Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Two Thursday Meetings

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

Tomorrow, Thursday May 28th, will see two meetings on the high speed rail project. I can't attend either of them, but hopefully you can!

First up is an FRA meeting in Rancho Cordova (Sacramento suburb) from 1PM to 4:30PM:

FRA’s High-Speed Intercity Passenger Rail Workshops
Start May 20, To Tour Nation

Dear Stakeholders:

As we begin to implement President Obama’s vision for developing a cohesive national intercity and high-speed passenger rail network. This vision was set forth in FRA’s Strategic Plan for High-Speed Rail (HSR) announced by President Obama, Vice President Biden, and U.S. Transportation Secretary LaHood, and sent to Congress that same day on April 16, 2009.

The workshops will be led by FRA Deputy Administrator Karen Rae or myself. Through these workshops, FRA is reaching out to the rail community in seven regions across the country to seek your input on the Interim Guidance we are required to issue on or before June 17, 2009, for the $8 billion in grant funds provided by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) for the high-speed rail corridors program, intercity passenger rail grants, and congestion grants. The workshops will enable FRA to discuss the HSR Strategic Plan with key stakeholders such as state departments of transportation, regional planning authorities, metropolitan leaders, associations and labor groups (under the ARRA, these workshops exclude the participation of lobbyists).

We seek your input not only to provide us with your regional vision of high-speed and intercity rail networks, but to enable stakeholders to focus on the critical factors that will make this program a success for generations to come.

The goal of the workshop is to take the first steps toward determining how we can best partner together to make the Strategic Plan a reality. During the workshop, you will have an opportunity to share experiences, raise concerns, provide insights, and make recommendations on several key issues and questions, as well as hear those of your colleagues and representatives from a regional perspective. The workshop schedule will include the following:

Introduction 10 minutes
Overview of FRA strategic plan and next steps 30 minutes
Amtrak presentation 15 minutes
Q & A 35 minutes
Regional presentation 30 minutes
Break 15 minutes
Working group break-out 1 hour
Wrap-up 15 minutes

The workshops will be held 1:00 p.m. 4:30 p.m. on the following dates and locations:

California Corridor: Sacramento May 28; Sacramento Marriott Rancho Cordova, 11211 Point East Drive, Rancho Cordova, CA 95742

In addition to participating in the workshop, I am inviting you and other members of the public to submit written comments to FRA by June 5, 2009, on issues that should be addressed in the Interim Guidance and specific recommendations on the criteria to be used in evaluating grant applications. FRA has created a public docket (Docket No. FRA-2009-0045) for the receipt of written comments. Please visit FRA’s Web site at: www.fra.dot.gov/us/content/2236 for information regarding the various ways in which you may submit comments to the public docket.

Please note, additional sessions to aid states with the mechanics of applying for ARRA funds will be scheduled after these workshops, as will informational sessions for industry, labor, intergovernmental and other interested parties.

I look forward to working with you over the coming months to ensure the grant programs funded by ARRA are implemented successfully.

Sincerely,
Joseph C. Szabo
Administrator
The Federal Railroad Administration

The other meeting is in Atherton at 7PM:

The meeting is open to the public, and will be held at the Jennings Pavilion in Holbrook-Palmer Park, 150 Watkins Ave. in Atherton.
Atherton officials, and many of the town's residents, have grave worries about the local effects of the state plan to run high-speed trains along the Caltrain corridor that bisects the town. If the high-speed rail line can't be rerouted to avoid the town, Atherton officials would rather have the train run through a trench or tunnel, instead of on an elevated berm.
The scheduled speakers at the meeting are: Mike Garvey and John Litvinger, public outreach consultants working for the California High Speed Rail Authority; John Townsend, executive vice president of Hatch Mott Macdonald, a leading tunnel-engineering and construction firm; Duncan Jones, Atherton's public works director; Gary Patton, attorney and former director of the Planning and Conservation League; and Jim McFall, who will present a digital model of elevated high-speed rail tracks going through Palo Alto.

I'm really curious about this "digital model" that will be shown. Is it going to be an accurate representation of what an elevated solution could look like, or is it going to be a biased depiction of some kind of Berlin Wall? I hope that the CHSRA has been able to generate some more accurate and realistic digital images of their own.

Update: Thanks to Clem in the comments who links to Jim McFall's video - videos that put the worst possible spin on this, making the HSR grade separation look like an Orange County freeway.

Additionally, I'm curious what the tunneling exec will have to say. Will he explain the price tag of a tunnel? Will Atherton residents have their checkbooks and credit cards ready to go to pay the multi-billion cost of such a tunnel? Only one way to find out - go to the meeting!

