Sunday, June 7, 2009

Sunday Afternoon Open Thread

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

I'm headed to Portugal for two weeks this coming Thursday and am spending the day getting my preparations done. Our trip will take us all over the country, from Porto to Coimbra to Lisboa to Faro and the Algarve (where I'm hoping it won't yet be totally overwhelmed with British tourists). Not only will it be representative of the various regions of Portugal, but it's a trip that can be done via high speed rail. Comboios de Portugal operates the Alfa Pendular, a tilting train of the pendolino family. The trains have a top speed of 220 km/h (136 mph) which isn't exactly TGV or AVE speed, but certainly qualifies as a kind of HSR. It connects Porto to Lisboa (the nation's two largest cities) in about 2 hours. So I'll get to see the Portuguese HSR system in action, although before the planned upgrades of the Porto-Lisboa line to 300 km/h (to be completed by 2015) and before the HSR link from Lisboa to Madrid is completed (due in 2013).

Anyhow, enough about me. Two brief HSR items for this Sunday afternoon:

  • The FRA presentations from the Sacramento meeting have been posted online (h/t to Matt Melzer). Haven't yet had a chance to look these over, but if you do, be sure to offer your thoughts in the comments.


  • The Bay Area Council Economic Institute has proposed $7 billion in infrastructure stimulus for the region, including HSR-related projects such as upgrading Diridon Station.

40 comments:

Devil's Advocate said...

Have a nice vacation. Don't eat too much bacalhau and make sure that wine glass doesn't fall over when the pendolino tilts. When you come back the High Speed Train in California will be all done and ready to pick you up at the airport.

political_i said...

I'm not pleased with the Gulf Coast corridor planning for only Class V upgrades, those rails should be a minimum of class VI if not higher. Those corridors could potentially have higher ridership numbers if they have dedicates ROW's being within the 3 hour practical travel time window.

Robert Cruickshank said...

At this rate, Devil's Advocate, I'd settle for the Caltrain extension to Salinas.

Brandon in San Diego said...

How much street cred does the Bay Area Council have with the Feds? ... the ones decising on what projects hsall get funded?

Before today, I've never heard of the group... and that comes after having lived in the Bay Area from 2000-2004.

Did they operate under another name?

Robert Cruickshank said...

The Bay Area Council has been around since the late 1940s. It was they who first proposed a mass transit system for the region, which eventually became BART (notice how I phrased that - BAC isn't exactly responsible for how BART turned out, but they did a lot of the heavy lifting to get it approved between 1946 and 1957).

Their membership is a who's who of big Bay Area corporations, from Chevron to Yahoo!, and so they have a lot of clout. I'm not exactly sure how they're viewed in DC but I know Feinstein and Boxer take the BAC seriously.

They are a politically moderate organization. And I have immense respect for their staff, having collaborated with them for the last 6 months on state government reform projects.

jim said...

This is a new one to me- has anyone seen these before - its a double deck commuter similar to ACE and Metrolink equipment but it appears to use hi level platforms raised doors and steps dow to seating below platform level.

Spokker said...

I just watched that movie Revolutionary Road and it just shows how bad the suburbs are. Hopefully high speed rail will prevent women from being trapped by their husbands knocking them up and forcing them to pursue a dangerous bathroom abortion. Death to the suburbs!

jim said...

but just remember - the good thing about the suburbs is it keeps those people out of the city. The suburbs are a good place for them. Lord knows I don't want 'em running around here.

jim said...

These look like the perfect solution for caltrain to deal iwth some hi and slome low platforms for their new fleet once hsr is done.

Rafael said...

@ jim -

Caltrain isn't interested in 1950s FRA-compliant behemoths. They want modern, lightweight, UIC-compliant double-deck EMUs like this one already in service with the Czech and Swiss Federal Railways.

A possible but perhaps more expensive alternative would be the Talgo 22 EMU (www.talgo.com -> English -> Menu -> Products -> Rolling Stock -> Regional Lines -> T22 EMU). Like all Talgo products, this double-decker features wheelsets with independent axles. Without a bogie to climb over, both floors can be kept level all the way through and passengers can more easily find seats. Note that five abreast is possible if the track centerline is large enough, as is the case in California. All current Talgo designs also feature passive tilt of 1-2%, though that can be disabled if desired.

All Caltrain needs is the mixed traffic waiver from FRA, which appears very possible. South of SJ Diridon, they will presumably stick with diesels in phase 1 of their electrification project (SF-SJ). Of course, as Clem discusses here, HSR is forcing Caltrain to revisit all of its capital projects.

arcady said...

