Thursday, January 29, 2009

Slow Orders

NOTE: We've moved! Visit us at the California High Speed Rail Blog.

Should California cater to a small number of Peninsula NIMBYs and truncate the HSR line from LA to SF at San José? That's a question that has popped up during some of the Peninsula scoping sessions, as some residents think "well let's just drop everyone off at Diridon Station and put them on the Caltrain Baby Bullets! Isn't that good enough?"

As Clem points out at the Caltrain HSR Compatibility Blog, however, not all "bullet" trains are alike:

Baby Bullets look sleek, and they impress when they blast by, horn blaring. However, they are nowhere near as fast on average as the proposed high speed trains. Timings from San Jose to San Francisco:

* Caltrain local: 96 minutes - max speed 79 mph - average speed 29 mph
* Caltrain Baby Bullet: 57 minutes - max speed 79 mph - average speed 49 mph
* HSR: 30 minutes - max speed 125 mph (a.k.a "half speed") - average speed 94 mph

HSR at "half speed" is still nearly twice as fast as the Baby Bullet.

Clem also points out that it's impractical to have "half speed HSR" trains run on just the two existing tracks - you can't mix speeds quite like that, especially given the heavy usage already on those tracks. The overall impact on a trip from LA to SF - the entire point of HSR, let's remember - would be significant:

Accounting for transfer time in San Jose, the effective speed of the Baby Bullet ride would approach three times slower than a single-seat HSR peninsula ride. The overall trip from LA to SF would increase from 2:38 to 3:15, an increase of about one quarter. If we compromise that much on the peninsula, why even bother with 220 mph in the central valley? Indeed why bother with high speed rail at all?

Which is is of course the entire point of the NIMBY objections from the usual suspects on the Peninsula. Folks like Martin Engel never accepted the public verdict - or even that of their own communities - which voted strongly for Proposition 1A, knowing full well that it involved sending HSR trains along new tracks up the Peninsula. Others on the Peninsula are grasping at straws by suggesting that HSR be held up just for their own personal interests - basically trying to impose a slow order on the entire system.

In an email, Alon Levy wonders if there's a strategic way to deal with this objection:

Anthony Perl's book New Departures (http://books.google.com/books?id=-B5NgROwk9wC - look for page 26) writes that the TGV had many detractors in the French government who thought it was an "unaffordable boondoggle." In response, the SNCF met them halfway: it only built the first LGV two thirds of the way from Paris to Lyon, and routed the line on the traditional line at lower speed for the remaining third. On the one hand initial costs were kept down, but on the other travelers could see for themselves the difference between full high-speed operation and rapid rail. As the SNCF had predicted, this created political pressure to finish the full LGV to Lyon, and then to extend it to other cities.

I wonder whether this solution is applicable to California, if cost concerns and pressure from Peninsula NIMBYs is too much. The high-speed track would initially run only from LA to SJ, with the trains sharing tracks with Caltrain to SF. It would reduce speed remarkably and make HSR less competitive initially, but not critically; it would at the same time showcase the difference between baby bullets and real bullets. It would require FRA waivers, but as far as I can tell so will the ultimate goal of running HSR in the same ROW as Caltrain.

Do you think it'd be an acceptable compromise if political or financial realities started to sour?

In this case Levy is suggesting calling the NIMBY bluff, using the slower speeds on the Peninsula segment as leverage public outrage at the situation to mobilize the political will to push through HSR all the way to San Francisco at a later date, especially if cost issues necessitate some sort of less-than-complete solution.

It's an interesting concept but I am not convinced it can work. California's record at filling in gaps in the transportation network is not promising. Although I oppose this project, the 710 freeway gap in Southern California has been a missing link in the system for nearly 40 years. NIMBYs in South Pasadena have had a great deal of success blocking its completion (they also helped influence the design of the Metro Gold Line in a less than ideal way, slowing the trains through that city's portion of the route). The cost of the Peninsula route isn't likely to drop anytime soon, and once NIMBY attitudes spread, they have a tendency to get entrenched - the same homeowners stay in their same locations, dominating local politics on the issues. Nobody wants to piss off such a united bloc, so the infrastructure project gets a lower priority.

