Starting HSR in the North, Rather than the South

Jan 23rd, 2016 | Posted by

Pacheco Pass

The California High Speed Rail Authority is considering a shift in plans – building the Initial Operating Segment in the north rather than the south. The Los Angeles Times has the story and while it’s a Ralph Vartabedian article, with some typical “any change in plans is a sign of DOOM” attitudes, it does convey the basic facts:

The state rail authority is studying an alternative to build the first segment in the Bay Area, running trains from San Jose to Bakersfield….

By building in the north initially, the state would delay the most difficult and expensive segment of the entire $68-billion project: traversing the geologically complex Tehachapi and San Gabriel mountains with a large system of tunnels and aerial structures.

With the project already behind schedule and facing estimates of higher costs, the Bay Area option could offer a faster, less risky and cheaper option. Getting even a portion of the project built early would help its political survival.

The outcome of the new evaluation will be known in the coming weeks, when the state unveils its 2016 Business Plan. The document will be the most comprehensive update for the $68-billion program in four years.

This does make logical, practical, financial, and political sense. The decision about how to connect Palmdale to Burbank has not yet been made, with a lot of strong views on both sides of the debate between following the Highway 14 alignment or building one long tunnel under the San Gabriel Mountains. Either option won’t be cheap, whereas tunneling under Pacheco Pass is more simple and straightforward.

Pacheco Pass is lower and shorter than either of the routes being considered between Palmdale and Burbank. That’s also true of a Tejon Pass/I-5 routing, for those who prefer that option. There aren’t large population centers on either end of the Pacheco Pass route – its western end is the rolling farmlands of southeastern Santa Clara and northern San Benito counties, and its western end is the empty (of people, at least) west side of the San Joaquin Valley.

So for a project that’s looking to get an operating segment started that doesn’t require a huge political fight or a spending a large sum of money, building the northern IOS first makes sense.

Southern California transit leaders don’t see it that way, for understandable reasons. Richard Katz and Art Leahy are both quoted in the article saying that there are more people in Southern California than the Bay Area (true) and that SoCal is the economic center of the state (debatable).

From an overall passenger rail network perspective, one of the great things about a southern IOS was that it connects Bakersfield and Los Angeles, closing a major gap in the state’s rail system. There already is rail service from the Bay Area to Bakersfield, but the San Joaquin trains originate in Oakland and travel via Martinez and the Delta, which isn’t exactly direct.

Paul Dyson of RailPAC, a longtime advocate of the idea that closing the Bakersfield-LA gap should be a priority, is also quoted in the article saying that moving to a northern IOS does make sense:

“You have a much better chance of getting the north end built,” said Paul Dyson, president of the Passenger Rail Assn. of California. “I am from Southern California, but if it’s a difference between seeing a project get built or seeing it die, it would be better to start from the north.

“If you try to build it from the south, it could delay it by a couple of decades,” Dyson said. State rail officials have said the entire system will be completed by 2028.

Dyson said the state was “way too ambitious” in attempting to build a unified statewide system in a single program.

“We bit off more than we could chew,” he said.

Those latter statements are a longstanding point of disagreement between us, though after nearly 8 years, he’s certainly been proved right. Dyson has long argued that California should be upgrading its rail systems in segments and getting to HSR through that evolutionary process, believing that there would never be the political will to build HSR all at once from SF to LA.

I had argued that it was entirely possible that there would be such political will, and that a phased upgrade approach was the one the state had already been following since the 1970s and the results were not great.

That was before the Republican takeover of the U.S. House, leading to a freeze on any new federal HSR funding. California’s HSR project has suffered as a result, and though it has turned to cap-and-trade funds, those dollars don’t fully replace the expected federal contribution. So a phased approach of some kind is now necessary, though I’d continue to argue that the state should aggressively pursue plans to build those segments as quickly as possible in order to meet the 2028 goal.

While I’d personally prefer to see the southern IOS built, in order to close the Bakersfield-LA gap, I also have no problem with building the northern one first. The biggest priority is having some kind of HSR service up and running as soon as possible. If that means building under Pacheco Pass, so be it. That’s likely to be cheaper and quicker anyway.

  1. JimInPollockPines
    Jan 23rd, 2016 at 19:56
    #1

    With work already starting in the valley between Bakersfield and the madera – just south of the chowchilla wye, and electrification of caltrain from sf to san jose it does make some sense to close the Pacheco gap ( not much of a mountain range to cross) and have a ios that starts in downtown san Francisco. At least would have a major city at one versus merced to Burbank which stops short of both la and sf.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    My point exactly.

    Howard Reply:

    The IOS would be both San Francisco to Bakersfield and Las Vegas to Victorville (Xpress West). The first extention would be to Palmdale from both Bakersfield and Victorville, complete with a “Golden Spike” ceremony in Palmdale. Los Angeles would get so jealous of having High Speed Rail just go right past it’s outskirts, but not to downtown, they would raise enough money to persuade private investment to make the next extention from Palmdale to Los Angeles.

    Zorro Reply:

    Las Vegas to Victorville (Xpress West) is a Nevada project, not supported by Prop1a at all, you are correct on SF to BF as the new North IOS idea(whether this is true or not We shall see, but I like it).

    The rest is just wishful thinking, since Bakersfield to Palmdale would have to be built for that to pass, whereas SJ to Fresno as CP5 makes a lot of sense and destroys the Train to nowhere garbage that Huff(and Puff) and Runner want to get on the ballot, in addition to their other ballot initiative to steal HSR money to use for Water, which is now available again thanks to about a 101% average in the Sierra snowpack(special thanks to El Nino and the Weather Channel) and the reservoirs are filling up…

    Rain, snow making a dent in California’s historic drought

    The state’s drought crisis stems from a change in that pattern over the past four years. Last spring, Sierra snowpack was the lowest it had been in more than 500 years. State officials say the 2015 “water year” that ended Sept. 30 recorded the warmest high-elevation temperatures in the 120 years people have been keeping track.

    This winter, by contrast, so far has brought more typical snowfall. State sensor readings Monday showed a range of snow water content across the Sierra, from 121 percent of normal in the northern range to around 90 percent of normal in the southern Sierra.

    Much of the precipitation from Tuesday’s storm fell as rain in the lower mountains, as temperatures in the Sierra remain above historical averages. In Truckee, for example, low temperatures were about 15 degrees above normal on Monday and Tuesday, according to Weather Underground.

    Even with some snowfall, experts were quick to note that it will be months before California knows whether the winter’s been a drought-buster.

    “We made quite a dent, but the drought, it’s not over,” said Jim Mathews, a forecaster with the National Weather Service in Sacramento. “Most of the reservoir levels are still miserably low.”

    Howard Reply:

    The High Desert Corridor is a Southern California new freeway project between Palmdale and Victorville, that will now have high speed rail in the median. Highs speed rail from Victorville to Palmdale, and on to Los Angeles is a Southern California project; however, filling in the State Rail Gap between Bakersfield and Palmdale (between the Central Valley and Southern California) is a project of statewide concerns (just like connecting the Central Valley to the Bay Area, Frenso to San Jose, the new IOS).

    Clem Reply:

    The gap is between the Central Valley and the San Fernando Valley. The high desert is one possible option, but by no means necessary.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Whoever got the idea to put HSR in freeway medians needs to read up on HSR. You really shut out it on either side, like the Germans did on the Frankfurt-Cologne line. That way making diversions from the freeway are a lot easier.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    San Jose to I-5 near Los Banos really makes sense. Then south along I-5 toward Tejon Pass would be far shorter, straighter, faster, and less costly. A route through Bakersfield, Fresno, and along 99 now under way would ultimately link LA with Sacramento directly.

    Donk Reply:

    All of this using BART trains, right?

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    You are forgetting that 35-ish percent of rides will involve Fresno, Bakersfield, or Kings/Tulare. And I certainly hope it wouldn’t be using BART, especially because it would confirm Cynos conspiracy theories.

    Phantom Commuter Reply:

    With “Blended Rail,” trains serving Fresno, Bakersfield, or Kings/Tulare, could transfer at Merced or Grapevine. Better to have 35% make a transfer than 65%, especially when end to end times are vital for success of the project. Told you so…

    Phantom Commuter Reply:

    Meant to say passengers

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    Palmdale belongs on the Las Vegas leg of a wye off an HSR spine line over Tejon Pass.

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    Forget “Blended Rail” and the one-seat ride for San Francisco. Make transfers at San Jose with Caltrain, Capitol Corridor, ACE, BART, and Amtrak close and convenient.

    Clem Reply:

    Why transfer when the high-speed train can just run through at Caltrain speed to San Francisco?

    Roland Reply:

    Because it is not Safe & Reliable.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Ha, ha. It’s as safe & reliable as transferring to Caltrain so why have an extra transfer for no purpose.

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    I would be against cutting significant stations off the main route and requiring transfers or shuttles to serve the area.
    Palmdale is forecast to put 3,900 passengers a day on the HSR by 2029. This is greater than the forecasts for Visalia (1,200), Merced (3,400) or Bakersfield (3,600).
    Despite the controversy, Palmdale is projected to be a more significant traffic generator than its detractors realize.

    Joe Reply:

    Right. With I-5 you avoid all the CV rabble and thus haven’t enough votes in the Leglislature.

    Tokkyu40 Reply:

    And you can get rid of about 18,000 pesky paying passengers a day. That’s only about 23% of the total.

  2. JimInPollockPines
    Jan 23rd, 2016 at 19:59
    #2

    the segment from chowchilla to san jose is simpler that the segment from Bakersfield to Burbank – which will take years if they decide on the national forest tunnel. I think they should stick to following the freeway from pmd to bur.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    We really don’t know enough yet about the various proposals between Palmdale and Burbank to make a decision, let alone begin construction and base a business plan on that route being open. Barring finding some major flaw under Pacheco we have a reasonable chance of trains running in a decade. And if it makes southern California jealous, good. Maybe they’ll get up off their sorry asses and start develping their own systems in readiness. We’ve lost two decades since the optimistic early 90s thanks to the ineptitude of both Boards and management of commuter and intercity rail.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    if transbay to Bakersfield were operation Californians on both sides of the tehachapis will insist it be finished. And if tbt to bfd can be completed faster then that gets something visible / tangible for people to sink their teeth into.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    See Jim, we agree. I’m not a complete idiot.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    yes, get something going. something people can see. ios north has the potential to shape growth and shape the san Joaquin valley’s economic relationship to the bay and norcal.

    ( ive been secretly hoping for ios north all along)

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Ultimately they just have to build something. It does not matter all that much whether the IOS is in the North or South. However, it would be easier to have something that has inertia and momentum work in its favor….

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Hahahaha, nobody said that Paul…

    The issue is that more than likely the private investor want a route that can generate revenue from passengers right away. The land use controls in the Bay Area make that much possible than L.A.

    Another way to think about is, Los Angeles grabbed the San Fernando a century ago because it they could bring water to the people. This would be about bringing people to the water…

  3. Clem
    Jan 23rd, 2016 at 20:13
    #3

    Damn, I’m going to have to redouble my efforts on my new piece, “The Truth About Altamont”

    Reality Check Reply:

    Redouble … as in quadruple the original effort, right? I didn’t even know about the original doubling!

    With the new Facebook funded Dumbarton study getting rolling, it’s propitious timing.

    Altamont is a win for TTT and Caltrain corridor crowding, urgently needed Dumbarton corridor rail services (blended with HSR!) and fixes the stooopid Bay Area – Sacramento HSR dogleg detour via Los Banos without precluding service to the SJ Diridon HSR terminal.

    Win, win, win and win!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There’s more than one way to get out of the Bay Area. The trains to Sacramento could sorta kinda go out along the I-80 corridor.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    trains along the heavily traveled I 80 corridor? preposterous.

    Domayv Reply:

    they’ll need an upgraded higher speed (i.e. 125 mph) with eventual HSR to ease out congestion on I-80 (and this includes that new Donner tunnel)

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    I had always assumed that no hsr trains would run from sf to sac. Wouldn’t that short distance be better suited to an upgraded capitol corridor, with a Transbay tunnel, double tracking, electrification, and other upgrades. You could just run express trains along a sf-Oakland-Berkeley-Martinez/Benicia (I have thought that trains should east from Hercules through tunnels to Port Costa, then travel on a bridge across to Benicia)-Suisin City-Davis-Sac.

    Clem Reply:

    HSR SF to Sac via Altamont will blow the doors off the Cap Cor (whatever improvements you might try—and those billions don’t grow on trees) and will handily beat cars even with no traffic. The former Cap Cor intermediate cities are well served by DMUs.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    ummm….Altamont is a waaay less direct route. Draw a strait line from SF to Sac, and it doesn’t go anywhere near Livermore or Stockton

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Besides, Altamont doesn’t go through San Jose, which is arguably a more important stop than SF itself.

    Clem Reply:

    Distance matters not. It’s about TIME

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    vide “Electrolink North”.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    90 miles at an average speed of 90 it takes an hour to get between San Francisco and Sacramento. 140 miles through the detour over the glorious Altamont means the average speed has to be 140.
    Why is that the detour through Palmdale is the worst thing ever but the detour over Altamont is the bestest thing ever?

    joe Reply:

    Argument is the Altamont…
    … is less total track overall when considering a Sacramento via Merced.
    … is an easier pass with less tunneling.
    … prioritizes SF-Sacramento over cow-town San Jose which gets spur service at Livermore.

    Assumes a Magical Bay Crossing easy as a water tunnel. Reality is BART politics will get them to piggyback on the HSR bay crossing to add a second BART tunnel at the cost of several billions more and years of delay. That’s okay because transfers at Livermore onto BART.

    Still uses Peninsula ROW so NIMBYs still upset but cuts out San Jose so it puts Caltrain HSR funded Electrification at risk.
    Creates new NIMBYs in the East Bay.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why would there be a spur to San Jose when there will be BART service to the station in San Jose or Caltrain sevice to the station on the Peninsula?

