CHSRA Fires Back at Ridiculous Vartabedian Article

Oct 29th, 2015 | Posted by

The most recent anti-HSR screed from Ralph Vartabedian has generated a lot of attention, mainly for its speculative claim that cost overruns and project delays are a certainty. Vartabedian reached that conclusion after talking to a bunch of HSR critics and wrote a typically one-sided article. As it turns out, he omitted some important facts.

California High Speed Rail Authority CEO Jeff Morales pointed out some of those omissions in a recent letter to the editor:

A recent report on the California high-speed rail gave readers a dramatic but false impression of where our program stands in terms of costs and technical hurdles. In truth, we are making steady progress. Work is underway on the over 100-mile rail segment in the Central Valley, with over $2 billion in construction contracts executed. Drive along Highway 99 and you will see crews.

Although the article had extensive speculation about potential future cost growth, it omitted that the first construction contracts have come in hundreds of millions of dollars below estimates. The article also makes it seem as though no one has thought about the challenge of tunneling through mountain ranges. On the contrary, we have brought in some of the world’s leading tunneling experts and they’re confident of our ability to construct the needed tunnels.

Any infrastructure investment of this size will face risks associated with cost and schedules. To that end, we’ve employed the most advanced risk management strategies available. This approach has resulted in lower costs and faster timelines.

There will be bumps along the way, for sure, and we will be forthright about the difficulties, but the article stands in stark contrast to the progress we’re making.

I bolded that section in the blockquote because it’s of central importance to this story. Vartabedian goes to great lengths to suggest that the Authority isn’t doing anything to address the possibility of cost overruns. The fact that the construction contracts so far have come in below estimates is important – it’s hard evidence, rather than a reporter’s speculation, and it powerfully undermines Vartabedian’s case.

The fact is that most of the increase in cost estimates has already happened. The project was said to cost $33 billion in 2008, which many felt was a low estimate and that turns out to have been the case. Changes to accounting, as well as more detailed engineering, sent the cost estimate to $68 billion. It’s possible that the final bill will be below that estimate, though we’ll have to see what happens once these first construction contracts are complete.

Californians absolutely should closely scrutinize the HSR project to ensure it is being built properly, and within the projected budget and timeline. Unfortunately, Vartabedian didn’t do that. By cherrypicking his evidence to highlight critics and worst-case scenarios, omitting evidence that suggests the project is actually coming in on or under its current budget, he created a distorted and misleading perception of doubt and crisis.

At least we know that his previous efforts to attack the HSR project have failed to derail it. I assume the same will be the case this time too.

  1. les
    Oct 29th, 2015 at 15:44
    #1

    Bill Maher Agrees With Ted Cruz During GOP Debate: ‘Media Is Even Stupider Than the Politicians’

    Jerry Reply:

    Does that automatically make Vartabedian the stupidee?

    les Reply:

    Spot on.

    Zorro Reply:

    And He’s a Joke, a bad one at that.

  2. Reedman
    Oct 29th, 2015 at 15:48
    #2

    FYI.

    Today (Oct 29, Thursday) Obama signed a bill (sent from and approved by the House and Senate) giving the railroads a three year extension on the deadline for implementing PTC. The deadline is now Dec 21, 2018.

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2015/10/29/obama-signs-short-term-transportation-bill/

    Jerry Reply:

    Three more years for implementing PTC.
    But only three more WEEKS for the transportation budget.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Well, one of them involves actually spending money.

    Reedman Reply:

    Dec 31, 2018 ….

    synonymouse Reply:

    2118

  3. J. Wong
    Oct 29th, 2015 at 16:12
    #3

    Vartabedian has an agenda. I also believe he’s no longer just a reporter for the Times, but is given very little editorial oversight (or a lot of freedom). So even though editorially the L.A. Times may support HSR, Vartabedian, himself, clearly doesn’t.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Not quite.

    Ralph was the Times’s aerospace beat reporter back when that was a full time job (and I was barely out of diapers). He cut his teeth reporting on big defense projects that went way over budget.

    Remember though, a reporter is only as reliable and truthful as his or her editor. The Times is an interesting position because obviously support for transportation funding in LA is politically popular these days but HSR (like many other things that come out of Northern California) is a bit of a mystery to the Surenos. And people in L.A. secretly like anything that requires superlatives so much, you would think they all were really born in Texas…

    HSR, to Southern Californians, is the next LA Aqueduct, the next freeway to Pasadena, the next Staples Center, the glowing and benevolent sign of progress for all mankind…at least where people are still political moderates.

    But to the insiders, HSR is standing in the way of all that federal cash to build a subway system and revive what was lost when redevelopment was killed off. So Vartabedian’s work reflects that ambivalent nuance that wafts through the City of Angels. Maybe HSR will ruin Paradise, or maybe it will save it, Ralph says….

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Ive always liked how southern californians march ever forward. T he future is always the end all be all. Its an eternal optimism and built in self confidence that never seems to have the doubts, regrets, hesitation or hand wringing that we live with in the north. Progress there is assumed and expected and tomorrow can only be better than yesterday and today.

    EJ Reply:

    You’re forgetting about the late 1980s/early 1990s. All the good aerospace jobs were going away, crack dealing and the accompanying gang violence was on the upswing, the LAPD beat up Rodney King leading to riots that were even more violent than those in the 1960s, in 1994 there was one of the most destructive earthquakes in California history, the original Red Line project to the West Side essentially collapsed and is only being restarted 20 years later…

    Especially from the outside, LA looked like a basket case; it’s to its credit that it managed to turn itself around and come roaring back.

    Joe Reply:

    As illustrated in The movie Falling Down with Michael Douglas.

    All places have been challenged. Rockford IL 1982 had 27% unemployment. Economy built on fasteners for manufacturing. Some places have never come back but LA has persistently grown more dense and transit friendly despite the stereotypes. I, total outsider, thought the olympics set the ground work for the bus transit system.

    synonymouse Reply:

    LA’s biggest image problem over the decades, even with the riots, has been the smog.

    Joe Reply:

    Uh no. That’s 70s.
    It’s been the traffic and car dependence.
    Then I’d say earthquakes and self-obsessed goof-balls. Chronically sunny monotonous good weather.

    Donk Reply:

    Unfortunately, once you have kids you have to get the heck out of LA since:

    (a) it is miserable to drive the kids around and do errands on LA’s schedule rather than your schedule. Prior to having kids everyone in LA learns to plan their schedules around the traffic, and this makes living in LA bearable and even enjoyable;

    (b) public schools are just not viable in LA. And the waiting lists for daycares, charter schools, private schools, etc are just ridiculous. And then all of the schools have these bizarre philosophies that are geared towards helicopter parents from Santa Monica.

    Danny Reply:

    they’re called “mombies” (and despite Pollock’s optimism SoCal has allowed every easily-panicked Hausfrau full liberum veto to delay transit projects by a decade–Purple Line, Expo Line, Orange Line)

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I know exactly what you are talking about, but that’s more of a problem within the city limits itself.

    Most people don’t use the municipal boundaries of the City to define “L.A.” No handy term like the “Bay Area” to throw around in California del Sur.

    Donk Reply:

    When I am talking about “LA” I am generally referring to the part of LA in the LA basin that corresponds to the Westside/Central Metro Service Council. Because I am an elitist and lived in that area for more than 10 years, that is the only part of LA that I consider to be the “real LA”, and it includes Beverly Hills, Culver City, and Santa Monica. The Valley is “LA” but it is a different world. The South Bay, the Gateway Cities, and the SGV are all part of LA County but they are basically burbs of LA. So the “real LA” is the region I was referring to.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    In the Bay Area, of course, “the real L.A.” would be the equivalent of the City and County of San Francisco. But in Southern California, the freeways were designed to disperse jobs and density to weaken the power of unions…

    Now, a chastened L.A. is busy trying to imitate the Bay Area’s parochialism as a way to resist the massive increase in immigration and congestion. Of course, the defining moment will be when the subway system is built out…

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    THe smog when I went there in 1983 litereally made my eyes burn by 10am, nowadays though Im amazed how I have to leave the smog of visalia and drive to the blue skies in la. You used only see the basin on one clear day a year in march after a springs storm. Now you can routinely look across the basin and see downtown, and the mountains from long beach.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Scenes of the new tv “Supergirl” a couple of days ago sure look like LA and it was still pretty smoky.

    Joe Reply:

    Riiiiight.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I dont even think they have smog alerts anymore. They used to be failry routine.

    Oliver Wendell Holmes Reply:

    LA still # 1 in the country for ozone pollution and #5 (behind four Central Valley cities) for both short-term and long-term particle pollution.
    Source

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yes because fictional T.V. shows should be relied on to show reality. (By the by, “Supergirl” is set in a fictional “National City” just like “Superman” is set in a fictional “Metropolis”.)

    Joe Reply:

    Episode 2 and the sky looks pretty clear. Some water vapor, clouds in the background.

    Look forward to Syno’s assessment of National City smog.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Maybe they photoshopped in some smoke to make it look appropriately dystopian.

    Donk Reply:

    I grew up in the LA area, and smog isn’t anywhere near what it used. Usually the bulk of the smog forms in Riverside and San Berdoo now. The only shitty times to be in LA now are in the peak of the summer and during the Santa Annas in the Fall. LA in the winter and spring is delightful.

    Sierrajeff Reply:

    LOL, whenever anyone mentions L.A. smog, I immediately discount anything they say – that’s such an old and outdated canard.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I think what helped bring la back after those bad times in the 80s/90s was the migration of artists and such who were pushed out of sf during the dotcom era – many went to la and help be a center for design. That dotcom was a picnic compared to todays tech boom which has all but destroyed the north. La is the place to be. I love me visits there now whereas trips to sf are depressing.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    L.A. never really came back after the early 90’s.

    Instead, the demographic changes caused by immigration and the collapse in manufacturing completely replaced what was there before. L.A. was already becoming much more dependent on what some people like to call the “creative class” economy before many of those migrant artists arrived. Moreover, Southern California has been a destination from artists for over 100 years.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    well in any case they have a much better ability to look forward than northerners. Of course northerners have valid reasons for their provincialism.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Northerners have been evangelized by the tech boom to look forward too.

    In some ways, the North-South in California is morphing into a coastal-inland one that is also rich vs. poor. It many ways, a more homogeneous Californian or Western U.S. Culture is a good thing. We just have to spread the wealth better…or else.

    Aarond Reply:

    Having a healthy creative class is great and is a huge boom to any region that can host it. But, the creative types alone cannot make a healthy economy. Look at Russia, which has long had an oppressed but vibrant creative class in Saint Petersburg but Russia overall is a mess (though, their mass transit is more developed than California’s).

    Artists are either starving or making millions off their work. San Jose has a hugely active creative class, but most of it is wasted on dotcom boom gambling. A middle class isn’t sustainable when no middle income jobs exist. It also can’t exist if a city artificially restricts high-density development, or shuns mass transit projects. LA is better off at the moment in this regard as their planning agencies (at least to me) have their stuff together better than MUNI or VTA.

    Nathanael Reply:

    LA actually still has industry. In this regard it is better off than quite a lot of midwestern cities.

    Aarond Reply:

    LA certainly does. But, the issue is that the city’s terrible zoning causes “living areas” to conflict with “industrial areas”. Essentially, the industrial areas have grown to the point where they have now caught up with the suburbs that were built far away from them. This causes problems between residents as inevitably if LA wants to keep it’s industry (and the middle class jobs they bring) they need to relocate some people.

    Ultimately, this is the result of people choosing sprawl over denser cores. So now there will be a constant back-and-forth between “core” areas that expand over industrial areas, and industrial areas that expand over suburbs. The entire process will be messy and it never needed to occur in the first place. This is a problem for LA as large companies don’t want to deal with NIMBYs, and they have the right to look to other states to plop their businesses.

    But, I still maintain that LA is marginally better off than the bay area. LA has at least realized it needs to co-ordinate and co-operate. Silicon Valley is not at that point yet and still blindly believes that the “free market” will somehow solve everything.

    EJ Reply:

    Here we go again. LA has the largest number of manufacturing jobs of any metro area in the US. No matter how many times this is pointed out, it still seems to surprise a lot of people.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/economics/2015/07/15/where-are-the-most-u-s-manufacturing-workers-los-angeles/

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Yes, but many of those jobs are subsistence wages in apparel.

    Long gone are the days in Southern California where machinists and other aerospace workers could support a whole family doing manual labor.

    EJ Reply:

    About 1 in 8 jobs are in apparel. 7 out of 8 are not.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Based on that source, what industries then, represent the other seven? It’s not going to be aerospace…

    EJ Reply:

    All the different things these companies make:

    http://www.yellowpages.com/los-angeles-ca/manufacturing-companies

    EJ Reply:

    Here’s some breakouts, as of 2011:

    http://laedc.org/wp-content/uploads/2012/04/Manufacturing_2011.pdf

    Petroleum products, food, electronics, metal fabrication… aerospace is still 8% of the total value.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Yeah…refining oil is “manufacturing”.

    Page 17 is a good example of what I am talking about. “Transportation products” and “computer parts” are shrinking just like every other manufacturing sector. But they along with oil refining, offer much higher wages than the other products like apparel and food…

    EJ Reply:

    Well, sure, you can prove any point if you just redefine words to mean whatever you want them to mean.

  4. Zorro
    Oct 29th, 2015 at 16:25
    #4

    Even the Sacramento Bee is spreading the News about HSR in CA.

    Bullet Train Project actually on Track(SacBee)

    Re “Bullet train likely to miss budget, deadline targets” (Page 3A, Oct. 25): A recent report on the California high-speed rail gave readers a dramatic but false impression of where our program stands in terms of costs and technical hurdles. In truth, we are making steady progress. Work is underway on the over 100-mile rail segment in the Central Valley, with over $2 billion in construction contracts executed. Drive along Highway 99 and you will see crews.

    Although the article had extensive speculation about potential future cost growth, it omitted that the first construction contracts have come in hundreds of millions of dollars below estimates. The article also makes it seem as though no one has thought about the challenge of tunneling through mountain ranges. On the contrary, we have brought in some of the world’s leading tunneling experts and they’re confident of our ability to construct the needed tunnels.

    Any infrastructure investment of this size will face risks associated with cost and schedules. To that end, we’ve employed the most advanced risk management strategies available. This approach has resulted in lower costs and faster timelines.

    There will be bumps along the way, for sure, and we will be forthright about the difficulties, but the article stands in stark contrast to the progress we’re making.

