California High-Speed Rail (CAHSR) System

Discussion related to commuter rail and transit operators in California past and present including Los Angeles Metrolink and Metro Subway and Light Rail, San Diego Coaster, Sprinter and MTS Trolley, Altamont Commuter Express (Stockton), Caltrain and MUNI (San Francisco), Sacramento RTD Light Rail, and others...

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Re: CA California CAHSR System

Postby NH2060 » Mon Jan 19, 2015 6:03 am

I wonder if Mr. Denham would have a different take on the first phase(s) of the project if it was non-electrified with more funds spent on building additional sections between Los Angeles and San Francisco and tying it into the existing Amtrak/Caltrain/Metrolink network for the time being until other dedicated sections could be built for high speed access into and out of LA?

Because I myself am starting to believe that having these initial "true" high speed sections initially operate between Fresno, Merced, etc. could be seen as a real folly if passenger numbers didn't at least somewhat live up to expectations leaving desire to complete the project potentially up in the air. Without LA and SF the train doesn't maximize its potential. And with full completion of the entire HSR line between the two cities quite some time away down the line having the ROW, track, stations, etc. completed first between outside LA and San Jose (with physical connections to existing Metrolink and Caltrain tracks) with 125/150mph diesel powered trainsets (perhaps a US version of the British Class 800 currently in production) would at least establish LA-SF service and buildup a ridership base. Once ridership levels, etc. truly reach demand then the case for electrification can be made and easily justified/approved.
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Re: CA California CAHSR System

Postby F-line to Dudley via Park » Mon Jan 19, 2015 6:24 am

NH2060 wrote:I wonder if Mr. Denham would have a different take on the first phase(s) of the project if it was non-electrified with more funds spent on building additional sections between Los Angeles and San Francisco and tying it into the existing Amtrak/Caltrain/Metrolink network for the time being until other dedicated sections could be built for high speed access into and out of LA?

Because I myself am starting to believe that having these initial "true" high speed sections initially operate between Fresno, Merced, etc. could be seen as a real folly if passenger numbers didn't at least somewhat live up to expectations leaving desire to complete the project potentially up in the air. Without LA and SF the train doesn't maximize its potential. And with full completion of the entire HSR line between the two cities quite some time away down the line having the ROW, track, stations, etc. completed first between outside LA and San Jose (with physical connections to existing Metrolink and Caltrain tracks) with 125/150mph diesel powered trainsets (perhaps a US version of the British Class 800 currently in production) would at least establish LA-SF service and buildup a ridership base. Once ridership levels, etc. truly reach demand then the case for electrification can be made and easily justified/approved.


Nope. Denham's brain stem only knows one thing: TRAIN BAD. He has fought all 8,492 proposals, routings, study alternatives, and color coordinations on the CAHSR logo with equal vigor. There is no 'preferred alternative' he has in mind other than doing a victory dance on HSR's beaten-to-goo corpse. As ideologues go he's not even that sophisticated in the sense that his worldview calls for supporting this but not that in his capacity as Congressman. And what started as a fight within his own district has now just become a singular mission to torpedo the entire project...anywhere...by any means available to him.

Like I said...he's a caricature. So much so that it's cost him a lot of support from opponents on "You're not helping" grounds. His seat is widely seen as vulnerable in 2016 since it's only an R+1 district about as dead-center as it gets. Suffered a scare in 2012, and in '14 got off easy when California's 'jungle primary' system put him up against 2 Democrats on the ballot who canceled each other out. His own numbers in that race were pretty soft for a wave year. Shovels-in-ground on CAHSR could very well be what gets him booted from office, because he's made that his signature issue for nearly his entire Congressional career and has nothing to show for it to his base of voter support. He's basically counting on the crapshoot 'jungle primary' to do in '16 what it did in '14 (and to not mortally wound him in return by having a Republican challenger survive the primary and grab the #3 slot on the general election ballot).
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Re: CA California CAHSR System

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Mon Jan 19, 2015 9:45 am

Messrs. F-Line and New Haven (BTW; The NH FL-9's were 2000-2059), I'm at a loss as to why Rep. Denham is so anti HSR. It certainly appears that his 10th District comprising Modesto and not appearing to be some kind of gerrymandered contortion, would stand to benefit to have the project move forth.

