How to Get High Speed From LA to SD Before HSR Arrives

Feb 3rd, 2017 | Posted by

Alon Levy has a great article at the Voice of San Diego exploring how to speed up the popular passenger rail service between Los Angeles and San Diego well before the California high speed rail project gets to that segment – which is likely many years away. His answer: take advantage of new FRA rules and electrify:

The way to achieve trip times lower than two hours on legacy track is to combine new federal regulations and strategic investments intended to take advantage of the new rules. In late 2016, the Federal Railroad Administration released new regulations for passenger rail safety, which allow lightly modified European trains to run on U.S. tracks. Previously, unique U.S. rules required trains to be heavier. This follows a regulatory change from 2010 that allows trains to run faster on curves, subject to safety testing. The existing diesel locomotives are too heavy to take advantage of this change, but lighter electric passenger trains face no such obstacle.

This means that the region needs to invest in electrifying the corridor from San Diego to Los Angeles, and potentially as far north as San Luis Obispo. Between San Diego and Los Angeles, the likely cost – based on the California high-speed rail electrification cost – is about $800 million.

Levy points out that electric engines not only allow for faster service on legacy tracks, but that their superior power allows for cheaper ways to get around slow parts of the route:

All of the above improvements work together. New regulations allow the corridor to use more powerful trains. This encourages electrification, in order to immediately buy the best standard-speed trains available, and run faster on curves. Electrification, in turn, encourages a cheaper Miramar Hill realignment than the proposed tunnel.

I think this is a brilliant idea. At a cost of less than $1 billion, it’s affordable and can add desperately needed capacity to the crowded and busy LA-SD corridor. I don’t know how this would affect Metrolink operations, especially their Inland Empire-OC line (which under this proposal would be half electric and half not), but there are probably ways to deal with that.

California will need to step up and take a greater role in funding transportation infrastructure now that Trump is in the White House, and this LA-SD plan is a good and affordable place to start.

  1. Brian_FL
    Feb 3rd, 2017 at 16:56
    #1

    Or another cheaper way to speed up travel times is to reduce the number of intermediate stops. It seems like most surf liner trains have 8 or 12 intermediate station stops in the 128 miles they travel between LA and San Diego. why not run more express service trains in addition to the existing hourly service? 3 hours is a bit too long for the route and mainly due to all of the stops, especially within 50 miles of LA. 40 mph average speed is a glorified commuter run, not intercity. Start a separate commuter service if needed. Double tracking would also help I’m sure, along with work on curves. But adding more trains and double tracking first before electrifying the route seems a better deal for the billion dollars of taxpayer money.

    Brightline just today announced their second trainset is coming in a few weeks. Finally, a layout of seating for each type of coach is unveiled.

    http://gobrightline.com/progress/coming-soon-brightpink-brightline-train/

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    That is already express service. OC has 3 million people, the Gateway Cities have 2 million people, North San Diego County has almost 1 million people. You have to have some intermediate stops. The local service is Metrolink.

    [Reply]

    Brian_FL Reply:

    Express service? 80 minutes to go the final 58 miles to LAUS with 5 stops? But the Alon Levy article was about how to get higher speed service between SD and LA. I’m saying double and triple track it first to enable more frequent service and reduce the number of speed restrictions where possible first. Electrification without expanding track capacity and the number of train sets gives you not much for the money.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    What stations would you drop? San Diego, Oceanside, Irvine, Santa Ana, Anaheim, Norwalk/Fullerton, and LAUS are essential. A University City one will be too, provided the Miramar Hill Tunnel is built.

    [Reply]

    Brian_FL Reply:

    It would depend on the objective of the higher speed service. If getting between SD and LAUS stations is the priority than you would drop all but 2 or 3 intermediate stops. More than 3 intermediate stops in 128 miles is not conducive to higher speed service – average speeds approaching 70+ mph. That’s why brightline is so insistent on only 2 stops in 240 miles. I realize alot of the route is in urban areas so 110 mph running is probably not feasible. There is a long stretch of single track in the middle of the route that likely limits the number of trains per hour. But keeping all 8 or 12 stops IMO makes it impossible to obtain the desired reduced time without also eliminating the track capacity isues. It just seems like alot of money that doesn’t address the real causes – capacity and service frequency.

    [Reply]

    StevieB Reply:

    The LOSSAN factsheet linked in the article says, “Currently, 51% of the San Diego corridor is a single rail track that freight and passenger trains share. Sharing the track leads to delays and also constrains the hours of operation for each type of service”. Planned improvements include $600,000,000 for double track in the corridor and over $2,000,000,000 for two tunnels. A change of plan to electric trains would involve a multiple year study and political support. The opinion presented in the newspaper is a curiosity that would need an influential politician to champion to move forward.

    [Reply]

    Wells Reply:

    “The opinion presented in the newspaper is a curiosity that would need an influential politician to champion to move forward,” deserved another hearing I thought, therefore I am. Latest means to address our dear leader: herr Twitler If that don’t give you a laugh, you’re hopeless.
    Sounds like the right plan to me, like, uh, electrification now! What bozo congressperson wouldn’t
    just pretend to know the difference, one or the other, which pays the most, blah blah.
    Electrification NOW!

    [Reply]

    Nathanael Reply:

    The double track needs to happen anyway.

    The tunnels, which aren’t scheduled to happen for YEARS and haven’t been studied yet, can be replaced with electrification.

    [Reply]

    Joey Reply:

    It may not be possible to double track the sections near San Clemente and Del Mar that run along the cliffs. There just isn’t room.

    And electrification helps, but the stop spacing is already pretty wide so the acceleration benefit isn’t going to buy you much. The curves around Miramar Hill are bad no matter how you power the train.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Though expensive, tunneling in San Clemente could probably provide the same time savings of tunneling under Miramar Hill. This map shows all new construction needed, plus other future lines: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1sE6XIjPp6_PaHU1Dq3pQ_QU4zHM&usp=sharing

    Joey Reply:

    Yeah, really the big projects are San Clemente, Del Mar and Miramar Hill. Everything else is just curve straightening.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Electrification is how you’re cutting off Miramar Hill without a tunnel. The Mid-Coast trolley extension does just that – the trolley is going to use the legacy ROW but then climb the hill to get to UCSD.

    The acceleration benefits are also still pretty big. There are 8 stations; being able to lose 45 seconds to acceleration + deceleration per station rather than 120 seconds is a pretty big deal. There are also a few curves outside Miramar that restrict trains to 80 or 100 or 120 km/h even with good cant deficiency. These are short, sharp curves, like at Capistrano Beach. A high-powered EMU can slow down for them and lose very little time, but a diesel loco can’t.

    Finally, capacity. This route calls for bilevels; the Surfliner already runs bilevels, and higher speed means more passengers. There are a lot of bilevel EMUs on the market, and not so many bilevel DMUs. Diesel locos not only offer no improvement in acceleration over today, but also have high center of gravity, so the cant deficiency can’t be increased much.

    Eric Reply:

    “This route calls for bilevels”

    You need to write a publicly available textbook on transit operations that, among other things, answers questions like “when to use bilevels?”

    Alon Levy Reply:

    This is a really good question. I can write a post; I can probably sell an article to City Metric or something. I doubt Railway Gazette will want to buy it, but I can try to find a hook to sell them on it.

    In the case of the Surfliner, the reasons I think bilevels are the answer are,

    1. The loading gauge is practically unlimited in height.
    2. The native platform height is very low, and there’s no high-platform installed base (except future HSR).
    3. This is an intercity line, so keeping dwells below 30 seconds is not a concern.
    4. Single track and heavy freight traffic both mean that the line should run fewer, bigger trains, subject to the effect of frequency on passenger demand.
    5. Los Angeles is an enormous city and San Diego is also pretty big, raising travel demand to the point that bilevels can fill even at high enough frequency (2 tph all day) that further increases in frequency don’t affect ridership much.
    6. This is not an HSR line, and at the target speed, 160 km/h, bilevels can do almost anything a single-level can do.

    Some of these also affect the Northeast Corridor, but then the NEC has an installed base of high platforms and very good reasons to extend this platform height to the rest of the Eastern US, and a constrained loading gauge. The NEC commuter trains also need to be able to discharge a thousand passengers at Penn Station, and that’s slower with a bilevel.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    I think that makes sense at first, but upon completion of double tracking, smaller trains at higher frequency are preferable. In 20 years, LA and SD may become one CSA and LOSSAN should resemble that, with trains every 10-15 min, all day.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Everything east of the Rockies is going to have 48 inch platforms. Though why much of anything would go west of I-35 is a different answer.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    There are plans for HSR between Prague and Brno and for a few tens of km of 320 km/h track between Stockholm and points south. By that metric, places like Des Moines and Omaha can get HSR, and then maybe they can get to Denver (which is 48″ already…).

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Denver is too far away from anything else. Anything else is too small to generate lots of traffic.
    Google road miles – a rough approximation of rail miles – Kansas City is 600 miles from Denver. Omaha is 537.
    678 to Oklahoma City partly because there is no direct route. 795 to Dallas, Dallas is big but it’s 800 miles away. Boston to Charlotte or New York to Atlanta kind of distance.

    http://www.gcmap.com

    can be handy. It calculates great circle distances. 495 from Denver to Oklahoma City. 641 from Denver to Dallas.

    …people love to go on and on about how great it would be to have HSR between Chicago and Denver. It’s 888 miles on a great circle route. 867 to Boston. 719 to Newark and 606 to Atlanta. Going to Atlanta passes through Indianapolis, Louisville, Nashville and Chattanooga.

    …. 2013 estimate for metro Wichita is 637,989. In nice round numbers metro Worchester, Springfield, Syracuse or Toledo. Smaller than Hartford, Albany, Rochester, Buffalo or Cleveland. Metro Detroit, with around the same amount of people as the whole state of Colorado, is 60 miles north of Toledo. Go through Wichita it makes the trip between Kansas City and Denver even longer. Denver is too far away from anything else.

    Les Reply:

    There have been some recent studies for hsr along the front range and up 70 to the ski lifts. Pueblo – Col Sprngs – Denver – Frt Collins – Cheyene could support a Brightline like system.

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    “in 20 years, LA and SD may become one CSA and LOSSAN should resemble that, with trains every 10-15 min, all day.”

    If Camp Pendleton gets decomissioned, sold off, and developed, yes.
    (One can hope)

    Otherwise, the 25 mile, half-hour gap between the very bottom of the LA metro and the tippity top of the San Diego metro is just a bit much.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    @Les
    Cheyanne-Pueblo (to Albuquerque to El Paso?) makes sense. Rail to the ski resorts is more questionable, especially considering the terrain in between and them not havoing year round demand. First I’d like to see rail between Salt Lake City and Park City and see what demand is for that.

    @Ian Mitchell

    South OC to North San Diego County or vice versa isn’t that unreasonable of a commute, particularly by rail. Of course, it might be Riverside and San Diego counties that merge the CSAs, not OC and San Diego.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    El Paso’s airport is 563 miles from Denver’s airport. Google says it’s 637 miles from Denver to El Paso. 686 if you want to go through Albequeque. 714 if you want to stay on I-25. Being really generous, in nice round numbers, there are 9 million people in Colorado, New Mexico and metro El Paso.
    …. it’s 284 miles from Chicago to Saint Louis. There are 12 million people in Illinois. 196 to Indianapolis. There are more people in Indiana than there are in Colorado.

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    To use an east-coast parallel, that’s like linking NYC and Philly as the same metro based on the commute patterns coming out of the Lehigh valley.

    If there was a military base encompassing the area of NJ between Trenton and New Brunswick, I guess that’d make sense.

    But I don’t think folks would consider Philly and NYC one CSA if that were the case, based on Easton etc. alone.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The Allentown-Bethlehem-Easton MSA has been sucked into NY CSA vortex.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lehigh_Valley#Metropolitan_and_Combined_Statistical_Areas

    EJ Reply:

    @Alon A ding against bilevels is they can’t tilt, which is admittedly more of an issue north of Chatsworth. The LOSSAN folks are already discussing using the Talgo set they’re getting from Wisconsin to speed this section up.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    FWIW, there are some tilting concepts which do work with bi-levels.

    One system uses an active suspension, which “simply” makes sure that the floor of the carbody remains parallel to the tracks (in other words, it prevents the leaning out of the curve due to centrifugal force). This will already allow for maybe 5 to 8% higher speeds through the curves.

    Eric Reply:

    ” But keeping all 8 or 12 stops IMO makes it impossible to obtain the desired reduced time ”

    If the line is electrified and a fast-accelerating EMU is used, then the time penalty for each stop is MUCH smaller and this is no longer an issue.

    [Reply]

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    That’s the thing about electrification. It’s so much better you can have your cake (stops) and eat it too (faster time).

    [Reply]

    Anandakos Reply:

    It’s already triple track north of Fullerton and double track on to Mission Viejo. The problem is that BNSF runs nearly 100 freights per day between Redondo and Fullerton. The passenger trains simply can’t go very fast in that stretch except at the peak of peak when BNSF does its best to use only a single track directionally.

    So far as the OC-Inland Empire line, there’s nothing in the world says you can’t run diesels under wire.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Fullerton-LAUS will have to have 2 LOSSAN, 2 HSR, and 2 or 3 freight tracks. There isn’t really any way around it.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    And an 8-track single bore tunnel. There isn’t really any way around it.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Mhmmm. If we want CAHSR trains and LOSSAN trains every 15 minutes in each direction, which should be our goal, then it is necessary.

    [Reply]

    Joey Reply:

    Why? Much of the adjacent land is warehouse and light industrial, i.e. cheap easy to acquire, and much of the ROW is pretty wide to begin with. There are a couple of pinch points but I think you could expand the corridor to 4 passenger + 2 freight with no tunneling.

    [Reply]

    Joey Reply:

    Why separate LOSSAN and HSR? The intercity (surfliner) trains would likely skip most of the local stops anyway, and I think there’s room for infill stations.

    I mean, it would likely be 4 tracks either way (at least to Fullerton) but it should be built as an integrated corridor, not two separate railways.

    The corridor currently has 3 tracks and moderately heavy passenger traffic. I suspect that BNSF would do just fine with 2 tracks.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    I suppose it could be a 4 track integrated corridor, in which case Surfliners (which really should just become an express part of Metrolink) could bump out into the HSR tracks to pass Metrolinks at Fullerton and Commerce and Buena Park (and maybe another new station somewhere?) However, that means that all trains must be built to be able to operate in such a corridor, which may mean electrifying LOSSAN North or terminating San Diego Bound trains in Burbank, leaving Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo trains as part of another route, that perhaps runs east to the Coachella Valley or at least provides an express version of the San Bernardino line, stopping only in El Monte, Claremont, and Rancho Cucamonga.

    [Reply]

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    Past Burbank is really another service in terms of demand and future.
    Service demands for SB and SLO are more similar to the needs of the IE and Coachella valley than they are to the LA-SD corridor. Seeing the same number of trains daily between Palm Springs and Santa Barbara would make sense- that’s the future of surfliner-type service.

    SLO would get about what it needs from a daylight in addition to a better-run starlight.

    LA-SD needs electric, more frequent service.
    Burbank south through the OC to San Diego is the core of what electrolink should be.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Should the northern electrolink terminus be Burbank, Chatsworth, Santa Clarita, Palmdale/Lancaster, or somewhere else?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    At least Santa Clarita and Chatsworth at the north end.

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    Initially, the idea of electrolink is largely to do in SoCal what caltrain electrification/modernization in Norcal is supposed to do (ideally not so wastefully)- accommodate more passengers, more frequency, and lower journey times, on a segment which will be used by high-speed trains eventually, even if it’s not possible to upgrade to full-speed. Incremental improvements whose benefits to everyday riders outweigh the benefits which are also accrued to HSR.

    So I’d say definitely north of Burbank, and at or south of Santa Clarita.
    The antelope valley’s a bit too far.

    EJ Reply:

    A few years ago PB’s analysis recommended 2 HSR + a mix of double and triple track freight + Metrolink. The surfliner runs non-stop between LAUS and Fullerton and could easily share HSR track.

    They recommended against 4 tracks mixed for a variety of reasons, one of which being the large number of “cross-plant” moves by local freight trains.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    I doubt PB was even thinking about Southern California Regional Rail.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    Who are we going to be able to put the blame on once PB is no more?

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    I normally am not anti PB, but CAHSR simply isn’t involved in LOSSAN services at all and has likely paid little thought to them.

    EJ Reply:

    IIRC this was something commissioned by LOSSAN, not CAHSR.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    With that number of stops, it would better be called “Interregio” (actually, one of the most successful products the DB created, but it got killed off because (if I remember correctly) of the change of financing regional (or, better, interregional services). Having a stop every 12 to 15 minutes is not too bad.

    Now, imagine that operated using a KISS by Stadler (yes, the same platform as Caltrain has ordered), or a derivative of the TWINDEXX by Bombardier (not quite the DB variant, but more the SBB variant). With the superior acceleration and braking capabilities of such EMUs, the same average travel times can be accomplished as with loco-hauled expresses (with half of that number of stops).

    To quote Clem from his blog, there is a Germanic statement: “Organisation vor Elektronik vor Beton”. This means to increase capacity (and to some extent speed), look at the schedules, station stops, organizational practices. Then look at electrification (if not already existing), signalling and rolling stock (maybe even tilting trains). And only if that is not enough, do construction.

    One possibility for that line would be establishing a target schedule first (for example, target travel time 1h45, which would allow a 30 minute interval schedule with 8 train sets). That determines where the trains will meet. With some probability, there would be stations at those points. There may be some fiddling with the schedules to achieve that. And only where there is no station, some double tracking would be needed.

    There is another rule from handling technology: Make slow parts of your motions as fast as short as possible, and then as fast as possible. Translated to a rail line, that could mean to use turnouts which allow running on deviation at 90 km/h instead of 40 km/h (that easily gives you one to two minutes), or use shorter trains (but bi-levels) (that too can give you a minute).

    Yes, there are places where concrete is needed. But way less than what the typical Californian consultants want to make their clients believe.

    Mixing in freight… well, require a) electric traction, and b) a minimum kw/t ratio, which allows the freight train to flow within the schedule pattern. And, there is the concept of “last mile diesel”, which means that the electric locomotive (maybe rated at 6 MW), has a diesel group (maybe rated at 800 kW), which is absolutely sufficient for switching on non-electrified spurs.

    [Reply]

    Clem Reply:

    Get SMA to figure out the possibilities and operational constraints. They’ve already sucked in the entire California rail network into their simulators.

    I agree that the Caltrain KISS has potential applications in California beyond the peninsula corridor. Presumably one of the reasons that Stadler worked so hard to bid on it when all the other majors (Siemens, Alstom, Bombardier, Kawasaki) said no thanks.

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Max, are you assuming that stations perforce have passing tracks? There are stations without, key ones being San Juan Capistrano and San Clemente.
    Re freight, the through freights originate from Barstow and there are no plans to electrify Cajon Pass. Freights will have diesel traction for the foreseeable future. The short line operators work the non electrified branch lines or under the light rail wires.
    You have to understand that there is no desire whatsoever on the part of the passenger agencies to take on electrification. There is not much point in trying to electrify one regional service (Surfliner) without the others.
    You are absolutely right in putting “Organisation” first. As the first RailPAC President, the late Byron Nordberg told me, this is not about running trains, it’s all about institutional relationships. Seems like “Interreggio” suffered the same fate.

