State of HSR – and the Blog

Apr 3rd, 2017 | Posted by

When this blog hit its ninth anniversary last month, I didn’t intend to take a hiatus. But it’s been nearly a month since the last post and it’s time to get back in the saddle.

First, a general update on where things stand with high speed rail:

There are other updates too but those are the big ones for now. None of this is particularly new; you could read through the archives and see posts on these same topics from each of the last six or seven years. Trump’s victory is a setback, but his own recent defeats may make it harder for him to successfully stop the California HSR project.

The blog will see new posting resume, after a very busy March has passed. I continue to get occasional notes about people having problems using the site, and this has been since February or so. Sometimes I have trouble loading it. Others have trouble making comments. (Some of that is me slacking on moderation.)

If you see specific problems or bugs, please note them in the comments here. I am not a web design expert, and this site design is now seven years old. But I’ll do what I can to keep this alive for as long as people are willing to read and comment.

  1. JBinSV
    Apr 3rd, 2017 at 12:34
  2. joe
    Apr 3rd, 2017 at 13:00

    Others suggested the site settings refresh the cache.

    Mar 6th, 2017 at 01:35
    Technically, one problem with this site is that the server is instructing the browser to cache the site for seven days, so the browser just keeps re-displaying the cached version and does not check for updates.

    In the HTTP header of : Cache-Control:max-age=604800

    A typical news blog would have: “Cache-Control:max-age=30”, meaning if the page is older than 30 seconds the browser checks with the server to see if the latest version of the page is different from the version it has in the cache.

    If cost of bandwidth is a concern, perhaps there is a more efficient type of blog structure that does not re-download 400 comments every time a new comment is added.

    Robert Cruickshank Reply:

    Where would I find this fix? I’ve looked through the WP settings tonight and am not finding it.

    Roland Reply:

    It should be in the web server configuration file.

  3. Roland
    Apr 3rd, 2017 at 14:21

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    Hey Mr. VTA is so awesome and should be running Caltrain. Where do I find monthly ridership and revenue reports for the VTA, like the ones that appear each month in the Caltrain/JPB Meeting Agenda?

    All I seem to find is reference to a “verbal” report in meeting agendas or reference that a written report is at everyones place. The VTA minutes appear to go into very little detail compared to Caltrain minutes.

    Maybe I am missing something?

    Trying to find this (monthly revenue) information for BART is even worse. On the other hand, BART ridership is readily available on the website.

    Joe Reply:

    VTA data is available. It’s detailed, large and downloadable in parts in at least CVS format.

    Roland Reply:

    Jeff Carter Reply:

    Already have that. It does NOT show monthly ridership, nor does it show monthly revenue.

    Looking for this: Item 12, page 92:

    Samtrans Community Relations Committee, item 8, page 15 (ridership), Finance Committee, item 3, page 30 (revenue):

  4. Roland
    Apr 3rd, 2017 at 14:34

    Brian_FL here, not Roland:
    I hope the blog issues get fixed soon. It sucks having to act as a “squatter” on others names lol but I can’t ever get my comments posted when I use my registered name.

    Anyhow, from Florida, both senate and house bills introduced to kill AAF/Brightline have stalled so far in committees. May 5 I believe is last day of this year’s legislative session. So 4 weeks left to go through 3 committees in each legislative body. Looking good for AAF. The 3rd of 5 trainsets, BrightGreen, should be delivered this month. And the NIMBYS lost another fight over a permit approval for 2 bridges on the Orlando route through India River County last week. They are desperate and are throwing all they can at the wall to see what sticks. Not much has.

    I’m going to an invite only Open House tomorrow for supporters in WPB at their shops. I hope to take lots of pics and ask questions of the AAF people. Also, I will check out the nearby station building and related TOD. Lots of positive news out of FL recently. Let’s hope it continues!

    car(e)-free LA Reply:


    William Reply:

    @Brian_FL: are you using the your WordPress account to comment on this blog? I only see the comment pre-filled with other people’s name when I didn’t log in. For me, the usual wordpress account log in + refresh usually corrected the issue.

  5. morris brown
    Apr 3rd, 2017 at 16:41

    @ Robert who wrote:

    Jerry Brown is proposing a big package to fund road maintenance – but still nothing in terms of long-term state funding for passenger rail.

    I suggest you look at:

    and you will see that possible transit funding is part of the SB-1 package. Indeed, I would say 20% of funds might well be spent on transit. This is not being widely promoted as in general what is seen as popular is fixing potholes etc. Senator Jim Beall is leading the effort and he loves BART, Caltrain, and HSR (just appointed to HSR board as non-voting member).

