Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Keys to the Magic Kingdom

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

One of the relatively late changes to the definition of the HSR starter line was the inclusion of the segment from LA Union Station to Anaheim ARTIC, OCTA's planned multimodal transit hub. Nothing wrong with that at all, after all Orange County is the second most populous in the state. Besides, OC needs the grade separations along BNSF's core "91" line to support future capacity growth for container freight out of the LA/LB harbors. A similar billion-dollar project is to improve grade crossings with UPRR's lines in the San Gabriel valley, dubbed Alameda Corridor East, is already underway. Grandiose plans for using fancy, unproven freight maglev technology to shuttle containers to a new Inland Port in Mira Loma appear to have bitten the dust and those for maglev to Vegas along with them.

Anaheim ARTIC on YouTube

The hoped-for quid pro quo for grade separation is that BNSF will offer CHSRA enough land to run dedicated tracks between Redondo Junction - the northern terminus of the successful Alameda Corridor - and Fullerton. To date, BNSF has been receptive to CHSRA overtures, but that was in the Central Valley. The company's ROW between Richmond harbor and Bakersfield is arguably not fully utilized, much of the alignment is single track.

The "91" line, named - this is Southern California for you - after the adjacent freeway through the Santa Ana river valley, is a whole different ball of wax. It is the only ROW out of California that BNSF actually owns outright. All its other routes out of the state depend on trackage rights on competitor UPRR's network. Up to a point, those could be restricted or canceled without falling foul of anti-trust laws. The price for the trackage rights is also subject to change.

Therefore, we should expect BNSF to take a much tougher line in negotiations regarding the sale of part of the "91" ROW. The Alameda corridor currently carries about freight 40 trains a day, but sooner or later that may double, even triple. With prescient investment in modern signaling, diligent track maintenance and professional operations, two track ought to be enough for BNSF to handle its share of that. But what if there is an accident or an earthquake. UPRR has multiple rights of way that it can use to re-route its trains. The companies may well have secured mutual emergency trackage rights on each other's lines. Still, BNSF risks putting itself at something of a competitive disadvantage if it sells part of its most precious asset in California. Once you give up a right of way, you never get it back. Not ever. BNSF may want to be a good corporate citizen and it knows that grade separation will reduce the risk of accident-related disruptions to its own service. But does that mean CHSRA will get to lay down tracks? We'll see.

Between Fullerton and the OC/SD county line near San Onofre, the right of way is owned by the Southern California Regional Railway Authority (SCRRA) which operates Metrolink. Amtrak Pacific Surfliner and some BNSF freight trains also use this alignment. BNSF owns the connector that runs north from Orange to the "91" line as well as the bit from National City to San Diego. The harbor down there is not a container terminal, it appears to be used for importing cars. All of these trains use FRA-compliant locomotives and rolling stock.

The SCRRA ROW in Orange County is quite narrow, really only wide enough for two tracks in most places. Widening it via eminent domain for the sake of laying down dedicated HSR tracks would be massively unpopular and ruinously expensive. The plan is therefore to seek FRA approval to operate mixed traffic, i.e. to add a limited number of non-compliant bullet trains to the mix via time separations guaranteed by signaling upgrades that prevent engineers from running red lights by accident. Top speed for this last stretch would be down to 79mph, but it's so short that presents no object. After last year's disaster at Chatsworth, HR 2095 mandated the installation of positive train control technology on busy rail corridor and those carrying hazardous materials by 2015.

The request for the mixed traffic exemption will be rolled into that for a "rule of special applicability" that CHSRA will anyhow need for its entire network. FRA currently has no rules at all for passenger train operations at speeds in excess of 150mph, nor any for the safe design and operation of 25kV AC overhead catenary systems. The agency had already begun to draft such rules for Florida HSR some years ago but they were shelved when Gov. Jeb Bush killed that project. They will soon be dusted off and completed, presumably many will be cribbed from the regulations Asian and European countries have already drawn up.