    Domayv Reply:

    @Clem: wouldnt it be faster if the Bay Area-Sac (and hopefully Reno via I-80 and Carson City via US-60/future I-70) HSR line went via the I-80 ROW (I guess youre going for Altamont since thats what Western Pacific used for trains between the Bay Area and Sacramento but an HSR between Bay Area and Sac via Altamont makes as little sense as that LA-SD via CA-60 and I-215 line. It could best be made into RailJet-esque services).

    Heres how the Bay Area-Sacramento HSR would work out.
    * There are two branches: one that goes to San Francisco and the other to San Jose.
    * The SF branch goes via I-80 (this also includes nee dedocated tracks to avoid UPRR tracks) and the SJ branch goes via I-680 (to avoid redundancy with a possible East Bay HSR branch)

    Also, theres no DMUs serving the CapCor intermediate cities (the only place in California that uses DMUs other than SMART is that new eBART line, which doesnt even use the CapCor ROW)

    Clem Reply:

    The detour through Palmdale adds cost and complication, and adds trip time to every trip between northern and southern California. All for the marginal benefit of connecting Las Vegas.

    The detour through Altamont is free, because you can re-use the exact same infrastructure needed for Bay Area to LA. A totally new green-field, direct HSR alignment between SF and Sacramento would indeed be faster than the detour through Altamont, but it would be astronomically expensive.

    It’s really all about cost-benefit, something that is slowly (but inexorably) dawning on the California HSR Authority. There’s no use drawing lines on maps if they cost a squintillion dollars to build.

    Clem Reply:

    @Domayv: if cost is no object, yes. Unfortunately, cost is a constraint in the real world.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The movers and shakers in Silicon Valley decided that they didn’t want to get on BART to get to Los Angeles. Save it up for threads on Railroad.net in 2055.

    Clem Reply:

    It would help if you could explain to us what BART has to do with any of this.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Why would anybody in the state be at all concerned that San Jose didn’t have an HSR station when they were a few stops away from one on BART. Like almost all of the Bay Area.

    Clem Reply:

    Wait, who is concerned about what, and why? I’m lost

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Everyone in San Jose and everybody else deeply unconcerned.

    Domayv Reply:

    @Clem: So what could be the reason why an I-80 route, although faster and shorter, would also be more expensive than the Altamont route even though they both have roughly equal amounts of urban land (the I-80 route might have a tad more undeveloped land than the Altamont route) and that they would still need another Transbay Tube to make it to SF.

    Domayv Reply:

    @Clem: (adding from the above post) And I’m referring to just building the infrastructure itself

    Clem Reply:

    @Domayv: because the Altamont route would also serve Bay Area to LA, instead of Pacheco. Pacheco and Altamont are roughly equivalent in cost, but Pacheco does nothing for Sacramento, while Altamont gives you an excellent link to Sacramento essentially for free.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But the movers and shakers in Silicon Valley don’t want to take a BART ride to get to Los Angeles. They want to get on the train someplace in Silicon Valley. I suspect people in the rest of the state, if they thought about it at all want to do the same. Except for the people who have an overwhelming desire to experience the fine shopping, dining and nightlife in Livermore.

    Clem Reply:

    Just what do you suppose would prevent the good burghers of San Jose from boarding a high-speed train in their fine city? Please pull out a map and start making some sense.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Nothing because they were smart enough to get the routing to go right through their towns.

    J. Wong Reply:

    The center of gravity in Silicon Valley is not San Jose. In fact, it has been moving north. It might be Palo Alto or even Menlo Park by now. A Redwood City station will do fine for Silicon Valley.

    J. Wong Reply:

    I don’t get why @synonymouse likes Altamont over the I-80 ROW. After all, all those drivers on I-80 show it is the best in getting to Sacto.

    For all those thinking that HSR should just follow I-80: Do you realize how difficult it will be to get from the East Bay to the Central Valley? I-80 is a freeway that can just go up and over, but HSR needs an easier grade. So its either a tunnel through a fault (the Hayward) or trying to follow the Bay (curves galore).

    Clem Reply:

    Altamont does both for the price of one! Relieves traffic on I-80 and 580.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I said “sorta kinda”. Most Interstates are lousy for HSR, the curves are too tight. Many them are lousy for trains. The NYSDOT report that examined HSR between Montreal and Albany was part of a broader study of congestion along the corridor. Improving the existing freight line would be good for freight. And maybe people who want to take a really slow scenic train ride. I-87 or US9 suck as a train route. They’d have to carve something else. It would still be along the I-87 corridor. Which is the US 9 corridor. It’s been a corridor since the last glacier receded and humans began to filter into the area.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But decision makers didn’t want it !

    Joey Reply:

    San Jose can be assured service by building their branch first. It makes sense in the spirit of getting revenue service up and running as quickly as possible.

    Clem Reply:

    But decision makers didn’t want it !

    The irony of this comment is delicious, coming as it does in a thread about decision makers totally changing their minds!

    joe Reply:

    AAAAaaaalllllltamont!!!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I thought you were still confused about San Jose wanting to be on a through station instead of a long BART ride or Caltrain ride from the nearest HSR station.

    joe Reply:

    The center of gravity in Silicon Valley is not San Jose. In fact, it has been moving north. It might be Palo Alto or even Menlo Park by now. A Redwood City station will do fine for Silicon Valley.

    Moving south, not north.

    RWC will get used but I suspect more people will disembark at SJC and a majority or orders will be coming form the south.

    I’ve been here since 91 and have seen IT offices shift south from Palo Alto to MTView and one to Sunnyvale and now to Santa Clara and North San Jose.

    SF has had IT growth (I was in Glenn Park / Noe Valley 1996-2000 and saw the gentrification wave start) but the largest areas of undeveloped land is south N San Jose which is zoned for large growth where Google and Apple have been buying land for large campuses.

    Clem Reply:

    Salesforce is building a 60-floor skyscraper right in downtown San Jose.

    Joey Reply:

    How many 2 story office parks does it take to equal the square footage of a midrise?

    Joe Reply:

    Hilarious.

    And that means we need quick HSR trips from Sacramento to Salesforce HQ at Mission street.

    Clem Reply:

    SF – Fremont – Tracy – Stockton – Sacramento in an hour and twenty minutes, yes.

    Joey Reply:

    The travel time benefit of Altamont on trips to Sacramento is actually much greater for San Jose – it might be less than an hour depending on the exact number of stops. The current CC route between Oakland and SJ is quite slow – UP has signaled willingness to raise speed limits on parts of it, but forget about speeding up or double tracking Fremont-SJ – as it is, it’s a grandfathered surface alignment through environmentally sensitive areas.

    Domayv Reply:

    @Clem: I’m not talking about Pacheco. I was talking about SF-Sac via I-80 (as well as SJ-Sac via I-680 and I-80) and wanting to know why that route would be more expensive to build, according to you, than SF-Sac via Altamont.

    @J. Wong: BART has managed to cross the Hayward fault on their I-580 line (at-grade) and at the Pittsburgh/Bay Point-SFO/Millbrae line (tunnel), so I can see that an I-80 HSR line would involve making cuts on hills to enable gentler grades.

    Joey Reply:

    Oh, and fun fact: for SJ-Sac travel, it’s actually faster to detour via Pacheco than use the current CC route.

    @Clem: I’m not talking about Pacheco. I was talking about SF-Sac via I-80 (as well as SJ-Sac via I-680 and I-80) and wanting to know why that route would be more expensive to build, according to you, than SF-Sac via Altamont.

    It’s difficult to say how expensive the I-80 routing would be – it probably depends on the investment level. The current route is wholly owned by UP, who has specifically said they will not allow higher speeds or more trains, so you’re left with building a new route. Many parts of the route are hilly and quite constrained.

    Of course, this says nothing about whether it would be more expensive than Altamont, but that completely misses the point – if you build HSR via Altamont, you get faster SF (and SJ) – Sac trips for free – the CHSRA’s own analysis said that the cost difference between Altamont and Pacheco was very small.

    Roland Reply:

    Apple is assembling land for another spaceship in north San Jose and we hope to have a brand new Sprinter station ready for the 10,000 workers when they move in: http://vta-sprinter.org/appleairport-station/

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    and whirled peas and it will make the bubble gum save it’s flavor on the bedpost overnight.

    Clem Reply:

    @Domayv: I’m still not getting through to you. There are three possible corridors in & out of the Bay Area: SR-152 (Pacheco), I-580 (Altamont) and I-80 (Capitol Corridor). If you build SR-152, it’s useless for Sacramento and you need to also build either I-580 or I-80 in addition to SR-152. That’s what makes SR-152 + I-80 much more expensive than just I-580 by itself.

    This is why I-580 is “free” compared to I-80: you’ve already built it for Bay Area – Southern California trips, so you don’t need to build a second HSR corridor to access Sacramento.

    Make sense now?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    So if there are 6 trains an hour from San Francisco to Fresno and points south and 2 an hour from San Jose to Fresno and points south.. there can be 3 an hour from San Francisco to Sacramento and 1 an hour from San Jose to Sacramento and no room to wedge commuter trains in. There’s that pesky stopping distance thing going on if you want to get to Sacramento in an hour or LA in 2:40.

    Clem Reply:

    You’re welcome to argue about that one on railroad.net come 2050.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I thought one of goodnesses of Altamont was that hordes of people where going to be commuting on it too. Ya got 6 an hour from San Francisco to SoCal and 2 an hour from San Jose ya got 4 an hour left for service to Sacramento. And no slots for the commuter trains which were going to be the cherry that is the sundae of goodness Altamont is. Or the once or twice an hour to that place in Nevada that dare not speak it’s name.

    Clem Reply:

    We shouldn’t build it because it will be too successful. Aim rather for mediocrity.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If you send the people going to and from Sacramento through Oakland they don’t have to go through Fremont. I’m sure they will be deeply disappointed that they miss the chance to go through the revered Altamont but the people who want to go to Livermore from San Jose and vice versa would appreciate it. and the people in Davis and Fairfield will be thrilled that they don’t have to drive to Sacramento to get to San Francisco.

    Joey Reply:

    There’s no reason not to continue local service along the exsting CC route and introduce newer express service.

    joe Reply:

    Subsidized CC service competes with non-subsided HSR service.

    Joey Reply:

    It’s not particularly competitive on the trips that are well-served by HSR anyway. Even with CC’s high operating costs, HSR tickets might be more expensive, but when you’re talking about 1:20 vs 2:10 (from San Francisco), it’s not too hard to justify the extra cost. When you’re talking about 1:00 vs 3:10 (from San Jose IIRC), it’s no contest.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But nobody has any plans to build it so it’s about as useful as speculating what the hyperloop travel time would be.

    Domayv Reply:

    @Clem: OK, but I wouldnt rule out the possibility of a new I-80 rail line (people along that corridor would also want faster and more frequent rail service, especially since UPRR wouldnt allow that in their own tracks, meaning that that type of rail service be built with dedicated tracks) particularly if they want to build a new rail tunnel through Donner Pass (which could do wonders for people travelling on I-80 in the winter due to how harsh the Donner Pass’s weather is in the winter) or build a new HSR line that serves at least the northern half of Central Valley (up to around Redding CA) (the SF line would follow I-80, I-505 and I-5 and the Sacramento line would follow CA-99) and even link up with an eventual Cascade HSR line.

    Clem Reply:

    @Domayv: you’re thinking big, but California needs to start small and very lean and mean. Look, we can’t even pull it together enough to fund and build the southern mountain crossing!

    Joe Reply:

    but when you’re talking about 1:20 vs 2:10 (from San Francisco), it’s not too hard to justify the extra cost.

    It’s hard to justify 50 minute savings.

    Moving the iOS north because of time and complexity in the south pretty much ends the chance to plan a bay crossing and new alignment with EIR. Bonus is this awesome switch tanks Caltrain electrification. There are NIMBYs to litigate that point asap.

    Domayv Reply:

    @Clem: guess I’ll have to break this down into smaller segments then (the first would be to create new tracks between Davis and Auburn, both basic passenger and HSR, then extend it to Fairfield, then to Vallejo then eventually extend it to SF (the new Vallejo-Crockett crossing will likely be an undersea crossing to avoid eminent domain and will look something like this: http://img406.imageshack.us/img406/5011/specialelementtunnelx10.jpg, just with the roads replaced with rail. 4 basic passenger tracks and 2 HSR tracks. at Rodeo, the tracks split up. the HSR tracks will stick closer to I-80 whilst the basic passenger tracks will follow roughly the existing alignment))

    Joey Reply:

    It’s hard to justify 50 minute savings.

    It’s hard to justify 50 minute time savings on a 5 hour trip. When it’s ~40% of your trip time, it’s not difficult at all. It also eliminates a transfer, which saves even more perceived time.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Let me repeat: Second Transbay Tube for HSR & Caltrain, continue via Walnut Creek and Concord to Martinez, resume Capitol Corridor route.

    Does anyone really dispute that this is the best route? Should have been done a long time ago.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    Clem its really not about getting from downtown sac to sf so much as serving as many people and places as possible between the greater sac area and the sf bay are which is what capitol corridor already does. with Altamont you would serve a handful of those people who only board at downtown san and who are only going to tbt but it would do nothing to help the folks who live in all the other city pairs. If ccjpa is good enough for Roseville, davis, fairfiled etc pax, then its good enough for sac pax many of whom are not going to downtown sf.

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    neither tejon nor Altamont are happening so just give it rest already.

    EJ Reply:

    Well, good thing you’re here to tell people to shut up, as usual!

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    A major passenger rail terminal for the Bay Area in Oakland at I-880/7th Street, where BART crosses over with 16 trains per hour each way to downtown San Francisco less than 10 minutes away. Good for inter-city and local buses too. Easy emergency bridging if either the Bay Bridge or the BART tube are closed. Postpone the need for a costly new tube under the Bay.