    Despite Jerry Brown and many others efforts, the FTA FFGA grant is dead meat and will not receive Secretary’s Chao’s signature nor will funding appear in the upcoming budget.

    The real action on the legal front will take place on April 18th (and 19th).

    zorro Reply:

    And 25% for HSR, $1.3 Billion, then later on $1.375 Billion a year.

    Joe Reply:

    Double it. Every dollar yields a matching Prop1a dollar.

    zorro Reply:

    25% is what is in the legislation, at $5.2 Billion for the 1st year, and $5.5 Billion after that, 25% is it, unless you want to pay double what is already there, maybe, the VLF is supposed to start at $25 and top out at $175, but for more info you’d need to read up on SB-1/AB-1 the Transportation Funding bill(link is to Bill as amended), which gives money out to also work on roads, hwys, fwys, bridges, and LRT. Plus other transportation projects I’d guess.

    Joe Reply:

    Real action happened when HSR won hands down on appeal. The ruling laid the legal groundwork for the authority to proceed. I’m actually embarrassed for Flashman’s weak performance.

    agb5 Reply:

    Flashmans key argument:

    51. The Funding Plan for the CV Segment asserts that, when completed, the CV Segment
    would be suitable and ready for high-speed train operation. However, the Funding Plan does not
    propose actual operation of this segment for high-speed rail service. Instead, it would only serve as
    a “test track” to test the feasibility of running high-speed trains on the track. Consequently, it
    could not and cannot be called suitable and ready for high-speed train operation.

    What a load of BS.
    Nothing in Prop1a requires “actual operation of a high-speed rail service”, and the purpose of the test track phase is precisely to certify that the train system is “suitable and ready for high-speed train operation”.

    Build-out sequence according to Flashman:
    Green field ➤ Begin train service.

    Build-out sequence according to everyone else:
    Green field ➤ Build test track ➤ Test & Certify trains suitable & ready ➤ Begin train service.

    The system cannot be deemed “suitable and ready for operation” until it has been tested, and it can only be tested on a test track segment.
    A test track can qualify as a usable segment, it says as much in prop1a.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    We don’t know what is said in the preliminary meetings. If the client wants to go to court, against your advice… lawyers bill by the hour….

    agb5 Reply:

    His other key argument: AB 1889 is unconstitutional because it represents “material” change.

    His only explanation of why the change qualifies as “material” follows on same false logic as above:
    “suitable and ready for high-speed train operations” = “actual operation of a high-speed rail service”.

    joe Reply:

    James T Kirk logic bomb. “How. Can. A. Segment. Be. Ready. For. HSR. If. It. Has. To. Be. Tested?


    52. The Funding Plan for the SF-SJ Corridor proposes to use $600 million of Prop. 1A high-
    speed rail construction bond funds towards completion of the Caltrain electrification project. That
    project, when fully completed, would, for a variety of reasons, still not be “suitable and ready for
    high-speed train operation.” In fact, it would not be a segment of the high-speed rail system at all,
    but an improvement to PCJPB’s Caltrain conventional rail commuter line that would only become
    a segment of the high-speed rail system after funding and construction of major additional
    improvements whose environmental review has not even commenced

    The lawsuit is based on the spontaneous combustion principle. Any funding plan for construction has to both include plans to 1a) commence operation and 1b) this operational plan must prove service would be unsubsidized high speed rail or it is not valid. 2) All service must be contiguous, SF to SJ must connect to the CV segment.

    zorro Reply:

    joe, it’s not the segment that needs testing really, it’s the high speed trains.

    Bomb defused.

    agb5 Reply:

    The segment does need testing.
    The segment is covered in electronic sensors and wireless radio transmitters connected to a control center that choreographs the train movements. All of that has to be built and tested before passenger service can begin.

    Alan Reply:

    Union Pacific, in its correspondence with the Authority and its public comments in some of the EIR’s, has made its concerns clear. The company is asking the Authority to demonstrate that HSR signalling and PTC do not interfere with UP’s systems, where the two are in close proximiity (like in Fresno). The only way to do that and prove it beyond doubt is to construct test sections. There’s only so much that can be done in a lab or in computer modelling.

    joe Reply:

    Critics ignore intent and read a confusing interpretation of the Bond Act and then use the fabricated confusion to argue it can’t be built except by following ridiculous standards.

    The Appellate Court over turned Kenney’s ruling and in so doing described the great latitude given to the Authority to build the system and dynamic nature of the project and environment requiring flexibility.

    It also limited the BOND ACT’s restrictive power and scope citing cases when Bond money was spent on related projects that were not in scope of the initial bond act.