However, there's always a chance that one or more domestic - or at least North American - would-be HSR vendors will emerge. They might seek to gain a competitive advantage by getting FRA to draft rules that would force more established global players to modify their designs. That would be foolish from a safety/reliability/cost point of view, but protectionism-by-red-tape is one of the oldest games in town. Bureaucrats, too, love to draft special rules under the guise of "special conditions" that supposedly exist in the territory they are responsible for. In the US, some freight operators may well seek some regulatory overkill to push back against states that suddenly want to acquire part of their ROW, just so they can benefit from the federal largesse that is now being heaped - ok, spooned - onto high speed rail projects. Well-connected organizations that oppose HSR in principle, a particular project or impacts on their back yard might also try to lobby FRA, in the hope that this might kill or at least delay HSR implementations. We should be vigilant and push back against such selfish efforts.

The rules for California will set a national precedent for both true bullet trains running at well over 125mph on dedicated tracks and, for rapid rail below that speed, with freight and passenger trains each using the equipment best suited to their business model yet sharing a ROW and even tracks. Let's hope President Obama and Secr. of Transportation LaHood realize the importance of FRA's rulemaking on HSR in the years to come.

Clem Tillier over at the Caltrain-HSR compatibility blog has published the following diagram in his analysis of SF Peninsula Rail Traffic in 2030. It shows statewide train traffic on the HSR network, based on CHSRA's 2008 business plan. It does not include non-HSR trains that HSR will share track with in sections such as Fullerton-Anaheim.

Hi-Resolution Version

For Anaheim, CHSRA is apparently forecasting 2-3 trains in each direction per hour during a six-hour peak window. Of those, 60% would head up to the SF peninsula and 40% to Sacramento. There appear to be no plans to terminate trains in Los Angeles. Today, Metrolink's Orange county line between LA and Oceanside is served by up to 3 trains per hour each way during rush hour, but far fewer during the day. Amtrak Pacific Surfliner adds one more. If there were a 100% increase in legacy train operations by 2030, we'd still only be talking about 10-11 passenger trains running on the existing dual track alignment between Fullerton and Anaheim. That's a 6-minute headway, quite busy but not extremely so, provided that all trains run pretty much on time. I don't know how many freight trains run through Anaheim station today, let alone in 2030. That's a wildcard.

In a comment on the March 10 post entitled LA - San Diego: Quo Vadis?, yeson1a suggested that CHSRA might want to keep it simple and stupid (KISS): continue on to San Diego by staying on the 91 corridor from Fullerton through Corona and switching to the I-15 median there. This option has not been studied by CHSRA and would not be considered unless securing a ROW past Ontario airport proves impossible or too expensive. Yeson1a's alternative would leverage the investment already made for LA Union Station - Fullerton in phase I. A connector from Anaheim to Atwood would permit a capacity-defined subset of HSR trains to detour from the main line to Anaheim. If desired, some of the rest could stop at a no-frills auxiliary station in Fullerton. Norwalk/Santa Fe Springs would then only be served by some of the trains that make the detour into Anaheim. The route would probably feature and intermodal with Metrolink in Corona, with the option for a regular secondary station in Lake Elsinore, though Murietta would be fairly close by.

View Larger Map

The principal downside of this idea is that neither Ontario airport not Riverside are on the route. However, a possible phase II/III spur up to Las Vegas could give the downtown areas of Riverside, San Bernardino and Victorville HSR stations. Passengers hailing from Northern California would likely prefer a shorter spur off the starter line at Mojave. Perhaps both will end up getting built someday, with tracks joining up in Barstow. Such a full build-out would, however, require quite a bit of magic dust from the money fairy.


Robert Cruickshank said...

Great stuff as always, Rafael.

You're absolutely right about the ROW south of Fullerton. Especially in Orange and Santa Ana there are houses right up against the tracks. There isn't a whole lot more room through much of Irvine or Lake Forest either, and there would be difficulties in convincing Mission Viejo and San Juan Capistrano to support widening the ROW through their towns as well.

And that doesn't even begin to mention the problems with the bluffs above Capistrano Beach and San Clemente, which have blocked tracks there before. There literally isn't space for HSR trains through that corridor, narrowly hugging the beach at the base of the bluffs.

So it seems best to let the HSR line terminate at ARTIC.

Clem said...

@Rafael, interesting discussion. FYI I did not create that traffic diagram. It is ripped off directly from the CHSRA's 2008 business plan.

Spokker said...

San Juan Capistrano is also a majorly historical tourist destination. Its station is single track. I wouldn't even try. The most you could do was go under Capistrano or put HSR around it. Surfliners and Metrolink would continue to service the city.