If anyone does attend, and wants to write up their impressions of the meeting(s), I'll be happy to post it here unedited.

61 comments:

Clem said...

Jim McFall's model of the Churchill Ave. crossing in Palo Alto is shown on Youtube, here and here. The lineup of speakers definitely says "elevated, bad; tunnel, good!"

Anonymous said...

Since CHSRA isn't sharing any details, other than what they've provided in the Program EIR, why shouldn't he have drawn a picture o what is proposed in the program eir? IF CHSRA has other ideas, what the hell are they waiting for - draw us a picture then? Its not like they haven't been asked for alternative views for months and months and months.

Anonymous said...

ITS called look at the 120 year old railroad...wont be much different.I say keep it at grade with crossing gates..

Bay Area Resident said...

McFalls video is exactly what was proposed, Anonymous is quite right. Archways were not proposed, 15' high concrete walls were, and thats what he is showing.

California Dreaming said...

Why so much discussion over something that will never happen? Ok, it will happen right after gay marriage is recognized in Iran, the pope is a woman, and China elects the first black president. Till then, I think you'll need to make do with dreaming about it in this blog.

Clem said...

@BAR, @anon, McFall is showing a TWENTY-ONE foot retained embankment. That's six feet higher than proposed in the program EIR.

@anon 2:26, the railroad is older than that. It was opened through Palo Alto on January 16, 1864, making it 145 years old.

Clem said...

Correction, Palo Alto didn't exist back then. The railroad was opened through what is today Palo Alto (and was then the budding township of Mayfield) on January 16, 1864, a few weeks before Ulysses S. Grant was named general in chief of the Union army. The man who gave his name to the street shown in McFall's video was not born until another decade after that.

mike said...

@BAR, Clem, etc.

McFall's video is even more inaccurate than Clem notes and is not even close to what has been proposed. In particular, the wall height and the catenary spacing are completely wrong.

1) As Clem notes, the claimed 21' height is already 40% higher than the proposed 15' height. Even worse, however, the depicted height substantially exceeds the claimed 21'. The house at the corner of Churchill and Mariposa is, in real life, ~20' tall, and yet the retaining wall stands 30% taller than that house. The depicted height is around 26'-28', relative to its surroundings (whether the wall is "too high" or the houses are "too low" is irrelevant - either way the wall is being inflated relative to its surroundings). Ultimately, the wall is depicted to be about 80% taller than the proposed height!

2) The catenary pole spacing is absurdly inaccurate. The spacing is set at one pole every ~45' (this is easy to tell because of the football field). In reality, catenary poles are generally spaced over 200' apart (cf New Haven-Boston electrification project). The depicted catenary pole density is at least 4 times too high!

It's also odd that he does not include the existing utility poles on Alma St. At roughly 50', they would dominate even the tops of the catenary poles (catenary poles are 30', and the wall adds another 15').

Devil's Advocate said...

I have a better design for an elevated rairoad in Palo Alto. If it's good enough for Paris, it should be good enough for those people. Click on picture no. 120 in this report about railroads' enviromental impact from the University of Florence, Italy.

http://e-prints.unifi.it/archive/00000189/00/html/4.htm

YESonHSR said...

I for one hope that the people that will be at this meeting from
the CAHSRA will state how wrong this home made version is and present something more true and less raw and ugly.I dont really know if they have any of that nice NC3D stuff even made for the SF-SJ section.

Dan S said...

Bay Area Resident said...
McFalls video is exactly what was proposed, Anonymous is quite right. Archways were not proposed, 15' high concrete walls were, and thats what he is showing.

Even if his video had the right proportions, which obviously it does not, I think it is still misleading to present it as the be-all-end-all final result of the project to which you can either give a thumbs-up or a thumbs-down. As someone who wants to live in PA or MP in the future, I don't want a simple concrete wall going through the city either, and I think we can do a lot better than the current raised structure in San Carlos as well.

I think the right way to counter McFall's presentation is to lead the discussion to what visual mitigation strategies can be applied to a raised-track solution, and what their added costs and net benefits might be.

What would it take to apply a facade to the walls of the elevated tracks consisting of rock, brick, or tile? What about planting ivy, trees, or bushes along the walls? What about shaping the walls with arches? Can we get an architect to design something that would reflect the cultural history of the area, the local architecture of Stanford University, or the historic Spanish missions? What about additional pedestrian / bike underpasses along the newly raised sections? What is the cost of adding a sound barrier of some kind to the tracks?