What's his problem, beyond simply being Republican with both Governor Brown and President Obama being Democrats? You'd think he'd jump at the likelihood his District - "uh not exactly" Fairfield County CT (CT4), having the good paying jobs the project would bring. Not saying anything about the working conditions, but the pay would sure beat picking fruit.
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Re: CA California CAHSR System

Postby Arlington » Mon Jan 19, 2015 1:59 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:It certainly appears that his 10th District comprising Modesto and not appearing to be some kind of gerrymandered contortion, would stand to benefit to have the project move forth.

California has impartially-drawn districts (geography-based, not voter-group based) and they end up being fairly evenly divided (R+1 means it leans 1% more Republican than whatever Republicans are getting in generic polls). The system was designed so that you didn't have to stake out extreme positions to win your primary, but then coast to election in November. Here, the system hasn't overtaken incumbency.

As the old "go extreme in the Primary" candidates get laundered out, you should start to see both parties advancing more centrist views (aimed at winning the general election). Now that ground's been broken, the Republican stance should be "value for money" not "kill at all costs". One value for money idea is to build the ROW first, run it with 125mph diesels Bay to Basin, emphasizing things like getting from Palmdale to LA cheaply (surface, not tunneled) and electrify it later, which (IMO) "should" have been the Republican position (as, indeed, it is, in North Carolina and Virginia on SEHSR and in Michigan). Partly the problem is that the Democrats staked out their side in a very "all-electric-or-nothing", that forced their phases to be geo-segmented, rather than operate-then-upgrade, (I'd say, at least partly, because they wanted to avoid the centrist solutuion of starting with diesels)
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Re: CA California CAHSR System

Postby mtuandrew » Mon Jan 19, 2015 3:48 pm

Moderator's Note: I appreciate you all being relatively easygoing on the politics, and recognizing that an individual politician's views may not coincide with his/her party's views. Keep it up.
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Re: CA California CAHSR System

Postby Alloy » Mon Jan 19, 2015 6:43 pm

Starting in the middle has its problems, for sure.

NH2060 wrote:
Because I myself am starting to believe that having these initial "true" high speed sections initially operate between Fresno, Merced, etc. could be seen as a real folly if passenger numbers didn't at least somewhat live up to expectations leaving desire to complete the project potentially up in the air. Without LA and SF the train doesn't maximize its potential.


The next poster I quote is saying that the Interstate highway system did a similar approach:

by leemell » Mon Jul 09, 2012 1:52 pm
They started in the middle for very good engineering reasons. Build a very easy segment and work out the build and ops issues in the easiest place to reduce problem conflicts. Have you ever noticed the Interstate Highway System did the same thing. First segment built was many miles west of Lincoln Nebraska, "in the middle of nowhere".


I can understand that it's good engineering to build the first segment in an area where the problems can be addressed easily, and the testing can be thorough. What I personally remember about the Interstate system was that construction started in the downtown areas of cities, and moved outward.

From the U.S. Department of Transportation website:
... From the earliest description of the Interstate System, in BPR's 1939 report to Congress Toll Roads and Free Roads, the goal was to use the new highways to invigorate blighted urban areas, reverse suburbanization, and restore city tax bases. To achieve these goals, BPR had used sampling techniques developed with the U.S. Census Bureau to conduct extensive urban origin-and-destination surveys and worked with State and local officials before designating the urban Interstates in 1955. BPR (Bureau of Public Roads) urged the States to concentrate on projects in urban areas because that was where the need for traffic relief was the greatest.
(Italics mine)

In Oakland, I-580 overpasses are dated 1961 downtown, and dated 1965 along the route through East Oakland. In Ohio, where I grew up, I-71 was built out of both Cincinnati and Columbus, in the early 60s. Then the middle 70+ miles were filled in, and opened in 1964. The point is, it seemed that the Interstate construction might have had it both ways: flat test strips in Missouri and Kansas, where the first two segments were built, and also traffic relief in congested cities, which clearly demonstated the benefits of the new system.
Last edited by Alloy on Mon Jan 19, 2015 7:07 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: CA California CAHSR System

Postby Arlington » Mon Jan 19, 2015 6:54 pm

If this were about engineering caution, the go-slow, work-out kinks approach would also favor electrifying after you have a minimum unelectrified operable routing, wouldn't it?

