare-rail-passengers-stuck-trains-FIVE-HOURS-sweltering-conditions-no-air-conditioning-power-failure-Clapham-Junction.html.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Why? Try: “English as a first language serves as excellent automatic disqualification from any role in public transportation planning.”

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Even in Britain the “let’s do diesel!” “feature” of IEP seems widely regarded as completely idiotic…

    Roland Reply:

    @ Clem
    “The Paris RER does not need diesel powerpacks. The Franfurt or Zurich S-Bahn do not need diesel powerpacks. Hundreds of cities carry millions of commuters with EMUs, all without needing diesel powerpacks. Kindly describe to me which part of this I don’t understand?”

    Avec plaisir, mon ami:
    – Paris RER: https://www.google.com/search?q=paris+rer+panne+de+courant
    – Frankfurt S-Bahn: https://www.google.com/search?q=Frankfurt+S-Bahn+Stromausfall
    – Zurich S-Bahn: https://www.google.com/search?q=Zurich+S-Bahn+Stromausfall

    Google “Translation”:
    “A complete power failure of the Swiss Driving lines from 9 clock has blocked 40 all trains. Incoming trains were turned at stations before Basel. This was caused by a short circuit. The power cut affected the entire Swiss Passenger Transport Station”. “Because so many trains were affected, according to SBB spokesman no replacement bus deal was possible.” “Caused the short circuit had a defective switch a train-preheating system to a standby track just outside the station. The mishap happened according to the spokesman within the current perimeter station and presented so all Catenaries cold”

    Stupid Brits!!!

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Not every emu in the UK is an IEP.

    Clem Reply:

    How much dead weight is that anvil of a powerpack?

    Roland Reply:

    It depends. The IEP anvils weigh 4 tons complete but the roof-mounted variety is usually much lighter http://i58.tinypic.com/24yzl6u.jpg

    Clem Reply:

    Much lighter, and also much more feeble than 700 kW. The point being that diesel reduces your power to weight ratio (either by being heavy, feeble, or both) which is precisely the last thing you want in stop & go service on a busy corridor shared with HSR where it becomes very important to maximize the average service speed. Very high power to weight (EMU with no D) and level boarding are non-negotiable, as seen in your favorite RFP.

    Roland Reply:

    1) EMUs and EDMUs have identical performance under the wire (why would anyone in their right mind run on “diesel under the wire” when the pantograph gets 25KV???).
    2) The IEP EDMUS have nearly identical performance both ON AND OFF grid (they take off on batteries off grid; the powerpacks kick in at around 30 MPH).
    3) Your 52 inch level boarding nonsense is DOA unless you want to condemn Caltrain (and every double-decker in the USA) to single doors with inherent 5-minute dwell times in which case even America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals should be capable of timing a pass with a single station (pure genius!!!) .
    4) As far as my “favorite RFP” (which is about to be recalled) is concerned, I particularly enjoyed these choice bits in Vol 3:

    It shall be possible to tow an 8 car EMU train with a JPB diesel locomotive anywhere on the JPB
    alignment and the yard. The pneumatic brakes on the EMU shall be fully functional for towing.
    The JPB locomotive will also provide 480VAC which can be used to power needed functions on
    the EMU and operated (sic) the local compressors if needed to speed up the filling of the main
    reservoirs. 480VAC will be provided through a MANUALLY CONNECTED standard jumper cable.”

    “It is currently not intended that CEMOF have electrified tracks inside the building. Trains will be shuttled in and out of the building by either a dedicated car mover, a diesel locomotive or by another EMU set.”

    Are we having fun yet?

    Clem Reply:

    They don’t have identical performance. One hauls a four-ton lump. The other doesn’t. Oh and batteries? Those are heavy too. So make that two lumps! I take mine straight electric, thank you.

    Roland Reply:

    You need to get a copy of TS2016 and start playing with the Class 800/801s. Guaranteed eye-opener :-) As far as batteries are concerned, ever heard of a small company called Tesla?