And I think it is important, when talking about a project to eliminate grade-crossings, to discuss the safety and traffic benefits as well. A lot harder to stall your vehicle on the tracks if they don't cross the road.

End brainstorm.

YESonHSR said...

I guess because its a state project
everbody and their mother can makeup any facts and present it without any worry about legal actions..This guy present this at a PA city council as if it was from CAHSRA itself.Some of the statements I have seen against Kopp/Didrion would be slander in private business.

Anonymous said...

How cool! If I lived in one of the houses against the wall I would get a digital projector and show movies in my backyard.

Spokker said...

Clem has challenged the notion that it has to be a "Berlin Wall" on his blog.

His graphics are just what I imagined. It should be mostly at-grade.

Brandon in San Diego said...

What would it take to apply a facade to the walls of the elevated tracks consisting of rock, brick, or tile? What about planting ivy, trees, or bushes along the walls? What about shaping the walls with arches? Can we get an architect to design something that would reflect the cultural history of the area, the local architecture of Stanford University, or the historic Spanish missions? What about additional pedestrian / bike underpasses along the newly raised sections? What is the cost of adding a sound barrier of some kind to the tracks?I had similar thoughts when the term of 'context sensative design/planning' was forwarded.

That's all I got for now... I am burnt on small town issues.

Anonymous said...

If any of these Peninsula towns think they can cut a deal with the CHSRA they are in for a rude awakening. The CHSRA is like the old Division of Highways in the fifties and sixties - it doesn't "compromise"; it either wins or loses. Any compromise that PA or any other town celebrates won't be worth the paper it is written on.

The CHSRA will simply declare the engineers have found that it can't be done or the budget has been cut and no money left for amenities. It is important for all to realize that the CHSRA engineers, like BART, have taken a blood oath to build elevateds. They don't know how to conceive of anything else. So it is either going to be an elevated along Caltrain or along 101. There won't be any tunnel - get used to it.

The people who are really going to get the shaft are the property owners next to ground zero. Maybe they can sell to some foreign buyers who don't know any better. Once construction starts they are s-o-l.

Ben said...

It is important for all to realize that the CHSRA engineers, like BART, have taken a blood oath to build elevateds.[Citation Required]

jim said...

Simple enough to simply compensate property owners. Besides, that's what they're really holding out for.

Bay Area Resident said...

Devils Advocate, your picture #120 won't work due to scale, the peninsula is single story flat landscapes. And besides I think it was some of the train wonks here who said those archways are prohibitively expensive anyway.

Bay Area Resident said...

whats the issue with an elevated on 101? Wouldn't that be ideal? Personally I'd take that over a tunnel.

Clem said...

whats the issue with an elevated on 101?It's far more expensive than laying tracks on existing railroad land, and it would require the wholesale reconfiguration of just about every 101 interchange... can you imagine the height of that elevated? It would make the BART SFO viaducts look puny. Not to mention that it would need to go over the latter. Then there are issues with flooding, issues with the lack of median in many places, issues with 50ft elevated trains broadcasting sound over the freeway sound walls into communities, issues of freeway curves that are not practical for a train to follow, issues of how to get from Diridon to 101, issues of passenger emergency evacuation from an elevated in the middle of freeway traffic, basically a whole laundry list that will make running trains on the Caltrain corridor seem like a walk in the park.

Put the trains where they belong: in an existing rail corridor that will sooner or later be developed with grade separations whether or not HSR is ever built or ever uses the corridor.

flowmotion said...

And it's too bad too, because the 101 corridor has nearly all of the high-density development on the peninsula. From a commute and economic development standpoint, it would be clearly superior, if only it was feasible. But every inch of ROW on 101 has been filled with auxiliary lanes and so on.

(For those not in the Bay Area, this is the employment center of the region. The traffic outbound from San Francisco is worse than the traffic inbound.)

Adirondacker said...

the 101 corridor...From a commute and economic development standpoint, it would be clearly superior.

HSR isn't going to very useful as a commuter system, on any alignment. It's going have two stops on the Peninsula, at SFO and someplace else. Not particularly useful if you work in Mountain View and your choices of stops are Redwood City or San Jose. . Assuming they even let local passengers get on the HSR trains.

Anonymous said...

"(For those not in the Bay Area, this is the employment center of the region. The traffic outbound from San Francisco is worse than the traffic inbound.)"

Not really. The employment "center" of the Bay Area would be somewhere in the middle of the Bay. The single largest concentration of jobs may now be in the South Bay, but it's much, much, much, much, much more spread out than the concentration of jobs in downtown SF. If you used equivalent areas, downtown Oakland would be included in downtown SF and the total number between those two would be far higher than the South Bay.