Rafael: FYI, those are 1980s FRA-compliant behemoths. And here's another interesting piece of rolling stock: gallery cars almost identical to the ones Caltrain has, but electric. The most interesting part is that these also run trolley-style down the middle of a city street at one point along the line.

Clem said...

@arcady

Don't post images like this! They could lead to a procurement.

jim said...

@ rafael the talgos are nice - I didn't mean to suggest they use the exact trains shown in my pic - only that there is that design option the uses both hi and lo platforms. Of course to keep things simple and affordable yet functional and flexible I remember riding these in Boston.

jim said...

Okay I have to vote for the bombardier dual mode agc. very nice design, and according to this brochure there's built in beverage and espresso machines.

jim said...

Since they aren't going to electrify the whole line at once, that dual mode gives them flexibility without have to order and use two different kinds of equip.

Adirondacker said...

Since they aren't going to electrify the whole line at once.

They are going to electrify the line all the way to Anaheim. Gilroy is along the way.

Andre Peretti said...

I've just read the Cato institute's latest article. R. O'Toole brigs proof that rail is the least energy-efficient mode of transportation, far behind SUVs. It also discloses the somber, unconfessed motivation of its proponents:
"But of course, the real goal of the rail people is not to save energy but to reshape American lifestyles. They just can’t stand to see people enjoying the freedom of being able to go where they want, when they want to get there."
As a naive Frenchman I hadn't realised this blog is actually part of a conspiration to suppress the fundamental liberties of the American people.

jim said...

adirondacker don't you like the bombardiers I posted? theyare certainly the best looking choice, And they WILL need dual mode because they are considering a versatile fllet for adding and integrating other serve such as dumbarton. Whatever fleet they buy needs to be most compatible.

Adirondacker said...

jim, Caltrain operates between San Francisco and Gilroy. The line will be electrified between San Francisco and Gilroy. Why do they need diesels?
Dual mode locomotives aren't cheap. On the order of twice as expensive as single mode locomotives. Assuming of course they decide to go with locomotives.

Alon Levy said...

Adirondacker: to accommodate electrified Caltrain, the line from SJ to Gilroy will have to have four tracks instead of two.

Spokker said...

"As a naive Frenchman I hadn't realised this blog is actually part of a conspiration to suppress the fundamental liberties of the American people."

Great conspiracy! 5555!!! A+++++ will conspire again!!!

jim said...

but adirondack - caltrain has infact considered expansion to other non electrified areas. thats why I brought it up.

jim said...

that model is also the best looking of any ive seen anywhere.

Adirondacker said...

caltrain has infact considered expansion to other non electrified areas.

The only place they will need electric service is between 4th and Transbay. They can run diesels, the ones they have laying around since they decided to run electric service to Gilroy. Or the ones they lease from Amtrak or the ones they buy used from Metra. If it proves popular - running to San Francisco from non electrified territory, they can consider buying dual mode locomotives. Or consider electrifying the service that is proving so popular.

to accommodate electrified Caltrain, the line from SJ to Gilroy will have to have four tracks instead of two.

Why? in the overly optimistic projections of HSR there will be 12 trains an hour. In 2030. Between then and now there will be less. Even at the peak of rush hour there isn't going to be demand for 8 Caltrain trains an hour between Gilroy and San Jose. Two tracks are more than enough unless San Jose morphs into Chicago and Gilroy becomes Du Page County.

arcady said...

Caltrain has reasonably plausible plans for expansion to Salinas, a constantly postponed East Bay extension over the Dumbarton Bridge, and some chances of other extensions to Monterey, Hollister, and so on. I suspect that the plan for post-electrification service to Salinas (or Gilroy) will involve Caltrain's existing fleet of MP36 locomotives and Bombardier bilevels, because they will run on UP lines in mixed traffic.

arcady said...

Adirondacker: what's the difference in speed between the Gilroy locals and the HSR trains? Let's assume two HSR trains per hour, and two locals. Keep in mind that the current timetable has the running time between Gilroy and San Jose at 50 minutes. It can be made to work out if you assume 30 min travel time for the local and 15 for the HSR, but those are numbers I just pulled out of thin air.

Adirondacker said...

Caltrain has reasonably plausible plans for expansion to Salinas....and some chances of other extensions to Monterey, Hollister, and so on.,

Where they can run conventional diesel trains until they know the service is popular.

East Bay extension over the Dumbarton Bridge..