San Juan Capistrano, Sorrento Valley and beachfront NIMBYs must have been what initially scared off the CAHSRA from considering taking HSR down the Surf Line in the first place.

"Especially in Orange and Santa Ana there are houses right up against the tracks."

The drama on the peninsula is going to be nothing compared to Orange and Santa Ana.

However, I don't think it's a lost cause to take the train to Irvine. If top speed is going to be 79 MPH anyway and they succeed in convincing the FRA to allow them to operate HSR with Metrolink/Amtrak and with freights delegated to nighttime activity, it shouldn't make more noise than the trains currently rumbling through the area today.

Spokker said...

Speaking of ARTIC, I was asked to take a survey a couple years ago that asked me what kind of solution I'd like to see that would connect the station to area destinations like the Convention Center, Disneyland, etc.

I strongly stated my preference for (mostly) grade separated rail, preferably standard light rail as opposed to a monorail. I said that if they expect tourists to take HSR to Disneyland, conventions, baseball/hockey games, there better be some good connections. Shuttle buses aren't going to do the trick. Most tourists won't take the city bus either. Monorail isn't desirable because it wouldn't be able to hook into any future OC light rail lines. It might even be able to connect to Metro's proposed Santa Ana branch if it ever gets off the ground.

More information on the project is at the OCTA's web site. At least this shows that Anaheim and the OCTA is on-board with HSR and have a plan in the works.

Anonymous said...

If I may correct, the Magic Kingdom is actually a thousand miles EAST of of California.

Spokker said...

"If I may correct, the Magic Kingdom is actually a thousand miles EAST of of California."

Hah, this isn't exactly a Disney blog, but if rafael wants to he can consult me for any and all information about Disneyland :)

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 1:13pm -

there's always one nitpicker, isn't there ... I plead artistic license.

Robert Cruickshank said...

And just now I was listening to No Doubt's classic "Tragic Kingdom" album.


Maybe we can get Gwen on board the inaugural train to ARTIC. Even in 2018 she will still be beautiful.

Devil's Advocate said...

ROW is a big problem in the SF Peninsula as well. My office is next to the Caltrain rail in San Mateo. I can look at it while I type this post. I've seen the HSR ROWs in EU, and how wide they are, and I don't see how they can fit 2 HSR tracks here. Unless they totally do away with Caltrain (and still they need to rip apart some houses and roads along it). Obviously I don't think it's feasible to have HSR and Caltrain share the same 2 tracks. I see Caltrain running trains every few minutes in each direction, there is simply not a sufficient window for a fast train to go through and not bump into them. I don't think there is a problem with freight trains uphere (I've never seen any, unless they run only at night when I'm not in the office). Anyhow, I see this ROW issue as a big hurdle for the HSR in California's major metros. For the peninsula, one alternative would be to do away with Caltrain (and have HSR in its place), and replace Caltrain with a BART extension from Milbrae to San Jose on an elevated line above the HSR. Otherwise the only option is to buy lots of houses and building alongside the Caltrain rail (let's hope they all foreclose soon)

Rafael said...

@ Robert Cruickshank, Spokker -

if HSR were to hook south to Cudahy from a point just east of Redondo Junction, it could reach a dead straight ROW immediately west of I-5 that runs out to Disneyland. It might be possible to extend the Metro Green Line not just west to LAX but also east to an HSR station in Norwalk proper and out to Metrolink Santa Fe Springs in a tunnel. There's residential housing between the east end of the 105 and the tracks, also a small park that might have to be sacrificed temporarily. The tubes for a Green Line extension east might have to be bored (yuck), but at least they would be fairly short (~2.5mi) and, you'd have connecting transit to LAX and Redondo Beach to show for it.

The HSR tracks in Norwalk could run at grade if (part of) the ROW is available, to the naked eye it looks wide enough to add a track on either side. None of this would come cheap, but it might be worth it if BNSF won't give up land on its 91 ROW.

The I-5 railroad ROW is secondary but it probably belongs to UPRR - always a problem. The line appears to go out to Seal Beach NWC, there are still heavy freight cars parked on it (possible STRACNET issues). There's also an old branch line that crosses I-5 just north of Disneyland. I'm not suggesting reviving that to get to ARTIC, since it used to run in the middle of city streets.

