Wednesday, June 17, 2009

FRA Guidelines On Federal Funds For HSR

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

by Rafael

Earlier today, the Federal Railroad Administration (FRA) published a press release to notify the general public of guidelines for applicants seeking a slice of the $8 billion allocated in the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) a.k.a. the stimulus bill passed in the spring.

The same guidelines will be used to evaluate applications for the $1.5 billion reserved for HSR in the Passenger Rail Investment and Improvement Act (PRIIA) that was signed into law last October. The principal difference is that PRIIA funds are limited to 80% of total project cost. The proposed 2010 budget also includes a provision for an additional $1 billion in federal funding to be made available in each of the next 5 years and will presumably be allocated according to the same or similar guidelines as PRIIA.

USDOT Secretary Ray LaHood expects the first HSR grants to be awarded by mid-September. To allow for timely processing, the guidance calls for pre-applications to be filed no later than July 10 (preferably sooner). These are essentially expressions of interest with rough outlines that FRA will use to establish the volume of applications it will need to process and, to aid applicants in drafting their formal documentation. Final applications for Tracks 1, 3 and 4 (Projects, Planning and FY 2009 appropriations, respectively) due no later than August 24. Those for Track 3 (Service Development Programs, e.g. the California HSR network) are due October 2. These dates may be pushed back by at least 30 days if FRA decides to make changes to its guidelines in response to formal comments received no later than July 10.

Each application will be evaluated using 7 criteria in three categories. From 1 to 5 points will be awarded for each to reflect how well it conforms to the objectives of the federal government and Congress. The results are summed up, with different weights used for the various Tracks.

The first category addresses the return on public investment. This includes a rigorous analysis of financial costs and benefits of service operations. Further, it includes quantification of indirect benefits such as population mobility and safety, economic recovery benefits, energy efficiency, CO2 reduction etc.

The second category covers criteria related to project success, specifically project management and the sustainability of claimed benefits.

The third category examines the timeliness of estimated project completion and the risk of delays, which typically entail cost overruns as well.

These evaluation criteria will apparently be used to arrive at shortlists of candidates in each of the Tracks described above. The final selection among those will be based on what the guidelines refer to as "balance and diversity". This refers to the geographic extent of the projects, the level of technical innovation required etc. USDOT will explicitly favor those shortlisted projects that have already attracted non-federal investment. Tracks 3 and 4 explicitly require 50% matching funds.

Even so, these selection criteria remain quite fuzzy, so political clout on Capitol Hill and with the Obama administration will almost certainly play a significant role. Keep in mind that only projects in the eleven official high speed rail corridors are eligible at all. However, the Secretary of Transportation has limited powers to modify their definition. Brand-new corridors could only be created by and act of Congress, which would also have to amend the PRIIA and/or ARRA to make them eligible.

The Associated Press interprets the guidelines as favoring California and the Midwest over other regions. My own take is that Florida's HSR effort is still stalled and lacks funding commitments, though it is otherwise well placed thanks to the advanced state of its environmental impact review. In addition, Rep. Oberstar (D-MN) and Mice (R-FL) intended the NEC to be the primary beneficiary of HSR funds in PRIIA, to cut the Amtrak Acela Express' line haul times for New York to Washington, DC from roughly three to under two hours.

45 comments:

Arthur Dent said...

“The first category addresses the return on public investment. This includes a rigorous analysis of financial costs and benefits of service operations.”

This is excellent news. I’m paraphrasing what I just posted on the Monday Open Thread since conversations seem to die within a few days around here.

According to Caltrain which currently operates at 79 mph, they have FRA approval to operate at 95 mph after they implement their proposed PTC system, and they're expecting it to be approved at 110 mph after testing.

[Refer to Monday’s thread for the Caltrain supporting citation.]

If Caltrain is correct, then what are we gaining by placing 125 mph HSR next to 110 mph Caltrain? An increase of 15 mph over 50 miles is about 3.5 minutes travel time. When you look at the travel time vs. system costs, HSR doesn't look like a good value along the Caltrain corridor.

BruceMcF said...

"If Caltrain is correct, then what are we gaining by placing 125 mph HSR next to 110 mph Caltrain? An increase of 15 mph over 50 miles is about 3.5 minutes travel time. When you look at the travel time vs. system costs, HSR doesn't look like a good value along the Caltrain corridor."