Another concern is that a non-HSR solution along the Peninsula could sap public confidence in the system itself. It's already too easy for folks to blithely dismiss any government project as inherently doomed to failure, and to cast trains as terminally slow and inefficient. If, after having promised the public a true high speed train from LA to SF - not from LA to SJ - and we can't deliver it, then that may cause a loss of political support, not an increase.

It seems to me the best move is to build on the momentum of November 2008 and rally the public against the small-minded NIMBY interests on the Peninsula who want to block the high speed rail project. HSR, even on the Peninsula, provides jobs, sustainable transportation, a cleaner environment, and less carbon emissions. Californians are not going to allow a small group of people to block that effort. Certainly those who live near the tracks need to be treated fairly, but they do not and should not have the power to compromise this project.

47 comments:

Spokker said...

"they also helped influence the design of the Metro Gold Line in a less than ideal way, slowing the trains through that city's portion of the route"

The slow portion of the Gold Line is in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Highland Park. It runs on Marion way and is very close to houses and I'm not entirely sure their opposition was unjustified. I consider the 20 MPH section through that area a failure of Metro.

In any case, the point is that it's not in South Pasadena and I don't think it has anything to do with the 710 no matter what Wikipedia says.

Spokker said...

My link is screwed up. Here's the correct one.

Alon Levy said...

If there's not going to be HSR between SJ and SF at all, then there's no point in even going through Pacheco. The main selling point of Pacheco is that, under the assumption that San Jose = Diridon, it is the only way to serve more than one of SF, SJ, and Oakland in one branch. If they can't do that, they might as well use Altamont to Oakland and tell people to take BART to SF.

Brandon in San Diego said...

I reject the question as having merit, should HSR stop at San Jose.

One, Prop 1A specified San Francisco. It was passed, therefore, it is the will of the people.

Two, comments like that are outside the scope and intent of the meetings. The point is to gather input on what environmental considerations should be apart of the CEQA/NEPA review... and not lets get input on what you think of HSR at this place.

Peter said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Peter said...

I was at the scoping meeting in Santa Clara today. Here are a few interesting bits I picked up at it:

Dominic Spaethling, the Regional Manager for the SF/SJ portion that works for Parsons Brinckerhoff, was extremely nice to talk with. He seems to know his stuff and is very good at explaining it.

I asked about FSSF vs SFFS and they said that was one thing they were looking at, but didn't have any decision on it.

They will not be fixing the San Bruno curve. The curve will be limited to about 70mph, which has already been factored into the existing SF/LA estimates. They said they'll fix obvious problems when they lie within the RoW (like I assume this one), but they have no interest in using eminent domain for anywhere not absolutely required.

The current plan to deal with the Caltrain yard double-turn is to simply go under it (there's a tunnel planned from Diridon to past the Santa Clara station). This seems like a complete waste, but it's going to be interesting engineering with HSR, Caltrain, Capitol Corridor, freight, BART, and a bit of VTA all using the same right of way.

They are planning on platforms that are about 400 yards long, twice the length of a Caltrain platform.

There are currently negotiations going on with Caltrain on a Memorandum of Understanding, the result of which will be a single entity that controls corridor. This means that this single entity will maintain, schedule, and negotiate on behalf of both Caltrain and CAHSR.

There was some interesting miss-information going on about Palo Alto. A few residents were convinced that an entire row of houses (going back 300ft from the tracks) would be razed in the process. They were also very concerned about safety in relation to the Palo Alto high school which is directly on the tracks. A few of us tried convincing them that the houses almost certainly would not be taken, and that it would actually be safer for the high school. I left when Dominic was taking over, but he seemed to be convincing them.

Karl said...

I have several thoughts on this.

First is that things, once done, or not done, remain that way for a long time.

This affects even small roads - Angels' Flight in LA was set aside for half a century.

I suspect that if the line up the peninsula is truncated that it will remain that way for a very long time.

But is San Francisco really the center of our metropolitan area? When I lived in The City I thought it was. But now that I've moved south I'm not so sure.

Perhaps it would make more sense for SF Area terminus to be in Oakland (I don't want to re-raise the Altamont fight)? Or at SFO? I think that HSR access at major airports is very important.

If one were to have the northern terminus at San Jose it would make sense for it to be at Santa Clara rather than San Jose so that there could be a link to the San Jose Airport (assuming that airport survives the next few years).