    Jeff Morales, chief executive officer, California High-Speed Rail Authority

    synonymouse Reply:

    “…bumps along the way…””

    Queretaro, ese.

    J. Wong Reply:

    So any project that has “bumps along the way” will fail? You’re assuming that a routing through Tejon wouldn’t have problems? You live in a fantasy land.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Tejon can break even and make CAHSR as functional as you can get given the geography. Why shackle yourself with a tertiary route?

    Taking “whatever” is how you end up with broken BART, always handicapped.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You might as well go gadgetbahn – Vegas prefers that crap anyway.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The fantasy land is where the honchos who fired their own hand-picked expert live.

    Edward Reply:

    Replying to his own replies to his own replies.

    Talking to oneself is OK. It’s only a problem when you start answering.

    Zorro Reply:

    I gather you’d prefer an actual Autobahn near you with all that implies Cyno? With no speed limits…

    StevieB Reply:

    Rail will break even when the cost of driving is no longer subsidized by the government. Because the cost of driving is artificially low it makes other forms of transportation seem expensive.

    synonymouse Reply:

    You still have to factor in the cost of labor.

    Computerized electric cars would change the numbers favorable to driving.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    How many people bill themselves for the time they spend driving?

    Travis D Reply:

    Driverless cars. Ha. Might as well hold out for Star Trek transporters.

    Zorro Reply:

    Which might be a very long wait indeed, since I think except for transporting light particles, transporting anything bigger is impossible.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Computerized electric cars would change the numbers favorable to driving

    Computerized electric cars will have a minor positive effect, but they are basically just more of the same.

    Even with a high-speed electric electric polisher, there’s only so much you can dress up a turd…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Tesla turds?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Hey, my Tesla is a very nice car, but it gets caught in traffic just like any other car. I would take a rail line in preference any day.

    Danny Reply:

    run by fusion power, no doubt

    only a decade away!

    StevieB Reply:

    Cars pay less than half the cost of building and maintaining roads whether electric or gasoline or steam powered.

    Car owners don’t come close to covering the price of maintaining the roads they use.

    subsidizing of car ownership costs the typical household about $1,100 per year—over and above the costs of gas taxes, tolls, and other user fees.

    Take away all the parking subsidies for cars and the cost of driving is very unfavorable.

    J. Wong Reply:

    @synonymouse

    So we both know Tejon is better than Tehachapi based on analysis from @Clem, but claiming that Tehachapi will cause HSR to fail is unjustified. You don’t really know, and common sense says you admit that, but instead you go for hyperbole with “Queretaro”, which just says you don’t have any common sense.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I am factoring in a much more dysfunctional future than you very likely. Economic and social disruption that will make for poorer governments(think the old eastern european bloc)necessitating our version of the Beeching Report. Remember the genesis of JerryRail is strictly political. It won’t make the subsidy cut up against the likes of BART. Queretaro was a change of regimes, a certainty here just with different generations. Gavin and indeed the other SF flyweights like Leno just aren’t into transport.

    Things are deteriorating – Mexico is getting to be almost as corrupt as California.

    European countries are rebuilding the BerlinWall, but to keep people out this time instead of in.

    J. Wong Reply:

    You live in a different world than the rest of us, @synonymouse.

    “[T]he genesis of JerryRail is strictly political”? You’re claiming there’s no need for HSR? That is really stupid.

    “It won’t make the subsidy cut up against the likes of BART.” BART does not receive subsidies from the state of California. Neither will HSR through Tejon or Tehachapi require operational subsidies.

    Like I said, total fantasyland!

    synonymouse Reply:

    You really believe JerryRail will not require a sizeable subsidy to run a few trains rattling over the Loop Replacement?

    J. Wong Reply:

    You really believe that no one will take a 3 hour train to L.A.? Why would they require a subsidy for Tehachapi but not Tejon? The time difference between them time wise is completely insignificant.

    Clem Reply:

    About $10 million/year of revenue would be lost for every additional minute inserted between NorCal and SoCal. That doesn’t count the additional costs of a longer track, which shows up primarily as operating and maintenance cost for the trains (which scales with train-miles, not train-minutes)… that can add another 50% or so on top of the loss from longer trips. So, no, it is not “completely insignificant.”

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s hard to tell which phantasmagorial conspiracy he’s yammering about at any moment.

    Joe Reply:

    Palmdale was essential.

    A public HSR system will be less profitable than a private system. Add the burden of a super majority for revenue and it becomes very hard to optimize a route by leaving out cities.

    Texas Transit authorities use this distinction between public and private to explain why the Dallas to Houston system is a end to end system. (Possibly a stop at college station).

    Joey Reply:

    Whose political support would actually be lost by cutting out Palmdale? Particularly given an alternate access plan for Las Vegas.

    Joe Reply:

    Who ?

    Gosh I wonder if I repost this one more time you’ll remember…..
    Nahhh.

    Who leads the California Senate? Who was the US Senate minority leader?
    Just random questions.

    Joey Reply:

    Reid is on his way out. Unlikely he’ll be there by the time any new federal funding emerges. Anyone else?

    Joe Reply:

    Youre not paying attention to the timeline. Reid’s support was and still is essential.

    ..and of course it would be Dufus moving the system a Nevada formulated the NHSRA with Chinese interest in Xpresswest.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Politically, even if Reid retires, having one of Nevada’s Senators function like a third member from California add lots of heft to a delegation from the Golden State that is rapidly losing influence. (See, Kevin McCarthy, supra.)

    In LA County politics, the Supervisors have been injecting themselves and their five districts since the very first rail plan in the late 60s. The Blue Line, for example, went into development first because of Kenny Hahn’s seniority, not because it made sense to link Long Beach and LA’s downtown via a slow-moving train…

    Palmdale, at least, has cheap housing. The real train to nowhere is the Gold Line extension in the foothills. No idea who will take it and where they will take it to…the LA County fairgrounds?

    synonymouse Reply:

    There is a need for a freight rail line over Tehachapi Pass but not passenger.

    J. Wong Reply:

    There’s a need for a passenger rail line over the southern mountains to L.A. It doesn’t matter whether it is Tehachapi or Tejon versus none.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    How about Palmdale on the Las Vegas leg of a wye from an HSR spine line along I-5? It would have direct service from both northern and southern California. Run HSR via Tejon?

    Nathanael Reply:

    Syn, you don’t know what dysfunctional looks like. I’m factoring in global ecosystem collapse and civil war… and I think passenger rail is going to be massively improved *during* that. We won’t be able to afford to screw around with oil and roads any more, basically.

    Remember the context in which the Transcontinental Railroad was built: the worst war the US has ever faced.

  5. Paul Dyson
    Oct 29th, 2015 at 17:40
    #5

    I’ve met Ralph a couple of times. I think he’s sincere but a bit narrowly focused on the cost overrun issue. He’s certainly not a transportation policy guy.
    I’m looking forward to his thoughts on the stealth bomber program. There’s an interesting comparison if you like.

    Jerry Reply:

    Palmdale will get up to 1,400 jobs with the stealth bomber contract.
    http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-air-force-contract-stealth-bomber-20151027-story.html
    The cost overruns for this ‘new’ bomber, and previous bombers, could pay for all of CAHSR.

    synonymouse Reply:

    So build them a BART.

    Donk Reply:

    So it sounds like Ralph is a one-trick pony. All he knows how to report on are cost overruns, so if it is quiet, he will need to manufacture a story to justify his existence.

    Nathanael Reply:

    He needs to be taken off the transportation beat, because he does not understand it and writes really bad articles.

    This is why I blame his editor.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Again, write to his editor about this. His rail articles are grossly unresearched and routinely inaccurate.

    Zorro Reply:

    And His editor will say “So what? Ralph sells News Papers”… [click]

    synonymouse Reply:

    A Pulitzer

  6. john burrows
    Oct 29th, 2015 at 20:15
    #6

    According to Vartabedian’s special report—-

    The cost of the IOS is likely to go up from $31.2 billion to $40 billion, an increase of $8.8 billion.

    The total cost of the completed phase 1 blended system is likely to go up at least 5%, ( from $68 billion to $71.4 billion)—An increase of $3.4 billion.

    Which means, according to Vartabedian’s special report at least, that after the IOS is complete, the balance of the project could conceivably, if you subtract $3.4 billion from $8.8 billion, come in at $5.4 billion under budget. Once the report is released it will interesting to see how these numbers work out with each other.

    Joe Reply:

    Why is the IOS cost increasing ?

    If it increases because money is spent mitigating impacts on communities like a long tunne, then it’s a change in project scope and the money is buying more.

    It’s not a coat increase – it is a change to the project.

    synonymouse Reply:

    So adding something that increases costs is ok by Prop 1a but you can’t cut out something to lower costs?

    Joe Reply:

    Blended HSR on the Pennisula is, “cut out something to lower costs.”

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Undertaken by America’s Finest Transportaiton Professionals, the “cut out something” is “Caltrain service“, guaranteed, no q (The service actual people actually use, that is. Gilroy will do great.)

    Joe Reply:

    It’s a publicly operated and subsidized service on a public ROW. They have to share.

    Costs contained. Mission Accomplished.
    http://calhsr.com

    Zorro Reply:

    Vartabedian’s spouts lies about HSR and leaves out whatever doesn’t support His argument, HSR is on track and under budget. Go ahead, believe a LIAR.

    synonymouse Reply:

    One man’s lie is another man’s religion.

    Zorro Reply:

    And yours is a hokey religion, Darth Cyno.

    Donk Reply:

    I was taking you seriously until you said that HSR is on track and under budget.

    Zorro Reply:

    So you’d believe a hack and some crazies? The contracts are firm, Republicans like to make up a crisis, something to exploit for political gain, that’s what this is, there is no there, there.

  7. JimInPollockPines
    Oct 29th, 2015 at 20:54
    #7

    I just hope that when the initial segment is up and running that it isn’t plaqued by techinical difficulties. I’m 100 percent positive that it will be though. There will be problems with the rolling stock. There will problems with the train control systems/signaling. I truly expect the worst.

    synonymouse Reply:

    To cut the cost and the concurrent subsidy you reduce the number of trains and the speed.

    Nathanael Reply:

    The train control system is, thank goodness, off the shelf. Let’s hope the rolling stock is close enough to off the shelf.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    no it’s not.

  8. synonymouse
    Oct 29th, 2015 at 21:37
    #8
  9. morris brown
    Oct 29th, 2015 at 21:46
    #9

    GOP legislators demand probe of high-speed rail as construction progresses
    Jim Patterson, others accuse agency of burying forecast of cost overrunsl
    Lawmakers call for Assembly committee with subpoena power, sworn testimony
    Agency points to contract savings so far, stands by its cost estimates

    http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/high-speed-rail/article41880306.htm

    One would hope the Democratic majority will not oppose this investigation. However, I doubt this will indeed take place. After all, Morales says they have nothing to hide.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Well, I guess they shut up Tutor. See, Repubs can save money.

    Travis D Reply:

    They are evil and do not deserve to share the earth with us.

    See, I can spout mindless hyperbole too!

    Zorro Reply:

    And the so called document being subpoenaed will never surface, since it does not exist and a search will turn up nothing and of course you need help, with your conspiracy problem Cyno, a straight jacket and a sedative, Nurse, for Cyno.

    joe Reply:

    “The LA Times piece cited a confidential 2013 engineering report allegedly commissioned by the authority, which said the project would be much more expensive and challenging than previously projected. ”

    Is there an Authority commissioned report?
    It has to be a report commissioned by the Authority.

    Zorro Reply:

    And from what I’ve read, even the authority doesn’t know what document Vartabedian is babbling on about.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I suspect they have toasted a few shredders already.

    Joe Reply:

    And Ralph’s copy?

    Email him and ask for a copy. I bet they have a scanner and can churn out a PDF lickety-split. I’m sure he’ll enjoy meeting you. Like minds and all.

    Zorro Reply:

    And We all think you’re 2 bricks short of a full load Cyno.

    Joe Reply:

    Ralph should release the document immediately.

    As he described it, it is an authorized report and thus property of the HSR Authority and thus paid for taxpayer money. It isn’t PB property and any confidential information (personal information like an address) can be redacted. LATimes has lawyers specializing in this area.

    Delay casts doubt on his claim.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Remember what Willie Brown says: never put anything in writing.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Yep. Ralph’s alleged report is nonexistent. He would have released it if it actually existed.

    Zorro Reply:

    If the “alleged report” were to be subpoenaed Ralph would most likely make up some flimsy excuse.

    Clem Reply:

    The cover page allegedly includes the phrases “California High Speed Rail Authority” and “Michelle Boehm”.

    Joe Reply:

    The southern regional director.

    It was a PB Report to the Authority. I wouldn’t expect her name on it.

    Zorro Reply:

    Morris this is a Blue State, the CA GOP can demand a lot, that does not mean they will get it and if they were to, they would not like the answers, since the GOP does not run the State Legislature, nor is it ever likely to ever again.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The East is Red. Better Dead than Red. Red Baiting.

    Sierrajeff Reply:

    So, if you have nothing to hide, you shouldn’t mind being raked over the coals (at public expense!) by petty politicians with agendas to grind? Wrong.

    EJ Reply:

    Petty or not, being raked over the coals by politicians from time to time is part of the gig if you head up a major public agency. Morales shouldn’t have taken the job if he can’t handle it.

  10. morris brown
    Oct 29th, 2015 at 22:10
    #10

    Copy of the letter sent by the GOP legislators:

    From:

    https://www.asmrc.org/press-release/13413

    October 28, 2015

    Honorable Toni G. Atkins, Speaker

    California State Assembly

    State Capitol, Room 219

    Sacramento, California 95814

    Dear Speaker Atkins:

    Pursuant to Joint Rule 35.5, we are writing to request a subpoena to compel the California High-Speed Rail Authority to produce records, as described below.

    On October 24, the Los Angeles Times revealed the existence of a confidential internal document, which “estimated that the cost of building the first phase from Burbank to Merced had risen 31 percent, to $40 billion.” The Authority’s project management team “briefed state officials on the estimate in October 2013, according to the document obtained by The Times. But the state used a lower cost estimate when it issued its 2014 business plan four months later.”

    The business plan is a document submitted to the Legislature every two years, and the law requires it to contain “the estimated capital costs for each segment or combination of segments.” The 2014 business plan was released on February 7, 2014, and estimated the capital cost for the Burbank to Merced segment as $31.2 billion. There is a $9 billion discrepancy between the Authority’s internal cost estimates, and the numbers it provided to the public and the Legislature four months later.