    Michael Reply:

    16 trains an hour with no spare capacity at all at peak. Do you ride BART anymore?

    Robert S. Allen Reply:

    For Capitol Corridor, a new tube from Port Costa to Benicia? Shorter, and no problems with the bridge and freight operations. Could it be funded?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    Remember, any loss in bridge toll revenue will be opposed by BART. It would be far easier to use the old Western Pacific crossing in Antioch to get to Sacramento, but then you have to pick how CAHSR would get from San Jose to Antioch…

    Clem Reply:

    The 80 corridor gets you only to Sacramento, not worth the expense by itself. The Altamont corridor gets you to Sacramento and ALL of Southern California, a few minutes faster than Pacheco (thanks to not having to dawdle along a blended corridor for 50 miles). It’s called “bang for the buck” and is something the HSR Authority had better start pursuing more vigorously if they care about their continued survival.

    Joe Reply:

    Bye bye Caltrain electrification.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Best “bang for the buck” is to be able to run all trains THROUGH San Francisco on a second Transbay Tube. Operational efficiencies save enough to make it better than all other options despite high capital costs.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Time’s a-wastin!

    Clem Reply:

    Working on it!

    William Reply:

    Ah, Altamont vs Pacheco round 10000

    Why would CHSRA trade a strong supporter (Santa Clara County) who has the political votes and influence for non-supporters in eastern Contra Costa County, San Joaquin County? Switching to Altamont will certainly invite more law suit that results in more delay not just from opponents to CHSR, but also from supporters in Santa Clara.

    We all knows Pacheco primary benefits San Jose, which in terms would enable the entire SF-SJ Caltrain upgrades to co-op with HSR works. All the PCJPB members support Pacheco.

    SJ-Sac already has Capitol Corridor, and by 2020 almost all trains will run between SJ and Sac, providing hourly service between the two cities with more upgrades already envisioned.

    Again, any Altamont plan would need to deal with the problem on how to go through Fremont for the new Dumbarton crossing, or which ROW can be used if Altamont is to turn south and serve San Jose first. So the fact remains that, unless cities along the Altamont corridor shows their support and demands it, it is not worth considering reroute CHSR to Altamont.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It would never turn south.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    It’s likely that HSR will have to go through Eastern Contra Costa or Western San Joaquin County to reach Sacramento. But that isn’t a bad thing because it gives BART cover (i.e revenue) to defend intermodal stations in Livermore and Antioch and beyond.

    Altamont only makes sense if you think demand to Sacramento from the Bay Area would be about even to anywhere south of San Jose…But you get various Peninsula dwellers on here that want to protect CalTrain and curtail BART’s imperial designs on the Greater Greater Greater SF Bay Area (In Hoc Signo Vinces)…

    But yes, the burghers of Santa Clara County are quite interested in keeping HSR alive…

  4. Elizabeth
    Jan 23rd, 2016 at 20:15
    #4

    Robert,
    Is this likely to be what is proposed in business plan or this just being floated?

    Roland Reply:

    Morales testimony: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYxieksoBAU&t=1299
    Additional analysis in the comments below this blog post: http://www.greencaltrain.com/2015/07/high-speed-rail-expects-to-compete-with-caltrain-between-san-francisco-and-san-jose/

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    It’s being floated but no word yet on whether it’ll be in the 2016 Business Plan.

  5. synonymouse
    Jan 23rd, 2016 at 20:33
    #5

    San Jose to Fresno in no way meets the provisos of Prop 1a, either in detail or in substance.

    For instance what is the total population of all the burgs this Amtrak-TEE would pass thru in comparison to the population of California?

    What, a couple of heavily subsidized trains each way a day?

    synonymouse Reply:

    This whole strategy reeks of defeatism and I will be genuinely surprised if Jerry ok’s it.

    Aarond Reply:

    I don’t see it happening, either. It might be a mess, but connecting Bakersfield to LA is such a no-brainer (even for just regular intercity service) I don’t see PB/CADOT/Jerry/etc passing it up even if it soaks up all the money.

    Perhaps this is all just a fancy way to find an excuse not to route through Palmdale?

    Eric Reply:

    “Perhaps this is all just a fancy way to find an excuse not to route through Palmdale?”

    I hope so

    EJ Reply:

    Or it’s a play by the South Bay to make sure Pacheco gets built before momentum shifts to Altamont. After all, unlike Tejon vs. Tehachapi, Altamont is completely legal under Prop 1A.

    Ted Judah Reply:

    It’s always easier to start a statewide program in the Bay Area…

    Edward Reply:

    The mouse has a problem. They are putting off the southern pass decision until the next generation.
    They are taking away his fondest fears. What to do… What to do…

    synonymouse Reply:

    Jerry has this same alleged problem. Exit the Legacy.

    All this will do is energize the opponents who have now tasted first blood. People who know nothing of this thing will be asking why in hell are they going to Fresno if the destination is LA?

    A lot of variables recently introduced:

    – potential perhaps likely ballot props that would kill PBCAHSR.

    – the Legislature awakening from its torpor and recognizing a crisis but transport ignorant.

    – Tos. et al upstaged and affected by a possible major change of plan that forces the question why was this case delayed so long?

    – slight possibility of a GOP presidency, cutting off federal funding for years.

    – emergence of driverless cars and exotic transport concepts challenging the hsr brand.

    Aarond Reply:

    I’d bet on a GOP Presidency, though. And I’d also bet that a generic Republican would be warmer to HSR then Hilary who would cause Congress to remain fully red, thus denying any chance of CAHSR being included for federal funding.

    The real issue, as someone else mentioned, is if the VAT tax increase in Stanislaus County for ACE expansion doesn’t pass, which screws CAHSR out of their backup plan in case they can’t connect Diridon to Fresno.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Honestly, nobody but Hillary has a chance at the presidency. The GOP’s only shot it with Rubio or Kasich, and they have virtually no chance of winning the primaries.

    Danny Reply:

    Clinton’s campaign is entirely about getting people to forget this Sanders guy and the polls say compared to him she has the electability of a rotting hamster in the race against Biff Tannen

    Nathanael Reply:

    Hillary doesn’t have a good chance at the Presidency because she is a *terrible* campaigner.

    Trump will almost certainly win the Republican nomination; if he doesn’t, Cruz will win it.

    Bernie Sanders does really well in head-to-head matches against both of them; he trounces them both. Hillary… does not, she is tied within the margin of error.

    If you want a Democratic President, it’s imperative to vote Bernie Sanders in the primary: because of electability.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Bernie gets the nomination all you will hear for months is screeching about him being a socialist. Which might be a bit less than the screeching that will ensue if Hillary is the nominee.

    Aarond Reply:

    Trump totally has a chance. Don’t discount nativism or nationalism. Assuming he can make it to the general, of course. Nobody wants Hilary for the same reason they don’t want Jeb. Hilary is a liability.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    MItt in a landslide!

    Aarond Reply:

    This again? Hilary isn’t an incumbent and Trump has the support of the Tea Party while Mittens didn’t. Mittens was also responsible for the ACA.

    But hey, Hilary *could* win. It would only result in bad things though because Congress would go from crazy to worse.

    Donk Reply:

    Trump seems to be pro-infrastructure and might not be a roadblock to HSR. Cruz would shut everything down. The other guys would follow the party line.

    Joe Reply:

    Trump is a Developer. He’s going to want to have HSR built and named after him.

    EJ Reply:

    It will be the most luxurious and high-class HSR line you’ve ever seen.

    Joe Reply:

    When you ride this train, it will blow your mind.

    swing hanger Reply:

    Viaducts with catenary, not walls with razor wire, I hope…

    Donk Reply:

    The Trump Train?
    The Donald Daylight?
    The Wig Wind?
    The You’re Fired Flyer?
    The Ego Express?
    The Xenophobic Zephyr?

    Ted Judah Reply:

    …Trump Speed Rail…

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Kasich and Jeb have a proven track record of killing HSR. Trump is a real estate developer (who could see the benefits of rising property values) but he is also a total wildcard and parts or all of his shtick might be an act… The others have not yet presented any stance on HSR that I am aware of, which just goes to show how little thought that topic is given…

  6. Aarond
    Jan 23rd, 2016 at 20:40
    #6

    My hangup is that the Bakersfield-LA gap should be fixed first. In the event that CAHSR completely bites the dust, Amtrak California could still run a train from SF to LA via Altamont. Sure, it will cost a lot of money, but the payoff is huge as it would fix the largest gap in the state’s rail system.

    les Reply:

    C&T funds should cover the north, but not so in the south. Jerry needs to come up with another bond, fed loans or a Chinese fortune cookie stuffed with winning lotto tickets if he wants to do the south.

    Aarond Reply:

    I understand the funding issue, but perhaps LA could look into doing a bond? They could sell it as a Metrolink expansion to Bakersfield (like ACE to Modesto).

    Hank Reply:

    Would such a bond need pass by majorities in both counties? Kern County voters won’t pass a transient occupancy tax let alone a rail bond!

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    L.A. is maxing out it’s tax options with another sales tax proposal but all the money goes on local needs. Counties will not pay for regional programs. That’s why Metrolink has not evolved into something better in two decades. There’s a better chance of L.A. funding a line to Palmdale than to Bakersfield.
    The problem with bridging the gap in the south becomes one of technology. With a “conventional” rail crossing you will be hauling short trains of heavy cars behind beefy electric locos, replacing them with diesels at Bakersfield and vice versa, or a change of train. Neither will be particularly successful commercially.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    How about a ticket surcharge on the new LA stadium?

    I know this has nothing to do with HSR, but almost all NFL stadiums are paid for by people other than those going to the games…

    les Reply:

    That is the beauty of getting the spine done first. LA, Sacramento and SF can each do their own thing to close the gap without relying on Jerry being around for eternity. SF is already doing theirs. LA has got a lot of work to do but hopefully Jerry can at least get Bakersfield – Palmdale started before sun-setting. If not there are other possibilities. If Xpresswest’s line pans out LA might get an infusion there. But LA has got to start taking some initiative.

    Aarond Reply:

    The devil is in the details. Metrolink has a connection, right now, to Palmdale. If CAHSR can connect Bakersfield to Palmdale then they can run a through train from SF to LA. Then the issue becomes blending HSR and Metrolink. At that point, they can get the San Fernando Valley counties to do pay for the rest (possibly even San Diego, because once the run-through tracks are done they could run all the way down there).

    CAHSR will have to blend with Metrolink at some point. The question is where, because everything after that requires grade separation. If funding becomes a serious concern they could route into Palmdale, get the IOS running (but not Prop 1A compliant). Meanwhile up north they could just run through ACE’s lines.

    It’s messy but as a stopgap solution it would work. My fear is that CADOT would get lazy and consider themselves done.

    Aarond Reply:

    To be clear, the idea of blending Metrolink and HSR is probably harder than doing HSR along it’s own ROW. Metrolink’s Antelope Valley line is definitely not modern. Much of it is single tracked (especially the parts through Acton) and it curves around through central Santa Clarita. Speed restrictions are down to 40-60 mph. Inside LA proper, there’s freight traffic to worry about and over 20 grade crossings into LAUS.

    It’s not a pretty solution (because it really isn’t a solution, but a temp fix). But, it would be possible to run a diesel A/C train direct from LAUS to SF until PB/Metrolink figure out how to modernize it.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    “Harder than doing HSR along it[‘]s own ROW”? No, it’s identical to that.

    Electrolink “blended” with HSR is totally trivial.
    It’s a non-problem.

    (“Metrolink” is a problem. Just define it out of existence by substituting “Elec” for “Me”.)

    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2010/07/debate-over-hsr-routing-near-la-union-station-heats-up-again/#comment-81757
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2010/07/debate-over-hsr-routing-near-la-union-station-heats-up-again/#comment-81779
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2010/07/debate-over-hsr-routing-near-la-union-station-heats-up-again/#comment-81781
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2010/07/debate-over-hsr-routing-near-la-union-station-heats-up-again/#comment-81803
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2010/07/debate-over-hsr-routing-near-la-union-station-heats-up-again/#comment-81823
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2010/07/debate-over-hsr-routing-near-la-union-station-heats-up-again/#comment-81838
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2010/07/debate-over-hsr-routing-near-la-union-station-heats-up-again/#comment-81842
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2010/07/debate-over-hsr-routing-near-la-union-station-heats-up-again/#comment-81898
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2010/07/july-chsra-board-meeting-2/#comment-80902
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2010/09/carrd-charges-two-chsra-board-members-have-a-conflict-of-interest/#comment-87389
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2011/01/octa-board-questions-artic-plans/#comment-99364
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2011/03/march-chsra-board-meeting/#comment-103935
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2011/03/march-chsra-board-meeting/#comment-104024
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2011/03/march-chsra-board-meeting/#comment-104159
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2011/11/kopp-and-morshed-raise-questions-about-new-business-plan/#comment-129937
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2012/01/learning-from-high-speed-rail-in-spain/#comment-135870
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2012/08/getting-union-station-ready-for-high-speed-rail/#comment-162665
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2012/08/getting-union-station-ready-for-high-speed-rail/#comment-162772
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2014/04/state-asks-fra-for-flexibility-on-buy-america-rules-but-only-for-prototypes/#comment-223476
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2014/04/state-asks-fra-for-flexibility-on-buy-america-rules-but-only-for-prototypes/#comment-223565
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2015/09/china-announces-it-will-help-build-la-vegas-hsr/#comment-261850
    http://www.cahsrblog.com/2015/09/metro-hopes-to-use-2024-olympic-bid-to-accelerate-rail-construction#comment-261326

    Domayv Reply:

    for Metrolink to modernize the Antelope Valley line, they would have to purchase the ROW from Downtown Burbank north from UPRR (and UPRR doesnt want to give away one of the most important lines to someone else). Another issue is that the ROW within San Fernando is too narrow to make dedicated tracks in its current configuration, lest they elevate the tracks (the width of a 4-track ROW within the NEC is around 60 feet, and the width of the San Fernando ROW within the majority between Downtown Burbank and Newhall is 90 feet, which is wide enough to accommodate both a regular 4 track ROW for both passenger and UPRR freight and a 2-track high speed dedicated ROW, though the latter might have to be stacked on top of San Fernando Road). Plus they would have to make it at least 40 feet tall so it can go through I-5 (lest they rebuild and trench-tunnel the segment of the freeway between Lankershim Boulevard and Sunland Boulevard, so that the new railway viaduct wouldn’t be so high) and CA-118 (lest they rebuild and trench-tunnel the segment of the freeway between the I-405 and I-210 interchanges).