That would be ... a service to LA, Bakersfield, Fresno, Anaheim, etc. ... beyond the end of the Caltrain corridor?

In addition to full grade separation and full quad tracking, of course.

Arthur Dent said...

With a mere 3.5 minute improvement in travel time, HSR along the Caltrain corridor is not a good value.

They study and build these by segment. For each segment, one of the options studied is the 'no build' option.

NONIMBYS said...

HST are running up the Caltrain ROW..PERIOD..ITS very good value for the thousands of people that will use it everday to travel to SoCal..if you dont think it so be it

mike said...

@Arthur For sustained 110 mph service you're going to need 4 tracks and, in the long term, grade separations. At that point, the only difference between upgraded Caltrain and HSR is whether they certify the track to Class 6 (110) or Class 7 (125), which is a trivial difference in costs.

If you prefer to call the result upgraded Caltrain instead of HSR, that is fine with me, and probably most other people here. I don't really care. At the end of the day it's the same thing.

Alon Levy said...

It's kind of annoying that the NEC's biggest booster is John Mica, from Florida. On the one hand, it shows how much it is a business investment rather than a mobility issue for constituents. On the other hand, it also shows that nobody in the Northeast gives a damn, except for Congressional staffers who have to shuttle between New York, where they beg for money, and Washington, where they spend it.

BruceMcF said...

Arthur Dent said...
"With a mere 3.5 minute improvement in travel time, HSR along the Caltrain corridor is not a good value."

Improvement in travel time to whom? For a traveler from LA-US, Burbank, Anaheim, Bakersfield or Fresno, not getting out at San Jose to switch to a different service for the final half hour of the journey will be an appreciable travel time savings.

As Mike notes, for high frequency 110mph services between SF and SJ, without getting bogged down by local services, you need quad tracking, and as frequency increases, full grade separation will be necessary, and once you are at that point, there is very little additional cost to using that for HSR.

And, indeed, if they construct a 110mph electrified quad tracked fully grade separated corridor, there will be no problem in getting HSR funding for the upgrade to 125mph.

Anon A Mouse said...

So, in other words, CHSRA simply needs to fill these application forms up with lies, big lies, and more big lies (which they should be able to copy and paste directly from their ridiculously half baked EIR and so called 'business plan', with vastly overprojected ridership, overprojected CO2 emission and energy saving benefits, underprojected travel times, vastly underprojected cost estimates, etc etc etc. And voila - federal government is as hoodwinked as california voters. Excellent. Now, if only pesky residents and legislators wont get in the way with facts, we'll be all set to rake in the pork.

Adam Terando said...

Alon,

I believe in legal terms the statement about John Mica being the biggest NEC backer is what you would call "heresay". I don't recall a quote where John Mica said that the 1.5 bn was specifically for NEC or that he's not a bigger backer of florida HSR than the NEC. From watching all the T&I hearings, I get the impression that he's a supporter of HSR in general, not any particular corridor.

BruceMcF said...

hearsay ... I reckon heresay would be a particularly Dixie form of heresy.

Arthur Dent said...

"Improvement in travel time to whom? For a traveler from LA-US, Burbank, Anaheim, Bakersfield or Fresno, not getting out at San Jose to switch to a different service for the final half hour of the journey will be an appreciable travel time savings."

It'll cost the long-distance passengers less than 10 minutes and the hassle of moving out of a train, across a platform, and onto another. In exchange, they'll save tax payers a few billion in up front design and construction costs and another ongoing chunk of change in reduced maintenance costs. It'll save Caltrain from the 2-track fate that the Metrolink seems headed towards, which - without the 3rd passing track - will destroy Caltrain's Baby Bullet service.

From a pure bang-for-buck position, laying parallel tracks to achieve a 15 mph increase is not a particularly wise investment.

Reality Check said...

Mr. Dent, tell it to the French: they could have "saved" so much by only running TGVs to the far outskirts of Paris. Ha! One-seat rides from city-center to city-center is what HSR is all about, man! And SNCF's TGVs make extensive use of shared pre-existing ROW/infrastructure when accessing city centers. You know, just like HSR sharing infrastructure with Caltrain. And what makes you think Caltrain expresses won't be able to use the extra pair of HSR tracks for express over-takes of locals?