Peter said...

As for the idea of not building SF/SJ: it's a complete non-starter. Caltrain is upgrading with or without HSR. Once major construction happens on the lines in the next 5ish years, you can be almost certain that nothing major will be allowed to happen for the next 10-15. Either HSR gets in now with Caltrain, or waits for a few decades.

Also sorry about the deleted post, I really should use preview more often.

Spokker said...

"But is San Francisco really the center of our metropolitan area?"

Does it matter? The terminus of a rail line doesn't need to be at the center of a metropolitan area. SF may not be the most important area, but it's pretty damn important.

Build stops in the East Bay too. There's no reason why this supposedly great country can't fund HSR along the peninsula and to/from the east bay.

Pacheco vs. Altamont? Build both.

DoDo said...

Peter: what speaks against a SSFF configuration -- as applied f.e. on the four-tracked sections between St. Pölten and Linz in Austria, Karlsruhe-Basel (with Rastatt-Offenburg already in service) in Germany; or where the HSL Zuid and the conventional line are parallel north of Breda in the Netherlands?

DoDo said...

Alon Levy's point about the later opening of one-third of the LGV Sud-Est seems a good one -- if true. However, that one-third (minor nitpick: it was at the Paris end, not the Lyon end) opened in 1983, just two years later, and I have my doubts that construction did not start well before 1981.

Rafael said...

The whole concept of HSR only makes sense in California if it can generate sufficient ridership to cover operating overheads (and then some). That means connecting most of the Bay Area with much of the LA basin in the starter line and then expanding the network.

The Bay Area has around 7 million inhabitants, of which about one million reside in San Jose. SF is home to around 600,000 and Oakland around 400,000. The other 5 million live in smaller cities all around the Bay and in Contra Costa county.

San Jose lies at the southern tip of this metropolitan expanse. For that reason alone, it is not a suitable location to terminate the starter line, as borne out by the program EIR/EIS studies conducted by CHSRA. To secure sufficient ridership, it is essential that trains stop in Santa Clara county plus SF or Oakland (or all three). San Jose has already drawn up plans for transit-oriented developments near SJ Diridon and Berryessa. What's missing are plans for an office park between Santa Clara station and the airport, accessible via Caltrain and BART. This would allow VTA to sell air rights above the future BART yard.

With a second transbay tube unaffordable right now, the initial plan was to run HSR spurs up to both SF and Oakland, but cost considerations and the existing BART network prompted CHSRA to scope the one to Oakland out of the core HSR network (it's now part of the HST/commuter overlay idea, which was not part of prop 1A).

This was not just a question of SF throwing its weight around for the sake of the new SFTT. SFO is a much larger airport than Oakland and SF a much bigger draw for businessmen and tourists alike. Also, reaching downtown Oakland (roughly, Broadway/12th) would have required just as expensive a tunnel as the one planned for SF, one reason why the overlay calls for trains to terminate at West Oakland BART. A final consideration that may have played a role is that the Hayward fault in the East Bay is considered more likely to generate a major earthquake in the next few decades than the peninsula section of the San Andreas fault.

The clincher may well have been that Caltrain already has a ROW up the length of the peninsula with very light freight traffic and plans to use non-compliant rolling stock.

Still, the East Bay has more residents than the peninsula. BART is a well-developed system but it runs at an average speed of just 33mph (cp. Caltrain local). It's fair to ask why it's considered ok to ask East Bay residents to transfer to a relatively slow feeder system but unacceptable for peninsula residents.

However, this is a misconception. The primary objective of running tracks past SFO up to SF is to maximize the catchment area for HSR. The mid-peninsula station is an afterthought (as evidenced by the fact that its location hasn't even been decided yet - Mountain View might actually make more sense than Palo Alto or RC). Running the spur up to Oakland instead would have cost about the same but generated lower ridership.

Conclusion: serving both the South Bay and the new SFTT is central to achieving maximum ridership on the starter line for every dollar invested. With a single dispatcher (probably Caltrain) controlling all train movements in the corridor, it's entirely possible that Caltrain's current "baby bullet" service with a top speed of 79mph will be replaced with rapid rail service running at 125mph. This would improve throughput on the HSR tracks and seat capacity utilization on the long-distance HSR trains.