    The business plan, which we now know to be the lower of two estimates, was used as the basis for the Legislature’s decision to continuously appropriate 25 percent of Cap-and-Trade revenue for High-Speed Rail. The Authority continued to mislead the Legislature in two subsequent project update reports, and has yet to publicly disclose this $9 billion cost increase.

    The internal Authority document says that state officials were briefed on the higher estimate, but both project update reports to the Legislature were reviewed and signed by Authority CEO Jeff Morales, and Secretary of Transportation Brian Kelly. If these officials were briefed on the cost increase, then they approved these reports in an attempt to misrepresent facts and mislead the Legislature.

    Construction of High-Speed Rail is the largest state public works project in the nation’s history. The Legislature must play a critical role in exercising oversight, and ensuring the responsible use of public funds. These efforts are undermined when the Authority withholds material facts, and intentionally provides the Legislature with false information. A subpoena is necessary to investigate these troubling claims, and uncover the truth behind this $9 billion deception.

    We therefore request that Assembly Rules Committee issue a subpoena to the High-Speed Rail Authority for the following papers, books, accounts, reports, documents, and records:

    A copy of the confidential report described in the Los Angeles Times article referenced above.
    A list of state officials briefed on the content of this report.
    All internal electronic and paper documents discussing the content of this report.
    All internal electronic and paper documents discussing preparation of the 2014 Business Plan, as well as the November 15, 2014 and March 1, 2015 Project Update Reports to the Legislature.

    Additionally, we request that the Legislature create a special committee to have officials sworn in under oath under penalty of perjury in order to determine whether High-Speed Rail Authority officials acted to intentionally mislead the Legislature and the people of California.

    Thank you for your prompt consideration of this matter.

    Sincerely,

    Assembly Republican Leader Kristin Olsen (R – Riverbank)

    Assemblyman Tom Lackey (R- Palmdale)

    Assemblyman Jim Patterson, (R-Fresno)

    Assemblyman Scott Wilk (R-Santa Clarita)
    Source: Assembly Republican Caucus

    The statement that Morales and others reviewed the document and signed off on it, is in stark contrast to the Statement the Morales gave to Vartabedian, when he said he was unaware of the document.

    Joe Reply:

    Maybe future House Speaker Kevin McCarthy should signing it too.

    It’s Irrelevant. Political Pomeranians yapping endlessly.

    The GOP has 0.0 bargaining power. The budget is a simple majority vote.
    They oppose all revenue bills axiomatically. Nothing’s changed.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Time for RICO on PB-Tutor-Tejon Ranch Co.

    joe Reply:

    Right – RICO and CSI Sacramento and Patrick Jane from The Mentalist will investigate.

    Zorro Reply:

    Don’t ya mean Speaker Lyin Ryan? He’s Speaker now, at least according to CNN

    @ Cyno: Get lost Rico ain’t happening, outside of your fantasy world that you live in.

    You’re just a crazy old man Cyno.

    Aarond Reply:

    >The GOP has 0.0 bargaining power.

    The GOP have DC and are about to shut the government down over nothing (again). California has to rely on itself. Which is ultimately a good thing especially as Cap-and-Trade funds pour in. Hopefully the Grow America Act can pass and the highways here can be tolled too.

    Jerry Reply:

    And who pays for all of their “requests”?
    Can we grill Morales for eleven hours?

    synonymouse Reply:

    If they try to retaliate against the whistleblowers this could get interesting. Nothing like a purge and coverrup to get a scandal going. Some heads could roll.

    Zorro Reply:

    LOL @ Cyno. Just in your mind, conspiracy monger.

    les Reply:

    Can I spam because same quote applies here too. It is a competition between dumb and dumber.
    “Bill Maher Agrees With Ted Cruz During GOP Debate: ‘Media Is Even Stupider Than the Politicians’”

    datacruncher Reply:

    The statement that Morales and others reviewed the document and signed off on it, is in stark contrast to the Statement the Morales gave to Vartabedian, when he said he was unaware of the document.

    The letter says the review/sign off was on the updates to the Legislature, not the alleged PB document. I think you are overreaching with your comment.

    The internal Authority document says that state officials were briefed on the higher estimate, but both project update reports to the Legislature were reviewed and signed by Authority CEO Jeff Morales, and Secretary of Transportation Brian Kelly.

  11. Travis D
    Oct 30th, 2015 at 01:32
    #11

    It somehow warms my heart that conservatives are so desperate to keep HSR out of America lest the populace get a taste of something they will want more of. Which, we all know, is their goal here. They know it is a good thing for the nation but a bad thing for their ideology and moneyed backers. So they have to make sure we never get it.

    Zorro Reply:

    Agreed Travis D, they do like their oil.

    Lewellan Reply:

    Automobile-related business interests include Finance, Insurance, road Construction, Parking and Media Advertizing as well as Petroleum mining/refining and distribution. Automobile dependency is a transportation Monopoly. The other modes of urban/suburban travel – walking, mass transit and bicycling – suffer a “Constitutionally Inequitable” impediment to their function as automobile infrastructure dominates. Even driving cannot achieve optimal function as traffic congestion proliferates.
    Mass transit systems and function are undermined from within.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    But its not like the current auto lifestyle is going to go away. All those associated industries will still be making plenty of money for decades to come. Improved transit, and things like hsr, just help absorb some of the new demand since the country continues to grow. No one is going to be out any money.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    It’s not going to go away immediately, certainly, and short-term impacts on auto-dependent businesses will probably be negligible regardless of what happens. Even in the presence of large-scale long-term changes, there will be plenty of time (many many decades of slow steady change) to adapt.

    But you have to remember that (1) many of these businesses, especially those around the margin, probably don’t have the fattest profit margin, and so will react strongly in fear to even a hint of reduction in auto usage, and (2) for many people it’s cultural… they’re car people, and their tribe are car people, and anything else is a commie socialist affront that must be opposed by all possible means.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    So you’ve been to el dorado county I see.

    EJ Reply:

    El Dorado county? Population less than 200K? It’s a lovely place, but not particularly relevant to the way most Californians live.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Funny you should say that….

    El Dorado County actually has these very luxe express buses that take commuters from park and ride stations along the 50 right into downtown Sacramento.

    Yet, I have seen planning documents that indicate that there are also plans to extend the light rail from Folsom (which is in Sacramento County) across the border to El Dorado Hills’s shopping center.

    Where Jim lives (Pollock Pines) is deep in the forest and much further east. (Elevation rises as you head east in El Do until you reach Lake Tahoe.) The more inland you get, the more you get people who have lived there since the Gold Rush (or are descended from people who are). They jealousy guard their rural lifestyle (which can seem pretty idyllic, actually) and are suspicious and none too friendly to them slick city folk who want to build more houses and density in thar hills.

    But as Miles’ comment alludes to, most people in El Do live a pretty lean existence and the economy there has been hard scrabble since the 1860s when the Central Pacific ended up going through Placer County instead. As proof, there are very few incorporated cities in El Dorado County, which usually is a good barometer of how affluent a county is in California.

    It’s true that El Dorado Hills is quite affluent, but that is the western edge of the county that borders Folsom. Most of the people Jim are talking about have never seen no fancy subdivision or master planned communities because that would require driving down the highway below the scent of pine trees and fresh air to what passes for haze and the big city in the Sacramento Valley.

    EJ Reply:

    Of course. You go out to the boondocks in England where some of my relatives live, you’ll find a largely car dependent lifestyle too, with some families living there that predate the Norman conquest. Do I hope that little village keeps on keeping on? You bet. It’s charming. Doesn’t mean that England as a whole isn’t highly dependent on trains and public transportation.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    But that’s exactly my point.

    El Dorado County is not simply the boondocks populated with bumpkins from the Danelaw. It’s a county where that sort of stereotype is being buried by the hurly burly of modern transit.

    Think Cotswolds here, not Cornwall….

    Ted Judah Reply:

    One does not simply experience El Dorado County by walking in.

    To really understand, you must also drink the water….

    Jerry Reply:

    But you could save 15% or more if you switched to public transit.

    Aarond Reply:

    You’re assuming way, way, way too much from far rightist conservatives.

    The ones against HSR the most do it simply because of ideology. See the classic “trains are socialism” article from The Atlantic. They simply do not want rail because they want to live in a fantasy world where everyone drives because that’s what America is to them. The less hypocritical ones tend to just dislike public transit on a libertarian basis, these are the type of people that voted against the recent FHA bailout. See the development of All Aboard Florida and Texas Central.

    It’s straight up idiocy. Or rather, a culture war. And it’s one that has a huge amount of sway in places outside of California. You can give HSR opponents the best, luxurious, privately funded and profitable HSR but they will still hate it because “trains are deprecated” and then rattle off how HSR supporters need to grow up and out of trains.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The transport “culture war” is the modal holy war between 3rd rail and OC. Manhattan vs. Main Street. Or in the instance of BART, brutalism vs. aesthetics.

    Aarond Reply:

    I’m certainly aware of that culture war as well, and that one is definitely more damaging to mass transit implementation than the one against cars.

    My point is though is that assuming conservatives are all against HSR due to their campaign financiers is silly. They’re against it because of ideology. Same for the people that vote them in. They don’t even consider trains as a thing that has a place in the 21st century and are extremely derisive towards it. The same is true for many technophiles in the bay area, who for some reason think that self-driving teslas will fix all their commuting problems.

    Nathanael Reply:

    So-called conservatives just have a list of tribal affiliation shibboleths. They don’t actually think about anything. It’s very annoying.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    …. Romneycare was the best thing since sliced bread..

    Ted Judah Reply:

    America is actually a conservative country by default that favors property rights (and rights in general) over other cultural, social, political, and economic priorities.

    As a result, in European countries, the GOP looks like the Third Reich. (Though I realize the Nazis were actually called “Socialist” for a reason.)

  12. morris brown
    Oct 30th, 2015 at 01:53
    #12

    High Speed Rail project moves forward but Republican critics want an investigation into costs

    http://abc30.com/politics/high-speed-rail-project-moves-forward-but-republican-critics-want-an-investigation-into-costs/1058441/

    VIDEO:

    About 3 minutes… includes interview with Assemblyman Jim Patterson.

    Zorro Reply:

    Yeah, Republicans in the State Legislature Morris, who are largely impotent, since their power over the budget(rattle) was taken away from them, so they whine.

    But Assembly Member Jim Patterson of Fresno and other Republican legislators seized on a recent LA Times article which cited a contractors document claiming the cost of the Central Valley section of the project is $9 billion higher than estimated. Patterson wants an investigation. “Our responsibility as members of the legislature is to set in motion an investigatory committee that will get to the truth.”

    Patterson wants Morales subpoenaed and under oath. Morales said, “I’m happy to talk to anyone anywhere we don’t need to go to that extreme, we are very open and transparent about what we are doing.”

    In fact Morales said the first two construction contracts are hundreds of millions of dollars below estimates and dismissed claims the authority is keeping secrets. He said he was not familiar with the document cited by the LA Times. “It’s just wrong we’ve provided detailed reports to the legislature to the public.” But Patterson believes the only way to find out is a legislative probe. “This does not have to be a witch hunt. This can be a hunt for facts and a hunt for truth.”

    While the political debate simmers, the High Speed Rail Authority says the next big project will be demolition of the Tuolumne Street overpass in downtown Fresno.

    joe Reply:

    High Speed Rail project moves forward but Republican critics want an investigation into costs

    What costs?

    Like every other attack – this will backfire.

    Recall the GAO investigating the ridership model and project giving it a positive review and critics a serving of of STFU.

    http://kvpr.org/post/high-speed-rail-ceo-defends-project-denies-cover

    The LA Times piece cited a confidential 2013 engineering report allegedly commissioned by the authority, which said the project would be much more expensive and challenging than previously projected. Assembly Republicans called for the report to be released. Morales says he has no knowledge of the report, but that the agency has been transparent.

    “It’s just wrong. We have provided detailed reports to the legislative and to the public. The legislature has an independent peer review group, that the legislature appointed, that works with us, that looks at this. We have had the U.S Government Accountability Office spend a year looking at all of our processes. Including our cost estimates,” Morales said.

    Additionally, the Times quoted industry experts that questioned if the tunnels needed for the line are even possible to build.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Well it looks like the incipient scandal did manage to quash Tutor’s change order. Can’t have the bad publicity right now.

    Joe Reply:

    This is the big league. Contractors are going to face scrutiny by more than just the Authority which has the resources and willingness to audit and litigate if necessary.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    A comedian!

    The bigger the contracts, the greater the vendor capture, the less the scrutiny.

    Shit happens!

    How’s the Bay Bridge East Span working for you, Joe?

    Joe Reply:

    Ha aha hahah

    How’s that non-sequitur working for you, Rick?

    Jerry Reply:

    Round up the usual suspects.

  13. Roland
    Oct 30th, 2015 at 05:15
    #13
  14. John Nachtigall
    Oct 30th, 2015 at 06:42
    #14

    Now who is being misleading. The 1st construction contracts have been BID hundreds of millions under budget. They are not done. During the summer if you recall, PB was already talking about increasing costs due to construction delays due to land acquisition. They have not charges for that yet. By definition, contracts start on budget. Over runs occur with time and delay.

    If the contracts come in under budget that will be impressive, but we know that won’t happen. Even Robert and Morales are very careful not to promise that.

    Given the size of the project, it being unique, the already known land acquisition delay, and the re-addition of Anaheim, the cost is going up. The research on this shows it is inevitable. It is no more risky to predict the sun will rise in the East.

    We can play a game. I predict the 2016 business plan will have a new cost estimate of 75 billion and the first 2 contract segments will be over not just the bid, but the original cost estimates they so often tout.

    joe Reply:

    Now who is being misleading. The 1st construction contracts have been BID hundreds of millions under budget. They are not done.

    Contracts for the work are under the projected cost used to total up the 68B estimate so factually the project has contracts for work that are under the estimate.

    They have not charges for that yet. By definition, contracts start on budget.

    By definition the contracts start under estimated budget. This work is Less than the estimate used to total to the 68B project estimate.

    Over runs occur with time and delay.

    Then wait until it happens and how it is explained.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    as reported here

    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2015/03/tutor-perini-may-demand-compensation-for-hsr-delays/

    but I am happy to wait until they actually send the bill.

    Joe Reply:

    and if paid the project would still be under the initial estimate. you can compare the bill to the initial estimate which is part of the 68 billion total.

    Right now the puke funnel is operating. Opponents demand a full hearing with testimony under oath because of non-existent cost increases.

    les Reply:

    yep, republicans are chomping at the bit to nail the authority on something, fictional or fact, it doesn’t matter. Irresponsible reporting is all it takes. Hell, look at Morris, you’d think he died and went to heaven after the Times article was published.