Your comments suggest you don't read or know much about HSR. Grab a Eurail Pass and spend a little time checking out how it's done and done well elsewhere before speaking so authoritatively about the merits of shared ROWs or overlapping services. Check out DB's ICE HSR and all the shared "overlapping" trains and infrastructure all over the place ... that's the way to go ... and it's precisely the HUGE advantage HSR has over maglev too, by the way. Shared infrastructure allows TGVs to reach Interlaken Ost in Switzerland at less than top speed. But there's *huge* value in doing that vs. forcing a transfer to the long-existing "overlapping" rail service to provide the one-seat ride between Interlaken and Paris. The French and the Germans and many others have already figured all this stuff out. What works and what doesn't and why. We have the good fortune of having the opportunity to stand on the shoulders of the world's HSR pioneers and to implement CA HSR according to long-established best practices.

Why don't you just come clean and tell us the real reason why you bother to sling all sorts of really uninformed BS to crap all over the prospect of some real surface transportation progress here in CA and on the Peninsula specifically?

Anonymous said...

Andrew - Are you assuming that Caltrain will only run SF-SJ expresses? How will the expresses run at 110mph the whole way without four tracking, if grade separations aren't done and Caltrain still operates a schedule of locals?

NONIMBYS said...

OH YES we are just going to have thousands of people change from a nice HST to Caltrain to finish the ride to SanFrancisco..NO more stupid NIMBY ideas!! this dumb one has been spoken of before.
Why not have the Amtrak acela stop in Balitimore and have everyone ride to DC on MARC transit trains? Sounds real stupid does it not?

swing hanger said...

I have the same questions as anon @7:44- how can you have 110mph expresses w/o four tracks? (perhaps with spaced headways & passing loops at stations?) And are 110mph commuter trains really necessary?

Clem said...

An increase of 15 mph over 50 miles is about 3.5 minutes travel time ...

@Arthur Dent, top speed is nice, but...

What about all those stops Caltrain needs to make? Remember, it's a commuter system... no stops, no passengers. What you need to compare is average speed.

Matt said...

what you should also be asking, Aurthur, is if peninsula residents can handle 110 mph, then why can they not handle 125 mph? it is only 15 miles per hour. It will still be quieter than the current diesel trains.

jim said...

Well, it's all going to work out. No sense in getting too worked up over all the minutiae of every little thing. It's gonna go the way it goes regardless of any fretting that goes on here. I just hope they don't take too long. Let's get these urban upgrades done and out of the way. The valley track will be a piece of cake and hopefully by the time they get to the mountains the economy will have turned around. It'' just be nice to ride in a train with some new upholstery and carpet if nothing else. I wonder if the tbt will have a first class lounge?

Rafael said...

@ Arthur Dent -

just because FRA says it would be safe for Caltrain to operate at 95 or even 110mph does not mean it would make economic sense for Caltrain to do so. Local trains in particular would need massive electric motors to accelerate and decelerate quickly enough to take advantage of the permitted top speed between stops.

As Clem points out, compatibility between HSR and Caltrain locals depends on average speed. If the two had to share track, the feasible cruise speed for HSR trains in the SF peninsula would be set by Caltrain locals.

Passing lanes at Caltrain-only stations would do little good during peak periods by the 2025-2030 timeframe, because total trains per hour may well reach 20 each way. If only two tracks are available, that would imply slow orders for HSR trains for the 50 miles between SF and SJ. It would not be possible to achieve an express line haul time of 2:40 during peak periods.

That said, AB3034 does not require that every express HSR train meet that target, just that it can be met at all. If passengers have access to reliable broadband internet access, they might be prepared to accept a longer SF-LA line haul time during rush hour. Those who can't would have the option of catching an off-peak express train instead.

The fly in this ointment is called UPRR. Their locomotives have axle loads of around 30 metric tons, well above the 17 that are the de facto upper limit for tracks suitable for high speed (125mph and above). It is really the US-style super-heavy freight that is forcing CHSRA to quad-track the SF peninsula.