But: perhaps the location could be used to hop onto the I-5 median from underneath and dive back out again at the Anaheim Blvd exit to reach ARTIC on dedicated tracks via the utility ROW there. If there's a way to fight through NIMBYland in Orange, to where the tracks intersect I-5 just north of Santa Ana Metrolink station, it would be possible to hop back onto the I-5 freeway median.

Alternative: follow the I-5 railroad ROW south and tunnel under Disneyland, putting an underground HSR station for Anaheim centered on Paradise Way/S Disneyland Dr and parallel to Katella, then hop right back onto I-5 - bypassing ARTIC altogether. Plenty of parking, though obviously this variation would require close co-operation with Disney Corp.

Passengers that really want to go to ARTIC could use the monorail. The video shows an extension is now planned, though it was meant to shuttle HSR passengers to Disneyland, not the other way around!

Suitably pre-blighted and relatively straight, using the I-5 median lanes or an aerial above them would avoid tangling with high surf and uber-NIMBYs in San Clemente/Del Mar. Wind gusts might be a problem, so aerials should only be used if they are really needed. Punctual service at 125mph plus WiFi would do very nicely compared to the status quo, so no need to maximize the pouring of concrete for the sake of shaving a few more minutes off the trip time. The views in Camp Pendleton should be nice enough, even at grade.

It's hard for me to judge the gradient profile of I-5, though. No doubt there would be some interesting vertical clearance issues with existing overpasses if HSR is on an aerial: both it and the left traffic lanes would need to dip down to minimize construction cost and hassle.

On the plus side, I-5 goes all the way down to San Diego. Hop off just south of La Jolla to reach the multimodal terminal planned for Lindbergh Field. Amtrak Pacific Surfliner, Metrolink and NCTD Coaster would all suffer, but that may be ok: all of them depend on tenuous operating subsidies from counties and/or the dysfunctional state of California.


If you're a hardcore freeway median man, stay on it all the way to the 905 interchange and head east to a remodeled Brown Municipal field or, a cross-border airport with Tijuana featuring a second parallel runway that would be mostly on the US side.


Or, you could consider something even more radical: terminate HSR in San Diego as planned and construct a brand-new large airport serving both OC and San Diego counties, located smack in the middle of Camp Pendleton next to I-5 and the railroad tracks, with a couple of long runways parallel to them. 24/7 operations, high speed cargo and A380s would present no problems.

All that assumes the Marines will permit it and some weapons programs get canceled to pay for it all. Those NIMBYs have guns, though. Big ones.

If you go that route, massively scale back the Lindbergh Field project and turn the land into a swank new TOD district to help pay for "Pendleton Airport".

The whole idea is analogous to my tireless efforts ;^) on behalf of Castle Airport near Merced, but of course that is a former military base.

Eric said...

ROW is a big problem in the SF Peninsula as well. My office is next to the Caltrain rail in San Mateo.

Seriously, dude, this has been covered ad nauseum in this blog. Check out the last month or two of posts. San Mateo is the least of the problem.

looking-on said...

Spoker writes:

"The drama on the peninsula is going to be nothing compared to Orange and Santa Ana.

Dream on, dream on. They won't get out of the courts for at least 5 years on the peninsula. The extremely poor work, design work done not by railroad people (as Rafael as noted) but almost completely dictated by political interests will prove to be the undoing of the project.

Rafael hit the target dead on when he said "the current proposal went over like a lead balloon (referencing Palo council meeting).

Brandon in San Diego said...

I'd support the CHSRA revisiting the alignment between LA Union Station and San Diego. As planned, the travel time is approximately 1hr 45m. That seems to be a very minor benefit relative to the existing surfliner at approximately 2hrs 15min.

Up the coast as originally planned is fine with me; however, it seems an additional alignment is perhaps viable linking Temecula/Mutrrieta to Irvine... albeit with expensive tunnels through mountains and under suburban areas. The benefit is more than just more timely travel linking San Diego to the rest of the state; it includes potentially substantial oeprating cost reductions (note very freq service to San Diego; 7-8 trains per hour at peak times), and the removal of a segment between Riverside and Temecula/Mutrrieta. Imo, that segment is not necessary if another path is identified. Additionally, perhaps overall service could be reduced because less is needed due to going straight through Orange County. Does Riverside and San Bernardino need as much service as what is needed for Orange County (2-3 trains per hour at peak times)?