Worry about very expensive dual mode locomotives when someone actually talks seriously about restoring the bridge. . . and why wouldn't they electrify the few miles between Caltrain East Bay and Caltrain Peninsula? ... along the electrified line to Stockton and San Jose from the new tunnels between Oakland and San Francisco....


what's the difference in speed between the Gilroy locals and the HSR trains?

Does it matter right now? They definitely should rebuild the stations to accommodate four tracks. That way they don't have to rip them down while an active railroad goes through them. . . in 2050 when Gilroy starts to look like Mercer County... In the mean time they can have four tracks at the stations. The local moves off the main tracks the doors open, HSR blows through, the doors close and the local moves back onto the main tracks. Lots cheaper to think about scheduling than to build four tracks for 10 trains an hour.

arcady said...

Adirondacker: so you're proposing that in 2050, there will be a six track railroad from San Jose to Gilroy, and until then a four track railroad with six tracks only at the stations. Why not just run the commuter trains mixed with the freights? It's not such a heavily-used freight line (because of capacity limitations further south), and nobody really cares if a freight train is delayed 10 minutes by a Caltrain once in a while, at least compared to HSR. As an added bonus, all the stations are already there, you don't have to do anything at all for those.

Anonymous said...

Let me make a bold pronoucement. Caltrain will be running diesels down to Gilroy as long as any of us are alive.

The original plans to have a 4 train HSR/Commuter system alongside the UPRR corridor have been more or less officially killed as the cold hard realities of the cost of buying the land for the new tracks is sinking in.

Adirondacker said...

Caltrain will be running diesels down to Gilroy as long as any of us are alive.

Why would they do that when there is a catenary there? The diesel equipment will need to be replaced soon. They can replace it with something that runs on electricity.

so you're proposing that in 2050, there will be a six track railroad from San Jose to Gilroy, and until then a four track railroad with six tracks only at the stations?

There's one track for most of the route now. Two tracks on a four track wide grade separated ROW until they need more tracks. Start off with four tracks at select stations or sidings so HSR can pass the commuter and freight trains. Someday, when thundering herds of commuters begin to arrive at Morgan Hill think about four tracks.

Anonymous said...

Adironacker-

There is currently exactly zero room to expand beyond adding the second track. HSRA is so far past its budget that it will not pay for extra room for Caltrain expansion.

Caltrain itself has not been even able to raise the money to lay a second track so its ability to buy 50 feet of ROW is laughable. I'm not even sure if they have emiment domain rights which they would need.

Matt said...

Harry Reid abandons Maglev, supports DX

http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/lanow/2009/06/senate-majority-leader-no-longer-aboard-plan-for-maglev-train-to-vegas.html

Anonymous said...

adirondacker,

Anon 5:04 and anon 5:45 are speaking from their rears.
HSR and EMU Caltrain will be running from SJ to Gilroy by 2018.
Perhaps he (or she) plans on living only another 8 years; hence seeing diesel service only in his(her) lifetime.

Gianny said...

WOW, work begins on the largest public project in the USA.

http://www.cnn.com/2009/US/06/08/newyork.rail.tunnel/index.html

NONIMBYS said...

I Agree ..most of the antiHSR are old...and really they might not see it.I really dont care what they think..I will be here to ride the trains..for a long time

Alon Levy said...

WOW, work begins on the largest public project in the USA.

Oh well. Here's hoping it gets canceled before anything serious is built.

Brandon in San Diego said...

Harry Reid loosing interest in maglev is welcome. Perhaps now the Southrn California and the San Diego Association of Governments (SCAG & SANDAG) can fortell that that technology is a dead horse and can focus on something worthwhile for the public.

jim said...

adirondack - again - my original point was really just that those bombardiers I posted are the best looking Ive seen so far - if you are so bent out of shape about dual mode fine - I don't care what mode they are, all Im saying is that those are the best looking and I want trains that look good. those look good , just order them in an all electric version. sheesh.

Andrew said...

@Andre Peretti: The Cato Institute is well-known for having the best drugs in DC.

Adirondacker said...

my original point was really just that those bombardiers I posted are the best looking Ive seen so far.

Jim, they ain't gonna be making them in 2016 when Caltrain is ready to place orders. Anyway the fast ones only go 160KPH/100MPH. Would you - as far as looks go - have pretty trains or ones that go fast? There's going to be places where the expresses will be able to go 125. I'd much rather be in a reconditioned Metroliner, at 125, than in a really really kewl Bombardier at 95. ;-)