It doesn't matter than freight trains don't run during peak periods. The points is that they're so heavy it would be extremely expensive to maintain the tracks in the state of good repair needed to operate off-peak HSR trains at 125mph cruise speed.

So, hooray for the mighty Port of San Francisco.

Arthur Dent said...

@Reality Check:
“And what makes you think Caltrain expresses won't be able to use the extra pair of HSR tracks for express over-takes of locals?”

The CHSRA documents consistently state that the HST system will be a predominantly dedicated HST system. They expressed concern over the uncertainty of obtaining an FRA waiver for shared track HST operations. Shared Track and Expanded Shared Track alternatives have been eliminated for the LA-Anaheim section, and the LA-Palmdale section -- which is a few steps behind -- stated upfront that shared tracks will not be considered.

Since the Metrolink is similar to Caltrain with their shared freight usage, I suspect that the solution will be similar, too. It’ll be a FF|SS configuration. (The ‘|’ is a safety wall.) People are grumbling about squeezing 4 tracks along the Caltrain ROW; I doubt 5 tracks –- FF|SSS –- would fit. The passing track enabled Caltrain to initiate Baby Bullet service which increased its ridership to decent levels. Without a passing track Caltrain will be forced back to stopping at every station and losing its Baby Bullet service.

”Grab a Eurail Pass and spend a little time checking out how it's done and done well elsewhere before speaking so authoritatively about the merits of shared ROWs or overlapping services.”

Frankly, it doesn’t matter how much you or I comparatively know about HSR: it’s the CHSRA that’s designing this thing, not a European or Asian country. We’d both be foolish to ignore that fact. That’s why I’m basing my information on the CHSRA’s past performance rather than what I wish for or think is common sense.

“Why don't you just come clean and tell us the real reason why you bother to sling all sorts of really uninformed BS to crap all over the prospect of some real surface transportation progress here in CA and on the Peninsula specifically?”

Sure, since you ask so politely. I don’t like to see billions of hard-earned tax dollars being spent unwisely. Shall I ask you the same, or should we be directing the question to the High-Speed Rail Authority?

@Clem:
Caltrain is currently a commuter system with a successful Baby Bullet service that could be expanded to Express or Non-stop Bullet service. No third rail, no bullet service. No bullet service and Caltrain will fall deeper in its financial trouble. HSR can potentially destroy the bullet service and no amount of ostrich behavior on our part will remove that possibility. Read the Alternatives Analysis Reports for LA-Anaheim and LA-Palmdale for perspective. I look forward to reading your interpretation on your Caltrain blog.

@Matt:
Caltrain can operate at 110 mph with PTC and a few other details which do not include grade separations; HSR cannot operate at 125 mph without grade separations. The grade separations are the trigger point.

Getting back to the ARRA funds – you’ll have a hard time convincing me that running parallel tracks along the Caltrain corridor for a few extra non-stop mph’s is a solid return on investment when we could have nearly the same service for a few billion less by upgrading Caltrain and eliminating a few stops. Cannibalizing Caltrain in the process of building HSR is a destructive waste of our state/fed tax dollars.

TomW said...

If Caltrain is correct, then what are we gaining by placing 125 mph HSR next to 110 mph Caltrain?
Actually, the difference is a 95/110mph stopping service compared with a 125mph express. Caltrain has 30 stations between Gilroy and SF, while HSR will have three. Given stopping adds at least 2 minutes, I expect the HSR to be at least an hour quicker than an all-stops Caltrain.

What about the Baby Bullet? Assuming sensisble fare structure, I strongly suspect that HSR will become the 'express' service, while teh baby bullet will have more stops added and be relegated to a 'semi-fast' service. Whether or not that is a good thing is an interesting question.

Anonymous said...

"Caltrain can operate at 110 mph with PTC and a few other details which do not include grade separations; HSR cannot operate at 125 mph without grade separations. The grade separations are the trigger point."

@Andrew - What makes you think this? You think that the FRA will grant a waiver for 110mph service without grade separations on the peninsula? I highly, highly, highly doubt that. There's just no way that we're going to see 110 mph trains flying through intersections guarded by nothing more than a flimsy lowered bar.

The 110mph service depends on grade separating the whole shebang. If we're going to do the expensive part, why not do the rest?

Alon Levy said...