I'd be interested to see your source for commute totals heading out of SF to be higher than those heading in (all modes - BART+Caltrain+101+280). I don't doubt that they're similar, but I haven't seen anything definitive that shows what you're proclaiming as absolute fact.

Alon Levy said...

The Census Bureau's county-to-county commute statistics (link) say that there are 59,000 people who live in SF and work in SM or SC Counties, and 80,000 who are the other way around.

Andrew said...

@Anon, 7:55:

"It is important for all to realize that the CHSRA engineers, like BART, have taken a blood oath to build elevateds."

This is the same BART that was forced to build an expensive and superfluous subway through suburban San Mateo County?

jim said...

I hope they use a realistic model at the meeting and not that one that's overblown and inaccurate. Which stop makes the most sense... redwood city palo alto or mountain view? Rewdwood city is already prety close the airport stop, Palo alto is too much trouble mountain view isn't that far from san jose. Well I guess pa is closest to the bridge for the southeast bay folks to get over.

Devil's Advocate said...

@Jim: In terms of access from the US 101 the Caltrain California Ave. Station, near Oregon Xprwy in Palo Alto, is better than the Palo Alto station, and equally close to Stanford Univ. (and closer to HP Hqtrs). For those of us (incl. me) who live across the Dunbarton bridge, the location of the Peninsula station is irrelevant, we would still go to San Jose to catch a train bound for LA and I can't imagine Fremont or Union City residents catching a HST in Palo Alto to go to San Francisco. BART would still be the better option to SF/SFO from South Alameda county. However I still think that the SFO station should be the only Peninsula stop. Palo Alto area residents should go to San Jose via Caltrain or car to catch the train to LA. The current plan has too many stops along the way and speed is essential to compete with air travel between Bay Area and LA. A non express train that stops at minor stations like Palo Alto is likely to take over 4 hours to LA. If I were a Peninsula resident in that case I still would drive to San Jose and catch an express train from San Jose to LA (which would probably stop only in Fresno along the way) instead of taking the slower train from the Palo Alto station. You should look at the examples in other countries. HSTs there make no more than 2 stops along the way between two end destinations. The non express trains Madrid-Barcelona stop only in Zaragoza, the Paris-Marseille stops only in Avignon and/or Aix-en-Provence, the Milan-Rome trains (non express) stop only in Bologna and Florence, the Madrid-Seville stops only in Cordoba. I can't think of too many non express HSTs that make more than 2 intermediate stops along a 500-600 km line. That's why I'm an advocate for stations only in SFO, SJ, Fresno, Bksf, between SF and LA. Obviously non express trains would make no more than 2 stops along the way. For example you could have a train that goes from SFO to Fresno with stop in San Jose only (or with no stops). Or you could have a SF-LA train that stops in Fresno and Bksf, but not SFO or San Jose. Remember speed is essential to compete with air travel because the price is going to be similar in most cases.

jim said...

@Devils - for the most part I agree with you however, I do wish everyone would stop thinking in terms of how long it takes to get to LA. Remember, a lot of the business won't be about getting to LA. the local trains that may take 3 hours to LA will still serve SJC to FNO and other city pairs in a reasonable amount of time. They had to weigh the choices to get the most ridership and the most flexibility. Think of is as a giant BART with express trains available. The "in fill" ridership will come to to be a very significant number.

jim said...

The SFO connection is useful as I expect to see some code sharing with the airlines. The ability to book MSP-FNO via SFO code share will be helpful. Travel is not just business people. It leisure travel, its about friends and families having easy affordable access. Currently, the people I see everyday, only a small number of them are commuters and business people, 90 percent are mid and lower income folk, traveling between friends and families in the bay and valley. ( part of the reason the PA nimby's object to HSR is because they don't want people who are "beneath them" to have access.

Anonymous said...

Of course it is going to stop in Palmdale - that is the real reason it is routed thru the Tehachapis and not the Grapevine.

It would be helpful if those who set on forcing everyone who wishes to go to LA from the Bay Area to go to Fresno first would simply come on out and admit that the HSR was a come-on. What these folks want is just an improved version the train service we already have and not a true HSR. It should then have been sold to the public as evolutionary not revolutionary

Alon Levy said...

DA: the fastest Shinkansen trains between Tokyo and Osaka make intermediate stops at Shinagawa, Shin-Yokohama, Nagoya, and Kyoto. Slower trains make more stops.

Anonymous said...

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2009/05/28/MNLE17S12M.DTL&feed=rss.bayarea

Uh Oh. Where will all the HSR luxury tourists go - back to Disneyland?