    Joe Reply:

    Watch the Puke Funnel.

    Ralph’s going full Judith Miller. Opponents Feed him and he’ll print it. Then they cite Ralph as evidence they are right and demand investigations.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    Yes, critiquing CAHSR is exactly like helping drag the US into invading a sovereign country!

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Indeed – and isn’t Judith Miller the one who uncritically pumped out whatever the administration was feeding her? Who is the Judith Miller and who is the Seymour Hirsch?

    Joe Reply:

    Yep. Exactly.
    This is a puke funnel setup between the HSR opponents and media romgenerate evidence and put the Authority under GOP subpoena and start digging.

    It’s time people started to undrstand where these controversies originate.

    And of course Ralph quoted CARRD who commented that the responses warranted soul searching amount other gems.

    Amanda in the South Bay Reply:

    You act very thin skinned if you’re going to cry everytime a newspaper writer (GASP!) disagrees with CAHSR. Can’t have disagreements!

    Joe Reply:

    And look who’s crying and thin skinned.
    You act as if I’m the only one complaining about the awful coverage from Ralph.

    With Ralph, crap becomes evidence the Authority is lying and opponents want subpoena power to go digging and put billions at risk.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Reverse engineering PB’s schemes is a thought crime.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    I have yet to see any evidence he has said anything factually untrue

    – there is a PB report
    – he did talk to experts
    – he never claimed anything other than the POOSIBILTY of a delay, which is true

    Just because he is not a cheerleader makes him neither evil or incorrect

    Joe Reply:

    Alleged – it’s not proven there is a authorized report and reputible news outlets carrying the story are careful, unlike critics who enthusiastically embrace all bad news.

    Ralph reported on the budget and failed to report the current contracts totally 2 billion in work are all under the allotted estimate factually making the 68 billion project under budget. Factually.

    Good news doesn’t bring attention. Ralph’s got all critics on speed dial.

    Let him release the report of its a project report he has every obligation to have an intern scan it and put it on the Times site. Lawyers standing by at the Times for these very reasons.

    synonymouse Reply:

    According to Jerry and PB we have an alleged HSR making an alleged profit oin an alleged 2:40 trip to LA.

    joe Reply:

    Not Alleged. The Business Plan and Ridership Revenue Model forecasts are published and legal.

    Alleged: ” said, without proof, to have taken place or to have a specified illegal or undesirable quality.”

    Ralph’s column published Oct 24, 2015 and still no release or even the title of the smoking gun, the alleged Budget Report.

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Ok Joe, you, Nathanael and Zorro sniffed it out. Ralph is going to throw away his job with the LA Times and his entire career to write a throwaway piece on a possible delay to a project that will happen in mid to late 2020’s. And he convinced his editor to do the same.

    I mean that is the only logical explanation. Since you demanded he release the report (via a blog he probably does not read) and he did not, it is only logical to assume he made the whole this up to provide evidence on something that everyone on this blog agrees, that the possibility of delays to HSR is high.

    Wow spelled backwards is wow!!

    Joe Reply:

    Railpac takes Ralph apart. Simple and easy given the numerable articles.
    http://www.railpac.org/2015/11/01/great-time-build-high-speed-rail/

    Every few weeks or so the Los Angeles Times publishes stories by Ralph Vartabedian which are highly speculative, thinly researched and critical of the California High Speed Rail Project. The worst time for the media is when the news is boring. So for as long as there has been stories, spinning a story has been common to create drama and attract attention. For this the Vartabedian’s sensational stories have been very successful. Here we see pack journalism at work, as other media outlets republish these Times stories and creates follow up stories on the same meme.

    There’s not much left to throw away and these sensational headlines generate hits.

    You do know newspapers are tanking.

    The LATimes is co-crating oil industry propaganda web site material.
    http://www.laweekly.com/news/who-can-save-journalism-big-oil-apparently-6224796

    The Times was hired by California Resources Corporation, formerly Occidental Petroleum, to create a website called Powering California, which features videos and articles supporting the oil and gas industry.

  15. Roland
    Oct 30th, 2015 at 12:36
    #15

    Fyra update: “The report accused government ministers and the national rail company of putting their own interests ahead of passengers throughout the ill-fated project.” “Passengers didn’t get what was promised: fast, direct transport to Brussels for a reasonable price.”
    http://www.foxnews.com/world/2015/10/28/dutch-official-quits-after-report-criticizes-failed-amsterdam-brussels-high/

    keith saggers Reply:

    https://loco2.com/destinations/brussels-amsterdam-train
    worked OK when I went on it a couple of years ago

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Given that they shut it down 2 years ago I doubt that

    Roland Reply:

    @ Keith Saggers. Yes, Thalys did very well out of the Fyra fiasco: http://www.railjournal.com/index.php/europe/amsterdam-brussels-life-after-fyra.html
    but the landscape is about to change yet again courtesy of European Open Access legislation: http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/high-speed/single-view/view/trenitalia-planning-paris-brussels-high-speed-service.html

    Side note: The Frecciarossa 1000 (AKA V300 Zefiro) is being tested @ 245 MPH for operation @ 220 MPH between Turin and Milan.

    keith saggers Reply:

    Interesting, looks like an open access competion between Siemens and Bombardier (trenitalia)

    Roland Reply:

    Actually, the competition is between Thalis and Trenatialia and Open Access has profound implications for every existing franchise: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/transport/11938531/Virgin-and-Stagecoach-demand-scrapping-of-rail-franchises-to-boost-competition.html

  16. Domayv
    Oct 30th, 2015 at 13:15
    #16
  17. Nadia
    Oct 30th, 2015 at 15:17
    #17

    O/T: For those interested in the RFEIs – it looks like the requests to post them worked!

    They can be found at: http://www.hsr.ca.gov/Programs/Construction/rfei_for_ios.html.

    Go down to where it says: Expressions of Interest Received and hit the little blue dot to the left which will unfold all 36 links to the RFEIs. Happy Reading!

    Eric M Reply:

    And the 3 funding questions raised:

    11.7 Funding and Financing Questions

    7. Given the delivery approach and available funding sources, do you foresee any issues with
    raising the necessary financing to fund the IOS-South project scope? IOS-North project
    scope? Both? What are the limiting factors to the amount of financing that could be raised?

    8. What changes, if any, would you recommend be made to the existing funding sources?
    What impact would these changes have on raising financing?

    9. Given the delivery approach and available funding sources, is an availability payment
    mechanism appropriate? Could financing be raised based on future revenue and ridership
    (i.e., a revenue concession)? Would a revenue concession delivery strategy better achieve
    the Authority’s objectives?

    Hmm, I don’t see a question which states “do you want to provide financing today?”. A bit opposite of what your cohort seemed to imply to the press.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Readers guide to the RFEIs. Before diving in, we recommend:

    1) Read the FAQ – http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/about/doing_business/HSR15_02_RFEI_NOTIFICATION_FAQ.pdf this clarifies what types of (non-binding) proposals the Authority was looking for.

    2) Read the RFEI – the responses were asked to follow the same format of questions in this document
    http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/about/doing_business/HSR15_02_RFEI.pdf

    Joe Reply:

    What in particular about these the responses warrents “soul searching”? I forgot.

    Also people can be reminded ….

    Michael Cahill, president of Siemens Industry Inc.’s mobility division, said his company didn’t propose private financing because the state’s request wasn’t specifically set up for a financial proposal. But, he said, Siemens could be interested in making a financing pitch at some point.

    “We didn’t propose anything concrete in terms of private money going in, because there wasn’t an opportunity to do that,” he said. “Which doesn’t mean we wouldn’t be interested. Quite the opposite.”

    He declined to describe what type of private investment his company might be willing to make.

    Read more here: http://www.sacbee.com/news/local/transportation/article39709233.html#storylink=cpy

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    We also do have these in our google drive – it can be easier to flip through them via google and we ocred many of them to make them more searchable/ compact.

    tinyurl.com/2015rfei

    keith saggers Reply:

    As outlined in the RFEI, the next step in this process is to conduct a series of one-on-one meetings with Respondents, which will be held over the coming weeks. The meetings will be conducted in order to discuss and ask questions about the EOIs. Respondents may choose to resubmit their EOIs following the one-on-one meetings, and this web page will be updated with the most current versions. CHSRA

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Nice catch.

    I predict some miraculous change of hearts after the confidential tete a tetes…

    synonymouse Reply:

    What does your crystal ball say?

    Joe Reply:

    Exaggerated criticism by opponents will be corrected thus leading to unfounded charges the authority is manipulating the industry and rigging favorable comments.

    Siemens already went on record they didn’t make any funding offers in their response because it wasn’t in scope. This contradicts CARRDs public interpretation as reported by Ralph the puke funnel.

  18. Brian_FL
    Oct 30th, 2015 at 16:29
    #18

    Are the kids at AirTrain serious? Reading their response was very entertaining to say the least! Happy reading indeed! LOL

    Brian_FL Reply:

    Response to Nadia above ^^

    Nadia Reply:

    That’s my personal favorite. :)

    Eric M Reply:

    Their response was just like spam advertising you see around the internet. What a joke.

    Danny Reply:

    anyone remember those ET3 cultists? they’ve been promising hyperloops for what feels like centuries: I first saw an online blitz of theirs in like 2002

    Danny Reply:

    here’s the link for the bemused http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/about/doing_business/EOI/EOI_Airtran_Inc.pdf

    transit does seem to attract the nuts–PRT and Shweeb come to mind; it’s always these “Wired” readers wailing “we could’ve HAD all this had it not been for the wicked oil barons! wah!”

    of course it’s stuck at the CGI phase because it’s physically impossible (Moller, anyone?)

    quote of the day? “for additional lift we may keep part of the wings” and he helpfully notes that his plan “does not have long wings, thus, it will not be crashing like the picture above”

    sadly it’s more thought out than HypeLoop

    Travis D Reply:

    Complete with typos all over the place.

    Jerry Reply:

    What is AirTrain??
    Hey, it sounds like HyperLoop without the tubes.

    Jerry Reply:

    AirTrain. Guaranteed never to derail. How you ask. Simple. They don’t use rails.
    Thank you Brian_FL and Nadia. They do have a ‘very entertaining, response.
    (Damn. Using their patented technology you could FlyCalifornia over the Tehachapi with no problem.)
    . :)

    synonymouse Reply:

    Suggestion: start with Sin City.

  19. keith saggers
    Oct 30th, 2015 at 18:55
    #19
  20. Travis D
    Oct 31st, 2015 at 02:18
    #20

    I find this conclusion from Barclays interesting.

    “If these threshold issues are resolved, we conclude that the Authority will have the
    ability to finance the project with cap and trade revenues based on our own view”

  21. Travis D
    Oct 31st, 2015 at 03:16
    #21

    Also interesting is that the majority of large firms advise to forget IOS-South or North and instead just pursue the entire SF to Burbank project.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That would be the China option. Plausible but messes with the gravy train.

    Jerry Reply:

    But isn’t Pacheco easier/cheaper to build than Tehachipi?
    So would that make IOS-North the best one to be built first?

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Build wherever you can get an operating segment at the earliest point.

    Merced-Palmdale

    Bakersfield San Francisco

    Bakersfield Burbank

    Palmdale Anahiem

    Fresno San Francisco

    joe Reply:

    First
    Fresno-Bakersfield
    San Jose (SJC) – San Fran (4th and King or SFK) Express service via Caltrain EMU operated by CAHSRA.

    Second
    Palmdale-Burbank (Assume Xpresswest is under construction and benefits of joint ridership)
    or
    Bakersfield-Fresno-GLY-SJC-SFK) (About the same tunneling effort as Palmdale to BUR assuming blending with Caltrain)

    les Reply:

    1) Palmdale – Anahiem
    Las Vegas feed would be huge ridership boost and major tunneling work would be started before Brown leaves — take advantage of the political stability while it exist.

    2) Palmdale to anywhere else.

    Travis D Reply:

    The Dragados plan is to open the IOS as just Merced to Bakersfield then build both north and south simultaneously. They also say it would be best to just build to Gilroy then move heaven and earth to purchase the ROW up into San Jose and electrify it.

    john burrows Reply:

    The Dragados plan is interesting—-

    They feel that the IOS from Merced to Bakersfield could be operational by 2022 and be funded entirely with what is now available plus expected C&T revenue through 2022. Their idea is to finance $1 to 2 billion based upon C@T revenues beyond 2022, leaving $1 to 2 billion in cash for the Authority to begin preliminary work on the next segment or segments beyond Bakersfield and or beyond Merced.

    If HSR were built to Gilroy and then were to go blended into San Jose using UPRR tracks, total costs to get from Bakersfield to San Jose would be reduced by billions and cap and trade revenues available through 2050 could possibility finance the whole thing. Dragados and others have mentioned the possibility of C@T revenue exceeding the $500 million per year assumed by the Authority, and it is Dragados whose bid came in around $500 million under budget for the 65 mile stretch below Fresno.

    There is a potentially big obstacle mentioned by Dragados and by other respondents. What it comes down to is that they will likely want a guarantee of a minimum of $500 million per year in cap and trade revenues through 2050 which would leave California on the hook for possibly billions of dollars if the carbon auctions fail to deliver.

    As has been mentioned by Keith and Elizabeth, these submittals are subject to change, but in the meantime the Dragados plan is an interesting read.

    john burrows Reply:

    Make that UPRR ROW and I guess that it would be neither high speed nor blended.

    joe Reply:

    Merced could then reach San Jose (and the other stops) via ACE – Altamont Commuter Express. There are plans to extend the commuter service to Merced — House Rep Jeff Denham is the advocate. Also plans to expand the ROW to 2 track for faster double way service.
    http://www.recordnet.com/article/20150306/NEWS/150309802

    Fresno to GLY requires tunneling across Pacheco Pass. State rail plan (mid term in state rail plan) is to double track to just N of GLY (san Martin) requiring diesel to San Jose. The state would have to build =either full electric Caltrain and blend or find funds to build dedicate track from GLY to SJC.

    keith saggers Reply:

    Another connection to the Bay area could be ACE to BART at Union City

    Joe Reply:

    When completed I think a SF transfer at Livermore BART at N.Livermore and First and the Livermore ACE stop.