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Los Angeles county owns the line to Palmdale
    Has done since 1994

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Metrolink and HSR wont share tracks. North of Burbank, the routing isn’t HSR appropriate, and south of Burbank, the track is way too congested. My bet is on the Palmdale to Burbank tunnels (preferably with the bridge over in La Crecenta, because that would be cool), then HSR in its own ROW along Amtrak/metrolink through Glendale, then under Elysian Park in tunnels. I can anticipate Metrolink Antelope Valley line service getting cut back to Via Princesa, with Metrolink running EMUs from Lancaster to Palmdale along regular track, through the tunnel with HSR, and south of Burbank on regular track, but this would require complicated electrification south of Burbank, and bringing all other Metrolink and Amtrak trains down to single-level (not a bad thing).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It’s faster to take the bus between Bakersfield and Los Angeles. The Amtrak schedule shows two and ten minutes or two hours and twenty for the bus. The Metrolink schedules show two hours give or take a few minutes for Palmdale to LA.

    Danny Reply:

    it also prevents the Bay and LA from pigging out on CAHSRA money and then dissolving it once it’s improved their commuter systems for them

    Donk Reply:

    That is a ridiculous statement. LA pay for the biggest engineering challenge on its own, for the benefit of the entire state? Bridging Bako-Burbank is a state problem.

    Clem Reply:

    The gap is indeed a state problem, and a self-inflicted one at that! Tejon beckons

    synonymouse Reply:

    Precisely

    Joe Reply:

    It’s a Federal Problem and the Feds will help pay for Tehachipi.

    synonymouse Reply:

    It is a United Nations Problem.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Cut the cost; buy the Ranch.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Jerry can buy the ranch before buying the farm.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    I would prefer that, but for the reasons given in the post (and by others in the comments) I’m totally fine with starting in the North if that’s what the CHSRA board decides.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I doubt the IOS North will get Jerry’s blessing because Palmdale is currently in a better bargaining position no matter what goes down and will today get a richer compensation prize if the route is changed or does not happen at all. Somehow this whole project seems to revolve around Palmdale and the Tejon Ranch. They have acquired veto power no one else has had until Sta. Clarita rose up. Recall PAMPA has only gotten a smaller footprint and mitigation.

    A decade from now Prop 1a promises will be ancient history. The Palmdale real estate interests have to be aware of this.

    I am not the only one who thinks Brown has gone Hollywood and in his latter years favors SoCal.

    J. Wong Reply:

    “Jerry’s blessing”? You really don’t know how things work. Gov. Brown doesn’t micro-manage the Authority.

    If anything, certain people within the Authority at some point decided that Tejon Ranch had veto power. The question is whether they are still there and whether they still think that, or whether Richards or Morales believe that. Pretty clear also that PAMPA had less leverage because of the Caltrain ROW. (A ROW in hand is worth 2 in the bush.)

    synonymouse Reply:

    PBCHSRA has money leverage over PAMPA – no hsr no Caltrain upgrade. And of course hsr keeps BART Vader sulking and skulking.

    J. Wong Reply:

    So IOS North it is!

  7. Derek
    Jan 23rd, 2016 at 21:43
    #7

    If they start from the north, they shouldn’t stop at Bakersfield. Rather, they should build it all the way to Palmdale and Victorville so XpressWest has something besides Metrolink to connect to.

    AGTMADCAT Reply:

    I think you might be misunderstanding – they’re going to build the whole system, the question is where they start. Getting South of Bakersfield is hard, so they’re considering tackling that after the Northern crossing to San Jose. If they were doing the expensive complicated crossing from Bakersfield to Palmdale, then they might as well go all the way! =)

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Mabye XpressWest, in return for getting exclusive operating rights along CAHSR, could pay to bridge the Tehachapi or Palmdale-Burbank gap.

    Nathanael Reply:

    They have to get funding for Vegas to Victorville first.

  8. Paul Dyson
    Jan 23rd, 2016 at 21:56
    #8

    To clarify my comment to Ralph, and to Robert’s point, I should have said that the project should have been broken down into chewable segments so that the public were not oversold on when trains would be running. Unlike Europe we had to get into the city centers. Unlike China we cannot just bulldoze our way through. Existing rail routes have major compatibility issues, as Clem has pointed out.
    I agree with Robert that the incremental approach has failed, or at best has given us 5 years of improvements in the last 30. But the big bang approach is teetering on the brink as well. Passenger rail clearly has an institutional problem in this country and I wish I could figure out how to solve it. Maybe CHSRA should be CPRA and be responsible for every route that crosses County lines. Which of course would make the newly formed JPAs irrelevant. I’ve come to the conclusion that JPAs are about the worst way to run any business, so I would not shed any tears.

    Clem Reply:

    Perhaps Electrolink could be the consolation prize?

    Bdawe Reply:

    Someone would have to figure out how to remove everyone at Metrolink who signed off on 200t BNSF bumpers before that should happen

    Aarond Reply:

    It’s 50+ years of freeway-centered planning policy combined with local geography. Ideally BART wouldn’t have been the mess it was/is so that the earth wouldn’t had been salted against orthodox regional transit authorities in the first place. JPAs were a hacked up solution to an administrative problem that shouldn’t exist in the first place.

    In every other state I can think of, transit services aren’t nearly the mess they are here. Of course, this happens because most other states a) are smaller than CA and b) have existing rail infrastructure to exploit. California has neither since the Class Is never wanted to spend the money to get over mountain ranges. The result is that other states, while new to rail transit, are able to adopt them much more easily and get it up to a semi-modern spec.

    Hopefully, at some point Metrolink will quietly fold into LACMTA, while Caltrain gets a tunnel to Oakland and can be absorbed into Caltrans like ACE is.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    (The equivalent of) JPAs work brilliantly for regional transit in advanced civilized democracies.

    What is it about the brave capitalist Republic of California that you believe demands state- or federal-lead dirigisme? Why are regional transportation coordination organizations “hacked up”? How is it that hacks somehow work across international borders and provide a thousand times better transit service than your Caltrans manages?

    Why should the State Department of Highways (errr, “Transportation”) or (yes, there are worse thing … )Amtrak be determining at which minutes past the hour trains should make stops at Belmont?

    And please give it a fucking break on the “Caltrain tunnel to Oakland” BS. The opportunity for that was killed off by America’s Finest Transportation Planning Professionals in 2003.. I was there, I saw it happen. Sometime go outside and look at the buildings that actually exist in downtown SF here in Planet Earth in 2016 and maybe you’ll stop foaming nonsensically.

    Aarond Reply:

    Meanwhile JPAs (and JPA like organizations) themselves impede progress once densification occurs. Imagine if the NYC MTA didn’t exist, and planning was spread across three subway systems (BMT, IND, PATH), 6+ bus systems and five railroads (NJT, LIRR, CDOT, NYDOT, Amtrak). It would be a mess. Just like the Bay Area is today transitwise.

    That being said, the term “hacked up” was loaded. JPAs aren’t ideal at all but they are useful in areas just starting to grow. However, at some point it makes more sense to consolidate.

    And you are right that Caltrans is unfit to run local rail services, that was stupid of me to suggest. However, a regional Bay Area transit agency would be a net positive because it would improve transit planning and make the existing systems better connected and more useful to riders. This is what BART tried to be.

    Also, I will proudly foam up on a Caltrain-Oakland tunnel because it’s a great idea. Even if it’s not going to happen in our lifetimes.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    NJT, LIRR Metro North is a huge, inefficient, corrupt, expensive mess unresponsive to changing travel patterns.

    synonymouse Reply:

    “…a huge, inefficient, corrupt, expensive mess unresponsive to changing travel patterns.”

    Sounds like BART to me – just add hopelessly incompatible thus next to impossible to repurpose or modify. I guess that was the intention.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    NJTransit has quadrupled train ridership since it was formed. They built the cheap small-ish project out in the swamp where the former DL&W passed under the former PRR and had stampeding hordes of passengers show up. So many that it put bus lines out of business. They did the fiddly bit in Montclair that connected the former Erie branch line to the former DL&W branch line. So much traffic that they have to build a second set of tunnels under the Hudson. Taj Lautenberg, last time I looked, has 17,000 transfers a day and parking lots that charge 20 bucks.
    The LIRR found the money to connect the set of tunnels under the East River to Grand Central Station. Should be completed any decade.

    Phantom Commuter Reply:

    It’s called a Regional Transportation Authority (RTA)

    Nathanael Reply:

    Chicago’s RTA has somehow not managed to actually unify the three squabbling sub-agencies. But most RTAs do succeed at unifying planning and they’re quite good.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Once Democrats lost the U.S. House and failed to take it back, any hope of a big bang was lost. California also missed its chance to provide a good long-term transportation funding package in 2013-14, even though there had been a lot of discussion in the wake of the 2012 election of doing it.

    So we’re probably going to get something more than the slow evolution of the last 40 years, and something less than a big bang. Punctuated equilibrium?

  9. Richard Mlynarik
    Jan 23rd, 2016 at 22:33
    #9

    CHSRA’s new plan is super awesome!
    Even better than their last plan, which we will never mention again.
    Everybody else is a NIMBY.
    Everything else is discredited. By C4HSR.
    Peak Oil is Bad.
    Old people deny the future, which will be full of trains and iPhones.
    We have always been at war with Eastasia.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Pivot!

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Yeah!
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1vfXoUNDYA

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    I don’t think this should exactly be compared to 1984.

    Phantom Commuter Reply:

    Nailed it ! :-)

  10. Robert S. Allen
    Jan 23rd, 2016 at 22:46
    #10

    2008 Prop 1A was for “Safe, Reliable” HSR. CPUC has safety oversight responsibility over rail crossings. CHSRA needs CPUC analysis and approval – highly unlikely for HSR on 79 mph Caltrain track, let alone at 110 mph with grade crossings like they propose. Remember Bourbonnais, where Amtrak on 79 mph track hit a heavy truck and derailed two locomotives and 11 of 13 cars. Grade crossings even on 79 mph track are risky, with trains vulnerable to accident, suicide, sabotage, and worse.

    San Jose and Gilroy toward Los Banos and then along I-5 to Tejon Pass on fenced, grade-separated track would be shorter, faster, and far cheaper. Run it for now just to San Jose, with direct connections there to Caltrain, Capitol Corridor, ACE, and BART. The test track now under construction would be great extended up to Sacramento.

    Clem Reply:

    If this news is true, then it is possible that billions will be headed to the peninsula to resolve your concerns.

    HSR and Caltrain will meet the same crashworthiness standards. What’s allowed for one will be allowed for the other.

    Zorro Reply:

    Seriously Robert? i5 for HSR will not happen, Construction and money is happening along the 99 and the money can not be moved, nothing will change that.

    Grade separation in the Palo Alto area will happen, here’s an article on that dated Oct 18, 2015:
    City seeks $1 billion for improved rail crossings from VTA tax

    Calling it a critical project not just for Palo Alto but for commuters throughout the Santa Clara County, city officials on Tuesday night made a fresh pitch for grade separation of the rail corridor throughout the county and argued that at least 15 percent of the proceeds of a proposed countywide transportation-tax measure should be dedicated to this effort.

    The council voted 8-0, with Liz Kniss absent, to direct staff to advocate for inclusion of Caltrain grade separation in the package of transportation improvements that would be funded by the November 2016 ballot measure.

    The tax measure is expected to generate about $6 billion over a 30-year time frame. While Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority (VTA) is still in the process of figuring out which projects the money should fund, one project that will almost certain win a good share of the funds is extension of BART to San Jose.

    That project has drawn close to 80 percent of the funds from the prior two countywide VTA tax measures, in 2000 and 2008, prompting concerns from Palo Alto and other North County cities about not getting its fair share of improvements for its tax contributions.

    The council has advocated for grade separation in the past, though the expected increase in Caltrain service and the prospect of high-speed rail coming to town has elevated the project’s urgency.

    Councilman Pat Burt noted that these two projects will send about 20 trains through the city every hour, closing the crossings across the corridor every three minutes and creating traffic congestion. Given how much money VTA has put into the BART project, it’s time for the city to request similar improvements for Caltrain, a service that is just as critical for commuters, Burt said.

    “The dollars spent here on transit predominantly serve workers from throughout the county who work here and have to get here,” he said. “It’s not principally local residents who will utilize those benefits. It’s the workers who will use that system and free up the other roadways between San Jose and elsewhere.”

    Grade separation (an under- or overpass) of Caltrain is already included in the list that Palo Alto submitted to the VTA as part of the planning process for the tax measure.

    According to Palo Alto planning staff, the list of projects that the cities across the county have contributed to the VTA totals about $40 billion. A trench for Caltrain in the southern half of Palo Alto is expected to cost between $500 million and $1 billion, according to a preliminary engineering study the city commissioned last year.

  11. john burrows
    Jan 23rd, 2016 at 23:49
    #11

    Please excuse the long quote from Bechtel/Arup/SYSTRA’s Sept. 28 response to the Authority’s Request For Expressions of Interest.