Adirondacker said...

However I still think that the SFO station should be the only Peninsula stop. Palo Alto area residents should go to San Jose via Caltrain or car to catch the train to LA.

However I still think that the EWR station should be the only New Jersey stop. Trenton area residents should go to Philadelphia via Septa or car to catch the train to Washington DC.

However I still think that the BWI station should be the only Maryland stop. New Carrollton area residents should go there via MARC or car to catch the train to New York.

However I still think that the New Haven should be the only Connecticut stop. Stamford area residents should go to New Rochelle via Metro North or car to catch the train to Philadelphia.

It's not BART. Just because there is a station there doesn't mean the train has to stop. I haven't checked schedules... Every NJ Transit train that passes through Newark, stops. Almost all Amtrak trains stop. Some Acelas don't. Every NJ Transit train that passes through Princeton Junction, stops. Almost none of the Amtrak trains do and none of the Acelas.

Devil's Advocate said...

@Adirondacker. You say that HSR is not BART, that just because there is a station the train doesn't need to stop. That is true. However stations slow down trains, even the ones that don't stop, and cost money to build. Unless there is a compelling reason for building one, I don't see why Peninsula residents can't take Caltrain to SJ and jump on a HST. If we use your logic, then let's build a station in every town where there is a Caltrain station now. Not all of the HSTs will stop to all stations, but what the heck, if you build it they will come. I also don't expect a lot of people taking these trains for trips under 150 miles (like SJ to FNO). The time savings simply won't justify the extra cost compared to driving. You're always comparing with Europe and Japan, but there car travel costs 3 times as much when you consider gas & tolls.

Devil's Advocate said...

I forgot to add that besides slowing down trains and being expensive to build and maintain, each station adds cost to the daily operations due to the fact that stations generally need to be manned (even Bart has one agent in each). Consider that after the bombing in Madrid, if you want to take an AVE from Barcelona to Madrid you also have to go through security at Sants station (or wherever you board). There are several agents at the metal detectors and I bet they work for money. There are therefore several extra salaries to be paid when you have a station. I'm not saying don't build them, but before you do, do the homework first to find out if it's really worth having one in a specific town.

flowmotion said...

@ Adirondacker -

I think you will probably be proven incorrect, and HSR will function as an integrated piece of the commuter transit system. Even if local passengers aren't allowed on the long-distance trains, high speed CalTrain express service would be just too good to pass up.

Mountain View-SF with a transfer would be more attractive than current baby bullet service. It also makes SF-San Jose a viable commute (which it currently isn't feasible either by car or by rail), and both communities would love that.


@Anonymous -

If it wasn't obvious, by "traffic", I meant automotive traffic. Outbound commuting on CalTrain frankly sucks, not only is the 4th+King station not convenient for most SF residents, the train line just doesn't go near enough to the employment centers.

As for the hope that Palo Alto will densify and start building 15 story office buildings downtown....

Adirondacker said...

However stations slow down trains, even the ones that don't stop.

In poorly designed stations they do. But they don't even in moderately suburban stations. I've posted this before, it's the one with a shot of the radar gun at the end. 148 MPH with nothing more than a yellow stripe painted on the platform. . . and a really annoying announcement... I'm sure other people can dig up YouTube videos of TGVs blowing through the station at 200KPH and Shinkansen blowing through at 225KPH....


then let's build a station in every town where there is a Caltrain station now.If they do it right there will be. It will just be a matter of switching the HSR train from the express tracks to the local tracks for the occasional HSR that stops there. Games at Stanford Stadium come to mind.

The time savings simply won't justify the extra cost compared to driving.If you only consider the cost of gasoline. Wear and tear on the car and wear and tear on the driver come into play too.

I've driven to Washington DC four times in my life. I won't do it unless there is no other alternative. Last time I checked it costs 23 cents a mile to take Amtrak to DC. At $2.50 a gallon of gas it costs me 11 cents a mile, in gas, to drive. Add in tolls and and 5 bucks towards the next oil change the cost is almost the same. On the train I can take a nap, read a book, use my laptop. Can't do any of that while I'm driving. When I need a restroom it's at the end of the car. Can't do that on the Thruway either.

Anonymous said...

@jim: I know of nowhere in the world where air-HSR connections are convenient or reasonably priced. For example, a TGV-codeshare-based AA itinerary from NYC to Lyon costs (in July) nearly $1200, while an air-only itinerary costs only $800. For whatever reason, airlines do not seem to be interested in marketing and competitively pricing HSR connections, even when codeshare agreements exist in theory.