What I very much think needs to occur is that local leaders in San Diego need to step forward and begin planning for the inevitable... the arrival of HSR service at Santa Fe Depot.

Thus far, there has been near zero discussion outside of a super transit hub at Lindbergh Field... and HSR service was used to boost the argument of that hub.

Unfortunately, due to San Diego being in the extreme corner of the country, the region is an origin and destination... not a hub. Transferring between airplanes and HSR would be nominal, if at all... and with additional stations in University City, Escondido and Murrieta/Temecula... an HSR station at the airport is not really needed. An airport station would additionally cost the region in lost HSR commuters to downtown as the airport station is too far from downtown to provide service FOR downtown... it would require a transfer. Santa Fe Depot is downtown and offers much more robust transit service than an airport station would for those needing travel to points beyond.

Unfortunately, Santa Fe Depot has a similar challenge as the Transbay Terminal, but not as extreme. SFD is long enough at about 1400 feet; however, there is insufficient width for that entire length for 4 trains, imo.

Previous CHSRA literature indicates that 4 train dwell locations would be needed. I think a solution is possible; however, could be similar to what was raised for the Trans Bay Terminal; vertical stacking of at least one train/platform.

Of note, I am uncertain the 7-8 peak train volume to San Diego has been reconciled with the 4 train dwells and platforms; however, heavier maintenace functions were scoped at as occuring elsewhere.

I think the region should also tackle the existing conditions of limited LRT capacity downtown; which is currently near its cap due to operating at-grade in city streets with peak period ridership near load limits. Going underground, at least downtown, and enabling longer trains and more frequent service would fix that... and the LRT system currently services Santa Fe Depot.

Back to HSR... As for extending service south of downtown San Diego, such as to Imperial Beach or the San Ysidro border... imo it is a non-starter if proposed in the current RR ROW due to insufficient ROW. Additionally, LRT is already provided there, which is among the most used in the country at 60-70k riders a day.


As an aside, Orange County is not the State's second largest county by population; San Diego surpassed the OC a couple years ago with a marginally slightly higher growth rate. SD is approximatley 25k more than OC at 3.146m

Term in SJ said...

Brandon - Very minor indeed - you might also compare 45 minute Caltrain from SF to SJ to 30 minutes CHSR from SF to SJ. (Caltrain at a fraction of the ticket price.)

Now add in all the ROW headaches and property value destruction...

Really worth it?

Now what about this..
"Especially in Orange and Santa Ana there are houses right up against the tracks. There isn't a whole lot more room through much of Irvine or Lake Forest either, and there would be difficulties in convincing Mission Viejo and San Juan Capistrano to support widening the ROW through their towns as well." Huh? I don't get it - why the double standard? OK to force this down the Peninsula, but not OK in SoCal?

Or is that Disneyland picture all we REALLY need to know about CHSR?

Justin Walker said...

A few comments:

1) The "91 Line" is the name for Metrolink service along this BNSF line between Los Angeles and Riverside. The BNSF line itself, however, is usually called "the Transcon," as it's BNSF's "transcontinental" rail line from LA to Chicago.

2) The short line used by Metrolink IEOC trains between Orange, Anaheim Canyon, and the Transcon is called the Olive Subdivision and belongs to Metrolink.

Spokker said...

"Huh? I don't get it - why the double standard? OK to force this down the Peninsula, but not OK in SoCal?"

Because there is room on the Caltrain row for two more tracks. Clem's analysis has estimated that only four acres and land takings will be needed to achieve this. There is really no room on the Metrolink-owned ROW between Anaheim and Santa Ana for two more tracks.

yeson1a said...

The CAHSR selection criteria from the 2008 business plan states that HSR south of Anaheim is unlikely thru Orange and Santa Ana. Was there not a light rail plan for Orange County? As far as the difference between Caltrains Row and Orange county just looking at google shows you how much wider Caltrain is.

Spokker said...

"Was there not a light rail plan for Orange County?"

Yes, but opposition chipped away at it until it ceased to be.

Centerline has become Bravo!, an oft-delayed rapid bus that should have started in 2008. It's now scheduled to start in the Summer of 2010.

The OCTA has devoted an entire section of its web site to its impeding financial collapse. A presentation to the board described a "worst case scenario" that would see half of OCTA's bus operations cut.

Transit agencies across the country are in awful shape.

mike said...


