Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Open Thread

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

Been a somewhat quiet day on the HSR front here in California, so use this as an open thread.

• The SF Business Times briefly examines foreign companies that are advising the CHSRA, as part of formal advisory agreements that will help ensure that CHSRA gets top-level expertise from around the world.

31 comments:

political_incorrectness said...

AP has finally confirmed $4 billion for rail this year instead of it being dumped into the highway trust fund.
http://www.star-telegram.com/nation/story/1493416.html

Clem said...

The Cote d'Azur goes California style: the future high speed line will be expensive, with lots of tunnels, and through town centers, after NIMBYs nixed a direct routing from Aix to Nice through picturesque countryside.

Travis D said...

I'm wondering how the tracks are going to be secured. I once took Amtrak down to LA and it was quite an experience rolling very slowly through Fresno because the tracks were lined with kids throwing rocks and even bricks at the train. It was very unsettling, just mile after mile of having these things bouncing off the sides of the train as the kids entertained themselves. I sincerely hope that something better is done to keep things and people away from the HST tracks.

Here's something to speculate about, livery. All the visuals have presented a yellow and blue motif on the trains. Does anyone think this will be carried through in the end? I admit it is rather bold but it also, therefore, unique.

Anonymous said...

The article Robert links to has the headline:

High-speed wheeling and dealing

In the article I note the following:

Their interest is financially driven. If California succeeds in building its bullet train by 2030 as forecast, it will be one of the largest transportation projects in United States history. It will need millions of dollars’ worth of rolling stock, track, technology systems and maintenance, all of which will be put out to bid. The state’s system will have a $1.1 billion operating surplus, if the project evolves according to estimates.

so now they have pushed back operations by 10 years to 2030??

Myabe 2050 is a more apt timeline, since California will not be able to float the bonds to fund this impending disaster.

jim said...

2030 was always the timeline for complete build out including sac and san diego. 2020 for la-sf.

Rafael said...

@ travis d -

the HSR tracks will be fully grade separated and/or fenced off. That makes it hard for kids to get close to the tracks. 24/7 right of way surveillance will be used to identify potential threats such as people, livestock or wildlife that somehow make it onto the tracks anyhow. The cost of all this is already included in the estimates CHSRA has produced.

It should also be possible to identify special conditions such as a derailed bogie on a train on an adjacent track, though I don't believe existing solutions are designed for that.

As for the blue and yellow livery, it's already in use by the Dutch national railways NS.

Rafael said...

@ travis d -

sorry, let me rephrase that. The HSR tracks will be fully grade separated and where appropriate, also fenced off.

Clem said...

The HSR tracks will be fully grade separated and where appropriate, also fenced off.

I'm pretty sure they will be fenced off everywhere, on both sides of the tracks. The quaint practice of walking across or along the railroad tracks will end, and the tracks will be no more accessible than an airport runway--with the same consequences for trespassing.

YESonHSR said...

looks like there may be any extra 4billion for HSR if it stands thru the house/Senate. Was to go to highways and with all the intrest in HSR this will help until the transportation bill is redone.

luis d. said...

From this Article.

"Vigue said the only Talgo assembly plant in the United States would be in Wisconsin and it would provide finished products for other cities that buy the company’s rail cars."

We have to hurry up (not rush tho') on making sure we get not only a maintenance facility for the State's trains but a Manufacturer here, like Alstom, or Siemens so we win twice. Manufacturing and Maintaining our own rolling stock = more jobs for Ca.

One thing tho' is that they prob. can't run any lightweight Loco through the country to it's destination (like they do with U.S diesel Loco's) until FRA allows it. Maybe atop a Freight flat car. The rest of the trainset can probably be pulled together using FRA compliant equipment to it's destination. Like they'll be doing for these 2 trainset purchases, using Amtrak Loco's and Talgo Cars.

Andre Peretti said...

@Clem
The Cote d'Azur pseudo-environmentalist Nimbys were powerfully helped by their traditional foes, the right-wing city mayors. That's what I called, in a previous post, an unhealthy combination. The Nimbys did not want their land to be considered flyover territory by the Parisian TGV ("Parisian" is an insult in Southern France). The mayors wanted the line through their cities.
Now, if you think sprawl is an American specialty, just drive from Marseille to Nice following the coastline: it's a 100 miles of uninterrupted agglomeration. If it weren't for the roadsigns, you would never know when you are leaving a city ans entering another. It is the worst possible route to lay tracks on. And now that Pandora's box is open, all the small cities on the route are starting to lobby for their own station. If they have their way, the air shuttle has nothing to fear.
Of course RFF accepted the new route. Their policy has always been: "this is the routing we can finance. If you want alterations, you pay the extra cost". So, for the first time in the TGV's history, the taxpayer will pay. Many commentators remarked that this is absolutely contrary to president Sarkozy's principles. But they also remarked that the mayors in question all supported him as a candidate and their support might be crucial for a second mandate.