    Clem Reply:

    Livermore – downtown SF = 57 minutes on BART
    Gilroy – downtown SF = 1 hour 45 minutes on Caltrain
    Things that make you go hmmmm…

    What happens if you build Merced – Livermore HSR (via Altamont) instead of Chowchilla – Gilroy HSR (via Pacheco) ? It’s a bit longer, 140 miles instead of 115, but the tunneling is much easier, 4 miles vs. 10. And most of that track was going to get built anyway to reach Sacramento in Phase 2.

    Read all about it in this 2012 article.

    Joe Reply:

    Now tell us about that fast trip from SF to Sacramento.

    Clem Reply:

    What would you like to know about it?

    Roland Reply:

    Why build a $200M ACE/BART transit center here: https://www.google.com/maps/@37.5657143,-121.9863542,87m/data=!3m1!1e3 when you can blow $3B on BART to Livermore or $1/2B rerouting ACE to Union City?

    John Reply:

    To get to the documents : Google search
    site:hsr.ca.gov EOI
    site:hsr.ca.gov EOI Dragados

    https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Ahsr.ca.gov+EOI+&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=site:hsr.ca.gov+EOI

    https://www.google.com/search?q=site%3Ahsr.ca.gov+EOI+&ie=utf-8&oe=utf-8#q=site:hsr.ca.gov+EOI

    J. Wong Reply:

    The question is who would ride it? Do they have enough potential ridership at the fares the Authority was proposing?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The financial success of CAHSR depends on business travel between SF and LA.

    For those of modest means if they cannot afford to drive they’ll lay off traveling and stay closer to home. Suppressing the automobile will simply suppress the economy. So better and safer cars and streets plus better transit is the overall wisest plan.

    Urban transit way takes priority over redundant pricey wired double track paralleling the Loop.

    Meantime proof of concept CAHSR via Dumbarton, Altamont, I-5 and Tejon.

    joe Reply:

    No. The ridership revenue model now shows more dependence on intermediary trips.

    Automobile use is down per capita. The newer generations have a different value system and autos are less important. Drivers licensing is less. Kids now-a-days – they ain’t scared of the blahs or browns and like transit and urban living.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Nothing about HSR either via Tejon or Palmdale is a proof of concept!

    les Reply:

    Syno stick around another 100 years and you might get your wish, otherwise keep dreaming.
    The only way LA – SF is maximized is if Maglev is incorporated and runs of 320mph+ are achieved. Until then maximize ridership and do the intermediary thing for this century.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Not just any IOS, but one that can be viewed as successful as well, which is why most the RFEIs suggest guaranteed profit is a necessity.

  22. Emmanuel
    Oct 31st, 2015 at 14:01
    #22

    Does anyone actually have photos of the construction workers along Highway 99?

    les Reply:

    here’s the viaduct work along 145
    https://www.facebook.com/CaliforniaHighSpeedRail

    Ted Judah Reply:

    I actually stopped in Madera on my way to Southern California early last month to see the viaduct that is going up….

    I took pictures, but basically, you can’t see anything without some hard core trespassing, illegal driving, or a helicopter at this point…

    Miles Bader Reply:

    How about a drone? People fly them everywhere else….

    JJJJ Reply:

    Buy me one and Ill make it happen

  23. Roland
    Oct 31st, 2015 at 23:17
    #23
  24. keith saggers
    Nov 2nd, 2015 at 19:27
    #24

    Sacramento Area Council of Governments has been allocated $1·1m to encourage TOD around the planned Downtown Riverfront Streetcar. San Francisco BART will receive $1·1m to support TOD activities in San Francisco and Oakland. A further $600,000 is being spent on development of tools to plan for TOD and multimodal access improvements along the Caltrain commuter rail corridor between San Francisco and San Jose, with three station areas selected for more in-depth studies. FTA

    Ted Judah Reply:

    The area around the Streetcar in Sacramento is already dense and TOD would be either new construction on previously industrial sites or demolishing older or historical buildings and putting up some God awful condos.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    More cars fit per acre than homes. Transit Oriented Development (TOD) should stress parking, not residential, land use.

    Jon Reply:

    The top 10 ridership BART stations all have zero parking.

    If you live within walking distance of a good transit, you will likely use transit for mot of your trips. If you have to drive to the station, you will likely only use transit for commute trips. Highest ridership is obtained by locating stations within walking distance of jobs and housing.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    Highest ridership near home stations is obtained by having lots of parking and good local transit access. People garage their cars at home, not at their job. Destination stations (near jobs, etc.) don’t need parking.

    ComradeFrana Reply:

    “Highest ridership near home stations is obtained by having lots of parking and good local transit access.”

    Well, then let’s look at ten stations with highest ridership from home and how people access them (or accessed, as per the 2008 station profile report).

    The ten station were (in order of highest ridership to lowest):
    Balboa Park (9638), 24th street (8744), El Cerrito del Norte (6613), Glen Park (6431), Daly City (5644), Dublin/Pleasanton (5567), Fruitvale (5486), Fremont (5431), Pleasant Hill(5361) and 16th street (4874).

    Out of these 6 have significant parking (El Cerrito del Norte, Daly City, Dublin/Pleasanton, Fruitvale, Fremont, Pleasant Hill) 4 do not. (Balboa Park, 24th street, Glen Park, 16th street)
    i.e. 3rd, 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, 9th highest ridership vs. 1st, 2nd, 4th and 10th

    In terms of transit both the highest share and absolute ridership is in Balboa Park: 4434 or

    ComradeFrana Reply:

    *goddangit hit the submit button by accident*
    … 46%, the rest is mainly walking (2892 or 30%) and drop offs (1350 or 15%)

    In terms of driving and parking (meaning bothdriving alone plus carpooling) the highest in both absolute and relative number is Dublin/Pleasanton (3897 or 70%), rest are drop offs (835
    or 15%), and transit/walking/bikes

    Highest share of walking is on 16th street (81% or 3948), but overall highest people walking to station are on 24th street (6383 or 73%), the rest is mostly transit and bikes, driving alone/carpool are negligible (3 respectively 2%)

    All in all, the modal split of all stations combined is 33% walking, 33% driving alone/carpool, 20% transit, 11% drop offs, 3% bikes.

    So having lots of parking can achieve high ridership, but so can having none at all, if you have enough people within walking distance.

    Joe Reply:

    SF stations are priced differently. Trips within SF stations are unlimited use worh a MUNI pass add on about $10 month.

    Encourages use and within SF only.

    Advocates that miss this skewed data can draw misleading conclusions about density. Others have use this to crow about SF compared to other BART segments.

    Joe would like to see more San Jose stations and the same within county flat fee for use. That would put San Jose on level with SF.

    Jon Reply:

    SF gets a flat fare and monthly pass from BART because they pay for it. VTA is welcome to negotiate a similar deal.

    The conclusions about density helping transit ridership come from observing this trend repeated across the entire world, not just by looking at a few stations in SF.

    Joe Reply:

    I don’t care who pays a subsidy. The entire system is subsidized anyway.

    The data not comparable without accounting for the differences which include flat users and normal fare users in SG. Balboa and Glenn park are far enough out to draw muni pass riders.

    Comparing city stations like balboa and Glenn park to outlying stations requires understanding and accounting for the subsidy, pricing differences and travel time incentives for the city stations.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Joe, not caring where the subsidy comes from is whistling past the graveyard.

    Not all counties, thanks to Prop 13 and AB 8, are equal. Some counties are more equal than others….

    Joe Reply:

    SF BART ridership is inflated by fact BART offers MUNI pas hooded a $10 /month flat rate for unlimited use within city stations.

    Glenn Park has great ridership but it ain’t because it’s denser. There’s other reasons not available to non SF stations.

    Jon Reply:

    Transit ridership scales with the square of density everywhere in the world. Your insistance that it’s all because of the Fast Pass is grasping at straws.

    How do you explain the fact that Downtown Berkeley and the two downtown Oakland stations are in the top ten stations by ridership? They’re all very dense, but none has a monthly pass available to use.

    joe Reply:

    Transit ridership scales with the square of density everywhere in the world. Your insistence that it’s all because of the Fast Pass is grasping at straws.

    BART ridership at the SF stations is inflated becuase they offer unlimited rides for $10 additional fee.

    The more distance stations in SF like 24th Glenn Park and Balboa offer grater benefit to users getting into the city and OMG!!! Those stations have high ridership.

    But Jon, you can tell me the density rule all you want. I lived off the J muni and used to actually use the system. I know balboa park isn’t the densest park of SF but it’s the furtherest out and then Glenn Park. These are not SF’s dense neighborhoods.

    Daley City’s a station I now use when I park and ride from Gilroy.

    The ten station were (in order of highest ridership to lowest):
    Balboa Park (9638), 24th street (8744), El Cerrito del Norte (6613), Glen Park (6431), Daly City (5644), Dublin/Pleasanton (5567), Fruitvale (5486), Fremont (5431), Pleasant Hill(5361) and 16th street (4874).

    YOu’re the one making the

    ComradeFrana Reply:

    “SF stations are priced differently. Trips within SF stations are unlimited use worh a MUNI pass add on about $10 month.

    Encourages use and within SF only.”

    Fair enough. My point was to counter Allens’ assumption that “Highest ridership near home stations is obtained by having lots of parking and good local transit access.” The data shows that’s simply not true.

    Joey Reply:

    According to the Station Profile Report, Balboa Park’s high ridership comes largely from nearby schools and abundant transit connections.

    Joe Reply:

    Balboa park to Market street is far more time efficient than muni trains. J can easily take 40 minute from Glenn Park to Embarcadero but BART is far faster. That will draw riders. Also the connections to Caltrain at milbrae have attracted riders to the south.

    Jon Reply:

    The ridership numbers you quote are riders accessing the station from home, not total riders. Why make an artificial distinction between ‘home’ and ‘destination’ riders/stations, when total ridership is what really matters? If you have a system full of origins but no destinations, you won’t see much ridership.

    In terms of total ridership, the top 10 are: Embarcadero, Montgomery, Powell, Civic Center, Downtown Berkeley, 12th St Oakland, 24th St Mission, 16th St Mission, Balboa Park, 19th St Oakland. None have parking.

    These stations have high ridership because they have destination riders as well as origin riders. At stations with lower ridership in urban areas, we should seek to replicate that through mixed-use development at stations.

    The grant award that prompted this discussion is for TOD at San Francisco and Oakland stations. I would argue that all the stations in SF and Oakland (and Berkeley) should have their parking replaced by mixed-use TOD.

    At the edges of the system there are stations which capture riders driving in from outside of the BART catchment area, and these do require parking in order to be successful. e.g. El Cerrito del Norte draws from I-80 north of the station, Daly City from Hwy 1 and I-280 south of the station, Dublin/Pleasanton from I-580 east of the station, Fremont from I-880 and I-680 south of the station (this ridership will soon switch to Warm Springs), Pleasant Hill from I-680 north of the station. These stations are very different from the stations in the urban core, and should not be used as evidence that parking rather than TOD is required in SF and Oakland.

    ComradeFrana Reply:

    “The ridership numbers you quote are riders accessing the station from home, not total riders. Why make an artificial distinction between ‘home’ and ‘destination’ riders/stations, when total ridership is what really matters?”

    I used ‘home’ ridership because Allen argued that lots of parking (and transit) is necessary for high ridership “near home stations”. Even then, when you separate the portion of ridership that (almost) doesn’t use cars to access the stations (less than 2% vs. 40% for ‘home’ ridership), you still can’t make the argument that parking is necessary, at least in general.

    Of course, when you add in destination ridership, the fact that more than 3/4ths access the stations by walking and that willingness to walk decreases rapidly with distance, using Park and rides as a means to increase transit ridership suddenly seems really silly.

    Joey Reply:

    Keep in mind this is coming from Robert “TOD attracts thugs” Allen

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Ah, so syno has a friend!

    Miles Bader Reply:

    No. Lots of parking near the station makes it a wasteland, and rather than encouraging high-density mixed development, does the opposite, encouraging low-density housing at significant distances from the stations and people tending to use their car for everything except their daily train commute.

  25. morris brown
    Nov 2nd, 2015 at 20:01
    #25

    Opening brief in Part II of the Tos et al lawsuit was filed today. Information at:

    http://transdef.org/HSR/TaxpayerII.html

    Joe Reply:

    Oh good. A Legal attack claiming blended HSR isn’t prop1a compliant.

    A victory would stop electrification of Caltrain and stop the high speed rail system or more likely force the authority to go back to the original plan and build up the right of way to allow faster service.

    Which one will the 55,000 daily Caltrain riders and Pennisula employers endorse?

    Clem Reply:

    Not holding my breath on this one. The excessive optimism of the CHSRA is outdone by the excessive pessimism of the plaintiffs. With the alignment tweaks being made in SoCal (Bakersfield -2 minutes, San Fernando Valley -4 minutes) I don’t see why they can’t make 2:40 with several minutes to spare, perhaps even as a commercially timetabled express service. This will come down to dueling simulations, and based on my own detailed calculations I strongly doubt the plaintiffs will prevail. Pass me some popcorn!

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yeah, that ‘s the strategy.

    Only the future will know what level of taxation will be required to run these legacies but I’ll wager the little people will be smothered with levies and fees. I cannot conceptualize how entitlements(and massive transport subsidies are) will cohabit peacefully with economic and social royalism. What are they going to do when the 99% cannot come up with anywhere nearly enough revenue? Hardly enough for panem et circenses let alone bodacious boondoggles.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Compared to the level of taxation required to subsidize the road network….?

    synonymouse Reply:

    The road network is essential whereas hsr, nay any railroad at this point is not. New streetcars for Cincinnati and Kansas City are coming in by truck.

    And poor states like Ohio cannot afford freeways; they are stuck with turnpikes. Try that with JerryRail.

    And exactly WTF is a “denier”? An atheist?

    Yes. I do renounce Moonbeam and all his works and all his pomps.

    Miles Bader Reply:

    Some sort of public transportation and access routes are necessary. The road network as it exists, in the form it exists, is not.

    The political process has chosen to spend money to support the specific routes, structures, and priorities it does, but in many ways this is pretty arbitrary, and based as much (or more) on backroom political dealing and political calculation than on sensible and sustainable thinking about transportation.

    That is to say, you can whine all you like about the process that produced CAHSR, but the exact same process has done far worse in the case of things you obviously support.

    synonymouse Reply:

    That would be the Embarcadero Freeway but after you have Manhattanized the place it fits right in.

    Garbage begets and deserves garbage. Brutalism in action. A luv-in of BART, freeways and airports. And mass quantities of highrise tenements.

    J. Wong Reply:

    “Only the future will know what level of taxation will be required to run these legacies but I’ll wager the little people will be smothered with levies and fees.”