Flying to minor airports is actually often cheaper than flying to major airports. To use your specific example: MSP to FAT on Northwest 7/2-7/16 is currently $221; MSP to SFO on Northwest is $314 (or $219 on low-cost carrier Sun Country, who won't be codesharing with anybody). I don't see how using HSR as part of an MSP to Fresno journey would make any economic sense at all.

Convenience is also an issue. It is not feasible for high speed trains to offer checked baggage service, much less interline bags to airlines. Transferring passengers have to check their bags and pass through security at large, busy airports, which can take a lot longer than at smaller airports.

The Millbrae/SFO stop will likely be more popular for transfer to BART than transfer to air.

Alon Levy said...

DA: the point of having multiple stops is not to enable people to take HSR for trips under 150 miles; it's to enable them to board at a station close to where they leave, and disembark at a station close to where they want to go. In principle you could have trains only stopping at 3-4 stations each, but that would come at the cost of frequency, which would hurt ridership. With the stopping patterns you recommend, no station except SF, LA, and maybe SJ would get more than 2-3 tph, and many markets, for example Sylmar/Burbank to Palo Alto, would require transfers. This is inefficient, because one advantage of trains over planes is that they're better at serving multiple destinations and travel markets.

Bay Area Resident said...

Clem, interesting point about height of a potential 101 elevated alignment having issues with all the interchanges.

But the rest of your points, come on. Issues with sound blasting OVER freeway sound walls? LOL, as opposed to the sound stemming from trains running THROUGH the same neighborhoods? Issues of freeway curves impractical as opposed to the curves between say, Tamien and Diridon in SJ? Issues of how to get in and out of Diridon- how about this, just PLOW THROUGH A NEIGHBORHOOD, after all thats what is currently planned.

Caltrain is not a major rail corridor, sorry

issues with 50ft elevated trains broadcasting sound over the freeway sound walls into communities, issues of freeway curves that are not practical for a train to follow, issues of how to get from Diridon to 101, issues of passenger emergency evacuation from an elevated in the middle of freeway traffic,

jim said...

i think rather than elevated it they should keep it at grade level and put up sound walls.

Anonymous said...

Bay Area Resident - I think Clem's point was that sound going over freeway sound walls would have the same effect as sound going through neighborhoods elsewhere. It doesn't eliminate the problem, just moves it elsewhere.

Caltrain isn't a major rail corridor? How so? Hard to find many other sets of tracks in California that have as many separate trains using them daily.

I lived in Davis literally next to the train tracks for three years. Most people would call that corridor a major rail corridor, yet fewer total trains use it daily.

Adirondacker said...

the point of having multiple stops is not to enable people to take HSR for trips under 150 miles.

Alon, you have a meeting in Albany. Do you want to fly there or do you want to take the pokey ol' Amtrak train?


Takes an hour and twenty minutes to fly from LGA to ALB. Train does it in 2:30ish.

If you want to get to Binghamton your choices are Greyhound, Greyhound's competitors and driving because there are no flights from Binghamton to the three NYC airports. If you want to to get to Ithaca from anywhere, it's Greyhound and it's competitors because Ithaca no longer has commercial air service.

Family of four in Kew Gardens is going to drive to see Grandma in Schenectady. Her single granddaughter in Park Slope, even if she has a car, isn't.

.... Makes me wonder how many tickets Amtrak sells for travel between NYC and Philadelphia, which is only 90 miles....

Which sent me off to Google and things like Nagoya-Osaka shinkansen. Google says it's 178 KM. I found a nice page, in English , about options for train travel between the two. All sorts of options. Nozomi do it in 50 minutes. The kind of options there are between Philadelphia and NY. . . which sounds familiar for some reason... :-)

jim said...

Fiscal 2008 Northeastern Ridership by Route
Acela Express 3.399 million (Washington-New York-Boston)
Northeast Regional (1) 8.299 million (Newport News-Washington-Boston/Springfield)
Downeaster 0.474 million (Boston-Portland)
Keystone 1.184 million (New York-Philadelphia-Harrisburg)
Empire 1.349 million (New York-Albany-Toronto)
Adirondack 0.112 million (New York-Albany-Montreal)
Pennsylvanian 0.201 million (New York-Harrisburg-Pittsburgh)
Vermonter 0.073 million (Washington-New York-St. Albans, Vt.)
Ethan Allen 0.047 million (New York-Albany-Rutland, Vt.)

Total: 15.137 million

jim said...

West Highlights

Western corridor trains achieved record ridership month-after-month throughout the fiscal year. In Southern California, Amtrak Pacific Surfliner service which operates between San Diego and San Luis Obispo, carried more than 2.89 million passengers, a seven percent increase. Ticket revenue was more than $51 million, an increase of nine percent.