    [Reply]

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Paul, thanks for the comments. Clem’s link helps me to better understand the lines.

    About freight, the minimum kw/t ratio would still apply, maybe together with length restrictions and other parameters. If they are able to be within those parameters, fine, run the freight trains with diesel.

    Yeah, the end of the Interregios came when the financing for regional rail services went from the national level to the Länder (in the US, that would be the states). (not a bad thing per se, because it makes decision paths shorter, but more prone to how much interest the Länder government has in transit.

    [Reply]

    Anandakos Reply:

    At least half of the freights on the BNSF main between Redondo and Fullerton are unit stacks out of San Pedro or Long Beach. BNSF is NOT going to make them shorter for you.

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Not really relevant to this discussion. It’s what happens south of Fullerton is what counts

    [Reply]

    EJ Reply:

    South of Orange there are a half dozen BNSF freights every day, including auto-racks. Also the line is part of STRACNET, and the Navy uses it to move all manner of bulky equipment from time to time.

    [Reply]

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Thanks a lot for that link; it will help me understand the topology of the California passenger rail network.

    And SMA knows what they are doing. Legendary is their timetable graphic of the Swiss main network on one single sheet… about the highest information-density thing I have seen in the rail industry. And (if I am not mistaken, they emerged from the SBB “Spinnerclub” (the fools club), which did all the conceptional work for the SBB fixed interval schedule, essentially in their spare time.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    And this is precisely why the Stadler contract is likely to get canceled as early as the March Caltrain Board meeting.

    [Reply]

    Paul Druce Reply:

    That is an amazingly useful link Clem, thank you kindly for posting it.

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    This is why I think in Miramar Hill, concrete is required. It’s a long, slow segment. They’re already planning to tunnel under it for diesel trains, but electric trains can climb over it – the plan for the San Diego Trolley extension to UCSD involves going next to the legacy route (not on it in tram-train mode, unfortunately) and then climbing the hill to reach University City.

    Everywhere else, it’s mostly organization (i.e. more regular scheduling – current Surfliner schedule is almost but not quite hourly) and electronics (i.e. electrification, trains with MDBF that doesn’t embarrass). The ROW geometry of the route is pretty good – I wouldn’t think to recommend a schedule averaging 114 km/h with intermediate stops for something curvier.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    One noteworthy organization problem is that Coaster exists. San Diego County should just join Metrolink, so continuous local rail service exists from Ventura to San Diego. Oceanside makes no sense as a transfer, and I know of at least one person who would commute from OC to Solana Beach via Metrolink instead of car if that transfer wasn’t there.

    [Reply]

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    While I agree with San Diego County just joining metrolink, it would be pretty sensible to just allow passes to be uses on intercity trains between LA and SD, that way you have less issue with trying to accommodate diesel commuter trains on constrained portions of an upgraded electric line- at least until electrolink is not just a dream.

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    “Geometry is pretty good”. You crazy? Totally obsolete alignments in southern Orange County and Miramar, not to mention the Del Mar bluffs. Even if electric trains can go over the hill faster it’s still a waste of time and energy, added maintenance on trains and track.

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Miramar is a disaster, yes. But it can be bypassed on a non-huge budget relative to the time savings.

    Del Mar is not an ROW geometry problem. The biggest problem there is that the NIMBYs think catenary will reduce their property values. You can forget about double-tracking, but even a half-hourly train can use scheduled meets.

    Southern OC, ditto. The sharp curve in Capistrano Beach looks like it has radius 330 meters. It’s far from a station, and there are almost no freight trains (and it’s flat, so those freight trains aren’t going at Siskiyou Pass speeds), so there can be decent superelevation. And the passenger trains I’m saying California should run can do decent cant deficiency. Figure 150 mm each, and it’s 90 km/h. The curve at the OC/San Diego county line looks like 820 meters; harder to get away with 150 mm there, but if it’s possible, it’s a 145 km/h curve.

    [Reply]

    DanM Reply:

    I haven’t posted to this website for a couple years now (since it got bit too political for my taste), but wanted to respond to your comment about Del Mar.

    I have lived in Del Mar for almost 15 years now and have no particular opposition to catenary. Most of the folks I know would accept it in return for better / faster train service. The NIMBY’s who shut down the Del Mar train station 25 (?) years ago have mostly passed away by now.

    In the years I’ve been here, the only serious proposal for changes to the the tracks was a locally-opposed temporary train platform to serve the fair/racetrack. This was opposed because (1) it was temporary (2) it required people to walk for ~10 minutes down a bike lane on the side of a 45mph road (Jimmy Durante) to actually get to the fair and (3) people would likely walk through back yards to get to the beach. This is already a problem (Many, including myself, do it all the time as a shortcut to the beach). Now it’s ~2 years later and they are building a permanent (but seasonal) stop a few hundred yards north which will have direct access to the fairgrounds parking lot and easier beach access. Sometimes local opposition is just because top-down planning didn’t do their homework.

    The biggest problem with higher train speeds through Del Mar is actually the lack of crossing points. There are a lot of visitors here, and most cross the tracks near where they park. There is one crossing point at 15th street (where someone got hit by the Coaster yesterday — not a suicide). The next one south is Torrey Pines Beach almost 2 miles away. The next one north is Via De La Valle which is about a mile. Multiple people are hit every year, and I’ve never heard of one which was a suicide.

    dan.

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Ooh. Can you email me at alon_levy1@yahoo.com? What you say about the NIMBYs having passed away now is relevant to my interests. The same issue appears in other US cities that have a reputation for NIMBYism – for example, Arlington, Massachusetts went from opposing a subway extension in the 1970s to actively wanting better public transit to Cambridge and Boston today.

    (Another place where NIMBYs oppose what happens to be bad planning: Tenafly, New Jersey really disliked plans to use the Northern Branch for a light rail extension that would connect their town to Hoboken and Jersey City but not to Manhattan.)

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    The rumor I hear is that Tenafly is having second thoughts. When they found out that those awful people in Hackensack weren’t going to build parking garages downtown.

    [Reply]

    EJ Reply:

    See also, the LA subway. Most of the old bats who were worried back in the 1990s that black folks would take the subway to steal their TV sets have since died, and now subway construction is back on.

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Thanks dan, good to have local input. Foot traffic across the tracks is a serious problem at San Clemete and a number of other places. I certainly don’t think higher speeds will be permitted until those issues have been addressed. Regarding catenary we have to remember that tri-level auto carriers are a big part of the freight business to and from Pasha at National City, so this will be tall catenary, not Euro sized.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    Paul – A dumb question, or thought, on my part regarding catenary and tri-level freight auto carriers.
    Are there any electric trains in the world which might have catenary on the track side reached by a pantograph extended at a 45 degree angle from the top of the locomotive?
    Such a set up would free room for very tall freight cars.

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Would not work for crossovers, switches etc.

    Roland Reply:

    This works for crossovers, switches etc: http://www.worldrecordacademy.com/technology/high_reach_pantograph-world_record_set_by_Stone_India_90314.htm

    Clem Reply:

    For what it’s worth, 80+ percent of the electrification on the peninsula will clear AAR Plate H. This is not a technical problem; Paul’s point was more likely about aesthetics.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    There are such set ups in certain mining applications.

    EJ Reply:

    This line uses offset pantographs to handle two different electrification systems on the same track: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sihltal_Z%C3%BCrich_Uetliberg_Bahn

    Jerry Reply:

    EJ thanks.
    One for DC and the other for AC. In the same train.
    That is sort of an unusual hybrid.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    @EJ and @Jerry: I did not want to mention the SZU, because the DC electrification is still partly within the loading gauge (OTOH, the Üetliberg line is probably one of the first rail lines I ever rode (age 4 or 5), as I grew up close by.

    One reason for the separation is that the rolling stock for the Üetliberg line and the Sihltal line differ considerably. the Üetliberg line has very steep grades (7.8% maximum), and requires extra braking systems. The Sihltal line is pretty much standard Swiss standard gauge; a few tight curves, but that’s about it.

    Both lines share a few kilometers, in a way as it looks like double track. Both lines operate at 10 minute intervals at peak time. In order to accomodate trains meeting on the double track line, they did set up “islands”, where the AC track also has DC wires, and a few hundred meters away, there is an island where the DC track also has AC wires. So, the Üetliberg trains meet at the double DC island, and the Sihltal trains at the double AC island (which also happens to be a stop in a tunnel directly under the Sihl river, and half of the platform length is at level, and the other half gradually gets to a 4% grade).

    For regular operation, there is no crossover of the AC and DC lines. There is, however a connector to the main network, which had quite a bit of local freight (for example a printing company receiving paper rolls). The crossing is double-protected, but there were events when a crossing train caused a shortcut, and half of the Üetliberg rolling stock got fried; as their workshop had some very good mechanics and electricians, they got them back within a very short time.

    Only the very latest trainsets for the Üetliberg line are convertibles. They are bi-modal (1200 VDC / 15. kv/16.7 Hz) (nothing particular nowadays; it is almost cheaper to procure bi-modal than single modal…). The pantograph can be moved to the outside for DC operation or to the center for the AC operation. I believe remember reading that they are actually using those trainsets on the Sihltal line in the late evening (where they provide sufficient capacity). They also say that when the last previous Üetliberg line vehicles reach their end of life, which will also be pretty much so for some substations, they will rewire the Üetliberg line for AC.

    Jerry Reply:

    @Max
    Your reference to the underground station in a tunnel below the Sihl river is interesting.
    In Portland, Oregon the light rail line has an underground station that is 260 feet deep. It serves the Portland zoo.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Washington_Park_MAX_Station
    The main discussion by Alon and others regarding the trains and tunnels to San Diego might be able to work in some underground station. Who knows?
    Also Max, your reference to the 4% and higher grades seem to work OK in Switzerland.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    @Jerry: The tunnel station below the Sihl river is named Selnau (if you want to look it up…). The tunnel remains under the Sihl river until the line makes a sharp turn to get in parallel to the tracks of Zürich Hauptbahnhof. It has been built with the cut and cover method, while the riverbed was made narrower. The ceiling of the tunnel is not that far (maybe 2 m or so) below the ground of the river. So, it is not very deep.

    The original Selnau station, which was the terminus of the Sihltal and Üetliberg line, was quite on the border of the Sihl river. So, that 4% grade is not thaaat long; it just has to get the line from the tunnel below the river up to the level of the original line. It is something around 400 meter long. The grade is no problem for the Üetliberg line rolling stock, as it had to be designed for steeper grades. But it did put quite a bit of wear on the Sihltal line rolling stock. Things got a bit easier when the more powerful and heavier locomotives came. The trains are rather short (3 to 4 cars with a locomotive rated at 3200 kW, 240 kN tractive force).

    4% is acceptable standard in Switzerland for short grades (such as getting from underground up to a viaduct) for S-Bahn and generally passenger operation. It is, however, reaching its limits with the longest IC2000 bi-level trains, where with 11 cars or more (net weight around 500t), a second Re460 is needed for the grade of the new “Durchmesserlinie” in Zürich. “Normal” grades on the Swiss main line network are up to 2.6%.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    A big difference is that Switzerland has an enormous installed base of loco-hauled trains. California doesn’t have any electric loco installed base, and if it electrifies, it’s not much more expensive to buy EMUs and throw away the Superliners than to buy electric locos. Caltrain evidently is going straight to EMUs without electric locos in the meantime.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    @Alon: Most SBB IC an IR trains are actually fixed consist push-pull sets, consisting of (yes), a Class 460 locomotive plus a rake of IC2000 bi-levels, or EWIV single-level cars. The difference to an EMU is that the traction power is concentrated at one place. If additional cars are necessary, they are added as a “modul”, consisting of 1 to 3 IC2000 or EWIV cars, plus a matching cab car. They are added to the main consist at their non-cab end, and it may be that this makes the locomotive be in the middle of the train.

    However, the SBB is moving to EMUs: Right now, there are two orders: IC and IR bi-level sets: TWINDEXX by Bombardier (currently being tested for certification), and EC single-level sets: Giruno by Stadler, primarily intended for the Gotthard Base Tunnel services (the first set is completed soon).

    Regional and S-Bahn trains are either “Domino” sets, consisting of a power car, one to three cars, plus a cab car, or FLIRTs, or KISSes.

    That said, yes, Switzerland has a whole bunch of loco-hauled trains, but the current trend goes towards EMUs.

    In general, one could say that for a not so demanding service (slower acceleration, longer distance between stops), loco-hauled trains do have some advantages, mainly on the comfort level. But when the operation gets more demanding, distributed power becomes a necessity.

    EJ Reply:

    Guys, if you’re talking about 4% grades on new-build lines that carry US freight, particularly that are part of Stracnet, you’re simply not talking reality. All the Miramar tunnel plans feature some diversion to the East, to keep the grade manageable.

    Last I looked into it the proposal SANDAG liked was a double track, non-tunneled line that ran mostly on the other side of the canyon. It wouldn’t be as fast as a tunnel but would allow 50 mph maximum speeds, instead of the current 25.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Nobody said freight couldn’t remain on the old line.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    I hear Amtrak has some electric locomotives they might be interested in selling cheap.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Yeah. Nimbyism isn’t as bad in Del Mar as one might think. I have some very conservative relatives that are very big supporters of CAHSR, and development in general. One benefit of it not being as liberal as many other parts of California is that it is less likely to be irrationally anti-development. That said, a new rail line through Del Mar may have to go inland someday, because of geography. A map of this can be seen here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1sE6XIjPp6_PaHU1Dq3pQ_QU4zHM&usp=sharing

    On the bright side, it makes getting over Miramar Hill possible even without initial electrification (which probably shouldn’t go in until all new construction along the route is complete (and yes, I know that violates Organisation vor Elektronik vor Beton, but it makes sense in this scenario), so as not to redo electrification later.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    @DanM
    After a “couple of years” welcome back.
    The subject of the blog is one of the best in a long time and has raised the level of the postings.
    Thanks goes to Robert for his selection and presentation of Alon Levy’s ideas and insight.

    [Reply]

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    I think they tried express service and it flopped.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    You can read more about it here:
    http://reasonrail.blogspot.com/2012/02/pacific-surfliner-express-is-failure.html

    [Reply]

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    Sounds to me like they didn’t even try, honestly.

    [Reply]

    EJ Reply:

    It wasn’t much time savings, and the Surfliner already doesn’t make very many stops. It essentially already is a regional express, with Metrolink and Coaster handling the local traffic.

    [Reply]

    Brian_FL Reply:

    You say it does not make very many stops? How is a 3 hour trip covering 128 miles with 12 stops an express train? I guess compared to a subway, then yes it is an express train. It has become apparent to me that the powers that be really don’t know what they want the Surfliner to be. It’s not express, not intercity, not local commuter. Its trying to be everything to everybody along its route. That’s why it can’t become great. Maybe as mentioned by other commenters, having so damn many agencies involved is causing this mess.

    An express service should average 70 mph with maybe 2 stops between SD and LAUS.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Even HSR will have at least 5 stops between LAUS and SD. That is the nature of the region.

    [Reply]

    EJ Reply:

    @Brian_FL what car(e)-said. I think you’re overlooking the spread out nature of the region. There isn’t a clear division between small local stops and major urban centers. You can find the ridership figures on Amtrak’s site and on wikipedia – once you get down to 6 or 8 stops which ones would you eliminate? It’s non-obvious. When they did try express service, they simply lost ridership because knocking 15 minutes off of what was then a 2 hour 45 minute trip just wasn’t that compelling.

    [Reply]

    Brian_FL Reply:

    It appears to be a complex issue, I just don’t see how electrifying the route will do much for the money to be spent. The point I was trying to make was, if given 1 or 2 billion dollars, what is the best use of the money for this route? I can’t see how spending it on electrification alone will bring the most benefits. Why not solve capacity issues first? Why not buy more trainsets? The point of Robert’s post was getting HSR-like service to this route. If it is indeed a commuter route, then at this point IMO it’s a waste of precious resources to spend money on speeding things up incrementally by using electric powered trains.

    EJ Reply:

    Electric power is more important if you have a lot of stops, due to faster acceleration. There’s no trick to running diesels at 125 mph, the British have been doing it for 40 years, but you’ve got worse acceleration than electric trains.

    EJ Reply:

    I do think you could get rid of all those little Coaster stops in San Diego. The reason those are there on some trains is that NCTD has an arrangement whereby Coaster tickets are valid on certain Surfliners, as NCTD figured it was more cost-effective to subsidize those rides rather than run additional trains.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Which ones specifically?
    Old town?
    Carlsbad Poinsettia?
    Encinitas?

    I think they all have value.

    Michael Reply:

    EJ- If you mean in a sort-of hard to parse way that Amtrak should stop at only Oceanside and San Diego and let the Coaster serve all in-between, I think that makes sense, especially with coordinated ticketing and coordinated meets at Oceanside for transfers both NB and SB.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    @Michael.
    I agree with that. I though EJ was proposing shutting down Coaster entirely and replacing it with Amtrak that doesn’t make all the stops. I would put one intermediate Surfliner stop in between Oceanside and San Diego, however. Probably in Solana Beach now and in University City in the future.

    Ideally Surfliner, Coaster, and Metrolink should be combined into one organization with local service making all the stops from Burbank/Santa Clarita/Palmdale/Chatsworth (I don’t know which) to San Diego every half hour, with express service every half hour stopping at Burbank Airport, LAUS, Norwalk, Anaheim, Santa Ana, Irvine, San Juan Capistrano/Laguna Niguel/San Clemente, Oceanside, Solana Beach/University City, and San Diego.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    EJ is correct. A dirty deal was done to get NCTD to join LOSSAN, the bait being some Surfliner trains stopping at some Coaster stops to cover midday. They are now cast in stone in the timetable even though ridership is small and it makes those trains oh so tedious, not to mention killing all the recovery time. At least they pay more per passenger than Metrolink but really the deal should have been they pay per stop, and let them decide whether it’s worth the money or not.
    Car free is reflecting RailPAC policy of a single regional passenger rail entity, (both northern and southern CA one hopes).

    EJ Reply:

    Solana Beach and Oceanside have always been Amtrak stops, at least since Solana Beach replaced Del Mar. It’s all the other little stops in between I’m talking about. It’s as if a Northbound Northeast Regional got to Providence and then had to stop at all the MBTA stations between there and Boston.

    JB in PA Reply:

    Brian_FL express service.
    Maybe the LA-SD service could use the method Clem has proposed for CalTrain
    local – express (cross-platform-transfer mid-way) express – local.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    And going off of Clem’s proposal of a San Mateo local/ full length express, Metrolink could operate half-hourly as far south as Laguna Niguel, with Surfliner also operating half hourly, making all stops south of Laguna Niguel, and express (stopping in Irvine, Santa Ana, Anaheim, Norwalk) north of there.