Not sure where you are getting the 2'15" carding - the fastest Surfliners are carded at 2'40", and many are 2'50" or longer. Maybe it would be 2'15" if they made no stops.

Rafael said...

@ Brandon -

afaik, the LA-SD non-stop line haul time for HSR via Riverside was supposed to be 1h 15m. Where did 1h45m come from all of a sudden?

But yes, a straight shot down the coast would be around 30 miles shorter. In any case, San Diego county needs to plan ahead and figure out where exactly it wants the trains to stop and where it wants to put the overnight parking/cleaning yard. IMHO, Santa Fe depot is a beautiful historic (or at least fake historic) structure that would be marred by a second deck above ground. It would be significantly easier and just as useful - if not more so - to construct 4-6 platform tracks on a second deck at the planned multimodal terminal. Note that current plans include two tracks but no platform nor any way to get to them. The undulating roof line of the design will have to be raised/changed. The terminal will be served by two trolley lines plus all of the legacy heavy rail services and, it will provide parking and rental car facilities for both the airport and HSR.

If need be, that terminal could be the southern terminus of the line and those tracks would double as overnight parking. However, since there are no plans for any overnight parking at all in LA, capacity is a huge issue. CHSRA/Caltrain will probably need to acquire the old Brisbane yard and/or some trains will have to be parked at the huge Newhall yard in Santa Clara (currently earmarked for BART only).

Btw, any HSR extension down to the Southland would use either the I-5 median or the BNSF ROW west of I-5, which is out of service south of the harbor in National City. The blue line trolley runs east of I-5 and would not be impacted.

If SD wants to put its trollys underground in the downtown area, that would be a project separate from HSR.

@ Term in SJ -

if at first you don't succeed, try and try again. A solution that is acceptable to the peninsula can and will be found. The fight will be over how to pay for it, because any alternative will cost more than a retained fill high enough to keep cross roads at grade.

Btw, the main reason CHSRA shied away from even trying to run down to SD via the coast is because LAWA desperately wants to relieve LAX by putting an HSR station at Ontario. They're not really being more sensitive to concerns raised by folks in OC, they just really wanted to do something else anyhow. Note how Anaheim wasn't even part of phase I for the longest time.

If no ROW can be secured for that the detour past Riverside isn't worth it. In that case, it would better to pencil that city and San Bernardino in for a future spur to Las Vegas along the BNSF line, if that's available. The airport could be leveraged well enough via dedicated high speed superbus lines.

The worst outcome of all would be an HSR station half a mile or more from the Ontario terminals with no money left over for a connecting people mover/shuttle bus service. No-one's going to hoof it for that distance with suitcases in tow on a hot summer day.

Peter said...

Here's a new SF Gate article about TTBT's train box. CAHSR wants to upgrade the box to be 2-story and be able to turn 12 trains / hour.

They say that's 3x the capacity from the current plan of 4 tph. Isn't the current plan 4 platforms of HSR and 2 platforms of Caltrain? Are they really planning 1 hour turn times as their baseline?

Herbie said...

Another way to deal with the capacity issues at the TBT is to reduce the number of trains that serve the station. Let's say that in the future, a second transbay tunnel is built that can accomodate HSR. The new crossing would allow through routing 17 LA-SF trains onto Sacramento via Altamont or the Capital Corridor, decreasing the throughput by 3 tph to only 6-7 tph.

BruceMcF said...

@ Herbie ... I thought the TBT was in San Francisco? There is going to be a TransBay Terminal in Anaheim too?

On the point, yes, either a through route, or an alternate terminus. With the high capacity local transport focused at TBT, you'd want the main HSR terminus there, but at the frequencies of some services, especially the LA express, alternate SF/SJ/LA/Anaheim terminating at a different location in San Francisco would both avoid any risk of stressing the capacity of the TBT (12tph is certainly within the maximum capacity of four platforms, but some might argue if it can be maintained as an average) ... and increase the transport options to travelers.

Note that secondary or extension terminus stations can be added in Stage 2 or 3, when capacity at the TBT box becomes a live issue, so it wouldn't get tangled with the stage 1 24 station limit.

Herbie said...


So this is where my comment went. Didn't mean to further push this thread off-topic as I intended to post my comment on the previous article.

TGV Americain said...