    Really? How much would you wager? And your prediction of levies and fees is based on what information?

    synonymouse Reply:

    What is your information? Other than the patronage machine party line.

    Just where are you going to get the money to subvent these politicized boondoggles, like DogLegRail? The income of the 99% is steadily eroding whilst the elite becomes ever richer and tinier relatively. The elite, notwithstanding total bullshitters like Buffett et al, is resolved to keep their fortunes intact and growing and have developed ever more sophisticated means of shielding their loot. And they can always have recourse to buying into the crony companies scoring the lucrative contracts to “design”(?!) and build said boondoggles. In the manner of Feinstein and Blum investing in PB.

    Take a look at France where the unions and the low-income people are locked in a bitter conflict with the SOCIALIST government, which wants to cut government spending and subsidies to bolster competivity.

    Joe Reply:

    Other than the patronage machine party line.

    I think you’re repetitively accessing a core memory from 1950.

    synonymouse Reply:

    In 1950 I was trying to get a handle on the McCarthy hearings. Did not have much of a clue about politics nor party line at that age but I sensed something ominous going on.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yes, but the problem is that your “sense” of what is going on and reality aren’t really connected.

    J. Wong Reply:

    My information is that the fares charged to ride HSR will be sufficient to cover the operational costs of HSR, and that said fares will be cheaper than airline fares between SFO and LAX. Do you have any information that this is won’t be the case? And guess what? Flying between SFO and LAX isn’t cheap.

    Joe Reply:

    Upon further review, the ruling on the field stands.
    The referee must see “incontrovertible visual evidence” for a call to be overturned.

    john burrows Reply:

    Each lawsuit is like a Hail Mary pass. As long as at least one is in the air the HSR deniers will not give up.

    joe Reply:

    1. The Authority has wide latitude in how it executes its responsibility. Nitpicking the project because Prop1a has “elaborate requirements” will fail.

    2. Judge Kenney disallowed plaintiffs submitting evidence outside the official record.

    Opponents are also creating a lawsuit backlash with a contradictory attack. Critics complain the project will be over budge and late because their lawsuits risk pushing the project over budget and late.

    The STB declared oversight and federalized HSR thus there’s a strong argument that CEQA EIR, review and lawsuits are invalid.

    Zorro Reply:

    Agreed joe, the Supremacy Clause of the US Constitution(Article 6, Clause 2) would apply over CEQA, since there is a Federal Law called NEPA in existence already.

    Joe Reply:

    There is one possible exception: The Friends of Eel River lawsuit.

    http://www.californiaenvironmentallawblog.com/ceqa/california-supreme-court-to-resolve-appellate-court-split-on-federal-preemption-in-railroad-regulation-2/

    1) Does the Interstate Commerce Commission Termination Act (“ICCTA”) (49 U.S.C. § 10101 et seq.) preempt the application of the California Environmental Quality Act [CEQA] (Pub. Res. Code, § 21050 et seq.) to a state agency’s proprietary acts with respect to a state-owned and funded rail line or is CEQA not preempted in such circumstances under the market participant doctrine (see Town of Atherton v. California High Speed Rail Authority (2014) 228 Cal.App.4th 314)?

    (2) Does the ICCTA preempt a state agency’s voluntary commitments to comply with CEQA as a condition of receiving state funds for a state-owned rail line and/or leasing state-owned property?

    Zorro Reply:

    This regards to a set law, State vs Federal, The Supremacy Clause is the highest law in the land, any state law that contradicts Federal Law, CEQA would be and is preempted by NEPA, just cause someone wants to say that States can nullify Federal law when it’s inconvenient to their cause, doesn’t make it so, since Nullification does not appear anywhere in the US Constitution and SCOTUS has ruled everytime it’s come up, that Nullification is unconstitutional and illegal.

  26. Reality Check
    Nov 2nd, 2015 at 21:12
    #26

    From: David Schonbrunn
    Date: Mon, Nov 2, 2015 at 5:38 PM
    Subject: HSR case heading towards trial

    Taxpayer Challenge to High-Speed Rail Compliance with Bond Measure Moves Forward

    A farmer, a rural homeowner and Kings County are asking the Sacramento County Superior Court to declare that the California High-Speed Rail Authority has failed to meet the statutory requirements of Proposition 1A, the 2008 ten billion dollar rail bond measure. The opening brief was filed today in the case Tos v. California High-Speed Rail Authority.

    Proposition 1A included an elaborate set of requirements to protect taxpayers from having to pay for a money-losing or unfinished project. By ignoring those requirements, the Authority has begun building a project likely to remain incomplete and worthless.

    The brief argues four points:
    1. The decision to proceed with a blended system, in which HSR trains would share tracks with Caltrain, violates Prop. 1A.

    2. The route selected by the Authority cannot provide trips between the Los Angeles Union Station and San Francisco’s Transbay Transit Center in the 2 hour and 40 minute maximum travel time mandated by Prop. 1A.

    3. No reasonable person could believe the Authority’s determination that the Initial Operating Segment of the system will be financially viable, a requirement of Prop. 1A.

    4. If the Court finds any of these three violations of Prop. 1A, the Court should issue a permanent injunction blocking the High-Speed Rail Authority from spending not only high-speed rail bond funds, but also any other state or federal funds, on the project.

    The case will go to trial on February 11, 2016. Plaintiffs are attempting to bring into the case a document recently uncovered by the Los Angeles Times, showing major cost escalations, as further proof of the non-viability of the project.

    Click here for access to all the briefs filed in the case.

    David Schonbrunn, President
    Transportation Solutions Defense and Education Fund (TRANSDEF)
    P.O. Box 151439
    San Rafael, CA 94915-1439
    415-370-7250 cell & office
    David@Schonbrunn.org
    http://www.transdef.org

    Joe Reply:

    Proposition 1A included an elaborate set of requirements…

    Uh, no the requirements are not elaborate. The opposition wants an elaborate interpretation to stop all work.

    Zorro Reply:

    Agreed Joe, Me thinks they’ll Fail…

    Zorro Reply:

    Ah yes, the return of the “Phantom Menace”, er the LA Times Fantasy Document…

    Joe Reply:

    The Denham Letter is addressed to the head of PB, not the CAHSRA.

    It refers to a confidential PB document and not a HSR Authority Report.

    Ironically, it is a question about PB cost and risk estimation.

  27. morris brown
    Nov 3rd, 2015 at 09:15
    #27
  28. morris brown
    Nov 3rd, 2015 at 11:50
    #28

    Denham: Time for the CA HSR Authority to Stop Hiding Cost Overruns and Project Delays from the Public

    So now the Authority can deal as well with the Federal Government;

    Letter to PB

    J. Wong Reply:

    As far as I know, members of Congress don’t actually run the Federal Government, so no, they’re not having to deal with the Federal Government re: the issues specified in the letter.

    Joe Reply:

    High-speed rail’s best friend comes to help once again.

    Jeff is responsible for:
    The positive GAO review of CA high-speed rail management practices and ridership model.
    The Federalizing of the project by the Surface Transportation Board.
    Establishing a congressional record of project importance and urgency that was used by the state during successful appeal of Judge Kenny’s ruling.

    Zorro Reply:

    Yeah, the Federal bureaucracy runs the US Government, people in Congress, write laws, spend money doing the peoples business and borrow instead of tax to pay for spending, spending and not paying is STEALING…

    Zorro Reply:

    Dumbham is an empty blowhard, He’s just trying to manufacture another crisis, He’s total BS and a FAILure Morris.

    Sirkulat Reply:

    Neither side infighting argument finally takes ahold. Answers should add to the discussion while openness doesn’t result in obfuscation, FYI.

    Seattle’s Metro bus/trolleybus route arrangement plus SoundTransit rail projects continually fall short without explanation, satisfactory explanation, that is.

    Principally, my main argument for this nationally important rail project I’ll respectfully air here is this:

    Plan B for Bertha deBlues:

    Bertha deBlues ascends 2000′ north, while strengthening the seawall, stabilizing soils between cement row piers, entire tunnel length. That baby is solid. Any earthquake hits that [box-like] seawall, won’t roll over it like a mud ball beneath sandy foundations.

    Plan B for Bertha deBlues, you central californian chicken-hearted liberals, is more important than your
    7-year effort officially plan and build and finish in say 10 years. Seattle is in mortal danger of sudden collapse by destabilizing deeper and further north than natural. RU F’N KIDDING ME?
    Extend Battery Street Tunnel per DEIS early preliminary as the better option.

    My last argument is still Altamont vs Pacheco. A lengthy Palmdale tunnel will have evacuation concerns. The slower existing rail & highway corridors with 15 min at rush and 5hr trip time, I thought better than separate, supposedly 12-Trains an hour at rush with separated ROW HSR.
    TransbayTerminal may not be able to do 12-Trains an hour, therefore, if not,
    fewer, slower trains could have reduced construction and operating costs.
    I’ll say plan the Sacramento segment as possibly to finish first, Merced then Stockton.
    That design is worth pursuing if wildlife corridor preservation through Pacheco –
    nevermind suburban sprawl no doubt to line the hill tops and roads carved to get up there –
    ACTUALLY favors the Altamont “existing” traffic mess that won’t get fixed with a better ACE.

    Plan B for Bertha deBlues.
    Altamont.

    Have a good time arguing BS.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Interestingly, Kevin McCarthy and David Valadao (R-Hanford) did not sign that letter.

  29. swing hanger
    Nov 3rd, 2015 at 16:30
    #29

    James Fallows on CA HSR, defense spending, and the LA Times:
    http://www.theatlantic.com/notes/2015/11/public-vs-private-infrastructure-california-high-speed-rail-and-the-latest-usaf-bomber/413584/

    Jerry Reply:

    Anything connected to the military gets a bye. (or should that be a buy?)

    Jerry Reply:

    How’s that trillion dollar investment in the Iraq War working out for you??

    EJ Reply:

    Killing foreigners is something all Ameicans can get behind. The fundamental basis of our culture is violence. HSR, not so much.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Peddle that line of bullshit to the Ayatollah.

    The U.S. got into the Vietnam War because the Church wanted to protect its colonial investment and persuaded Kennedy.

    Blame the cold war mentality on neo-fascists like McCarthur, Hoover, and McCarthy, not the ordinary American.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Put down the stuff from the Birch Society.

    synonymouse Reply:

    The Adirondacks must be in a parallel universe.

    The Birchers and other hawks fomented the Vietnam War.

    Jerry Reply:

    In the James Fallows article Mike McCoy, the Executive Director of California’s Strategic Growth Council points out the odd schizophrenia which the LA Times has about public spending on essential infrastructure.
    The Vartabedian Article on October 24th lamented about CAHSR overshooting its budget and missing some deadlines.
    But then on October 27th the LA Times celebrated Northrop Grumman’s $80 billion plus contract to build the next generation of Stealth Bomber near Palmdale praising it for its job generating public benefits. The article goes on practically to extol the virtue of cost overruns which seem inevitable on a plane announced at half the cost per unit as the last Stealth Bomber. The Times waives off the question of whether this investment is even needed.
    http://www.latimes.com/nation/la-na-air-force-contract-stealth-bomber-20151027-story.html

    joe Reply:

    And economic develpoment in SV requies more infrastructure like HSR.

    “It’s wonderful news that great companies like Apple are expanding in North San Jose rather than in North Texas,” said Carl Guardino, chief executive officer of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group. “This will create job growth for our economy.”

    But Guardino acknowledged the challenges posed by such growth.
    b>we hear about consistently from our member CEOs are housing and traffic, which really are the flip sides of the same coin,” Guardino said. “We need to accommodate more opportunities to build homes.”

    “If you believe in the future strength of Silicon Valley and the Bay Area, why not find properties so they have locations for five, 10, 15, 20 years down the road?” said Edward Del Beccaro, managing director of the Silicon Valley and East Bay offices of Transwestern, a commercial realty firm.
    http://www.mercurynews.com/business/ci_29067075/apple-earns-wows-massive-office-expansion

  30. morris brown
    Nov 3rd, 2015 at 17:36
    #30

    Fresnobee:Kings County attorneys take aim at confidential memo in high-speed rail lawsuit

    john burrows Reply:

    This 22 page, Oct. 13, 2013 confidential memo was, according to the Sheehan article, released today and to me at least , it is not that compelling. I

    joe Reply:

    Yep.

    Here’s the link to what the Authority *thinks* is the document. It’s npt clear what the LATimes refers.
    Jeff Morales wasn’t sure either.

    I would call it a side presentation.
    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2504070-cahsra-powerpoint-doc-10-03-13.html

    Nadia Reply:

    Where did this link come from? I don’t see it in the article?

    joe Reply:

    It’s there in the article as a text link in this paragraph.

    “The issue could be partially moot, however, based on the release Tuesday by the rail authority of a 22-page draft of an Oct. 3, 2013 slide presentation that agency leaders say they believe is the document referred to in the Times article. The authority provided the slide presentation to Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins late last week.
    http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/high-speed-rail/article42723864.html#storylink=cpy

    Hardly a report, an internal draft, 22 slide PPT presentation without authorship. If this isn;t it then Ralph should release it so people understand what he was referencing and “fact check” his article.

    john burrows Reply:

    To carry on where I left off—

    The 2012 Business Plan has a low cost estimate of $27.3 billion for the IOS, a high cost estimate of $31.9 billion. The Oct. 3, 2013 presentation shows a low cost estimate for the IOS of $35.8 billion, a high of $38.2 billion. The difference amounts to $8.5 billion for the low, $6.3 billion for the high.

    The 2012 business plan has a low cost estimate for the Bay to Basin of $42.0 billion, a high of $49.9 billion. The Oct. 3 presentation shows a low estimate of $50.0 billion, a high of $55.4 billion. The cost differences for the Bay to Basin amount to $8.0 billion for the low and $5.6 billion for the high.

    The 2012 Business Plan has a low cost estimate of $54.4 billion for Phase 1, a high estimate of $63.4 billion. The Oct 3, 2013 presentation shows $56.9 billion for the low, $63.1 billion for the high. The cost difference for Phase 1 varies from $2.5 billion at the low end to a situation where the Oct 2013 high estimate is actually lower than 2012 by $300 million.

    These estimates were all done in 2012 dollars, and taking the high estimate on the Oct 2013 memo and converting to dollars at year of expenditure, you would get the $40 billion mentioned in the Vartabedian article. And comparing the 2012 Business Plan low estimate of $54.4 billion for Phase 1 with the Oct 2013 memo’s $56.9 billion gives about a 5% increase which was mentioned in the Vertabedian article almost as an afterthought.