    [Reply]

  2. car(e)-free LA
    Feb 3rd, 2017 at 17:22
    #2

    If there were to be a tunnel under Miramar Hill, where would a University City Area Station be located. Westfield UTC? UCSD West? UCSD East? Would it connect to CAHSR. Definitely something worth thinking about. Should it cut inland through Del Mar? Should it be extended south past Santa Fe Terminus to a station on the southeast side of Downtown, or even Chula Vista or San Ysidro?
    I often think we don’t discus Southern California regional rail on here enough, and I think we should have a robust discussion on it here.

    [Reply]

    Domayv Reply:

    Most likely UCSD West.

    And I think it should follow a new alignment (closer to I-5) from Carlsbad south to Miramar Hill south since it’s be unsafe if it were to be done at the beach.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    In terms of problematic coastal running, I think San Clemente is worse than Carlsbad, though I’m not really an expert on San Diego County.

    [Reply]

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    My personal fantasy on this particular front is for SoCal rail service to swing east and terminate in Otay Mesa, With a parallel runway to the current one at Tijuana international airport built, creating a two-country airport much like EuroAirport or Geneva International Airport. San Diego Airport is the busiest single runway in North America, and operationally the new airport could serve domestic flights for both the US and mexico. The same sort of high-capacity parallel runway layout as BKK, HKG, and LHR would be able to make the new airport the third busiest on the west coast- and warrant direct transpacific flights to SAN and TIJ don’t currently exist. Some relief for LAX and MEX.

    Without that, I’d say San Ysidro is the logical terminus.

    But I’d like to see CAHSR (and rail expansion overall) planned to integrate with and work together with improvements to California’s overall infrastructure, including airports, land transport, and water transport.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Actually, your fantasy is my exact same one. If a second runway was built on the Otay Mesa side, the entire existing San Diego Airport could be entirely redeveloped. In fact, I even drew a map of how I would design this airport which you can view here: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1DNOoa7etkVZGnjW57HjKrbG4lug&usp=sharing

    [Reply]

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    Clem- I would personally lengthen the existing TIJ airstrip right up until the legal boundary of the US-mexico border, my design sensibility is to copy BKK almost exactly in terms of runway length and design, but with a domestic terminal for the US and a domestic terminal for mexico.

    Shared international terminal with exits to customs facilities for both the US-bound, Mexico-bound, and facilities for transiting passengers (e.g. those bound for various Caribbean and Latin American nations)

    Brown field struck me as too dangerous for use as an airstrip in a new airport facility.
    I’d lean toward developing it for other appropriate purposes.

    Interesting approach for LOSSAN- I don’t know that going directly along the border is practical. I would have gone due west, along 905/otay mesa rd, for both CASHR and trolley. CAHSR terminating at the new airport, trolley running through to the next border crossing.

    [Reply]

    Eric Reply:

    Not gonna happen until long after the Trump era.

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The problem with this is that it requires open borders between the US and Mexico, or something like it. Borders within the Schengen zone are pretty open, especially in areas where people aren’t worried that refugees might show up. You can walk across the border between Switzerland and France and nobody even looks at you; Americans would think it was a horrible violation of freedom if they had to open their borders with Canada that way, let alone with Mexico.

    One note of caution about air travel: San Diego isn’t that big a city, so it’s unlikely to support a lot of transpacific travel demand. Vancouver has flights to the major Asian hubs, but Metro Vancouver is around 40% immigrant and 40% Asian, and San Diego County is neither.

    [Reply]

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    Not necessarily. You can already directly access TIJ from both the US and mexican sides. Adding another runway means replacing the border fence that runs straight through with a more highly secured border around an international airport facility.

    “As of December 9, 2015, with the opening of the Cross Border Xpress bridge and terminal, Tijuana is the only airport in the world to have terminals in two countries. Passengers can walk across a bridge spanning the U.S.-Mexico border between a terminal on the U.S. side and the main facility on the Mexican side.”

    Airports are much higher-security than the US-mexico border in general, and the new runway and US domestic terminal would be in US territory. It may operate with shared air-side space for the international terminal, with exits via both US and Mexican customs available, respectively. International airports’ air-sides are already treated as a secured zone. You have to clear customs to enter from an international flight either way, domestic terminals would be on their respective side of each border. It doesn’t really require any more open-border than is currently there.

    San diego’s the busiest non-hub airport in the US with 20 million boardings per year. Tijuana is another non-hub airport with about 7 million per year, among the busiest in mexico. Each is non-hub because of constraints in managing new aircraft movement, due to constricted airspace from the other airport, and only having a single runway to work with. Because of relatively poor domestic connections (relative to airport hubs), transpacific travel is suppressed currently. I did check, apparently SAN does have daily flights to tokyo, and TIJ has daily flights to Shanghai. I’d expect with consolidation of connections that more transpacific travel to mexico and the southwestern US would go via SANTIJ, rather than LAX, SFO, or MEX.

    San diego airport alone currently serves about 90% as many annual passengers as YVR currently does- San diego and tijuana combined serve more annual passengers than all airports in British Colombia combined.

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    If the US were a normal country, you’d be right. But it isn’t. It makes people go through US immigration even if they’re traveling between two other countries (link). Since Latin America is poorly connected with the rest of the world, people there sometimes have to fly through the US if they want to visit certain other countries, which requires them to get a special US transit visa. Most just don’t bother and fly to China via Heathrow, even though it’s a much longer trip that way.

    Creating a binational airport means convincing the US to relinquish control, to let people fly through the airport to third countries without having to get a US visa and without getting fingerprinted by US security officials.

    As for travel demand: first, the busiest non-hub airports in the US are Las Vegas and Orlando, with 44 and 40 million passengers each. If I remember correctly, Las Vegas is also the busiest or second busiest single airport in the US for O&D traffic (if it’s the second, then LAX is first).

    Second, it’s unlikely San Diego can become a hub. Why would people connect there when they can connect at LAX or SFO? The trend is toward more centralization – international/domestic connections at JFK or maybe Dulles and not at Boston or Philadelphia, and fares are notably lower at JFK than at other Northeastern airports because there’s more competition at JFK. Boston is actually pretty well-connected with Europe, but it isn’t a hub and never will be. If a joint San Diego-Tijuana airport is the only place in the US that offers international connections without going through US immigration and security then it’s something else, but the possibility of that happening is remote.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    The point of a joint San Diego Tijuana airport is to give the 5 million people who live in that area a single airport that can serve more destinations because of its bigger market. It also provides a chance to redevelop SAN. What would probably happen would be that there is a USA+Canada (because of pre-clearance) terminal, entered from the northwest, and a Mexico terminal, entered from the southeast. Passengers would have to go through customs and probably take an APM to get to the other side. In the middle would be a concourse for international destinations, in which passengers could chose to exit one end through customs to the USA, and exit another through customs to Mexico. In the rare instances that someone would need to connect from one international flight to another, passengers would likely pass through customs into Mexico, then reenter the international concourse from the Mexican side (because Mexican customs are simpler.)

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Does Mexico at all make people go through immigration if they’re connecting between two international flights? I can believe it does – a lot of pernicious American influence – but it’s definitely not normal. Europe doesn’t do it, Japan doesn’t do it, China doesn’t do it, the Gulf states don’t do it, Southeast Asia doesn’t do it, etc.

    In either case, you’re still missing the big obstacle: the US doesn’t want passengers to be able to travel without getting fingerprinted and registered in US databases. It’s about control, not about efficiency.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    I had to once in Guadalajara, but I had a long layover and chose to visit the city so I really don’t know. I don’t think the US cares if travelers are travelling through the airport and stay entirely on the Mexican side.

    [Reply]

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    First off, Alon, you’re correct. San Diego is the most populous city whose airport is not a hub, not the busiest O&D airport. This is what happens when you’re editing other parts of your post and aren’t careful enough.

    Low-cost carriers (mainly spirit, but also virgin and alaska) do use LAS as a focus city, wouldn’t be sure about hub, and Jetblue and Spirit increasingly use orlando as a focus city as well (not as much as FLL, but more than previously).
    Like with LAX, the air traffic to LAS and MCO/SFB is still overwhelmingly O&D.

    “It makes people go through US immigration even if they’re traveling between two other countries”
    The airside transit terminal could be in mexican territory, or just not run by the US.

    “If a joint San Diego-Tijuana airport is the only place in the US that offers international connections without going through US immigration and security then it’s something else, but the possibility of that happening is remote.”- As Clem noted, it would be that Mexico does allow airside connections without clearing immigration, but that the kind of connections that require a US travel market are possible.

    While I hate the word in general, this is a rare case where “synergy” is appropriate. US domestic connections and a large travel market from north of the border (including Canada, due to pre-clearance, as Car(e)-free-in LA pointed out). Mexican operation of the airside international terminal (meaning that passengers can transfer with no Mexican or USA visa, as is currently possible at Mexico City airport), and a large connecting domestic market to Mexico, each of these, along with greater ease in going between Latin America and Asia, versus LAX. So some of the international flights (not only to Asia, but to Latin America and the Caribbean as well) which would have used LAX, or possibly MEX, instead use SANTIJ.

    [Reply]

    Peter Reply:

    This too is nothing new, the idea of a binational airport was explored going back to the 70’s, when they first began searching for a replacement for Lindbergh.

    [Reply]

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    While it’s not a new idea (neither is a bullet train from SF to LA), when making big infrastructural investments, it’s best to pay mind to building them in the context of each other, with connection to each other.

    [Reply]

  3. Paul Dyson
    Feb 3rd, 2017 at 21:57
    #3

    A billion dollars would just be a down payment on making LOSSAN competitive with freeway travel times. To step up from 40mph average to 70 mph on this 19th century line will be a tall order, and electrification would just be the icing on the cake.
    In southern Orange County, between San Juan Capistrano and San Onofre is a single track section which runs along the beach at San Clemente. This severely limits the number of trains that can be run. San Diego County is working on their single track sections but still have years to go to completion, and still will have Miramar Hill. Los Angeles has the fish hook approach to LAUS which is oh so painfully slow and inefficient.
    But the physical constraints are a bagatelle compared to the institutional issues. The right of way is owned by 5 entities between LA and San Diego with a sixth agency controlling the passenger rights over the BNSF section. There are four passenger operators, a class one common carrier and two short line freight operators.
    RailPAC has campaigned since the death of the bullet train project in 1980 for incremental upgrades, but progress has been pitifully slow. And worse, trains have been added faster than the infrastructure improvements needed to handle the traffic punctually. Surfliner trains are the poor relation, priority dispatching being given to the commuter operators (they own the dispatch). It’s pretty clear that NCTD’s Coaster service will be the first beneficiary of infrastructure improvements in San Diego County. Surfliner’s punctuality may improve but from where I sit I see no plans or impetus to improve journey times.
    What disappoints me is the combination of ignorance and naivite in the postings here. 5,000 customers a day with a population of about 15 million is a rounding error. It will take a huge effort to make something worthwhile from LOSSAN, and so far there is no political leadership to make it happen.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    “so far there is no political leadership to make it happen.”
    Very true. And that is just one of the many problems. Most Americans have not experienced HSR or anything closely resembling it.
    I’m hopeful that Brightline will have enough of a success to broaden America’s outlook and maybe some politician’s outlook as well.

    [Reply]

    les Reply:

    We already have NEC and other slower lines running. We need Texas Central up and running in order to make a social impact.

    [Reply]

    Tom A Reply:

    NEC mostly impacts liberals who are already in favor of higher public transport investments. Brightline might get used by more vacationers and people who otherwise aren’t exposed.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    What do you think should be done about San Clemente? Will there have to be a new runnel from San Onofre to San Juan Capistrano with a new station near I-5, or is there a better alternative?

    [Reply]

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Not being familiar with the route, how long is that single track section between San Juan Capistrano an San Onofre? Are there intermediate stations?

    Also, would it be imaginable that the line would be handed over to an Infrastructure Manager, and the operators would pay access fees? (or is that model illusoric, because NIH)?

    [Reply]

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    It is about 13 miles and has one intermediate Amtrak stop and tow intermidiate Metrolink stops.

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    The double track ends at CP Serra and San Juan Capistrano has only only platform, so there are three stops on the single track section with no passing sidings until San Onofre. SMA came up with some ideas but IMO it required a level of precision operation that would never happen given the BNSF dispatching between Redondo Jc and Fullerton. Some serious Beton will inevitably be required.

    [Reply]

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Thanks for that info. Even with very smart scheduling, that would barely allow for an integral 30 minutes interval. Yeah, Beton will be needed, but not necessarily a full double-tracking.

    @Paul: Considering that mish-mash of ownership, and external influence, this line would have to be handed over to an infrastructure manager (who also does the dispatching) with the requirement to allow non-discrimatory access. Everyone had to get paths for their trains, in particular freight. And for freight, there had to be (beware, must be from the devil) schedules.

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Max, how I long for such a day….

    [Reply]

    Max Wyss Reply:

    Hmmm… wouldn’t now be a chance? California wants (and has to do) things better than the nation.

    So, “Make it So!”

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    They have yet to make me King. Very soon I hope…

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    HSR is already providing various improvements to concrete on the line. I’m not that worried about single-track segments (it’s trivial to schedule hourly trains around them, and if there’s demand for half-hourly trains, there’s money to construct meets around stations). I’m much more worried about the segment that’s owned by BNSF, but HSR is supposedly providing money for extra tracks there.

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    The hourly Surfliners are not the only trains on the line. I think you are out of touch with the realities on the ground, both the railroad and the politics.

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The Orange County Line only has a couple daily trains south of Mission Viejo. The only real crunch is a once-daily tidal burst of 3 trains in 40 minutes, arriving LAUS 6:40, 7:03, 7:20. This can be solved, superficially, by running rush hour trains in multiple.

    Less superficially, electrification means everything gets sped up. It gets to the point that there isn’t any reason to keep running Metrolink south of Mission Viejo, or maybe even south of Irvine. Just integrate the fares and let people commute on an intercity train. Won’t be the first train in the world to do that, or even in the US. Because of capacity limitations at the Connecticut River due to the movable bridge, Shore Line East only runs one daily train to New London, so Amtrak accepts SLE monthlies on its own trains from New London to New Haven.

    [Reply]

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    So how would you design such a system? Trains running at :00 and :30 from San Diego to LAUS, express north of Irvine/Laguna plus trains running at :15 and :45 local from Irvine/Laguna to LAUS?

    [Reply]

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    Considering that metrolink has a better farebox recovery ratio than surfliner between the same stations, I don’t see why not to just sell passes valid on intercity trains.

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Laguna is the natural terminus, has turnback facilities.
    Ian Mitchell, are you sure of your facts re farebox recovery? Surfliner is now north of 75% and would be higher if Metrolink paid a realistic amount for rail to rail passengers.

    [Reply]

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    I don’t have 2016 numbers or anything that recent, they were pretty comparable some years ago. Not sure how they are currently. Amtrak’s bizarre accounting an issue as always.

    http://reasonrail.blogspot.com/2012/07/value-for-public-money-pacific.html

    [Reply]

    Paul Druce Reply:

    The latest numbers from Amtrak are actually insanely good; they’ve done a really good job of beefing up the profitability of the Surfliner, greater than 90% recovery during the peak summer months.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Absolutely could be profitable with electrification, increased frequency, and constructing/buying its own tracks.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Alon, I count 6 trains each way on the OC line to Oceanside, and 2 each way IE-OC. Discussions are ongoing about through trains to San Diego. The agencies made the lines as incompatible as possible, different hotel voltages on the cars, different position of ADA ramps.

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    There are 6 trains to Oceanside, but other than that one tidal wave of two Metrolinks and a Surfliner, they’re spaced far enough apart as to not be a problem. They might still need to be cut back and have the Surfliner cannibalize their slots, but as long as fares are integrated it’s not a problem.

    The ADA access has to be redesigned from scratch anyway, because level boarding is nonnegotiable for a new regional train. (A legacy train… let’s just say the fucking RER isn’t always level, especially on the SNCF side.) Make a decision between 550 mm with level boarding to the lower level of a bilevel, and HSR-compatible-but-ew 1,250 mm with level boarding to the intermediate level. It’s actually less critical on intercity trains – they have conductors and stop at fewer stations (=fewer attendants if it comes to that), so deploying movable ramps is possible. Regional trains just need extendable platforms coming out of the doors; it’s what Clem recommends for Caltrain, and it’s practiced in other parts of France than Paris, like the trains in Provence.

    [Reply]

    DTP Reply:

    Minor nitpick: SLE actually runs 7 WB and 5 EB trains to New London each weekday. Only 3 WB and 5 EB Amtrak trains accept SLE monthlies.

    http://www.shorelineeast.com/images/docs/SLE-Timetable.pdf

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    …so why did I think there was just one SLE train pair per day? Was it true in an older schedule before a more recent revision?

    Hmmm.

    [Reply]

    DTP Reply:

    Nope. The very first New London schedule in 1996 included 2 daily round trips. The number has fluctuated since then, but there has always been at least 2.

    [Reply]

  4. robert92111
    Feb 3rd, 2017 at 23:06
    #4

    Regardless of Dyson’s comments, Levy is right that it would be more economical and probably faster to upgrade the existing LOSSAN corridor than to add a new HSR corridor running inland. Considering the financial constraints to the HSR project, upgrading the existing system would provide a better investment and benefit more people. Linking an upgraded coastal route to the HSR system for commuter service as well as HSR trains (similar to Caltrain’s blended service) would help grow ridership, probably faster than an inland route could, and provide improved service to the larger number of people living in southern LA County and OC.

    Clearly the political issues are real, but with a renewed examination of this route and a serious commitment to it, there would be a significant impetus to negotiate solutions to territorial issues. So, on the whole, this route seems likely to me to be the best (and probably quickest) solution to getting higher speed service into the corridor as well as getting HSR trains into SD.

    I think Levy’s article is very insightful, and very thought provoking. The goal it outlines is wholly in line with the goal of upgrading rail service throughout the state, and linking the SoCal passenger routes into the HSR system.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    The new inland HSR route is very flawed anyway. I think eventually both are needed for different markets. Inland HSR for LA-SD express, and SD to Vegas and Northern California, with the LOSSAN corridor serving the millions of people who live along it outside San Diego and Los Angeles.

    [Reply]

    Domayv Reply:

    But LOSSAN also serves LA and SD, and Inland HSR would work better as a mini-high-speed service (like the Mini-Shinkansen or ICE-T trains) once LOSSAN receives true HSR

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Nowhere have I said that LOSSAN upgrades are not a good idea. What is missing is a realistic assessment of how it could be done, how it would be funded, and where the leadership would come from to wrangle the dozen or so agencies and companies involved. Reading statements like “when LOSSAN receives true HSR” I have to wonder if the writer has ever engaged in the process or whether he thinks passenger rail improvements miraculously appear overnight like manna from heaven. Based on the last thirty five years, during which I would say we have made at best 10 years of progress had there been strong political support, even you young chaps will be lucky to see anything worthwhile.
    Worthy of note is my gut feeling that more progress was made in the early days of ad hoc arrangements between state and county agencies and the feds, rather than the bureaucratic and multi agency process we have today. That was before you needed an EIR to determine whether it was OK to run more trains on a railroad. Now we have handed veto power to trackside residents. The Del Martians rule.