Adam, Mica has proposed that the federal government get a private spinoff of Amtrak to rebuild the NEC to allow for NY-DC line haul times under 2 hours.

Arthur, an electrified Caltrain with a top speed of 110 mph can have Baby Bullet runtimes with semi-express service. A four-track Caltrain corridor will enable those semi-express trains to run on the slow track and overtake slower trains by switching to the fast track and then switching back.

If two tracks aren't enough capacity for Caltrain, then it can run express trains with HSR stopping pattern and 125 mph top speed on the express tracks. It will have the capacity, since 125 mph lines can run 24 trains per hour and 220 mph lines can run 12. It will be less capacity than a four-track Caltrain without any HSR, but so what? If stopping HSR at San Jose and forcing people to transfer doesn't reduce ridership, then all those extra Caltrain trains you're going to run instead of HSR will just be filled with long-distance travelers anyway.

Robert said...

@ Aaron Levy

"it also shows that nobody in the Northeast gives a damn, except for Congressional staffers who have to shuttle between New York, where they beg for money, and Washington, where they spend it."

The legislators may not get it, but their constituents do. I'm based in California but part of a work group based in DC where there is a lot of travel between there, Philly and NYC. (No it has nothing to do with government.) People fly only reluctantly, everyone is an Acela fan. If the travel time were cut more, no one would ever fly.

Clem said...

Cannibalizing Caltrain in the process of building HSR is a destructive waste of our state/fed tax dollars ...

Amen to that!! I am very concerned about BB service; even Caltrain shows a lack of concern for it, claiming that the need for it will go away after electrification.

Alon Levy said...

Robert, who's Aaron Levy?

More to the point, I know there's a lot of ridership on the NEC. Hell, even the non-NEC lines in the Northeast, especially Empire and Keystone, get decent traffic. But the closest the local politicians come to caring is when a political leader in NY State proposes rapid rail on the Empire Corridor, with all investment on the Albany-Buffalo segment, as a way of distributing pork to Upstate politicians so that they'll support his agenda.

Adirondacker said...

claiming that the need for it will go away after electrification

Where do they say that? I've seen the charts that compare speeds of diesels to electrics and a blurb about an MU running local being faster than a Baby Bullet but that doesn't mean they won't be running limiteds and expresses.

Arthur Dent said...

@TomW: “Actually, the difference is a 95/110mph stopping service compared with a 125mph express. Caltrain has 30 stations between Gilroy and SF, while HSR will have three. Given stopping adds at least 2 minutes, I expect the HSR to be at least an hour quicker than an all-stops Caltrain.”

That’s correct in theory. Look at it another way, though. Caltrain has the option of stopping at all 30 stations or just 1 – the other endpoint – or any number in between. It can choose. HSR can only serve stations which are specially built to accommodate it. What’s cheaper: adding HST tracks along the entire corridor or removing Caltrain stops on select routes?

If the HSRA applies the line of reasoning they used in the LA sections and builds the Caltrain corridor as a dedicated HST system (dividing HST from commuter/freight tracks with a wall down the center of the ROW), HSR will essentially be taking away bullet service to all Peninsula residents who don’t live near a HSR station. (Tell that to the folks in Palo Alto, Redwood City and Menlo Park and they’ll all be clamoring for a HSR station!)

The CHSRA is on a path of destroying bullet service for much of the Peninsula, but for some inexplicable reason Caltrain doesn’t seem to care and most residents are unaware. The rail service for the majority of the Peninsula will deteriorate so that people on the far ends can commute a few minutes faster. It’s mind-boggling.

Robert said...

Sorry Alon/Aaron. If you had said "no one with any power in the Northeast gives a damn" I would have had no comment, having no knowledge of that. But the constituents certainly give a damn. I had a business trip last year with consecutive daily meetings in DC-Philly-NYC-Stamford-Boston. Except for the NYC-Stamford leg, I took Acela the whole way, and it was great, but you wouldn't want to do DC-Boston on a business trip. If they could shave an hour or more off the travel time, though, it would start getting competitive with air travel.

lyqwyd said...

"bullet service for much of the Peninsula, but for some inexplicable reason Caltrain doesn’t seem to care"

If Caltrain doesn't care it's because with HSR they get full grade separation and electrification, and as Clem stated that allows an all locals to be faster then the current Baby Bullet, meaning everybody gets faster service. Without HSR there's no grade separation or electrification.