It doesn't make sense to pigeon-hole HSR as strictly long-distance and Caltrain as strictly slow. In the same vein, there is no reason why Metrolink could not operate electric rapid rail trains between LA US and Anaheim (and later, to San Bernardino via Ontario airport).

yeson1a said...

NO WAY are these Nimbys going to get the HSR to stop in San Jose then "Caltrain" it the rest of the way to SF. The voters of San Francisco passed Prop1a in the 75% range,far above anyone else. DiFi is from here and hell will freeze over before SF is left out of this system. These people moved next to railroad tracks and have no reason to whine, stopping in SJ would kill HSR.

DoDo said...

Upon checking another source, On the Fast Track - French Railway Modernization and the Origins of the TGV, 1944-1983, I find that the reasons stated by the book Alon Levy references are confirmed, but their result was only a delayed opening of the second stage, not a delaying of the start of construction. Also, on page 21 of an Alstom presentation, construction schedule is shown. (Still, surely, without the success of the first stage, further delays may have been possible.)

On four-track configurations, I add:

* AV/AC Milano-Bologna (opened last month) and the conventional line West of Bologna: another example of SSFF

* West Coast Main Line in the UK (4-tracked successively over decades): there are examples of all three variations; one of the newest 4-track sections (completed just last year), Tamworth-Armitage, is SFFS.

* Amsterdam-Utrecht (four-tracked by 2007): I had to check this, and it is indeed the FSSF configuration favoured by Peter & Clem

Still, unless all four tracks are to be suitable for 125mph, SSFF should be favoured if direction-changing is to be exploited by both CAHSR and Caltrain. (Also, on the CAHSR tracks, that should be done with high-speed movable point frogs.)

DoDo said...

What was the cost estimate for a second Transbay tunnel? (And the length of the tunnel?)

Rafael said...

@ DoDo -

CHSRA did not break out the cost of a second transbay tube but it can be computed by comparing total cost estimates for the alignment options that were studied. The referenced figures are now available here.

Comparing the Altamont-only scenarios 7.2-4, 7.2-6, 7.2-7, 7.2-10 and 7.2-11, the following becomes apparent:

Fresno-Union City $6.0b
Union City-Oakland $2.2b
Union City-San Jose $1.7b-1.9b (higher number applies if there is a wye at Niles)

ergo: Oakland + SJ only via Altamont would cost around $10.1b, but this case was not explicitly studied as trainsets would have to be split/recombined in Pleasanton where there is zero room to let trainsets wait.

Oakland-SF via 2nd tube $4.7b (incl. approaches and station on far side)

Length of tube + approaches 8.78mi

Note that the route chosen for the tube would run underneath the Oakland harbor basin and Alameda Point before cutting across to SF.

---

Triple check using Pacheco-only alternatives 7.2-12 and 7.2-16:

Oakland-SF via 2nd tube $4.6b

Length of tube + approaches 9.22mi

---

The discrepancies are small and may be due to quotes from different subcontractors for the Altamont and Pacheco scenarios and/or rounding errors. Basically, CHSRA is claiming that an elevated station in Oakland would cost about as much as the trainbox + short tunnel underneath Howard St. in SF.

To sum up, a 2nd transbay tube for HSR (incl. approaches and one station) would require around 9 additional miles of track and cost around $4.7 billion (~$520 million/mile)

Ben said...

I wonder if terminating at San Jose is even legal under the provisions of prop 1A? If it contains language about the beginning and endpoints is it even possible to spend that bond money on at all on the system?

Rafael said...

@ Ben -

that was Clem's point. With prop 1A having passed, building something short of the SF-Anaheim starter line is basically no longer on the table and neither is any alignment that does not include Pacheco.

In the real world, of course, there are caveats. If for some reason - geological, legal, irretrievable loss of ROW, cost explosion - it becomes infeasible to stick with plan A, a modification would be appropriate. What CHSRA cannot do is simply choose to terminate the starter line in San Jose because running it up to SF offends a small minority.

Not that they're planning to, I'm just trying to illustrate that peninsula folks who are advocating just that are in effect trying to put the genie back in the bottle. The only way they could possibly succeed in this is via a court decision that CHSRA implemented the program EIR/EIS consultations so poorly that that key conclusions are voided.