    [Reply]

    les Reply:

    Didn’t the FRA recently complete a 5 year “vision plan for the Northeast Corridor” this last year. Maybe they can take on LOSSAN next.
    https://nec.amtrak.com/high-speed-rail

    [Reply]

    Clem Reply:

    And speaking of coordinating among jurisdictions, we’re talking about eight different states for the NEC, and countless agencies. LOSSAN can’t possibly be that hard, in comparison.

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    les, I can show you a stack of vision plans for LOSSAN going back thirty years.
    Clem, there is at least some consensus on the NEC that it is useful and desirable and worthy of investment. Passenger rail is not on the radar of most politicians. You can quote that it is the second busiest rail corridor, but in reality the numbers of people moved is tiny compared to the highway. Right now Megabus a Bolt gets you there quicker.

    [Reply]

    les Reply:

    You’re right, it ain’t happening soon. Phase II of CAHSR will be lucky to transpire let alone an early bird LOSSAN plan. With Brown being put to pasture in two years I don’t see any politician who can push such a venture anytime soon. With the enormity of prop M fresh on voters minds and C&T on life support for much of its existence I think it will take the feds help to happen anytime soon.

    [Reply]

    joe Reply:

    You’re right, it ain’t happening soon. Phase II of CAHSR will be lucky to transpire let alone an early bird LOSSAN plan. With Brown being put to pasture in two years I don’t see any politician who can push such a venture anytime soon. With the enormity of prop M fresh on voters minds and C&T on life support for much of its existence I think it will take the feds help to happen anytime soon.
    Don’t count out the CHSR Authority.

    Today, the CHSRA **must** plan a full HSR build to comply with Prop1a for funds and cannot plan otherwise. Any cost effective project risks lawsuit and invalidation of their entire planning and work dependent on Prop1a $. Look at the litigation over blended electrification work.
    Once Prop1a money is spent, the Authority can support projects incremental, cost effective projects like an upgrade to LOSSEN that connects to the HSR system. They’ll need the ridership and I think provide the expertise to comply with regs and navigate state level politics and advocacy.
    Also possible is with the federalization of HSR, extensions to the system can, maybe not popular in Sacramento, avoid CEQA review and instead follow federal EIR which would reduce lawsuits.
    Prop1a has done more to hold back rail improvements than people realize. Once expired, the state will have a core capacity and incentive to connect to and integrate with the service.

    les Reply:

    Lets see CHSRA get the Palmdale-Burbank tunnels built first then I’ll feel better about any additional projects.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Furthermore Clem, the NEC is in receipt of considerable federal largesse. it’s easy for the states to support the NEC if it doesn’t take a lot of their money. On the other hand LOSSAN is predominantly a county and state funded entity. Counties don’t spend money on regional projects unless they see a very direct benefit. Caltrain is a perfect example.

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    It not largesse, it’s taxpayers getting their tax money spent on them.
    Matched with state funds. Amtrak estimates that the states have paid for two thirds of what was invested.

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Amtrak will say anything to get more money for the NEC. But let’s not get diverted from the argument here. NEC is an interstate largely federal program. In CA the transportation investment decisions are made at county level, hence the lack of interest in regional projects.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    55 percent of commuter rail passengers get carried on railroads that serve Manhattan. 72 percent of them are on railroads that use the NEC. Those commuters have a deep fascination with the NEC.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Agree Ari, different thinking, different public and political engagement at every level.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The NEC has a lot of its own problems with organization. To me they seem far worse than LOSSAN. The Acelas can tilt the entire way – even on Metro-North territory, starting from not long ago – but they’re still limited to the same cant deficiency as before, because Metro-North doesn’t want them to be too much faster than the commuter trains it’s running. In the Boston area, they still run diesel under the catenary, and Amtrak wants to triple-track most of the line to avoid having to time the overtakes as it does today. In Maryland, MARC just dieselized, because Amtrak was screwing it over on electric rates and it didn’t want to buy new electric locos (or EMUs).

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Oh god–it’s appalling! There is no interagency cooperation whatsoever. Just NYC alone is a complete mess of commuter rail turf wars with the worst terminus choices ever.

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    NYC has 52 percent of the commuter rail market. It’s just awful. Just awful all the branches each one railroads has too.

    CDOT doesn’t want to spend the money to go from Class 4 track to Class 5 track. They may get the urge once the upgrades on the Springfield line and the Shore Line are done, at least between Stamford and New Haven.

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    You can let the trains go faster on curves without raising the line’s speed limit. Come on.

    EJ Reply:

    Yeah NYC-area commuter rail is the best we’ve got in the States, and by 1st world standards it’s crap. Go ride literally any S-Bahn in the German speaking world, or the Paris RER, hell, even the London or Glasgow commuter networks, and tell us what a great job NJ Transit and the MTA are doing.

    EJ Reply:

    Or for that matter, BART. For all that it’s capital costs are out of control, and all the bitching and moaning people do about it, it does a bang-up job of getting commuters across the Bay.

    keithsaggers Reply:

    http://www.necfuture.com/alternatives/

    [Reply]

    Domayv Reply:

    What I was saying that true HSR would work better on LOSSAN than LA-IE-SD. But LA-IE-SD HSR can act as an interim solution while LOSSAN receives improvements to existing infrastructure before getting true HSR.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    The problem is the route through the IE. The HSR line should cut east at Anaheim to Corona, then south to San Diego via Murrieta/Temecula, Escondido, and University City. A branch should be constructed from Corona to San Bernardino via Riverside, with the potential of an extension across Cajon Pass to Vegas HSR in Victorville. The LA-SD route via the San Gabriel Valley and San Bernardino is simply too circuitous.

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    car free, every route has its challenges, and pros and cons. Not to keep laboring this, but the problem is that there is no leadership which will stand up and say, this is needed, this is the way it will go. When we have an LA County Supervisor caving in to a dozen noisy NIMBYs and cancelling a second track on a 120ft right of way it’s hard to see how any of these routes might be built.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    True, but that isn’t a reason not to discuss and advocate for them.

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Agreed. But it would help if RailPAC and other groups had more help in reaching out to politicians rather than just talking to each other on blogs.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    May I suggest that RailPAC merge with other groups (Transit Coalition, etc.) to advocate as a larger body for rail in California. Also, I, and a group of 12 other people, are forming an organization to be known as Metro Done Right, which is advocating for better transit in Los Angeles County. You can view our initial webpage at metrodoneright.sitey.me
    We would gladly join RailPAC (and actually, that’d be great since it would save on website fees), and take over all transit lobbying in Los Angeles County, if you’d like. Email me at metrodoneright@gmail.com if you’re interested.

    Neil Shea Reply:

    I like this route. And the LA-OC-IE loop. And the Cajon option.

    [Reply]

    EJ Reply:

    LA-SD HSR isn’t happening for decades. Who even knows if development patterns will justify IE HSR at that point? Upgraded LOSSAN is a project that could get started right now and dovetails with improvements already being made.

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Um um Wikipedia says the Census Bureau reports that 4.2 million people live in the Inland Empire and just over 3 million in metro San Diego. The Inland Empire is along the route to Phoenix. San Diego is along the route to Tijuana.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    IE route?
    Is that the one designated as High Priority Corridor Route 34??
    By an act of Congress?

    [Reply]

  5. Wells
    Feb 4th, 2017 at 10:31
    #5

    “The opinion presented in the newspaper is a curiosity that would need an influential politician to champion to move forward,” deserved another hearing I thought, therefore I am. Latest means to address our dear leader: herr Twitler If that don’t give you a laugh, you’re hopeless. Sounds like the right plan to me, like, uh, electrification now! What bozo congressperson wouldn’t pretend to know the difference, one or the other, which pays the most, blah blah.
    Electrification NOW!

    [Reply]

  6. swing hanger
    Feb 5th, 2017 at 03:45
    #6

    Change the topic to something outside NorCal, and the comment quality level increases 200%. Cheers everyone.

    [Reply]

    Eric Reply:

    It’s a new topic, it hasn’t been beaten to death yet. But if we keep discussing it for the next few years, it will be :)

    [Reply]

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Then we can move to Nevada or Arizona.

    [Reply]

    Les Reply:

    There is always Sacremento – Merced.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Or other rail projects in CA.

    UP Coast Line anybody?

    [Reply]

    les Reply:

    Those are the only 2 phase II components I’m aware of.

    [Reply]

    les Reply:

    It would seem to me that the Sacramento’s extension would be a lot cheaper and have more political support than an SD extension and thus be easier to move forward.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    It obviously serves less people, so would have less political support and less political opposition, but it makes a lot of sense because it’s so cheap (relatively speaking.) I would assume that the cost per rider on the Sacramento branch is lower than on the San Diego branch.

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Going to Ontario, Riverside and San Bernardino serves more people than either of them.

    [Reply]

    Les Reply:

    Yes but out of site out of mind. Every time a politian visits the capital he/she will wish for a better transpo option.

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    There are politicians in Ontario, Riverside and San Bernardino.

    les Reply:

    yes but they all have to visit Sacramento; isn’t that where the capital is?

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If the train doesn’t go through San Bernardino County it doesn’t do them much good.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Well it eventually will, but we’re just saying that Sac is a comparatively easy place to serve. Also, The San Bernardino Line+CAHSR is less bad than CAHSR+San Joaquin.

    les Reply:

    if you say so

    Alon Levy Reply:

    It serves fewer people, but it’s really useful in terms of passenger-km vs. new route-km. Building the branch to Sacramento lets California HSR earn above-the-rails profits from 600 km per LA-Sac passenger. But construction only involves 200 km of Chowchilla-Sac track in easy flat terrain – and if for whatever reason Altamont gets picked then make it 90 km of track. The result is that in terms of passenger-km per new route-km, a branch to Sacramento is similar to LA-SF under Pacheco and far better under Altamont, and that’s without taking lower construction costs into account.

    It’s a general fact of rail branches and extensions. In the presence of HSR on the NEC, extending HSR down from Washington to Richmond has amazing ROI, because for 200 km of new track you get 560 passenger-km’s worth of revenue from New York-Richmond passengers. Then continue this to Norfolk, to Raleigh, and so on.

    San Diego doesn’t realize these benefits as much. The reason is that even at HSR speed, San Diego-SF is a bit too long. The 2008 business plan projects that SD-SF passengers would not all switch to HSR – if I remember correctly it projects a 50/50 split between air and rail. Construction costs are also higher, because the area is entirely developed; the plan for the LA-SD tracks involved a lot of aerials.

    [Reply]

    Wells Reply:

    I’m for electrification, with the caveat which favors hybrid locomotives
    that can raise a pantograph to overhead catenary should be considered.
    It’s basicly what I’ve been saying all along. Perfectionist extortionists
    planning more than building, planning to build faster plans.

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The problem with hybrid locomotives is that they are really expensive (NJ Transit is paying around $10 million apiece) and really unreliable (the MDBF on the LIRR dual-modes is sub-20,000 km).

    Roland Reply:

    The horror: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RENFE_Class_130#RENFE_Class_730

    Jerry Reply:

    Is the poor performance and unreliability of the LIRR hybrids a reflection of the builders – General Motors? (They’re the company that crushed all EV-1s.)

    Alon Levy Reply:

    @Roland: 5 million euros for refurbishing a locomotive to be dual-mode? Ew.

    @Jerry: I doubt it. All the MBTA locos, which are just diesel, have horrific MDBF as well. The MBTA commuter rail averages around 5,000 km.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    @Alon: That refurbishing to Hybrid was actually converting two passenger cars (the end cars) to engine cars, and included certification. The concept shows that high speed diesel is just expensive (and despite the 3800 kW in total, that aerodynamically pretty well designed train, can not make it beyond 180 km/h under diesel). So, it is not converting a locomotive, but a complete trainset.

    @Wells: The concept of a true dual-power locomotive is flawed, because they need high power concentrated in a small space.

    Much more promising (but not really for passenger use) is the Last Mile Diesel, where the diesel engine may be rated at something around 800 kW (and therefore could be taken from a line of heavy construction machinery stock). For serving spurs and switching, this is way sufficient. I don’t have MTBF data about the Class 187 (member of the TRAXX family by Bombardier), but it should easily beat the LIRR numbers…

    @Jerry: Could be the builders, could be conceptual, could be the operator, could be maintenance… probably all of the above.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Once again we need to carefully define terms. Hybrids use power from braking to charge batteries. Dual modes simply have both electric and diesel power packs, but do not capture power from braking and do not have battery packs.

    Wells Reply:

    @Wyss, where a hybrid locomotive makes a fine low-cost start on certain routes that may eventually convert to overhead catenary, their continued use on routes that won’t feasibly upgrade is possible. IOW Wyss, you see a ‘problem’ where there isn’t one. The problem is favoring high-cost high-impact routes that foment reasonable, never mind ideological opposition. The DMU Sprinter passenger-rail between Escondido and Oceanside is a tad slow, but it’s reliable, comfortable and spurs transit-oriented development. Where will its fleet of DMUs operate should the Sprinter convert to light rail with overhead catenary? For instance, the WES (Westside Express Service) in the Portand metropolitan area may become a MAX extension of the Red Line, instead of MAX LRT on Barbur Blvd which is more suitable for BRT.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    @Wells: Now, I noticed that I published before adding another paragraph…

    Dual-mode locomotives are questionable. OTOH, DEMUs are less so, because of the possibility for distributed power (see Class 800 by Hitachi for the UK), or the very successful “bibi” (bi-mode, bi-courant) DEMUs used by SNCF, by Bombardier, or the dual mode FLIRT (were the power plant is located in a short carbody). With DEMUs, we have overall smaller weights, requiring less power, and allowing us to get in the heavy machinery range with the diesel motors.

    Roland Reply:

    @Paul “In addition to the above, an RGS-compliant integrated on-train data recorder (OTDR) and juridical
    recording unit (JRU), and an EN-compliant energy meter to record energy consumption and regeneration
    are fitted to the train.”
    http://www.hitachi.com/rev/pdf/2014/r2014_10_105.pdf

    @Alon Levy “5 million euros for refurbishing a locomotive to be dual-mode” is a rounding error compared to $10M/track mile Caltrain “electrification”.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    @Roland First, the California HSR electrification cost is maybe half that of Caltrain’s per unit length.

    @Wells The Sprinter had about the same construction cost per unit length as the lower end of double-track HSR in Europe. I actually have a piece I’m trying to publish about this high impact vs. low impact issue: people automatically assume low-impact solutions are cheaper, and then don’t pay attention when their costs mushroom to match those of high-impact ones. (In Boston, this is South Coast Rail, an 80 km diesel commuter rail reactivation that in 25 years has risen in projected cost from $200 million to $3.4 billion. Projected ridership: 4,500.)

    Clem Reply:

    Sac must remain part of Phase 2 at least until so much of Pacheco is actually built that there is no turning back. Otherwise it makes far more sense to build an Altamont branch at Tracy (fewer track-miles, much better Sac – Bay Area connectivity). That’s why you won’t ever see anything built in the direction of Sacramento for a long, long time, or until a total change of management.

    [Reply]

    les Reply:

    By 2018 contracts will be extended for Pacheco so no worries there.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    The PB retards are incapable of designing an alignment through south Santa Clara County, so what could possibly go wrong? http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2017/01/27/high-speed-rail-considers-2-record-setting-options.html

    [Reply]

    zorro Reply:

    So the CHSRA is considering one of two ROW alignments, that’s normal for any project Roland…

    Roland Reply:

    A little bird tells me that a change of management may happen a lot sooner than you think.

    [Reply]

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    I would personally have preferred for the federal stimulus money to be spent fast where a lot of track could be laid cheaply and more simply- in the valley.

    The whole 99 route would have been preferable to build as a spine and have operating, then figuring out how to get from Bako to LA and the valley to San Jose could be when prop 1A funds actually began to be deployed.

    It lends itself to Altamont and Tejon. But I digress, what’s built is built. Hopefully we can get a sensible route, but I’d rather something built than naught in want of perfection.

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The problem with this is that it’s pure optics. The Central Valley offers the highest route-length for a given budget, but nobody really needs a faster train just from Bako to Merced. The important part of California HSR is still Bako-LA, and shoving that to last place just to be able to show more photo-ops of trackwork isn’t good transit.

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Billions of dollars were raining down. It was the part that was eligible to have it rain on it.

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    Sacramento to Wheeler Ridge in 2 hours gets you a lower time from SF-LA than driving, even if initially only via a fairly slow bus connection on each end.

    I agree that tunnels at Tejon/Tehachapi and at Altamont/Cajon are the more important part of the project. But the spine in the valley is where things can be built fast and cheap, and that’s exactly how to spend stimulus dollars- then use Prop 1A dollars on things like tunnels.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Do you mean Altamont/Pacheco?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Wheeler Ridge? You going to give the trains a CHP sticker?

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    Car(e)-Free LA: Yes, it would be a huge detour to connect the Bay Area to the Central Valley via the Cajon pass ;)

    Using WR as a “basically CV until the flat land begins to abut the tehachapi mountains” landmark.

  7. Danny
    Feb 5th, 2017 at 10:56
    #7

    Police Escort Congressman (McClintock) After Rowdy California Town Hall

    ROSEVILLE, Calif. (AP) — Congressman Tom McClintock, a Republican from California, on Saturday faced a rowdy crowd at a packed town hall meeting in Northern California, and had to be escorted by police as protesters followed him shouting “Shame on you!”

    McClintock was constantly interrupted and booed as he defended his party’s national agenda during the hourlong event at a theater in downtown Roseville, the population center of his sprawling congressional district, the Sacramento Bee reports (http://bit.ly/2k8fQHQ).

    Hundreds of protesters stood outside chanting “Vote him out,” while those inside the theater held signs that read “Resist,” ”Dump Tom McTrump,” and “Climate change is real.”

    http://hosted.ap.org/dynamic/stories/U/US_RAUCOUS_TOWN_HALL_MCCLINTOCK?SITE=AP&SECTION=HOME&TEMPLATE=DEFAULT&CTIME=2017-02-04-18-18-12

    [Reply]

    morris brown Reply:

    If anyone thinks McClintock is in jeopardy of losing his seat next election, be aware that he won by a 63% to 37% vote margin last November. Maybe not as big a margin as Nancy Pelosi gathers in SF, but plenty wide enough to secure his seat in future elections.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    True. Redistricting in 2020 may change that though.

    [Reply]

    Tom A Reply:

    Thats three elections away.

    [Reply]

  8. morris brown
    Feb 5th, 2017 at 21:26
    #8

    Will Trump defund in California? Would he take funding from rail projects?

    In a Fox interview with Trump today, Trump certainly raised the possibility:

    ==============

    http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2017/02/05/trump-says-pence-to-lead-voter-registration-fraud-probe-leaves-door-open-on-scrapping-iran-deal.html

    Interview Fox News 2-5-2017 Trump with O’Reilly

    O’Reilly”

    Turn to domestic policy I just spent the week in California. As you know they are now voting on whether they should become a sanctuary state so California and the U. S. A. are on a collision course. How do you see it?

    Trump:

    Why I think it’s ridiculous –sanctuary cities as you know I’m very much opposed to sanctuary cities they breed crime this a lot of problems that we have to we’ll defund — we give tremendous amounts of money to California — California in many ways is out of control as you know. Obviously the voters agree otherwise they wouldn’t have voted for me.

