Thursday, April 9, 2009

Infrastructurist Compares HSR Projects Around the World

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

Yonah Freemark, who runs the excellent The Transport Politic, also writes for Infrastructurist where earlier this week he posted a a great chart comparing HSR projects around the world, including our own:


(Click for full size image)

The chart compares our project to the Beijing-Shanghai HSR route, Argentina's TAVe, Israel's Tel Aviv-Jerusalem route, HSL Zuid from the Netherlands to Belgium and Paris, Lyon-Torino, and Saudi Arabia's HSR plan. Our cost per mile is third highest, but does much better than the shorter HSL Zuid line and is comparable with the Lyon-Torino line (whose high costs are likely due to Alpine tunneling).

It also shows a wide difference in what is actually considered as "high speed rail" - only our project, Argentina's, and China's will provide average speeds above 150 mph.

Ultimately this shows that California is actually getting a lot of bang for our buck. We're getting a much longer route than the higher cost trains in Europe. Sure, we're not looking at Chinese levels of cost, but then I don't think we will either want or would accept the labor standards and wages of China either.

25 comments:

resident said...

California hasn't even properly costed out their 'preferred route' yet. Why don't you wait until CHSR gets some actual design and proper and appropriate mitigation costs on the table before you pull something patting yourselves on your own backs too much.

Its known from sea to shining sea at this point that CHSRA grossly low balled their costs estimates to get voters and legislators to swallow measure 1A - their Program EIR isn't worth the paper its written on.

And if they used the appropriate and realistic (much lower that 125mph) speeds between the 50 mile SF to SJ segment, to the realistic 100mph average (100mph average at best, often with speeds MUCH lower than this), what does that do to the 'truth' of California's 'true high speed' rail average?

Robert - your blog is like a marketing BS machine - spew forth whatever favorable nonsense you can to try to brainwash whoever's reading (your loyal followers mostly). Maybe you and they ought to try some critical thinking on some of this stuff, if you dare.

NOnimbys said...

This post has nothing to do with Palo Alto.

jim said...

So it looks like we are most similar to argentine but 6 times the price.

jim said...

Fo course they probably pay their labor 2 cents per hour.

HR said...

This is trivial but it is insulting: the little subtext if you rollover the image says "womencantdrive". Wow.

HR said...

Sorry, meant to detail it: it's the larger image on the linked page, not the main image.

resident said...

Jim, it sure as hell does! Because you're ruining Palo Alto and all the other Peninsula cities for the sake of a bunch of half baked lies and false promises.

If it doesn't have anything to do with Palo Alto, and your sick of talking about Palo Alto - thank CHSRA for 'preferring' such a ludicrous route. With their moronic decision, they've virtually guaranteed that every single move they make, and every conversation you and Robert and Rafael have for the next 2-20 years regarding California High Speed Rail, will have EVERYTHING to do with Palo Alto. It DID NOT have to be that way. THEY chose it to be so. Thank them.

NOnimbys said...

NO "parent/PA marcher/ NIADA!!
your none stop whinning is because your a "PRINCESS"

Rafael said...

@ resident -

enough with the threadjacking already. We really spent quite enough time on Palo Alto recently. We'll report on it again once there is some actual progress on the project-level EIR/EIS in the peninsula.

The costs of the other global projects are mostly estimates as well, since they haven't been built yet. The exception is the HSL Zuid in Holland, which is almost finished. It runs through one of the most densely populated countries in Europe, as evidenced by the price tag.

FYI, the top speed for an HSR train in the peninsula is slated to be 125mph, the average more like 100mph for an express train, less for one that stops once or twice in-between SF and SJ. Get used to the notion that modern trains can run a lot faster than current Caltrains at a roughly comparable level of environmental impact (some aspects worse, many others better).

Spokker said...

"This is trivial but it is insulting: the little subtext if you rollover the image says "womencantdrive"."

Well, that's why we need more rail lines.

jim said...

@resident - even if hsr didnt thru PA at125 - eventually you can count on caltrain going thru at 110 and just as often. AT least this way everything can mitigated at once and once and for all. and I have to tell you that no one outside of PA gives a rats ass about PA. You guys are waaaaay to self involved.

jim said...

and the more you whine about it the worse you look as the ordinary californians just roll their eyes at you.

Rob Dawg said...

If we could get 800 miles for $30 billion like the chart shows I'd be proud to be a supporter.

Andrew Bogan said...