I don't see that happening, especially since CHSRA is already covering its rear end by conducting project-level planning of the HST/commuter rail overlay through Altamont Pass for belts' and suspenders' sake, using funds (more like IOUs right now) unrelated to prop 1A.

Tony D. said...

Yes on 1A said it perfectly again! Unfortunately, some here (I won't mention names) are using the NIMBY sentiment to try and bolster their old "Altamont over Pacheco" arguments. People, please! Some on the penisula are just going to have to accept the reality of HSR between SF and SJ (and beyond)...THE PEOPLE HAVE SPOKEN, ENOUGH ALREADY!

Brian Stankievich said...

Actually Prop 1A mandates LA Union Station to SF Transbay Terminal so the whole stop at 4th and King idea is as illegal as the stop at San Jose idea. Someone needs to inform some CAHSRA board members about this.

As for the old Altamont-Pacheco argument Prop 1A does not specify either. It does look like that decision is moving past the point of no return. Even if Altamont is the better route, the design work is just not happening for it but for Pacheco instead. At some point the cost of starting over, and delaying the project, is more than the cost of going and building Pacheco now AND Alatmont and Dumbarton at some latter phase (maybe along with Sacramento).

The real effort now needs to go into getting Federal funding first for the SFTT and then for the design and construction of the initial line.

arcady said...

Just a point I'd like to make to anyone who thinks that HSR should stop at Santa Clara instead of, or in addition to, San Jose, for the sake of the airport: something like half of the flights from SJC are to various points in Southern California. Many of those flights will be going away, assuming HSR is as successful as its promoters claim. SFO, on the other hand, is a key destination, as it's a major international hub, and there's great potential for cooperation there between airlines and HSR, at least until we get an HSR line to Japan.

bossyman15 said...

Brain

LA Union Station to SF Transbay Terminal so the whole stop at 4th and King idea is as illegal as the stop at San Jose idea

CAHSR are not completely against SF Transbay Terminal. Its just that it would cost $2 billion dollar just to route to Transbay. That's a huge sum out of ~$40 billion. I think they want to do Transbay at later date and focus good use of money on rest of the route for now.

Rafael said...

@ arcady -

for once, I wasn't suggesting that the core HSR network feature a station at Santa Clara. With the choice of Pacheco now final, trains bound for SoCal will serve SJ Diridon.

The HST/commuter rail overlay could conceivably be expanded to include a turn-off at Santa Clara to support express trains between SF and Sacramento via Altamont Pass. These would be time-competitive with car travel down I-80. However, the whole overlay is still a very tenuous idea.

The proximate objective would be to put the already excellent transit connectivity of Santa Clara station (Caltrain, Amtrak CC, ACE + future BART extension) to better use than the industrial lots that now lie between it and the airport. A transit-oriented business park would increase the bang for buck of the BART extension project, especially if air rights above the future rail yard there are sold to a commercial developer. Double or triple glazing would be used to keep out airport noise, technology applied to manage air quality.

TOD at Santa Clara would be in addition to what is already planned near SJ Diridon. The two would not compete much if the latter focused more on residential housing, shopping malls and entertainment venues.

At BART's Santa Clara yard, it might even make sense to remove the top ~20 feet of soil and use that to create embankments as part of the HSR implementation in the peninsula. This would allow BART to remain underground north of SJ Diridon. Optionally, a standard-gauge yard shared by multiple operators could be located at grade level and, office space above that.

In particular, keeping BART underground would reduce the cost of HSR by several hundred million if it allows those track to run at grade between San Tomas Expressway and SJ Diridon. Currently, a tunnel is planned for that section.

Any shuttle service between Santa Clara station and SJC would be icing on the cake IMHO since there will also be buses from SJ Diridon. The airport will indeed lose a lot of passengers to HSR but seek to compensate by attracting more flights to other states plus perhaps, more cargo services.

SantaTeresaHills said...

There is already a Santa Clara station plan at http://www.santaclarasap.com/

Clem said...

@ Rafael, I think you are confusing two stations in Santa Clara that are several miles apart. One of them is served by ACE and Amtrak Capitols. The other is served by Caltrain.

With BART to San Jose fast approaching the 65% engineering milestone, does anyone know where to get the latest detailed plans? I'd like to get details on their yard and tunnel approach to Diridon.

Alon Levy said...