    O’Reilly

    So defunding is your weapon of choice

    Trump

    Well it’s a weapon – I don’t want to defund the state

    O’Reilly

    But you’re willing to do it.

    Trump:

    I don’t want to defund anybody.

    Trump

    I want to give them the money they need to properly operate as a city or state. If they are going to have sanctuary cities we may have to do that certainly that would be a weapon.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    How about defunding the Federal Government instead?

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    Trump:
    ” — we give tremendous amounts of money to California — ”
    Gee. That’s very kind and generous of him to do that.
    Wonder where all that money came from?

    [Reply]

    les Reply:

    Who gives who money? Isn’t California a net creditor state.

    [Reply]

    Tom A Reply:

    Sure – but he isnt saying he will cut California’s taxes (although alot of his proposed tax cuts for corps and the wealthy would have that effect.). So Cali would in theory pay the same amount but get less back.

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Trump could stop sending the amount he pays in federal taxes. That wil sure hurt…

    [Reply]

    J. Wong Reply:

    He can’t defund California. On what basis? Just because he doesn’t like us? Fortunately, the Constitution would prevent that. The only thing he can do is to put specific requirements on money targeted for specific purposes, like you don’t get any funds to help defray ICE costs unless you help with ICE.

    [Reply]

  9. Roland
    Feb 5th, 2017 at 22:19
    #9

    Breaking News: The squeaking Tehachapi rail gets the grease:

    “Concerns were raised about the noise, but Stephanie Roberts, HSRA environmental specialist, said the trains will make minimal noise because they are electric. “The rails also are lubricated for noise reduction,” she said. “We also can erect sound barriers if needed.”

    http://www.tehachapinews.com/news/residents-ask-what-s-the-benefit-of-high-speed-rail/article_184816ae-e99f-11e6-85e6-6fab174f3f61.html

    [Reply]

    Anandakos Reply:

    Can you just block this smug narcissist, Robert?

    [Reply]

  10. John Nachtigall
    Feb 6th, 2017 at 08:42
    #10

    New front opening in HSR opposition. All 18 GOP reps in CA ask the new transportation Secretary Chao to hold off on the electrification of Caltrains until “investigation” on HSR is completed

    For those of you that wanted something other than an endless string of lawsuits, your prayers have been answered.

    http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/matier-ross/article/With-Trump-in-charge-Republicans-target-Caltrain-10907794.php

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    Wait until she finds out about the seatless and toiletless wonders with multiple door sets at random heights… What could possibly go wrong???

    [Reply]

    joe Reply:

    She’ll be reminded of the DC Metro which also lacks toilets and has added space for standing.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    Kindly help me understand the nexus between Washington DC and La Cite du Garlique.

    [Reply]

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    The fact that la cite sure garlique is equivalent to Fredericksburg and should/will have its services shifted to Capitol corridor (the equivalent of VRE) whereas Tamien/Blossom Hill-SF will be a DC metro like service.

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    If the DC Metro went to Wilmington.

    [Reply]

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    Shady grove is 25 miles from DC- that’s as far as metro goes.
    Wilmington is 110 miles.
    DC-Baltimore is 40 miles.
    SF-San Jose is 50 miles.

    San Jose-Gilroy is 30 miles.
    Baltimore-Wilmington is 75 miles.

    [Reply]

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    The line is shady grove to Glenmont, though, which is 32 miles. Besides, Caltrain is like BART, which plans on operating from Richmond to San Jose, not like CapCor.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    Whoops! Forgot to mention high speed trains maxing out at 79 MPH with dysfunctional headways mandated by a $1/2B overlay of a signaling system designed in the 19th century. Nothing that another $20B/96,000 J-O-B-S cannot possibly fix by which time nobody will care because every high-tech company will have left Silicon Valley and San Jose will look like Detroit.

    [Reply]

  11. Zachary Dahl
    Feb 6th, 2017 at 13:13
    #11

    Caltrain design issues aside…a loss of this funding would be a tragedy. The Peninsula is in dire need Caltrain electrification to increase capacity. Development is far outpacing the needed transit infrastructure investments to support it. But given that Trump will relish any chance to penalize us “out of control” Californians, I am pretty pessimistic about the grant funding coming forward on schedule.

    [Reply]

  12. morris brown
    Feb 6th, 2017 at 15:40
    #12

    LA Times: California Republicans ask Trump administration to block bullet train funding

    [Reply]

    JimInPollockPines Reply:

    nobody cares what california republicans want.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    The push back to delayzing electrification is on. The GOP have linked Caltrain’s success to HSR.

    If these 18 republican reps, 7 reside in districts that voted for Hillary Inton.

    I don’t think this radical attack on a California job center is smart politics or hurting HSR. It shows how unreasonable they’ve been and exaggeration.

    [Reply]

    zorro Reply:

    Yeah, I read about it, hopefully Elaine Chao ignores them and does Her job, since I doubt Her boss is interested in job losses while in office… 500 jobs in Utah to build electric trains for Caltrain depend on this $647 Million, and if she didn’t? The CA State Legislature could just appropriate the money, it only needs a 2/3rds majority, and the CA GOP has NO say in something like that anymore, sure they’ll scream and holler, and Vote NO as a Party, but that NO vote will be useless, a bunch of Whiners…

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Assume the worse.

    This delay, pending another HSR investigation, will draw a lot of attention on HSR and the phony attacks against the project.

    It will force the state to fight back against the aggressive anti-California administration.

    I couldn’t think of a better way to galvanize the state behind the project.

    A bunch of rural districts fighting the tax generating areas over a simple rail project.

    [Reply]

    zorro Reply:

    Agreed Joe, sigh.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    Unfortunately for SamTrans, the matter is out of the Department of Transportation’s hands:
    http://baha.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=2150. Fast-forward 22:40 and listen to what Steve Heminger had to say about who will have final say on the FFGA.

    [Reply]

  13. JimInPollockPines
    Feb 6th, 2017 at 17:27
    #13

    if electrified to speed up surfliners…. then could you also run hsr trains on the route at standard speeds up to say 90 from la to sd?

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Yes.

    Once prop1a is spent, before phase I is completed, the authority can begin to plan incremental rail improvements to electrify and extend service. This incremental approach is not prop1a compliant today.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    There is no need to wait until Prop1A funds have been spent illegally. All this good stuff can be done right now with other funding sources. CPUC section 185032(b) also ensures that there is no need to have “The Authority” involved in the planning, construction, and operation of passenger train service that does not exceed 125 MPH.

    [Reply]

    zorro Reply:

    Illegally? Since when? On Caltrain where HSR will be running, how is that Illegal? Spending Prop1a funds in the Caltrain corridor is no more illegal, than spending HSR money on a grade crossing project down south is…

    [Reply]

    morris brown Reply:

    @ Joe and others. There are erroneous statements being made about what can take place when Prop 1A bond funds are exhausted.

    Thus Joe, for example writes:

    Once Prop1a is spent, before phase I is completed, the authority can begin to plan incremental rail improvements to electrify and extend service. This incremental approach is not prop1a compliant today.

    The statement here is bogus!

    Prop 1A is more than a measure to allow the State to float a bond issue. Prop 1A is a contract between the voters of California and the State. There is nothing in Prop 1A that would indicate that conditions detailed in 2704.08 cease to exist after all the bond funds have been used up. Also 2904.09 clearly states the characteristics that the project is to achieve.

    Certainly until the full project as detailed in Prop 1A is constructed, the terms of this contract must be maintained. I think everybody will agree that the full system has no chance of being completed before all present available funding has been spent.

    The terms laid down in Prop 1A remain in effect until at least the whole project is completed. Saying that after the Prop 1A funds is gone, the conditions in Prop 1A no longer need be considered, is wrong.

    [Reply]

    Eric M Reply:

    That is nonsense and just wishful thinking on your part as an obstructionist.

    The last legal ruling made clear the plaintiffs had no case against the CA HSRA since Prop 1A bond funds had not been sold and used outside of environmental and engineering preparation. Construction has been funded by federal dollars. That ruling precludes any new lawsuits against the project when the funding source is not Prop 1A bonds.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Morris Brown is dead wrong.

    Prop 1A is a contract between the voters of California and the State

    Proposition 1A was a bond act. The requirements for accessing funds which total just over 9B

    Penalty for non compliance is No Funds. Period.

    Proof?!
    Lawsuits challenging HSR and Caltrain under prop1a only only only ask to deny access to prop1a funding.

    There is no “contract between the voters and State”. It’s a bond act with conditions for spending the money.

    [Reply]

    morris brown Reply:

    @Joe

    Well what I wrote is what several attorneys who have examined Prop !A, and are very familiar with California law have written. Who is giving your legal advice?

    morris

    [Reply]

    Peter Reply:

    Joe’s referencing Judge Kenny’s last opinion from March, 2016. The case that gave rise to the idiotic term “Flashman Mousetrap”.

    The “several attorneys who have examined Prop 1A” have yet to actually succeed in any of their suits against the Authority. Their opinions appear to be based more on hope than reality.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Bond Acts are not “contracts”.
    The appellate court ruling on HSR:

    “Real parties [HSR Opponents] in interest acknowledge that there is no published appellate decision denying validation of a bond authorization before there has been an actual bond expenditure for a project differing significantly from the project approved by the voters.6 There are, however, many cases in which the courts have broadly construed the purpose of the relevant bond act to allow projects to proceed that would appear to be either at odds with, or beyond the scope of, the articulated purpose of the act or the description of the project on the ballot. “

    The appellate court clearly shows a bond act is flexible and not a pedantic document for NIMBYs to pick over for litigation. It is not a contract nor a firm commitment to a life long system design.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Additionally opponents have not litigated current construction on a non compliant system is illegal nor have NIMBYs included any non prop1a funds in their lawsuits.

    Why not litigate ARRA construction is illegal under prop1a if prop1a defies how we have to build HSR forever and ever?

    If prop1a was a contract defining how CA had to build HSR, why didn’t Morris and his binders full lawyers litigate against cap and trade funds? These and all other non prop1a funds are for the “illegal” system that isn’t what the voters wanted.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    The litigious society at work.
    Stop everything until it’s, “done right.”
    Which usually means – “never done at all.”
    (Oh the death of a thousand cuts.)

    [Reply]

    zorro Reply:

    Which usually means it must be perfect or nothing will be allowed to get done.

    Death by a thousand cuts, designed by a committee that can’t agree on anything…

    [Reply]

    Alan Reply:

    What lawyers? Laurel and Hardy? aka, Brady and Stuart Flashman, California’s Worst Lawyer?

    You need better counsel. Maybe one without an axe to grind.

    [Reply]

    joe Reply:

    You got me to dig up Flashman’s quote after at court loss:
    “It’s basically a loaded mousetrap ”

    Like loaded gun only it’s a mouse trap, loaded and ready to fire.

    Bang! I just shot you with a mouse trap.

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    We don’t know what they say to their clients privately. If they tell them “you are wasting your money” and their clients insist on proceeding …. they bill by the hour….

    [Reply]

    agb5 Reply:

    (a) It is the intent of the Legislature by enacting this chapter and of the people of California by approving the bond measure pursuant to this chapter to initiate the construction of a high-speed train system

    If only the authors had used the word complete instead of initiate, Morris might have a point.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    Initiate, Initiate, Initiate

    [Reply]

    Wells Reply:

    Those speeds, JIPP, are possible, thanx 4 mentioning the fact.
    Hybridized propulsion within transit systems is necessary,
    alongside, or interim to full EV vehicle drive systems.
    (PHEV -v- BEV -v- FCEV)
    Ford/Toyota on top. GM still
    with not much new to show.
    GM queerier engines, big deal.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    Wells. I’m sure you are aware of Jay Leno’s 1909 Baker. All electric with leather fenders for lighter weight. Range on one charge – 100 miles.
    http://www.nytimes.com/slideshow/2007/08/03/automobiles/20070805BAKER_index.html

    [Reply]

    Danny Reply:

    that’s the advantage of HSR over glam projects like maglev (or monorail or superpods or whatever hallucination the techies dictate that we build next “‘cuz itz da foocha”)–integration

    the same train coming in from the other end of the line can run under 100 mph on any rail currently being used by commuter, intercity, or Amtrak, or basically anywhere where it can draw power and where its wheels will fit

    [Reply]

  14. morris brown
    Feb 6th, 2017 at 23:29
    #14

    Ralph Vartabedian has revised his article to include rebuttals from the Democrats. Boy are they up in arms?

    LA Times: revised: California Republicans ask Trump administration to block bullet train funding

    The letter from the Federal GOP delegation addressed to Secretary Chao, can be found at:

    https://drive.google.com/open?id=0B9m407yyFerMd3RmbGhuQWVhV2s

    [Reply]

    zorro Reply:

    If that were to work Morris Brown, Gov Brown and the CA State Legislature could replace the $647 Million, easily.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    And in 30 years, CA will be paying to build HSR in Mississippi. Sad! :-(

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Ralph published an article without rebuttals to the GOP letters. This is another example of how to generate negative HSR propaganda.

    I’m happy to see the minority house leader call out the misinformation against HSR. That’s you LATimes/TRONC. Linking Caltrain electrification to HSR and attacking this popular project pits the bay area NIMBYs against the local economy.

    [Reply]

  15. Roland
    Feb 8th, 2017 at 09:49
    #15

    Paging ill-informed transit advocates spreading rumors about the demise of freight in the Peninsula.
    PLZ check out the brand spanking new Quint Street Lead Track!
    Par-Tay! J-O-B-S!! Whoo-hoo!!!

    [Reply]

  16. morris brown
    Feb 8th, 2017 at 15:36
    #16

    From Caltrain’s website (also published in the San Mateo Daily Journal)

    Caltrain Statement: Electrification Must Move Forward

    Time is of the essence. For the project to move forward as
    planned, the Administration must approve the grant prior to March
    1. Any delay Any delay would result in costly penalties and cost increases that may threaten the viability of the project

    Here we see Caltrain crying about its stupid and ridiculous decision to sign contracts with vendors and to go forward with with work on a limited basis, but Caltrain not secured the needed funding. What kind of organization does business in this manner?

    The answer to that question is the same organization that has spent $231 million on the CBOSS PTC project which is in complete disarray and may well never be competed.

    Yet all I read on this blog is almost everyone praising Caltrain and its partner, CHSRA.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Here we see Caltrain crying about its stupid and ridiculous decision to sign contracts with vendors and to go forward with with work on a limited basis, but Caltrain not secured the needed funding. What kind of organization does business in this manner?

    God I hope when I retire I find something positive to do with my remaining days and not become a bitter old fart.

    What a good bad example you make sitting in your lawn chair yelling at trains that scoot by your yard

    Caltrain will run more diesels and clog up Menlo Park streets with more gate closures and sound the horns.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    Menlo Park’s CalTrain grade separations are a decades long on ongoing problem.
    At the Tuesday Menlo Park Council meeting a council member said the entire project should be underground. And the Menlo Park Council decided to “study” the problems some more. Berkeley, by the way, paid to have BART underground for their city.
    What say ye Morris? You live there. Be part of the solutions. What are your recommendations for Menlo Park and the increased traffic, both rail and auto.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    The Councilmember is indeed correct (see EIR scoping comments).

    [Reply]

  17. car(e)-free LA
    Feb 8th, 2017 at 21:03
    #17

    Pacheco Pass tunnel will be America’s longest, at least for a little while:
    http://www.bizjournals.com/sanjose/news/2017/01/27/high-speed-rail-considers-2-record-setting-options.html

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    This interview took place shortly after the Business Journal learned that they did not have the knowhow or the money to tunnel across Pacheco, hence the “temporary” Gilroy maintenance facility.

    [Reply]

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    Starting to seem like Altamont would be easier.
    Than again, East bay NIMBYs could turn out to be as bad as peninsula NIMBYs.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    A good case can be made for either route.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    The PB retards declared in Morgan Hill this evening that, unlike Transbay, dead-end service to Diridon was operationally impossible (and no, I am not making that one up either).

    [Reply]

  18. Domayv
    Feb 9th, 2017 at 01:01
    #18

    http://crosscut.com/2017/02/seattle-to-vancouver-in-an-hour-is-that-our-future/

    [Reply]

    Eric Reply:

    “WSP/Parsons Brinckerhoff estimated that an ultra-high-speed rail line would cost $125 million to $1 billion per mile”

    $1 billion per mile for intercity rail? Sounds like Parsons Brinckerhoff.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    Not for much longer…

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Those numbers are so strange. A two-track railroad can support 6-8 HSR tph – and not, say, 14 as in Japan… but then they say a train every 10-15 minutes. Then the cost is $125-1,000 million per mile, but then the total cost for Seattle-Vancouver is $20-30 billion, which is at the bottom end of the cost range.

    [Reply]

  19. agb5
    Feb 9th, 2017 at 01:20
    #19

    California priorities for a potential federal infrastructure funding package backed by President Trump:

    Expand the ongoing Central Valley to Silicon Valley High-Speed Rail construction to include service from San Francisco to San Jose, Merced to San Jose, North of Bakersfield to Bakersfield, and construct the Southern California improvements from Burbank to Anaheim, benefiting High-Speed Rail, freight, commuter rail and the 2024 Olympic bid.

    https://www.gov.ca.gov/docs/CA_Infrastructure_Letter_and_Projects_2.7.17.pdf

    [Reply]

    les Reply:

    All is looking promising for CAHSR:

    “Trump laments lack of high-speed rail in US during meeting with top airline execs http://hill.cm/Y0qP1Yb

    https://twitter.com/thehill/status/829723286208655360

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Mexico is going to pay for the wall. 3 million illegal aliens voted for Clinton. Except when it’s 5 million. Obamacare will be repealed lickety split. …oh, they were going to lock her up. They aren’t even murmuring about another investigation.. Why would you expect him to follow up on anything he says?

    [Reply]

    les Reply:

    Trump will be impeached or de-legitimized or something before anything notable in this country ever happens:
    http://www.cnn.com/2017/02/10/politics/russia-dossier-update/index.html

    [Reply]

    Aarond Reply:

    The ONLY specifics we have on this “dossier” is that somehow Russian linkbait sites (not necessarily associated with their govt just scammers) modified the election outcome. As CNN claims to be using anonymous sources, they’ve created a completely fake narrative about how Putin hacked everything from mom’s ipad to voting machines. Then there’s the actual fake article they and Buzzfeed published a few weeks ago.

    As mentioned on today’s episode of Charlie Rose (on PBS), all this does is delegitmize the entire left, the TV media and all criticism of Trump and distract from the discussion about his conflicts-of-interest through his business.

    Point being: please stop propagating the false narrative CNN has built.

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Ya better get down to Nordstrom’s before they run out of stock.

    CNN has confirmed the Washington Post and the New York Times. Next you will be trying to convince us that it’s all a vast left wing conspiracy of natting nabobs of negativism led by effete Easterners.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    Nordstrom’s?
    Get your First Lady ™© Perfume for Valentine’s Day before it runs out.
    PS That’s, “alternative fake negativism.”

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    And just for some giggles

    https://thinkprogress.org/watch-19-lies-the-trump-administration-told-this-week-eb6af2988bf7#.qjgaz2eun

    [Reply]

    Aarond Reply:

    Everything is coming together. Despite Trump’s whining over sanctuary cities (which will be fixed if/when the Congress simply expands the DHS) he’ll happily sign off on $100 billion in infrastructure projects. Denham and friends, who refused to outright endorse Trump, don’t have much sway within the party anymore.