In the Central Valley, the San Joaquins service, Oakland/Sacramento to Bakersfield, carried nearly a million passengers (949, 611) an 18 percent increase with $2.9 million in ticket revenue, a 21.6 percent increase. July 2008 ridership topped 100,000 passengers for the first time in the history of this service, a 32 percent increase over July 2007.

In Northern California, more than 1.69 million passengers rode the Capitol Corridor service, Auburn to San Jose, a 16.8 increase over the same period last year. Ticket revenue was up 23 percent, reaching $22 million.

In the Pacific Northwest, ridership on the Amtrak Cascades service, Eugene, Ore. to Vancouver, B.C. was up more than 12 percent (760,323). Ticket revenue exceeded $20 million, an increase of 15 percent. This service has seen double digit increases for the past nine months (January - September 2008)

Paul Herman said...

Anybody go to the meetings? I've read one report of the meeting in Atherton, which you can find here http://www.mercurynews.com/twitter/ci_12475879?source=rss

the quote that I think NIMBY's really need to focus is on this from the article.

John Litzinger, the chief engineer from HNTB who is working on the Peninsula section, appealed to residents to be patient while waiting for specifics and to trust the process.Trust the process. I live in Fresno, and I have concerns too surrounding some of the agriculture grade crossings that could potentially cut off farmers from their own land, but I'm much more in favor of the project overall, and think it'll be a huge part of California's transportation infrastructure that my generation will need (I'm 20). It obvious that the infrastructure path this country has taken will not be viable with just roads and airports, we need rail. Major population centers need high speed rail to connect to other metro centers within their region. Also, smaller metro areas (like Fresno) will be hugely benefitted from this system. Our downtown will be greatly revitalized with a high speed rail system just a few steps from our downtown ballpark, convention center, and business and government centers. It will promote urban development, and discourage sprawl.

These are things every Californian should want. And I think we have the best plan in the United States for high speed rail right now. There isn't a region with more money and such a developed plan.

Fred Martin said...

Why weren't Kopp and Diridon at the meeting? Aren't they supposed to be leaders? They seem to be hiding from meetings on the Peninsula.

CHSRA's public outreach is lamentable, especially when they have to rely on the hired guns from HNTB instead of their public figures.

You can't fault efforts by Jim McFall and other members of the public from modeling their own interpretive designs, while CHSRA and its contractors are stonewalling from providing relevant information with the silly mantra of "trust the process".

Devil's Advocate said...

Alon Levy. You said: In principle you could have trains only stopping at 3-4 stations each, but that would come at the cost of frequency, which would hurt ridership.
I say: That is what SNCF does in France, a lot. Some trains stop in some stations, but not others. By doing so each train doesn't stop more than a limited number of times along the way, but all stations are served throughout a day. It's true that this might go to the detriment of frequency, however that choice increments the average speed of the trains. By doing so SNCF manages to serve all stations while at the same time maintaining the average trip time low for all trains. Evidently they determined that they can better serve the needs of customers that way. An average train set carries 600 passengers, how many people do you think want to go from Bakersfield to Gilroy on an average day? Ok, maybe a lot during the garlic festival.

Anonymous said...

Richard Katz, 58, of Sherman Oaks, has been appointed to the High Speed Rail Authority. Since 1997, he has served as a private consultant for Richard Katz Consulting. From 2001 to 2006, Katz was a senior advisor to Governor Gray Davis for energy and water and, from 1980 to 1996, he was a California State Assemblymember for the 39th Assembly District. This appointment does not require Senate confirmation and the compensation is $100 per diem. Katz is a Democrat.

Alon Levy said...

DA: SNCF gave up on intermediate stop ridership when it decided on building beet field stations. The Shinkansen, which has made a greater effort to serve everyone, manages far higher ridership levels. It does so without sacrificing speed: the average end-to-end speed on the 550-km Sanyo Shinkansen, on trains making 6 stops, is 220-225 km/h, slightly higher than the nonstop LGV Sud-Est's 213 and slightly lower than the nonstop Paris-Marseille route's 237.

According to the CAHSR authority, stops in low-speed areas, such as the Caltrain corridor and the LA basin, add 3 minutes to the total runtime. This means that an SF-LA train making no intermediate stops will be 12 minutes faster than a train also stopping at PA/RC, SJ, Sylmar, and Burbank. The extra speed might lure a few more LAUS-SF riders, but it will kill ridership in the San Fernando Valley and Silicon Valley, both of which are projected to have almost as much demand for HSR as downtown LA and SF.