Spokker said...

"since California will not be able to float the bonds to fund this impending disaster."

I'm secretly an anarchist and that's why I support this project.

Anonymous said...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090719/ap_on_re_us/us_calif_light_rail_crash

Light rail accident in SF --- many injured.

Rafael said...

@ anon @ 11:11pm -

ouch, my best wishes to the injured. At first glance, this sounds like a light rail traffic sign either malfunctioned or was ignored. Perhaps the brakes failed or were not engaged. Let's see what the investigators come up with.

Andrew said...

Muni uses an ATC system in the Market Street subway and Twin Peaks tunnel, sounds like it malfunctioned. I wonder if it's of the same manufacturer as the one on the Washington Metro...

Anonymous said...

Dan Walters: Is now the right time build a railroad?


http://www.modbee.com/opinion/walters/story/786592.html

Robert should make this article the subject of his next editorial.

Certainly now is not the right time -- but I suspect Robert will be able to put his spin on this.

BruceMcF said...

Scared little anony-mouse said... "Certainly now is not the right time -- but I suspect Robert will be able to put his spin on this."

This is, of course, the ideal time ... in a recession this deep, there is no contention for private sector uses of the same resources, while this is the time when there is the maximum benefits from the public spending.

That's the most basic Intro Econ 101 ... what ignorant ideologue got himself into print arguing the opposite?

BruceMcF said...

luis d. said...
"One thing tho' is that they prob. can't run any lightweight Loco through the country to it's destination (like they do with U.S diesel Loco's) until FRA allows it."

Just put a heavy freight compliant locomotive in front to haul it.

NONIMBYS said...

Dan Walters..gee the same person that had numerous articles about how "bad" prop 1a was..HE LOST and so did you..anno and so will the Nimbys..he has to do something to keep his job..is that you Dan?

Sam said...

@Andrew - the Muni wreck happened just outside the entrance to the Twin Peaks tunnel, so the ATC system was not engaged yet. It was about a 100 feet from the West Portal station (around the corner from my house!)

jim said...

One gal they interviewed on the the news an hour ago who was standing nearby said the driver or the rogue muni car was face down on the dashboard. Asleep? Dead? Not sure yet.

jim said...

Heres' all the pics. and get this - theres a website called MUNI ACCIDENT LAWYERS.COM good lord. SO people can jus wait around to pretend to get hurt then sue muni. and they do. No wonder muni is broke.

looking on said...

While one could argue that spending during a recession makes sense, spending now for a project of this size, when the state's finances are more than stretched to the limits, when crucial programs are being axed, certainly make zero sense.

As for worrying about Mr. Walter's needing publicity for his views, he is certainly one of the very few columnists who is respected by all sides on political issues; he is read by millions. I too am going to look forward to Robert's critic of him --- how can he turn down such an obvious target.

NONIMBYS said...

Oh Whinney one ..of course you think he is right..he is a antitax whinner about everthing...just read all his rants in the SacB..Sound likes YOU..now go back to PaloAlto online

Anonymous said...

High speed rail a big loser in Taiwan: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/e63b6166-70d4-11de-9717-00144feabdc0.html?nclick_check=1. As it will be here.

Spokker said...

I'm not registering to read that article, but I would not be surprised if the economic and environmental benefits of Taiwan's high speed rail system has exceeded its debt, or will do so sometime in the future.

dave said...

HSR is more of a public service than a profit generating machine. Yeah it has the potential to make a profit, but to call it a loser, it would have to be empty. Even if the trains are only half full, they are a success.

dave said...

looking over that Taiwan HSR, it says NOTHING about the train being a loser. All it says is that the innitial loans on the system were higher when first borrowed and they want to take advantage of the lower rates of today by refinancing. That's it!

You people can't wait to pounce on something anti-hsr.

Clem said...

High speed rail a big loser in Taiwan

...because a private outfit tried to swallow the cost of the infrastructure, a setup which is thankfully not being contemplated in California.

The Taiwan High Speed Rail Corporations's losses are attributed pretty much entirely to infrastructure bond interest and infrastructure depreciation charges.

Spokker said...

Can you imagine how big of a "loser" the national highway system would have been had a private company fronted the cost?

Andrew said...

@Jim:

Hooray, another chance to raid the city coffers! Personal injury lawyers sure are the scum of the earth.