    And, even if the Feds say no Sacramento has the 2/3rds vote needed to raise the gas tax. CAHSR is happening.

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    DHS agents like to be paid, get health insurance and other perks like pension plans. It’s realllly realllly hard to spend more money on …. anything…. and cut taxes at the same time. Ya’d think after multiple bankruptcies he’d understand a bit about bookkeeping.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Or ways to exploit bookkeeping and other people’s ignorance about bookkeeping for his short term gain and long term societal loss.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    Right again (100% perfect score): http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/politics-columns-blogs/dan-walters/article131798944.html

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Yes, Caltrain electrification was only dreamed up after the blended plan. High Speed Rail is not popular. That’s how 1A was passed, it was such a bad initiative that it was bound to cause HSR to fail, so opponents voted for it. Dan Walters knows how to write this stuff, alternative facts in every paragraph.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    Samtrans’ finest in action:

    August 14, 2016
    “Approval of the seven-party MOU, and the bilateral agreement between Caltrain and High-Speed Rail, will provide funding that is essential to the Peninsula Corridor Electrification Project,” Caltrain’s Chief Communications Officer Seamus Murphy said in an email. [19] For high-speed rail, the funding commitment means Caltrain will grant access to its corridor, subject to Union Pacific Railroad’s concurrence on trackage rights that it holds, so that high-speed trains and Caltrain can share the corridor in “blended service.”
    http://bostoncommons.net/how-will-us-fund-high-speed-rail/

    February 9th 2017
    “But Seamus Murphy, spokesman for Caltrain, said that approving the electrification project in the Bay Area does not mean high speed rail will have a foothold there, as Republicans appear to suggest.
    He said the funding setup is the direct result of a 2012 move made by the state Legislature, which doled out some of the high speed rail money and required that it be used specifically to upgrade commuter rail systems around the state. Caltrain, under that action, was allocated $600 million for the electrical upgrade project.
    “The fact that we’re receiving high speed rail money doesn’t mean this is a high speed rail project,’’ Murphy said.
    http://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2017/02/silicon-valley-leaders-jobs-economy-will-take-hit-if-commuter-rail-line-is-victim-of-trump-policies-109487

    Not to be outdone by my friend Carl:

    “Guardino told POLITICO California on Thursday that he is mystified by the opposition of GOP House members to the final leg of a project that has been 15 years in the making. The project could allow Caltrain to double its current standing-room-only capacity to provide relief to 120,000 daily commuters.”
    (someone needs to ask Carl where he buys his stuff.)

    “Leader McCarthy has proven to be a strong ally and advocate for Silicon Valley’s innovation economy,” said Guardino. “We believe that there’s misunderstanding at the staff level in trying to link high speed rail with our effort,” he said. The two projects, he said, “are not linked.”

    Are we having fun yet?

    [Reply]

    morris brown Reply:

    Roland above reported:

    “But Seamus Murphy, spokesman for Caltrain, said that approving the electrification project in the Bay Area does not mean high speed rail will have a foothold there, as Republicans appear to suggest.
    He said the funding setup is the direct result of a 2012 move made by the state Legislature, which doled out some of the high speed rail money and required that it be used specifically to upgrade commuter rail systems around the state. Caltrain, under that action, was allocated $600 million for the electrical upgrade project.
    “The fact that we’re receiving high speed rail money doesn’t mean this is a high speed rail project,’’ Murphy said.

    This is pure BS. I really wonder if Seamus ever said this.

    The Caltrain electrification is a keystone of the HSR project. What the legislature attempted was clearly illegal and amounts to a tampering of the voter approved Prop 1A bond act ( which is illegal). The HSR funding for the FTA FFGA is nothing more than an illegal money grab. Caltrain looks silly by claiming otherwise. Even Mullin’s AB-1889 says that the segment would be upgraded later, not that it is not part of the HSR project.

    Caltrain of associated political groups are clearly on life support with trying to push approval of the FFGA. They simply look silly.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    The real scandal is that these bastards deliberately parked 11 of the 16 Metrolink cars last June because they knew that the 573-seat CalFranKissenTrains could not possibly meet the FTA-mandated 10% increase in SEATED capacity even after adding a sixth train which we could have had back in 2015 if they had met the original PTC deadline instead of pissing away $300M on CBOSS.

    The rest is history: over 2,000 passengers gave up, went back to driving and brought the Peninsula to a grinding halt. Passengers have slowly returned after SamTrans fixed the mess they created and it looks like the baby bullets may well end up needing 7-car Bombardiers by the summer (ACE has been lugging 7-car Bombardiers with F45s for at least 18 months).

    [Reply]

    Clem Reply:

    The mandate to increase SEATED capacity arises from the rigid and retrograde thinking built into the FTA rules. “Heavy rail” vs. “Commuter rail” is a uniquely American exercise in hair-splitting. Heavy rail systems are measured on the basis of person capacity, while commuter rail systems are measured on the basis of seated capacity. These two measures are quite different.

    What is happening today (here in reality) is that Caltrain is becoming more like a “heavy rail” system than a “commuter rail” system, and it’s time to stop the fixation on seats.

    I can’t blame Caltrain for playing the game by the established rules.

    Roland Reply:

    People who actually care about Caltrain are sick and tired of playing games.

    Roland Reply:

    Pure genius! Samtrans’ finest just talked themselves out of $600M in Prop1A bonds!!!

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    For fucks sake.

    On Monday, Superior Court Judge Barry Goode sided with Caltrain arguing electrifying the local tracks does not inherently pave the way for the state’s controversial bullet train.

    A so-called Judge ruled against Morris and he still argues.

    [Reply]

    morris brown Reply:

    @ Paul Dyson who wrote:

    Yes, Caltrain electrification was only dreamed up after the blended plan. High Speed Rail is not popular. That’s how 1A was passed, it was such a bad initiative that it was bound to cause HSR to fail, so opponents voted for it. Dan Walters knows how to write this stuff, alternative facts in every paragraph

    WRONG!

    Caltrain was promised its own tracks which would be electrified and new HSR dedicated tracks would be also be electrified. It would be a 4 track system period! That was the price CHSRA was to pay for use of the ROW on the peninsula at least. You sure have your history wrong about was was to happen up here in the north.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    Sounds like no one knows how to pay for anything anymore.
    Any suggestions?

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    OK. Maybe just more studies.
    There’s always money for that.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    Taxes?
    No way. The richest state in the richest country in the WORLD has other things on which to spend it’s money.
    Besides, we NEED a TAX CUT.
    And we need it NOW!

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Calm down Morris. Caltrain electrification was proposed long before HSR. If HSR plus Caltrain needs 4 tracks then go ahead and put in 4 tracks. That’s what railroad rights of ways are for, to run trains. Why would anyone expect anything less?

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    Four tracks?
    That is what Quentin Kopp wanted. But NIMBYs stopped it with the “blended mess.”
    PS Quentin Kopp rode HSR in France. Most HSR haters have never been on a HSR train.
    http://articles.latimes.com/2013/apr/16/opinion/la-oe-morrison-kopp-20130416

    [Reply]

    Clem Reply:

    Long, long before: Caltrans feasibility study of electrification (1992)

    [Reply]

    Michael Reply:

    Or here…
    http://arch21.org/A210800.html

    Joe Reply:

    On Monday, Superior Court Judge Barry Goode sided with Caltrain arguing electrifying the local tracks does not inherently pave the way for the state’s controversial bullet train.

    “Petitioners are simply wrong when they say ‘[n]either project can be implemented without the other.’ … The Electrification Project can be implemented successfully even if the HSR project never takes another step forward. It is a project of independent utility that Caltrain has been seeking to implement for nearly twenty-five years,” Goode wrote in his order.

    http://www.smdailyjournal.com/articles/lnews/2016-09-27/judge-gives-caltrain-electrification-green-light-atherton-loses-lawsuit-claims-local-project-was-too-closely-tied-to-high-speed-rail/1776425168923.html#sthash.NoZGZDmI.dpuf

    [Reply]

    J. Wong Reply:

    @morris brown doesn’t get your sarcasm, @Paul Dyson. Probably no sense of humor at all.

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Not like me. You have to keep smiling at this stuff or you’d go bonkers.

    Aarond Reply:

    It’s not an issue as Caltrain only needs Secretary Chao to agree to the loan, even if Congress refuses to pass a budget with money for Caltrain Sacramento has the 2/3rds vote to make a gas tax increase happen. Then again, I don’t think it’s likely considering that both Caltrain modernization and CAHSR are Buy America complaint.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    The train and the tunnels, in brief, are two very vulnerable targets should those in the White House and Congress want to score hits on California.

    Score Hits- like it’s a game.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    Will the Central Valley farmers still want or need the tunnels after all the rain? And what is McCarthy’s position on the water tunnels?
    Sad, but for many it is a “game.”

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    What about labor?

    http://m.motherjones.com/kevin-drum/2017/02/california-farmers-surprised-trump-anti-immigrant

    Many assumed Mr. Trump’s pledges were mostly just talk. But two weeks into his administration, Mr. Trump has signed executive orders that have upended the country’s immigration laws. Now farmers here are deeply alarmed about what the new policies could mean for their workers, most of whom are unauthorized, and the businesses that depend on them.

    “Everything’s coming so quickly,” Mr. Marchini said….He said that as a businessman, Mr. Trump would know that farmers had invested millions of dollars into produce that is growing right now, and that not being able to pick and sell those crops would represent huge losses for the state economy. “I’m confident that he can grasp the magnitude and the anxiety of what’s happening now.”

    …..

    Christopher Ranch, which grows garlic on 5,000 acres in Gilroy, Calif., announced recently that it would hike pay for farmworkers from $11 an hour to $13 hour this year, or 18%, and then to $15 in 2018. At the end of last year, the farm was short 50 workers needed to help peel, package and roast garlic. Within two weeks of upping wages in January, applications flooded in. Now the company has a wait-list 150 people long.

    “I knew it would help a little bit, but I had no idea that it would solve our labor problem,” Christopher said. He said the farm has been trying, without success, to draw new workers since 2014. Human resources frantically advertised open farm-labor positions, posting help-wanted ads online and urging employees to ply their networks for potential recruits. Nothing came of it.

    Local garlic grower is paying more for labor. CV farmers will need to pay more for their laborers.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    *Bashes head against table* How could voting Trump POSSIBLY have seemed like a good idea?

    Jerry Reply:

    Minimum wage to farm workers?
    Crops rot in fields without illegals?
    And what sayeth Kevin McCarthy about all of this???

    J. Wong Reply:

    I’m wondering how much Republicans will hold the line and vote their consciences (or actually their ideology) or will they back off much like they did with Bush’s social security privatization?

    If they vote their ideology in the face of all the pushback they are getting from their constituents, they take a chance they’ll get voted out in 2018.

    I’m torn. I really don’t want them to implement their agenda. On the other hand, I really, really want them to lose in 2018.

    Joe Reply:

    In CA towing the national party line has consequences. We don’t gerrymander in CA. Districts are cohesive units with a mixed population.

    These seven CA congesssional districts voted for Hillary Clinton, not Donald Trump, and have GOP representatives. All GOP representatives want to block HSR and Caltrain funding.
    10
    21
    25
    39
    45
    48
    49

    Aarond Reply:

    They were always vulnerable, remember that it was Fienstien who saved CAHSR funding in the 2016 budget. Republicans didn’t attempt to nix it then, even though they had the votes.

    Even if my “optimism” is flat wrong and the Feds do nix it, Sacramento can raise the gas tax.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Of course. The sad thing is that CA will pay for its train and then it will pay for every other states train too in a couple decades.

    [Reply]

  20. Reedman
    Feb 9th, 2017 at 08:38
    #20

    A comment about the original topic:
    — the estimate of $1 billion for electrification of LOSSAN seems low. In round numbers, Caltrain is half the length, and its electrification will cost $1 billion, so this project would be $2 billion.

    [Reply]

    Eric Reply:

    Well, NoCal does have a history of more outrageous transit construction costs than SoCal…

    [Reply]

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    I’m inclined to say that CalTrain is the exception, not the rule here

    [Reply]

    Eric Reply:

    I was more thinking of BART and the Central Stubway.

    [Reply]

    keithsaggers Reply:

    Central Subway, ridership potential, 73000 per day, is within budget and opening in 2018

    [Reply]

    keithsaggers Reply:

    http://www.sfnextstop.org/news/2016/3/9/cetnral-sub

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Also, LOSSAN cannot be electrified until it constructs passenger rail only tracks between LAUS and Fullerton, which is a significant additional cost.

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Somebody tell CSX and NS that they can’t run freight trains under wires and they better stop doing it.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    Double stack or ??

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Lots of ?? some !! and unit trains of orange juice and some $$

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    And the answer is?

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Was at a meeting with UP this week and they are absolutely adamant that they will not operate under wires. It’s one of the drivers of their moving out of operating freight on the peninsula, and certainly they won’t allow catenary on any lines they own.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    The problem with UP operating under the wires would be well on its way to being resolved by now if Morales and his minions had selected the correct team for the RDP contract back on June 9 2015.

    As far as moving freight out of the Peninsula, did you notice the nice brand new Quint Street lead track that appeared magically within a week of signing the agreement with Caltrain? Pure coincidence or did someone just manage to screw UP out of a freight megadeal in the Peninsula?

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Whatever freight comes or goes UP still gets the revenue.

    EJ Reply:

    I thought the expectation was that a short line operator would take over Peninsula freight, not that it would go away.

    Roland Reply:

    Yep and it looks like there is going to be quite a bit more of it (as it should).

    EJ Reply:

    I’ve always thought that in a perfect world you’d fully grade separate the passenger lines on the Caltrain corridor and leave a parallel single track line at grade for local freight. Kinda like how the Alameda corridor trench has a separate local freight line for most of its length. I mean I don’t know for certain since I haven’t lived in the Bay Area in 20 years but IIRC virtually all of the remaining freight customers are on the Eastern side of the tracks.

    That way you save money on grade separation, since you can have steeper grades, and you don’t have to worry about heavy freight cars damaging your track. You’d still have crossing gates on the freight line, but they’d only come down two or three times a day.

    Jerry Reply:

    And the Alameda Corridor paid for itself in no time. With multiple benefits for all.

    EJ Reply:

    Completely different beast. The AC was built to expedite freight trains from the ports. It’s finances have actually been shaky in recent years due to a downturn in imports passing through LA.

    Jerry Reply:

    Granted the Peninsula beast is different. But the ‘perfect world’ would eliminate all at grade crossings on the Peninsula. The AC benefits of eliminating at grade crossings had a cost that was shared and paid for. Something the Peninsula beast doesn’t know how to do. (More studies anyone? More lawsuits anyone? )

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Did they also stamp their feet and threaten to hold their breath until they were blue?

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    The Quint Street lead rehab has been under way for many months, not finished yet.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    UP’s position is that with a 32,000 mile network they did not want to write a procedure manual for 50 miles of electrified lines, nor equip their locomotives with safety appliances, warning signs etc. Morales could have hired whomsoever he liked, it would not have changed Uncle Pete’s world view.

    Roland Reply:

    The other people built the Channel tunnel and HS1. The end result is what is arguably the currently most profitable section of line anywhere in the World as well as the final link in a rail solution capable of competing with sea freight between China and London.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Sell it off to a short line.

    Roland Reply:

    Right again (100% perfect score): http://www.cityam.com/257056/canadian-pension-giants-own-hs1-have-brought-bank-america

    Alon Levy Reply:

    I was basing the costs on the electrification budget for California HSR. Caltrain electrification is unusually expensive (the full project is $2 billion and not $1 billion, but it includes rolling stock).

    Investments into additional tracks on the BNSF-owned segments are already included in HSR plans for LA-Anaheim for capacity reasons. (I also happen to think BNSF should wire the Southern Transcon, but clearly BNSF doesn’t think so.)

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Alon, you should have based it on Caltrain costs, LOSSAN is not exactly a greenfield site, nor does it have suitable rolling stock for electrified service.

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    New Haven-Boston wasn’t a greenfield site either, and yet it was done for ~$3 million per km in today’s money.

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    LOSSAN electrified would be of little value without electric trains.

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Right, but rolling stock is something the region needs to buy anyway, on a regular basis. So the real cost of new rolling stock is just the depreciation left on the existing stock minus its second-hand market value.

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Baloney. This is the public sector remember.

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    So? The public sector can still sell assets. London sells its commuter rail equipment to other British cities after 20 years.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    Why would anyone in their right mind base ANYTHING on Caltrain costs???

    [Reply]

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Because that is what we are paying, and I expect similar levels of incompetence from other like agencies. It has nothing to do with what it should be.

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    On the other hand, construction costs in LA for subways are consistently lower than in SF. The Bay Area is atypical in many ways – for one, much higher wages than in SoCal. Normally, higher wages come out of higher productivity, but in the specific case of the Bay Area, the high productivity is entirely in the tech sector, which Caltrain electrification isn’t. (Caltrain if anything overbuilds – the masts are too close together.)

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Cost of living?

    Higher pay for construction because the cost of living is higher and the economic benefit of the system is greater. Its transporting high wage workers.

    [Reply]

  21. John Nachtigall
    Feb 9th, 2017 at 09:10
    #21

    Hello Everyone

    That time of the month again. The new operations report is out.

    http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/brdmeetings/2017/brdmtg_021417_FA_Operations_Report.pdf

    Data first
    CP 1 was +13, delivering 18 out of planned 5
    CP2/3 was +5, delivering 5 out of a planned 0
    CP4 was -7 delivering 5 out of a planned 12

    In general, no deviation from the usual 5-15 parcels per project per month. 173 parcels in CP1 and CP2/3 are in eminent domain. That is about 13%. I have no idea if that is high or low but I am sure it will grow as a percentage. Since the holdouts will be the last acquired, it stands to reason that the percentage will go up. Eminent domain = longer acquisition time and higher expense (courts, lawyers, etc.)

    Hence the graphs shown on pages 34-36. The expenditure is significantly higher than predicted already. Overall about 75 million over budget on a 636 million plan (12%). Its happened on both CP1 and CP2/3, even though CP2/3 is well behind CP1 in terms of project maturity. This is exactly what happens when ROW is acquired late, it drives the project cost up through a variety of different ways and this is an example of 1 of them.

    As far as overall schedule, SPI from the performance reports. SPI = 1.0 is on schedule

    CP 1 is 0.52
    CP2/3 is 0.94
    CP 4 is 0.83

    Now you may recall that CP2/3 just last month had an SPI of 0.71. So how did they accomplish this miraculous improvement to 0.94? Did they have the worlds biggest burst of construction? Nope, they just changed (without comment) the baseline. And they retrospectively rebaselined the previous months and made no comment in the notes, so unless you have been paying attention they look pretty awesome. Note page 4 on this month vs the previous month.