    Bond Money can’t be used to back fill pensions or widen a freeway or pay for new water tunnel. That’s the protection afforded the critics. We are building a rial system and it is within scope and intent.

    Alan Reply:

    It might be easier for Flashman, et. al., to make their argument if this was the only lawsuit they’ve ever filed against HSR. However, judges are not stupid people. They can see the pattern that has evolved–HSR opponents try to use one spurious argument after another to try to undo the will of the people. Judges know how to add 2 plus 2–they can see what California’s Worst Lawyer is trying to do…

    The fact that the court refused to enjoin the defendants is an indicator that the plaintiffs haven’t provided enough of a case to warrant action by the court. They haven’t shown that they would suffer harm absent an immediate halt to any actions taken in reliance on AB1889.

    Roland Reply:

    @79 MPH.

    Alan Reply:

    Bottom line is that Flashman is running out of arguments and things that he can challenge. If this doesn’t work, he may have to go back to chasing ambulances to try to make a living–at least until the state bar catches up with him.

    Alan Reply:

    A lot of people thought that Herr Trump would never approve a disaster declaration for CA after the winter floods. The Trump Youth all claimed that he was going to retaliate against the state for voting for Hillary, by denying the state access to disaster funding.

    They were wrong. Trump very quietly signed the disaster declaration and made FEMA funding available.

    Chances are, the same will happen with the FFGA. Trump needs every vote he can get in the House and Senate to try to advance the shreds of his health care “agenda” and avoid impeachment. P***ing off the California delegation is not wise politics.

    Morris has been wrong every time he has a wet dream about some legal challenge or another. He’ll be wrong on this one, too.

  6. les
    Apr 3rd, 2017 at 19:13

    All is not lost with C&T. I would have to think most politicians are cozying up to its results:

    Nice to see Bertha on the verge of a major breakthrough. 30 ft to go which should happen tomorrow.

    zorro Reply:

    CnT is now just an also ran for HSR.

  7. car(e)-free LA
    Apr 3rd, 2017 at 20:03

    In other transit news, VTA should be revealing its next network within a few days!

  8. Loren Petrich
    Apr 4th, 2017 at 08:50

    BART is now open from Fremont to Warm Springs, after several months of delays. Part of the delays were from integrating new and old power supplies and train-control electronics. The line is 5.4 mi / 8.7 km long, and it has some slab track for a possible infill station just south of Washington Blvd.

    Construction continues on the further extension of the line to Milpitas and Berryessa in east San Jose, and I have been unable to find any recent updates of its progress. It should open late this year or early next year.

    Construction also continues on a Diesel Multiple Unit extension of BART east from Pittsburg/BayPoint to downtown Pittsburg and to Antioch.

    BART’s maps show some proposed extensions, from Berryessa further into San Jose, and from East Dublin/Pleasanton to Livermore.

    Reality Check Reply:

    BART extension to San Jose on track, but new cars delayed

    Under its agreement, Bombardier is scheduled to deliver 25 more cars by the end of 2017. Original plans called for 60 cars but troubles discovered during testing of the cars that had been delivered caused BART and Bombardier to extend the tests before the go-ahead to the manufacturer for more new cars.

    Since the tests began last spring, BART has discovered a number of problems, including the failure of an on-board electrical system that powers lights, air conditioning, heating and part of a braking system. That problem was fixed but more glitches, mainly with software, have emerged repeatedly.

    Among those problems are issues related to train control and propulsion, including getting the new cars to stop within 1 foot of the black boarding marks on station platforms. Existing cars have a 3-foot margin.

    BART spokesman Jim Allison said software fixes are time-consuming because programming changes need to be made, tested in a lab, tested on the train, then tested on a train in operation. Once one software glitch is fixed, another is often found, he said.

    The new BART cars are also overweight. It doesn’t affect how they operate but does exceed standards in the contract and could accelerate wear and tear on the system. Solving the weight problem could mean the loss of some features that make the trains heavier: extra arm rests, stronger window frames, thicker seat cushions. Or BART could increase the weight limit.

    Bdawe Reply:

    Why can’t Bombardier get things right?

    Roland Reply:

    Anything in particular we should know about?

    Jerry Reply:

    Yeah, but are there passing tracks?

    Reedman Reply:

    1) BART, to my knowledge, still has not said why or how it blew out 100 thyristors on trains running on a stretch of track in the East Bay in 2016.
    2) The City of Fremont announced it is re-visiting the design of the proposed in-fill station at Irvington. Originally, Irvington was going to be a busy near-endpoint for a lot of years, and needed lots of parking and other amenities. Now, with the two San Jose stations nearing completion, partially due to the three year delay on Warm Springs opening, Irvington looks like it could be a much smaller venue.
    3) I tried out the new station and track on Sunday (Oakland to Warm Springs). BART, for what ever reason, stopped the train twice while transiting the Hayward maintenance yard.