    If Vartabedian had instead compared the high estimates for the IOS and for Phase 1, he would have reported an increase in cost of $6.9 billion for the IOS and a decrease in cost of $300 million for Phase 1. Obviously Vartabedian has a bias against CAHSR, and obviously he has done some cherry picking, (we used to say “massaged the numbers”), to give his article more clout.

    john burrows Reply:

    He would have reported an increase in cost of $6.3 billion, not $6.9 billion.

    morris brown Reply:

    @ John Burrows

    Where you miss the boat is that here is the Authority, ignoring the updated projected costs from the 2012 to 2014 plan, miss-leading the Legislature (and the public). and attempting to assure everyone that the $68 billion cost estimate for Phase I was still valid. (of course the $68 billion was and still is a fraud since it fails to include LA to Anaheim or TBT to 4th and King).

    Morales telling the LA Times he was unaware of this report. Who believes that?

    john burrows Reply:

    Displayed prominently at the bottom of the second page of the draft presentation is the following—

    “PHASE 1 LOW COST INCREASED $2.6 BILLION OR 4.7%”
    “PHASE 1 HIGH COST DECREASED $0.3 BILLION OR 0.5%”

    Applied to the 68 billion cost estimate you would then have a range of from $67.7 billion to $71.2 billion—Not, I think, that much of a bombshell.

    Jerry Reply:

    To quote the next president, “What difference does it make?”

  31. keith saggers
    Nov 3rd, 2015 at 17:46
    #31

    The rail authority has hopes for the $31 billion Merced-Burbank segment to be operational in 2022, and for the entire San Francisco-Los Angeles/Anaheim Phase 1 program to be completed by 2026 at a cost of $68 billion

    Read more here: http://www.fresnobee.com/news/local/high-speed-rail/article42723864.html#storylink=cpy

    Roland Reply:

    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2503435-hsr-flashman-request-for-order-re-pb-doc-10-29-15.html
    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2503436-hsr-ogrady-oppostion-to-request-re-pb-doc-10-30-15.html
    https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2504070-cahsra-powerpoint-doc-10-03-13.html

    calwatch Reply:

    These are the actual documents requested. Judge for yourself whether Vartabedian was lying or not.

    Joe Reply:

    the onus is on the reporter and fact checkers. First, it’s not a report. Second, prove Morales was briefed. Any formal meeting would have minutes.

  32. Reality Check
    Nov 3rd, 2015 at 18:04
    #32

    California’s high speed rail should look like Germany’s

    Will California’s high-speed rail system be German enough?

    That may sound funny, but it’s a more important question than the ones Californians have been myopically asking about the costs, funding, and construction deadlines of the state’s controversial project.

    […]

    If California high-speed rail can reproduce the German style and create a system that deeply binds the state together — and that’s a big if — then even a $100 billion project might be a bargain, given the economic and cultural benefits. But if high-speed rail can’t create robust connections, then the worst predictions of high-speed rail critics — that this is an epic waste of time and money — could well prove true.

    […]

    EJ Reply:

    Well, considering that SNCF proposed a line that was a straight shot over Tejon and up I-5, and CAHSRA said “Nein” in favor of a line that serves Palmdale, Bakersfield, and Fresno, if the thesis of this report is correct, we should be good.

    Danny Reply:

    ICE just looks at us tearing ourselves apart over numerous nigh-identical routes and OC Register demands to revote 1A over and over until there’s one No, and just go “ja, dann bau’s später”

    Useless Reply:

    EJ

    Well, SNCF had no experience constructing over earthquake fault lines, or over rough mountainous terrain for that matter. All they know is how to construct over a flat plain. So don’t take SNCF’s advice.

    synonymouse Reply:

    SNCF is no stupider than PB. If anything SNCF’s downfall was being too competent for corrupt California.

    EJ Reply:

    All they know is how to construct over a flat plain.

    Do you honestly believe there are no mountains in France? Or do you think that there are no railroads through them?

    synonymouse Reply:

    All PB knows how to do is pour hollow-core.

    EJ Reply:

    PB. Hollow-core. PB. Hollow-core. PB. Hollow-core. PB. Hollow-core. PB. Hollow-core.

    Change the fucking record, this one’s broken.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    EJ: How about a straight line by I-5 over Tejon, with Palmdale on the leg of a wye from that line to Las Vegas?

    synonymouse Reply:

    That makes too much sense.

    In any event Nevada casino interests need to come up with money for their line.

    Useless Reply:

    Reality Check

    Well, ICE is not the most successful and profitable high speed network; the most successful and profitable high speed rail networks are in Asia.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    It’s funny that Matthews, self-proclaimed HSR expert, leaves out the key “feature” of German high speed rail is that it can do this sort of “anchoring” because it shares track with other, lower speed rail traffic.

    It’s also funny that he thinks this is “uniquely German” because I’m pretty sure the Japanese also use their stations to good effect. The French do too, but as others note they tend to do greenfield HSR stations unless an integrated station in the heart of the city worth the cost (as with Paris).

    In any case, I actually think he’s toting the moderate Republican line here that if we are stuck with HSR, we might as well do it on the cheap….by using existing rail lines.

    However, I think the “German model” is more appropriate for inland HSR networks in the Midwest and South, not the Northeastern Corridor or California. I realize that building “French model” rail networks into urban areas is the most expensive way to go…but the reality is the urban footprint in the Western US (not how much land is urbanized but how dense urban areas are) is quite compact. The existing freight rail network out West can’t really handle what Matthews proposes.

    And then there’s the separate issue of Prop 1A requiring a train that can go 220 mph and travel from SF to LA in 2 hours, forty minutes. Good luck doing that in Germany…

    So why would Matthews feed us such a Trojan horse? Well…that’s about all California Republicans can manage these days.

    Michael Reply:

    “And then there’s the separate issue of Prop 1A requiring a train that can go 220 mph and travel from SF to LA in 2 hours, forty minutes. Good luck doing that in Germany…”

    Yeah, ’cause SF and LA don’t exist in Germany…. (sorry, couldn’t help myself)

    Domayv Reply:

    how do the French, German and Japanese models compare

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    He has no idea. For instance the Japanese system is mostly totally separate from the conventional system because the track gauge is different.

    Useless Reply:

    adirondacker12800

    The Korean system is blended yet still runs at 5~10 minute interval and tickets are dirt cheap(10 cents per km), yet the railway operator generates a $500 million/year profit.

    So the Korean system is the textbook example of how a blended rail system should be built and operated on.

    Domayv Reply:

    ah, useless, once again spouting his delusion that the Koreans are superior

    Ted Judah Reply:

    It isn’t that I don’t know, Adi–it’s that a comprehensive comparison of the different HSR “models” is really something that would take a blog post to explore.

    The Obama Administration fell in love with the “Spanish model”…(which is similar to the French one) without doing the analysis I did above regarding metropolitan planning. Now I think, the country should invest in big time HSR on the coasts and the West where demand will be enough to justify higher costs. In the flyover states, the German model will help keep costs down and build support for HSR generally.

    If Robert wants anyone including me, to write this post, he just has to say so.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Just write it, then submit it to Robert. That’s what it takes.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Honestly, I may not be the guy.

    I don’t know as much as Clem or others on the engineering side. Adi’s idiosyncratic comment about gauge width demonstrates the amount of precision the technicals demand in that sort of analysis too. The haigography here is pretty thick.

    Of course, if Joe Matthews can become an expert or James Fallows, clearly this must not be that tough a subject.

    Also, Robert didn’t respond to the last email I sent him because of a Twitter debate gone bad we had almost a year ago.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Okay what makes the Northeast so much different than the Midwest. You do understand that someday trains from the Midwest will be arriving in New York. And Boston. Probably Washington DC too.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Okay what makes the Northeast so much different than the Midwest.

    The Northeast was largely organized into townships that created more disciplined and dense urban patterns. Geographically, nearly all big cities in the Northeast sit on the fall line where ship navigation is no longer possible upstream. Rail access is confined to the the fall line in the southern half (Washington DC, Philadelphia, New York) and to other river valleys further north (Albany, Hartford) .

    The Midwest, on the other hand, settled cities irrespective of the fall line because of the vast numbers of navigable rivers draining into the Mississippi Delta. Railroads were valuable tools to link rivers and lakes together, but there was no restriction on how many spokes to the hub you could build. As such, freight traffic is much more dispersed. The South, with the exception of Florida and Texas, are much the same.

    The West has the most intense urban footprint in the entire country. Because there were relatively few passes across the various mountain ranges, the railroads had a big incentive to put cities at the various choke points created by geography. And because the West is arid, once the water supply is locked up, there’s almost no chance that another city can come along and displace you. Thus, intercity freight traffic is heavily concentrated on a few tracks and they can’t handle anything more than the occasional Amtrak route.

    That’s what will make the German model impossible west of the Rockies. That is why we have to build a new ROW from scratch.

    You do understand that someday trains from the Midwest will be arriving in New York. And Boston. Probably Washington DC too.

    Not to be snarky, but trains with passengers and freight from Chicago already arrive on the East Coast. If you are referring to HSR, it won’t happen because Congress will have to strike a deal with the airlines to regulate the HSR industry to not directly compete with them. Given that HSR’s operational sweet spot (250-750 miles) is actually much different than air travel (750 to 2500 miles), it will be relatively easy to work out a deal that is mutually beneficial.

    Where I’m different from most is that I see the partnerships becoming strong between American air carriers and HSR to the point that they may become the operators and push for a more regulated system of air travel again. For example, flights of more than 1250 miles one way will stay deregulated, flights shorter than that will be awarded to the carrier that controls the city’s region.

    Jerry Reply:

    Ted Judah – Many good points regarding geography driving the different aspects of transportation.
    I’ve heard of the term, geo-political. Is there a similar geo-transportation word?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Put a 50 MPH freight train on the tracks how many 220 MPH HSR trains can share tracks with it?
    Not that there will ever be 220 MPH trains west of I-35. Or anything other than the daily land cruise.
    New York City isn’t on the fall line. Very technically neither is Albany. It can’t be both.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Indeed Jerry, there is.

    It’s called “transportation planning”. :)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Spanish, like the Japanese, use a different gauge for their conventional system.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    So did the Confederate States of America. Matthews comment is about the network design.

    I apologize for not being more clear about Japanese HSR using a different gauge but that is not our problem here unless the Southern Pacific, Bechtel, and BART get involved. Now that would really drive Synonymouse’s berserk….

    synonymouse Reply:

    Ted:

    The San Joaquin Valley is a flyover state.

    Travis D Reply:

    Yes, we know you consider them subhuman. But that isn’t important right now.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Not at all. In the Cheerleader mind the Valley is country when country is not cool.

    EJ Reply:

    You put down the valley constantly, you lying piece of shit. Meanwhile the “Cheerleaders” are actually supporting a line that goes through Fresno and Bakersfield.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Let the Valley stay rural. Who needs another LA?

    EJ Reply:

    I realize that building “French model” rail networks into urban areas is the most expensive way to go

    I’m not sure what you mean here. More often than not, French HSR either avoids urban areas, or uses pre-existing conventional track to access them. With some exceptions (e.g. Lille).

    Michael Reply:

    Fascinating article, since Frankfurt Airport to Köln is almost all a passenger-only HSR line that can only be used by the ICE-3 (and not the ICE-1 or 2) because of its aggressive 4% grades.

    The majority of Germany’s “HSR” network is blended, because most of the miles are operated on upgraded existing lines. But that means lines that are electrified and run at up to 125mph. That’s not what we have here, except our “HSR” on the East Coast.

    One day people will find that writing about real trains is much harder to do accurately. Still, points for being a positive story.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Actually, Frankfurt Airport to Köln is Passenger only. … well maybe Frankfurt Airport to Porz or so, which is a suburb of Köln.

    What I do associate with the “German model” is a pretty good integration with the other operation (regional, local), fixed interval schedules with timed transfers (on the same platform preferably (as you can encounter every hour in Mannheim), full integration in the ticketing system mainly without yield management on a train-by-train basis, and so on.

  33. Donk
    Nov 3rd, 2015 at 19:27
    #33

    Wacky alternatives for the NV-CA route that will never make it past a newspaper:

    http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/traffic-transportation/xpresswest-draws-nominal-high-speed-rail-competitors

    swing hanger Reply:

    Dime a dozen. Some may remember this:
    http://www.interstatetraveler.us/

    Danny Reply:

    wanna bet they’re all LaRouchites? or are they killed if they bring up anything other than the vactrains that will end all war and hunger?

    and put an epilepsy warning on that

  34. Derek
    Nov 3rd, 2015 at 21:39
    #34
  35. synonymouse
    Nov 3rd, 2015 at 23:29
    #35

    The “Crazy Train” comes to LaLa courtesy of CBS:

    http://www.cbs.com/shows/scorpion/video/CB353A94-7C9B-EB34-0D50-B4A2A7D91673/scorpion-crazy-train/

    Chock-full of the same railway expertise, real world operating experience, plausibility and accuracy that so permeates Prop 1a.

    I am sure Amalgamated approves of the plot line. Driverless runs amok.

    EJ Reply:

    You mean the Prop 1a that you pretend that you voted for? Did you not read it?

    synonymouse Reply:

    I fronted the crafters of the prop and the engineering consultants the smarts and the moxie to revise, rationalize, and tighten up the plans as studies progressed. I was sadly mistaken.

    EJ Reply:

    You thought they would decide not to serve Palmdale, even though Prop 1a specifically requires it?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yeah. The Boss goes to Rocky Palmdale’s dressing room.

    “Sorry, kid , tonite’s just not your nite. You’re gonna take the fall.

  36. morris brown
    Nov 3rd, 2015 at 23:45
    #36

    LA Times: At lawmakers’ urging, agency reveals report on growing bullet train costs

    Here is Vartabedian on the released report. Note the Democrats have now agreed to hold a hearing.

    the audio from the radio show referenced can be heard at:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zeG22jzWH8Q

    synonymouse Reply:

    We don’t need no stinkin’ reports.

    Mi querido Palmdale.

    Travis D Reply:

    Your autistic obsession with Palmdale is not really relevant here.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    I don’t think the Mouse is the one with the Palmdale obsession, although I’ll grant you an obsession with someone else’s Palmdale obsession.

    From a January 2014 press report:

    The rail project could use a large slice of that money — figure $500 million a year — to lay track from Madera to Bakersfield, spending on a pay-as-you-go basis rather than borrowing, Richard said. That would save on interest.