    This month:

    http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/brdmeetings/2017/brdmtg_021417_FA_CP2_3_Performance_Metrics_123116.pdf

    Previous Month:

    http://www.hsr.ca.gov/docs/brdmeetings/2017/brdmtg_011817_FA_CP2_3_Performance_Metrics_113016.pdf

    This is just bush league stuff. In order to try and hide the fact that CP2/3 is falling further and further behind schedule they change the planned value with no justification or even mention. Even then, they are STILL behind schedule. So they now have a NEW excuse that it will get better when the contractor starts invoicing. So they cheat, change the value without comment, and they are still late. Is this excellence of execution? Is this the kind of performance that makes you want to entrust them with more money?

    In summary, all 3 segments are still behind schedule and the ROW acquisition is costing the project both time and money. There is no indication of actual improvement in either area.

    [Reply]

    StevieB Reply:

    Construction on major structures is ongoing in many locations. These large bridges and an incredible trench will take many months to complete but visual progress is readily apparent. There is no sign of lack of ROW slowing down construction.

    January 2017 Construction Update

    [Reply]

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    There are several signs ROW is closing down construction

    – CP1 is over budget 150 million and delayed because of ROW by the authorities own admission
    – CP2/3 is behind schedule per the authorities data
    – At many points in all reports the ROW acquisition is cited as a limiting factor that needs to be mitigated

    Just because they have done some construction does not mean ROW is not limiting them.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Closing down construction?
    You don’t make sense with your silly phrases.

    HSR is on schedule to spend all ARRA money on time.

    CP1 started late due to lawsuits Mr troll. CP to improve and had a small improvement in schedule performance last month. What’s closing down?

    Not even lying Ralph says the project is over budget. It’s not over budget.

    CP2-3 are in design and not in construction.

    [Reply]

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    That should have said “slowing down construction”. Autocorrect

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Do you also blame autocorrect for omitting the lawsuit delays on construction package 1?

    You
    Flop
    And
    Flop

    You’ve said ROW acquisition shows the authority is incompetent. Then you say it’s slowing down construction. These are very different claims.

    ARRA funds are expected to be spent on time. The only major construction is CP1 and CP1 is slowly improving every month.

    As much as you hand wring about CP2-3, that package is not in construction. The meric is not showing a problem after the project switching to the normal cash flow estimate. This is a reasonable adjustment.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    Not according to Ben Tripousis who maintained that they have “113 miles under construction” tonight in Morgan Hill.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    I’m glad you got to hear him say that and also glad you are confused by his comments.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    And I am also glad to hear that you are glad and totally unconfused: https://youtu.be/1lsiYkyEW0w?t=3

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    No thanks
    Not clicking

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    And I am also glad to hear that or you would have been confused by another 6 miles.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    Saw that TX Central HSR has announced they have secured 30% of the land for their route between Houston and Dallas. Here is the Houston Chronicle article:

    http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/transportation/crossroads/article/High-speed-rail-company-lauds-property-deal-10914592.php

    “The company planning high-speed rail service between Houston and Dallas announced Tuesday it has reached preliminary agreements to buy property from nearly one-third of the landowners along the planned route, including half of those in two counties where vocal opposition has been strongest.

    Texas Central said they have reached option agreements with owners of about 30 percent of the necessary parcels in 10 counties. The option agreements bind property owners to selling the right of way for the train, with the company paying them now for the right to purchase the land once Texas Central has final federal approvals and the funding to build the line, estimated to cost $12 billion.”

    Again, here is another another private rail project that seems to be making great strides. Maybe they can complete their project by 2022 as they claim, who knows… Of course they have their opponents like CA HSR and Brightline, but this is very welcome news!

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Wow. I had no idea it was coming along so well. Incredible!

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Texas Central just announced a delay of one year to 2023.

    [Reply]

    les Reply:

    Yes, start date has moved from 2017 to 2018 and cost are hovering over 12 billion now. I’ve read where they are up to 18 billion.

    [Reply]

    Eric Reply:

    To be pedantic, 30% of the parcels =/= 30% of the land. The parcels could be of different sizes.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    30% ?
    And that only represents OPTION agreements.

    [Reply]

    Brian_FL Reply:

    @Joe @les
    I don’t expect TX HSR to be operational for at least 10 years if they get financing. Let’s say costs do go to $20B which isn’t so unexpected. I think they would still have the ability to build it, especially if their Japanese partners are actually as committed as TX Central says. I’m not as familiar with this project as I am the one here in Florida, so I don’t know the background or capabilities of all the partners in this project. It seems to be real, but time will tell pretty soon. If they don’t announce anything substantial by end of 2017 then I would say it’s another Xpress West vapor ware project.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    One more lie to correct

    This is just bush league stuff. In order to try and hide the fact that CP2/3 is falling further and further behind schedule they change the planned value with no justification or even mention

    Nope:
    For CP 2-3 the schedule metrics have always noted the schedule metric improves with the use of average cash flow.
    From the slide:

    Mitigation/ Improvements: The SPI calculation improves when using the average cashflow ($267,858,982.86 divided by $268,929,677 =1.0). The SPI calculation further improves using the Baseline Late Start cashflow ($267,858,982.86 divided by $159,348,231 = 1.68).

    This doesn’t change the work schedule – it’s about actual earned value vs planned. That’s how they assess the performance. Using the average, not early start, cash flow simply provides a more realistic estimate of the actual work.

    They have said this was the case in all CP 2-3 reports.

    [Reply]

  22. Joe
    Feb 9th, 2017 at 10:01
    #22

    This is just bush league stuff. In order to try and hide the fact that CP2/3 is falling further and further behind schedule they change the planned value with no justification or even mention

    CP 2-3 is still in the design phase. ROW aquistion is a nonsequiter. Just a troll.

    Another thing.

    JOHN will troll the delay due to lawsuits isn’t a factor brocade the schedule metrics are from the authority and he’s simply using their own data.

    Now I see John’s decided to contradict himself and not accept the authority when these data are explained.

    We’ve come a long way from calling the project incompetent. Now he’s actually upset whe they do their job right.

    [Reply]

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    per their data they are behind schedule. Even after they change the baseline…they are behind schedule

    And I (correctly) point out that they changed that baseline with no explanation or even a note it was changed. So your comment about “when these data are explained” is demonstrably false. CP2/3 was not effected by the lawsuit, that is CP1.

    They are incompetent and the monthly data shows it. All 3 construction lines are behind schedule and CP1 and CP2/3 are over budget.

    Finally, no matter what “phase” you are in, the schedule matters. So you can ignore the ROW acquisition all you like, the schedule is behind

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    This is just bush league stuff. In order to try and hide the fact that CP2/3 is falling further and further behind schedule they change the planned value with no justification or even mention.

    You are pathetic.

    Finally, no matter what “phase” you are in, the schedule matters. So you can ignore the ROW acquisition all you like, the schedule is behind

    “Please disregard what I wrote”. “I was trolling and can’t explain myself”

    You can’t explain why row acquisition would delay a design – you were just pretending to be smart and got busted.

    They are incompetent and the monthly data shows it. All 3 construction lines are behind schedule and CP1 and CP2/3 are over budget.

    We have incompetence and it’s posting negative commentary every report.

    This construction segment are still within project budget estimates – not even ralph would write that lie.

    [Reply]

    John Nachtigall Reply:

    Side note, they just removed the operations report from the website.

    1. I may be pathetic, but look at the data. CP2/3 continues to lose ground

    2. 150 million was specifically added to CP1 due to ROW acquisition. So again, this is a provable fact.

    They also stated in the report that CP2/3 will be replanned. Do you think that is because it is ahead of schedule and under budget?

    3. In addition to CP1 going over budget as shown above. the cost of ROW acquisition clearly shows an 85 million dollar variance to plan. So again, this is a provable fact.

    I am not going to play tit for tat with you on this joe. I made my post and I am happy to let the readers on this blog decide on their own.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    1. CP 2-3 is in design and you tell us right of way acquisition is the problem.

    2. CP1 changed. It is extending north towards Merced per the 2016 plan and CHSR is adding work to the original work package. CHSR has to add budget. Are they over ? No. See #3

    3. CP1 was estimated at 1.8 billion. You are confusing the bid with the project’s budget dornthat work. Also this CP1 is ads My work and budget to incorporate the new work.
    Not even Lying Ralph would claim the project is over budget. You just did.

    0-3

    You are wrong on all three points.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Also this CP1 added more work and have to also add funds to the budget to incorporate the new work.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    CP1, the package in construction, continues to improve schedule performance. Small gains in the Index without any slip since I showed you the metric and explained what it meant. They are on track tonsoent the ARRA funds despite all lawsuits and opposition.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    Behind schedule??
    It all depends on how you look at it.
    My OPINION is that High Speed Rail in California is 30 YEARS behind schedule.
    Governor Edmund G. Brown Jr. first proposed High Speed Rail in California over 30 YEARS ago.

    [Reply]

  23. les
    Feb 9th, 2017 at 10:47
    #23

    Finally, Seattle and Vancouver are showing a HSR beat. But Inslee will most likely have his 1 million for study lined out by Eastern Washington republicans. Sound familiar.

    http://crosscut.com/2017/02/seattle-to-vancouver-in-an-hour-is-that-our-future/

    [Reply]

    Bdawe Reply:

    Olympia is. Vancouver, Victoria, and Ottawa smile and nod when the topic comes up and then go back to ignoring the idea until the next time Olympia pays for a study.

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Lets see what Salem and Portland have to say.

    [Reply]

  24. Aarond
    Feb 9th, 2017 at 14:15
    #24

    Two oddities:

    https://knpr.org/headline/2017-01/tonopah-town-board-backs-proposed-rail-project

    Tonopah Town Board Backs Proposed Rail Project between Reno and Vegas (but only if it’s privately funded)

    http://www.reviewjournal.com/news/politics-and-government/las-vegas/unlv-gets-14m-grant-study-high-speed-rail

    UNLV gets $1.4M grant to study high-speed rail

    [Reply]

  25. StevieB
    Feb 9th, 2017 at 15:28
    #25

    Carbon Prices Rise In California’s Cap-And-Trade Program As Legal Certainty Grows

    Carbon Allowance Demand Set To Stay Strong Through 2020

    A strong auction later this February would build upon strengthening demand from the carbon market’s final 2016 auction. In that auction, 88 percent of available allowances for the compliance period sold at $12.73 per allowance.

    In fact, Energy Innovation forecasts most auctions going forward should yield results more like the November 2016 auction than the two preceding it. The market’s “animal spirits” always have potential for surprise outcomes in any given auction, but our analysis suggests future auctions through the end of 2020 should sell about 90 percent of allowances on average (85-95 percent under low- and high-demand scenarios).

    Recent events indicate growing market confidence in program longevity. Over the long haul, last year’s underperforming auctions will likely be viewed as aberrations rather than representing a trend.

    [Reply]

  26. morris brown
    Feb 9th, 2017 at 16:15
    #26

    KPCC Radio had an interview with Jeff Denham and Jim Costa this AM. (separately) 18 minutes total.
    Something for everyone here. If you love HSR you will love Costa. Opposed to the project you will like what Denham says.

    KPCC:Air Talk Radio: California Republicans want Trump Administration to hit the brakes on state’s bullet train funding

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    President Trump lamented the lack of high-speed rail service in the U.S. during his meeting with top airline executives on Thursday.
    “You go to China, you go to Japan, they have fast trains all over the place,” Trump said.

    Meeting attendees included the CEOs for Delta Air Lines, United Airlines, Southwest Airlines, Alaska Airlines, and JetBlue Airways.
    “I don’t want to compete with your business, but we don’t have one fast train,” Trump said to laughs.

    http://thehill.com/policy/transportation/318680-trump-laments-lack-of-high-speed-rail-in-us-during-meeting-with
    previously cited by les at 12:24 pm

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Do you think some airlines could get on board with financing some HSR with realty good airport connections to replace puddle jumpers? The most logical ones I can think of are Delta in Atlanta and Seattle (and maybe SLC-Vegas), plus regional rail out of Detroit, United out of Houston (bringing Texas Central to IAH) and maybe Dulles, American out of Charlotte, Phoenix, and DFW (bringing Texas Central to the airport), United and American out of O’Hare, and everybody in the NEC.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    Sure hope they are looking into it.
    It would help in more ways than one.

    [Reply]

    swing hanger Reply:

    Do airlines really have that money to invest? How much is airport infrastructure is paid by direct airline investment rather than by the taxpayer? And they seem to require being bailed out by the government every big economic downturn. I see unspoken agreements not to oppose HSR and possibly codesharing if a line is actually built as the extent of involvement.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    Airlines sure could save money by eliminating some of their ‘puddle jumpers.’
    Taxpayers probably don’t know how much of their taxes go to airports.
    Some cities couldn’t wait to get a foreign flight so they could have bragging rights that their city airport was “International.”

    [Reply]

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Airlines are making record profits, and would probably be happy to partially pay for HSR on certain routes (ie. Charlotte to Atlanta HSR, with stops at CLT Airport and ATL airport, which could be funded by both Delta and American, eliminating their services between those two main airports and smaller regional airports in between.) That said, I doubt airlines should/would pay more than 5%-10% of the cost, but that is still significant.

    [Reply]

    Ian Mitchell Reply:

    CLT-ATL means saving about 20 flights from CLT-ATL, 20 from ATL-CLT, and about 20 between GSP and CLT or ATL. O

    More useful than that are links between Raleigh and Charlotte, which could save closer to 40 flights a day to ATL and CLT, each.

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    at this instant in time, United is offering SYR-PHL take the train to Philadelphia from Newark instead of an airplane…. If Syracuse had high speed service to New York the segment from Syracuse to Newark would be a train too….
    I haven’t looked in a while. Apparently Southwest has started to fly from Albany to DCA so the non-stops to Reagan/National no longer are nose bleed expensive. And Google flight information is offering really weird stuff like change planes in Detroit or Cleveland or ….Charlotte…. And the masochist’s delight, Charlotte, Philadelphia, to Dulles. Some of them are change in Newark. High speed rail would get four flights out of Newark….. high speed rail between Albany and Washington D.C. gets flights out of moderately far away hubs…. like Charlotte …

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    … and the masochist’s delight is more expensive than the non-stop to DCA….

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    California Governor Jerry Brown responds to President Trump’s lament about the lack of High Speed Rail in the United States of America:
    http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/capitol-alert/article131701274.html

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    Gov. Jerry Brown has a solution for President Trump, who on Thursday repeated his disappointment that, unlike other countries, the U.S. does not have “one fast train.”
    http://www.mercurynews.com/2017/02/09/gov-jerry-brown-tweets-to-president-trump-californias-ready/

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    http://www.politico.com/states/california/story/2017/02/poll-california-rallies-around-jerry-brown-eager-to-war-on-trump-109489

    CA Dem Legislature and Governer are very popular. 57% and 62% favorable and climbing.
    Thanks Donald.

    The CA congressional districts
    10
    21
    25
    39
    45
    48
    49

    These districts have GOP representatives who oppose HSR and Caltrain and also voted for Hillary Clinton. They are against Caltrain electrification.

    Jeff Denham is in such a district and his constituents use ACE and would benefit from the ACE and HSR extension to Merced.

    [Reply]

  27. Reedman
    Feb 9th, 2017 at 17:15
    #27

    The February 2017 issue of Engineering News – Record is focused on transportation:

    Q&A With LA Metro’s Phil Washington
    http://www.enr.com/articles/41449-qa-with-la-metros-phil-washington

    Five Minutes With BART’s Robert Mitroff
    http://www.enr.com/articles/41447-five-minutes-with-barts-robert-mitroff

    Five Minutes With Parsons’ Michael Johnson and Donald Graul
    http://www.enr.com/articles/41450-qa-with-parsons-michael-johnson-and-donald-graul

    [Reply]

  28. morris brown
    Feb 10th, 2017 at 04:22
    #28

    LA Times: U.S. Transportation department executive approved grant days before taking job with rail contractor

    So let us wait for Joe and others to demean Vartabedian for having the nerve to print such a piece.

    I just say this is just what Caltrain and the CHSRA needed right now. A nice little conflict of interst scandal breweing?!

    Wasn’t it amazing that somehow Caltrain’s FFGA grant got approved 2 days before Trumps team takes over?

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    oh do I demean Ralph for his biased reporting?
    Please buy something from Ivanna’s clothing line for a Valentine’s Day gift. Show support.

    [Reply]

    Joe Reply:

    Why don’t you write and Fox and Hounds article accusing her and the company of violating criminal law?

    Notice Lying Ralph didn’t make any such accusation. He implied and didn’t mention any possible violations.

    Take the next step.

    [Reply]

    Alan Reply:

    Given the corruption and conflicts of interest that republicans are now accepting from the pretender in the White House, it’s absolutely hilarious that Morris is still able to cry crocodile tears for this supposed “conflict”. Hypocrisy at its finest.

    [Reply]

    les Reply:

    Fire the guy if it makes you feel better, but then move on. Merits of the project haven’t changed any.

    [Reply]

    Reality Check Reply:

    @les, Carolyn is a gal:

    AECOM appoints Carolyn Flowers as national transit practice leader

    [Reply]

    les Reply:

    Remedy need not change.

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    What is she supposed to do after losing her job? Retire on Social Security and Medicare like the majority of the old farts on this blog?

    [Reply]

    les Reply:

    I’m sure Feinstein can get her a job with Tutor Perini. That contract has mostly been spent.

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Yes. let someone middle aged have a job.

    [Reply]

  29. Wells
    Feb 10th, 2017 at 11:17
    #29

    Three hundred and one, period.

    [Reply]

  30. Roland
    Feb 10th, 2017 at 21:18
    #30

    Breaking News: http://www.latimes.com/local/california/la-me-bullet-land-20170210-story.html

    [Reply]

    J. Wong Reply:

    I guess people are surprised that CA HSR is a “dead man walking”. Or maybe it’s not so dead at all.

    [Reply]

  31. Roland
    Feb 11th, 2017 at 03:37
    #31

    Caltrain FFGA update:

    1) MTC Programming & Allocations Committee: http://baha.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=2219 (FFW: 1:15:30)

    2) MTC Legislation Committee: http://baha.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=2242 (FFW: 42:05)

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    Correction:
    1) MTC Programming & Allocations Committee: http://baha.granicus.com/MediaPlayer.php?view_id=1&clip_id=2219 (FFW: 40:25)

    [Reply]

  32. datacruncher
    Feb 11th, 2017 at 18:35
    #32

    From the SacBee/McClatchy DC:

    Obama wanted to be the high-speed rail president. It might be Trump instead.
    http://www.sacbee.com/news/politics-government/article132038179.html

    [Reply]

    J. Wong Reply:

    I don’t have much hope that he’ll actually do that, unfortunately. I don’t see the Republicans supporting it generally, and Trump doesn’t really have the smarts to get them on board, nor does he have the smarts to come up with a plan for infrastructure. The reality of life is you can’t just “make it so” by saying that.

    [Reply]

    Aarond Reply:

    I wouldn’t write it off so soon, at least not before the 2018 budget is passed. The GOP’s true feelings on HSR will pop out there.

    There’s at least a route for Republican transit investment now. At the top, the party champion is a realtor who intuitively understands the financial value rail brings. In the middle, we got Rick Perry (champion of Texas’s tollroads). And at the base, we have Rust Belt Republicans who want steel production to increase.

    Things are looking better than ever, at the very least Trump wants to spend the money and many Republicans want roads tolled. Both help CAHSR and transit in general.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    Gaslighting? ?