    DISCUSSION OF POTENTIAL OPTIONS FOR DELIVERY APPROACH

    In light of the challenges described, particularly the scale of the project, the requirements for the IOS to operate without a subsidy and the need to attract significant private investment to complete Phase 1, the Bechtel/Arup/SYSTRA team’s recommended approach is to accelerate the development of IOS-North as a public investment, and deliver the balance of phase 1, the Bakersfield-Anaheim section, herein called the Base Connection (BC), with significant private investment. Our rationale is three-fold:

    1. Packaging the entire Phase 1 as a single $30B PPP would exceed market capacity and risk appetite.

    2. IOS-North has less technical risk due to its geography and greater certainty of achieving its Record of Decision (ROD) in 2017 because there are few practical alignment options within the Caltrain ROW. While we recognize that the authority is committed to achieving all of the RODs in 2017, initiating the procurement for the IOS delivery contract before receiving RODs still poses risks related to time and money spent on a bid that may be delayed. Reducing this risk will result in more interest for the procurement.

    3. The BC has greater opportunity for private sector investment and development.

    a. IOS-North has fewer opportunities for development as the Northern stations (SF-SJ) are in already-developed areas and shared with Caltrain. The BC can be leveraged by incentives for greater commuter and tourist passengers.
    b. Development rights in areas not currently served by effective rail connections (Palmdale and Burbank)
    c. Opportunity to incentivize through track access charges for multiple operators; include traffic risk exposure in a DBFM, as the developer will have the opportunity to negotiate with multiple operators to use their infrastructure, including the CHSR Operator, XpressWest, Amtrak and Metrolink. Through track access charges, there is also the potential to engage freight stakeholders that can be incentivized to shift Metrolink traffic off of freight corridor and onto HSR tracks as a blended system, similar to the blended system planned for San Francisco to San Jose.
    d. Demonstrated traffic and reduction of operating/start-up risk through contracting IOS-North lowers the risk profile of the development of BC making such a deal more marketable and bankable, than the reverse of building IOS-South first.

    We will find out in a few weeks if the 2016 Business Plan has any similarities to Bechtel’s recommended approach.

  12. Donk
    Jan 24th, 2016 at 07:35
    #12

    This is a great opportunity for CHSRA to scrap Palmdale and go with Tejon. As Clem pointed out many times, this could save $5B+. If they are coming to the conclusion that the mountain crossing is just too complicated and expensive, this will be the obvious alternative.

    If they focus on IOS-North first, they can keep on pretending that Palmdale is still an option, so that they don’t “violate” Prop 1A, as many of you are so concerned about. Then once they spend out the Prop 1A funds, they can officially take Palmdale off the table.

    If Vegas is concerned about the connection to LA, then NV can can fund the rest of the line. Even though I like seeing lines connected on maps too, a connection to Vegas is basically at the bottom of our priority list.

    Zorro Reply:

    Palmdale would sue, as Palmdale is included in Prop1a, so to not go thru Palmdale is illegal

    Clem Reply:

    When the only financially feasible alternative is outlawed, the result is no HSR for California. Simple as that.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Just because someone sues, doesn’t mean they have a case or that HSR is over. If the mere bringing of a lawsuit was enough to do that, this whole thing would have been over in 2009.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Also, wasn’t it the case that with Palmdale ready to sue, and Tejon Ranch willing to put up money to stop both Tejon and Bakersfield, and likely Santa Clarita too that the Authority thought it a “no brainer” to route over Tehachapi through Palmdale. With a Bakersfield alignment already decided (not quite yet of course) and signed off by the city or even built, it removes one of the threats from Tejon Ranch (which was more likely the more significant threat in the 1st place).

    Joe Reply:

    Senator Reid’s letter to Gov Brown urging Palmdale.

    http://www.palmdalechamber.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/07/Reid-Brown-High-Speed-Rail-June16.pdf

    Zorro Reply:

    Prop1a just cause it would have no money would not mean that Prop1a would cease to exist, so Palmdale would still be required by Law.

    Zorro Reply:

    And who says HSR will be outlawed?

    Only Runner and Huff…

    morris brown Reply:

    Clem certainly has it right. Take out Palmdale, Prop 1A bonds could not be legally floated, since Palmdale was hard coded in which routing the bonds would funds.

    BTW, the interview with Morales in December mentioned in the Times Article was on KCRA on Dc 11th, 2015.

    LInk:

    http://www.kcra.com/news/highspeed-rails-treeplanting-plan-slow-to-start/36864728

    Its main emphasis was dealing the Authority’s promise to plant trees. At the end is where Morales briefly mentions possibly starting in the North rather then the present plan to start in the south.

    From the transcript. this was said:

    Meanwhile, Morales said the authority is currently re-evaluating which section of the line will be the first to offer passenger service.

    Initial plans called for service to begin in 2022 between Merced and the San Fernando Valley.

    However, Morales said Tuesday his staff is also looking at starting on a section between San Jose and Bakersfield.

    A decision is expected by the time the authority releases an updated business plan in early February.

    On YouTube that portion of the TV interview:

    Link:

    https://youtu.be/7BE6SxGoaFc

    (34 seconds) can be viewed..

    Joe Reply:

    I disagree that Palmdale is baked in by prop1a.

    Palmdale is a political necessity. Senator Reid and LA county support depends on Palmdale.

    When the 9 b of prop1a is spent, the Authority is no longer bound by the initiative. Politics can change such as Ried leaving office. Right now they need Palmdale.

    They are legally bound to plan and construct a fully compliant system as long as they are spending or trying no to access prop1a funds.

    When prop1a is exhausted the authority can revisit the plan and of course all this bullshit obstructionism litigating prop1a goes away just as the SBT Federalizing the project has removed CEQA requirements.

    Zorro Reply:

    You can state your own opinion but facts are facts, Palmdale is mentioned as one of the segments, Prop1a money or not.

    Proposition 1A Smart Voter Archive

    Phase I of the train project is the corridor between San Francisco Transbay Terminal and Los Angeles Union Station and Anaheim. If the authority finds that there would be no negative impact on the construction of Phase I of the project, bond funds may be used on any of the following corridors:

    Sacramento to Stockton to Fresno
    San Francisco Transbay Terminal to San Jose to Fresno
    Oakland to San Jose
    Fresno to Bakersfield to Palmdale to Los Angeles Union Station
    Los Angeles Union Station to Riverside to San Diego
    Los Angeles Union Station to Anaheim to Irvine
    Merced to Stockton to Oakland and San Francisco via the Altamont Corridor

    The measure requires accountability and oversight of the authority’s use of bond funds authorized by this measure for a high-speed train system. Specifically, the bond funds must be appropriated by the Legislature, and the State Auditor must periodically audit the use of the bond funds. In addition, the authority generally must submit to the Department of Finance and the Legislature a detailed funding plan for each corridor or segment of a corridor, before bond funds would be appropriated for that corridor or segment. The funding plans must also be reviewed by a committee whose members include financial experts and high-speed train experts. An updated funding plan is required to be submitted and approved by the Director of Finance before the authority can spend the bond funds, once appropriated.

    Other Passenger Rail Systems. The remaining $950 million in bond funds would be available to fund capital projects that improve other passenger rail systems in order to enhance these systems’ capacity, or safety, or allow riders to connect to the high-speed train system. Of the $950 million, $190 million is designated to improve the state’s intercity rail services. The remaining $760 million would be used for other passenger rail services including urban and commuter rail.

    Joe Reply:

    The escape clause is this:

    If the authority finds that there would be no negative impact on the construction of Phase I of the project, bond funds may be used on any of the following corridors:

    They can claim a negative impact.

    To be clear, it’s currently project suicide for HSR to bypass Palmdale. Political Sponsors would not accept such a switch.

    It’s dumb politics at the federal level given GOP Controled Nevada is pushing for Xpresswest to SoCal with a likely connection at Palmdale. A multi-state HSR system is far more likely to get billions in Federal funds to offset the so called 5B in savings.

    I don’t think Palmdale is baked in such that one can litigate. I do think it’s going to happen because it’s the politically preferred route.

    Clem Reply:

    It’s currently project suicide to attempt a double mountain crossing via Palmdale. If this isn’t abundantly clear by now, I don’t know what can convince you.

    les Reply:

    @Clem You talking about Tehachapi-Lancaster segment I assume. Is this true for both alternatives? Do you have a link on why?

    Clem Reply:

    I’m talking about a first mountain crossing from Bakersfield over the Tehachapis to Palmdale, followed by a second mountain crossing from Palmdale over the San Gabriels to Burbank. Two mountain crossings when you can do it all in one straight shot over Tejon.

    Clem Reply:

    Here’s what I’m talking about in one simple comparison chart. The Tejon dromedary (one hump) is much easier to build than the Palmdale camel (two humps).

    Roland Reply:

    What is your solution for connection Bakersfield to the Vegas branch?

    Clem Reply:

    We’ll see after we’ve connected Sacramento, which is a larger conurbation than Las Vegas and no less than our state capital.

    Then we might look at an alignment roughly following SR 138.

    EJ Reply:

    Surely if CAHSR ever connects to Express West, it should be via Cajon pass, right? It’s a straighter shot from LA and it’s a better connection to San Diego.

    Reality Check Reply:

    Clem: your Tehachapi vs. Tejon profile chart is brilliant. Great work!

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And in 2060 , Cajon is a much better connection between San Diego, Bakersfield and points north.

    Joe Reply:

    The project plan is running through Palmdale so far and it hasn’t been terminated.
    Senator Reid protected the funding and wrote a letter to Brown supporting Palmdale.

    If it changes it will happen at a future date when the federal stakeholders have a chance to decide if they want to support Palmdale.

    Meanwhile it’s Palmdale or project loss of sponsorship and sure termination.

    Nice to see the state patriotism for Sacramento. Nevada offers more and bipartisan federal support. That’s where the money is. Meanwhile Sacramento has Amtrak support so it’s not as if we’re neglecting the City.

    Eric Reply:

    Even better than Cajon would be to go east to the Palm Springs area and then north – how about *no* significant mountain crossings, and a better connection to Phoenix to boot!

    les Reply:

    Sacramento isn’t an issue, it is included regardless of route. However, LA-LV adds 3 fold revenue stream over LA-SF, crazy to discount it.

    Clem Reply:

    If it’s that juicy we’ll surely read about it in the upcoming business plan. I can’t wait!

    les Reply:

    I’m not sure why new business plan would wipe out a MOU that has already been signed.
    “XpressWest and the Authority agree to work together to maximize revenue, ridership and customor experience resulting……”
    http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/about/partnerships/mou/CHSRA_XW_MOU_CHSRA_dated_9_1_14_Executed.pdf

    datacruncher Reply:

    As that MOU states at the top of pdf page 4:
    “The Parties acknowledge that this (“MOU”) is only intended to provide cooperation between the Parties and does not create any legally binding rights or obligations.”

    J. Wong Reply:

    Look, the Authority and the 2016 Business Plan don’t need to drop Palmdale but simply refocus on the northern crossing. By the time that is complete and HSR is running from at least San Jose (if not SF) to Bakersfield, then they can refocus on the southern crossing and drop Palmdale. All of the northern opposition will have been countered (HSR running on the Peninsula!) and all they would have to deal with is Tejon Ranch, maybe Palmdale, and Santa Clarita with the rest of L.A. and the Central Valley clamoring for completion.

    Jon Reply:

    Refocusing on the north also allows them to get round the fact that Palmdale is required by Prop 1A. By the time they get round to building south all the Prop 1A money will be used up and they will no longer be bound by the conditions that came with that money.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Possibly but don’t you think Palmdale is hep to the plan? I mean it reacted vehemently at the slightest suggestion of a restudy of Tejon.

    Sue, Palmdale, sue. No back burner for us, Jerry.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Even if Palmdale is “hep to the plan” unless the Authority actually nixes the Tehachapi alignment Palmdale has no basis to sue. Which is what I predict. The 2016 Business Plan will redirect resources and attention to the north w/o changing w.r.t. Tehachapi. Then when the IOS exists from SF to Bakersfield neither Palmdale nor Tejon Ranch will have any leverage. (Tejon Ranch was threatening to stop HSR in Bakersfield.)

    synonymouse Reply:

    Recall Van Ark was only recommending a deeper study of Tejon due to costs and other problems at Tehachapi. There was no decision about pulling the Palmdale detour.

    So there was only an implicit threat to Palmdale exceptionalism at that time just as this indefinite postponement and realigning of priorities represents an implicit threat to Palmdale. They have clear grounds to sue on the basis that claiming an impasse at Sta. Clarita-San Gabriels is bogus and illegally re-interprets Prop 1a, which I believe such a bifurcation and postponement does.

    After all opposition is not stopping PB in the Valley nor their use of eminent domain.

    synonymouse Reply:

    And of course the people in Kings County can demand to know who died and made Acton king.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Palmdale was only threatening to sue if the Authority actually chose Tejon. They had no basis to sue if the Authority decided to simply study Tejon.

    “They have clear grounds to sue on the basis that claiming an impasse at Sta. Clarita-San Gabriels is bogus and illegally re-interprets Prop 1a, which I believe such a bifurcation and postponement does.”

    Actually, no @synonymouse, they don’t have grounds to sue based on hypotheticals. They can only sue based on facts. (Funny thing about our legal system, facts are paramount.)

    The Authority apparently decided not to waste time on Tejon, itself, based on the threat of Tejon Ranch, Palmdale, and Santa Clarita. And Tejon Ranch wasn’t just threatening a Tejon alignment but Bakersfield as well, which IMHO was the more significant threat. (Palmdale and Santa Clarita are just noise, i.e., no actual threat but an inconvenience.)