And as greenfield, work-out-the-kinks segments go, why not Bakersfield-Palmdale (and extend the proven Amtrak San Joaquin service to the threshold of metro LA?)

It is the direct duplication (from a "market" standpoint) that has always seemed like a double dare: Opponents can't cancel CAHSR after Segment 1 in the name of saving $ because Segment 1 doesn't deliver rail service to any new markets.
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Re: CA California CAHSR System

Postby NH2060 » Tue Jan 20, 2015 10:38 am

Gilbert B Norman wrote:and New Haven (BTW; The NH FL-9's were 2000-2059)

Why else would I have selected the first "fantasy" unit number? ;-) This isn't the first time you've mentioned that BTW :-P

Arlington wrote:It is the direct duplication (from a "market" standpoint) that has always seemed like a double dare: Opponents can't cancel CAHSR after Segment 1 in the name of saving $ because Segment 1 doesn't deliver rail service to any new markets.

So the logic is "If we build it first in the middle anyway it would seem pointless for it to not have connections at each end and therefore becomes a slam dunk in getting the remaining sections funded"?

I can't help but think that the risk of the rest of the project being cancelled remains high enough no matter how much is accomplished. Let's face it objectively speaking from a numbers standpoint:

1) The first section(s) costs $A Billion.

2) Any additional sections will cost $B-Z Billion.

3) If the first section(s) are completed ready to go but the rest of the project goes nowhere one could argue that "Yes we already spent $A Billion on it, but we will still not be spending $B-Z Billion more to finish it." So in a way the argument of "we will still save a ton of money by not finishing it" could remain strong enough. At that point it becomes more of a matter of weighing one vs. the other. This is how building the entire ROW, trackage, signaling without the electrification does have its merits even if it too doesn't allow the line to reach its full potential at that stage.

It's like building a model railroad on a certain budget. With the funds you have you can either:

1) Build part of the layout complete with tracks, structures, scenery, etc. but you can only have a train ping back and forth for a short distance. Essentially only a piece of a puzzle. OR

2) You can complete the benchwork/table (the not-so-fun part!) first -maybe even lay the track down- and then return to where to place the buildings, scenery, etc. at a later date when you've got more money on hand to finish everything.
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Re: CA California CAHSR System

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Jan 21, 2015 12:37 pm

Moderator's Note: Deleted a duplicate post from NH2060 (aka FL9, where the F stands for "fantasy" :wink:)

-----

As a member, I think there are good reasons for both methods constructing a system - from the outside in, and from the inside out. Keep in mind though, the inside-out system of constructing Interstates was also used as a way of combatting "urban blight," whether that blight was actually blight or was simply the wrong ethnic group. Let's be careful not to fall into the same trap with HSR.
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Re: CA California CAHSR System

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Wed Jan 21, 2015 2:54 pm

Mr. Stephens, ever wonder why I-95 is routed around Washington along the Capital Beltway?

Ever wonder why I-395 diverges from 95 and simply stops near Union Station?

Well, how about drawing a straight line from where 395 ends and Junction of Beltway and 95 in Maryland.

A real life example of the inference within your immediate posting.
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Re: CA California CAHSR System

Postby mtuandrew » Wed Jan 21, 2015 3:44 pm

Gilbert B Norman wrote:Mr. Stephens, ever wonder why I-95 is routed around Washington along the Capital Beltway?

Ever wonder why I-395 diverges from 95 and simply stops near Union Station?

Well, how about drawing a straight line from where 395 ends and Junction of Beltway and 95 in Maryland.

A real life example of the inference within your immediate posting.

Exactly. Also worth understanding which university sits astride that path, who the major constituents of that university are, and why this era was particularly the wrong time to "kick the hornet's nest," as it were.

This is out of place (and since I'm the moderator, nyah nyah to the naysayers), but I'd recommend The Great Society Subway by Zachary Schrag to anyone interested in how Washington, DC dealt with the "last mile" issue that HSR will also need to face.
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Re: CA California CAHSR System

Postby lpetrich » Thu Jan 22, 2015 3:25 pm

I'll find some cost estimates: how many millions of dollars per mile.