    [Reply]

    zorro Reply:

    tRump doesn’t know how to arm twist, just like Arnold couldn’t, Republicans in Congress hate HSR, since they are KOCH lackeys…

    [Reply]

  33. agb5
    Feb 12th, 2017 at 11:13
    #33

    The new intern has posted more images on flickr:
    https://www.flickr.com/photos/hsrcagov/

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    Shows more progress on the Cedar Avenue Viaduct.
    Once the Viaduct crosses Rt. 99 the photos will show a greater impact.
    An impact all drivers will be able to see daily.

    [Reply]

    JJJ Reply:

    Would you look at that, the Fresno River is actually a river

    [Reply]

  34. Michael
    Feb 12th, 2017 at 13:10
    #34

    SF Chronicle weighs in.

    http://www.sfchronicle.com/bayarea/article/High-speed-rail-taking-shape-even-as-opponents-10926131.php?t=e455193cf8

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    A front page headline article no less.
    “Should funding dry up, the ballot measure requires that whatever was built  be made available for other services, ostensibly Amtrak.
    But, with $20 Billion in hand construction is full throttle at nine major sites.

    Dan Richard said, “it’s coming together. Once these few projects get done, connecting them comes fast.”
    “It won’t be long before the construction sites become a showpiece for the future of American transit.”

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    California leads the way in making America Great.

    [Reply]

    Aarond Reply:

    That goes to Florida, Brightline (which the GOP want to see emulated) will have CAHSR beat by a full decade.

    [Reply]

    les Reply:

    Brightline? You mean that tortoise of a system.

    [Reply]

    EJ Reply:

    Yeah, our hypothetical train system beats the pants off their real one.

    [Reply]

    les Reply:

    Doesn’t Michigan, Illinois and Washington have completed or nearly completed just as fast systems.

    [Reply]

    EJ Reply:

    Those are 110 mph. Part of Brightline is 125 mph. Honestly that would be perfect for LOSSAN. 125 mph between San Clemente and Oceanside, 110 mph on some of the other relatively straight sections. Remember if you can average 80 mph between LA and San Diego you’ll be as fast as the proposed HSR line through the IE.

    [Reply]

    Les Reply:

    Brightline are capable of 125 but so are the others. Check your facts on how fast the trains will actually run.

    [Reply]

    les Reply:

    Brightline: 79 mph (127 km/h) Miami – West Palm Beach, the first operating segment

    Amtrak Michigan: The trains have increased their speeds from 95 mph to 110 mph on 80 miles of track between Kalamazoo and Porter, Ind.

    https://www.google.com/#q=speed+of+brightline+service
    http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2012/02/amtrak_celebrates_speed_increa.html

    [Reply]

    EJ Reply:

    Brightline is intended to run at 125 mph from Cocoa Beach to Orlando. If Amtrak Michigan can run at 125 mph, as you claim, why don’t they?

    EJ Reply:

    Anyway what Brightline is doing has a lot of applicability to LOSSAN. Full electrification would be nice, but given the obstacles to railway electrification in the US, higher speed diesel service on the line might give more bang for the buck.

    Brian_FL Reply:

    @EJ 125mph operation permitted on tracks with no grade crossings, ie the NEC is only route where they can run 125mph along with the line to Harrisburg. Brightline plans to average 80mph on its Miami to Orlando route. I agree that higher speed diesel service is a starting point for what we can do here financially and politically in most places in the usa at this time.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Brightline is in an environment where electrification is less useful, for the following reasons:

    1. Fewer stops.
    2. Nothing like Miramar Hill.
    3. A straight line.

    In contrast, LOSSAN has:

    1. Many stops, which cannot be removed because the region sprawls continuously. (So does South Florida; Brightline is wrong not to have more stops.)
    2. A 7-minute slowdown in Miramar Hill that, without electrification, can only be resolved with a tunnel that costs more than full electrification.
    3. A few short, sharp curves between straight segments, such that being able to accelerate quickly back to line speed is useful.

    If the target trip time is 2:15, then it’s aspirational with diesels and easy with EMUs – but then you may not get enough demand for half-hourly service, so in terms of rolling stock requirement, 2:15 and 2:45 are the same. And if the target is 1:45, then it’s aspirational with EMUs and impossible with anything else.

    EJ Reply:

    Is it? Compare a Siemens Charger (diesel) with a ACS-64 (electric).

    Charger TE = 290 kN, ACS-64 TE (starting) = 320 kN
    Charger max hp = 4,000, ACS-64 max continuous hp = 6,700.

    So the Charger TE, which is most applicable to low-speed acceleration, is pretty comparable. Unless you think LOSSAN and the State of California would spring for higher-speed EMUS. I’d love to see Pendolinos on the Coast Line but not holding my breath. If they won’t run them on the NEC I see little reason to be optimistic that they’d run them in California. Also, don’t forget that CA is about to take delivery on a bunch of brand new bi-level coaching stock for the Surfliner.

    You’re also over-estimating how curvy the line actually is I think. The stretch between Oceanside and San Clemente in particular, through Camp Pendleton, is almost dead straight and has IIRC one grade crossing used to access a train yard, that isn’t open to the public. Upgrading that section to 125 mph operation would be a snap. There are also long, straight stretches through North County and through Orange County that could be upgraded to 110 mph.

    Miramar hill is a problem but I’ve doubts that even an electrified line (where presumably you keep the old line for freight use?) could handle it without any tunneling. This doc puts the tunnels at about half a billion, which is cheaper than your highly optimistic estimate for electrification (CAHSR electrification presupposes a line designed to be electrified from the get-go, no modifications of bridges and overhead structures, no demands from freight operators for super-tall catenary, etc.): http://www.keepsandiegomoving.com/Documents/I5-Corridor/I-5.LOSSAN_Board.pdf

    There also isn’t a whole lot of room next to I-5. There are plans for a 50 mph line (as opposed to the current 25 mph) that runs down the opposite side of the canyon which would mitigate the slowdown quite a bit though.

    None of this is to say I wouldn’t love to see the line electrified. I think it’s at least worth throwing a few $million at a proper engineering analysis to understand the real costs and benefits. My gut though says that a high speed diesel service would get a lot of the benefits at considerably less cost.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Pendolini are grossly inappropriate for the line. Tilting isn’t that useful, 250 km/h is utterly useless and even 200 km/h is just a nice-to-have, and the capacity requirement calls for bilevels. Think KISSes, not Pendolini. The upshot is that you can get KISSes for maybe $3 million per car, which is comparable to an unpowered Superliner, motive power not included.

    There’s enough space next to I-5 for the trolley extension; there should be enough for two mainline tracks.

    I’d actually argue electrification can be done for more cheaply than high-speed electrification, all else being equal. The reason is that the standards can be less exacting at 160 km/h than at 350 km/h: variable tension, catenary height appropriate to local needs (HSR catenary is low to reduce pantograph drag), wires that are dead straight (HSR catenary zigzags to vary the point of contact with the pantograph).

    EJ Reply:

    All catenary zig-zags, a straight wire would wear out the pantograph at 100 mph just as much as at 186 mph, it would just take a little longer. Regardless that’s not a major expense. Also, surely any new-build electrification is going to be modern constant-tension style – I can’t imagine it’s much cheaper to deliberately build it worse just because you’re not running HSR.

    Tilting’s useful north (or really, west) of Chatsworth, they’re already planning to use a Talgo set that they got cheap from Wisconsin to improve the schedule for the one train that goes from SLO to LAUS but doesn’t continue to San Diego. Once the line gets out of the San Fernando Valley, the terrain rapidly becomes more mountainous and twisty, and the population density decreases dramatically.

    I suspect if electrification ever does become a priority, you’ll see the line split into two operationally distinct segments – an electrified line between San Diego and LA (including Burbank and Chatsworth) and a diesel powered northern segment between LA and SLO that would ideally be served by tilting trains.

    EJ Reply:

    As for Miramar, the southern side (where the Trolley will run) isn’t the issue, it’s far less steep and the elevation change isn’t as great. The big problem (for the current line and any new one) is the climb up the Northern side.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    @EJ. I think the SLO segment should logically be extended east to Palm springs/Indio/El Centro?, and north to San Jose (allowing the Coast Starlight to be terminated in Sacramento.

    EJ Reply:

    @Car(e)-Free Why? (to all of that)

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Operational simplicity.

    EJ Reply:

    How is any of that simpler?

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    It results in one east west line and one north south line.

    EJ Reply:

    And that simplifies things because….?

    EJ Reply:

    No, seriously, it’s hardly simpler to send a train way out into the desert on a busy freight line where there isn’t that much passenger demand anyway, than to just terminate it at LAUS.

    As for replacing the southern end of the Coast Starlight with a version of the Daylight that stops at San Jose, the only advantage is you’d probably have better schedule adherence than the southbound Starlight. But nobody who’s in a hurry takes the Starlight anyway, and it would cost many $billions to upgrade the Coast Line to modern intercity standards, all to serve a somewhat sparsely populated part of the state.

    There’s also the problem that you’d be replacing the Starlight, which is subsidized by the Feds, with a train that would have to be subsidized by CA, since it’s not a long enough trip to qualify as a long-distance train under current rules.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Because if we have Coachella valley service, which I think we someday should, then it makes sense to have it be a LOSSAN north extension so that we don’t have three lines out of LAUS with a forced transfer. Furthermore, a terminals Coast Starlight would allow it to get into Sacramento at a same time, keep to a schedule, and allow convenient strangers to CAHSR to LA so you can take HSR 2.5 hours to Sacramento, transfer to an overnight train, and wake up in Eugene. Also, I bet the feds would find a Santa Susanna Pass/Cuesta Grade tunnel in exchange for not funding the Starlight south of Sac, which I think is a good deal.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Coachella Valley market is similar to Santa Barbara, heavily focused on weekends. And of course rail can help evacuate people in June and bring them back in September. There is also demand to and from the Imperial Valley, or to Yuma and beyond.
    I don’t think UP would agree to a level of passenger service like north LOSSAN without an additional main track. I’ve been telling people that for years. At one time it could have been used at night for garbage trains to desert landfills but that hasn’t come to pass. Maybe short haul aggregates trains. Either way UP will demand a heavy price. Then there’ll be the argument of which route between Riverside and LAUS. Since Riverside controls the passenger slots between Redondo Jc and Riverside my bet would be via Fullerton, as long as we have 4 tracks south of Redondo Jc.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    What would the cost be to build a new line from Redlands to Palm Springs, owned by SCRRA?

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    You mean on its own property as opposed to additional track in UP RoW? Note that SCRRA does not own any RoW and you’d never get consensus among the member agencies to go down that path. It would have to be owned either by RCTC and San Bernardino County. Pretty much a non starter I’d say.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Pretty much. It could also be a Caltrans Project, and I would expect it to pretty much follow this route: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1vGIrzQ_UcTpRvYSS8ksUKM1IvF4&usp=sharing

    It would get all passenger rail onto the San Bernardino Line, but would likely require double tracking east of Beaumont on UP, something UP probably wants anyway. Do you think UP would go for it in exchange for cutting the Riverside Line (and Sunset Limited) west of Ontario Airport? It could cut up from East Ontario Metrolink to Rancho Cucamonga Metrolink with minimal new construction, via Ontario Airport and/or Citizens Bank Arena/Ontario Mills. The only losses would be Metrolink service to Industry and Downtown Pomona, which will both be getting gold line extensions anyway.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Barely 17 miles between San Onofre and Oceanside, less aroung Camp Pendleton and the maintenance facility. You’ll be lucky to get 10 miles at 125, Not worth the fuel and other expenses. Spend the money on the tunnel. Alon thinks wires are cheaper. Lifetime cost the tunnel will beat it. Better yet have both.

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    Why would a tunnel save on lifetime costs? It’s more expensive to maintain tunnels than aerials and at-grade track.

    Similarly, why would electrification not save on lifetime costs? Good EMUs have an order of magnitude better MDBF than American diesel locomotives.

    Derek Reply:

    Also a 200 ton diesel locomotive causes an order of magnitude more wear and tear on the rails than a 50 ton EMU.

    EJ Reply:

    A Siemens Charger weighs 132 tons, not 200. A single “car” of the Stadler KISS “Eurasia” sets built for Russia weighs about 115 tons, not 50.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    @EJ: A standard 6-car KISS weighs around 300 t. Therefore, your number must be an alternative fact.

    The official AeroExpress KISS data sheet by Stadler does not show any weights, but one can make a guesstimate from the tractive force. The 6-car unit has a tractive force of 400 kN, distributed to two cars with Bo’Bo’ axle order. One car contributes therefore with 200 kN. With an adhesion coefficient of 0.33 (which is standard for modern rolling stock), we get a weight of approximately 55 t for that car.

    And a Siemens Charger is still horrendously overweight…

    Alon Levy Reply:

    A single car of the Stadler KISS built for not-Russia weighs about 50 t. I have no idea why Eurasia weighs twice as much; possible explanations include winterization (the Velaro RUS is also heavier than the other Velaros, though not by a factor of 2), and possible error in the numbers giving the weight of a 10-car train and not a 6-car train.

    EJ Reply:

    @Alon, that’s possible – I just took the number from Wikipedia.

    Max Wyss Reply:

    @Alon: 110 t would make sense for a FLIRT.

    EJ Reply:

    @Max aren’t FLIRTs smaller? I just took those stats from the Wikipedia page for the KISS Eurasia – taking what they had as the overall train weight and dividing by 6, since I couldn’t find weight listed on the Stadler spec sheets. I mean Wikipedia has been known to be wrong from time to time :) Now that I look at it, the main page for Stadler KISS has them at 326 short tons for a (presumably) 6-car train, so that would be in line with Alon’s numbers.

    Now WRT the Charger’s weight, we know that a big part of that is FRA crash standards – a British class 43 power car (for the intercity 125) weighs only 77 short tons. A more modern general purpose diesel, the class 67, weighs around 97 short tons.

    The assumption here is that we’re running Euro-style UIC compatible EMUs, so it’s only fair to compare them to UIC-compatible locomotives, not big bulky American beasts.

    Alon Levy Reply:

    @EJ: 110 t would make sense for an entire 4-car FLIRT, not for one FLIRT car.

    Stadler used to have datasheets for each of their train classes. It scrubbed them in a web redesign; the German version still has some datasheets, but they don’t include weight and don’t include the Eurasia.

    FRA regs add about 4-5 t to a locomotive; this is based on the difference between the ALP-46 (or -44? I forget) and the European product it’s derived from.

    Of course, it’s possible to get noncompliant locos… but either way, SCRRA/SANDAG needs to spend the money on new rolling stock.

    EJ Reply:

    @Alon

    SCRRA/SANDAG needs to spend the money on new rolling stock.

    They just did, though. Metrolink bought all those Hyundai-Rotem bilevels, and the Surfliner is getting a bunch of new Chargers. I suppose they might be able to back out of the order of new Surfliner cars, given the issues Nippon Sharyo is having with them, but it doesn’t seem too likely.

    Paul Dyson Reply:

    Alon makes interesting proposals but he misses a lot of local nuances. But regardless, and to keep hammering it home, where is the leadership and desire to get any of this done, apart from a few staffers?

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Ask Kevin Faulconer for an audience.
    kevinfaulconer@sandiego.gov

    Jerry Reply:

    @Paul
    “local nuances” says it mildly.

    Danny Reply:

    I’d also add that Pence was central to keeping the Midwest Hub going while the other Midwestern neo-Republicans (Rauner, Snyder, Brownback, Walker) refused even profitable projects out of ideology

    Pence is a social reactionary, but he’s not okay with infrastructure falling apart or neglecting the economic base like the other governors–another part of why Trump picked him as veep

    [Reply]

    Aarond Reply:

    Give credit where credit is due: Brightline is a good example of a privately built system. More importantly, it’s adjacent a tolled highway. The latter the GOP want to expand, and in the places they do rail transit will naturally follow.

    Which is one of the many reasons American transit investment has never been brighter. Right now both parties have a mutual meeting of the minds on removing Federal highway subsidies. Over the next four years we’ll see needed reforms get passed and a rebooting of the private transit sector.

    [Reply]

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    Nah, through the magic of the Holy Laffer Curve they are going slash taxes and increase spending. And then blame libbbrulllz for the ballooning deficit.

    [Reply]

  35. jedi08
    Feb 13th, 2017 at 00:23
    #35

    Why is it necessary to build a high-speed line in the USA, while in France and other countries they are building at a fast speed?
    http://www.sudouest.fr/2016/12/07/lgv-bordeaux-paris-voici-a-quoi-ressemblent-les-nouvelles-rames-3007064-731.php

    [Reply]

    Roland Reply:

    LGV SEA was built and financed by the private sector with SNCF and local jurisdictions delivering connections to existing railway stations on the legacy rail network instead of destroying entire cities by blasting through their downtowns at 200 MPH.

    [Reply]

    Alon Levy Reply:

    The PPP aspect most likely contributes to the elevated cost of this project. It’s on the order of 30% more expensive per km than the state-built LGV Est, and nothing about the topography justifies this cost. Since there’s already rapid rail service from Paris to Bordeaux, using an LGV for part of the way and a 200 km/h legacy line the rest, LGV Sud-Ouest-Atlantique is not a game changer. Its financial ROI is positive (it’s HSR, i.e. profitable), and higher than the 0 interest rate the French state pays on debt, but if the economy were not Le-Pen-polling-at-35% bad, it would be a marginal project at current costs.

    [Reply]

  36. Wells
    Feb 13th, 2017 at 09:19
    #36

    Richard, your site has been a service to the rail planning community. Thank you. Possibly use some simple upgrades to make it simpler to manage and attract audience; my advice. We’re in for years of rancor, dis-illusionment, torment and the worst with mister trump. Oh wait I forgot, di-di-diiii Talgo. (^:

    [Reply]

    Wells Reply:

    I’m reminded of my essay “The Car can Save the World” because
    its premise, (EVs to Rooftop Solar tied to Grid) suddenly,
    couldn’t best “The Train can Save the World” essay
    now churning about in my brain cell silliness.

    [Reply]

    Jerry Reply:

    I think I can, I think I can, I think I can.

    [Reply]

  37. keithsaggers
    Feb 13th, 2017 at 16:59
    #37
  38. datacruncher
    Feb 13th, 2017 at 21:36
    #38

    KALW in San Francisco has posted a 4 part series on California High Speed Rail.

    Step inside Fresno’s high-speed rail construction site
    http://kalw.org/post/step-inside-fresnos-high-speed-rail-construction-site

    Corn nuts and bullet trains: High-speed rail slices through the Central Valley
    http://kalw.org/post/corn-nuts-and-bullet-trains-high-speed-rail-slices-through-central-valley

    Some mega-commuters may not reap the benefits of California bullet train
    http://kalw.org/post/some-mega-commuters-may-not-reap-benefits-california-bullet-train

    The bullet train’s halting journey into downtown San Francisco
    http://kalw.org/post/bullet-trains-halting-journey-downtown-san-francisco

    [Reply]

    joe Reply:

    Caltrain/HSR obstruction creates interest. Considering the slated LATimes coverage, anything that highlights the project objectively is good news.

    [Reply]