Bay Area Resident said...

Paul Herman, nobody- repeat NOBODY in the bay area is going to "trust the process" at this point. Almost everybody who implies the bay area is full of Nimbys is completely unfamiliar with the ROUTE they put forth for this train, through every residential district and quaint small town in the bay area. This will ruin the entire quality of life here, it will shut down every top restaurant in the in-town locations (which is most of them), it will ruin property values, schools, what have you. Trust the process is an incredible statement coming from CHSRA when we all know that prop 1A was a deliberate obvuscation of the intent to run this train ABOVE GROUND on a completely inappropriate route to save costs. If fresno wants a train fine, go procure a route somewhere. Not this route.

Martin said...

@BAR

CHSRA is going to "Ruin schools"? Give me a break.

Nonimbys said...

OOOO really BAR..well I have taken Caltrain about 100 times and it is more than able to support an extra pair of tracks and needs GRADE CROSSING protection as I have been on a train that hit something and waited 2 hours to clear it up!! SO NIMBYS are the reason for any Whinning on this issue!! no its you baby NIMS crying REMEMBER it passed by 65 percent here..SO MOVE IF YOU DONT LIKE IT

Anonymous said...

Bay Area Resident is correct. These Peninsula burgs have spent years and lots of money to upgrade their downtowns and simultaneously to curtail slums and skid rows. These down and out areas are always associated with quasi-industrial operations such as the proposed 4-track HSR. The last thing these towns need is a de-gentrification.

A reasonable upgrade and electrification of the existing Caltrain can be accomplished without damage to the adjacent areas. That is because it would remain essentially the same as it is now, albeit cleaner and quieter with electric operation.

Tunneling is too expensive and unnecessary - if the protesters obsess on tunnels the same way the CHSRA is fixating on elevateds they will be painting themselves into a corner.

I do not understand what the problem is with relocating to the 101 corridor. It is obvious that one of the primary missions of this project is to provide employment to engineering firms and contractors. So what is wrong with reconfiguring 101 even if it means some extra work? It would probably cost about the same as tunneling and not depress property values. Plus you get a new, independent ROW.

Devil's Advocate said...

Actually if you close the left lanes of 101 northbound and southbound you can easily fit 2 tracks of HSR in the median. And you don't need to reconfigure anything (except for maybe some sharp curves here and there). In order to offset the lost lanes on 101 one could build a new 4 lane freeway (at grade, so that it doesn't ruin schools) in place of El Camino Real. It will require a few overpasses in correspondence of the major streets, but not too many. Or better yet, a new freeway could be built along the bay, East of 101 (on the water). It would certainly help my commute from across the Dunbarton to the North Peninsula. I'd go for this plan.

Anonymous said...

A freeway on El Camino would be preferable to upgrading a rail corridor that has existed for more than a century?

Now I've heard it all.

K.T. said...

@Anon 2:35 PM

Unlike SR4 and 580 where BART is proposing its extension to Antioch (SR4) and Livermore (580), there is no space in the US 101 highway median to install 2 HSR track, without narrowing freeway lanes (regardless of using on-grade or elevated track).

Thus, there will be a conflict of interest between Caltrans, who needs all of the open space in their R/W to construct auxiliary lane, and CAHSR if 101 was selected.

@DA
Palo Alto High School is also next to El Camino Real. I don't think I need to say anything more on this.

Also, is 24ft (width of 2 freeway lanes) wide enough to fit two train tracks? I thought 2-lane BART track required width at least 36ft.

Anonymous said...

FUCK you nimbys..WE are going to build this HSR on a 120year old railroad right of way..if you dont like it move or die// and it can be arranged for you

Spokker said...

Welp, I am back from my trip to the Bay Area Peninsula and I am giving my thumbs up to building the high speed rail on the Caltrain corridor. Menlo Park and Palo Alto are nothing special.

As an aside, I stayed in a motel in Millbrae right next to the BART/Caltrain station and those trains are pretty loud. I had a view overlooking the tracks there were two windows, an inner and outer layer, and I could still clearly hear trains clear into the night, and that was over the late night talk shows. The freight around 2AM was pretty loud too.

How anyone can object to HSR on the basis of noise is crazy.

Spokker said...

"These Peninsula burgs have spent years and lots of money to upgrade their downtowns and simultaneously to curtail slums and skid rows."

I walked through Downtown Palo Alto on Tuesday and I was asked for spare change three times. I ate at a sandwich shop and a quarter of the people in there looked like homeless people hanging out. Not that I hate the homeless or anything, but who are you trying to fool?