The point in my proposal is not to require people to transfer at SJ; it's to route HSR trains over an HSR line up until SJ, and then over the slower SJ-SF line to SF. This will take longer because the line between SJ and SF will require the trains to share tracks with slower trains, but it will still be a one-seat ride. After the initial money spent on electrifying Caltrain and building HSR from LA to SJ, the HSR authority will be able to spend operating surplus on four-tracking the SJ-SF line to provide for faster operations along the Peninsula.

As for FSSF, the argument that it's less vulnerable to disruptions doesn't hold water. The New York City Subway has been using SFFS for over a century without trouble. Trains here don't just break down in the middle of the tunnel, despite the antiquated signaling system and the 45-year-old rolling stock. It seems rather fatalistic to assume that breakdowns will happen on a modern line with modern trainsets.

Jim said...

I slo read about this idea... only three tracks for the short antherton menlo park section, so the row doesn't impinge as much. With the presumed high tech timing / train contol on HSR a single track for a couple miles would be an easy work around.

Jim said...

that short stretch in atherton menlo park could take a third track without disturbing the sensitive residents.

Alon Levy said...

a single track for a couple miles would be an easy work around.

It really won't. It absolutely kills capacity. At the maximum, HSR trains can run every four minutes. So on a single-track section of even one foot, that means a train every four minutes in total, i.e. a train every eight minute in each direction.

spence said...

It's frustrating that we are re-opening debates over such fundamental parts of the HSR plan such as "where should the trains run?"

There's no serious consideration of removing SF from the network, just like there's no serious consideration of using maglev technology or of replacing the current plan with one to buy everyone in California a rocket pack instead.

Are we just casting about for something to talk about? Or was this supposed to be a substantive debate? I don't mean to be snarky, but I am disappointed at the prospect of even having to go over this stuff again or to defend whatthe purpose of HSR is or why it has to include high population urban areas in order to be viable.

Jim said...

There is no way they plan to run hsr trains ever 4 or 8 minutes. At most itll be every hour, maybe 30 minutes during rush hours. They only plan to run about 16 train per day in each direction and that's not unitl they build ridership. Even 40 years from now there wont be trains every 8 minutes.

Jim said...

Also if its limited to 3 tracks for a 3 mile stretch and the caltrain and hsr tracks are compatible, and have plenty of crossovers that still leaves plenty to work with while managing the traffic. Ideally they -(dispatch) will use technology that will manage caltrain and hsr together on the sjc sfc portion. Just trying to find an easy way to shut the nimbys up thats all....

Jim said...

actually according to this chart I found they plan to eventually run 9 trains per direction per hour. But that is nowhere near realistic or necessary unless they plan to run empty trains back and forth every five minutes. one departure per hour on the hour per 24 hours would more than handle all the traffic for years to come. Thats 24000 pax per day each direction. It takes a long time to build up ridership like that.
http://www.cahighspeedrail.ca.gov/images/chsr/20081021150533_Ridership2.pdf

Brandon in San Diego said...

I am with Spence, and I cited as much last night very early on, fwiw.

HSR is not stopping in San Jose. Forwarding the idea that it might, as if it were an option, introduces a false hope and diverts attention to where it should be... for interested persons to comment on the scope of the environmental review.

I appreciate a lot of the 'design' related comments and have no intent to dismiss those, but the blog post gets an "F" in my book.

Robert Cruickshank said...

Brandon and spence, I'm not reopening the discussion here - merely commenting on the discussion that's already happening on the ground. There have been public comments given at the meetings and in writing to the effect of "let's stop in San José!"

For those who would prefer to ignore that argument, you're welcome to do so. I agree that the language of Prop 1A is clear that stopping at SJ is not an option.

That's not been my approach. I've consistently believed that it's good to use the blog to react quickly and strongly to anti-HSR ideas. I see a lot of value in restating clearly why stopping at SJ is a bad idea - it reminds us what the reasoning and talking points are, making it easier to push back against this NIMBY nonsense.

I've seen enough projects held up by NIMBYism to know that it's worth pushing back hard against this stuff.

Jim said...

Here's a good article: http://blog.wired.com/cars/2009/01/governor-mike-d.html

Brandon in San Diego said...

Robert,
In this case, imo, I think it gives it credence when it deserves none.