Where did you guys see enough room for two more tracks along Caltrain line in the peninsula? You'd better come up with the money to purchase property, buildings and streets running along it? Once Californians find out about all these issues with the ROW and the cost to purchase all this land along the route in some expensive Bay Area and LA locations, your HSR will be scaled down to connect Bakersfield to Gilroy, at best. There are plenty of people who would love to take that fast train to get to the garlic festival. You can then call it TGV (The Garlic Vehicle)

Matt said...

The deal with OC communities and the peninsula communities is much different. There is room for 4 tracks through almost all the caltrain corridor. See the previous posts on caltrain ROW. Not so with Fullerton to Irvine. Plus at the end of the Caltrain line is San Fransisco. At the end of the line south of Anaheim is...Irvine.

Also just because you change your name 4 times and post the same message does not make it true

Rafael said...

@ Peter, Herbie, BruceMcF -

Anaheim ARTIC is roughly the OC equivalent of SF's Transbay Terminal project, but CHSRA is not as aggressive on the tph target because of that Fullerton=Anaheim-Irvine stretch and, because OC is far more addicted to cars than SF.

Note that full-length bi-level high speed train has capacity for over 1000 passengers (specifically, 1634 for the E4Max shinkansen @ 150mph and 1100 for the TGV Duplex @ 186mph - SNCF/Alstom are already developing an AGV Duplex for ~1200 @ 220mph).

Realistically, will California HSR ever need to run 12tph into and out of the Transbay Terminal? Even if the answer to that were yes, which I doubt, four tracks plus two tail tracks for light housekeeping/cleaning would be enough with proper operations planning and related staff levels, something the politicians and civil engineers at CHSRA apparently know squat about. We're not building a freeway here, it's a railroad. More concrete is not the only possible answer.

Trains on the starter line needs to stop at both SF and the south bay to build ridership. Once it materialized, operators can terminate some trains in San Jose to avoid tph problems on the peninsula line and into the SFTT. All it takes is some common sense, e.g. VTA using only part of the gargantuan Newhall yard for BART, with the rest reserved for overnight parking of standard-gauge trains. Alternatively, BART could be underground there to double capacity (or at grade with HSR underground if getting a ROW to Gilroy proves impossible and the route has to be switched to Altamont-via-SantaClara/SJC).

@ TGV americain -

75 feet is (just) enough for four tracks and most of the Caltrain ROW is at least that wide. CPUC requires 14' of track centerline separation and that's doable. Max speed in the peninsula will be 125mph, fast but not very fast. What CHSRA is proposing in the peninsula is close to the technical feasibility limit but not beyond it. The issues are political and financial feasibility.

Adirondacker said...

"nor any for the safe design and operation of 25kV AC overhead catenary systems."

The NEC uses it between New Haven and Boston. NJ Transit uses it. This isn't in FRA territory but commuter lines in Montreal use it.

BruceMcF said...

Rafeal: "Note that full-length bi-level high speed train has capacity for over 1000 passengers (specifically, 1634 for the E4Max shinkansen @ 150mph and 1100 for the TGV Duplex @ 186mph - SNCF/Alstom are already developing an AGV Duplex for ~1200 @ 220mph).

Realistically, will California HSR ever need to run 12tph into and out of the Transbay Terminal?

Realistically, its only some of the routes that will use full length, bi-level trains. Looking ahead, as one should for such permanent infrastructure at the route map, a peak period could entail 4 Anaheim trains, mix of local and express, 4 San Diego trains, semi-express and express, 2 Sacramento trains, 1 Fresno train and 1 Las Vegas train. That'd be 12.

Maybe 4, maybe 5 of those would be bi-level, duplicate sets, and certainly few would be leaving SF close to full, but the trainbox has to be built to serve trains to serve routes ... passengers with different destinations are not fungible.

Rafael: "Trains on the starter line needs to stop at both SF and the south bay to build ridership. Once it materialized, operators can terminate some trains in San Jose to avoid tph problems on the peninsula line and into the SFTT."

I hope that wasn't part of the "to BruceMcF" part ... I mentioned the possibility of an alternative terminus in SF for some services in Stage 2 or 3. The original terminus for stage 1 has to be where the densest local transport capacity is available, if at all possible, and in SF that is the TransBay Terminal.