    Or track could be laid to Bakersfield with state bond money if the court releases it, and Richard thinks the judge can be talked into that.

    If both the cap-and-trade and bond money are available, he continued, that’s enough to extend the line to Palmdale.

    “The tipping point is Palmdale,” Richard said. “It’s the new center of the universe. There’s no more discussion about trains to nowhere. It opens up all kind of things.”

    J. Wong Reply:

    Really the best chance for Tejon is IOS North. With HSR in Bakersfield all the way to San Francisco, Tejon Ranch’s leverage evaporates.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Ask yourself how many people in the Bay Area are lusting to take a train to Fresno?

    SoCal has twice the population and closer cultural connections to Bako et al. Besides that is where one venerates the center of the universe – beautiful, bustling, metropolitan, downtown you-know-where.

    Joe Reply:

    But what if most people aren’t retired and travel for economic reasons?

    Nahhhh.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They will most all drive or fly

    J. Wong Reply:

    You’re forgetting all the foreign tourist (or even some Americans) who would take a train to Fresno to visit Yosemite or Kings. They certainly won’t fly. They might drive, but with traffic in Yosemite Valley getting worse and actively being discouraged they’ll start to realize how much more pleasant it will be to take a fast train.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Eh, Fresno probably not so much, but Yosemite, yes. I’m not suggesting IOS North because it will be “successful”, but as an end run around Tejon Ranch. Surely, you’re in favor of that @synonymouse.

    synonymouse Reply:

    At this point any notion that what I call for lack of better imagination “Duh Regime”- JerryRule mit JerryRail – can be stopped is delusional. The progeny, posterity will have to deal with it and the impoverishing taxes levied under totalitarian democracy.

    It would be like stopping BART or 20 lane freeways or arthritis. If you did not have bad luck you would not have any luck at all.

    Jeez, you cannot even get any pol to call for buying the Tejon Ranch for eco purposes. Cheaper than the DogLeg.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Oh, I get it. Rather than taking any responsibility, you stand back and wash your hands and continue to complain no matter what decisions are made. Like those who complain about the government, but never vote. You’re the one whose moniker should be “Useless” here.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Au contraire I always vote and try to talk my kids into a similar vote. But these days it is out of tradition, like turkey at Thanksgiving.

    Sorry democracy has failed and will be replaced with a junta when the lumpen rise up.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yeah, don’t we have a local Bernie wannabe to call for the expropriation of the Ranch?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    IOS North juxtaposes an economically vibrant region with highly restrictive land use with a crumbling inland city with oodles of cheap land, cheap water, and high unemployment.

    What could possibly go wrong?

    Jon Reply:

    Please don’t call people autistic when it’s not remotely accurate. Syn has the opposite problem – rather than be obsessed with the technical details, he’s obsessed with the political drama, most of which he has invented and projected onto the situation.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Just like the TARP was “invented and projected onto the situation.”

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Plus, the real autistic guy stopped reading this blog three years ago and is almost done with his 3/8 replica model of how CAHSR will look when complete, right down to the paint scheme…

    Derek Reply:

    The document also shows the cost of the entire project would increase by about 5%, going from $54.4 billion to $56.9 billion without inflation. If future inflation is included, based on the Parsons Brinckerhoff inflation estimates, the total project cost would go from $68 billion to more than $71 billion.

    That’s it. Now I’m totally against the project.

  37. synonymouse
    Nov 4th, 2015 at 10:13
    #37

    How long before PB goes over to the Hype side?

    http://www.cnbc.com/2015/11/04/tesla-chief-elon-musks-hyperloop-idea-will-transform-labor-markets-ceo.html

    Danny Reply:

    where are those capsules arriving from? 1982?

    and they look … uncut …

  38. synonymouse
    Nov 4th, 2015 at 10:23
    #38

    Meantime SF takes a big turn toward the ritchie rich and yuppie right. Peskin about the only concession to old order.

    Are the instant millionaires proto middle-age Reaganites aborning?

    Jon Reply:

    Peskin is king of the NIMBYs, and the reason why the Central Subway isn’t going to have a North Beach station.

    Generally, the election went the right way. It would have been good to have seen Lee replaced, but there was no credible challenger.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Peskin is king of the NIMBYs, and the reason why the Central Subway isn’t going to have a North Beach station.

    Unmitigated horseshit.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yeah, the turn onto Columbus was probably to undercut NIMBY unhappiness with a station on Stockton at Washington Square by the Post Office.

    To make the stubway look better an extension in subway to the general area of Kirkland Yard is about what I would predict, with a station at the Pagoda Theater and at Kirkland. If Peskin were deeply against a North Beach station he would have organized much more opposition in past years to extending the tunneling beyond Chinatown and the purchase of the theater property.

    Jon Reply:

    Peskin wasn’t supervisor while those events took place. We’ll see how supportive he is of a North Beach station as the T-Third Phase 3 study moves forward.

    Jon Reply:

    He lobbied against a North Beach station when he was supervisor first time around. He may not be the only reason, but he’s certainly part of the reason.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It will change the area and likely not for the better.

    The money should have been spent on Geary. Oh, that would upset BART.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    Synonymouse: Maybe BART from Civic Center under Oak and Masonic Streets toward an intermodal near the Golden Gate Bridge? Route one of the trans-Bay lines that way. Car storage mid-day near downtown San Francisco, and an emergency turnback for trans-Bay trains that serves all four downtown BART/Muni stations.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I am a diehard Muni guy and dedicated to standard gauge OC. I want a trolley bus subway on Geary or lo floor multi-section articulated streetcars.

    I am into a static city rather than one going up. San Francisco was supposed to be different from LA or Manhattan. Mediterranean lo rise. But that was not to be.

    For me it is not a glorious future but a brilliant past. I guess that makes me a reactionary.

    synonymouse Reply:

    What did Camus say?

    “On enseigne une France qui n’existe plus.”

    Jon Reply:

    Yes, it does make you a reactionary. If you have massive economic growth but no new housing to accommodate that growth, the result is skyrocketing rents.

    Refusing to build in such conditions is a reactionary position. It’s a testament to the topsy turvy world of SF politics that people such as Peskin and yourself are labeled ‘progressives’.

    The only reason SF escaped the rent crunch until fairly recently is because BART meant that housing growth could be pushed out to the suburban East Bay rather than happen in the city proper. Now we’ve sprawled out on all the land surrounding the suburban BART stations, and extensions further out are more and more costly and with less and less payback. The only option left is to build in the urban core, as we should have been doing all along.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Yep, time to leave the cities to the richies and cubicle slaves.

    Jon Reply:

    If you don’t want to live in a dense urban environment, there are plenty of other places you can go to live out your suburban dream. Rohnert Park, for example.

    Wait, you’ve already done that. So why this continuing obsession with what’s happening in SF? It’s not your city anymore.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Acually that is not the “only” option. The other option to carmming more people into one place, is densify those other areas and attract more eployers to them so there is more of a balance

    so that not eveyone has to live and work in sf
    and not everyone has to work in sf and live in the east
    but more people can live and work in the east without having to go to sf at all.

    J. Wong Reply:

    “Are the instant millionaires proto middle-age Reaganites aborning?”

    It doesn’t matter if they are because they mostly don’t vote. 30% turn out.

    It just goes to show you that having a “righteous” cause like affordable housing or displacement doesn’t guarantee that you’ll get your propositions passed. Sort of like how “righteous” Tejon doesn’t guarantee that it’ll happen either.

  39. Reedman
    Nov 4th, 2015 at 14:27
    #39

    Speaking of trains, schedule slips, and cost overruns:
    the World Trade Center hub has just announced another slip in the scheduled opening date, due to unexpected water leaks from work on the adjacent buildings.
    http://gothamist.com/2015/11/04/leaky_oculus.php

  40. Jon
    Nov 4th, 2015 at 14:49
    #40

    Current cost estimate for Phase 1 is $54.9bn in 2013 dollars, or $67.6bn in YOE dollars (source, p6). This is based on the low cost scenario.

    The presentation released by the Authority dated Oct 3rd 2013 shows an increase in the low cost scenario from $54.4bn to $56.9bn, in 2012 dollars (<a href="https://www.documentcloud.org/documents/2504070-cahsra-powerpoint-doc-10-03-13.html"source, p2). I’m going to hazard a guess that converting 2012 dollars to 2013 dollars increases $54.4bn to $54.9bn.

    So yes, it looks like there is an increase in cost of $2.6bn in 2012 dollars that never made it into the 2014 Business Plan, for whatever reason. This is probably around $3.2bn in YOE dollars, resulting in a total project cost of around $70.8bn.

    It’s possible that this cost increase never made it into the business plan because it was superseded by new information. It’s also possible that it was deliberately not included by the Authority in the 2014 Business Plan for political reasons. But even if that is the case, a $3.2bn (or 5%) cost increase is in the noise compared to the uncertainty of the estimates.

    It is quite possible that the 2016 Business Plan, which we should be seeing a draft of very shortly, will contain new cost estimates that make this issue completely irrelevant.

    Jon Reply:

    Oh, for an edit function…

    Joe Reply:

    So yes, it looks like there is an increase in cost of $2.6bn in 2012 dollars that never made it into the 2014 Business Plan, for whatever reason

    Whatever reason…..assumptions for one. An example is profit at 25%

    Another is assumption of more viaducts in Bakersfield. We know the viaduct can be less with the alternative aligenment.

    Many reasons a contractor concocted estimate in a draft slide presentation would be higher when made with questionable assumptions and before project management review.

  41. Elizabeth Alexis
    Nov 4th, 2015 at 19:02
    #41

    In which we ask a basic question: http://calhsr.com/backup-documents-for-the-2014-biz-plan-capital-cost-do-they-exist/

    joe Reply:

    Yesterday, we [CARRD] sent a request to the CHSRA board for back up cost documents for the published 2014 Business Plan capital cost estimate. Last summer, we were told they did not exist.

    They replied -> the 2014 data are from the data in the 2012 business plan with inflation adjustment.

    CARRD:

    In response to our request for updated 2014 capital cost tables, you referred us to specific pages within the Business Plan, exhibits, and technical documents. We did an exhaustive review of the suggested documents; they do not contain the detailed cost tables we requested. A copy of the 2012 appendices is attached for your reference. It’s a detailed, 1,060-page document. We’re requesting the equivalent level of detail for the 2014 Business Plan.

    CAHSRA:

    The dollar amounts for capital costs were adjusted for inflation, but these tables were not recreated for the 2014 Business Plan.

    What’s the problem?

    Quis custodiet ipsos custodes

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    The quantities are different in 2014.

    Travis D Reply:

    Interestingly almost all the increase is for the Bakersfield to Palmdale section. The Times article made it seem like the increases were due to the new tunnels for the Palmdale to Burbank section. They’ve been examining all sorts of new routes for the B-P segment. So increases for that might indicate they had to accommodate new scope changes to the route.

    Travis D Reply:

    Also their estimates include a 25% increase on many items just as an assumption of contractor issues. And if you look at the specifics they include volatility in concrete pricing as part of that. In essence they are saying “we have no idea what concrete will cost a decade from now so we’ll just go with a worst case scenario” and the B-P segment would require the most concrete.

  42. keith saggers
    Nov 4th, 2015 at 20:20
    #42

    http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/urban/single-view/view/c91bn-eglinton-crosstown-light-rail-contract-signed.html

    keith saggers Reply:

    The contract includes a 30-year maintenance agreement with funding for renewals and life cycle repairs, and according to the province was C$2bn under its original estimate. The project uses Infrastructure Ontario’s Alternative Financing & Procurement model, which is designed to transfer significant risk to the private sector and provide the opportunity for design and construction innovation

  43. morris brown
    Nov 5th, 2015 at 07:36
    #43

    LA Times: Editorial Red flags for high-speed rail

    So even the LA Times editorial board is apparently having second thoughts about the project. Up until this point, the Times editorial page as consistently been full speed ahead on the project. This editorial, while certainly not giving up on the project is casting plenty of doubt as to whether is should continue.

    Joe Reply:

    The Editors acknowledge the smoking gun was actually just a draft and incompletly represented the effort to generate the project cost estimate.

    And they also acknowledge the bids;

    Yes, the first construction contracts have come in under budget — that’s good news. Now, can those contracts stay within budget?

  44. Joe
    Nov 5th, 2015 at 07:40
    #44

    PB assumed more viaducts in Bakersfield. We probably will have far fewer and a shorter route. The Authority cut distance straightened the alignment and cut travel time with the alternative alignment under studY.

    Not a peep from the watch dogs about this cost savings.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    The extra viaducts in the cost estimate come from Wasco and Shafter – which, unfortunately are very real. The ones in wasco are in CP 4, where bids are due any day now.

    If they didn’t choose the in town aerials over the previously planned bypass, they were going to impact a bunch of oil wells, and well – you wouldn’t want a hsr project to do that.

    https://drive.google.com/file/d/0Bx5S0AJ0bopyUDJDSDZ0Ulg5MEhocldQV21lRlVvRm1TWkJV/view?usp=sharing

    Joe Reply:

    Bakersfield alignment under study at city request will cut property purchases, save time, straighten the alignment and have less impact on the city.

    This was done under the conditions set by Morales when Bakersfield opposed the approved project alignment with an EIR lawsuit. The city relented and cooperated.

    Elizabeth Alexis Reply:

    Great – then you have a price reduction in the 2016 plan. This wasn’t under consideration at the time of 2014 plan.

    There were two sets of numbers. The real ones and the ones they put in the 2014 plan.

    Joe Reply:

    These are project cost estimates and what’s submitted to the Board and Legislature are de facto real.

    There is no “real” estimate hidden. There is no cover up or fudging.

    The state officials are expected to contain costs and every common sense interpretation is the Authority is supposed to scrutinize contractor costs as part of their internal work.

    Recall the PB monster inflates costs of their detractors are to be taken at least semi seriously.

    Also we have examples of lower bids than estimated and cost cutting and alignment improvements.

    morris brown Reply:

    @ Joe:

    The pile of BS you spew, just keeps getting deeper and deeper. Such nonsense.

    Finally even the LA Times Editorial board is starting to wake up.

    Their Editorial Red flags for high-speed rail in today’s (Nov 5) paper will be a wake up alert to the State Legislature.

    View the editorial as printed it appears in the print edition at:

    Link

    Joe Reply:

    Accept the Truth.

    True, the presentation was labeled a draft. And authority officials said they used “scores of analyses and assessments” to develop the updated cost estimates.

    They just corrected the record, that what was claimed to be a damning “report” is no longer conclusive.

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