    Roland Reply:

    BART trains normally switch crews at the Hayward maintenance yard, so that would explain one stop but not two.

  9. JJJ
    Apr 4th, 2017 at 10:06

    March construction update.

    Anyone know when the next package gets approved? That would be to Gilroy right?

    J. Wong Reply:

    I believe CP 5 (currently TBA here: Construction Packages) is for track, signaling, and catenary for the ROW in CP1 – CP4.

    Roland Reply:


    JJJ Reply:

    Great, thanks. In areas where the track goes on the ground (no aerial or trench), is that prepped by the current packages or by package 5?

    J. Wong Reply:

    Per the photo link recently posted of one area of the ROW it was prepped.

    Eric M Reply:

    Here are all the newest construction photos

    Jerry Reply:

    San Jose to Merced package (which includes Gilroy) is supposed to have the Draft and Final EIR in 2017.
    Apparently the Central Valley Wye package will be determined first.

    Roland Reply:

    Not gonna happen in 2017.

    zorro Reply:

    Calexit ain’t gonna happen, but then Stuart Flashman can’t win in court against the State of California, there we’re even.

    joe Reply:


    The High-Speed Rail Authority has recently updated its schedule for the San Jose to Merced segment of its system. The Authority now intends to identify its preferred alignment for consideration in the Environmental Impact Report/Environmental Impact Statement (EIR/EIS), tentatively by August of this year [2017]. The draft EIR/EIS will be completed and distributed for public review again tentatively by November. Certification of the EIR/EIS and selection of the alignment to be constructed will likely occur in 2018.

  10. Alan
    Apr 5th, 2017 at 09:06

    Interesting article in today’s Chronicle:

    Trump says he’ll only fund infrastructure projects that are “shovel ready”. OK, fine. Caltrain electrification and HSR are both obviuosly “shovel ready”. So Trump needs to put up or shut up, approve the Caltrain FFGA, and move Federal funding for HSR.

    adirondacker12800 Reply:

    He can suggest it to Congress. He’s got to convince the Freedom Caucus that spending money is one of the things they do.

    Car(e)-Free LA Reply:

    Or make a plan that Dems can get on board with, as a block, plus enough to Republicans.

    Alan Reply:

    Spread enough pork around the Freedom Caucus’ districts, and they’ll be on board. No Congresscritter gets reelected if they can’t (or won’t) deliver the goods.

    zorro Reply:

    But that would mean earmarks, which Congress banned years ago.

    car(e)-free LA Reply:

    Require equal spending per district, projects determined by that district’s representative, with X% required for transit, y% required for roads, z% required for active transportation, etc.

    Alan Reply:

    He can direct the Secretary of Transportation to approve the Caltrain FFGA and release already-appropriated funding, with no permission from Congress required.

    Roland Reply:

    Trump likes fast trains. San Mateo and its 79 MPH omnibus need not apply.

  11. Jerry
    Apr 6th, 2017 at 23:50

    “it’s time to get back in the saddle.”

    Unfortunate. I was hoping this blog was as dead as the California High Speed Rail Project.

    #Not Jerry#

  12. jmc
    Apr 20th, 2017 at 17:09

    Keep the blog going. I rarely comment but I read it religiously. There is an outside chance I’ll live long enough to see the California HSR make the full distance compared to the NEC where I live which will do well if it can avoid the closing of Trans Hudson rail thinks to the idiocy of Chris Christie.

    The opposition in Connecticut is growing to revised plans for routing of HSR – concern about damage to historic nature. I have no solution. I don’t work now But it’s insane that there are no pragmatic answers for getting to our airports other than hired black cars. It’s possible but not time efficient to,take a train from Connecticut to EWR, friends have quit good jobs rather than face a drive every day to New Jersey.

    I offer the opinion that we are beggaring out economic engines in heavily populated urban areas while too much urban transportation money goes to support sprawl in less important states in the economic sense. Not to denigrate Hawaii, Alabama-Miss-LA-Ark etc but their bpbeeds are not the same as the west Coast, CA first.

    I could see the HSR nation routes outlined by the Feds, but the process of individual state vetos after the fact, I.e. Wisconsin scuttling the line through Madison, is a grim reaper. Our transportation system is being derationalized and torn apart by narrow interests much as it took the Civil War to allow construction of the transcontinental rail lines.

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