I don't think that 12 tph is problematic for train operations, but it might be for passenger flow. A secondary terminus for one or two high frequency routes will naturally attract precisely that patronage that is originating or destined with a more convenient connection to the secondary terminus, so it would both reduce any bottlenecks at the main terminus and also reduce cross haul traffic.

Rafael said...

@ BruceMcF -

SF has a population of 700,000. It won't ever need a second HSR station.

If HSR becomes as popular as we all would like, then at least 3 of your 12 tph could simply terminate in the south bay, i.e. SJ Diridon or SantaClara/SJC depending on route out of Bay Area or else, at Millbrae/SFO. That implies either reserving part of the huge Newhall yard for standard gauge trains or else, buying the old Brisbane yard north of SFO.

Also consider that high popularity would create a lot of political pressure to build a spur from the south bay up to Oakland or else, one across from Stockton to Pittsburg/Bay Point BART near Concord. That pressure would be less severe if SF station truly intermodal with BART, e.g. at Market & 7th.

Additional HSR tracks not needed if Altamont gets built after all, East Bay passengers will then just use BART to get to an intermodal station in Fremont Warm Springs or Livermore.

In any conceivable scenario, the SF HSR station will never see enough foot traffic to have a capacity problem with four platform plus two tail tracks. It's a non-issue.

Brandon in San Diego said...

I was incorrect about travel times when comparing current Pacific Surfliner service vs. planned HSR service. HSR is planned to be much faster... improving trip time from San Diego to LA Union Station from 2:40 to 1:18. That is much much quicker!

My error can be attributed to a buggy laptop being sent back to HP and relying on memory and being charged time to jump on a comp at an internet cafe! My bad.

That said, I remain curious about travel time reductions if the San Diego line was re-routed as described above, Murrieta/Temecula straight to Irvine, and if the time and operational savings were justifiable. I suspect not if the distance change is only reduced by 30 miles as someone estimated above.

That said...


I disagree with you concerning a station at Lindbergh being just as functional. An airport station is not downtown and would have very little, if any, function for regular weekday commuters. It would require a transfer and transfers kill usage.

Due to location, San Diego is an origin/destination... not a hub. Long-distance travelers going through Lindbergh and transfering between HSR and planes would be extremely unusual. That bares repeating; extremely unusual. Perhaps non-existant. Did someone take a wrong turn? Or, are they on the Amazing Race?

We can assume with certainty that local airport users potentially arriving/leaving by HSR from nearby stations would be very likely be a nominal number compared to the regular weekday commuter market.

HSR users not related to the airport do not need to seek access to the system at Lindbergh when stations are planned at University City, Escondido and Murrieta/Temecula. Or, if they were destined to another airport... they do not need to 'check-in' at Lindbergh.

The one benefit I can see, if one can call it that, is that there would be plenty of access to rental car vendors and parking. But, should driving be incentivized? I think not.

And this option makes me wonder if there is a relationship between Mayor Sanders, ex-State Senator Steve Peace, and Padre owner/developer Jim Moores... as Peace works for Moores and Moores has development rights adjacent to the proposed Lindbergh mega transit terminal. Sanders appointed Steve Peace to sit on a committee to consider a transit terminal. Not known is if Moores's recent divorce and posting for sale of the Padres will additionally result in divesting any development opportunities adjacent to the airport.

Nevertheless, the planned station is to serve downtown and not in a suburban area or in the Sacramento or San Joaquin valley's where ample parking should be anticipated and planned. Downtown Santa Fe Depot has ample transit access whereas Lindbergh does not.

As to transit service, Lindbergh only has 1 trolley line running by it with the possibility of a second; no guarantee. (The planned mid-coast extention may terminate at Old Town and not come into downtown. the Green Line will be extended to downtown, but at that point the Blue Line will be pulled back to either SFD or America Plaza.)

Yes, if the Trolley went underground it should be a local funding responsibility.

It is my understanding that CHSRA is considering a below-grade alignment in the vicinity of Lindbergh Field... and thus likely into downtown too. (fwiw, a poster on skyscraper spoke to having 1st hand knowledge of such planning eforts when zero public information to the affect).

Below grade makes a lot of sense in this area as much has changed since the CHSRA adopted a preferred alignment and staion location that was above grade. The downtown 2x4 mega block to host the station now has an additional 4 residential towers and 2 planned towers immediately adjacent to SFD.