    Once the ICS is built to Bakersfield, the Tejon Ranch threat is mostly eliminated. We’ll see then whether the Authority revisits Tejon. Interestingly enough, the Authority’s actions would imply that Tejon is better than the Tehachapi alignment because the study would have shown that and made it that much harder to chose the latter over the former.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I suggest the Ranch’s best and preferred plan is to see PBCHSRA entirely in the crapper.

    Palmdale secured what it wanted by threatening to sue. What it wanted was no genuine effort to engineer Tejon. Van Ark was canned and the ensuing “study” was totally hamstrung and falsified.

    So they got their way by merely threatening to sue. There is no reason to believe their lawsuit would have succeeded; after all the machine controlled courts have thus far rubber stamped PB at every turn.

    So if I were Palmdale I would threaten to sue. Jerry would want to hear them complain anyway as all of the voices of late have come from opponents. I cannot imagine Brown would endorse this plan as he would be throwing away all his juice as governor. His successors are almost certainly going to be lukewarm to His Legacy.

    Might as well go to the mat now. Apparently the Repubs want to throw open national forests to exploitation. If they get the presidency the enviros will be even more riled up and opposed to any attempt to soften up the Angeles National Forest for development.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Tunnels deep under the forest aren’t development.

    synonymouse Reply:

    According to TRAC the real impacts of the Angeles National Forest tunnels are not pretty:

    http://www.calrailnews.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/crn1015e-online.pdf

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    find something less hysterical. In both senses of the word.

    synonymouse Reply:

    They’re on the ground; you’re in the snow.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I want their dealer’s number cuz’ he’s got some really good sh*t.

    Peter Reply:

    My favorite part: “according to unconfirmed rumors”

    J. Wong Reply:

    Geez, @synonymouse, 1st it’s Tejon Ranch is all powerful now it’s Palmdale. Palmdale’s threatening to sue wasn’t why the Authority canned Tejon, it was Tejon Ranch. Sure Palmdale would have been a pile-on, but it was basically Tejon Ranch that was the problem.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There are different scenarios for jettisoning Palmdale.

    1. The Legislature could put up a revote of a rewritten Prop 1a with no Palmdale and get it past the electorate.

    2. Judge Kerry could find Prop 1a hopelessly self-contradictory – to wit the Detour cannot operate without a subsidy and cannot meet 2:40.

    3. They can postpone-delay Palmdale indefinitely. It would appear that they are currently mooting delaying the entire SoCal region of CAHSR so it is all fuzzy.

    4. The system is simply not working. There is no judicial oversight of Prop 1a. Judge Kerry’s ruling should not have been overturned by a machine controlled higher court. As it is if the AG had any stones and integrity this whole idea of putting a statewide hsr network on the back burner for decades would be shortly ruled illegal and these clowns – Jerry, Richards and Morales and PB – forced to deal with their mess. They are the ones who tied their own hands by refusing to revisit the route options.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The judge has already said that it meets the 2:40 requirement.
    If he’s all powerful and omniscient in point 2 he can’t be impotent in point 4.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Really? I did not catch that.

    They do not even know what speeds politically they are going to be able to get away with in urban areas.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Are you referring to a unique in time cannonball?

    synonymouse Reply:

    If the Party controls the courts PBCHSRA can do whatever it wants in re Palmdale. The latter’s lawsuit just gets thrown out straightway. Who is gonna stop them?

    synonymouse Reply:

    Reid is outtahere and Brown not much longer.

    les Reply:

    LV-LA line will generate muchos mas revenue then SF-LA. Also Chinese are funding LV-LA and have incentive to fund into LAUS through Palmdale. This will more than offset savings going over Tejon.
    LV 9.8 million visitors from Southern California annually. 1-2 million reverse visitors. Say 11 mil for arguments sake.
    SF has 18 million/yr total visitors with 5% from LA (~1 million). LA had 43 million. Suppose 5% were from SF (~2.2 million).

    les Reply:

    we’re talking a magnitude of 3 times for taxable tickets.

    Joe Reply:

    And GOP controlled Nevada wants HSR to LA. It brings two US senators and representative to push for federal additional federal support.

    les Reply:

    yes, if there is money to be made GOP will be aboard. What they lack in vision they make up for in greed. :)

    Joe Reply:

    When Obama leaves office we’ll have clean slate and a new senate and house. If this HSR system which seems very popular in Nevada, helps the GOP in contested Nevada, they’ll support it in Congress.

    That’s why moving the system out of Palmdale now is not going to happen.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    I fear this will be Berlin-Munich via Erfurt all over again… But that’s what you get if you have a federal system with representation based on region, not ideology… In France on the other hand you get gare de bettesraves

    Danny Reply:

    it’s the same thing with the GOP Senators screaming about the “money-losing routes” on Amtrak (because they have more overhead because each trip is longer time-wise, plus some mis-scheduling at the turnarounds like what sunk the Kentucky Cardinal): at the same time they’re against cutting the 1,000-mile-plus routes because they’re a vital lifeline for all their states! they’re the ones wanting the Caprock Chief and the Pioneer and the Desert Wind and even the Hiawatha-

    it’s the same vacuous demagoguery they use to conceal the fact that they’re actually the “Taker States”–it’s to conceal reality; they’ll turn right around and scream and howl about “the gub’mint” and how the subsidized West is being drained and lead a march to a bird sanctuary because the Feds took away their multi-million welfare: it’s a sort of politics whose end might be in sight, if we’re lucky

    if NVHSR money can go to CAHSR we might even get Syno’s Tejon bypass for LA-SF expresses! XD–he really thinks any construction will stop

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    It’s the same in Europe really… Vaclav Klaus (Czech President) would not sign the Lisbon Treaty, but he would gladly take the EU money… Though I disagree on one minor point: I do think the ultra long distance routes of Amtrak serve a purpose. I’d think the EU should subsidize similar routes in Europe. It’s become next to impossible to go very long distances without changing trains and sleepers are a dying breed…

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    The 1Q16 Steel Wheels will carry a detailed examination of Amtrak financial results and where the money comes from, and goes.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    The who with the what now?

    Woody Reply:

    The same issue will also explicate the Berlin-Munich via Erfurt boondoggle and the gare de bettesraves scandal, for readers who were not paying attention to those major stories of the 21st century. ;-)

    Nathanael Reply:

    You’d better run that by a lot of people, Paul. I’ve been doing amateur analysis of Amtrak financials for a while, and most of the analyses I’ve seen are completely worthless.

    Danny is quite correct that nearly all the costs fall in the “national system overhead” category. If you really want to figure out where the money goes you have to spend most of your time on that. How much is Amtrak spending on computer systems? On keeping Beech Grove and Bear operating? Etc.

    Nearly all the actual train operations themselves are profitable or breakeven, not that you’d know that from the bogus “fully allocated” numbers Amtrak publishes

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Short story: The Berlin Munich route was routed via Erfurt (major diversion) because of local politicians having a lot of influence in Germany. “gare de bettesraves” is French for “beet station” which is a station along the straightest possible line of a HSR line and therefore in the middle of nowhere. They of course are due to local politicians having no influence whatsoever (otherwise the route would deviate through their town)

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    computer systems and repair shops are nice to have if you want passengers to be able to buy tickets and have a working train for them.

    Eric Reply:

    You’re doing a lot of supposing. And am I correct than your SF numbers neglect the rest of the Bay Area?

    les Reply:

    I’m just pointing out the significance of a LV-LA, ie, it won’t be a trivial contributor to tax coffers. Note: I also excluded San Diego-LV, Bakersfield-LV, Sacramento-LV (380 miles which falls closer then LA-SF’s weak 390 miles) and etc.

    les Reply:

    error: as weak as

    Joe Reply:

    @Donk I agree. That’s exactly what can happen.

    I would say the authority cannot shift off Palmdale until the political sponsors understand and accept the rational. Not possible in the 2016 business plan.

    The northern segment would allow progress and spending of funds while the SoCal politics work out.

    One consideration is the GOP Nevada delegation and the 2017 White House. It’s is possible post 2017 that the 5b or so would be federal support to keep the alignment Xpresswest compatible as seen by GOP Nevada and SoCal interests.

    Donk Reply:

    I have a solution to the Palmdale legal problem: There are many towns with the same name in our country, and even in the same state. How about they create a faux town called “Palmdale” along the Bako-LA route along the 5. They can put it near Grapevine or something. This way they satisfy the Fresno-Bako-Palmdale-LA routing.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Have Gilroy change it’s name to Altamont…..

    les Reply:

    Change LV to SF.

    Bdawe Reply:

    That’s how the towns of Tres Pinos and Paicines came to have eachother’s names in San Benito County.

  13. Paul Dyson
    Jan 24th, 2016 at 08:14
    #13

    We should not forget the impact of the election for LA County District 5. Antonovich is termed out. Seems like every candidate is against HSR through just about anywhere that has noisy opponents (Santa Clarita, San Fernando, Lake View Terrace) and so while they may say they like the idea to supporters in Palmdale and Lancaster, and even Burbank, reality is that they are not giving the project the support it needs. Same goes for the Metrolink Board and LACMTA Board. It’s fine for Leahy and Katz to huff and puff about So Cal but Leahy is up to his neck trying to stop Metrolink disintegrating and Katz is yesterday’s voice (And a Disney lobbyist). We’d all be more convinced if some of today’s elected officials were to stand up and be counted.

    Joe Reply:

    Yeah. The political costs of *not* doing HSR have yet to been considered. The opposition is setting the politics for now.

    Burbank’s $800,000 grant to plan for HSR is no coincident.

    The north politicians found a way to get HSR accross the Pennisula with blended HSR. The southern politicians need to figure out a politically safe way to get the project through because at the aggregate level it is popular.

    synonymouse Reply:

    There are hardly any political costs apart from some cronies not getting the state monies they anticipated.

    Have you tried to talk to any non-hsrfoamer about the subject? I mean even the simplest aspects of the issue? Civilians are simply not interested.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Good points. I too found it interesting that the only LA government officials Vartabedian quoted were Leahy and Katz, the two most likely folks to complain about an IOS-North. What would his new friend Asm. Patty Lopez say? Or Sup. Sheila Kuehl? My guess is they’d be fine with this.

  14. Roland
    Jan 24th, 2016 at 08:49
    #14

    In the Merc: http://www.mercurynews.com/california-high-speed-rail/ci_29424548/san-jose-back-running-early-high-speed-rail

    Zorro Reply:

    Building from San Jose to Fresno via Pacheco Pass(or even under the pass if it’s less expensive) would be ok in My book, since then 60% of the HSR construction segments in CA would be built already. In My mind that would be CP5, then there would be only 2 HSR segments left to build, Bakersfield to Palmdale and Palmdale to Burbank, which could be done with CnT money and/or revenue bonds as matching funds and then the CHSRA could then ask for Private Capital to help fund the the last 2 segments, which has not been asked for yet, since the CHSRA has said it has enough money to build what its building at the moment.

    If one is for HSR, then one is against having voters vote for Revenue Bonds, since Revenue Bonds are not paid for by Tax Payers, they are paid by People who ride on Passenger Trains or drive on Toll Roads.

    1667. (15-0003) – Final Random Sample 11/20/2015 (PDF)

    Revenue Bonds. Statewide Voter Approval. Initiative Constitutional Amendment.

    Eligible as of: 11/02/15

    Dean Cortopassi c/o Kurt Oneto (916) 446-6752

    Requires statewide voter approval before any revenue bonds can be issued or sold by the state for projects that are financed, owned, operated, or managed by the state or any joint agency created by or including the state, if the bond amount exceeds $2 billion. Prohibits dividing projects into multiple separate projects to avoid statewide voter approval requirement. Summary of estimate by Legislative Analyst and Director of Finance of fiscal impact on state and local government: The fiscal effect on state and local governments is unknown and would vary by project. It would depend on (1) the outcome of projects brought before voters, (2) the extent to which the state relied on alternative approaches to the projects or alternative financing methods for affected projects, and (3) whether those methods have higher or lower costs than revenue bonds.(15-0003.) (Full Text(PDF)[The RW Farmer Bond Act of 2015])

    synonymouse Reply:

    This IOS would be so underperforming as to become a worldwide laughing stock.

    Zorro Reply:

    Yours would be much worse, moron.

    synonymouse Reply:

    On the contrary full bore HSR Bako to Burbank via Tejon would be a worthy pilot even with forced transfers at either end.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I thought everybody was going to stay home because going through Palmdale would take a few extra minutes.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Who wants to go from Bako to Palmdale?

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Who cares if it goes through Palmdale, barely taking longer.

    Joey Reply:

    It costs more to build and operate.

    Joe Reply:

    And offers more benefit than a bypass. One be for is that alignment cleared the Leglislature. Go figure.

    The Authority hasn’t commented on working the North IOS and were already seeing “technicals” revisiting Altamont and Tejon.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The alternative ran the risk of not getting built. Not building it is even cheaper and doesn’t have any operating costs.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Shorter is better.

    Longer also costs more to maintain and energize, to patrol, and means a bigger window of exposure in which bad things can happen including move-in of “NIMBY’s”.

    Joey Reply:

    The alternative ran the risk of not getting built. Not building it is even cheaper and doesn’t have any operating costs.

    Not getting built is what happens when you choose an alternative that costs billions more in a hostile funding environment.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Lose support and it wouldn’t get built even if was free.

    Joe Reply:

    Hostile funding environment. Hilarious. As if it’s ever been wasy. They are here because this is where the funding environment demanded they go.

    Classic mistake assumes the project resources materialized without commitments.

    Joey Reply:

    Commitments to whom? Nevada? Never mind the fact that Reid is retiring in a year, you don’t think Nevada’s other politicians would be satisfied by an alternate alignment that maintains the ability to connect to Las Vegas?

    Jerry Reply:

    Carl Guardino of the Silicon Valley Leadership Group, who also sits on the California Transportation Commission had a good line in the SJ Mercury News article:
    it’s a choice between “Silicon Valley and Silicone Valley.”

    synonymouse Reply:

    Silicone in Palmdale is patching up the trailers in the trailer park.