Arthur Dent said...

@Anon 6:50 am:
“@Andrew - What makes you think this? You think that the FRA will grant a waiver for 110mph service without grade separations on the peninsula? I highly, highly, highly doubt that.”

I’m Arthur. Caltrain’s 2025 Plan states their optimism on being able to operate at 110 mph. From Appendix B:

"This system is still in the process of undergoing its final verification and validation and is expected to be approved for operation at speeds up to 110 mph, after the testing is completed next year. It has not been applied to provide separation of rolling stock with differing levels of buff strength to date. Caltrain expects to be the first property to demonstrate the safety of mixing differing levels of buff strength as the first vehicles to be procured for the electrification enter service."

"By providing a positive train control system the safe separation of the different types of rolling stock can be maintained. At the present time the FRA has not approved any PTC system to provide for this separation, but we have reason to believe that the FRA would entertain an application for such a use."

Arthur Dent said...

"Without HSR there's no grade separation or electrification."

That's not true; I sincerely hope Caltrain doesn't believe this. They are eligible to apply for ARRA on their own - perhaps even more eligible and ready for the SF-SJ section than the CHSRA.

Fred Martin said...

If Caltrain doesn't care it's because with HSR they get full grade separation and electrification, and as Clem stated that allows an all locals to be faster then the current Baby Bullet, meaning everybody gets faster service. Without HSR there's no grade separation or electrification.

If Clem actually said this -- and I don't think he did -- he must know better. No way does an all-local EMU beat the diesel Baby Bullet service! This is easy to figure out and demonstrate. Electrification allows for trains to accelerate faster than the current diesels, but only to an extent. If you burden a service with lots of stops (all of them especially), it going to seriously slow down the service. The diesel BB can easily beat an all-local EMU. What was that about people spreading disinformation?!?

It does concern me that the institution of Caltrain may be preoccupied with becoming a capital-construction management agency, forgetting that it is supposed to be providing and improving a regional transit service. Just as BART is captured by capital-construction interests -- going ahead with the $500 million Oakland Airport Connector during a severe budget crisis involving service cuts and fare increases -- Caltrain seems to be adopting a similar strategy: "Let's make bad deals to get stuff built, and damn the service!" Unfortunately, Caltrain has a history of being incompetent and never realizing its full potential. The Baby Bullet service was a rare exception of sanity prevailing at Caltrain, and now they want to kill it!!

Alon Levy said...

Fred, why can't Caltrain run express trains, running on the local tracks except when they switch to the express tracks to overtake slower trains?

Arthur Dent said...

Alon, they can only do this if HSR isn't implemented as a "dedicated HST system", which the CHSRA recommended for L.A. That system has a safety wall separating HSTs from commuter/freight tracks. If they're consistent with their recommendations, Caltrain will lose its passing lane and therefore lose its ability to provide express service. Read my earlier posts in this thread for details.

Anonymous said...

Arthur, why can't they simply keep a few four track sections (six tracks total) in areas where they have a very wide ROW and adjust the BB schedule accodingly? There's no reason to assume that Caltrain must ONLY have two tracks in areas like around Lawrence where the ROW is several hundred feet wide, even if they can't use HSR tracks.

I don't see any reason to believe that the FRA will grant waivers for Caltrain to run 110 mph service, but not grant waivers to allow Caltrain to use a HSR track for passing - both are extremely uncharted territories that require more negotiation.

Anonymous said...

The recommendations for LA could very well change over the next few years, considering we have a much more pro-rail administration that will likely influence to FRA a great deal. I don't think we should be dumbing down projects based on what the FRA has said in the past.

Arthur Dent said...

“I don't see any reason to believe that the FRA will grant waivers for Caltrain to run 110 mph service, but not grant waivers to allow Caltrain to use a HSR track for passing - both are extremely uncharted territories that require more negotiation.”

I see your point. However, there's a subtle difference between the two scenarios. Your first example involves three parties – Caltrain, UPRR and the FRA. Caltrain indicated that they believed the FRA would act in their favor. Caltrain & UPRR have co-existed long enough that they’re aware of how to deal with each other’s idiosyncrasies.