Madera - Fresno
California High Speed Rail Blog » CHSRA Board Votes To Proceed With Tutor Perini Contract
California high-speed rail approves cheapest firm to start building first phase - San Jose Mercury News
Dist = 29 mi, Cost = $0.985 B, Ratio = $34 M/mi

Fresno - Bakersfield
California High Speed Rail Blog » CHSRA Board Approves Contract for Second Phase
California high-speed rail board approves $1.36 billion bid for Fresno-Bakersfield section - Daily Journal
Dist = 60 mi, Cost = $1.36 B, Ratio = $23 M/mi

Total
Dist = 89 mi, Cost = $2.345 B, Ratio = $26 M/mi

The CHSRA will be deciding on how to go into Bakersfield later this year.

The rest of the construction, using $26 M/mi and Google Maps road distances:

Madera - Merced: 34 mi -- $1.2 B
Chowchilla - San Jose: 114 mi -- $3.9 B -- Pacheco Pass
Merced - Sacramento: 114 mi -- $3.9 B
Bakersfield - Palmdale: 95 mi -- $3.2 B -- Tehachapi Mountains
Palmdale - Burbank: 53 mi -- $1.8 B -- Soledad Canyon
Burbank - LAUS: 11 mi -- $0.4 B
LAUS - Anaheim: 26 mi -- $0.9 B
LAUS - Riverside: 54 mi -- $1.8 B
Riverside - San Diego: 98 mi -- $3.3 B
San Jose - San Francisco: 48 mi -- $1.6 B

Some of these numbers will be underestimates, because of construction through mountainous areas or urban ones. But maybe some people here can point me to some more plausible estimates of cost per unit distance.
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Re: CA California CAHSR System

Postby gokeefe » Thu Jan 22, 2015 4:25 pm

mtuandrew wrote:
Gilbert B Norman wrote:Mr. Stephens, ever wonder why I-95 is routed around Washington along the Capital Beltway?

Ever wonder why I-395 diverges from 95 and simply stops near Union Station?

Well, how about drawing a straight line from where 395 ends and Junction of Beltway and 95 in Maryland.

A real life example of the inference within your immediate posting.

Exactly. Also worth understanding which university sits astride that path, who the major constituents of that university are, and why this era was particularly the wrong time to "kick the hornet's nest," as it were.

This is out of place (and since I'm the moderator, nyah nyah to the naysayers), but I'd recommend The Great Society Subway by Zachary Schrag to anyone interested in how Washington, DC dealt with the "last mile" issue that HSR will also need to face.


Since I am an alum of said institution (The Catholic University of America) I would note that in any case political power as an expression of the mandate of the people will and always should have the ability to modify policy to its desire. We are not nor should we ever be a technocracy in which scientists and engineers create policy based on so called "logic". That is simply the abdication of discretion to the dictatorship of elites who are just as fallible individually as any elected official. Every decision, even those based on "formulas" is an expression of human will and that is always subject to "politics".

California has got this problem not merely because of the expense of building an HSR system but because of the significant alteration of the status quo that is implied by this project. It is not merely change that people fear but the agents of change and their manner of accounting for change and the compensation for change. People are naturally distrustful of something which appears to have accumulated a lot of power and money in one place combined with a program mandate to build a railroad which requires the use of eminent domain.
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Re: CA California CAHSR System

Postby Arlington » Thu Jan 22, 2015 4:30 pm

Bakersfield-Palmdale still strikes me as the segment in the whole system with the highest mobility-per-dollar. It should have been built first (and would have been the starting point for the Las Vegas train too)
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Re: CA California CAHSR System

Postby Gilbert B Norman » Thu Jan 22, 2015 7:44 pm

Mr. O'Keeffe, while I do not have Orwell's power of the "thought police", I believe the intended route of the proposed I-95 through the NE District, was Northward along Capitol Street, thence along New Hampshire to the present Interchange with I-495. Your school would have been unaffected, but Howard University most certainly would.

Somehow, I think that is the school Mr. "Mtuandrew" Stephens had in mind.
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