    Jon Reply:

    Great quote from the SJ Mayor: “What would be good for San Jose and Silicon Valley would be to have a completed line that connects the entire state,” he said. “I’m not terribly interested in political battles over whether it gets to one city before another. I’m more interested in either getting it done completely, or focusing those dollars on intercity transit systems like BART.”

    Hardly a ringing endorsement for Pacheco HSR. Sounds like the authority could switch to an Altamont routing and buy off San Jose with a billion or so in “connectivity funds” for BART to Sillicon Valley Phase II.

    Joe Reply:

    Endorse what?

    Most all people don’t think Altamont is a possibility – because it isn’t a possibility.
    That’s why the Mayor didn’t think to address the alignments. It’s a settled issue.

    EJ Reply:

    The same way the downtown Bakersfield alignment was a settled issue, until it wasn’t? The same way the SR-14 alignment between Palmdale and Burbank was a settled issue, until it wasn’t?

    Altamont also happens to be within the scope of Prop 1a, unlike Tejon…

    Nathanael Reply:

    Altamont is a stupid route which would:
    (1) be outrageously expensive to make fast
    (2) require a gigantic under-Bay tunnel, in a dumb location, with a big curve
    (3) would have NIMBY explosions like you haven’t seen before, worse than anywhere else on the route

    For SF-Sacramento, the correct route has been known for decades. Second Transbay Tunnel.

    EJ Reply:

    If there was the slightest chance you’d read it, I’d direct you to SETEC’s analysis of a viable Altamont route.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    But people in Livermore would be able to take the train to the world class shopping, fine dining and dazzling entertainment available in San Jose! And vice versa.

  15. agb5
    Jan 24th, 2016 at 09:08
    #15

    If the nascent economic recession becomes severe, bridge-the-LA-gap could be the perfect shovel ready infrastructure project to receive emergency federal stimulus.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Not if their is a GOP President who thinks the only stimulus allowed by Saint Ronnie is war…

    Aarond Reply:

    The much larger problem is Congress. The President, himself, will likely never actually strike down funds for specific transportation projects because it’s simply not worth his time (unless you’re Scott Walker, but he’s already out of the race). However, Congress has the power (and increasingly, the will) to remove transit funding. Hilary, of all the candidates, has the capability to make this sort of polarization worse.

    If push comes to shove, I trust a Republican President to not mess with things but I totally expect Hilary to cause Congress’s condition to get worse which would mess with things.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    What I do agree with is that the fact that Hillary cannot play the “better able to compromise” angle, given that the Republicans (and by extension half the country) hate her breathing guts for reasons that are really beyond me… True, they won’t like Sanders either, but at least Sanders is an actual leftist to deserve that hatred…

    Nathanael Reply:

    Cruz is psychotic enough that he would mess with things. He’s Brownback-quality demented True Believer. He’s probably the scariest candidate who looks like he might win right now.

  16. Ian Mitchell
    Jan 24th, 2016 at 11:34
    #16

    CAHSR as proposed, going between San Fransisco and Los Angeles, is a transportation project.
    The CA-99 routing through Bakersfield, Fresno, is a decision to better unify the state while accomplishing the above project.
    The decision to route through Gilroy and Palmdale was the detouring of the project toward addressing a more pressing set of concerns: LA and the Bay Area have a housing affordability crisis. The Valley has a drought, and a lot of land. Housing developments use less water than agriculture. Palmdale, Lancaster, and California City are in L.A. county, Gilroy is in Santa Clara County- they’ve got lots of land, they don’t take the tax base out of the current county (unlike, say, San Bernadino or Tracy), but don’t make sense as suburbs, without something better than freeways. So HSR looks like a solution to housing affordability.

    The affordability crisis is most pressing in the Bay Area. San Jose’s explosive growth, increasing economic importance and political clout is what got the alignment moved to put it on the mainline- vastly increasing the later costs to expeditiously connect San Fransisco, Sacramento and the East Bay with HSR in the future.

    It makes a lot of sense that, given that employment, population, and rents are increasing more in the Bay Area and Silicon valley, that the priorities of the project would shift to serve these concerns more quickly.

    Joey Reply:

    Um, California City is in Kern County. It’s whopping population of ~13k has declined since the 2010 census. It’s also nowhere near any planned HSR station.

    HSR can’t really absorb any large number of commuters – asymmetric, peaky demand creates a lot of empty seats which cost the operator money. Commuters also generally demand lower pricing, which frequently requires subsidies (disallowed under 1A). You could probably get around that by having regional agencies operate their own trains on HSR track (paying access fees of course), but it won’t be done on the main HSR trains.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    That is the point Joey, a different operator such as Caltrain, ACE or Metrolink would operate commuter trains with appropriate rolling stock, probably get FTA money into the picture.
    Ian M, California City is in Kern County. Tumbleweed Junction.

    joe Reply:

    Picking on California City is picking a nit. The basic argument isn’t invalidated.

    The updated ridership model shows more revenue from shorter distance trips than longer trips.
    Not all trips have to be daily commuting trips which by car form GLY to Palo Alto costs $55 per day and people do it and more.

    That said, the authority shows that at 6AM trains will disembark northward from the SJC, GLY, FSO, BKS, and Palmdale stations. They’ll have riders.

    Also, Santa Clara is precisely growing in the south country area beyond Coyote Valley from Morgan Hill to Gilroy.

    GILROY—The city council will decide Monday whether to recommend annexing 721 acres of farmland north of the city to build a massive planned development with two schools, a major shopping center and several parks.

    The proposed 3,996 homes would increase the city’s housing by about 25 percent. GIlroy, with 53,000 people, had 15,000 residences according to the most recent census bureau estimates.

    They voted yes and sent the proposal to the County for review.
    http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2015/12/08/growing-gilroy-huge-annexation-proposal-moves.html

    This is where growth is appending and large developments going to happen with car centric or transit centric designs. A HSR station at the city core is going to be critical to redirect growth to infill.

    It would stupid to wait until car centric growth happens so we have the data to justify transit after the fact.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Just keeping everyone on a factual path joe dear lad. Yesterday someone wanted Metrolink to buy a line they already owned. Always best if people have good information.

    Roland Reply:

    Do you mean like “forgetting” to mention that Gilroy promptly got sued by LAFCO? http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2016/01/19/anti-sprawl-agency-lafco-sues-gilroy-over-massive.html

    Joe Reply:

    No. I’m happy the car centric plan is going to be contested. Mayor Gage was behind the move and then retired end of year. He put his pal Perry in charge to carry on but this sprawl is contrary to downtown centric growth and will be modified to favor more infill.

    I oppose the poorly planned development as do most residents BUT the growth is going to happen in Santa Clara and it’s going to be focused on building around HSR infrastructure be it in or out of town.

    Roland Reply:

    Perry Woodward is the new Chairman of the Caltrain Board. As far as Santa Clara is concerned, we need more housing in the north and more jobs in the south (including Gilroy).

  17. JJJJ
    Jan 24th, 2016 at 12:02
    #17

    I think the north is better for everyone. The Bay area has a severe housing shortage which can be alleviated with trains to the valley. LA isnt so bad off.

    Further, the silicon valley economy has more promise than the LA one for jobs in the valley.

    Socially, I think the valley is more in sync with the bay area. People cheer for the 49ers, raiders, and giants in Fresno.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Curiously I see the Valley as more SoCal in mentality, even Sac.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Yeah, we know how much your views are based on reality, @synonymouse.

    synonymouse Reply:

    smoggy, auto-centric, lots of chain stores and restaurants, lots of low-income neighborhoods struggling

    datacruncher Reply:

    On the other hand Fresno is the first city in the US to change its city code to allow any homeowner to add a “Tiny House” to the property. Tiny Houses are an idea championed more by Northern California than by Southern California.
    http://ww2.kqed.org/news/2016/01/19/fresno-passes-groundbreaking-tiny-house-rules

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    False-ish LA stereotypes

    Donk Reply:

    Of course people cheer for the 49ers and Raiders in the valley. There are no LA teams to cheer for, until next year. And the Giants have won 3 WS in the last 5 years so they are all on the Giants bandwagon. People all the way up to Eureka have been Laker fans, but this has probably changed as of last year.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It hasn’t been the same since the Dodgers left Ebbetts Field and the Giants left the Polo Grounds.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Is there any LA team that is actually from LA?

    swing hanger Reply:

    The Bruins and the Trojans. College>Pro sports

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    Ah well, I always forget about College. Mostly because I think it is a scam to have pro sports where the only people who are not getting paid are the players. And don’t you dare tell me it’s not pro-sports. If it were all amateurs, why do you pay the coaches? And why do you charge admission?

    EJ Reply:

    All true, but doesn’t change the fact that college sports, especially football, are a big deal in LA.

    As to pro teams which are originally from LA – the LA Kings. The Angels have been in Anaheim since the beginning. And, c’mon, the Dodgers have been in LA since 1958. They’re an LA team.

    Bahnfreund Reply:

    No. They aren’t. They will always be the Brooklyn Dodgers who somebody moved out of town… I never really got the whole “moving sports teams around” thing… Do you know who are the only ones besides the US who ever did this? The GDR and the Soviets…

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Pro sports have extra special pro-monopoly regulations. You can’t just decide to set up a team.

    bixnix Reply:

    The Angels actually started out in Wrigley Field in South L.A. and played in Dodger Stadium, too.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Giants fans in the Valley go way back. Fresno was the home of the Giants’ Single A farm team from 1958 to 1988 (when the Giants affiliation was moved to San Jose). Then Fresno was the home for the Giants’ Triple A team from 1998 to 2014.

    Those two minor league periods created a lot of Giants fans in the Valley.

    Jerry Reply:

    For those who like minor league baseball the Fresno Grizzlies play in the city owned baseball stadium a block away from the future HSR Station.

  18. J. Wong
    Jan 24th, 2016 at 13:51
    #18

    Anecdotal, but rents are coming down in SF. Tech growth is slowing and supply coming online is relieving the demand pressure.

    Clem Reply:

    Probably a good thing, since SF office rents briefly surpassed Manhattan.

    Roland Reply:

    This is not anecdotal. The bubble started popping last year: http://www.bizjournals.com/sanfrancisco/blog/real-estate/2015/12/bubble-apartment-rents-fall-san-francisco-oakland.html

    Eric Reply:

    This says Oakland is the 4th most expensive rental market in the US, behind only SF, NY, and Boston. Oakland could use some major upzoning. As the center of the BART system, they have the capacity to handle it.

    Nathanael Reply:

    Still insanely expensive compared to, y’know, normal cities (Cleveland, or even Chicago). This is because it’s basically illegal to build new housing in SF.

    Aarond Reply:

    Yep. Party’s over. Also some people connected to Ed Lee’s regime/campaign are apparently going to jail:

    http://ww2.kqed.org/news/2016/01/22/3-former-fundraisers-for-mayor-ed-lee-indicted-on-bribery-money-laundering-charges

    SF’s in for a “fun” year.

  19. Roland
    Jan 24th, 2016 at 15:21
    #19

    OT: Bertha update: http://www.seattletimes.com/seattle-news/transportation/groundwater-removal-wells-to-be-shut-down-slowly/. Does anyone remember who helped design this tunnel, including locating existing utilities (can you spell pipe)? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B2-Dg9GQHdM

    And this one? http://abc7news.com/traffic/sf-crews-work-to-repair-sinkhole-above-central-subway/457610/
    http://www.centralsubwaysf.com/content/closed-and-awarded-contracts (CS-155.1 Utilities Relocation and Tunnel Design)

    And this one? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9ZM9v7QNURE
    http://articles.latimes.com/1995-10-20/news/mn-59073_1_tunnel-collapse.
    TunnelTalk analysis: http://www.tunneltalk.com/Los-Angeles-Jun1995-what-is-going-on.php

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    The problem with the Seattle waterfront tunnel isn’t with the firms who were contracted to design and build it, it’s that the project is inherently flawed and cannot be made workable by anybody, anywhere. I never thought it would be completed and I stand by that prediction. The whole thing is a true, genuine boondoggle and should be abandoned immediately and permanently.

    Sinkholes do happen and I’m surprised you didn’t include the 1985 Ross Dress for Less explosion during Metro Rail tunneling while you were digging in the archives. There are numerous problems with Seattle’s tunnel but keep in mind that Sound Transit has been boring tunnels all over the city in recent years with no problems at all. HSR tunnels have been bored all over the world with no problems at all. California’s HSR tunnels should be fine.

    Roland Reply:

    Crossrail are nearly done building entire stations (not just tunnels) under existing buildings (not streets) and there have been no sinkholes thanks to extensive ground monitoring and the installation of compensation grouting and other systems designed to tackle any settlement as and when it occurs.
    As an example, this station is being mined under the Smithfield market between Paddington and the Barbican (the young lady explains the process very well but very fast): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3IqyAYdh3EM&feature=youtu.be&t=45

    Here is what the final product looks like (after tunnel widening to accommodate the platforms): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aHghkIipjE8&feature=youtu.be&t=144

    Nathanael Reply:

    The Seattle Deep Bore Tunnel (Big Dig / Bertha) was *explicitly rejected as not technically feasible* by the original Alternatives Analysis conducted by professionals.

    There were three viable alternatives:
    — Shallow Tunnel. This was arguably the cheapest and most effective, since most of the work had to be done anyway to replace the seawall. Most of the cost for this is being spent anyway to replace the seawall.
    — Surface + Transit
    — New Viaduct

    So former Governor Gregoire and some smoke-filled legislators in Olympia ignored the report and issued an order to build a Deep Bore Tunnel.

    Absolutely insane. A disaster predicted in advance by *everyone* who knew *anything*.