Your second example involves four parties - CHSRA, Caltrain, UPRR and the FRA. It’s too many negotiating parties, too many widely differing agendas, and, as you point out, too many uncharted territories. With that mix, it’s every man for himself. The sticking point will probably be CHSRA not wanting to share their tracks since it would “impact the capacity and performance of operations to meet the Phase 1 Service Plan”.

CHSRA Anaheim to Los Angeles Section Alternatives Analysis Report: “Based on the results of the operations modeling and the uncertainty of obtaining an FRA waiver to allow shared track HST operations, and due to superior operating characteristics, only the Dedicated HST Alternative meets the project purpose and need.”

I doubt an FRA waiver will change their minds. They just tossed that one in for good measure. Unless Caltrain is willing to stand up for its Baby Bullet service the CHSRA will walk all over them, holding them hostage by waving the electrification bill over their heads.

Adirondacker said...

Lets just say the FRA is really really stupid and insists that compliant and non compliant trains never ever even come close to sharing track. In other words the Caltrain local has to be FRA compliant.

With grade separation and electrification Caltrain ridership will go up. Caltrain will have to buy more trains. Why can't they buy non compliant rolling stock and run it on the non compliant tracks? Expresses only.

Caltrain will be replacing all of it's rolling stock by the time the first HSR train rolls through. Why couldn't they replace it all with non compliant stock. Use temporal separation for the 3 freight trains a day that lumber through. Then HSR and Caltrain can use any of the tracks. Since they will be using modern signaling, any of the tracks in either direction...

Amtrak runs on the same tracks as MBTA, SLE, Metro North, LIRR, NJ Transit, SEPTA, MARC, VRE and Metra trains. The freight operators run trains on other railroad's tracks all the time. This isn't brain surgery, it's something railroads have been doing for 175 years.

Alon Levy said...

Arthur Dent, for Caltrain to lose its passing track, the corridor will have to have barriers separating local and express tracks, as well as an SFFS configuration. Both are possible, but neither is certain or even likely.

BruceMcF said...

Arthur Dent said...
"The sticking point will probably be CHSRA not wanting to share their tracks since it would “impact the capacity and performance of operations to meet the Phase 1 Service Plan”."

So your argument is that the HSR will not be able to use the corridor because of the obstinate refusal of the CHSR to share the corridor.

When one of these long, multi-step hairy dog stories about why HSR can't work rests on "I assume that the CHSR will shoot itself in the foot", its not the strongest of arguments.

Matt said...

Arthur,

The reason that there will be dedicated HSR along LA-ANA is that the local trains there are diesel. All trains along the peninsula would be electric. (except for a few late night freight runs) HSR would be on the high speed tracks while electrified caltrain could use the high speed tracks to pass slower trains. There is no reason why this can not, or will not be done as long as PCT is used.

a 90~110mph train has no problem using the 125mpg high speed tracks to pass as long as it is scheduled correctly. If capacity becomes a problem, bypass tracks can be used at stations where only locals stop. The LA-ANA corridor will have much slower diesel metrolink and Amtrak, which would take much more time to pass.

The idea that the increased investment into the peninsula corridor will reduce service is wrong. CAHSR doeos better with a successful caltrain to feed passengers into the HSR system.

BruceMcF said...

Matt said...
"If capacity becomes a problem, bypass tracks can be used at stations where only locals stop."

Even when the HSR system is fully built out, it will have a central trunk with branches at both ends. The 5 minute headways on the CV trunk with some traffic bound from SoCal for Sacramento ensures tha there will be open slots on the HSR corridor between SF and SJ.

Adirondacker said...

If capacity becomes a problem, bypass tracks can be used at stations where only locals stop

Probably be cheaper to run faster expresses - capable of 125 - than tear down the station(s) The people on the expresses get faster service as a byproduct

Anonymous said...

What nobody here wants to address is the plain hard fact, that UPRR still owns inter city passenger rights from SF to San Jose. Thy also have in their track rights agreement, the right to veto any change to the tracks that they feel would affect their service.

Thus far UPRR has only said they will not allow HSR on the San Jose to Gilroy segment; they not only own the track right there, they own the corridor.

They are the big elephant in the room so far as getting from SF to San Jose is concerned.