    Clem Reply:

    Using a Train Simulator game as the basis of an evaluation of train performance is laughable.

    Roland Reply:

    Sincere apologies: I incorrectly assumed that you learned everything you know about trains during your stint as a TS programmer.

    William Reply:

    @Roland, just think about it, bi-mode EMU (OCS + Diesel) will always be heavier than pure EMU, given the same output. Fuel-tank, diesel engine, alternator are all additional weight pure EMU doesn’t need to carry, so EMU will always have better power-to-weight ratio. This is basic physic.

    Granted bi-mode allows Caltrain to provide through service to Gilroy or open new lines, but right now the frequency is just too low to justify penalize the heavily traveled SF-SJ segment, not to mention Tamien-Gilroy is not owned by Caltrain. If such service is desirable, a pure DMU might be more desirable because it saves the heavier transformers. Or, for such short segments such as services to the Facebook campus, just extend the electrified infrastructure.

    What’s the problem that Caltrain will have some rescue diesel locomotives? Like I said before, as long as the OCS infrastructure is intact, it is very unlikely the whole EMU will lose power as there are multiple redundancies. On the OCS issue, the focus should be on good maintenance, not on subjecting all trains to weight penalty just in case some rare issue happen.

  18. keith saggers
    Sep 26th, 2015 at 17:13

    San Francisco

    Enforcement of turn restrictions on Market Street between 3rd and 8th streets went into effect on Tuesday, August 11. The Safer Market Street project supports the city’s Vision Zero goal of eliminating all traffic fatalities by improving safety conditions and reducing conflicts for all road users. The project includes turn restrictions, the extension of east and westbound transit only lanes to 3rd Street, and additional loading and painted safety zones

  19. JimInPollockPines
    Sep 26th, 2015 at 19:23

    As for the xtrain, I think It will be successful for what it is just like the reno fun train has been a success for 50 years.
    The fun train snow train ( weekend vs weekday) is seasonal jan-mar every winter and get people up to reno during the otherwise slow period. You get a party train with some amentites, you get your choice of hotels for 2 nights, and your trip home. The trains are themed, mardi gras, st patricks day, valentines day etc. and it good for groups small or large.

    The only difference I see is that the trip over donner i-80 is more scenic than the trip out to vegas, but then, the vegas train could have more on board dazzle to make up for that.

    The reno funtrain takes about 8 hours from the bay area to reno each way and the trains sell out every year.

  20. JimInPollockPines
    Sep 26th, 2015 at 21:17

    Too bad they cound’t have a casino on the x train. But hey could have a really nice bar, even a dance floor, and adult entertainment, (xxxtrain) special guests stars etc. If ttey get the names they can get the ridership. hollywood-vegas. a lot is possible.

    Roland Reply:

    But, but, but what happened to the hot tubs???

    EJ Reply:

    the trip over donner i-80 is more scenic than the trip out to vegas

    Well, sure, Donner is spectacular. But as someone who grew up in the Bay Area and later moved to So Cal, you learn to love the desert.

    But hey could have a really nice bar, even a dance floor, and adult entertainment, (xxxtrain) special guests stars etc.

    Yeah I could even see this catching on with the kool kidz in LA. Southwest is fairly hassle free for Vegas trips, but it’s hardly glamorous. And driving is for families and weirdos like me who love road trips. It’s a challenge – they’d have to strike the right balance between glamour and luxury and affordability, but I could see this being A Thing.

  21. Phantom Commuter
    Sep 30th, 2015 at 16:50

    The Las Vegas “Fun Train” has been tried, and has failed, several times. If it runs from Fullerton to Las Vegas, it will be on the BNSF, not UP via Palmdale. The moderator needs to learn SoCal geography (doesn’t help his already questionable credibility). Makes no sense to go so far out of the way. O.C. and I.E. are much better markets for this service than the snobby Downtown/West L.A. market, although A.V. would be a good market.

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