  20. Bahnfreund
    Jan 24th, 2016 at 16:36
    #20
  21. keith saggers
    Jan 24th, 2016 at 16:40
    #21
  22. Allen Insight
    Jan 24th, 2016 at 17:36
    #22

    I had the pleasure of meeting and speaking with the lead engineer of the CAHSR project in SoCal during an the early planning phase open house meeting. And I asked her, if you had all the money, how fast could you build the entire system. And she said, “Well, we would also need all the permits because you just can’t dynamite the top of a mountain off in California, or plow through a neighborhood without extensive review. But if we had all the money and all the permits. We could build the whole system in 5 years.”

    So I think CAHSR supporters should think about this possibility. If the politics suddenly improved for CAHSR, then a 5 year build out could be on the table. Including San Diego and Sacramento. And the best way to change the politics is to get people to ride the bullet train ASAP.

    Supposedly the NorCal IOS route is easier and quicker to build. So maybe it could be completed sooner than the 2022 projected Burbank to LA route. Perhaps the NorCal route could be open and running by 2020. Just in time for another Presidential election. It is entirely plausible that the politics of CAHSR could do a 180 degree turn once people are riding the train. And a 5 year build out of the entire system could be the preferred option for most voters. Which means the entire system could be completed (including Sacramento and San Diego) by the mid 2020s.

    Roland Reply:

    By “lead engineer of the CAHSR project in SoCal”, do you mean Michele Boehm (https://www.linkedin.com/in/michelle-boehm-0126234) or someone else?

    Phantom Commuter Reply:

    She has a B.A. in History. Says volumes …

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Hey don’t knock history. My history degree feels just as relevant my math and econ ones do for transportation. “The Power Broker” by Robert Caro is a must-read if you want to understand anything that happens in NY or Bay Area transit.

    Nathanael Reply:

    It’s not actually that informative for modern politics, though it does give a sense of why NIMBYS have such an unreasonable and damaging amount of power right now. The era of Robert Moses is long, long over. We’re actually living in the backlash era.

  23. morris brown
    Jan 24th, 2016 at 19:52
    #23

    Changing from first building South to first building from the North will create plenty of political headaches for the Authority and the Governor (if he is willing to endorse). Remember SB-1029 passed with only a 1 vote majority, and it passed because of favors promised to some Democrats in exchange for their yes votes.

    An example of such problems would be a letter by Morales in June 2014 to Senator Fran Pavley

    http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/brdmeetings/2014/brdmtg_081214_Item2_ATTACH_CEO_Morales_Letter_to_Sen_Pavley.pdf

    She is certainly not going to happy with such a switch.

    Also re-reading of SB-1029, I don’t see any funding included for the San Jose to Merced segment. That would mean the Authority would have to go back to the Legislature to secure an appropriation to change the IOS.

    datacruncher Reply:

    Pavley is on the Senate Transportation Committee. When Beall calls for the oversight hearings she can raise the issue if she is concerned things are changing from that letter.

    Of course Ralph Vartabedian in last week’s LA Times article said Beall wanted to “accelerate the construction schedule to reduce costs”. Depending on the new Business Plan and other updated info discussed at the hearing Pavley might be seen as arguing for a longer timeline and higher cost vs. IOS North.

    It should all make for colorful oversight hearings.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    The best way to reduce emissions in SoCal is electrify Burbank to Laguna Niguel with LAUS run through tracks in preparation for HSR and to get rid of diesel Metrolink trains. That’s enough to keep Pavley happy for as long as she is in office.

    les Reply:

    It has taken over 10 years for Caltrain to electrify. The south’s lack of initiative is a key reason to go north. Metro needs to hit the Tiger grant process.

    “Caltrain has completed the preliminary engineering and the federal and state environmental phases of the Caltrain Electrification Project. The Environmental Assessment/Environmental Impact Report (EA/EIR) was submitted to the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) in March 2009.”
    “The Caltrain Modernization Program is scheduled to be operational by 2020. “

    Zorro Reply:

    Do you have a source for that accusation of favors morris? Otherwise that’s bunk, in some quarters, slander.

  24. Reedman
    Jan 24th, 2016 at 20:28
    #24

    San Jose to Fresno with stations in Los Banos and Gilroy. Makes sense to me.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Won’t be a Los Banos station. Never gonna happen.

    morris brown Reply:

    @Reedman

    I suggest you read Prop 1A and learn.

    synonymouse Reply:

    Certainly appears to me this bifurcate and delay indefinitely scheme holds Prop 1a in utter contempt.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    There are more hole in Prop 1a than Swiss cheese- while I don’t see any immediate Los Banos station, if it was a commuter rail station, not a high speed rail station, why not?

    Reminder why concerns about increasing development growth near Los Banos…
    http://www.whsrn.org/site-profile/grasslands%20

    Elizabeth Reply:

    In general, mitigations/ protections for development projects almost impossible to enforce. Sometimes not enforceable/ sometimes no appetite to enforce.

    They either need to be done first or baked into the design. The only way to prevent Los Banos station in the long run is not to put mainline through there.

    Elizabeth Reply:

    Lots of promises are made to get a deal done/ legislation through. The savvier always assume they can get out of most of it if necessary.

    Our neighborhood negotiated really good TDM (transit demand mgmt) from large new project – later developer told city after not following through that the commitments were “aspirational” rather than hard and fast and just couldn’t be achieved. What can you do after project is built? This is very typical (see recent Walmart in DC experience)

    The one program I’ve seen work is Stanford – where development was going to be over time so they had to start complying with no new net car trips – and eventually became self sustaining because employees really liked alt commute support.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Elizabeth, thank you for your real world comments. From experience in Burbank, with traffic “mitigation” left incomplete years after development, protections are selling points that are often quite ethereal.

    Nathanael Reply:

    You have incompetent city councils.

    I live in a tiny little town. If a mitigation is required to get a zoning variance or environmental clearance, the mitigation is a contractual obligation to the city enforceable against an entity which still has money (not just a “one-shot company” set up to declare bankruptcy if it gets in trouble) and *it gets built*.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Caltrain is free for Stanford employees. They just flash their Stanford ID when asked. What with the Marguerite shuttles, it is a “no brainer” to take it especially from San Francisco.

    Joe Reply:

    Or from gilroy. Not so easy as flashing an ID but pretty easy. Access to Caltrain VTA and muni (when we used it)
    The transit pass is a program and participating disallows buying a parking pass.
    staff are finding it harder to live near campus so the pass helps with retention.

    Stanford has long complained about mitigation costs extracted by Palo Alto to approve development. It’s all about how much money to pay out, not if. Traffic worsens but the city gets its money.

    Small business in downtown tried to participate with Caltrain through the city to relieve parking demands but Caltrain is too close to capacity and has not offered the city a similar deal.

    There is no way to tie the hands of future legislatures so it is impossible to restrain any development anywhere.

  25. Jerry
    Jan 25th, 2016 at 00:44
    #25

    You can have a one seat train ride to Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, CA from Seattle, WA, Portland, OR, and Sacramento, CA, but you cannot have a one seat train ride to Super Bowl 50 from San Francisco.

    Jon Reply:

    Yes, but your two-seat ride from San Francisco to Santa Clara will be much faster than your one-seat ride from any of the places you just mentioned.

  26. morris brown
    Jan 25th, 2016 at 06:49
    #26

    North-South Rivalry Alive Over Brown’s Big Projects

    les Reply:

    Morris only you.would relish this.

    J. Wong Reply:

    Interesting in that it suggests a way to fight the Huff & Runner propositions, namely, they’re a water grab by the south from the north.

  27. John Nachtigall
    Jan 25th, 2016 at 09:18
    #27

    Excellence of Execution…..

    Just another in a list of warning signs for large capital projects that are going off track.

    This one is “changing the plan after you start”. Honestly, how anyone can try to put a positive spin on a plan change this drastic at this stage in the project is beyond me.

    They are obviously desperately trying to keep the cost down for the 2016 business plan. 4 years ago they kicked the can down the road on planning and money. They even went to the legislature so they didnt have to produce twice yearly reports…and they made the 2014 report a small update. Now, predictably, the same problems exist.

    Also shows how poor oversight is. There has been 0 mention of this in any board meeting and now weeks from the 2016 plan it will most likely go in. This kind of change should have been discussed as an agenda item on the public meetings.

    Now for a little fun. Below is my wild and unsubstantiated speculation on the 2016 Business Plan

    – Change IOS to North (with great fanfare).
    – Claim the new segment will cost less than the 30B IOS in the current plan. I guess 25B
    – But a close look at the plan will show an IOS schedule slip of 4 years (2 years already slipped + 2 more)
    – Total project slip of ~8 years
    – Total project costs will go up ~35%

    Feel free to reply to this and play along with your guesses.

    Zorro Reply:

    How about a link that supports your assumptions? And I don’t mean the LA Times or Cato…

    Joe Reply:

    What plan changes ? Rumor is they’ll keep the same architecture and build in different order.

    synonymouse Reply:

    I believe the framers of Prop 1a were thinking along BART lines – in other words the entire project should be undertaken reasonably simultaneously.

    Obviously any project will come in stages, and in particular, a megaproject such as this one. But in orderly stages. A political delay of this magnitude is not orderly at all, but an implicit admission of failure.

    This is not an effective repositioning or adjustment but a PR machination. Brown and the Legislature are incapable of redesigning the project; that’s why you have citizen generated ballot props in the works.

    The delay strategy is very risky. The delay violates the intent of Prop 1a; the Northern IOS is not a viable standalone and will be an embarrassment; and with the passage of years the discontent in greater Sta. Clarita-San Gabriels will continue to firm and mobilize.

    Alan Kandel Reply:

    Questions: Total Phase I construction cost is $68 billion – give or take, right? Original portion designated as Initial Operating Segment (Burbank-Merced) projected or estimated cost to be $31 billion (low) to $40 billion (high) – most likely $36 billion, correct? Subtract from $68 billion – leaves anywhere from $28 to $37 billion for Merced-San Francisco, agreed? Conclusion: as proposed, northern section would appear to be cheaper to build, most likely could be completed faster meaning HSR passenger rail service could be provided sooner.

    Meanwhile, Texas continues to move farther forward with its HSR plan. Related article here: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/news/transportation/article/Plans-for-Houston-Dallas-bullet-train-moving-along-6777582.php

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    Conclusion: as proposed, northern section would appear to be cheaper to build, most likely could be completed faster meaning HSR passenger rail service could be provided sooner.

    Sure, a mountain crossing, suburban and extremely wealthy environment, active rail corridor — all bound to be way cheaper than greenfield/brownfield through open land in the Central Valley.

    Correct conclusion: they’re lying, outrageously, as always.

    Or are you displaying subtle wit here, Alan?

    Joe Reply:

    Dear Careless in San Fransisco;

    He wrote Burbank to Merced. That segment crosses two mountain ranges -right?

    Green construction field possible, with Pacheco tunneling, from Fresno to San Jose if an out of town station is built at Gilroy.

    Caltrain ROW provides access from San Jose to 4th and King.

    Alan Kandel Reply:

    The point is, California needs HSR (I know there are those who vehemently reject this notion), especially considering the population growth projected, the future travel considerations (read: “constraints”) anticipated, an expected worsening air quality (particularly in the San Joaquin Valley what with horizontal sprawl being what it is with seemingly no let-up in sight), and on and on and on. Driving and flying will more than likely feel the pinch of increased demand without sufficient added capacity to handle the extra and increasing burden placed upon these 2 modes.

    HSR is an investment in our future. More than likely an old-schooler (baby boomer) like myself will never use it. But, by no means The point is California needs HSR (I know there are those who vehemently reject this notion) especially considering the population growth projected, the travel considerations (read: “constraints”) anticipated, air quality worsening, and on and on and on. Driving and flying will more than likely feel the pinch of increased demand without sufficient added capacity to handle the extra and increasing burden placed upon those modes.

    HSR is an investment in our future. More than likely an old-schooler (baby boomer) like myself will never use it. But, this by no means does this mean that I shouldn’t support it. I do and my support will continue. By the same token, as I’ve said before and will continue to stress, HSR in California and America needs to be done right.

    Meanwhile, it is good that Texas’ HSR plan appears to be gaining traction and, as a privately funded enterprise, will cover 240 miles between Dallas and Houston, trains to run at speeds of 205 mph, all at an estimated cost of between $10 and $12 billion (I think).

    Once these systems’ efficacies have been proven, other systems here will likely follow.

    I wasn’t trying to be subtly witty here. I do and will continue to support it. But, by the same token, as I’ve said before and will continue to stress, HSR in America and California needs to be done right.

    For the record, I wasn’t trying to display wit, subtle or otherwise.

    Alan Kandel Reply:

    Sorry about the duplicate text in places. The downside of ineffective cutting and pasting.

    Richard Mlynarik Reply:

    John, you’re probably rather close.
    But “Total project costs will go up ~35%”? Certainly, internally. But not in any document they make public, and, given the way ex-PBQD VP boy Jeff “revolving door” Morales is running the “public” agency, not in any document anybody has a chance of FOIA-ing, either.

    Joe Reply:

    Revolving door- what’s the scam where Morales is lining his pockets?

    The usual scam is he feathers his bed while in power the gubberment job and then leaves for a cushy private sector job in the feathered bed.

    You have insight into a new scam the reverse. How does Jeff enrich himself now?

  28. Phantom Commuter
    Jan 25th, 2016 at 13:20
    #28

    Split the state at the Kern/SLO County Line and you’ve got a Statewide system in North California ;-)

    synonymouse Reply:

    kinda late in the game for that

    Try the 1850’s when they passed on splitting the State but split SF from San Mateo Co.

    Pisspoor moves.

  29. les
    Jan 25th, 2016 at 13:27
    #29

    Would be nice if the Chinese would build there line through Palmdale down to Sylmar so Palmdale could get a HSR station then south would be better off. CAHSR would still have to deal with 1-2 decades of LA integration so still best to start up north.

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