Rafael said...

@ SantaTeresaHills -

thanks for the link, I was unaware a TOD plan for Santa Clara was already in the works.

@ Clem -

I'm well aware of the difference between the Great America and Santa Clara stations. ACE normally stops at both but service to Santa Clara has been temporarily suspended because of UPRR track work. No word yet on when that will be completed.

Amtrak Capitol Corridor does stop at Great America but not at Santa Clara. It does pass through there, though, so it could easily make an extra stop if there were demand and a sufficient number of platform tracks to avoid causing problems for Caltrain and ACE.

arcady said...

Rafael: ACE service is suspended because the ACE and Capitol Corridor trains run on the third track, which has no platform at the moment. Caltrain's next station project is building a new island platform at Santa Clara to serve both the northbound Caltrain and Coast Line tracks. I suppose that means ACE service might finally get unsuspended sometime in 2010 or so. I agree, though, that it would help to have more development around the station. I'd especially love some high-rise residential, but that's just me.

Clem said...

The outline of this future platform is visible in the MP 44 and MP 45 maps.

I think it makes no sense to build now, because it will probably get plowed under when the HSR tunnel is built in this area.

All in this one spot, you've got Caltrain building one thing, BART building another, and CHSRA building a third. I don't think anybody is doing system-level optimization (a.k.a. "value engineering") in Santa Clara, and it is urgently needed before any concrete is poured!

arcady said...

"All in this one spot, you've got Caltrain building one thing, BART building another, and CHSRA building a third."
No, you've got Caltrain building one thing, BART with an unfunded plan to build something else, and HSRA with the authorization to get the funding to plan to build yet another thing. Given that the holdout rule causes significant operational problems for Caltrain here and now, it doesn't make sense to wait for some projects that may or may not materialize in the future. But yes, on the whole some more coordination would be nice. The most egregious local example I can think of is the lack of connection between the Third Street line and Bayshore station, because apparently Muni didn't find out about Caltrain's reconstruction of the station until it was too late.

Anonymous said...

Jim, thanks for pointing out that the CHSR ridership assumptions are nonsense, meaning their Final Program EIR/EIS is nonsense - the one that was used for the 1A vote... (hint hint)

Also meaning their revenue analysis is BS. Which in turns means that HSR will not be self sustataining, which finally comes down to - no 1A bonds. The wording of 1A specifically says CHSR must show the the state they will not require any operating subsidy as a condition of bonds being issues. So... If they're not going to magically materialize a full train every four minutes... splat!

Jim said...

anom - with all due respect - the numbers in the report will be reached. No on said they wold be reached on day one. It takes time to build ridership but as as someone who workds for the railroad I can tell you the demand is most definitely there. That rider ship can however easily be met with fewer t rains per hour than one every 4 minutes. The point being that a short stretch of 3 tracks through the menlo park atherton area would handle the capacity unit the current owners die off.

Jim said...

( current property owners)

Jim said...

as someone who has lived for 40 plus years in cal, I remember when the standard rule of thumb is that californians wouldn't/don't/won't take trains, for publica transitof any kind for that matter. It so happnes, that even long before the gas price increases, california ahd the 3 of the most successful passenger rail lines in the nation. Every increase in service hs been followed by increased ridership. Also anyone who knows anything about california knows that while we are currently in the economic doldrums, our state will come back with a vengance. We have an economy and lifestyle that no other state can come close to matching and when the next boom hits, hsr will be poised to accommodate a whole new generation of californians who will embrace it unlike the aging "baby boomer it can't be done" crowd that is currently resting on their dull, self involved and sadly mediocre laurels.

Jim said...

In other words. step aside you old bitter coots and get out of the way. Your time is over. You'll be in the home soon and won't have much say for much longer.

mike said...

Regarding max trains per hour:

For reference, I believe RENFE (Spain) runs 5 high speed trains/hour (10 trains/hour both directions) out of Madrid Puerta de Atocha to southern destinations (Seville, Cordoba, Malaga, Valencia, Toledo). These metro areas total 4.8 million inhabitants combined. For comparison, the Los Angeles and San Diego metro areas combined total 20 million inhabitants (317% more). So it's not unrealistic to think that the full CHSR system might eventually run 80% more trains than RENFE during peak hour.