@jim

Please remember that not everyone in Palo Alto is an irrational NIMBY. Large numbers of Palo Altans want to see HSR built with appropriate mitigations through our city and also recognize the insignificance of any one city or town in a state-wide infrastructure project.

The cost projection variations between countries for HSR systems is indeed very interesting.

Matthew Melzer said...

@ HR:

Look at the 4th comment in the post, from admin. It's a technical goof related to another post criticizing an article from a lad mag about how women supposedly can't drive! So yes, it looks bad without context, but they meant the opposite.

Anyway, that is one stunning graphic. Even if there's cost escalation, California is indeed getting a great deal, especially considering the environmental, geological, and legal hurdles. The only thing standing in the way between high average speeds achieved at a good value and reality is the NIMBY would-be saboteurs.

Their line of reasoning is like small-government conservatives who claim government is incompetent... after their leaders stacked the government with incompetent hack administrators and didn't even control spending in the process!

Alon Levy said...

Robert: the costs given are per mile. So it doesn't really matter that California's system is longer, since the chart has already factored it in.

Spokker said...

Not that it makes much of a difference, but the Beijing Tianjin portion of the Chinese High Speed Rail line is already complete.

Spokker said...

The Argentina project might bomb big time. If you think California's existing mass transit sucks, there have been riots over Argentina's.

Without strong local connections TAVe might not see the ridership it should and embarrass HSR supporters around the world.

jim said...

Andrew Bogan said...
@jim

Please remember that not everyone in Palo Alto is an irrational NIMBY. Large numbers of Palo Altans want to see HSR built with appropriate mitigation" No doubt, I m sure there are more people there who support it or don't care one way or the other but nevertheless, PA is one of those places that has an image problem among ordinary working folks, so when they get huffy, people do roll their eyes and say " oh them again"

jim said...

anyway when CAN we expect the trains to actually start running? 2030 or 2040 I'd like to not be riding in a wheelchair.

Rob Dawg said...

We all know We'll be lucky to get anything less than $100m/mi. The good deal everyone is seeing is based on $65m/mi.

無名 - wu ming said...

that chinese line from beijing to shanghai will be awesome, once it's done. two huge cities, and some of the most godawfully flat, ugly landscape in the world between them. shazam!

the amazing thing is that that's just one of about 10 lines they're putting in. people love to scoff at the silliness of building HSR across the country, but china's pulling it off on a very similar geographic scale.

once oil goes back to its peak oil-driven parabolic rise, those countries with electric rail are going to have far healthier economies than those who don't. CA is seriously hedging that risk, and insulating ourselves from that commodity inflation, by getting this line done.

Andre Peretti said...

I don't think Argentina's HSR will be built anytime soon. The country is virtually bankrupt and so is the French fund (Natixis) which was to have financed it. Natixis had invested heavily in the American subprime market. 3 million French people (including myself) bought shares at €19.55. They are now worth €2.25. That makes it very unlikely for Natixis to be able to fund any big project.

Alon Levy said...

The Israeli line isn't really HSR - it's barely even rapid rail. And it connects two cities of which one will have one or two light rail lines, and the other has no rail transit.

Niels Reedijk said...

I'd like to add some context to the assertion that "Our cost per mile is third highest, but does much better than the shorter HSL Zuid line".

Due to the fact that the HSL Zuid runs through the most densely populated areas and across a river delta (near Rotterdam), the track requires a lot of tunneling. Furthermore, the track also crosses a protected nature area known as the Green Heart (het Groene Hart) through a five mile tunnel.

(That tunnel is a political compromise. Really, the author should realize that his tone when it comes to tunneling is completely out of touch with the political reality).

Know I don't know the origin of the numbers here, and I would have to verify to be sure, but I think a part of the cost comes from related projects, such as new train stations at Rotterdam and Breda, but also a big piece of railroad track reconstruction (an eight track wide above-ground tunnel near Barendrecht).

I also think a part of the cost comes from the reconstruction of two freeways. The A4 was moved and widened, as well as the A16, which was moved, widened and also had four freeway interchanges reconfigured.

Please also note that most of the soil in the Netherlands is clay, which means that the complete length of the track needs a foundation.

All in all, I doubt whether the price per mile comparison 'works' when you consider in California a large part of the track is over relatively easy terrain.

Have a look at the project's website (in English): http://www.hslzuid.nl/hsl/uk/hslzuid/index.jsp